• A superintendent defined

    Are you or were you a superintendent of police? If so, do you know that the role of superintendent benefitted from a Job Description as early as the 1800s? Read on and see whether you match the description given in T.A. Critchley’s wonderful book “A history of police in England and Wales 900 – 1966.”

    The jurisdiction of superintendent was originally defined in the County Police Act of 1839 as a petty sessional division; however by 1840 it was determined as any area that justices determined.

    Lord Normanby’s rules lay down that the superintendent must ‘be a man of general intelligence, able to read and write well, and to keep accounts.’ The superintendent was to be paid between £75 and £150 per year.

    From the start the post was recognised as a key one and was regarded as the ‘one great binding link in the police system.’ From the start the superintendent had a ‘pretty firm hold on his appointment (cue Frankie Howerd) and he may occasionally rise to the post of Chief Constable,’ although as a rule superintendents did not apply for these ‘prizes of the service’ being content with ‘the comforts and respectability of the position they had attained…Their love for the service, matured through many years, usually induces them to hold on to the verge of their own disability .’ 1.

    At this point a vivid description of a superintendent is offered and is worthy of comparison to those who are currently serving or have retired from this rank.

    The superintended is painted as awell to do man who kept his horses, cows and pigs, and on market days he was always found trading. He was a little over fifty years of age, rotund, and when standing at attention he could not see his feet, and had not done so for years. He had a short thick neck, bullet head, low brow, fox terrier eyes, rubicund nose, ruddy complexion and mop like hair.’

    Apart from the trading of pigs, cattle and keeping horses I can recall one or two former superintendents who match the above description!

    However, in modern times, with the introduction of gyms, public order training and all manner of exercise routines, not to mention the demands on a modern day police superintendent, we would not find anyone who matches that description……would we?

    1. (Police! By Clarkson and Richardson 1989 pp 145-6)

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  • The end of another year - 2012

    It seems to be customary on Twitter to review 2012 and look forward to 2013. So here is my contribution.

    Professionally 2012 took me on a journey of discovery; some of it personal and some of it professional. I continued to enjoy teaching in the Middle East and build my knowledge of the Islamic culture and Arabic language. I worked with some very special people, friends who I shared good times with such as my birthday and passing my doctorate. Teaching in a foreign country, and in a foreign language, is a challenge that I enjoy immensely and I hope that I am able to continue in 2013. I was also fortunate to teach in USA on two occasions and catch up with some old friends and special people- and drink a lot of good whiskey too!

    I also became immersed in the fascinating world of community engagement. Not what we in the police refer to as community engagement, but true community engagement methodology where the public are given a chance to speak and the police have a chance to listen. Much of this work has been conducted in GMP where I have met some dedicated and highly professional people. From a personal perspective this work is not without its challenges, but to sit and listen to people discuss how to make life better for the people of Manchester makes it worthwhile. The opportunity to learn about and discuss politics, philosophy and social policy has been grabbed with one hand and a caipirinha in the other.

    On a personal note I managed to write up and finish my doctorate. It has been a long time coming but I have enjoyed the experience and once again gained some very firm friends along the way. Working with Professor John Grieve is a both a thrill and a pleasure that I will always be grateful for.

    Music plays a big part in my life and 2012 witnessed my attendance at some great rock gigs, but none as great as a wonderful night with Alabama 3. They really are the best live band on the road in the UK.

    Personally 2013 holds a number of challenges and opportunities. I start as a visiting lecturer at Lancaster University and an Associate Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University.

    I am thoroughly looking forward to getting my feet wet in academia. I am also hoping to start to write academic articles based upon my thesis and my passion for legitimacy in policing. This latter element will, I hope, turn into an opportunity to work with a number of police forces in the UK.

    The work with GMP and the learning and writing of the project enters a crucial phase. Planning takes place early in the New Year and it will be full on from that point. Having suffered the terrible loss of two police officers in 2012 the fortitude of those working in and with GMP is to be commended.

    Professionally I think that policing will face some of its stiffest challenges in 2013. In terms of brand, policing needs strong leadership and a clear understanding of what the public want from their police service.

    I am just not sure that at the moment we have leaders of sufficient stature to lead us through 2013 without the blemish that has seen sacking and suspensions in numbers not previously seen

    I think that the full impact of PCCs will be felt fairly on in the New Year and this will pose a huge challenge to policing in UK. But I am sure that it is a challenge that those involved in policing will rise to – so here is to best wishes to you, your families, friends and colleagues.

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  • Who will lead the police in 2013?

    Yesterday the BBC published an article by Keith Vaz MP in which he stated “Public confidence in the police has been hurt by a "dangerous cocktail" of controversies including the critical Hillsborough report and Andrew Mitchell "plebgate." Keith Vaz, who is the chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee called for talks between government and police at this "defining moment."

    The article refers to the Home Office stating that public confidence in the police remains high. This is argued against by Vaz who states "We have confidence in the police not being as high as it should be, we have police having little confidence in their jobs, we have half of those surveyed who want to do another job.” Vaz refers to the dangerous cocktail of events surrounding Hillsborough and ‘plebgate’ and adds into the mix (sic) the fact that 26 out of the 43 police forces of England and Wales do not have a permanent chief constable.

    This is an interesting fact as it relates to a period in the late 1980s when the police themselves, rather than an MP, recognised that a series of high profile miscarriages of justice (Birmingham Six and Guildford Four) coupled with increased spending on police at a time of rising levels of crime, falling levels of detection and nationwide public disorder (e.g. the miners’ strike) were posing a challenge to police legitimacy. The falling level of confidence was captured in the British Crime Survey of the time.

    The threat of government intervention was recognised by the police and Chief Constable Hirst of Leicestershire Police emphasised the requirement to act, and so deal with haemorrhaging public confidence, and threat to the legitimacy of the police when addressing the Quality of Service Seminar held at Police Staff College on 8th December 1992.

    This is what separates the issue of public confidence between 1990 and 2012. Action in terms of the introduction of a ‘quality service’ mandate was driven by experienced senior police officers in the shape of Hirst, Sir Charles Pollard of Thames Valley and Chief HMIC Sir John Woodcock. These senior police leaders established a ‘quality of service committee and began to attempt to change the style of policing to address public confidence.

    In 2012 who are the influential police leaders? As Vaz points out over 50% of the police forces in England and Wales have a ‘temporary’ Chief Constable. The introduction of PCCs has had an impact on both resignation and appointment of Chief Constables and processes are underway throughout England and Wales. The Chief HMIC in 1990 was an experienced police officer whereas the Chief HMIC today is Tom Winsor, a man with no policing experience.

    Add in the fact that ACPO is perhaps being held to account more than at any period in its history. This year has seen a Chief Constable sacked; a number of ACPO officers suspended from duty pending investigation or being forced to resign. So, if Keith Vaz is right, and there is a question mark over public confidence in the police, where are the Woodcocks’, Hursts’ and Pollards’ who will lead the police in 2013?

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  • Police Service/Government tension - it is nothing new

    The media has played a high profile role in reporting the various aspects of Plebgate and on Sunday 23rd December 2012 I listened to the BBC Radio Five Live programme called Double Take. The section on the relationship between police and politicians was very interesting and was based upon the circumstances surrounding Plebgate.

    The piece was started off by President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Sir Hugh Orde who stated that ‘there has always been and there should be healthy tension between politicians and the police service. Chief Constables are operationally independent; they have to interpret government policy and deliver it fairly and impartially and have to be held to account and I don’t thinks this is prima facia evidence of a growing distrust.‘

    The interesting aspect of this is that such tension between politicians and the police service goes back as far as 1834 when the Chief Magistrate of Bow Street Sir Frederick Roe almost single handedly disrupted the police service and his weapon was the mysterious influence that he had over the Home Secretary Viscount Duncannon.

    Roe is described as having an ‘a highly emotional and effeminate temperament’ and Duncannon showed a hostility towards the police that was deeper than mere party or political dislike.

    The relationship between Duncannon and the police was difficult. Duncannon was determined to bring down the police and revert to the system of Magistrates with their own constables. It was a power issue that Duncannon wanted to win. Roe used a serving policeman called King to act as a spy. He passed information regarding a fictitious complaint back to Roe and Duncannon who moved to destroy the authority of the Commissioners Rowan and Mayne.

    In addressing the pressure from Roe and Duncannon the Commissioners, Rowan and Mayne reportedly acted with consummate tact, patience and dignity maintaining their official position throughout. Duncannon peppered the Commissioners with requests for information relating to the complaint and proposed a reorganisation of the police that would have destroyed the Commissioners’ authority and the functioning of the police.

    The police and the Commissioners were saved when Duncannon found himself out of office due to the resignation of the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, a resignation that resulted in a recall from Italy for Sir Robert Peel who himself became Prime Minister.

    I am not too sure that the tension can be described as ‘healthy, ’ but history has a habit of repeating itself and the relationship between the police service and government is complicated and is affected by issues such as economics, system failure and critical events.

    These issues occurred in 1834 and are occurring now and I have no doubt they will occur in the future. Therefore, should we expect anything other than tension? If so, how should the tension be handled?

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  • The genie is out of the bottle...

    A few days ago I posted a blog relating to gun control in USA. As a result a good friend of mine sent me his thoughts. Hi thoughts were so interesting that I asked his permission to reproduce them here. He was happy for this to be done as long as it was not attributed to him. My friend is a serving police officer in a police force in USA.

    Here are his thoughts/comments on gun control.

    I inherited an antique 22 caliber single shot rifle that was owned by my great grandfather. It was manufactured in 1895. Then I inherited my Dad's deer rifle, he purchased it new in 1947 and I still have the original receipt from Montgomery Wards. He paid $17. Then my brother in law gave me a 50th anniversary target pistol. He passed away a few years ago and I treasure this gift. I bought my duty weapon when they transitioned from 9mm to Glock 45. that gun saved my life, at least twice. When we retired the 12 gauge shotguns from the PD i bought one because [my son] and I like to shoot skeet. I also bought a retired rifle.

    Does this make me a gun guy? maybe it does. I don't go to gun shows, don't read gun magazines and don't belong to the NRA. When people talk about guns I don't have any interest.

    I can only say this, giving up these guns will not make anyone any safer. There are lots of people like me. This is a freedom we enjoy. There are 10's of millions of guns here now. Even if the majority agreed banning guns is the solution, it is simply not doable. The genie is literally out of the bottle. That being said, there is lots of room for regulation.

    I would not object to bans on certain weapons and high capacity magazines. I think that background checks should be required for gun ownership. Licensing and permitting seem like logical approaches. Whatever the approach one must ask, would it have prevented this? If the answer is no then the approach must be closely scrutinized. When you analyze these cases, many of them have no record or predictable behavior. The problem is much more complex with many contributing factors. Like I said, I think we need some kind of think tan that can anticipate acts that we have never thought of before.

    I have heard some call for a ban on video games. Others want a ban on music with violent lyrics, others want to ban violent movies. I honestly don't know what the answer is. Others want cops in every school. We have 14 cops on the road and 34 schools. I doubt we are going to triple the size of the PD to accomplish this.

    You are right, its classic POP [Problem Oriented Policing]. Whats being missed is the analysis. People are jumping right from the scanning to the response.

    In my view these are very inciteful comments. The media is full of stories of the development of new policies and think tanks led by Vice President Joe Bidon. There is also a report of one school in Texas allowing teachers to carry concealked weapons (http://tinyurl.com/c24jawk).

    To say that the Newtown shootings have started a moral panic is an understatement. The next few week and months wil be interesting from a political perspective. In the meantime, the world watches the tragic funerals of children and their teachers who went to scholl ot learn and not to die.

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  • Gun control in USA. A sisyphean task?

    I can remember exactly where I was on 13 March 1996 when news came over that 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton entered a school in Dunblane Scotland armed with four handguns and killed sixteen children and one adult before killing himself. The UK government acted with haste following this atrocity and the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 and the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 were enacted effectively making the private ownership of handguns illegal in the Great Britain.

    Fast forward 14 December 2012 at about 9.30am when Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook elementary school Newton Connecticut armed with two handguns and an assault rifle and shot and killed 26 people – 20 children and six adults – before apparently turning the gun on himself.

    As the picture of this terribly sad act began to unfold two things seemed to happen. The media, including social media, became swamped with statistics of mass shootings in USA and comparisons of shootings in USA, UK and Europe began to appear. Here is one example “The rate of people killed by guns in the US is 19.5 times higher than similar high-income countries in the world. In the last 30 years since 1982, America has mourned at least 61 mass murders” (http://tinyurl.com/crvabtb).

    The other thing that began to happen was a call for gun control. In his tearful address US President Barak Obama promised ‘meaningful action’. Does that mean gun control?

    So far this year in USA there have been seven attacks that could be classed as mass killings with a firearm and yet no action in relation top gun control seems to have been taken. Why is this? Well, apart from the fact that the US constitution gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms I do not believe that there is anything like a critical mass of people who want to give up their right to possess a firearm.

    Having spoken to a number of police officers in USA the second amendment to the US constitution is fiercely protected and it would be political suicide to try to remove this ‘right’. The fact that in modern times possessing a firearm has been strictly regulated made it easier for the UK government to impose further restrictions. The result is that murder using a firearm is relatively rare and mass murder using a firearm is even rarer. Would this spur on the US government and people to withdraw the second amendment that has been in place since 1791? Doubtful.

    There is a further complication to this debate and it came in the early hours of this morning when two police officers from Topeka Kansas where shot and killed while attending a report of a suspicious vehicle at a grocery store. As well as citizens wanting to protect their rights to keep and bear arms there are those within law enforcement who also support the second amendment and it is easy to see why.

    Gun control in the USA is political dynamite and is certainly not something that I suspect I will see in my lifetime. There have been attempts to restrict possession of assault rifles in the past, but that fell by the wayside in the early 2000s. There are armed police officers posted in a number of High Schools in USA, a good friend of mine is one of them, however, there is a proposition to have armed police in elementary schools, or worse, to have allow some teachers to carry weapons in elementary schools (see this link http://tinyurl.com/ckwf884). Is this really getting to the heart of the problem? Or is it addressing a symptom?

    The separate issue of mental illness and how it is being addressed is perhaps more worthy of attention rather than seeking to control guns, something that in the long term is doomed to failure.

    The debate on gun control will go on and we can only hope that shootings such as those listed below also fall by the wayside.

    December 11, 2012. On Tuesday, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts killed 2 people and himself with a stolen rifle in Clackamas Town Center, Oregon. His motive is unknown.

    September 27, 2012. Five were shot to death by 36-year-old Andrew Engeldinger at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, MN. Three others were wounded. Engeldinger went on a rampage after losing his job, ultimately killing himself.

    August 5, 2012. Six Sikh temple members were killed when 40-year-old US Army veteran Wade Michael Page opened fire in a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Four others were injured, and Page killed himself.

    July 20, 2012. During the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO, 24-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58. Holmes was arrested outside the theater.

    May 29, 2012. Ian Stawicki opened fire on Cafe Racer Espresso in Seattle, WA, killing 5 and himself after a citywide manhunt.

    April 6, 2012. Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, shot 5 black men in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in racially motivated shooting spree. Three died.

    April 2, 2012. A former student, 43-year-old One L. Goh killed 7 people at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college in Oakland, CA. The shooting was the sixth-deadliest school massacre in the US and the deadliest attack on a school since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

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