Tuesday, 24 February 2009

"Inspector Clouseau and his men would've done a better job????"

So the DCC of the Essex Police has had to make a personal apology to Mr Lubbock Snr. over blunders in the initial stages of the investigation into the death of his son at the home of ex comedian Michael Barrymore. It seems the independent police complaints authority have handed the DCC their take on the investigation, hence the personal intervention of the Deputy Chief Constable. a rank that traditionally holds, amongst others, the portfolio on discipline and complaints. The police get a lot of retrospective slating over `bungled investigations` and often it's the `poor bloody infantry` who take the stick or at the very least are the ones who are seen, in the eyes of the public, as the Keystone Cops . I never join in the beatings on the lowest ranks in the service, especially when it is they who are inevitably first on the scene and often have to act quickly and on their own initiative . But there was a well worn phrase in the service that I happened to fully concur with when the blame was being dished out in large, indiscriminate helpings, "lack of supervision". However experienced and trustworthy a front line officer might be, it is patently unfair to allow them to simply get on with it, without the supervisory officer stepping in, checking the procedures, setting parameters and finally offering support in the progression of the investigation up to the point where it is either closed or handed over to a specialist department eg CID, Traffic Division etc. It should be patently clear to a supervisor, of any rank, that whereas they are permitted, on occasions, to delegate their authority to a lower rank, they can never delegate their responsibility. That little monkey, my friends, is always on the supervisor's back and where the buck usually stops, whatever the job or profession. But there is a more worrying and very personal niggle in my mind today, that has prompted me into this post and it involves a communication I had from a good buddy of mine only last night. Like me, he used to be police. He was a highly experienced Traffic officer, crash investigator and a firearms specialist but, unlike me, he had too long to wait for his pension and decided he wanted another career so he quit and retrained. A loss to the service. A short while ago his sister in law was hit by a car as she was out cycling. She was critically injured and to this day, 3 weeks on, she remains in a coma. Her husband (his brother) has been told by the neurosurgeon that the prognosis is not good and to expect the worst. The driver of the car failed to stop. The following is an extract from his e-mail to me: I've been dealing with the *********** police (the area it happened) who are totally useless. It was a hit and run driver and they didn't close the road for A.I. Fortunately, the driver gave herself up later in the day but.. they've not treated it as a potential fatality: no family liasion, no nothing. Its a town beat patrol officer who is tasked to investigate. I had to go to the local police station and threaten a formal complaint unless they seized the car, which they did that night. I found a witness, with significant evidence, they didn't even consider to be a witness! Pathetic. Aside from all that.. life has been fairly normal. My buddy drove 150 miles to that police station in order to do what he knew he had to do. They were lucky to have an expert such as him to make the effort, take the time off, drive 150 miles to their town and push them in the right direction. I'm sure the beat officer assigned the investigation feels the weight of the task he has been handed. But a criminal act has been committed that will likely result in a young woman's death. She was comatose from the moment of impact yet the investigation has lumbered along like a drunk trying to find his way home, ie. with just the barest notion of where he needs to go. I am amongst the last to slate the police. So is my buddy. He actually felt sorry for the officer handed this crock. He doesn't blame him and neither do I. But we know the system. His sister in law's incident was clearly crying out for half decent supervision and correct action at the scene, but it wasn't there - in abundance. It doesn't get more basic than this, but if they are fucking up potential fatal road traffic accidents for lack of basic supervision and guidance, not to mention the meagre numbers available due to bureaucratic strangulation....? Perhaps a senior officer needs to visit my buddy and tell him if he's missed something?


Blue Eyes said...

No doubt the Essex hierarchy will put together a nice Powerpoint presentation and tick-sheet and email it to all officers with a patronising reminder that if they are first on scene at a celebrity house party these are the things they should bear in mind.

When actually, as you say, a senior officer should get down there sharpish to make sure everything is under control. Isn't that what always happened in Morse?

Vetnurse said...

Generally l have found those that l deal with the front line are ok.

The other night l had to deal with a sergeant(l did a blog on it) and l can safely say the guy was a prime prat. If he is an example of a supervisor then god help us. No wonder mistakes are made.

I found out the following night (from a retired customs officer) before l even got into the story of the dogs DNA that he [sgt.] should have immediately sent officers round with DNA swabs without the performance there was.

powdergirl said...

That is so sad.
My sympathy to the accident victim and her family.
We had some of the same problems in my recent field of drilling and blasting.
Incidents of public harm, incidents of death of workers, property damages.
Most could be chalked up to a lack of training and supervision.
Similar also, the Blaster in Charge, is held personally liable, raked over the coals, loss of certification, threats of fines up to but not exceeding $500,000. The supervisor gets told to supervise more closely, The C.O gets a note to increase supervisory staff.
Occasionally there are real solutions, usually just a new protocol requiring the actual field workers to do more paper work, and wave their magic wands more vigorously.
So not nearly as bad as your former field, but with some similar stupidity.
I can empathize.

Annette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hogday said...

Thanks for the comments.

I don't believe that anyone goes to work with the deliberate intention of making a monumental balls-up. Most of the officers I worked with really wanted to do a good job. However, I saw a massive gulf develop between frontline officers and experienced supervisors, mostly caused by the `thinning out` of middle ranks for budgetary reasons. This puts more pressure on 1st line supervisors (shit rolls downhill) who, by the time I decided to leave, were so thin on the ground you'd often see an officer performing `acting sergeant` duties who were barely past their probation (2yrs service). Bloody false economies, again, when the accountants run amuck.

Auntie Jane said...

My sympathy to the woman and her family.

Hogday said...

Thanks AJ, Having ones nearest and dearest run down in the street and left for dead, followed by no serious attempt at an investigation, no family liaison officer appointed meaning no regular contact/updates sends a funny sort of message doesn't it?

On occasions, I was guilty of neglecting victims of crimes I was investigating, the very people who needed me. My excuse was always volume of work, but not when it involved grievious injury. I'm afraid this one does take one of the biscuits and the saddest thing was that I wasn't surprised to hear it.