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#dontditchthedogs save our front line policing @mikepannett

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A number of leading frontline police officers and commentators have expressed their fears for public safety after a series of announcements by police forces that they plan to cut police dog unit numbers as part of desperate measures to save money.

The cuts to police budgets, imposed by the Government, have led to senior police officers from forces around the country looking for any means they can to reduce budgets and cut costs wherever possible.

This week, Essex Police have announced they will reduce their canine unit capability by 12 dogs, almost half of their existing number. An announcement is expected shortly from the Avon & Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire forces that they plan to merge services and cut their dog numbers back to just 48 across all three policing areas.

Former Metropolitan and Yorkshire police officer, now author and policing issues spokesman Mike Pannett said “The Government and Police Chiefs consistently repeat that cutbacks are not affecting the frontline. This is simply not true, and none more so than with regard to police dogs”. “The UK Home Office have failed with overview”

“The public will be shocked to hear that many forces have already dramatically reduced their number of police dogs. Greater Manchester Police for instance used to have over 130 handlers, they now have just 36 with a loss of around 130 dogs in less than 7 years. West Yorkshire Police have almost halved their dog numbers recently and West Midlands police have lost another five dog handler jobs this year”

“Cambridgeshire recently reduced their number of dog handlers from 29 to 18 and cut the number of actual dogs by around 25. Like many other forces now, they no longer have any dogs on duty after 4am.”

“The huge counties of Avon and Somerset, Gloucester and Wiltshire plan to share 48 dogs, an impossible arithmetic task to maintain 24 hour cover, seven days a week. The reality means one of two dogs at a time shared between three counties covering thousands of square miles and protecting millions of people”

North Wales Police have lost 25% of dog handlers and operate this huge area with 9 handlers in total. South Yorkshire Police are on the verge of cutting around half its section.

“Police dogs are not a specialist role, they are a fundamental part of modern day frontline policing” added Mr Pannett. It’s taken years to build up “best breeding” which produce the best police dogs in the world! Decimated.

Despite a recent survey, promoted via social media site Twitter suggesting that over 97% of people think there should be more police dogs on the streets not less, police bosses continue to appear convinced that reducing the number so police dogs available is a viable way to cut costs without affecting policing capabilities, leading many to declare that making these announcements now is akin to declaring a Happy Christmas for Criminals.

Following this survey, a campaign on Twitter to highlight the plight of police dogs using the hashtag #DontDitchTheDogs was declared a resounding success after trending as the most popular subject in the UK within minutes and remained so for over an hour, gaining more comment than I’m A Celebrity, and resulting in one Sunday newspaper declaring the efforts an ‘internet sensation’.

“Police dogs track down criminals 24 hours a day. They find vulnerable missing people who would otherwise die of exposure, they recover millions of pounds worth of drugs and search thousands of buildings and venues for explosives” said Mike Pannett

With the cuts made so far, the operational reality is that it officers can be waiting an hour of more for a dog to arrive at the scene of a burglary. Experts will tell you that after this length of time, the scent will have gone and the trail will be cold meaning officer on the ground will have little to no chance of tracing the suspects. This is simply not acceptable”.

“Add to that the health and safety implications to both the dogs, their handlers and the general public if officers are having to race backwards and forwards across counties on blue lights to get from one job to the next. The risk of accidents is being increased many times over”

As a result of police officers concerns, Mike Pannett has laid down a challenge to Senior Officers and Police and Crime Commissioners to debate publicly the proposed cuts to police dog and handler numbers.

“I will debate with anyone who wants to try and rationalise that these cuts to police dogs will not affect public safety and will not negatively affect the detection of crime and apprehension of offenders because they will, and they are.”

“I’m dreadfully worried that the majority of Police and Crime Commissioners, most of whom have no operational policing experience are relying on advice from people who do not themselves understand the implications, and are naively signing off these awful decisions without fully appreciating the consequences of their actions. “

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20 mins to clear cop under investigation for 7 years

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It took a jury just 20 minutes to clear a police officer who had been under investigation and placed on restricted duties for 7 years.

Why did the investigation take so long? Why should people’s lives be placed on hold for so long?

A Met cop was forced behind desk for 5 years and spent seven years not knowing if he had a job at the end.

An investigation that took too long, an investigation that caused a great deal of pain and distress for the officer.

PC Joe Harrington’s life was ‘effectively put on hold’ while under investigation by the police watchdog, after restraining a teenager in custody during the 2011 London riots.

The 15-year-old then accused him of assault and the then Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) were called in.

His case was finally dismissed at a misconduct hearing in June, with the panel citing ‘Unreasonable Delay’ as the reason. The Police Federation have finally been able to break their silence after being legally bound until the judgement was made public on 20 September when the judgement was made public.

The panel also laid into the IPCC, its successor the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the Met for dragging their heels, saying the delays were ‘unacceptable’ and ‘excessive’ and they did not think justice could be served after such a lengthy period.

Its judgement said: “[PC Harrington’s counsel] has drawn our attention to the impact on the officer’s health through the stress of the matter being unresolved for seven years, and to the impact on his career by way of an extended period of restricted duties and subsequent de-skilling.

“In his words:’The personal and professional life of PC Harrington has been stilted  and blighted by years of unresolved overhanging suspicion and his family life damaged to devastating effect, together with his health and wellbeing.’ ”

The Newham based officer’s nightmare began when he was suspended from work until the trial in March 2013. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initially said there was no case to answer, but reversed its decision and charged him with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

At his trial, the jury took less than 20 minutes to acquit him, but PC Harrington, now 34, was put on restricted duties and banned from leaving the police station.

On one occasion, when he popped out move his car, the complainant spotted him in the street and made a further complaint – which led to the IPCC launching an additional separate two-year investigation.

PC Harrington said:” I spent the five years since my acquittal in a seemingly endless cycle of being investigated and re-investigated, confined to a desk in the station. I was barred from any contact with the public at work, couldn’t be promoted, leave the service or move roles.

“The IPCC were unhappy with my acquittal and told the press that they would recommend to the Met that I be sacked. Twice they went to the High Court to overturn reports that they had written, so they could have another stab at it.

“The effect on my private life was horrendous because this investigation was always hanging over me. I have been with my partner Kelly for 14 years and we have a beautiful six-year-old daughter but we had no stability in our home life; Kelly was eight months’ pregnant when this originally happened but we felt we could not get married with this hanging over us.

“For a long time there was the fear that I might go to prison, then it was the fear that we might be left with a single income.”

Pc Harrington took strength from the support he received from his Met commanders and colleagues, even though he was still on restricted duties. He said: “I was lucky to be supported throughout by the Police Federation, who fought my corner every step of the way.”

And in August he and Kelly became proud parents to a baby son. He added: “It got to the point that Kelly and I decided we just had to get on with our lives, which effectively had been put on hold for the past seven years. Policing is all I ever wanted to do and I am thrilled I can now get on with my life and career and even get married without this constant worry hanging over us.”

Police Federation conduct lead Phill Matthews said: “Sadly, Joe’s story is not an isolated one. Although the IPCC has now been replaced by the IOPC, these lengthy, historic investigations are still going on and they wreak a devastating toll on officers and their families.

“Seven years is just not acceptable and puts officers under appalling pressure, during which they cannot move on or get on with their lives.

“The Federation has been working very hard to work with the IOPC to address those issues, not least to examine whether discipline matters could often be dealt with by way of performance management rather than going straight to misconduct as the default.

“We are calling for less of a blame culture to focus more on training or re-training, raising the performance not just of the individual, but forces as a whole. In Joe’s case, the glacial progress of the investigation – after which he was completely exonerated – is disappointing, and we are mindful of the toll this took on both himself and his young family.

“But we believe we are slowly making progress with the IOPC and other policing stakeholders and hope that these damaging over-long investigations will soon become a thing of the past.”

Last March it was announced that IPCC commissioner Jennifer Izekor, who was involved with PC Harrington’s case, had stood down after being accused of perverting the course of justice in a separate case. The Metropolitan Police have asked Police Scotland to investigate this case and that of another investigator.

And in November, one of the IPCC investigators assigned to PC Harrington’s case, Emma Yoxall, was singled out for her role in a separate investigation into officers involved in a fatal police pursuit. A gross misconduct panel threw out the charges against the officers on the grounds of the lengthy delays which ‘gravely concerned’ them. Ms Yoxall is now working as a Learning and Development Officer in the new watchdog organisation the IOPC.

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BREAKING British and French scrambled to North Sea

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British and French jets have scrambled to the North Sea amid reports that Russian planes have entered the UK airspace.

The RAF Typhoon fighter jet is supporting Airbus Voyager plane deployed from Newcastle after 3pm today.

The French have also supported in the deployment supporting with a fighter jet.

In total four jets were seen over the North Sea on mapping.

The RAF has declined to comment on the situation describing it as an ongoing military operation.

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Fancy being locked in a haunted police cell?

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Forget Halloween Fancy a spooky night of fun, locked in a haunted cell for 24 hours to raise money for charity. Then we have an event that is right up your street.

Following on from the success of the PC Edward Walker Tour, Jules Berry a DDO with the Met Police is back with her spooky haunted cell idea to raise money for COPS UK and WMP History Museum, That is exactly what you can do this Feb.

Met Police Detention Officer Jules Berry is arranging the whole event in partnership with the WMP History Museum and is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

The event will take place on the 8th and 9th of February 2019, but be quick as places are limited.

Unfortunately, Police Hour will no longer be live streaming this event to our 2.5 Million Followers, But we hope our readers can still attend and support this event.

Need we say any more, Simply watch this video then sign up

Hats off to Kerry Blakeman for his fantastic advertorial.

The event is being held to support the restoration of the West Midlands Police Museum and COPS UK.

About COPS

COPS is the UK charity dedicated to helping the families of police officers who have lost their lives in relation to their duty, to rebuild their lives.

Since being founded in 2003, they have helped hundreds of families shattered by the loss of their police officer.

They aim to ensure that surviving family members have all the help they need

to cope with such a tragedy and they remain part of the police family.

What COPS do?

COPS is a peer support charity, enabling Survivors from around the UK to support other Survivors in practical ways. They arrange local and national events that enable Survivors to build friendships and bonds that support them through the good times and bad.

Families are rightly proud of their officer and COPS to help ensure that they remain part of the police family.

What about the WMP History?

The West Midlands Police Museum at Coventry was opened in 1959 and celebrates the history of Coventry City Police which existed between 1839 & 1969, before becoming part of Warwickshire and Coventry Constabulary and in 1974, West Midlands Police.

The site at Sparkhill has been operating since 1995 when it moved there from the force’s training facility at Tally Ho! where it been operating as a CID training facility since the mid 1970s. Several of the exhibits had originated from the old Forensic Science Service laboratory when it moved from Newton Street to Gooch Street.

The Sparkhill museum contains items of policing memorabilia and old records from the West Midlands Police predecessor forces of Birmingham City Police, Walsall Borough Police, Dudley Borough Police, Wolverhampton Borough Police and West Midlands Constabulary. Some records are also held of Staffordshire County Police and Worcestershire officers as parts of those forces now fall within the West Midlands Police area.

You can also drop an email [email protected] to sign up, you must raise a minimum of £250 sponsorship.

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