Friday, 15 March 2013


Wherever you are Guv, take care & best wishes

In a sad indictment of modern policing, one of the best-known anonymous police bloggers has quit writing after seven years of sharing an officer's eye view of the world of policing.

This country's police were once the envy of the world; now they struggle to retain the confidence of their own people and have long since lost the support and confidence of the British public. Weighed down by political correctness, burdensome targets, excessive paperwork, non-core police activity and incessant government tinkering, fewer officers than ever are seen on the streets. Everyone knows that policing needs a root and branch overhaul – not the structural reform so beloved of the Labour government, but a cultural rejuvenation that restores to trained professionals the freedom to take their own decisions.
These were the subjects that Gadget focused on. The job he and we loved so much has been eroded so dramatically, it no longer bears any resemblance of the police service that was once so deserving of the world’s respect. Gadget implored the outside world to recognise what was happening to the service in the hope that someone, somewhere, somehow would listen and take steps to returning the service to a world of common sense and justice. He wrote about the malaise affecting the British Justice system, the ridiculous and strangling bureaucracy that pervades in the job to this day, the mindless target driven culture among Chief and senior officers that obstructs frontline and response officers from doing their job moist effectively, the endless fudging of crime statistics and the political interference in the everyday operational duties.

Those close to the Gadget say he has grown frustrated at the cuts to the police service and feels he is unable to enact any change through his writing. It is not known whether he has been directly warned off by senior officers in his force but he quits at a time when those officers who are tweeting under pseudonyms say they are being intimidated off social media by their bosses.

Inspector Gadget is by no means the first to quit the medium voluntarily or otherwise.
One of the first and most visited police blogs was authored by a Lancashire Detective, Richard Horton, who in 2008 started blogging under the pseudonym "Nightjack". Recognition for his writings came in the form of the Orwell Prize in February 2009. Richard is the first to admit that some of his posts had taken on a harshly political edge. Winning the award threw him into the spotlight and he lost his cloak of anonymity when the Times newspaper traced him and sent photographers around to his house. The result was that he felt pressured by his force to close the blog and cease his writings.

Pc Stuart Davidson served as an officer in Staffordshire police and his "Coppersblog" site was among the first to expose the problems that had beset UK policing. Blogging as PC David Copperfield, his true identity was discovered by his force and as a result, he felt compelled (or was pushed) to close down the blog and is now a serving police officer in Canada.

A whistle blower is a person who raises a concern about wrongdoing occurring in an organization or body of people. Usually this person would be from that same organization. The revealed misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law , rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest , such as fraud , health/safety violations, and corruption . Whistle blowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues).
Whistle blowers frequently face reprisal , sometimes at the hands of the organization or group which they have accused, sometimes from related organizations, and sometimes under law.

Origins of term
The term whistle blower derives from the practice of English police officers, who would blow their whistles when they noticed the commission of a crime. The whistle would alert other law enforcement officers and the general public of danger.

In 2002, a Government amendment gave police officers the same protection for whistleblowing as the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998  (PIDA) provided other workers, including their civilian colleagues.

The need that police officers should not be discouraged from blowing the whistle on wrongdoing was strongly supported in 1998 during the passage of Richard Shepherd MP’s Public Interest Disclosure Bill. The Government gave assurances then and since that police officers would receive PIDA equivalent protection.
However, even such good intent has clearly not resulted in Police Officers having the freedom to speak of matters that clearly require reform.

As is clear from research from HMI on whistleblowing policies:
“There is a strong feeling amongst officers and support staff that retribution, subtle or direct, would result from making complaints against colleagues. There is a perception no one commends such officers for demonstrating moral courage". “The Inspection found grievance procedures were widely held to be ineffective, with a misunderstanding of what they might achieve…in most forces, for a variety of reasons, there was little or no confidence in the system. …One force recently carried out an equality audit and, with a response rate of 53%, it revealed that 75% of police officers…believed it was either true or partly true that making a complaint or formal grievance would be held against them.”
The provision in regulations and guidance that supervisors and managers should ensure that police whistle blowers are not victimised is also insufficient as HMI discovered:

“A concern emerged strongly during the Inspection that officers who are more senior will not support junior colleagues who challenge on an integrity issue. Once a manger who has tried to challenge and rectify bad behaviour, has been undermined by those in more senior positions, perhaps because of weakness or nepotism, they are understandably less likely to make a second challenge.”

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."                  François-Marie Arouet  a.k.a.Voltaire
Whilst we have not always agreed with everything Inspector Gadget has written, he makes some very relevant, important points. If he has been shut down because of paranoia in the upper echelons of policing, this must be seen as a backward step in the honest reforms so badly needed for UK policing.

"All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke (British Statesman and Philosopher 1729-1797)"
To Quote From Gadget :- My message to the government is this; ignore all the vested interests and the claptrap. Give us some old school traditional police front line leadership and we will deliver where others have failed. Although you might not be able to count it in the same way.

Inspector Gadget, whose blog recorded more than 12m hits, unexpectedly tweeted on Monday that he was "going state 11" – off duty – and has since deleted postings dating back to 2006, many of which attacked the sometimes farcical bureaucracy he believes is strangling the police service. The last posting on Gadget's blog before all posts were deleted read: "This jobs is f...d".
If the leadership of the police cannot bring itself to accept, openly and honestly, that reforms are needed at all levels within the service, then once again, we the British public will be hoodwinked and conned into believing that all in the police garden is rosy, which it clearly is not. Who will take up the mantle and restore the public and officer confidence so badly needed now?

Never has true Leadership been required in the service more than right now. Lord Dear (former Chief Constable of the West Midlands and perhaps one of the last real Leaders in the service) said it so well in his recent Times article.
What the job desperately needs now is Leaders NOT managers. The service doesn't seem to know the difference. Sadly, Leadership is not the only element lacking at the top. Public confidence and that of the troops will never fully return until there is distinct evidence that the Chief Officer standards and qualities are beyond reproach. Over as many months, 18 Chiefs and SMT ranks either disciplined, arrested, or dismissed for unprofessional and even criminal conduct is an indictment of how so many clearly feel they are above the law they are meant to uphold.

How do you instil moral compass values in a hierarchy that doesn't seem to know the difference between crooked and straight?

The bonuses paid to Chief Officers in return for allegedly reducing crime, when in fact many were scurrilously and deceitfully cooking the books, would eclipse the outrage caused by the MP's scandal if it were fully exposed.
For twenty plus years, too many so called good men did just that. Fallacious decreases in crime, 000's no crimed, 000's more screened out, 000's more again left as incidents to keep them off the books have decimated the true picture of crime and distorted the reality beyond belief. Yet still, they bleat about how crime has reduced!!

The single biggest negative consequence of this crime of the century, is the slashing of frontline troop numbers all as a consequence of Chief Officers fudging the numbers for personal gain. Look what it led to, politicians who choose to use the numbers as a political football to slash resources. The only people to blame are the Chief Officers who orchestrated, condoned, overlooked or failed to act. Authors of misfortune that is now the burden of the rest of the service.
Before any leadership skills can even be considered, there needs to be a root and branch cull of those corrupt officers whose continued presence poisons the service.

To Inspector Gadget. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for trying to highlight all that ails the service. Let us hope that all of your efforts were not in vain.


Anonymous said...

Sign of the times, isn't it?
Down, down, ever down!

Crime Analyst said...

Seems as if everyone else in every other walk of life is free and encouraged to speak out about issues of public interest except police officers. The closed shop mentality does nothing but erode confidence in the service still further. Like many, I didn't agree with everything Gadget said, but his heart and soul are in the right place, focused on restoring common sense policing for the sake and safety of us all. Pushing boundaries is sometimes necessary to get people to sit up and listen. Hardly surprising and totally human if the line is crossed inadvertently sometimes, either out of sheer frustration maybe, but rarely out of kilter with public support. If this is indeed the last we have seen of the Guvnor, the public and serving guys and gals have lost a passionate and eloquent voice for reform.

Anonymous said...

I was never sure Gadget was a police officer - though much of what he said needed saying. He was inclined to suppress views that didn't fit his. The treatment of whistle-blowers is bad in all sectors and we desperately need more public scrutiny - not least on banks and politics. I prefer Steve's more considered work, but I'd rather Gadget was blogging than not.

Crime Analyst said...

Thanks for the ACO
Totally agree. The key thing here isn't whether Gadget is a serving copper or not (although my contact suggests nothing other than a passionate commitment to root and branch reform), but that the problems reported are very real, supported by the undoubtedly real police contributors to the site over the seven years. The really sad point is that the truth is being swept under the carpet yet again with obfuscation and suppressive tactics. Once again it seems that the legislation intended to protect whistle blowers applies to everyone except police officers.

Hogdayafternoon said...

"The Emporer's new clothes" revisited?

ExTrafficBiker said...

Gadget stops blogging and the press get 'regulated'. And so it begins. 1984. Just 20 years later than George Orwell predicted.

annettesblog said...

I have read his blogs since he started and will miss him terribly.
He was an intelligent man and very fair,not offensive in any way.
I am saddened he had to finish, in fact very angry.

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