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Guest #8: My view on the London 'riots', by The Law Map

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A section of the media, in particular The Guardian and The Independent had caught a section of the Conservatives gloating. Were the riots an inevitable offspring of David Cameron’s 'broken society'? The morning after rioting had subsided Cameron stood sullen in the presence of gathering microphones and cameras, his skin still glinting of the Tuscan sun.

Politics is a waiting game. The nature of democratic politics lies in the art of making the impossible possible. The possibility of achieving the impossible is the ultimate lure for the egotist entering this arena. Yet, this impossibility could only be possible under the right conditions and with a degree of persuasion. The cynic would call it coercion. Dictatorships reek of the bitter pungency of forced imposition. The cynic would add that there is no need for even the subliminal coercion through propaganda when at the height of one’s political power, whether for a dictator or Blair.
I am not a cynic but a student of the human condition.

There is no room for doubt in conservatism. Arguably, the London rioters have vindicated Mr Cameron’s assessment of the nature of man. Man meanders through a constant flux of aggression and self-interest. This lawlessness or ‘state of nature’ is nothing to be frowned upon yet it necessitates control. The early modern answer to this state of nature with the state still at its infancy, gesticulating through dictatorial monarchs, required the likes of Thomas Hobbes to argue for an absolute sovereign. To realise the potential of possible freedom within human society there needed to be a limit to the extent of that very freedom. Hobbes thought of it not as constriction but as ‘self-interested cooperation’ that could be achieved through a ‘social contract’ between the state and its citizens.

But Hobbes’ assessment of human nature is uncannily pessimistic. Perhaps, this pessimism could be attributed to the chaotic years of the English Civil War with the King and Parliament wrestling for absolute power. The notion of popular power propelling the state into the modern phenomenon that it is today was centuries away. Yet, the carcass that we have inherited today from those early notions of the political state contains the basic tenets of Hobbes’ social contract. The citizen as a member of civil society remains free to act in a way that is not forbidden by law. The sovereign state protects its citizens by limiting freedom when it comes to the forbidden. In three hundred years of Political Philosophy, protection and freedom have fallen in love, consummated, wedded, argued, separated and finally divorced. That is the state we are in.

David Cameron is of course not a direct philosophical descendant of Hobbes. Modern Conservatism has its roots in 18th century Whig politician and philosopher Edmund Burke’s idea that property is essential to human life. This singular conviction instils a necessary desire in people to be ruled and controlled. Burke anticipated that social changes brought about by the possession of property as the natural order of events should be taking place as the human race progressed. The division of property naturally leads to a convenient but altogether natural class system. This forms a social agreement and the setting of persons into different classes is the mutual benefit of all subjects.

What was a mere anticipation for Burke had led to a different reality centuries later. Burke understood conflict but seemed to have had little interest in the possibility of class conflict. Not all men are aggressive but some are so because of a ‘moral decline’ rather than any basic sense of inequality in society.

August had been a chance to shine for former and incumbent prime ministers. Tony Blair, an unlikely defendant of the chaviosa had been countering Cameron by stating that the riots should not be blamed on 'moral decline'.

What is this state that we are in? It would appear that our politicians are omniscient as well as possessing all the other qualities that hoist them into high offices of state. If politics is a waiting game laws are usually passed to reflect what had gone on before. After all, what is the point of burdening the statute books if there is no social need for a piece of legislation? The very nature of democracy is such that popular power can only come from populist laws, which more often than not, end up being short term containment and appeasement rather than dealing with the real symptoms of the disease.

Cameron's assessment of the broken society would at once seem different from what Blair had countered. Yet the moral stance is identical. Blair had affirmed his centre ground political stance once again; the 'left's reasoning for the riot is apparently concentrating on social depravity whereas the right is falling on the age old argument over a lack of personal responsibility'. Has Blair identified the real reasons for rioting? There is a 'group of alienated, disaffected youth who are outside the social mainstream and who live in a culture at odds with any canons of proper behaviour.' The former prime minister consoles us in stating 'that sort of improper behaviour is not endemic to British society but is common in the majority of developed western nations'.
Realpolitik always ignored what politics should really be about,

The casual commentator, whether left leaning or right-wing might not question the veracity of Blair's assessment. I believe that David Cameron had identified the very same yet much of his real concern had been lost somewhere in between the machinery of press briefings and news conferences.

So if we have identified the perpetrators and highlighted the reasons for riots, surely, this is time to learn our lessons from the rioters and not take advantage of a situation to hand out instant justice. Instant justice smacks of instant rioting.

The right had been calling for more visible police presence for years. Yet the cuts in police budget, in real terms, would undermine that very demand. The Conservative led coalition seem to have concluded that increased police presence in our streets would be preventing future riots. The same argument had been used when CCTV cameras first reared their ugly grey heads, beady eyed, watching our each movement in town centres across the land. The effect of increased police presence certainly reassure many residents, however, such presence often shift the crime scene to where there are no cameras or uniformed police standing guard. More importantly, CCTV cameras do not prevent crime and even their usefulness as an investigative tool could have been questioned until the rioters were caught on camera.

Democracy, when based on popular power can stifle the fringes. Popular voice resonate through the mirrored walls of Versailles and the echoes drown out the squealing insects caught up in the cobwebs around the thin joints between those polished mirrors. Yet it is the fringes that colourfully define the state we are in and remind us of the necessary truths however unpleasant those truth might be.

So what of the angry alienated youth and his morally declined rioting ways? Instant justice had been demanded by a hysterical right-wing. Magistrates had processed criminal cases one after another like a supermarket checkout. It is that very term processed I find so distressing. The purpose of the justice system is not to process criminals but to provide an impartial platform for defendants to argue their case in light of clear evidence linking them to a crime. Public opinion has no place in the execution of justice although, it does unfortunately play a major part in its conception. This is the primary model of social contract based on popular democracy that had upheld the modern political state since Bastille.

Almost two decades ago the Rodney King riots in the US had a racial origin. The London riots might have started out as a protest by the Afro-Caribbean community around Tottenham against the police treatment of young black men, however, the criminal looting carried no echoes of civil rights movements from the past. The disturbance followed a trend all too known to the basest instinct in human nature, opportunistic greed. The civilised and environmentally conscious world we live in has no time for historical references. Julius Caesar, the Roman conqueror turned dictator called Rome the mob. Rome had always been the mob. In each mob there is the potential for senility. Public gatherings are the first to be banned by dictators in times of political unrest because the mob could turn violent at any moment. The equivalent in Britain would be the fees protest gatherings in the winter of 2010 as well as G20 protests. In both instances we witnessed how little provocation is required for events to turn nasty. Only the supremely charismatic leader, the likes of Mahatma Ghandi in colonial India or Nelson Mandela is South Africa could exercise a minor degree of control upon such mobs. The rest are doomed.

Is it moral depravity or criminal intent that drives the modern man? Neither. Not all of us are men. We could not be men ignoring the abject social conditions that we live through.

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Images from The Guardian Website

Note From Ollie: Thanks to TheLawMap for taking the time to write this fantastic article on the 2011 'Riots', i've really enjoyed reading it. I also need to apologise for it being late...i had intended to publish it yesterday afternoon but slept all day because i was on nights. Anyway, i chose TheLawMap to be a guest blogger for a few reasons, mainly because every Sunday i am impressed by the 'Sunday Law Review'. This review is a really well researched article on law issues from the previous week. It is easy to read, and covers a huge range of law topics. I really admire the commitment, and the result is impressive. Well done mate, keep up the great work, and thanks again for being one of my guest bloggers!

Guest #7: ASB in 2012, by Bonnie

"Public perceptions vs. working realities"

Over the many years I have worked in the area of Anti Social Behaviour (ASB), I find that every so often a few cases hit the headlines that are particularly poignant.  For example, the Baby P and Fiona Pilkington cases.

Not only are these cases shocking because of the tragic deaths of the victims but because their deaths are in part, due to failings by agencies that should have been protecting them.  These cases are so atrocious that they call for changes to be made to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.

It’s clear for the wider public to see that the case of Stephen Lawrence, for example, has had a hugely significant impact on the way the Law and the Police manage Hate Crime.  The changes made following the death of Baby P and Fiona Pilkington however, are less visible.

Due to my working in the field of Anti Social Behaviour I can’t comment on Baby P, but I feel I am able to confidently write about the Pilkington Case.

In October 2007, Fiona Pilkington got herself and her daughter in her car and set it alight. It was the result of a prolonged period of targeted anti social behaviour (ASB) that she felt she could no longer cope with.  In 2009 an inquest took place to ascertain how Fiona Pilkington had been failed by the various agencies that she had continually reported the problems to.

It transpired that her family had endured 10 years of abuse at their home. They had repeatedly been targeted by groups of up to 16 youngsters, with stones, eggs and flour thrown at the house. Her son and disabled daughter also received more sinister incidents of abuse.

During the 10 year period, Pilkington complained to Leicestershire Police 33 times regarding the harassment.  The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) published its investigation findings in its report in May 2011

One of the most significant findings the IPCC report listed was that:
“Incidents were too often dealt with by police officers in isolation and with an unstructured approach”
In the past this was common practice and it’s clear that it is both frustrating for victims and unproductive in addressing the perpetrators.

The report also focused on three other very significant failings.  It stated that:

The family was never identified as victims of ‘Hate Crime’, despite the fact that Pilkington’s daughter had learning disabilities.

The authorities failed to identify the area, where the ASB was taking place, as a ‘Hotspot’ location; consequently the area did not receive a proactive response.

The family was never identified as repeat and vulnerable victims in their own right. That is, much of the ASB was specifically targeted at the Pilkington family, but it was not distinguished from the general ASB in the vicinity of their home.

Working in the world of ASB it’s clear to me that the mistakes made in the Pilkington case were not the fault of that specific Police Force or Local Authority, but the way ASB was dealt with at the time. Now that the inquest has been completed and the IPCC report has been published - the question is: has anything changed?

In my opinion, since the Pilkington Enquiry, a great deal of work has been done looking at how resources can be used more effectively to identify and support repeat and /or vulnerable victims of ASB.

Recently, 8 Police Forces took part in a Home Office Field Trial’ to improve certain aspects of ASB management.  Having been part of this trial, I can honestly say that the changes I have seen have been considerable.

The way I (and the team around me) work, has changed completely and our processes are highly ‘Victim Led’. Working this way has enabled us to significantly reduce the number of ASB victims in the area, along with the number of calls ASB victims are making. More importantly however, I feel our resources are finally prioritised to meet the needs of those suffering the most.

Fiona Pilkington should never have been in a position where she felt that suicide was the best option. At least this tragic incident has not been ignored or marginalized – real change has happened as a direct response, which just may prevent it happening again.

Written by Bonnie (@ASBO_Girl)

Note From Ollie: Thanks Bonnie, for being my 7th guest blogger. Anti-Social Behaviour was once looked upon as a mild annoyance, and the effect that it had on some was never really understood. The Pilkington case, and others, have shown us that ASB is often much more than just an can take over the lives of the victim, and isolate them significantly. The way ASB is dealt with has changed dramatically, and a lot of work has gone into providing support via a multi-agency approach. I think we are now successfully tackling ASB effectively and supporting the victims well. It is something we can all be proud of. I chose Bonnie to be a guest blogger because she is part of the new system of tacking ASB, and the more we share good practice the better. Thanks Bonnie, this is a really balanced view of the past, and the future!

Guest #6: Less of the anti: police and social media, by Julie

The first thing I realised when I joined this Force was that police LOVE telling stories.

Every meeting kicks off with news of the sad discoveries, ridiculous mishaps and colleagues stepping in to go beyond the call of duty.  Canteens, station corridors and car parks are a buzz of story-swapping, information exchange and chance discoveries off the back of a quick comment.  It’s a fluid, fluent dialogue which doesn’t overstep what’s safe or permissible and, if you come in from outside the organisation, it’s fascinating.

It’s not surprising when so few people have direct contact with police that the same members of our communities crop up again and again and that they develop relationships of sorts with our custody officers, neighbourhood teams and call handlers, that they often know each other by name and have ‘come up through the ranks’ together on either side of the thin blue line.

When you understand the complex, interlinked conversations which happen across police forces every day and with our public, it makes perfect sense that officers and local teams are taking to Twitter and Facebook like ducks to water.  Although the first step for most forces is a corporate account on Twitter - a useful way of getting information out to a lot of people FAST - the real benefits, for us at least, come from the conversations and chat between officers, teams and communities.

Don’t get me wrong - there’s been much wrestling and soul searching as our Force’s command team weighs up the risks and benefits of this form of engagement but the enormous appetite from the public to talk directly to us has clinched the deal.  With hundreds of queries, mentions of intel, pleas for help, complaints and jokes coming in to us every day, social media have become a significant part of how we communicate.  As an officer said the other day with a shrug, “We couldn’t stop even if we wanted to.  We have no exit strategy.”

As well as conversations between officers, staff and the public, the individual accounts held by members of our Force mean an open window into their working and personal lives.  Dip into Twitter at any point during 24 hours and you’ll see admin assistants, chief inspectors, PCSOs and the Deputy Chief Constable wading into (mostly) good natured rivalry between districts as well as discussion about politics and philosophy, local events, music, recipes and running tips.  There’s plenty of heated debate too about changes to policing and what it means for us - none of this was ever mandated from the top but a command team strongly supportive of social media means a degree of frankness and transparency that no corporate communications will be able to achieve.

Inevitably there will be times when something goes wrong - when an officer’s opinions overstep the mark and cause offence - but as ACC Gordon Scobie points out, if he trusts an officer with a baton, why wouldn’t he trust them with a Twitter account?  The letting go of the command and control culture, in communications at least, is one of the most exciting things to happen in policing for a very long time.

@julierainey is employed by Sussex Police but tweets in a personal capacity.  For more information about our social media users, have a look at or

Note From Ollie: Thank you Julie, for being my 6th guest blogger. I first came across Julie when i spent a day in the summer of 2011 in awe of Sussex Police's Social Media Day. Since then, i have realised that Sussex Police really have a forward thinking view on social media, and i cant help but get really excited when i find some new feature on their website. It may sound a bit silly to say how excited i am about it, but traditionally police and social media dont mix. The modern view is that the police, and public, hugely benefit from social media...but there are still a lot of entrenched attitudes towards it, and there is a lot of suspicion still surrounding it. Each forward step is a triumph for modern police thinking. So i hugely admire what Julie, and her team, have is a great honour to have her as a guest blogger.

The next episode for Diet Justice

Morning everyone!

We have hit the mid-point for DJ's birthday blogging extravaganza, and i could not have wished for better writers, better articles, and better feedback from our readers. The biggest compliment for a blogger is to have readers who are willing to put the time and effort into writing their own articles for me. So i thank both the guest bloggers, and the readers who have given such great feedback. I hope you all enjoy the next 4 guest bloggers.

The Future of DJ, click here to visit
The current incarnation of Diet Justice is hosted by Google's blogspot, and it has served us all very well over the past 12 months. However i think you would agree that it has become tired and is in need of a redesign. I also think there is room for us to unite the 'DJ Family' in a more community based blog (please dont cringe :p). I have played around with lots of different blog and community platforms over the past few months, and i have finally found one that i feel will offer us all a much more cosy blogging experience.

I don't intend to launch the new site for some time, but have chosen to share it with you now in the hope that a few of you will be willing to cast your eye over it and help me create something that we can all enjoy. I want the new DJ to be much more reflective of the people who have made it a success, the readers. You will have heard me refer to the 'DJ Family' a lot since i started blogging, and this new blog will be our new home.

When you look at the new site you will see that it currently consists of 4 parts. The Blog will continue as it always has, but there are 3 other features that i think we can have a lot of fun with.
  • The always the DJ Family surrounds the blog, and i don't intend to change that. What will be new is the ability for certain members to submit their own articles without having to send it through to me first. I don't intend for it to become a free-for-all, but it will allow guest bloggers to format their own articles, and therefore make them much more personal to them.
  • The Members...This is something very new to DJ, and i take a tentative approach to it. I really want to build on the community we have already created, but i realise that going from 'reader' to 'member' is a big step. For the new 'community' features to be a success i need your help, and the first thing you can do to kick start this is to register as a member. In return, i promise to give you the chance to share your own blogs or websites, and share your opinions and thoughts if you wish to, and meet like minded people. I can't compete with twitter, but i have no doubt that the DJ family can build something equally as unique and enjoyable.
  • The Forum...A few times a week i will identify a current affairs topic that i think appeal to you guys, and provide a platform for us to discuss it. There will also be opportunities to become 'forum owners'. You pick a topic, i create a sub forum for it, and we see how much interest we can generate in it. 
  • The Links...If you have a blog, a website, or want to share a site you find interesting, you will be able to submit it to the links section. I have already transferred over the 'Blog Roll' from this version of DJ, along with a selection of links that i visit regularly.
Like i said, i don't plan on launching the new site yet. My aim here is to have the new DJ created by the DJ tell me what you think, and i will make it happen.

Guest #5: Rural-Urban policing under the cosh in face of spending cuts, by Mike

I never intended to be a copper. When I left school at 16 I had top honours in two subjects: Girls and motorbikes. While my mates went on to college or took up apprenticeships, I settled for the first job I could get - working on a farm.

It was a small place - 150 acres. I'd been helping out there since I was about 12, forking bales of hay into dusty hot dutch barns, taty-picking and sweeping down the yard on a Saturday morning.
Before health and safety got its teeth into rural life, I would ride back to the farm balanced precariously on top of the trailer load of hay, lashed down with well worn rope, smoking. If I was very good, the farmer would let me take the wheel of the tractor when we were out in the fields.
Apart from girls and bikes, I had one other passion in those days: York City FC  We're talking here about the old Second Division, when the Man Uniteds, Aston Villas and Sunderlands visited Bootham Crescent.
Mike Pannett

Even at 40p, the admission was a bit steep for a farm labourer doing a man's job for a boy's wage, but I soon realised that some of the spectators around me were getting to watch the match for nowt. They served in the local TA, and their home base was the Lumley Barracks, which overlooked the ground.
Several years in the Terriers made a man of me, got me perched on the barrack roof to view a lot of games free of charge, and had me thinking about careers. How I wound up in the Metropolitan Police - and how I got back to God's Own Country 10 years later - is a long story, and will be the subject of a later books. For now, I've had enough tales from North Yorkshire to fill several volumes.

From one day to the next as a country cop, you never know whether you're going to be chasing stolen cars, rescuing flood victims or going off in pursuit of mythical beasts that roam the countryside.
Take a cold January night a few years ago, for example. I was sitting in a lay-by having a drink from my Thermos when the boy racers shot past, doing 80 in a stolen Golf. I gave chase, and soon had a Traffic car involved, plus an Armed Response Vehicle which was in the area.

As my speed hit 105, I learned that reinforcements from York were setting up a road-block. Disaster almost struck when we got to the outskirts. We arranged to have a "stinger" rolled out across the road but could only watch as the runaways skirted round it on the grass verge and one of the pursuing cars ploughed right through it, ripping their tyres to shreds. We got the car thieves in the end, but I left my fellow officers do the explaining. I was off on another call. Twenty minutes after the drama of that high-speed chase I was on my hands and knees, crawling across a snowbound fourteenth green on Ganton Golf Course. A woman had rung in, insisting she'd seen the Ryedale Panther, the notorious "big cat" that supposedly stalks the fields, always just far enough away to avoid a positive ID, and always in the dark.

This time, I was told, there were prints, huge prints, enormous, outlandish prints, perfectly preserved in snow that had fallen a day or two previously. So there I was, on all fours, investigating. All I lacked was a deer-stalker hat and a magnifying glass. When it came on to snow again, heavily, obscuring even my footprints - well, I hope nobody was passing by. God knows what they would have made of me, standing there in full uniform, laughing and shaking my head. The mystery of the panther remains unsolved.

Sometimes laughter is the only response. We know that there's nowt so strange as folk

They're bright lads in the news media - not much escapes them.

They've decided that we're all worried by the current austerity measures, by financial insecurity, rising fuel prices and the ever-increasing pension age - and you can't argue with that. But, as ever, they're only interested in the effects of hard times on our inner cities. They ignore the countryside. So who is shouting for our corner, for the hard-pressed farmers and rural communities?

When I moved to the capital to join the Metropolitan Police, people talked about the North-South divide. I could see it, plain as the nose on your face. I was like a fish out of water. But that was 25 years ago. Right now I think it's the urban-rural divide that needs to be looked at. That's the fault-line running down the backbone of Britain. We know it's the minority in the countryside who feed the majority in the towns, yet the decision-makers, news editors and policy-makers are all city-based, and largely unaware of the special circumstances of rural living.

Even those city slickers who spend their weekends in country hideaways; how in touch are they with the realities of the local economy?

Do they realise how few of us are on mains gas, or the distances we have to travel to reach work, schools or shops? Do they assume farmers still work with horse and plough? As they commute to work on their regular buses and trains, or ferry their children a few hundred yards to school in their Chelsea tractors, do they have the faintest idea how out-of-control fuel prices affect us country people?
Many of us who have served in rural police forces are waiting with bated breath to see where the cutbacks are aimed.

You can bet the prime target will be the front-line - and that will strike at the heart of rural policing. I know only too well what it feels like to confront a car-load of burglars in the middle of nowhere, on your own, knowing that your only back-up is 30 miles away along narrow, twisting roads; or to conduct a man-hunt on the North York Moors and be told the only helicopter in the region is tied up on Humberside.

We are already stretched to the limit, yet we constantly see resources channelled to the areas where the crime figures are highest - namely, the urban centres.
And, as the strength of the country forces is eroded, I find myself wondering where the urban crooks will head next, in search of easier pickings. They're not daft, are they?

Drops in cops

The one advantage we have over the city folk is our sense of community - re-branded by David Cameron as the "big society". We've always looked out for each other. We already have a big society, but how do we maintain it? Country Watch and Farm Watch do a fantastic job, but they need the backup and support of officers in uniform, on the roads and in the villages.
Prince Charles has recently spoken about the way in which unprecedented pressures are picking at the threads of rural life. Without some serious support for our hard-pressed farmers and rural police forces, the very fabric of the countryside could be torn apart.

But we're seeing budget cuts that will have a huge impact on all forces across England and Wales. The smaller rural forces such as North Yorkshire - it's actually the largest county in England - will feel them worst of all. North Yorkshire had 1,650 police officers in 2007 and is bracing itself for a loss of 400, along with some 350 civilian staff. At 1,250, its officer strength will be the lowest in its history.
I'm afraid we're going to have to get used to seeing even less cops on the streets and even fewer patrolling in the rural communities. The system of "fire brigade" policing will become more the norm. Officers will only be seen when responding to an incident - whether we're talking about a burglar alarm, a call from a member of the public, or a cry for help for any number of reasons. Proactive and community policing will have to take a back seat.

Even if the economics are inevitable, why should front-line services have to suffer - why not cut the pay of senior management? Something needs to be done, or we'll soon have the unedifying spectacle of 60-year-old male and female officers tackling violent criminals, street gangs and rioting protesters. How can chief constables spin us the line that they will be able to deliver a better service with such deep cuts?

The working hours of a beat bobby are, to say the least, punishing. It is for any shift worker, but a copper rarely finishes when his or her hours are up. There is frequently a statement to be taken, an arrest procedure to be completed, a report to write - and in this highly litigious age, you don't scrawl a few lines and sling it in, then dash home. You make sure it's water-tight against every argument a lawyer can throw at it. Faced with this kind of stress, is it any wonder that only a few years ago, a police officer in North Yorkshire who worked until retiring age could have expected, on average, no more than five more years of life?

The cuts are affecting us all. As a police officer I saw my share of political demonstrations, but I never expected to see the violence that affected London-Manchester-The Midlands during this summer’s riots. It took 16,000 police officers to bring the riots under control in the capital. It also needed leadership from senior management to step up to the mark. The figure of 16,000 is the amount of officers about to be cut. I think this is the biggest mistake any government will ever make with regards to policing in this country. It will set policing back to the 1970s, and will take years for future governments to put right. I wrote about my own experience of the summer  riots. This is posted on the Hodder web-site.

Someone needs to stand up for the rural & urban communities. So if you're listening, Mr Cameron, Ms May, Mr Herbert  give us a break. And for the record Mr Winsor I repeat a football song “you don’t know what your doing”


Mike Pannett was born in York and joined the Metropolitan Police in 1988. He transferred to North Yorkshire police in 1997. In 2007 Mike left the police to become a full time author. He has written 4 “best selling” books, and his publisher is Hodder. Mike’s 5th book “Up beat down dale” is due to be released in July 2012. A series of Metropolitan policing books is then planned

Mike Pannett 17th February 2012-02-17
“Twitter” @mikepannett

Note from Ollie: Thanks Mike for being another one of my guest bloggers. A very whimsically worded article that gives us a taste of your writing style, and i can assure readers that all your books are written so well. Mike always has something interesting to say about the current climate of policing, but i chose him mainly because of how well he represents the policing of the past. As someone once said; to predict the future you have to look at the past. Anyone who has been part of the police service for even a few weeks will be aware of the political roundabout we are all on. When there is wide scale change, officers often deal with it by knowing that within 5 years we will be back to where we started. Mike's books show us some areas where we have already done that, but they also predict others where we will be heading in the next few years. Thanks Mike.

Guest #4: a Fed Rep's view on the future of modern policing, by Clive

I am grateful for the opportunity to write a few words and in doing so would open by congratulating Ollie on his Twitter birthday. As his many followers will know he is a prolific tweeter and blogger – which I suspect is an outlet for what must surely be an over-active mind and perennial insomnia.

It will be obvious to anyone reading this that unlike so many of Ollie’s followers and guest bloggers I am no academic; I haven’t been to “Uni” in fact the only way that I am ever likely to be found at university is in a pickle jar on a shelf – so if you are expecting some great exposition, I would give up now. I do however, have over thirty years practical experience as a police officer – much spent as a community beat constable, but of course nowadays this doesn’t seem count for very much at all.

Practical experience would also more than likely work against me if ever I applied for a job at a ‘Think-Tank’ plus I have the disadvantage of never having experienced a gap-year herding mountain goats and learning to play a humanatone in some remote part of the globe.

Much has been written and spoken of recently asking, “What are the police for”? BBC Radio Four broadcast a number of programmes discussing what it is the police should and should not be doing. These discussions have been set against a backdrop of the governments 20% cuts to policing, with the planned loss of over 16,000 full-time police officers. It is clear that despite what government ministers have said such unprecedented cuts will impact on what we do and the frontline.

The Police Federation have always warned of the impact of 20% cuts – supported by a piece of work undertaken by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary [HMIC] who argued that policing could withstand 12% cuts but no more.

The Association of Chief Police Officers [ACPO] initially said that such cuts will not impact on frontline policing and that they can manage. However, many chief constables are now breaking ranks and faced with the stark reality of the cuts have started to issue severe warnings of the catastrophic impact on service delivery.

Chief officers are having to make decisions regarding where they need to base dwindling resources and what functions should/should not be performed by officers. Many are looking to cut community policing and safer-neighbourhood teams in order to be able to respond to incidents, 999 calls etc.

I believe that to be forced to cut community policing and take police officers away from neighbourhood teams will have a disastrous impact. You only have to look back to the nineteen-sixties, when officers were taken off of foot patrol beats and put into cars to see how we became distant and anonymous to a whole generation and we have never truly recovered from that time.

In the last ten years great strides have been made with community policing and it is the bedrock on which intelligence led policing is based. (Intelligence-led policing is a business model and managerial philosophy where data analysis and crime intelligence are pivotal to an objective, decision-making framework that facilitates crime and problem reduction, disruption and prevention through both strategic management and effective enforcement strategies that target prolific and serious offenders.)

I am reluctant to use the phrase ‘Back to Basics’ (knowing that it came to haunt former Prime Minister John Major) but in relation to policing much can be gained from delving into our history to learn from what we may have got wrong over the years as well as build on all that is right. However, the past is for resonance – not for residence – so we do have to keep focused on what’s going on today.

In 1829 Sir Richard Mayne the first Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police wrote “The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all of the efforts of police must be directed.

The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquility, and the absence of crime will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objectives for which the police were appointed have been attained.”

As complex as policing has become, Mayne’s statement is still highly relevant today. If allowed to get on with this, with sufficient fully warranted officers and the proper level of scrutiny and accountability, we cannot go too far wrong.

The dichotomy that chief officers face between delivery of response policing versus neighborhood teams – with many arguing that they may not be able to do both is really worrying and our communities need to be aware of this.

Members of the public do need to decide whether they want a police force or a police service, the biggest danger being that we become so remote, police officers will generally only come into contact with people during a conflict situation somewhat like the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité [CRS] in France.

The government argue that more money can be saved in policing and I woud agree. Collaboration between forces is a good move with great potential to save millions on procurement of goods and services – if ever chief officers are able to reach agreement.

Many argue for more involvement from the private sector – but this would mean policing for shareholders and with profit in mind rather than people and the private sector will be taking on contracts to make money – not save it.

Policing is too important an issue to be decided by politicians and that is why I repeat the call for a non-partisan Royal Commission, to look into the whole of the criminal justice system. If people do not wake-up now to what is happening to what is still arguably the best police service in the world – then we will continue to sleep walk to disaster and before we know it – it will be too late!

Follow Clive on Twitter; @MrCliveC
Note from Ollie: Thanks Clive, for being my 4th birthday guest blogger. Clve was one of the first police officers i met through twitter and he has been a constant presence throughout the last year of blogging. He may not be an 'academic', as he said in his first paragraph, but to really tackle the issues he discussed we need to engage with both academics, and those who are most experience in the field itself. That's why i asked Clive to be one of my guest bloggers. The Police Federation is more important now than it every has been, and Fed Reps like Clive are the voices of reason during a highly politicised era for policing.  Keep up the great work Clive, and thanks again for writing for DJ this week.

Guest #3: Demanding performance, by PFNDF

Police Federation
National Detective's Forum
When Diet Justice asked me to write a guest blog, my thoughts turned immediately to the working lives of detectives. With current crime figures showing a rise in serious offences, the pressure on CID officers is mounting.

And this is at a time when forces across the country are actually reducing their CIDs because of political pressure to put as many officers as possible into so-called ‘front line’ roles – and HMIC consider that only a percentage of detectives are ‘front line’ (although nobody has come up with an agreed definition of ‘front line’).

In most, if not all, CIDs, it is therefore inevitable that more is going to be asked of less.

I want here to examine specifically the consequence for my colleagues when this increasing pressure leads to mistakes.

The review and investigation of serious and acquisitive crime falls usually to a trained detective officer. I say ‘usually’ because unfortunately many forces – although by no means all – have investigation units in which only a third of the staff are trained detectives. The other two thirds comprise either individuals who have yet to complete the relevant training or those who are still waiting to start it.

Clearly, this can make supervision and management very difficult, with standards extremely hard to maintain.

Consider also the workload shouldered by these individuals. Sometimes they are required to handle 20, 30 or even more investigations at the same time – a work rate which is virtually impossible to maintain, especially when some of the investigations become extended and complicated. Inevitably, mistakes happen. They happen at the start of investigations, in the middle and at the end. And they happen too often.

And there is a problem over how we deal with these mistakes because at the moment we almost always resort to hunting for someone we can blame and punish. This process often involves a protracted investigation of its own.

When eventually an officer is shown to have missed an investigative opportunity, failed to pursue one, or chosen the wrong one, then blame is attributed and the individual is often disciplined. If the issue is high profile or the mistake has been made before, they may face the sack. Even if the officer keeps his or her job, they will, as a rule, be moved out of investigative work.

I say this is all wrong. Why do we not approach mistakes as a performance issues?

Police have regulations governing performance that mirror the discipline regulations but allow for periods of monitoring, training and reviewing.

Police forces spend thousands of pounds on training an officer. If that officer is dismissed, the investment is lost. If, however, under-achieving officers can be coaxed to raise their game, the money will not be wasted but will provide a dividend which can be expected to grow and grow as the redeemed individuals help their forces deliver a quicker and more efficient service to the public.

Of course, this approach will not work with everyone. But I believe that, more often than not, it will provide vastly better outcomes than does the blame culture which is so prevalent at the moment.

We need ACPO and the Home Office to properly inspire and demand implementation of performance regulations while moving away from the crime and punishment approach.

It cannot be right that the fastest growing area of complaints is investigative failures. Let us instead make investigative work the fastest improving area and start to drive our performance forward – and, at the same time, provide a bit of good news for crime victims.

Police Federation National Detective's Forum, General Secretary

From Ollie: PFNDF, in practice, represents a particular group of specialist police officers who involve themselves with the bringing to court of offenders involved in the more serious and complex crimes. This being a small group, by comparison, it can be easy to forget that they actually represent the a skill set that is core to every member of the police family...the detection and investigation of crime. Detectives are a group of experts that can often go unseen, often literally, and therefore their contribution can be underestimated. I chose PFNDF to be a guest blogger because i think its important that the police service continue to invest in the expert investigators, as otherwise a lot of the high profile cases will remain undetected, and the minority of society free to harm the majority. Thanks for being part of the celebrations mate!

Guest #2: Politicians Need to Get Social Media

I’m a Member of Parliament, it’s a varied exciting job with a different challenge every day of the week. For me dealing with hundreds of constituents every week trying to help them in any small way I can is one of the most rewarding parts of it.

Since I was elected 9 months ago I’ve become more convinced that social media is an absolutely vital tool to help me effectively represent my constituents (Leicester South by the way if you’re wondering) and help them week in week out.

Jon Ashworth MP
The power of social media was brought home to by this very blog last summer. Diet Justice readers will recall that this blog’s genial host had an unsatisfactory dealing with my office. There is no need to go into the ins and out of that here but Ollie blogged about it, I found out about it via twitter and I quickly got in touch with Ollie via twitter on the Sunday morning when it came to my attention. That’s the beauty of twitter and social media, it allows an MP to quickly engage with a constituent directly and promptly whereas in the past constituents would need to write to their MP or wait for the next surgery appointment.

I often meet constituents who are pleasantly surprised at how quickly I respond to them via twitter. Indeed i’ve made some twitter friends who probably don’t support my Party and probably never will, but I honestly think I’ve gained their respect by responding and engaging with the arguments on the key issues. For example I’ve no idea who @KulganofCrydee is, I’ve no idea if I’ve ever actually met him in person or not but I know he’s not a Labour supporter and yet he’s become one of my best twitter buddies as we joust on various issues regularly. The banter is good natured and cheery even where we profoundly disagree.

Other constituents get in touch asking when my next surgery is or just to let me know they agree with something I’ve said or indeed disagree with something I’ve said. So I use twitter to let people know where i’m going, where my next surgery is and link to the campaigns i’m pushing locally. I use it to comment on national political stories or at other times just make observations about something that has amused me. But most importantly I use it to engage in a conversation with people in a friendly human way. Those who sue twitter to simply broadcast a viewpoint are missing the point of it.

I’ve also used it to help me gain a better understanding of a particular issue. For example, lately I’ve been really concerned about rising levels of youth unemployment which is a real problem in Leicester and nationally. I raised it with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons before Christmas and cheekily asked when was the last time he had a met a young unemployed person. He couldn’t answer, and he then told me the Future Jobs Fund created just ‘phoney’ jobs. I couldn’t believe it and nor could lots of my twitter followers. Before long I was getting inundated on twitter with examples of real jobs found via the future jobs funds which I went back and highlighted. That’s the power of social media.
So increasingly the most effective politicians will be those that take part in a dialogue with people not just put out a press release, make a speech and refuse to engage. That’s what twitter is all about, I think it helps me be a better representative for the people of Leicester South. And at the very least if it wasn’t for social media, I would probably never have got in touch with Ollie to help him out and I probably wouldn’t be writing this now.

Jon Ashworth is the Labour MP for Leicester South, you can follow him on twitter @jonashworth

Previous Birthday Blogger (Vid on Blogging) <- -> Next Birthday Blogger (PFNDF on future of detective work)

Note from Ollie: Thanks, Jon, for being my second birthday blogger. When i was choosing my birthday bloggers i always had Jon in mind...he was there for me during one of the hardest times in my life, and his practical support has been amazing. The past decade has been a difficult time for his party. Despite having Labour values, i never thought i could bring myself to vote for them again. Jon has reminded me what politics is really about, and that local politics is where the good things happen. The Labour Party may have a difficult national position, but i have no doubt who i will be voting for when it comes to the local elections. This reignition of my belief in politics, combined with what i have learned as a blogger, has led me to consider a future in politics. If i ever do enter politics, i will be modelling myself on Jon Ashworth.

Guest #1: Five things i've learned, by Vidster

I have only been blogging since late November 2009 but there are (at least) five things I have learned.

#1: using a pen name does not make you less credible or, hinders you from getting a web presence.

Using the pen name “Vidster” has not stopped me from getting anyone to collaborate with me and has never undermined the credibility and essence of my cold case analysis. After reading my posts, people see that I am a serious blogger. No nonsense. That makes all the difference.

#2: are you blogging for yourself or to get seen on the web?

Everyone has a motive. Why do you blog? Your motive will influence how you write and that will either motivate you to continue or discourage you.

I write with the victims in mind and not for web presence. Despite the fact that I have never followed any advice you read in “how to blog best for SEO” DCC has landed (depending on your continent) on Google search pages 2 or 3 if you look for “cold cases.” How? DCC has unique content not repeated elsewhere (e.g. multiple postings of the same blog post on different sites and blogs) and everything is clearly written “in my own voice.” I am not a profession writer. Nobody edits what I write. So, you can get seen if you stay true to yourself. It will make blogging a natural and fun experience without stressing for numbers!

#3: blogrolls are not all the same.

On some blogs, a blogroll is an overview of all the blogs/websites related to the one you are reading or, they contain the links of every site/blog that blog owner knows. Others have only links listed from blogs the owner actually reads him/herself or, the blogs from those who comment frequently and some only list their friends’ blog links.

Blogrolls can serve as a guide to find likeminded bloggers but remember, just because a link is listed does not mean that the blogger actually reads that blog.

#4: Think outside your own blog comment section!

We all want comments on our blog. One way to get people to discuss your posts is by using Twitter. But you need to do a little more than tweet: start a chat!

Chats allow for a deeper discussion of a subject/topic in a stream of tweets and it also refers people back to the original blog post. As a result, people may still not immediately comment but by participating in the chat you do get feedback about the post.

Enhance this experience by using Twitter apps like Tweetchat to filter only tweets with your hash tag so you can concentrate on those.

Before you start a chat, make an outline. What are you going to discuss, why, and how is this different from anything already on the blog? Enlist some Twitter friends to help plug the first chat. Last, to make sure you keep people interested, post a recap so those who could not participate see what they missed.

#5: interact with other bloggers!

You cannot expect that others read your blog, participate in your chat, and comment on your posts if you never return the favour. So retweet another blogger’s link to a new post and comment on their sites.

The easiest way to keep up is by using Twitter lists. I check them at least once a week. You see what others are doing, what inspires them and you get to know them.

You will find that a little interaction will lead to people asking you to participate and offering help when you are stuck. And the latter has amazed me! The number of people on Twitter willing to help for free is enormous. Use that potential but make sure you contribute as well.

So if you ever thought about starting a blog, do it. Go!

Note From Ollie: First off, thanks to Vid for being part of these birthday celebrations. I picked Vid to be a guest blogger because he has been a consistent positive presence in my blogging life since he started blogging, just a few months after me. I have admired his ability to coordinate large groups of people in meaningful and productive discussion, be that on twitter or on his blog. This is not all i admire...i admire his commitment to his cause. I spend my time commenting on things that interest me, but Vid produces tangible developments in public awareness. Go check him out...if you're interested in cold case investigation this should be your main stomping ground.

Happy Birthday Diet Justice!

It's 11am, and by saying that i've just started the 'birthday edition' blog post in the same way that i started the first ever blog post 12 months ago. This time i don't have any essays due, and i'm not 'officially' procrastinating...despite my entire life being one big procrasto-sesh. The past year has honestly been the hardest year of my life, and i think the 384 blog posts have sub-textually reflected that. My articles have been a mixture of two parts of my life. Sometimes they have been about politics, law, police or ethics, and acted as a distraction. Other times they have been a way of me venting my various frustrations. Either way, this blog has helped me through a difficult year and i'm both proud of what i have achieved (despite the curse of the lower case 'i', and the chronic overuse of cat pictures), and thankful for those who have supported me. Now i've put DJ into some sort of personal context, i make no apologies for this particular article sounding a bit like a Kate Winslet Golden Globes acceptance speech...sorry! ;-)

Lets hit some statistics. In 365 days i have written 384 articles. I've gone from the occasionally confusingly named 'No Such Word As Kan't' blog, to the slightly more coherent 'Diet Justice'. DJ has grown from a 'good day' visitor count being 10, to a grand total of just under 200,000 visitors in a year. I discovered twitter, which was a bit of a watershed for my blogging career. I have gathered a respectable 3,500 followers, most of which have been carefully categorised into at least 1, but usually more, of my twitter list directory. Twitter was my first step into the wider social media world, and i have enjoyed experimenting with as many other platforms as i can get my hands on.

I'm particularly pleased with the 'hurdles' series of articles. The 'hurdles series' chart what i have learned as a blogger, and are written to help any aspiring blogger avoid the mistakes, or 'hurdles', i have had to overcome. They have become very popular in blogging circles, but i cant help but think that part of the evolution of the new blogger is to find ones own ways of overcoming the various hurdles.

The ups and downs of the last year have led to me making more serious mistakes. Highly emotional topics have sometimes led me to writing articles that have offended or upset people who did not deserve it. In particular i regret some of the words i wrote about Jon Ashworth, and Dominic Shellard. They have since been very patient with me, and im very proud to count them as two of my most influential role models.

By blogging as a Special Constable, and a member of Police staff, i have entered a world that most colleagues see as dangerous. Despite my occasional mistakes i am very proud to be one of the first non-anonymous serving police officers/staff who have found an approach to blogging that allows me to take a critical approach to police policy without fear of retribution. This is thanks to the advice i have received from my force's new media team, and the forward thinking attitude to social media of my Chief Constable; Simon Cole. Living in fear of ones internet presence will become a thing of the past thanks to this sort of thinking. The balance between freedom of speech and upholding high personal and professional standards is a fine one at present, but as the years pass i see the two becoming more and more compatible.

My family have been particularly supportive of my comes the Kate Winslet bit. My Dad has been the only consistently positive influence throughout my life, and anything i have achieved (blogging or otherwise) has been thanks to his support, influence, and encouragement. Without my Dad i would never have grown into the person i am today, so thanks Dad!

I hope that this article shows you that this blog has been more than just words, it has been a reflection of who i am. I hope that the next year is something for me to be equally as proud of.

What the next year holds for DJ

I've met some amazing people during year 1, and year 2 of Diet Justice will offer more opportunities to the friends who have influenced me. I have already had one 'apprentice blogger', and for the next week i will be publishing articles written by a select group of 'guest bloggers' made up of a handful of the people who have taught me the most in the last 365 days.

One guest article will be posted each day, including a couple of paragraphs written by me explaining why i chose that person to be part of DJ's 1st birthday celebrations. I want to thank them for their support over the last year, and for taking the time to write for me. Here is the line up;

Enjoy the birthday celebrations!

Guest Bloggers...the line up

Today is the big day, its DJ's first Birthday! My first ever article was published at 1100, so keep an eye out for my main birthday blog post on or around 11am this morning.

The focus of the birthday celebrations will be my 9 guest bloggers. Most of the articles are in my drop box and ready for publishing, so keep an eye out each day for the newest article.

So i introduce to 9 guest bloggers! Their articles are truly excellent.

Airwave Earpiece Options

Last week i decided i was going to get myself a new airwave ear piece. I'm not a big fan of Niton or Patrol Store...they are over priced and full of i decided to trawl through all the other accessories suppliers. I settled on because they were the cheapest, and didn't blind me with advertising. I wrote this article, sans images, and dropped them an email to see if they were interested in sending me some samples so i could write further articles with more insight into the more diverse accessories. They said yes. which is why their logo is on this article. Now i've explained that, on with the article.

In 2005 the new Airwave radio system for emergency services was introduced and has revolutionised the way the police, fire, and ambulance services communicate. Airwave has better coverage, is clearer, is more secure, has increased flexibility, and offers some great safety features for officers on the ground. It really is a procurement success story, and i for one cant imagine policing without it.

As with all technology it has its downside, and for me the biggest downside is finding the right ear piece. So i thought i would put together a bit of a 'tour' of ear piece solutions to show you the alternatives available. All these products are sold freely, and the TETRA standard is not protected technology. Anyway, i only intend to focus on the ear pieces here, so i dont risk touching on operational capabilities of the network itself.

The two aspects that are important to me are Comfort and Clarity...more specifically; Ear comfort, Body comfort , Receive clarity, and Transmit clarity.

Ear Pieces

Earbud: The ear bud ear piece is without doubt the most comfortable earpiece because its something we are all used to; its the same ear piece you get free with your generic MP3 player. Disadvantage is that it is easily pulled out.

G-Style: The G-Style ear piece is probably standard issue in most police forces. It wraps around the the outside of the ear and deposits an earbud inside the ear. The angle is such that it can easily sit in the ear without completely blocking it. I have found, however, that after a 12 hour shift it can get very uncomfortable.

Acoustic Tube
D-Shape: The D-Shape earpieces are much larger and dont offer the same customisation as some of the others do. It hooks around the ear, and allows a small speaker to hover over the ear. It doesnt sit inside the ear so is more hygienic, allows the ear to 'breathe', and ensures you can hear the outside world without too much difficulty.

Acoustic Tube: The acoustic tube variety is what you will see the Secret Service wearing as they guard the lawn of the White House. This is the most intrusive ear piece as it sits in the ear canal and blocks it completely. I find that i am forever removing it so i can speak to people, and therefore miss radio transmissions. It is very much 'all or nothing'. Because it sits in the ear canal it builds up bacteria and can make you more susceptible to infection. For some it is generally uncomfortable at first, but after a while one gets used to it and it can be a god send during very loud and/or safety critical policing operations when there is a lot of airwave traffic...because its difficult to miss any airwave traffic so i would highly recommend it to public order/PSU officers.
Motorola Terminal

Headset: The last option is the full on headset. Not really suitable for operational front line policing, but may be very useful for Bronze and Silver commanders who are further away from the action in a coordination role.


Terminal microphone: The microphone that comes in-built with the airwave terminals are very sensitive, so one doesnt need to shout to be heard during a transmission. The disadvantage of that is that is picks up a lot of background noise, can be easily obstructed by clothing, and be rendered useless by the wind.

G-Style with inline mic
In-Line microphone: The inline microphone is currently my preferred choice as it can be clipped in a convenient location around the body, allows the radio to be moved out the way onto the utility belt, and provides a much more responsive PTT button...i have found that the PTT buttons on the airwave terminals can become damaged easily and thereby become very difficult to use, especially if you use a terminal cover.

D-Style with boom mic
and inline PTT
Boom microphone: The boom microphone is a mic on a stick, that is attached to the earpiece...much like the that which you would see Brittany Spears wearing as she hop(ed), skip(ed) and jump(ed) her way around stage. This offers a clearer line of sight between the mouth and microphone, but can get damaged easily. It also can act as a leaver that pulls the earpiece out.

Throat mic with acoustic tube earpiece
and inline PTT
Throat microphone: I have never thought of using a throat microphone before, until today. In fact it was my choice to start using one that prompted this article. It eliminates all background noise, avoids taking up any valuable upper body real estate, and stops you from having to ever shout to be heard. Having not tried one yet its difficult to talk about it from experience, but my current concern is that it may not be very comfortable.

Lapel mic with ear bud earpiece
Lapel microphone: This is similar to an in-line mic, but without a PTT button. These generally come advertised as part of a 'covert' airwave set, and allow for the microphone to be hidden, and the PTT button to be discretely palmed.

Speaker mic
Remote speaker / microphone: In the UK these are being less and less used as time goes on, but i understand they are very popular in the US. I've never used one, but i can imagine they are large enough to get in the way, and offer no option for confidential traffic.

Generally you can purchase any combination you like. I have generally used the G-Style ear piece, used with the terminal microphone. I'm currently using the acoustic tube with in-line microphone. I am now about to order the throat mic with G-Style ear piece...i will let you know how it goes!

Personal Social Media Tips

Evening everyone. Those who have been following me for some time will know how I deal with the mistakes I make. As embarrassing as it is not to be perfect, I like to write about what I've learned from screw ups. Maybe it's a therapeutic way of dealing with it, but the new world will only be conquered if the slower of us share our mistakes.

I don't want to go into details on this one, but want to share what i have learned, by way of my top tips for your personal Facebook accounts. The red text signifies content added on 3rd Feb, a few days after the original article was published. Thanks to those who suggested the additions.

Let's start with the basic principle for the private profiles of cops and police staff; behave like your employer owns your private social media accounts.

This is something I learned from some great chats about why one would blog or tweet anonymously, and from the advice of those experts employed by the police themselves. Obviously it's not true that they own the profiles, but the view is that where you are identifiable as a cop or member of police staff, everything you do reflects on your employer. The morality and justice of this is for another day, but its an inescapable fact. If a member of the public sees that you work for the police, your conduct reflects on your force and colleagues.

All this means is that you need to consider what you write with this in mind; and it need not stop you from enjoying yourself.

However; consider the following. It is possible in the modern world for a person to get a Facebook account at age 12, go throw your angry teens, then discover alcohol, and then settle down into a career in the police. Would your teenage shenanigans reflect on you at your current age? It shouldn't, but I fear it probably would. The balanced amongst us would put it down to the folly of youth; but there isn't always a date and time attached to what you write...and it doesnt take into account the tiny tiny minority that want to cause you grief.

So here are some tips to enjoy social media in your personal life.
  • Review your profile often: It's a fact of life that we all write things that seem to make sense, or are harmlessly funny, at the time but without context they can be seen completely differently. Check your posts, your profile content and your pictures.
  • Just because they are 'friends' doesn't mean they are friends: I think this is self cautious who you accept as a friend as relationships change, and people can have ulterior motives.
  • Privacy settings, get them right: Privacy settings are a nightmare. They are confusing. When you think you've got them right, you realise something slipped through the net. I recommend you make your facebook profile viewable to friends only, then guard your friends list like a stash gold. Twitter can be similar, but i choose to drop the privacy and try and think carefully about what i tweet.
  • Pictures: As proud as you may feel in your uniform, there is nothing more embarrassing than seeing a colleagues facebook account peppered with pictures of them posing in their uniform. Not only is it very cringe worthy, but it identifies you as a cop and your personal facebook account becomes public property. Take a look at this article, and you see the dangers of being identifiable as a police officer on your personal accounts.
  • Employer List: As is the way with photo's, publishing the fact that you are a police officer puts you in a very vulnerable position. A throw away remark can put you in hot water if a member of the public sees it, and sees you are a cop. So don't put your employer on your 'employment list'.
  • On fb use the 'hide old posts' options: Ones past mistakes, no matter how hard you try to grow as a person, can often come back to haunt you. This applies to blog posts (believe me i know, my views have changed since day 1 of blogging), twitter, facebook and other platforms. You need to consider how others might interpret past content, and if you think it will be misinterpreted GET RID.
  • 10 second time out: The great thing about social media is that you get to meet loads of new people. The disadvantage of it is that the ratio of tedious to amazing remains the same. If someone is goading you, or you disagree, give yourself a 10 second time out. That means a real time out, so walk away!
  • Apply mental filter: Easier said than done, but train yourself to pause for a second before clicking 'Post'.
  • Have a neutral or nice policy: Again, easier said than done. Avoid negatives completely, as there will always be someone who will disagree with you. Admittedly i dont always take this approach, but it has taken me a long time to find a style of writing that allows you to be critical...but constructively and positively.
  • Screenshots: Private messages and Direct Messages are not private, and they are not a good place to hide. Apply the exact same rules to private messaging as you would do public messaging, because they can be captured with screenshot software.
  • Humour: Last, but not least, humour isnt for everyone. One persons humour can be another persons insult. What may be appropriate in the locker room, may not be approprate when shouted from the roof tops...or social media.
 So what do you think? Are these right, or wrong? Realistic, or unrealistic?

Thanks for letting me write about this...if i make a mistake i want to try and turn that into something constructive. It is embarrassing to admit a mistake, but i hope my error helps you avoid replicating it.