Police and crime commissioners: the choice is yours

When I became Home Secretary in 2010, police governance was broken and in need of radical reform.

At that time, police authorities were theoretically responsible for holding forces to account. Yet in reality these bodies were nothing more than invisible committees of appointed councillors.

They were tasked with acting on behalf of the public and had a duty to engage local people and businesses in setting priorities and local taxes, but they did nothing of the sort.

Attendance at public meetings was often very poor, only 1 in every 15 people knew that police authorities even existed, and their decisions were far from easily available, often hidden amongst lengthy minutes posted on their websites.

In 2010, an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that only 4 of the 22 police authorities inspected were judged to have performed well in 2 of their primary functions – setting strategic direction and ensuring value for money for taxpayers.

That is why, in 2012, I introduced police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to be powerful local figures, directly elected and accountable to the people they serve.

They have engaged with the public over the past 3 and a half years in ways that police authorities never did or could.

Collectively their websites are being visited by over 85,000 people and they receive upwards of 7,000 pieces of correspondence every month.

They are elected, visible, well-known in their communities and accountable for the decisions they take.

But there is scope for PCCs to go further. We have included new measures in the Policing and Crime Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, which enable PCCs, where a local case is made, to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services and even create a single employer for the 2 services.

We have also been exploring what role PCCs could play in the wider criminal justice system. There is after all a reason why we included the words ‘and crime’ in the title of PCCs.

According to the Independent Crime Survey for England and Wales, PCCs have presided over a fall in crime of more than a quarter since their introduction, during a time when police funding has reduced by a fifth.

This is no mean feat. The accomplishments of PCCs matter, they matter to local people and they matter for the integrity of the policing system as a whole.

But, most importantly they matter for the historic principle of policing by consent. Because if you haven’t been impressed by your PCC, or you think they haven’t achieved what they said they would, in just a few weeks’ time you can say so in the strongest terms possible – by voting for someone else at the ballot box.

Conversely if you believe your PCC has made a real difference then you can vote for them to continue their important work. The choice is yours.

About

Theresa May MP is the Home Secretary for the UK Government.

Male suicide at University of York

A male University of York student committed suicide the same day that the University of York withdrew its support for International Men’s Day.

The local police made a statement on the situation. “Police were called by the ambulance service at about 2.30am on Monday 16 November to a report of a 21-year-old man with life-threatening injuries at an address in Lawrence Street, York,” a police spokesperson said. “He was taken to York Hospital but has since sadly died.”

The University of York has refused to comment on the death of the student. International Men’s Day, held on 19 November 2015, aimed to raise awareness of the fact that the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide.

Matthew Edwards is a student at the University of York. “Our student union has done nothing to help us because it is a left-wing mouthpiece,” he said. “I have received abuse for my stance within YUSU and from feminists particularly.

The Thin-Blue Web: Police Crime Records of Internet Trolling Show Chivalrous Attitudes That Can Be Resolved through Transfer of Powers

The Thin-Blue Web: Police Crime Records of Internet Trolling Show Chivalrous Attitudes That Can Be Resolved through Transfer of Powers

Jonathan Bishop

Abstract

This chapter using an empirical data-driven approach to investigate crime recording logs of South Wales Police relating to Internet trolling by and towards different sexes. The chapter finds more favourable attitudes towards women as victims in even the most trivial of cases. It finds male victims of trolling are only treated as victims when a form of unwanted face-to-face encounter is needed for action. The chapter shows transferring police powers to local authorities, can cut the cost of community policing by 50% across the board and eliminate sexist attitudes also. The chapter finds that the way social media platforms are exercising ‘sysop prerogative’ where they have no right to – such as not passing over account information on alleged defamers – puts a huge burden on police resources. Using local authorities, which have many of the same powers as the police and indeed more, can resolve problems without the need to criminalise offenders.

Full Text

Reference

Jonathan Bishop (2015). The Thin-Blue Web: Police Crime Records of Internet Trolling Show Chivalrous Attitudes That Can Be Resolved through Transfer of Powers. In P. Thomas, M. Srihari, & S. Kaur (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Cultural and Economic Impacts of the Information Society (pp. 67-91), IGI Global, Hershey, PA. Available online at: http://resources.crocels.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/the-thin-blue-web-police-crime-records-of-internet-trolling-show-chivalrous-attitudes-that-can-be-resolved-through-transfer-of-powers.pdf

Malicious communications threat to be investigated by police

A letter received by the family of an armed forces serviceman is being investigated under the Malicious Communications Act 1988, Lincolnshire Police have said.

Jim Tyner is Chief Inspector in Lincolnshire Police. “Lincolnshire Police are investigating an allegation of malicious communications where a threatening letter has been sent to the home of a serving member of the armed forces,” he said. “At present we believe this is a one off-incident and would like to hear from any families that had received similar letters.
We would like to remind forces families of the need to take particular care.
For example, they should review their security settings on social media to ensure they don’t accidentally share personal details.

Armed robbery at Wimborne shop – CCTV appeal

Detectives investigating the armed robbery of a local convenience store in Wimborne are appealing to the public for information – with CCTV images of the offenders being released.

The incident happened at around 05:50 on Thursday 6 August 2015 at the Nisa Shop on Sopwith Crescent in the Merley area.

Two men entered the store and threatened staff with a weapon before stealing a significant amount of cash and leaving the shop.

No one was physically injured during the incident.

One of the offenders was wearing a balaclava and carrying a large kitchen knife and the other had a scarf over his face and was holding an axe. Both had dark jackets on with their hoods up.

Detective Constable Ben Griffin is from Bournemouth CID. “I am now in a position to release CCTV images of the two offenders,” he said. “I would like to hear from anyone who saw these men in the area around the time of the incident.
Both men had their faces covered, however I believe someone may be able to identify either man by the clothes they were wearing or from their build.
Anyone with information should contact me, in confidence, on 101.

Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 101 quoting incident number 6:54. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.

Anti-trolling judge ‘lets off pedo’

The judge who sentenced a young Cardiff men to jail for trolling during the 2011 UK riots has been severely criticised by a cyberstalking expert for her recent decision to cut the sentence of a child sex offender, who worked as a chaplain for the police, by 6 months.

Expert Jonathan Bishop, says the decision of Judge Eleri Rees and her colleagues at the Court of Appeal to cut the sentence of former police chaplain, Stephen Talbot, 63, to 9 months from 15 was disgraceful. “I am totally disgusted that Judge Eleri Rees sent Anthony Gristock to jail for a total of 3.5 years for setting up Facebook pages, yet lets off a copper chaplain turned pedo with just 9 months jail!
“What sort of justice system do we have where child abusers are out in under a year, but trolls face nearly five times more time in jail?”

Harassment warning safeguards needed

The action of police in issuing harassment warnings against members of the public has been criticised by a powerful committee in the UK Parliament.

The Home Affairs Select Committee, chaired by Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, has severely criticised the use of what have been called ‘police information notices.’ Mr Vaz is very concerned about the figures. “Tens of thousands of PINs are issued by the police every year,” he said. “Although a useful tool for stopping harassment, meeting the needs of the victim and addressing problematic behaviour, there is a clear danger that they may be used inappropriately if they are not done in conjunction with good risk assessment and sufficient investigation.
The lack of any procedure for appealing against a PIN can feel very unfair to recipients.
Police forces should provide further training to officers on the use of PINs.
It is also vital that intended recipients of a PIN are given the opportunity to give their account of the situation before a police decision is made.”

Jonathan Bishop is an Internet trolling and cyberstalking expert. “Police Information Notices are being used on behalf of politicians and others to curb free speech online, so they can be unaccountable,” he said. “The findings of the committee are very important and I would hope that the police would now withdraw the harassment warnings they have served on people who they could not prove commented a course of conduct in terms of harassment and stalking.”

Plebgate verdict ‘miscarriage of justice’

The ruling by a High Court judge in the United Kingdom that a police officer did not lie when he accused a government minister of calling him a “pleb” does not have the confidence of social media users.

Former Government Minister, Andrew Mitchell sued PC Toby Rowland, who Mr Mitchell had alleged fabricated claims he used the word “pleb,” when criticising the copper for going out of the way to make his passage through Downing Street on his bicycle difficult.

Louise Mensch was of the view the judgement was flawed. “No doubt in my mind that the #plebgate verdict is an appalling miscarriage of justice,” she said on Twitter. “I’m saying the judge was very clearly wrong based on the admitted police conspiracy over #plebgate with multiple bent police.

Writer and lawyer, David Allen Green said on Twitter: “Mitchell no doubt thinking that the judge was supposed to be more helpful, but is wisely keeping these thoughts to himself.

No arrests over burglaries

South Wales Police have made no arrests despite a spate of burglaries of student houses in Cardiff.

Police believe that taxi drivers have been tipping of thieves as they pick students up from their properties, but South Wales Police have taken no action.

Police Student Liaison Officer, PC Tim Davies, suggested that students needed to take action themselves. “If you’re going out make sure that you leave a light on or a radio and pretend that someone is in,” he said. “If anyone asks questions about where you are going and for how long, don’t answer them.

DIY POLICING: Police Student Liaison Officer PC Tim Davies tells students they need to personally take action over burglaries after no arrests are made. Courtesy: South Wales Police
DIY POLICING: Police Student Liaison Officer PC Tim Davies tells students they need to personally take action over burglaries after no arrests are made

Police officer ‘mistreated’ resident

Two community spirited young people have appeared at Pontypridd Magistrates Court after challenging a police officer about his treatment of another resident.

Lee James Jones, 31, and Stephen John Thompson, 24, confronted PC 1453 Simon Hart when he was being confrontational with another member of the public.

The court was told that Thompson pushed PC Simon Hart away when the police officer threatened him with his CS spray. PC Simon Hart alleged the two men were shouting at him and this disrupted him carrying out his duties.

Jones was granted a conditional discharge for his involvement with PC Simon Hart and Thompson was ordered to pay £250 at a rate of £10 per fortnight.

PC Simon Hart is from South Wales Police’s Road Policing Unit, which was established by the former Glamorgan Constabulary in 1952.

Members of the public who have suffered similar forms of aggression from police officers are advised to contact the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Their website is: http://www.ipcc.gov.uk