Thousands of police officers who have died or been killed in the line of duty were honoured at today’s annual National Police Memorial Day service, held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
The Government has received another stark reminder of the knife crime epidemic gripping the country as official statistics show the number of offensive weapon offences dealt with by the Criminal Justice System is at its highest for almost a decade.
Reacting to the figures, which were released today (14 March) by the Ministry of Justice, National Chair of the Police Federation John Apter said: “These statistic confirm what I, and my members, know to be true - that knife crime is increasing and is devastating our communities.
“They are also indicative of the hard work and dedication shown by police officers in tackling this issue and bringing those who do choose to carry weapons to justice despite there being almost 22,000 fewer of them than there were in 2010.
“And they send a strong message that those found in possession of knives will be dealt with seriously and robustly by the police, and the criminal justice system.”
Swasie Turner MBE is a former police officer who was seriously injured in the line of duty. A long-time wheelchair user, he has raised money for various charities by climbing and racing in his wheelchair, as well as event speaking. Here, the outspoken Swasie discusses the need to use one’s initiative... and what happens when toeing the line goes one step too far...
For my ‘maiden’ column for the Custodial Review magazine I would like to highlight the ongoing and unbelievable incidents that prevail via those egotists who continue to abuse their power out and about on our streets. Not only do our national newspapers furnish me with daily examples of absolute lunacy by some who are completely devoid of initiative, sympathy or even simple understanding, but I too continually witness such examples as I push my trusty 47lb front-castored NHS wheelchair (a ‘legacy’ of my front line police service) out and about each day. I can’t believe the behaviour of some of those who are given a uniform and told to ‘administer justice’ as they patrol the streets as various wardens, ie – traffic, dog, litter etc.
National Chair John Apter has dismissed the late publication of the Home Office’s response to the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) as ‘not worth waiting for’.
The Federation evidenced the need for three-year pay deal, comprising of a 5% uplift in police officer pay this year, in 2020/21 and again in 2021/22, as a start on the road to rectifying years of below-inflation pay awards.
However in its PRRB submission, which comes nearly a month after it was expected, the Home Office says it will only make £70 million available, which equates to a pay rise of just 1.3% if spent over a 12 month period - considerably less than the recent 2.7% increase awarded to MPs.
John Apter, said: “I wish I could say it was worth waiting for. I wish I could say it had taken the additional weeks to read our published evidence and concede that, in the face of such comprehensive research and analysis, it had decided to agree with us and suggest officers receive 5% per year for each of the next three years. I wish I could, but I can’t.
The CPS’s outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders spoke recently about the British Criminal Justice System “creaking” under the pressure of huge amounts of data being submitted for investigation.
For anyone working in the system, it is clear that there is a cause for concern for the future of convictions due to a lack of resources and an inability to keep up with the flood of data that new technology is presenting.
Chorus Intelligence, a provider of data cleansing and analysis software, has launched a new product, Chorus Investigator, which will help tackle the data issue following successful trials in a number of forces.
Efforts to stop children joining gangs and getting involved in violent crime will be undermined if the Government makes further cuts to the money councils receive to tackle youth offending, town halls warn today.
This comes as figures show that youth justice grants, which fund the vital work of youth offending teams (YOTs) within councils, have been halved from £145 million in 2010/11 to £71.5 million in 2018/19.
The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says further funding cuts would seriously hamper efforts to provide vital support to young people and protect them from criminal activity, such as becoming involved in knife violence or “county line” gangs.
Councils are currently waiting to find out their youth justice grant allocations for 2019/20, despite already having had to set their overall annual budgets.
Despite financial cut-backs, the creative side of prison life always seems to win through. Events such as the annual Koestler Awards are evidence of this. So is the sterling work of, for example, Birmingham’s Geese Theatre, whose The Geese Theatre Handbook: Drama with Offenders and People at Risk has been a staple manual for trainers of all kinds since we had the privilege of working on it with them at the start of the millennium.
A similarly prized work is Michael Crowley’s Behind the Lines: Creative Writing with Offenders and People at Risk published in 2012. It shows how imaginative approaches to confronting offending behaviour - and imparting skills valuable on the outside - can have a real impact on whether someone returns to custody.
Michael is a seasoned advocate for improving literacy in the prison setting. Quite apart from giving presentations at establishments such as Bristol and Erlestoke, he was for six years writer in residence at Lancaster Farms (then a young offender institution). He also helped set up a residency at Arohata Women’s Prison in New Zealand in 2014.
The Prime Minister is delusional for failing to acknowledge the link between a scourge of youth knife crime and cuts to officer numbers, says the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales.
Figures obtained by Channel 4 Dispatches revealed the number of children in England aged 16 and under being stabbed rose by 93% between 2016 and 2018.
Since 2010, continued cuts to the service have resulted in 21,000 fewer officers and 7,000 Police Community Support Officers - meaning fewer officers on our streets to tackle the crimes set out in the government’s serious violent crime strategy.
However, Theresa May has today insisted there was "no direct correlation" between police cuts and knife crime and stressed there was a "cross-Government" response to the problem.
Armour Communications, a leading provider of specialist, secure communications solutions, will be demonstrating the latest versions of Armour Mobile, Armour Blue and Armour Desktop at the Home Office’s Security and Policing event.
Armour Comms’ solutions for secure communications work on everyday smartphones, tablets and Windows 10 desktops. With the same usability as consumer-grade apps, and with significantly enhanced security, Armour Mobile supports voice calls, video calls, one-to-one and group messaging, voice and video conference calls, file attachments and sent/received/read message status. Message Burn limits the lifespan of sensitive data at rest, where users can set a time at which their messages are automatically deleted (or as the name implies, ‘burn’) on the recipient’s device, for immediate action after being read, or in the future, according to confidentiality.
Armour will be showing a technology preview of the latest version of Armour Blue which includes Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT) functionality that meets the requirements of public safety mission critical voice communication.
We welcome the ECHR’s inquiry on this important issue. Significant progress has been made in recent years supporting vulnerable defendants, particularly through the continued rollout of liaison and diversion services in police stations and courts across England.
However, far more could be done to ensure the justice system meets its duties under equality law, for instance through the increased use of accessible information, intermediaries and other reasonable adjustments.