This article by Justin Penrose gets across some good points. However despite Sir Bernard's claim that stop-search is driven by intelligence, my sergeant tells me each week:
“Get as many stop-searches as you can.”
And her favourite opinion is:
“I don't believe in stop-and-account. If you have grounds to talk to someone, then you have enough grounds to search them.”
I also enjoyed the MPS spokesman's assertion:
“The Metropolitan Police Service has no policy of setting individual targets for stop and search or for arrests.”
That might be true of the official policy, however most inspectors and sergeants relish imposing their own arbitrary targets – Targets not sanctioned by Sir Bernard or Theresa May.
Imagine I said to my inspector:
“Guv, I have no detections or arrests this month, but I'm working on a very complicated fraud that will take six months to bring to court. The victim is very happy with my work.”
His response would be:
“Why are you getting tied up with grief like that? You have failed to hit your targets. I'm putting you on a disciplinary.”
So it is in my best interest to deal with the easiest crimes first. Police officers, like all employees, are pressured by their bosses into hitting targets, but constables despise targets - we want to be free to catch the bad guys, but instead we're forced to jump through hoops.
1. The Home Secretary removed targets two years ago, and made that order explicit at the Superintendents Association conference in 2013.
2. Sir Bernard has told officers to stop-search fewer people
Great! Our top bosses have realised that targets do not result in a better service to the public, so why are constables still threatened with disciplinary action if we don't bring in the figures? Two reasons:
The current generation of police managers knows only one management methodology – demanding performance figures from subordinates, then delivering those upwards to their managers. For example each inspector thinks:
“Thank goodness my sergeants have hit this month's targets. All the nasty emails I wrote have worked. I'll pass these figures up to the Chief Inspector. I'm safe for another month, and I've kept her safe too.”
Police culture has a deeply ingrained lack of trust:
“Keep a record of everything you do, just in case somebody asks you.”
That mantra is constantly reinforced. Every manager is scared of being asked to justify their role:
“What have you done this month?”
But this could be solved by developing a culture of greater trust - trusting and respecting subordinates - and this change in attitude would have to begin with the Commissioner then gradually percolate downwards.