Monday, 25 July 2011

The Police Say No To Ex-Army Personnel

A Sandhurst Parade

This weekend the MSM report that Downing Street wants to create an 'officer class' in local forces by fast tracking Army officers into the highest police ranks.

A Sandhurst-style police training college is also being considered by ministers for university graduates says The Times. Tom Winsor, the former rail regulator, has proposed this change since he was called in by the westminster government to advise on a future structure of the police force.  He is also the government's independent reviewer of police pay and conditions.

Last week David Cameron suggested senior officers from abroad could be brought in to 'turn around' the police force.  His government is introducing elected police and crime commissioners to ensure there is an individual holding their local force to account.

Will all these reactive decisions make a difference to the police service?

There is one rather large obstacle in the way and that's the culture within the police force. Police have no love for the military or those who have undergone military training. The military reciprocate the compliment.

I can't see many Army officers taking positions in the police force. To quote a couple of post-graduate youngsters who couldn't decide which service to join upon leaving university: "the police force has little camaraderie and the atmosphere is very competitive, whereas the Army's priority is team working which develops a strong camaraderie involving trust."  I'm paraphrasing here because it was a few years ago I spoke with these young people who had spend some days attached to both a police force and an Army battalion.  Both joined the Army and have never regretted it. They cite living together, eating together and working together as making the unique culture and strong bonds - something which they feel is missing in the police force.   Both have had dealings with the police in the course of their work and say the animosity directed at army personnel is more pronounced an ever.

The chairman of the Police Federation isn't happy with the prospect of Army officers joining his organisation:

"... it was important that recruits began as constables "in order to understand and appreciate the importance of policing by consent".
He also said it was imperative that senior officers had an "understanding and real experience" of working within Britain's legal system.

Some Army officers know as much about Britain's legal system as the police and many are very well educated and highly skilled people who, when they leave the armed services, will quite easily acquire very well paid jobs in civilian life.  Why would they want to join the police - particularly when the ACPO feels this way:

Peter Fahy, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, warned that allowing people from outside policing direct entry into senior positions would like "a medical student acting as a surgeon".

The police have created, with the help of politicians, an unyielding culture which will be extremely challenging to eradicate and I doubt if many retired/redundant Army personnel of any rank would enjoy the task.  Dare I once more suggest that David Cameron disbands ACPO first - and the Scottish government gets rid of ACPOS - for a start?



Jo G said...

Not the answer, definitely not.

There is no evidence to suggest military people would do a better job. No evidence that they are better people, more honest people either.

Michael Fowke said...

Soldiers have a different mentality, surely? I can't see it working.

Having said that, American cop films - like Lethal Weapon, Heat, Point Break, etc, etc - often have a lot of cops who are ex-soldiers. I don't know if the reality is the same over in the States.

Edward Spalton said...

It used to be fairly general practice that Chief Constables were former military men who understood discipline.
They were there for a term of years and did not generally aspire to further promotion,so tended to have a fairly robust attitude to the Home Office. Whether it was deserved or not, the reputation of the police was generally higher then.

It was only in the Sixties that the top jobs became generally open to policemen.
Sir Robert Peel (wisely in my view) had decided that a professional police "officer class" was a potential danger to civil liberties and structured things accordingly.

The current arrangement with ACPO is surely sinister, authoritarian and unaccountable enough for anybody!

Anonymous said...

How fortunate we are in this country that an idiot like Cameron can't get his hands on our police... or our education...or our health service...or our prisons...or courts...

Why do we still let him and his ilk leave a trace of their ill-thought-out policies on anything else.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Will they wear black and tan uniforms?

I am all for the reform of the police, but to my mind that involves expanding their capabilities to apprehend criminals without fear or favour nor working within an establishment clique.

The police must be a respected part of society and a tool of justice, not one of the State.

JRB said...

Any organisation worth its salt has to regularly re-define and re-assess its structures, processes and protocols; and the police are most certainly no exception to this policy.

However, I fail to see what positive benefits, if any, that the fast-track introduction of ex-military into the police can bring. Neither, the public, the police nor the military want this.

The police have to perform their duties always with public consent and civic responsibility. No such constraints exist for the military; they are answerable directly and only to the state ie the Queen, which actually means parliament.

Without appropriate and comprehensive re-training in the law and civil responsibility, any military would be if anything a danger to society.

Whilst I’m sure a good ‘beasting’ would be considerably more effective than any community order or ASBO, I would think too many in society would find it a bit non-PC.

I need not remind you of the disastrous debacle that was Northern Ireland, where using policing of a military style and influence caused more problems than it solved.

petem130 said...

The Police seem to continue to go down a route which treats everyone as being a criminal. The ACPOS have been instrumental in making this happen.

All too frequently we have road closures for accidents which last for hours on the basis that the police treat it as a crime scene. Whilst this may be the case in some examples it's certainly not on most.

Also the length of time they hold onto bodies, properties etc. fits the same mode of operation. The public are in part also to blame as wheneever there is an serious incident the parents or nearest and dearest all demand and campaign for further laws to stop the same thing happening again. All of this does not help the public who the olice and politicians are supposed to be protecting.

Ex-Army officers in the police? I feel the militarisation of the Police has already gone too far. The Police wear stab proof vests, have tasers, sprays, utility belts etc. etc. all of which look like military equipment. Not to mention their riot gear.

The Police work for us. Perhaps the Police and how we would like them to be should be part of the Independence debate?

subrosa said...

That may be so Jo, but there is definite evidence that the military have a structure which is fairer to most.

subrosa said...

I don't think it would work Michael. As I say few ex-military would consider going for a job in the police.

subrosa said...

That is true Edward and I should have mentioned that.

Couldn't agree more with your description of ACPO.

subrosa said...

It's supposedly called democracy Tris. We elect them then allow them to destruct the country - until the next bunch come along.

subrosa said...

I doubt it Crinkly. :) Politics are far too evident within the police force. They are no more independent than quangos etc.

subrosa said...

I don't think it's suggested ex-military just rush into top jobs JRB without appropriate training.

You're correct though insofar as their responsibilities differ. That doesn't mean to say ex-military wouldn't make good policemen. In fact the military are now trained in peace-keeping skills which are very similar to a civilian police situation.

I don't see this happening anyway as I don't know one military person who would consider working with the police. The culture divide is far too wide these days.

Dave Allison said...

Scotland is a Police State under EU controll.

Police'persons' are generally ex school bullies.
Soldiers are generally killers.

subrosa said...

Petem, I'm all for any public servant having uniform/equipment appropriate to their work and safety and I'm unsure about the military possessing tasers, sprays etc. Of course some of the equipment will appear similar but I wouldn't call it militarisation. It's just sense that we provide our protection services with the correct equipment.

Of course the police should be a core part of the independence debate but Kenny MacAskill is determined to restructure it -geographically - beforehand.

subrosa said...

Are you saying soldiers have a desire to kill from a very young age HC? Bullies do have a desire to intimidate etc.

Apogee said...

Hi SR. Edward Spalton said "The current arrangement with ACPO is surely sinister, authoritarian and unaccountable enough for anybody".
There is the problem. ACPO is a private company, which seems to run the police. So does the cop on the beat owe allegiance to ACPO, the Government, or the public. Who is the owner of ACPO and where does their allegiance lie?
Policing by consent means that the majority have trust and confidence in the police. Looking at the last decade and the comments and reports in media , blogs and in the street, can we really say that is the case?

petem130 said...

As with all things governmental the response to so called risk is always way over the top. Stab proof vests for example. In certain circumstances they are for safety but for routine patrolling?

The response of police also, at times, seems very aggressive. The trashy profs on TV show them dealing with petty criminals who are easy pickings. Also motoring offences where they drag the driver out of the car and throw them to the ground. It does them no favours.

The response seems to be well over the top. No taking pictures of them although they film as fits their end.

John McClane said...

Of course ACPO should go. It's a plc entirely funded by the tax-payer. How does that work? And why is there an ACPOS? There can't be that many CPOs in Scotland. I imagine they hold their meetings in a Burger King off a motorway somewhere.

Of course the police don't want ex-army people in. For the same reason they don't want elected Police Commissioners. They don't want anybody in who isn't imbued with police culture and police ideology. The culture that gave us Ian Blair, Paul Stephenson and Cressida Dick. As Jo G says, somebody from outside the police might just be too honest.

The CPOs are in thrall to ACPO and the ranks are in thrall to the Police Federation. None of them care about the public.

For what it's worth, I once knew an ex-police officer who thought, because he could handle a stop and search on the Old Kent Road with back-up and a radio, he could handle 30 kids in a classroom for an hour. He couldn't.

Joe Public said...

With a budget of £4.1 billion & 52,000 employees, the MET needs not an ex-army type at its head, but a photogenic, PR-savvy Accountant.

/extracts tongue-from-cheek

Brian said...

I would agree that retired Army officers would make excellent senior policemen if the British Army hadn't lost control in South Iraq as Richard North documented so well in his book Ministry of Defeat.
What's needed are leaders who can think differently and creatively to meet new challenges unbound by the handcuffs of groupthink and tradition. The existing Police fast stream system enables talented constables to be identified and mentored, while keeping their feet on the ground. Perhaps all prospective Army officers should do six months in the ranks before
going to Sandhurst?
I hope that the rising generation of female Chief Constables will bring a real difference to the Police culture.

Jo G said...


"That may be so Jo, but there is definite evidence that the military have a structure which is fairer to most."

I disagree. The military is actually the worst body in any investigation to try and get information out of. They close ranks and protect themselves.

Look at what we saw at Deepcut and the lives lost as a result of the bullying of young soldiers by senior soldiers. That wasn't North Iraq. It was systematic bullying of young soldiers. The military has always had such a culture of bullying. I accept soldiers need to learn "discipline" and to stand up to a great deal in a war zone but that does not give anyone in the Army the right to torment them in the way we often hear about. Yet they closed ranks.

I am happy to keep the military out of the Police Force. What we need is for the mess we have right now to be turned upside down, shaken and then sorted out and managed properly. It can be done I also happen to believe that the vast majority of Police are committed to the job.

I think the gender argument is irrelevant. And Cressida Dick is female. Look at what she led and the shambles she was responsible for. It was ill-thought out, incompetent and ultimately resulted in the killing of an innocent young man.

Jo G said...

*South Iraq

subrosa said...

From the little I know Apogee, I'd say Chief Constables are the owners of ACPO. No?

subrosa said...

I agree petem and I've never seen any military, when working with civilian duties, wear vests. Would kind of hamper their efforts at clearing ice from Edinburgh pavements wouldn't it.

subrosa said...

There are only 8 in Scotland John (McClane) and they 'top themselves up' by having other senior members in tow.

That's the sadness of it all John. They no longer give a service to the public and exude fear more than security.

subrosa said...

Mmm Joe, could be. :)

subrosa said...

Brian, while I agree with Richard to a point, let's not forget the military is completely under the control of politicians. Unfortunately in recent years some army leaders have kow towed to politicians far more than their predecessors but that doesn't make all army officers unable to think for themselves. These days too many are leaving to do just that.

subrosa said...

Deepcut is a stain on the military Jo and was very badly handled by the SIB and MPs. (Military police).

Yes they do close ranks and protect each other and occasionally this isn't healthy but if I had the choice of a member of the military or a member of the police to care for my safety, I'd choose the former.

Jo G said...

"Yes they do close ranks and protect each other and occasionally this isn't healthy but if I had the choice of a member of the military or a member of the police to care for my safety, I'd choose the former."

Well I wouldn't Subrosa. Many young people died at Deepcut because of them. That isn't just not healthy, its criminal. They lied to parents about why those young people died, what had driven them to suicide. They saw closing ranks as an honourable thing. When wrongdoing is at the centre of something closing ranks protects the guilty and also involves committing perjury in the Inquiry process. Those military people who believe it is right that it should be this way are a slur on the vast honourable majority in military service.

I don't so much focus on the "stain" their dishonesty left I worry more that such things happen and the Military turn a blind eye. I also still worry that so many young people died at Deep Cut and we didn't really get the truth about their deaths nor did their parents.

The Police Service exists to serve the civilian population and the military perform a completely separate function. I think we need to clean up the Police Service and do some much needed re-structuring. I think that can be done and should be done urgently but I also believe the vast majority of serving Police Officers are committed to their jobs and are honest.

Jo G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo G said...

While we say its ok for some sections to be bent while it isn't ok for others......WE MAKE NO PROGRESS ANYWHERE.

subrosa said...

Jo, four people over a period of 3 years died while in barracks at Deepcut. I know a little about this but I'm not prepared to discuss it publicly and to say the parents were lied to is far, far too simple.

The civilian police service had nothing to do with the Deepcut deaths until the MPs called them in.

You don't think civilian police 'close ranks'? That's naive. All such services protect each other.

subrosa said...

That's how politicians like it Jo. Nothing getting done.

Jo G said...

You're not prepared to discuss it Subrosa? Wow!

You slag off politicians easily Subrosa but when it comes to the Military you are prepared to commit TOO MUCH SLACK. Shame on you! If that was your son or daughter at Deep Cut? Hmmmm? That makes YOU a hypocrite.

Me? I just want honesty across the board.

Jo G said...


"You don't think civilian police 'close ranks'? That's naive. All such services protect each other."

Even when peoples' sons and daughters have committed suicide Subrosa? You are ok with that? SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

I am not naive Subrosa, I am honest. You seek to protect the dishonest. Live with that.

Jo G said...

Jo, four people over a period of 3 years died while in barracks at Deepcut. I know a little about this but I'm not prepared to discuss it publicly and to say the parents were lied to is far, far too simple.

It's far too simple is it Subrosa? Is it? So why did it happen? You are SUPPORTING THE PEOPLE WHO DID IT!

That makes me want to vomit! You should thank God it wasn't YOUR daughter or YOUR son, but it was someone else's and, hey, it doesn't matter. And you still think the Military are the salt of the earth. More fool you. You disappoint me.

subrosa said...

Jo I think you're being very unkind. I'm on the side of justice for the parents and always have been, but I don't want to discuss this subject publicly.

The military aren't any more the salt of the earth than anyone else earning an honest buck. The reason I support them is because they don't have the same privileges as other public services such as unions and the HRA.

Jo G said...

Unkind Subrosa? Why unkind? For wanting the truth about the young people who died at Deepcut? What is unkind about that??????

Your loyalty to the military is your business. I don't want to know. For me they are as accountable as everyone else and I will not make allowances for them even if you want to. The fact that you smacked away the Deepcut issue as an "occasion" says it all. You had nothing to say about the parents of those who died at Deepcut who got no answers becaue your beloved Military closed ranks. Just be thankful Subrosa that it wasn't your son or daughter who was bullied to death!

Good news tho, this is my last post here. Suddenly this blog re defines terrorism too in accordance with the colour of the skin of the person who makes the bomb and kills the people. I'm sad about that Subrosa. I didn't think that was your thing. But we live and learn.

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