Brexit continues to dominate the news this week, as negotiations continued on the Northern Ireland border issue. Neither the UK or the EU wants to implement a border in the region as it poses the risk of reigniting tensions in the region. Northern Ireland is already experiencing instability because both sides of the political divide are refusing to enter into a power sharing agreement after the government collapsed nearly two years ago. However, the EU argues that if the UK leaves the EU there needs to be a border to check the movement of goods, services, people and labour. Both sides have rejected the others’ proposed solutions to the issue.
Police Chiefs have suggested that a no-deal Brexit could result in UK forces losing access to 40 vital European-side crime-fighting tools. Richard Martin, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has said that the force are preparing “for every eventuality”.
· DPF receives coverage in influential Labour magazine
· Police officers express discontent with their police chiefs
· Officer murdered in Westminster attack had no protection from armed police
· Police given lessons in inoffensive banter
· MDP officer awarded for bravery
DPF receives coverage in influential Labour magazine
The DPF has received coverage in this week’s LabourList, the most influential magazine on the political left. DPF worked with Labour MP Holly Lynch to produce a comment piece for the magazine highlighting the current inconsistencies faced by MDP officers particularly around pensions and pay. The article can be accessed here:
Police officers express discontent with their police chiefs
The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) has published a report which shows the extent of discontent amongst police officers with their elected chiefs, The Times has reported. The report notes that the number of applications for chief constable vacancies across England and Wales is at a record low, and tenure in the post has fallen to an average of less than four years. Over half of the chief constables appointed in 2015 were the only applicant for the job. The report attributes this trend to a range of factors primarily relating to chief constables’ relationship with police and crime commissioners (PCCs).
The absence of checks and balances on PCCs was highlighted by the report. Officers described elected PCCs as “bleeding hopeless,” “not that bright,” “abusive and politically driven.” Retired chief constables cited examples of being forced to do “dreadful things” by PCCs. Senior officers have said they were reticent to take top jobs because of the risk of being “thrown under the bus for political expediency”; there was a widespread perception that PCCs had the ability to “seemingly arbitrarily” fire police chiefs. The report also showed that officers regularly perceive collaboration between PCCs and their deputies with one officer claiming that the system was being “fiddled”.
This view was supported from within the ranks of PCCs, with one PCC saying “You must not assume that being eccentric and having lousy judgment are prerequisites for the job, even though some of my PCC colleagues exhibit these characteristics in spades. There are six or seven really good PCCs… and about 22 who are absolutely bleeding hopeless.”
Police and crime commissioners were introduced in 2012 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May, replacing police authorities in scrutinising chief constables. They have the power to hire and fire police constables but in some instances have been reported crossing the line into influencing operational matters. The report will be considered at a roundtable of chief constables, PCCs, the College of Policing and other interested parties next month.
Officer murdered in Westminster attack had no protection from armed police
An inquest into the Westminster terror attack last year, heard by the Old Bailey, found that there were no armed officers present at the time of the attack to protect PC Keith Palmer, who was fatally stabbed. The family of Palmer, 48, have expressed their distress at having not heard from the Metropolitan Police about any issues surrounding the absence of any armed officers at or near the Carriage Gates at the Palace of Westminster for 15 minutes while Khalid Masood, 52, went on a killing spree in the area. It is understood that only unarmed officers were there to help Palmer. After killing five people Masood was shot dead by a plainclothes officer, the personal body guard of then-Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
A lawyer for Palmer’s family said that previously unarmed officers were protected by armed officers at the gate but now they remain “as a matter of routine unprotected”. He noted that the footage of the incident shows that as Masood approached the gates of New Palace Yard “the reaction of officers in the area was to run away” which is considered an “entirely understandable reaction in the circumstances.”
Tobias Ellwood, former army officer and current Defence Minister with responsibility for the MDP was present at the scene and tried to save Palmer’s life. When giving evidence to the inquest, he encouraged members of the public to step forward in the event of a terror attack to show solidarity against terrorists, although he acknowledged this was against official advice.
Police given lessons in inoffensive banter
Police officers in Leicestershire are to be given training on how to have banter without causing offence, The Times has reported. Details of the training were posted on Leicestershire police’s intranet and were initially interpreted as a joke. The training aims to help officers understand the “fine line” between acceptable and unacceptable communication. It will “put political correctness in its place, recognise the benefits of fun at work and focus on the risk and responsibilities for all concerned.”
Officers who have to go on the training said that they would find crime investigation training at all levels significantly more beneficial. The training is voluntary and the force has not offered to cover the cost of the course. Lynne Woodward from the Force’s Equality Unit said that “we recognise the workplace should be a social environment” and said the training was not about policing officers’ conversations.
MDP officer awarded for bravery
The Hereford Times has reported on an MDP officer receiving an award for bravery this week. Police Constable Chief Barrett, 51, who has served in the Force for 30 years, was awarded the Chief Constables Commendation. The incident which led to the award happened in April this year, when Barret responded to an incident in a local supermarket regarding a man who suffered a mental health episode and posed a threat to himself and others, while Barret was off duty.
Barret was presented with the award by Chief Constable Andy Adams QPM in MDP HQ in Wethersfeld in Essex. Barret also has a Queen’s Golden and Jubilee medals, as well as Police Long Service medals and Good Conduct medals. The child who was with Barret and his wife at the time was also nominated for a bravery award.