Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Reporter who outed police blogger cautioned

Newspaper claimed it had unmasked 'NightJack' via legal means - but his identity was later found to have been revealed via hacking.

A former Times journalist who admitted illegally hacking into the email account of pseudonymous police blogger NightJack has been given a police caution.

Patrick Foster hacked into the Yahoo account of the highly acclaimed blogger in 2009 to establish that he was Lancashire detective Richard Horton.

Detective Constable Horton went to the High Court to try and prevent the paper from outing him. At the time lawyers for The Times claimed the officer's identify had been uncovered via legal means, and the newspaper subsequently unmasked the detective - leading his force to take disciplinary action against him.

In 2012 Foster was arrested at his home.

Police caution

In a statement released via Twitter, he said: "The past two years of this unnecessarily heavy-handed police investigation have been a nightmare. I have been unemployable, but have had to bear the cost of substantial legal fees. 

"I have co-operated with the seemingly never-ending investigation at all times. In order to bring this regrettable episode to an end I have accepted the offer of a police caution for committing a technical breach of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

"I cannot say how likely it is that I would have been charged, had I rejected the caution. In 2009, when I committed this technical breach, I was acting on the understanding, common across Fleet Street and amongst journalists and lawyers, that I would be able to rely on a public interest defence. That understanding was wrong."

Operation Tuleta

Gregor McGill, a senior lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service, said, “In April 2014 the CPS received a file as part of Operation Tuleta. The file concerned allegations against two individuals of perverting the course of justice and perjury, and an additional allegation of unauthorised access to computer material against the second individual.
"In relation to the allegations of perjury and perverting the course of justice, it has been decided that no further action should be taken, as there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any offence.

“Any decision by the CPS does not imply any finding concerning guilt or criminal conduct; the CPS makes decisions only according to the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and it is applied in all decisions on whether or not to prosecute.

“In relation to the allegation of unauthorised computer access, that individual has been cautioned for an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1989.

“The evidence was considered carefully in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the DPP’s guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media.

“In accepting a caution an individual accepts responsibility for the offending set out.”

Thin Blue Line Comment:-

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.
In a sad indictment of modern policing, one of the best-known anonymous police bloggers Inspector Gadget 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, Copperfield & Nightjack focused on. The job they 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 grew frustrated at the cuts to the police service and felt he was unable to enact any change through his writing. It is not known whether he was directly warned off by senior officers in his force but he quit at a time when those officers who were tweeting under pseudonyms say they were being intimidated off social media by their bosses.
"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 wrote, he made some very relevant, important points. If he was 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.

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.

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?

All Nightjack, Copperfield and Gadget wanted was their beloved police force back to the way it used to be and the public to be the major beneficiaries. Patrick Foster and his ill advised strategy to "out" Nightjack, inadvertently silenced 000's of officers who may have come forward to confirm what we all know is ailing the service. To make matters worse, when Richard Hortons appeal against disclosure case was hear before Justice Eady, no mention was made about how Foster had hacked the e mail account to identify Nightjack. Had this information been disclosed, the outcome for police bloggers may well have been more favourable.

Former PC James Patrick was the first whistle blower to go public shedding any anonymity, exposing the rot in police recorded crime that resulted in PRC losing it's ONS badge of respectability. The met hounded him mercilessly until eventually, he too was forced to leave the job he loved.

Whatever has become of our wonderful service, where some no mark reporter can cause such an avalanche of travesties? The service has always had its issues, but at least the bloggers and whistle blowers act with the best of intentions, to restore the service to its rightfully respected position in society.

Friday, 15 August 2014


The ACPO Ostrich

Reprinted from the Police Oracle

Police leadership 'crisis' claims dismissed

Media and politicians have created a perception of a worsening situation, say commentators.

Public concerns of a perceived "crisis" in police leadership are emerging as the media spotlight focuses on the numbers of chief constables under investigation, it has been claimed. 

Analysts have suggested that press and broadcasters have put the issue firmly on the radar of the public - even though nothing has yet been proven against any individual.
Academic Dr Tim Brain said he feared the altered nature of the role of chief constable - which now makes them far more personally accountable - and the increased pressures of the role are resulting in some gifted candidates to avoid applying for top jobs.

Ongoing investigations

As reported on PoliceOracle.com, two chiefs are currently suspended pending the outcome of probes against them while three others under scrutiny remain on duty.

The latest concerns were raised as local MPs ratcheted up the pressure for Sir Peter Fahy to be suspended after the GMP chief became the latest to find himself under investigation.
The watchdog served the senior officer with a criminal gross misconduct notice over matters relating to an alleged poorly-handled investigation into a suspected sex offender.
Two serving officers and a retired officer are being investigated as part of the same investigation.

But GMP Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has declined to suspend Sir Peter, highlighting that there was currently "no case for asking the chief to stand down".
He has also called for the IPCC to conduct its investigation quickly and thoroughly.

'No crisis'

While accepting that a number of chief constables were under investigatio, Dr Brain - a former chief constable of Gloucestershire - did not believe there was a crisis of leadership.
Dr Brain added: "However, it is true that there is now a crisis of perception out there - and this has been created by a combination of media hype and political momentum.

"Although we know that there are chief constables under investigation, we do not know many details - and we have not been told of any outcomes. It is easy to make an allegation."
Dr Brain said that - in some cases - the allegations against the individuals were made against them while they had been chief constables.

In addition, with IPCC resources stretched, Dr Brain highlighted that officers who were suspended were now faced with months of uncertainty - and careers are suffering as a result.
The academic said that anecdotal evidence suggested some chief officers were shunning top jobs, with recent recruitment exercises attracting few candidates.

New skills

Dr Brain said: "The skills required by a chief constable are now a combination of corporate management - with partnerships and collaboration - while taking on more personal responsibility.

"There is increased scrutiny and greater accountability on the individual - the relationship that they have with PCCs is also very personal and different from that of the police authority."

Meanwhile Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, also denied suggestions in the media that there was a crisis in senior leadership.

Sir Hugh added: “Chief constables are required to make difficult, complex decisions daily, often under extreme pressure. Making these decisions involves balancing risk and acting on the information available with the intention of protecting the public.

“The five chief constables under investigation are all very different cases. It would be wrong to suggest that they are evidence of a crisis in police leadership.  

"These cases demonstrate that our system is effective at investigating complaints and transparently holding police to account."


ACPO as an organization and as a collective of those most senior in the service, has been on the ropes for too long, both financially and in terms of its integrity as a so called professional body. The rank and file have lost all confidence in them. The public and media mistrust them. Accusations of scurrilous disloyal conduct have been too many and too visible to ignore. The Coalition merely tolerated them. The Conservative Shadow cabinet under David Camerons direction accused ACPO of giving “political cover to the Labour Government repeatedly and consistently” and engaging in “gratuitous photocalls” with Gordon Brown and other ministers. It went on to say it “showed almost no criticism of the current Government”.


If ACPO had been allowed to continue, despite their weak protestations to the contrary, the "Us and Them" culture would pervade and decimate the service. Many times this has been evidenced in the private sector, where powerful Governing bodies have been able to "divide and conquer" opposing views from organisations. The police service is no different. Whilst ACPO played the political game, (yet all the time insisting they want to rid the service of politicisation), every Government used the division between the ranks as a lever to extract what THEY want from the situation. Only when the division no longer exists and the service is once again united, will it regain its strength and bargaining power.

It is totally right that the combined experience of police leadership should be utilised to add value and optimise the service provided to the public and the rank and file. However, any ACPO MkII must look to proactively avoid the horrendous historical mistakes of the past.

Anyone that declares the leadership is not in crisis is guilty of the ostrich mentality typical of Chief Officers of recent years. Bury their heads, pretend it isn't happening and DENY, DENY, DENY!

Lord Dear, former West Midlands Chief Constable had it right with his letter to the Times. To quote "Not so long ago misconduct by a senior police officer was rare and newsworthy. Not Now.

Too many top-rank officers are in trouble in the courts and serious doubts are being cast about the trustworthiness of the service at all levels – the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 disturbances, Plebgate, phone-hacking, Hillsborough, the apparent politicisation of the Police Federation and so on. Certainly the police can point to falling crime rates and great success in preventing further terrorist attacks since 7/7, but their response too often appears to be disconnected from what the public expect.

The basic problem is leadership. The service has created, trained and promoted to its top ranks managers, rather than leaders. The roots of this go deep, certainly to a decision taken at the Police Staff College in the early 1990s to drop the focus on leadership on the grounds that it was “divisive and elitist” and concentrate instead on management. The police, like much of the public sector, remain preoccupied with the management ethic, ignoring the words of Viscount Slim p a noted leader in both the army and the commercial world – that “managers are necessary, leaders are essential”.

Hardly surprising that Sir Hugh Orde vociferously defended the ACPO ranks, turkeys don't vote for Christmas and they have too much at stake personally, with gold plated pensions, whopping salaries with all the frills and their glorious fiefdoms to protect.

Is the leadership in crisis? Ask the public and the rank and file who were unanimously critical of their leaders in recent surveys. 

And Oracle Readers added:-

Sir Hugh added: “Chief constables are required to make difficult, complex decisions daily, often under extreme pressure. Making these decisions involves balancing risk and acting on the information available with the intention of protecting the public, WHILE SITTING AT A DESK, while the lads and lasses(particularly firearms officers)have to make similar decisions out on the streets, on the hoof, they don't have solicitors and advisors with them when they make those decisions. Could Fahy please tell us which great complex decision he had to make recently, whilst under great pressure.

5 out of 43 under investigation that is about 12% if 12% of constables were under investigation it would be a crisis.

I was wondering how long it would be before some media spin appeared. Here it is.

Well, I have to be honest. When ACPO are getting served papers at the rate they are, I see it as a crisis. In know the fed had a vote of no confidence in ACPO a while ago. If the same percentage of officers were getting papers, I have no doubts ACPO would view this as a crisis. The difference being a PC wouldn't get the PCC speaking out in their support or asking for a proportionate investigation. The PC would be left to fend for themselves.

When I was an officer the more senior the officer in the witness box (Sergeant/Inspector), the stronger the case. Thankfully you don't see too many ACPO officers in the witness box!!!!

The recent increase of ACPO officers under investigation is just symptomatic of the people now filling these posts. They are too close to Politicians, Media and Personalities and care too much about QPM's and knighthoods. They are nothing like the old Chief's who steered clear of the 'P's'......Press, Politians, Politicians.....and now PCC's

Ask yourself if everyone above the rank of inspector didn't come to work for a month would the front line, where the workers are, even notice?
The answer is NO.
The job gets done regardless of these ranks.
Now ask if PC's Sgt's and Inspectors didn't come to work for one day what would happen?
Think we all know.


David PAGE
User Group Expander (Part-time contract) at University of Warwick

I share your concern, if not dismay with the current police leadership. Personally I would not give them the title leaders.

How can the profession have a senior ACPO officer subect to an investigation in a serious miscarriage of justice case get a promotion and then another - whilst CPS ponder if a prosecution is warranted? Would this happen to an officer outside the ranks of ACPO?

The recent news that a small, significant number of ACPO are being investigated; with two chief constables suspended, is "another nail in the coffin".

Part of the problem with the leadership of the police service is that the Home Office, ACPO and a few others have created a mould for leadership which produces managers first. Men and women who do not inspire those they command. Who often use various forms of bullying and spite against those who disagree with them. As for their attitude towards "whistle blowers" just look at PC James Patrick, now ex-MPS.

I do not doubt they have hard decisions to make, although whether those are daily operational decisions is a moot point.

Anyway what does the public think? YouGov polling gives a clue. have look at:

Polling found in October 2013 the % who trust the following to tell the truth:
Local police officers 66%
Senior police officers 48%

So yes there is a crisis. Just don't expect any answers to come from ACPO. Nor the politicians, who scored even lower in the polling.

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