Britain's Leftist government has emasculated the police
Police efforts to deal with anti-social behaviour are being crippled by Government diktats, a hard-hitting report by ‘Robocop’ Ray Mallon has found. Mr Mallon, who became famous for his zero-tolerance policing as a Detective Superintendent in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, warns that officers are in the grip of an ‘arrest or ignore’ culture. He warned that police priorities have become distorted, leading to a collapse in public confidence.
Mr Mallon, who is now Mayor of Middlesbrough, makes his claims in a report released tomorrow by the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank set up by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith.
In an article for Mail Online today (below), Mr Mallon says that officers’ discretion has been removed by strict operational guidance from the Home Office and a need to hit arrest targets, while the real problems of anti-social behaviour are not being tackled. It means officers have to make a snap decision to either arrest a suspect or let them go instead of giving them an old-fashioned clip round the ear and a stiff talking-to.
He quotes one policeman as saying: ‘Prisons are full, detections are up, but go to any High Street in the country and ask anyone: do you feel safer? The answer is a resounding no.’ He adds: ‘Over the last ten years, policing has become far too complicated and needs to be made simple again. More and more, the police find their actions constrained by tight Government prescription, set down in complex action plans, performance indicators and targets.’
Mr Mallon’s report coincides with a drive by the Conservatives to toughen up the party’s law and order policies. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling says the Tories would introduce a number of measures to combat anti-social behaviour, including allowing the police to ‘ground’ children who cause trouble.
Research carried out for the report found that more than three-quarters of people did not think there were enough police on the streets or that they were doing enough to combat anti-social behaviour.
Taking Back the Streets
By Ray Mallon
Over 28 years as a career police officer and now as an elected mayor, I have seen how important it is for police to challenge unacceptable behaviour on the streets. When I talk to the public I find it isn¹t the fear of burglary that worries them but what might happen on their way home from work. It¹s when they have to cross the road to avoid a crowd of violent yobs or when they wait at home concerned because someone they love is late back from the bus.
That's when their heart rate rises and the fear of their streets sets in. This is the essence of what policing should be about. For that rising heartbeat is the fear of crime.
Despite the Home Office saying year after year that crime is going down, two out of three people think it has gone up. As one police officer told us: 'Prisons are full, detections are up but go to any high street in the country and ask anyone: 'Do you feel safer?' The answer is a resounding 'No'.' The public just don't trust crime statistics that tell them they are safer now than ever because that isn't their experience in the street.
It was because of my concerns about what has been happening to the police that when Iain Duncan Smith at the Centre for Social Justice asked me to help by getting to the heart of what's gone wrong with policing, I agreed. We started by commissioning national polling which told us what any Government should already know. Eighty-five per cent of people said that there are not enough police on the streets.
Seventy-two per cent of people said that it is unacceptable for police officers on duty, not to intervene when they see a crime. and seventy-six per cent said that the police don't deal with antisocial behaviour.
These are worrying numbers which show the public have become dissatisfied, losing their faith in a once proud force. Is it any surprise they feel like that, when police officers spend less than a fifth of their time on street patrol – that's under seven hours a week for a full-time police officer.
They patrol in pairs and in cars, making them half as visible and stopping them from interacting with the public. In the end, only one per cent of an officer's time is spent on foot patrol. How can the police intervene, if they aren't even on the streets? The public want a Force to police the streets. Instead, we have been de-policing them.
This is because over the last ten years, policing has become far too complicated and needs to be made simple again. More and more, the police find their actions constrained by tight government prescription, set down in complex action plans, performance indicators and targets.
During the course of this report, my team and I met so many officers who felt they were being forced to police in a straight jacket, unable to use their discretion. They knew that without the ability to use discretion, when on patrol, they couldn't provide a proper service to the public.
Discretion allows officers to judge when to make an arrest and when to use an informal approach. The public will judge the officer's intervention not by whether it achieves some government target but by whether it makes their street a better and safer place to live.
While I want to see a police force committed to intervene against every crime, disorder or act of antisocial behaviour that doesn't mean they have to arrest every kid who causes trouble.
I believe most of the public want the police to send a strong message about what is and isn't acceptable in their towns and streets. To break up the fight, to make the litterer pick up their mess - a voice of authority yet also a voice on the side of the law abiding in their community.
They should be encouraged and resourced to talk to parents and to schools, to use commonsense, to make the drunken college student repair or work off the shop window that he smashed. To make this happen, we need to tear up the excuse book. We have to get rid of these central targets, no one out there, not the police or the public wants the hand of central government on their shoulder, they are desperate for local policing driven by local priorities.
Too many times officers told us in desperation, 'We've been politicised. We don't police to do what we think is important, we police to do what someone up there wants.' They're right. Too often the public feel as though the police have become the agents of an over centralised state and of course the police know this.
What makes it worse is that as their methods have become less responsive to local needs, the dead hand of the health and safety lobby has emasculated the police further still. Stories about police unable to enter the scene of a shooting in case they got injured or unsure whether to save a drowning child because the risks were to great. This is madness on stilts.
I want police officers to be under orders to put themselves in harm's way if the safety of the public is at risk. That's why I joined and I know that is why those young men and women join today. They have joined to protect and serve the public and to make a difference. Surely It's time to free them and give them that chance.
If policing is going to improve, it needs to become a true profession, strongly led by effective Chief Officers who are liberated from petty political interference and have genuine operational independence.
Those Chief Officers must put the needs of the community they serve first ahead of careers and awards. To do this they will need to be overseen by effective and truly local governance, to hold not only the Chief Constable to account but also all of the agencies who combine together to make our streets safer.
Good policing is a basic expectation for every citizen and the recommendations in our report will make sure that it happens. They must become effective if they are to regain the trust of a sceptical public and through this trust they will regain the consent of the public. When the police reclaim the streets they will become, once again, a Force to be reckoned with.
British Exam regulator finally admits: Science exams are dumbed down
GCSE boards must act immediately to improve the quality of science questions in order to stretch and challenge students, the exam regulator said yesterday. It said that the qualification had been dumbed down, with too many multiple choice papers and superficial questions.
A controversial new GCSE in single science, which was intended to make the subject more relevant to teenagers, raised “significant cause for concerns” about standards, Ofqual said.
Many of the multiple choice questions were too easy because the wrong options given were “too obviously incorrect”, it said. There were also too many “short-answer questions that were fairly limited in their requirements or in the scientific content that they addressed”. The GCSE physics paper had replaced the testing of physics concepts with questions about the advantages and drawbacks of CCTV, mobile phones and the internet, it said. The regulator called for tighter marking criteria to ensure that “only answers deserving of the marks are credited”.
A separate study found a “decline in the standard of performance” in GCSE physics. Papers had got easier because fundamental principles of science were removed from the syllabus.
The reports have reignited a fierce public debate over the nature of science teaching. The new applied single GCSE in the subject, introduced in 2006, aimed to create scientifically literate citizens and ensure that all students got at least a toehold in the discipline by focusing on scientific processes. But purists complain that this approach results in the squeezing out of “proper” science, adding that efforts to make the subject seem relevant and trendy had not attracted more students to it.
Kathleen Tattersall, chairwoman of Ofqual, said: “Our monitoring shows that the revisions to the GCSE science criteria in 2005 have led to a fall in the quality of science assessments.” She added that improvements had been made to exams being set from this year and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) was reviewing the GCSE science criteria for courses starting in 2011. “Science is a vitally important subject and it is essential that these new criteria and specifications should engage and challenge all learners, particularly the most able,” she said.
For coursework completed under teacher supervision, which can represent up to a third of marks, standards were too variable, the regulator said. Exam boards should collaborate to ensure that grades were comparable.
On GCSE physics, Ofqual found a “significant reduction in content” from GCSE exams between 2002 and 2007 so that “fundamental explanations of phenomena were not tested”. It added: “Boyle’s law, the use of a capacitor as a timing device and detailed consideration of the optics of the eye and the projector were also removed. The content that was added tended to be concerned with the social implications of technological applications, rather than physics concepts.”
Candidates were required, for example, to discuss the advantages and drawbacks of CCTV, mobile phones and the internet, which “did not add to the candidates’ knowledge and understanding of physics”.
The Schools Minister, Jim Knight, said he was concerned about the findings and wanted to make sure that the most able students were stretched. He added that the Government was investing in measures to increase the numbers of both specialist science teachers and students who can study the triple individual sciences.
Nick Gibb, the Shadow Schools Minister, said: “This is a terrible indictment of the Government and the QCA at a time when scientific education has never been so economically vital, and it shows why private schools are abandoning the GCSE.”
Mike Cresswell, of the AQA exams board, said he was disappointed that the regulator did not address the inevitable conflict between the need to create a scientifically literate population at the same time as training world-class scientists.
Richard Porte, of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said the report confirmed the society’s findings that brighter students were no longer being stretched by the system and candidates were almost walked through the questions. “No fault lies with students or teachers. It is the system that is at fault and that system requires early, radical surgery,” he said.
Bungling NHS hospital overdose leaves girl, 3, fighting for her life
A girl of three is fighting for her life after doctors allegedly gave her a massive overdose by accident. Renee Healey was given double the prescribed dose of drugs by doctors treating her kidney condition at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in Pendlebury, her family claims.
Renee, from Wythenshawe, in south Manchester, was transferred to the intensive care ward on Wednesday and is now in a critical condition after her kidneys failed and she was put on dialysis. Her parents, Tina and Clive, are staying with her in the hospital, where she is on a life-support machine to help her breathe.
Renee was diagnosed 18 months ago with a condition in which tiny filtering units in the kidneys are damaged. Renee’s grandmother, June McKerrall, said her granddaughter was given an overdose of a drug that helps purify the blood, causing her lungs to fill up with fluid which nearly killed her. She said: ‘We can’t understand how someone could make a mistake like that with a child’s life.’
A spokeswoman for the hospital said that the incident was being investigated.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.