Posts Tagged ‘Metropolitan Police Service’

Once in a while, a TV drama comes along that grips the nation.  It may have been Happy Valley, Luther, Endeavour or The Bodyguard.  The latest riveting watch just so happens to be the 5th series of The Line of Duty.

Are you one of 8 million viewers recently transfixed?  How do you feel about it?  Did it grip you and drag you reluctantly along from one Sunday to the next Sunday?   How did you find the depiction of the police and their procedures?

The newspapers haven’t been slow in revealing what currently serving and retired police officers thought about the latest series.
The following had this to say to the Guardian:

I only ever watched one episode of Line of Duty and thought it so far-fetched I could not stand any more. My wife hated me constantly pointing out inconsistencies and banned me from watching any police dramas.
Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police 

I have no clue who H is, but it can’t be Ted. He’s the sort of boss we’d all like to have – before he dropped himself in it. He’s supportive, wants to get the job done and is not afraid to get his hands dirty. But then there is this sort of dodgy business dealing that he’s been involved with. It’s a bit worrying, but I hope to see him emerge squeaky clean.
Chris Hobbs, former officer in the Met 

I find it ironic that you never see this many minorities in specialist departments apart from in TV programmes like Line of Duty. I think it’s cynical, a marketing tactic where minorities are brought in to sell the programme.
I was a gold commander and a firearms operator. There is a scene where firearm officers are waiting at the warehouse, after a tip that the main gangsters are planning to steal from it. The team suddenly get another call and just leave – but it’s so clearly a distraction call. That would never happen in real life. You would always leave at least one officer to stay.
Dal Babu, formerly a gold commander in the Met 

I was a detective superintendent in the Met’s anti-corruption unit, a role quite similar to Ted Hastings’. But I never came across any fridging – the practice of storing dead bodies in freezers – in my career.
I advise on the script for Line of Duty. My job is to help make the series appear authentic, in terms of the language used, the acronyms, the uniforms, what the cars look like and the kind of firearms officers have – things like that. Some officers say to me: “Why is it so negative?” I’d have a different spin on that. I’d say it shows that there is a dedicated force who are there to root corruption out.

It is a drama series not a documentary. But that’s the advantage of drama: if it was entirely accurate it would be far more plodding and less dramatic.
David Zinzan, script consultant, formerly a police commander 

Line of Duty is great TV that hooks you in emotionally and intellectually. I have worked in professional standards departments and anti-corruption. With that experience, sometimes watching you can feel a bit affronted. Firearms operations and surveillance operations, the use of informants and undercover officers are so professionally managed with such a high level of accountability and scrutiny. You can’t help but think of your colleagues, who work hard in those units with great courage, and you sort of feel they are sold short.

But then you have to laugh at yourself and remind yourself that it’s fiction and entertainment and it keeps so many of us, including police, hooked.
Helen King, formerly an Assistant Commissioner at the Met 

https://amp.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/may/03/it-keeps-us-hooked-police-have-their-say-on-line-of-duty

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that Chief Superintendent Chris Todd who is the head of Professional Standards at West Midlands Police took to Twitter to answer questions from curious TV viewers.

The Chief Superintendent is responsible for teams who vet officers and staff, investigate complaints and misconduct and the counter-corruption unit, which is equivalent to AC-12 on the television series, much like Line of Duty’s Superintendent Hastings, played by Adrian Dunbar.

Rating the show five out of 10 for accuracy, the ‘real-life Hastings’ revealed that police procedures in the show, some of which have featured in every series, bear no resemblance to reality.

Lie one: Interviewing officers have to be one rank higher 

For instance, officers being investigated for corruption do not have the right to be interviewed by someone at least one rank above them, even though this is standard in the show.

A common refrain in AC-12 interviews depicted in the show is that the officer being investigated has the right to be questioned by another who is at least one rank senior.

And in series four of the show DCI Roz Huntley’s police representative makes a point of asking that questions come from Ted Hastings, who is ranked higher than her, and not Jamie Desford.

However, Chief Superintendent Todd, West Midlands Police said they use the best investigator for the job regardless of their rank or grade.

However, if the investigation leads to misconduct proceedings then the chair of the panel must be at least one rank above the accused officer.

Lie two: Officers have to wear dress clothes for interviews 
Officers suspected of being corrupt have been seen marching into their interviews with AC-12, wearing full dress uniform.
In Sunday’s episode, PC Maneet Bindra who tricked another officer into giving her his computer passwords in season four was interviewed, she arrived in full uniform.

‘They always get dressed up in dress uniform when being interviewed by AC-12. I strongly suspect people don’t do that,’ on Twitter user wrote.

‘Yes, that is way off the mark,’ Chief Supt Todd replied. ‘The only time people wear tunics these days is at formal ceremonies, awards etc.
The TV does like to put people in tunics, especially senior officers.’

In series four, Chief Inspector Hilton – who was killed off in the final episode – was also frequently seen in full uniform.

Lie three: Undercover officers make their own rules  
In one episode, viewers saw undercover officer John Corbett gunning down bent cop Les Hargreaves, firing a shot at Steve Arnott and then breaking into the home of Ted’s wife Roisin Hastings, wearing a balaclava.

Confused by the rules, one Twitter user asked: ‘Are undercover officers ever permitted to commit serious offences (such as kidnapping, manslaughter, murder etc.) in order to ‘maintain their cover’?

Chief Superintendent Todd: ‘No, what you see here is for dramatic effect. They are police officers first and bound by the same principles of conduct.’

He also explained undercover officers ‘have to abide by the code of ethics and definitely don’t commit criminal offences as we often see happening in Line of Duty.’

He added: ‘Undercover work is a very specialist, and we can’t describe too much for risk of compromising tactics and the people involved.
‘But undercover officers (UCOs) are police officers first & still bound by the rules. The extent of behaviour in Line of Duty is exaggerated for dramatic effect.’

Lie four: Superintendents interview corrupt cops   
Another point Chief Superintendent Chris Todd cleared up on Twitter on Sunday was around interviews depicted on the hit BBC show.
Almost every AC-12 interview seen throughout the five series of the show has been conducted by Superintendent Hastings.

However, in reality they would not be conducted by such a high-ranking officer.
Chief Supt Todd: ‘If the superintendent is conducting the interview, something has gone wrong with our staffing levels.’

Lie five: Anti-corruption teams are armed  
In the dramatic series four finale, Hastings has a gun and shoots one of the balaclava-clad men who is holding a security guard hostage.
Meanwhile, series 3 ends with Kate running through the streets after corrupt cop DI Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan, brandishing a machine gun.
Chief Superintendent Todd made a couple of mentions to the use of firearms during his question and answer session.

He said his own professional standards team is ‘not armed’ and said that the depiction of use of arms definitely takes away from the realism of the show

‘They use the proper acronyms and the proper references to regulations,’ he said.

‘But then they throw something ridiculous in like the Superintendent randomly having access to a firearm.’

Lie six: Police forces regularly investigate other forces   
Another Line of Duty fan asked Chief Superintendent Todd if police forces often get involved investigating other units.
In series four another police force was brought in to continue investigating Roz Huntley’s case, Operation Trapdoor, while she was being looked at by AC-12.

Chief Superintendent Todd said this does happen ‘occasionally’ if ‘there is independence required beyond their own Professional standards Department.

‘This might be if public confidence would only be secured through such independence, but invariably the Independent Office for Police Conduct would direct that.’

Lie seven: CCTV is the most important evidence in all police investigations  
Also discussed in the Twitter thread was the prevalence of CCTV in police investigations.
One person said: ‘TV Police shows love to portray CCTV as something of a magic wand when it comes to solving crimes. How frequently do you find recordings are actually vital to prove an individual’s innocence?’

Chief Superintendent Todd replied: ‘One of the biggest breakthroughs we have had in recent times is Body Worn Video.
‘This has negated many a mistaken or even malicious complaint. But it has also supported misconduct against officers through either public complaint or colleagues reporting inappropriate behaviour.’

He later added that CCTV ‘can be varied depending on distance, angles, lighting, quality of camera and equipment.
‘Consequently, it isn’t always as helpful as might be expected, but still it can be the crucial piece of evidence at times too. I’d rather have it than not.’

AC-12 often rely on CCTV footage to catch a corrupt officer. In series four the team spent hours tracking down video of Roz Huntley’s husband driving near Tim Ifield’s flat.

In the latest episode of series five Officer Fleming and the team relied on CCTV to know what was happening at the raid on the Eastfield depot.

Lie eight: Police officers all have cars for their own personal use  
One Line of Duty fan replied to Chief Superintendent Todd saying he was amused that in police TV the ‘default for every marked car is to drive with blue lights’ on.

The top officer replied ‘And they all have vehicles for their own personal use 24/7’, before adding that he usually takes the bus.
Both DI Fleming and DS Arnott are often seen in unmarked cars, thought to be theirs to use whenever they like, during the show.

Lie nine: Anti-corruption police are always investigating major scandals 
Several people asked how realistic the case load of AC-12 was, and if police forces’ really deal with such a high amount of ‘bent coppers’.
Chief Superintendent Todd put minds at rest and revealed that corruption isn’t as widespread as is portrayed on the show.

He said: ’Corrupt officers are very few and far between Line of Duty is the “midsummer murders” equivalent of professional standards work!’
Answering a similar question, he said: ‘It’s [corruption] very rare I’m pleased to say.

‘We had 65 allegations of misconduct per 1000 employees last year and the vast majority were minor misdemeanours. Not the sort of things portrayed in LoD in all but a small partial hand filling- not even a handful.

He later added: ‘I don’t have access to all data right now, but looking back since Christmas, we’ve seen 7 not proven cases, 7 dismissals, 2 final written warnings, 2 written warnings, 2 custodial & 1 driving ban.’

Lie 10: Professional standards teams are secretive and feared
In Line Of Duty the AC-12 office appears to be secretive and separated from the rest of the station, with only a select few officers appearing on the screen.

One person asked Chief Superintendent Todd: ‘Is your department as feared in your force as AC-12 with colleagues clamming up the moment you start investigating suspected misconduct?’

He replied: ‘No, we’re a really friendly bunch. The counter corruption unit is necessarily covert.

‘But the rest of the department is literally an open door, open plan environment and is vert welcoming, not like you see on Line Of Duty.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6927407/Police-Officer-separates-fact-fiction-Line-Duty.html

What errors or anomalies did you spot or what did you see that you’re not sure about?  Drop me a line and we can discuss your thoughts

 

 

Advertisements

I’m not talking or writing here about cruelty to children or even some sub-branch of the said society.

What NPCC stands for is the National Police Chiefs’ Council.  It belongs in the United Kingdom and whilst the name is new and the Council not yet operational, it is coming on 1st April 2015.

The NPCC is the body being created to take the place of the Association of Chief Police Officers or ACPO which has been around since 1948.

“Why should I care,” you may ask?

Well, every police officer of and above the rank of Assistant Chief Constable/Commander was a member of ACPO, which not only represented its members when it came to their roles and responsibilities but also directed the way the police should operate in this country and advise the government on the way it should tackle issue of national significance.

If you are wanting to cast an ACPO ranked officer in one of your stories, such as a corrupt or heroic Chief Constable (this IS NOT aimed at Sara Thornton or Hugh Orde- see below), you may wish to demonstrate your knowledge through reference to their role within ACPO e.g. the Lead on Organised Crime. This would be ok if your story was to be set in the past.  If however, it is due to be set post 31st March 2015, ACPO will be replaced by the NPCC and will need referring to as such.

Sir Hugh Orde stepped down as the President of ACPO and (the current) Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton has taken over as the lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.  She was formerly the Vice-President of ACPO.  Sara ThorntonThe new President of the NPCC is elected for two years with a maximum appointment of four years, subject to satisfactory performance.

The ACPO press release assures us that:

“The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) will help police cut crime and keep the public safe, by joining up the operational response to the most serious and strategic threats. Focussing on operational delivery and developing national approaches on issues such as finance, technology and human resources, it will work closely with the College of Policing, which is responsible for developing professional standards.

ACPO’s core role of bringing together the expertise of police leadership to coordinate operational policing and agree national approaches in the public interest will be transferred into the NPCC. The aim is to develop a modernised and improved coordinating body that will be sustainable and effective in supporting policing in delivering at the national level for the public.”

According to the Police Federation, nothing but the name has changed, oh and the fact that the Metropolitan Police will “host” the new body, which will remain independent of the Force.  Parliament by contrast are pleased that there will now become a clear distinction as to the NPCC’s role of coordinating operational policing, whilst the College of Policing is now solely responsible for policy-making and best practice.

However, be careful not to confuse the NPCC with the NPoCC which is the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC).  This is a unit opened last year to coordinate police officers and staff from across UK policing to support forces during large scale events and operations and in times of national crisis.

So, will you be using ACPO, NPCC or will you not bother?

Coming very soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.

How are you going to use armed police officers in your story?  Read the below and see if any of it helps you get them in there at the right time for the right reason.

One of the most respected aspects of British policing was that in the main, it went about its’ daily business unarmed, unlike many of their international colleagues.  Go back to the 1980s and the sole means of protection police officers in the UK had, was a wooden truncheon.  Men had one of around 16 inches or 40 cm in length, which they slipped into a truncheon pocket stitched into their trouser leg.  Police women had a much smaller one to fit in their handbags.

Over the years, the truncheon became a baton, much stronger and harder to break.  The old truncheons often snapped on impact.  Handcuffs that most criminals knew how to get out of were replaced with rigid style handcuffs that could also be used offensively.  Body armour or stab vests followed and have become lighter, tighter fitting and more resistant to knife attack and some calibre of bullet.  CS or Pepper Spray came along and was issued to all operational officers.  The latest piece of equipment in use now is the Taser, carried by a small number of uniformed patrol and firearms officers.A Taser stun gun is demonstrated.

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris this year, there have been calls to arm all operational officers with a Taser so that they are better able to defend themselves and detain a violent suspect: www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/30/frontline-police-tasers-terror-threat-federation-leader

I’m not sure how many officers when confronted by a suspect armed with a pistol or rifle, would choose to stand and confront them with their trusty 50,000 volt side-arm.

On the other hand, there are people such as the former Home Secretary David Blunkett calling for the police to “step back” from using the Taser, especially in the light of reports that they were drawn over 400 time against children in 2013: www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/25/david-blunkett-police-step-back-taser-use

It is important to note the word “drawn” as opposed to “used against,” as it has been found that often the mere production of a Taser has caused violent offenders to become more compliant.  Additionally, the weapon can be “Arced” to show the sparks between the two electrodes i.e. it works: it can also be used in “Drive Stun” mode which is best imagined as how a stun gun would be used rather than the firing of barbs into/onto the body before pulsing the electric charge.

It’s also worth noting that the use of a Taser is seen as less lethal than a baton strike which can cause far more serious and lasting bodily injury than a Taser, which why some members of the public ask why resort to a Taser so early on or even at all?  Isn’t it a last resort?  The answer is very much – NO.

A comprehensive Q&A with the Association of Chief Police Officers can be found at: www.acpo.police.uk/ThePoliceChiefsBlog/201302TaserBlog.aspx

However, along with the call to equip more officers with Taser, there has been an increase in the number of times that trained firearms officers have been deployed to non – life threatening incidents.  This isn’t because more officers are armed.  Greater Manchester Police only recently intended to reduce the number of armed officers they employed.  This decision has since been rescinded: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/plans-cut-armed-police-officers-8409209

The Metropolitan Police by contrast have decided to increase their number of trained firearms officers to combat the threat of terror attacks in London: www.standard.co.uk/news/london/hundreds-more-gun-police-to-be-trained-to-combat-london-terror-threat-10010568.html

But along with the austerity cuts in Police budgets, there has been a reduction in total officer numbers which has led to fewer staff doing more work, hence armed officers are now being deployed to incidents more frequently than being held back awaiting incidents specifically needing their specialist skills in attendance.  Examples provided by the Daily Mail, include Thames Valley Police deploying armed officers to 8700 routine calls last year: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2943516/Police-carrying-guns-routine-call-outs-including-tens-thousands-minor-incidents-burglaries-car-crashes.html

How will you factor authorised firearms officers and Taser deployment and use into your stories?

Coming very soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.

There are often reports in the media of police officers not maintaining the standards expected of them by both the public and the Police’s own Code of Conduct.  In the main, these are lower ranking officers from Constable up to Inspector ranks.  Their failings can centre around theft, assault, drug use and supply, perjury and a variety of road traffic offences.

To deal with such individuals, each force had units that investigated such officers.  The units were called Discipline and Complaints or Complaints and Discipline Departments or other derivatives of those words.  These have been replaced by the standardised term of Professional Standards Departments (PSD).  They tend to investigate or supervise investigations into complaints against the police, generally made by members of the public.  They can also investigate officers whom they suspect may be involved in any form of corruption or organise crime (regardless of whether or not a complaint about that officer has been received).  Some forces have now built Anti-Corruption Units to deal solely with this aspect, leaving the more “minor” matters to PSD or even local senior or middle ranking officers to deal with.

However, over recent years there seem to have been more and more police officers above the rank of Chief Superintendant dismissed and/or prosecuted for being involved in corrupt activities such as fraud and perjury.

A glance at the news relating to Chief Constables, Assistant Chief Constables and Commanders of the Metropolitan Police Service, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Cleveland Police will provide a few examples worthy of the crime fiction writer exploring.

What if your protagonist became aware of or embroiled with a senior chief officer of your chosen police force?  How could they have come across them?  Were they on the periphery of “unlinked” crime investigations such as organised drug or people trafficking or a paedophile ring?  Were they found to be “associating” with undesirable persons/suspects? What brought them to this place; did they feel owed, invincible, above the law or just downright cleverer than their staff?  Had they become indebted to the wrong type of person and that debt had been recalled?

How would their relationship develop?  Would the hero find themselves bullied and ostracised or the victim of some “random” attack?  Would the protagonist gain the support of colleagues or specialist investigators or will they have to seek help outside either the force or outside the police organisation all together?

What would the outcome be?  Who would survive to fight another day and who would profit or gain in the end? What would the role of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) be or would they somehow become implicit?

As a matter of historical fact, the IPCC reveal that between their inception in 2004 and 30/6/2010, they have received 55 complaints against senior chief officers.  Follow this link for more information.

See the following media reports for more ideas and information –

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/aug/04/police-corruption-inquiry-sean-price

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/206221.stm

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/20/trafficking-victims-forced-crime-let-down-police?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

http://www.nypa.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6670

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16979424

http://www.hmic.gov.uk/media/west-yorkshire-revisiting-police-relationships.pdf

Don’t forget to get your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police for an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

A comprehensive shake-up of the police promotions process means that the OSPRE II Assessment process will be scrapped and replaced with work-based assessments.

The new National Police Promotion Framework (NPPF) for promotions to sergeant and inspector is to be adopted after this years OSPRE II assessments have been run.  This follows the successful trials and evaluations conducted by 7 police forces – Avon & Somerset Constabulary, Bedfordshire Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Merseyside Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, Sussex Police and Thames Valley Police.

Under the NPPF, officers who have completed their probation and are signed off as competent will be put forward for the OSPRE I written law exam (which is being retained) followed by an in-force assessment of their performance. This replaces the current OSPRE II (one-day behavioural) assessment.

Those officers who pass OSPRE I and the initial assessment will be promoted on a temporary basis and undergo a 12-month programme to evaluate their performance. If successful, their promotion will be made permanent.College of Polcing Badge

The College of Policing has endorsed the change after a recommendation by the Police Promotion Examinations Board (PPEB).

The College of Policing’s Chief Executive Alex Marshall said: “The introduction of the NPPF is the first significant change to the promotion process for many years. It will provide newly-promoted sergeants and inspectors with the necessary operational and leadership skills, developed in their local environments, to deliver a high quality service to the public.”

Further information about the National Police Promotions Framework will be posted on its website and in a series of regional meetings.

Think about the above when creating the biography of your supervisory officers (pre- 2014 they will have taken both OSPRE parts and post 2013 only part 1).  Could the mentoring and assessment that takes the place of OSPRE II lead to conflict or challenges in your stories?  I BET IT COULD

 

Kent Police Crime Scene

Image by kenjonbro via Flickr

Are you seeking crime writing inspiration, looking for your investigative muse or your policing Mo Jo?

  • Have you ever come up with a story-line only to wonder if it would work the way you would expect it to?
  • Not sure how the police really work?
  • Ever wondered if your killer really can get away scot free?
  • Want to know how a real police investigation works?
  • Having problems with your police procedures?

If you are, look no further. Help is at hand.  With 30 years police experience I can tell you how it really is and just where you can get your plot, twists and turns along with creative ideas to get your novel going or restarted.

Inspiration, ideas, knowledge, guidance and support are what I can offer you so send me your questions, your problems and let’s see what you and I can do.