back to article Top cop urges RIPA review in coded attack on snoop code

The government should "urgently initiate" a review of the Codes of Practice for police use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), says Sir Ronnie Flanagan, Chief Inspector of Constabulary in his review of UK policing. RIPA governs the security services' use of surveillance and interception of communications, but …


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  1. /\/\j17


    OK, I can understand "miss-interpretation" but "over-interpretation" has me confused - quite how can you apply the rules too correctly? And if you are not interpreting them correctly you are miss-interpreting them.

  2. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: "over-interpretation"

    If one were being charitable one might decide Sir Ronnie actually meant 'over-zealous interpretation'. Or one might not. (-:

  3. Chris Thomas
    Thumb Up

    Wasting Police Time

    The book, named above, is a pretty critical piece of work by PC Copperfield and I recommend it, merely for the amusing stupidity that infects our police service. The ISBN is: 978-0-9552854-1-7

    everyone buy it now and read it, you'll most likely be told what you already know, but you'll at least find it funny and have something to talk about the next time the topic comes up.

    It's not just RIPA that needs investigating, it's the entire system, the problem comes that the people who oppose changes are the people finding themselves jobs and changing that, eliminating jobs, is eliminating votes, who is going to vote for a party which plans to radically tackle beaurocracy? You? I hope you have skills in other areas and find a job soon.

    If you're a beaurocrat, you'll vote the other guys, if you want to keep your job anyway, so the problems faced are significant. People need to start thinking about the big picture (tm) and not just their small piece of it, not that it'll happen anytime soon.

    What we need is a PM who is going to shake it up, not give a damn about getting re-elected and just tear through the system.

    IT contracts? yeah, with expensive failure clauses. You can't find a contractor to agree? fine, divide the contract up, spread the failure across smaller companies.

    BIG IT contracts? who needs them anyway, you want an integrated NHS service, are you REALLY REALLY sure you need IBM to achieve it? or do they need to just design the principles and push local IT companies to do the implementation at a LOCAL LEVEL? Failure clauses? sure, but since the risk is now smaller, surely you'll find someone.

    Police service? It would be great if seargents and the top brass of police were electable, then at least we could get rid of the useless ones. We need to rebalance the entire system and starting with this incredible nonsense called Political Correctness. In Wasting Police Time, PC Copperfield explains thusly (paraphrased).

    I walked up to a known drug dealer, asked him "Hi Ray, Got any drugs?" which he replied "no", I searched him and asked him how his wife and kids were and mentioned that his eldest is about to take his GCSE's, found nothing, he walked away with a smile and a wave, it was almost "chummy", friendly. Now contrast that with the reaction a suspected black car thief gets, it's similar to: We are searching you with our powers granted by the PACE act 1984, here is a copy of your information, here is a copy of the form I filled out to authorise the stop and search, I am based at Newtown police station, you are required...[Ed. get on with it...}etc.etc.etc. In the end the treatment the ray, the white drug dealer got was completely different from the black car thief, which is not what people intended.

    That Sums up completely what is wrong with race relations and the police in this country, they are SCARED of arresting non-whites because then they have to defend themselves against racial allegations.

    The NHS? make redundant most of the people who fill in paperwork and let doctors and nurses COMMAND their wards, like the Matron of old, that system worked and worked very well, people seem to think that the idea behind the NHS was a new idea, it was actually nothing new, just a new name for something that already existsed before it, albeit with more resources, wealthy people in the days before the NHS used to pay donations to keep the poor healthy, albeit on a much smaller scale, all Labour did was take the idea and apply it to the entire country and tax everyone to pay for it.

    But now, we don't pay for nurses, we pay for Beaurocrats, I know which type of Beaurocrat I would prefer, one that knows which end of the needle to stick in me, or one who knows how to put plaster casts on broken limbs. If you're going to employ people to do paperwork, don't employ someone new, make their existing workers do it, then at least the staff levels don't increase, not enough time to fill in all the papers AND do your job? ok, reduce the amount of paperwork.

    Has anyone considered that most of the paperwork is merely Ass-covering? What is the point of that when there are people waiting outside for 4 hours to see a doctor? Paperwork is coming BEFORE patient care. How did that happen?

    Lots of things need to change and we need to start thinking about laws that affect us and laws that do not affect us. just because a law doesnt affect you today, doesnt mean it doesnt affect you tomorrow, stop thinking JUST about yourself, start thinking outside your cosy life and standing up for people who are nothing to do with you, only when will you find the assistance you need when you need it.

    To quote a poet who wrote: First they came...

    First they came for the Communists,

    - but I was not a communist so I did not speak out.

    Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists,

    - but I was neither, so I did not speak out.

    Then they came for the Jews,

    - but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.

    And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me

    Time to start waking up, time to start helping each other get what we want

    IT angle? read above

    Paris Angle? she doesnt understand, she's at home cooking

    ManFromMarsAngle? He'll probably say something interesting, it'll be funny either way

  4. Steve

    Re: Re: "over-interpretation"

    More likely:

    "If you disagree with me you have interpreted all of the rules together instead the small out of context part that I'm trying to use to justify my actions."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police Chiefs the new Czars

    I pointed this out the other day. Police Chiefs now drive home office policy. They do their press conferences making direct appeals to the public and always it's for more powers and less controls. The politicians have a sort of fear about them. Nobody ever turns around and says the Police Chief is wrong. If they ever did, they'd go to the opposition MP and shift their support to them. Playing off both sides against each other.

    I think it was a mistake to shift so many powers to the discretion of the police.

    Treating people like animals to be hurded into their semi-detached pens, a quick poke with the cattle prod if they get out of line, a random stop to check them, milked till they're dry, identity tags in their ears to keep track of them, lock them in a pen on a whim, don't let them do anything but eat, sleep and graze.

    Violent crime has doubled you say? Perhaps we should make everyone where cow bells so we can hear them coming?

    Explosion in anti-social behaviour you say? They keep butting heads together? Some sort of anti-social behaviour control chain to restrict where they can move.

    Suicide rate up? Perhaps they're seeing too much of the next pasture, can we fit them with blinkers?

    One cow Moo'ing setting the other cows off moo'ing too? Some sort of 'incitement to moo' law is needed!

  6. Anthony Sanford


    I really don't believe that it should be police officers that should be authority but judges,

    That way the police would have to explain why they need an intercept.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Over interpretation?

    Ah Sir Ronnie (Omagh anyone?) means police are finding it too onerous to follow the rules.

  8. The Mole

    Chris: Ass-covering

    You are right Chris, most of the paper work is ass-covering. The crux of the problem therefore seems to be we are becoming an overly litigous country where people can't accept that accidents happen and that they just have to get on with it, instead if someone trips over they'll sue the council for emotional trauma.

    We need to sort out the legal system so that damages of this kind can only be sort after for serious stuff, if you get slightly hurt, upset or suffer "emotional trauma" that is a normal part of life and you just have to live with it. Once that happens all the excess paper work and ass-covering wouldn't be necessary and things might start to work properly again (well better anyway).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't know about anyone else, but I want the Police to have to fill out a whole shitload of paperwork if they exercise their powers, then we can see which they use and when. I don't want people stopped randomly in the street with not even any suspicion required. I don't want the police to monitor my communications, or anyone else's without having to fill in a ream of documents. It is their job, if you want to go back to 70s and 80s police methods, this would be the quickest way to do it.

    On a personal note, my garage is near a well known local dope-dealing spot, has been so for 20odd years. I don't want to get stopped with no recorse every time I go to get my car because I am target demographic (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant 30something) for the customers. If I have a form saying that I've been stopped and get a collection of several, I can do them for harassment, if I don't they are free to do whatever they want and bollocks to my right of free association etc.

    That is all...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What you see isn't what you get

    "I walked up to a known drug dealer."

    So probable cause.

    " was almost "chummy", friendly."

    If you stopped me and searched me for drugs, I would be friendly too, but that would be a veneer for your benefit because the tables are so tipped against me, it would be to my extreme disadvantage to express dissent. i.e,. you don't get feedback that you're being a little sh*t stopping and searching me without cause until I am safe from you and can get a solicitor. Which is why I want everything written down. So that I can complain when you're not there to punish me for complaining.

    "reaction a suspected black car thief gets"

    Your suspect black car thief shouldn't be stopped unless the car reg comes up as stolen. Removing the paperwork does not fix this, it just makes it more difficult for him to complain when he is safely away from you.

    I recall seeing such an incident on tv, a rozzer stopped a black man in his new golf, because the car didn't fit the man, you seized his mobile phone, he was argumentative, at the end it was revealed he was found innocent. Flip that over, a black man stops you in your car, seizes the car, your phone and you have to go to court to get it back. Would you not be angry? Would you be happier if he didn't even have to fill in a form?

    You want to do less paperwork. Remove the damn random stop and search. Bingo the paperwork associated with it has gone.

    A drug dealer with a record acting like he's selling, that's probable cause.

    A black man driving a car you suspect he's a car thief, but the car plate doesn't come up as stolen. Not probable cause, no right to stop. If he sticks his foot down when he spots you, then you've got your probable cause.

    Don't like it? Well how do you imagine people who are wrongly stopped and search feel? They might be polite and put a fake smile on, but that's just for your benefit.

    I'm white and I'm f***ing angry from my stops. Do you imagine removing the paperwork makes me any happier?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Thomas

    Most of what you said is a good point well made, but you dont seem to have worked in these areas, so seem to have a bit of a skewed view of what it is like to work in the public sector.

    1) The reason people are so adverse to change in the public sector is because of "change fatigue". After a while of working for the government you become very resistant to change, as every twelve months to two years you have a new boss who tries to "shake things up" which lasts about 12 months, which give 12 months of stress of change and fear that your job will go, so you end up just wanting things to stay still for a while so that you can get on with the job you are paid to do.

    2) The reason for the massive amounts of paperwork in the NHS is not just covering your ass, but also leaving an audit trail when things do go wrong. What else do you suggest? When someone makes a major error in care people just say "oh well, we dont know what happened. Doesnt matter". As for the idea that Doctors and Nurses should "just get on with running hospitals" you need to see that the NHS is a lot more than just Doctors and Nurses. Without getting in to other things, they have a massive supply chain and huge buildings which need looking after, to name just a few things. That "old fashioned" idea never truly existed, except in small local hospitals which did little more than a GP does now.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ass Covering

    >You are right Chris, most of the paper work is ass-covering.

    Most of the paperwork is to stop previous abuses.

    The PACE was introduced to try and get the police to list evidence in advance rather than finding it half way through the trial and losing it when the defence needs to see it as happened through most of the 70s/80s.

    It also tried to get police to at least get confessions after the suspect was arrested.

    The stop and search forms were to prevent the SUS abuses that led to the Brixton/Toxteth riots where you could pick someone up off the street detain them for a few hours without having to arrest them, or even talk to them - then release them and re-detain them 5mins later.

    Yes unecessary paperwork - i wish I didn't have to make products CE certified. I could just have them electrocute people and people should accept that accidents just happen.

  13. Alan Brown Silver badge

    failure clauses? Not just for the IT contractors!

    quoting Chris Thomas:


    IT contracts? yeah, with expensive failure clauses. You can't find a contractor to agree? fine, divide the contract up, spread the failure across smaller companies.


    The problem is that in public service it is routine for the contractor to deliver what was ORIGINALLY asked for, on time and under budget - however the goalposts keep moving, resulting in exploding costs as the contractors keep having to play catchup with the project controller's latest whims.

    2 examples from the other side of the world:

    NZ police: INCIS - the wikipediea entry doesn't go into the details (I was living in NZ at the time) but the project was abandoned because it became clear that the cost to complete the project was more than double the NZ$110 million already spent.

    Another project I observed allowed an incompetent manager to set a project which wouldn't work as designed - the contractors and consultants said so, so the solution was to keep hiring contractors and consultants until they found some stupid enough to say yes. (Actually it was a consultant stupid enough to sign off on it, the contractors knew it wouldn't work, but figured if they delivered it as written they'd be able to make money making it workable) In the end the project was written off, having cost 4 times the original figure and being unusable.

    This kind of shopping around is rampant in public service, as are incompetent managers hired in to do a job on the basis of glowing past reports, which were usually written to get them out of a previous position before they could cause any further damage.

    Greater accountability is needed and not just for the IT contractors....

  14. Alexander Hanff

    Re: The Mole

    No NO and NO Again! The last thing you want to do is remove Joe Mickey Public's right to sue. The second you say people can't sue the council for not maintaining the roads and paving, the councils will simply stop maintaining them yet continue to put up council tax 10-20% per year to line the pockets of the consultancies which they happen to be on the board of directors for.

    We are expected to abide by the law and meet our own liabilities so why shouldn't the middle/upper class and public sector? Your suggestion is basically saying "fuck the little guys its costing the big guys too much money".

    Or are you perhaps saying it is OK for someone not to pay their mortgage or other debts because they got made redundant with no pay off because they hadn't worked there long enough? After all, shit happens, not the debtors fault; he/she is not responsible for losing their job, it is the way of the world. So surely the lenders should just write these debts off, after all, under your logic, shit happens and surely if they take the risk of lending the money it is there own fault should the borrower default?

    I some how doubt you are saying the latter (no surprise there).

  15. Dev

    Letting people get away because of too much paperwork

    Anthony - RIPA covers more than intercepts, it covers every type of survillance.

    I'll give you an example a friend whos a copper told me that demonstrates the point.

    A guy had his car stolen with the keys at 2:00 AM and reports it to police. Police find the car, parked and undamaged in another part of the city an couple of hours later by a passing patrol recognising the registration. There is no one nearby.

    The obvious thing to do would be to watch the car, see who returns to it and arrest them?

    That is directed, covert surveillance and a pre-planned operation requiring RIPA authorization. That authorization is a 12 page form that must be completed, submitted to an inspector and then to the duty officer - someone of superintendent rank who at 4:00 AM will be in bed (with an oncall phone of course).

    The authorising officer has to be satisfied that on the basis of the information in the form, which has to include exactly what kind of surveillance is to be used, where, by whom, for how long and for what purpose, that the intended action is proportionate to the circumstances and the risks of collateral intrusion and interference to the right to privacy can be weighed against the anticipated benefits of potentially apprehending someone who may or may not be guilty of an offense.

    IF approved only then can surveillance be carried out.

    Anyone found returning to the car BEFORE that approval, if arrested, would argue that the arrest was unlawful as it was the result of unauthorized surveillance and so any evidence obtained while they were in custody could not be admitted. - Car thief gets away.

    That is of course unless you regard that situation as arising from circumstances that mean it would be impractical to get authorization in which case you can act in the interests of apprehending offenders and get approval retrospectively.

    The former is what I think is meant by over interpretation and is exactly what happens.

    In fact its probably worse because knowing what would be needed and the likelihood that approval wouldn't even be given at the end of it means it is never sought. Result: Car thief gets away because police are tied up in their paperwork.

    So its not just about terrorists - unless you think there are more terror plots than stolen cars. I doubt that myself.

  16. Paul

    @The Mole

    Urm, just to let you know, but British law dose not have the concept of "emotional trauma". There are problems with people claiming for things like triping over a broken paving slab when they should have been looking where they were going, but also if a hospital makes a cock up and it was there fault. Take the case of the woman recently given an epidural in the arm, leaving her family without her. If I was them I would want them to pay out, not for distress, but for the loss of earnings. The real financial cost.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Letting people get away because of too much paperwork

    "That is directed, covert surveillance and a pre-planned operation requiring RIPA authorization. "

    As the Home office itself points out:

    "Directed surveillance is permitted without an authorisation in circumstances where authorities need to act immediately and there isn’t time to make an application."

    So no it doesn't, even the home office says so.

  18. Chris Thomas

    AC@Letting people get away because of too much paperwork

    The problem then comes in that if the police officer takes the initiative and puts the car under surveillance and catches the guy, he is not 100% sure that he'll have the authorisation afterwards, even if it can be retrospectively applied for.

    The problem mentioned in the original book I wrote about also talked about this problem, that the guys on the ground don't 100% always have the support of the guys at the top, because instead of looking at joe public, they are looking after their own arses and approving that surveillance, MIGHT put that guys promotion at risk.

    So you can't really expect people to act in the moment when they know there is a maybe involved, maybe he'll get a black mark, maybe he'll never reach his pension.

    So, the situation compounds itself

  19. Chris Thomas

    @failure clauses? Not just for the IT contractors!

    This is correct, I never mentioned that it's not just the contractors which fail, but the people who hired them, the problem with these contracts is that they are spending my money and I cannot see the contract.

    most government projects are done behind closed doors and the final agreement is not open to the public to see, why? I paid for it, I want to see what you've agreed, if I then see that you're asking for more things on top of what you already contracted them for, I need to be able to control that and prevent those changes from breaching the agreement my government made and is now trying to change.

    I guess this is why in your last sentence you mentioned accountability, this is ultimately what we need, we need to have public information about the status of projects, it's problems, costs and the current status, I admit that most people would not be qualified to know WTF they are saying, but at least some of the people in the country would be able to know WHY things don't work, WHO has requested what and when.

    if everything, or at least most things, were public, you'd find less stupidity, because people don't want everything they say public, only the "clever" things, if people are forced to think before they talk, they usually stop acting like fool, it's only because things are hidden, people can "speak openly"

    accountability, good call, how do we get it?

  20. Matt

    Accidents and @Alexander Hanff

    The UK (possible copying the faulty US system) seems to act as if everything is someone's fault. I imagine Alexander must have lived in the US judging by his use of Americanisms.

    Pavements become cracked in winter and people can trip over if they don't look where they are going. This is the point though, it's something they can avoid. There's a difference between that kind of accident and someone who doesn't bother to repair your brakes properly. My car got hit from behind when I was in the UK and I got pushed to claim compensation for personal injury. For me, this is a complete nonsense I was only a bit bruised and accidents happen. Humans are human and they make mistakes, of course it's difficult to judge the difference between a mistake and carelessness or recklessness.

    Coming back to the police: The problem is that the police are in a unique position of handling the evidence and have to be beyond reproach. The paperwork is often a part of this, as well as stopping previous abuses. If the paperwork is getting too much, it's a sign that there's a problem in society as a whole (we're committing too many crimes), or that the laws are no longer appropriate (we've criminalised things which most people don't accept as being criminal).

    I reckon it's a mixture of the two. As an observation I'd say people see themselves more as individuals today and less as part of a community. I don't think this is helped by the sue/blame everyone attitude or the government encouraging us to report our neighbours. I think you can see this even n things like TV game shows where in recent years contestants have been encouraged to deride one another and pick one another apart (I'm not saying this is a cause, more a reflection). Perhaps you could say this is the consequence of Thatcherism, I don't know.

    Anyway, come on Blighty, think about it, where are you going? For goodness sake don't make a bad copy of a faulty American culture!

  21. Chris Thomas

    working in the public sector

    The guy who posted anonymously (why? I am brave enough, aren't you?) might like to think why we dislike the public sector so much, it's mostly because we see you all as a bunch of useless people who couldnt get a proper job.

    I live in spain right now (barcelona to be more exact) and I'll tell you that it's a goal for most people here to land a public sector job the reason being is that once you've got it, you can sit back because the gravy train never stops. Thats putting it shortly, they believe they will have a job for life and never get sacked because they were "unnecessary".

    It's true to say that I don't like public sector workers much, they do a good job at some things, but most of the time, I only interact with you guys when I don't want to.

    the reason you put forward for being resistant to change is that people in the public sector always see a new boss coming in, changing things, getting replaced and starting again, but ask yourself why do you fear your job is going to be lost in the first place.

    If you provided a job, a service which the country could NOT work without, then surely you're going to be working there for a long time, nobody will sack you and nobody will be unhappy with you, the reason you are afraid is because you KNOW you're useless and surplous to requirements, you know that you are not needed in society and the only reason you have this job is because someone was stupid enough to create the job in the first place and you are thinking that maybe one day, someone will turn around and tell you this, along with the opening times of the job center.

    If you are secure in your job, you'll never feel this, but if the public sector feels this so much, then that says a lot about them in society. Most of them are unnecessary and should probably find another job and stop wasting my money.

    you also made some comments about what I said and the NHS, I don't doubt that they need a lot of people to do administration and buy drugs, supply chain, building managements.

    But are you seriously suggesting that we need all those administrators? Cause from what I hear, most of them don't actually help the NHS, just to create paperwork and other "accounting" which is 90% of the time not needed, but nobody will touch it, nobody will reduce their numbers, because each one of them is a voter and you don't wanna piss the votes off do you.

    My Mum works in the NHS and twenty years ago someone was standing next to her said "I've got more managers now than I have workmates, I'll have to start talking to strangers"

    She knew, 20 years ago that the NHS was creating a disaster and nobody listened to her, or the other people like her who no doubt wanted to warn the NHS away from this current strategy.

    The problem is not hard to see, you see it in the papers each week or so, that the NHS has more managers than front line staff, that saleries are hopelessly skewed towards those who do the least work where the people who do the most, get peanuts.

  22. Chris Thomas

    @What you see isn't what you get

    But you've made a critical error here which I don't think you've seen, BOTH of them, were stopped, with only SUSPICION as a reason, but the white guy, didnt ask for paperwork, didnt care, just answered the questions of PC Copperfield and left, the black guy is GIVEN the information, WITHOUT requesting it. They were both stopped and searched in the same manner, but why did the white guy nto get any paperwork?

    Think, if the black guy was 100% identical in personality to the ray, the white guy, then surely he must be thinking, WTF do I want with all this paperwork.

    The part of the book I mention has little to do with what the black or white guy thinks he needs and more about what the police force REQUIRES him to need. The police force practically turns a blind eye to white people being stop and searched, because they are not afraid of any complaint, whereas the black guy, they are terrified, they'll drown the guy in paperwork even if he doent want it.

    So instead of intelligence being on the front line and backed up by the commanders, it's all inthe offices where the front line officer is told to not think, just do

    oh, but the passage in the book never mentioned whether it was a KNOWN black car thief or not, so I guess I cannot say anything more than that, but even if the black guy WAS a known car thief, they would STILL plaster him with paperwork, just to avoid a complaint.

    There is something wrong there, what the passage was highlighting, was that the IDEA of PACE was to make it so that people would know WHY they are arrested and to note down all the evidence, however the effect of PACE has been to make police afraid of stopping any non-white guy because of the complaint that might follow and if you DO stop him, you'll be 15 minutes filling in forms with him at the bus shelter. That is NOT the intended effect of creating balance that it was supposed to have.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasting Police Time = Wasting TAXPAYERS (our) Money

    Lets not forget thatall the time wasted by the police is money that we as taxpayers are throwing down the drain. The police waste enough taxpayers money as it is using Amex cards to buy their colleagues drinks and meals without even more waste.

  24. Peter Fairbrother

    RIPA and "bugs"

    "After the CPS decision [not to prosecute]", says the IRR, "the family was told by the coroner that the full inquest could not be held because large portions of the police officers' statements had been crossed out under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) 2000, which covers information obtained from covert surveillance devices such as telephone taps or bugs."

    Section 17 of RIPA excludes the product of interception (phone calls, email, snailmail) from legal proceedings - but there are no provisions in RIPA to exclude the product of "bugs" from legal proceedings.

    RIPA is actually four laws (badly) stuck together - Part I covers interception, Part IIa covers communications data (who, when and where, but not what was said), Part IIb covers covert surveillance, and Part III covers demands for keys or plaintext of encrypted data.

    If, as was recently announced by Gordon Brown, the product of interception is to be made useable in Court then there is no real reason for any change here - the idea that it can only be used in exceptional circumstances, chosen by the Prosecution, won't fly as the ECtHR won't let it happen, and in any case procedures and methods will be exposed even in those "exceptional" cases.

    It's easiest just to be open about it all, though sufficiently after the fact in order not to compromise ongoing investigations - lots of, indeed most "free", countries do it that way

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Suspicion of what?

    @ "SUSPICION as a reason"

    Yeh we get it, you say black people complain and white people don't. And you attribute the difference to the extra paperwork you have to fill in.

    So what was I stopped for (white)? Why was I detained for 25 minutes while an officer checked the contents of my pockets and cross checked the stuff in my wallet with my answers to try to find something? I don't see that he had reasonable cause to stop me.

    You know what, if I was a minority, I'd use that minority status to file a complaint against the officers concerned. If I was a woman I'd use that to file a complaint against the officers concerned. If I was a midget with a bad back I'd be complaining to the midget descrimination league to get my own back.

    You get the point?

    It's just wrong that an officer stops me without good reason and I have to take it. And just because I'm white and wealthy and nobody has sympathy for me doesn't mean squat, I have rights too! I may only be able to file my complaints as an AC in elreg but complaints they are.

    Re: AC@Letting people get away.. comment

    "The problem then comes in that if the police officer takes the initiative and puts the car under surveillance and catches the guy, he is not 100% sure that he'll have the authorisation afterwards, even if it can be retrospectively applied for."

    And? All that happens is the guy gets off. I'd wonder why the officer can't get post authorization in the circumstances you describe and think that maybe there was more to the story than he was telling me.

    Just because an officer thinks something doesn't make it so.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    The real problem

    The problem isn't the paperwork. Although some people seem to have conveniently forgotten it was mostly introduced because certain people couldn't be trusted to do things properly if they weren't made to keep proper records.

    The big problem is the targets based system. While performance objectives are important, actual statistical 'targets' rarely work as expected: whenever they're tried people find a shortcut that achieves the target without achieving the *aim* of the target. Police, NHS, government, it's always the same, possibly because people don't behave like neat mathematical models.

    So because of targets you end up with minor stuff being chased while the difficult stuff is left alone.

    You could also argue that the kind of person often being recruited doesn't help. Maybe the sampling I've seen is unrepresentative but young illiterates on a power trip seen overrepresented. And there seem to be a few who shouldn't have got through a medical, so you wonder if the quality of candidates is so poor that they'll take anything.

    Overall people have lost faith in the police, and this apparent attempt to remove a layer of accountability won't help.

    Currently it appears that we have a police 'service' which doesn't particularly bother with the bulk of minor day to day crime because it isn't judged to be worth the effort. So people stop reporting stuff unless they have to (for insurance) or because they ending up in hospital. So crime numbers fall!

    And we seem to have an overly friendly relationship between officers and their 'regulars', possibly because they aren't so easy to bully and actual crime prevention is too much work. So funnily enough people feel feel to carry on doing what they want.

    Plus there's the day to day bullying and lies to the general public.

    Maybe I'm biased. Maybe I've lost faith. Maybe being stopped and confronted with outright lies by a cross-eyed blond midget in uniform changed my previously positive attitude into one of hostility.

    So while I think change is required it should be to modify attitude and performance, and not to remove some of the few bits of accountability that remain.

    I also think anything from that failure Ronnie Flanagan can be safely dismissed as worthless bollocks.

  27. Steven

    @Anonymous Coward

    If you know of any officers doing that I suggest you complain to that Force's professional standards department.

    In most Forces its hard enough to buy a standard train ticket for legitimate business, let alone food and drink.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Thompson

    My point, which you seem to have missed, was that you can lose your job not through being sacked but through job cuts, due to a budget cut, at any time. And I the point you will probably make is "well if your important then they wont get rid of you". No. Cuts come not through what is needed but what people think is needed.

    For example I worked in Credit controle, not as you seem to think a pointless job, but something vital to protecting public money. We were two staff short and still had to cut down, but the leocal lesure centers had money to spare because that won votes... I worked very hard, and if you think Im being a lazy gravy train type, six months ago I had enough and went to work in the private sector, earn more, get training, have real prospects to move up and work two hours less a week. this though is not an option for alot of people in the public sector.

    Oh, and who the hell are you to comment on how hard people working for the government work if you have never done it? I have never done your job and dont know you so would not say that about you.

  29. Mark


    "It should not take 13 hours to fill out the paperwork to authorise officers to watch a known burglar."

    My prior experience of the police interest in burglaries reported to them suggests that even paying lip service to doing something is the last thing on their mind. They seem to take seriously any crime they might be publicly castigated for not investigating, like a brown person having an excessive zeal for firework displays, or perhaps a wealthy person being assaulted, but crimes not involving the wealthy or high profile just don't seem to be on the radar. Taking photographs of well known public landmarks, like say Battersea Power Station, is a sure way to get your collar felt, no intercepts required.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "Oh, and who the hell are you to comment on how hard people working for the government work if you have never done it? I have never done your job and dont know you so would not say that about you."

    Because 10 years ago there were 700,000 less of you. How on earth did we cope... ;)

  31. Chris Thomas

    @Suspicion of what?

    No, again, you've missed the point of what I said, the example I mentioned was that PACE was brought in for a number of reasons, one of them was because of the Brixton riots, the stop and search doctrine changed so that stopping a black guy on the street was not to be taken lightly, you had to fill in all the paperwork, dot every i and cross every t, if you don't, then you might get into trouble.

    Compare that with what happens when they stopped the white guy, BOTH are equally under suspicion, from what I read in the passage, but the white guy didnt take any documents, not as much "pressure" to get things 100% correct.

    What the book was saying, which you missed twice now, was that the legislation was brought in to make it FAIR and EQUAL for whites and blacks, hence removing ANY doubt that ANY black person could have about the reason they are being stopped, that they are being treated 100% the same as everyone else, to cut down the number of complaints about harassment.

    However, what it has actually done, is POSITIVELY DISCRIMINATE towards non-whites, making the police work 2x as hard, 2x as much work, to deal with non-whites as it is to deal with whites, SOLEY because they don't want to have anymore complaints.

    But, as I mentioned above, it was NOT the intention to make it more work to deal wth, just the SAME amount of work to deal with, but thats not happened, it's made it harder

    I tell you what mate, I've walked about my blessed Island for 30 years until I moved to barcelona and I've NEVER in my life been stopped once. However everyone I know who HAS been stopped, was stopped for a good reason, nothing happened, but it was a good reason. Because he had a tuned up car, because it was driving too fast, because he looked like he was on drugs, perhaps he looked drunk, etc, etc.

    No smoke without fire. The police arent corrupt, most of the corruption is in your head, they are just trying to do the best job they can with the least time possible (thanks for paperwork) and the most apathy from the general public.

    Thats not to say that they are all little angels, but they arent devils either.

  32. Chris Thomas

    @Suspicion of what?

    in addition, you are entitled to know WHY you were stopped,you failed to mention this, what was the reason?

    He hasto provide you with the paperwork and you know what, you are more than entitled to go around to the police station and complain there and then.

    if he had no reason at all, why didnt you complain? Are you going to say that you couldnt be bothered, that you had better things to do? you wonder why nothing changes when you don't put any effort into trying to change it, they'll stop harassing you if you keep a note of all the paperwork and then complain with harassment, did you ever try that? Don't tell me, you didnt, right? you just complained to your mates, threw the papers in the bin and go on with your life?

    If thats not the case, then I apologise, but you see what I'm trying to say and I hope you did complain, but then again, maybe he DID have a good reason (you were drunk ?)

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