The following article was forwarded to me by an ex serving police officer. I have published it in its entirety with minor alterations to protect the identity of the author, under his request. It provides a stark and honest account of the division between the police and the public. Thank you to the author for giving me permission to publish this.
True Stories from the Frontline of Policing
by Officer X
I was previously a serving police officer in Scotland. I resigned due to untrue accusations against me and the fact the police pursued an unfair prosecution that had the sole intention of labelling me guilty until proven innocent, which was extremely difficult to do in the circumstances of my situation.
We were taught at Police College, and all the way through our career, the fundamentals of the most commonly used legislation. In our case, section 13 and 14 of the criminal procedure (Scotland) act 1995. Which in Scotland, is generally used to detain, take to a police station, and interview, any suspect of any crime, common or statutory, until a decision is made to either charge (where they would be formally arrested), or release.
There was very little, to no training, regarding common sense and people skills. In all aspects of our training, suspicion, distrust and to eliminate the possibility of aggression was at the forefront – this meant that where possible, multiple officers per suspect, a spread out positioning to block a suspect in from escape, cuffing as soon as possible, and other detainment situations such as placing them into a police car/van. As much as this might be common sense for most suspects of crime, as there was no common sense applied, people who weren’t even formally suspected of a crime may be caught up in being treated in this same manner.
Police respond to incidents on a grading system of 1, which meant immediate and urgent response within 10 minutes, all the way up to 5, which could be put into the diary for an officer visit at a later date. If a call falls into a category such as a possible domestic, hate crime or on-going, this would automatically place it into a grade 2 – requiring immediate response within 30 minutes. This would be regardless of the circumstances of the alleged crime. In essence, this meant, a post from Facebook a week ago that offended someone in a hate crime manner, or from an individual to an ex-partner, could be prioritised for attendance before an on-going housebreaking or pub fight which, despite being on-going, would likely not receive a response for a few hours to a few days.
There is a common saying among Police Scotland regarding Section 20 of the Police and Fire Reform Act 2012 that gives them a duty to protect property and life. This saying is that the section is a ‘ways and means act’ – essentially, an officer can do whatever he or she wishes to do, in any scenario, so long as they can justify it in any way or means as to suggest the action was required to protect property or life. This was instilled into officers from superiors, and resulted in some incredibly horrendous abuses of power. Some of which included, officers physically assaulting suspects and detainees where it was not required, but they knew no member of the public was watching and could justify it as resisting arrest.
Once these people were arrested, officers would find enjoyment in ‘torturing’ the suspects. This could include going for lunch and attending other incidents, as to prolong as much as possible the detainees time in custody, even where the case could be resolved in a timely manner.
Where officers knew their actions could not be scrutinised, they would often breach laws relating to forced entry. I know of many times when officers have unlawfully forced their way into premises to execute detentions or other police business when they had no right to do so – and there was a mutual understanding between officers to play ignorant to the breach of law they just undertook. I believe that officers usually fully understand their powers, they just actively choose to manipulate these powers and use them unlawfully, in the knowledge no action will be taken against them.
Police complaints usually result in a sergeant or inspector being given the complaint to handle, and would normally result in a face to face informal meeting where the complaint is explained to the officer, they have a laugh about it, and then find the best way to close the complaint down and take no further action.
The police work on a KPI basis, and are targeted. They are expected to normally make between 2-4 reports a week. This could take the form of a speeding ticket, a procurator fiscal report, or any other form of formal police action. If they do not fulfil this criteria, they could be placed on underperformance notice and require to follow an action plan to improve. This system encouraged the systematic unfair prosecution of many people who were either innocent (being instructed by inspectors to charge a suspect despite there being no evidence to do so, in the hopes the suspect simply pleads guilty) – or simply not applying common sense and prosecuting someone for the most trivial and obscure of offences.
Here are some examples:
Charging a wildlife hunter (who did so with a legal gun and in a legal manner), with possession of a firearm and other environmental related offences and manipulated the ‘circumstances’ and ‘location’ of the offence to ensure it fell out with his legal capacity to carry out his action.
Charging a suicidal male with possession of a knife in public, for trying to commit suicide with a razor blade. Any sensible person would suggest this person, who posed no danger to anyone else, be given professional help – instead, he was prosecuted and given a criminal record, which only further exacerbated his depression and misfortune in later life.
The most shocking instance I encountered involved patrolling a football match. A group of youths who were doing nothing wrong but clearly just hoped for a police chase, got their wish when a sergeant demanded that they be detained. An officer in his haste, chased and brought a youth down to the ground with such force that his face hit the ground first and caused his face to burst, with heavy bleeding. The intention was only to talk to the group and give them warnings to leave the area, instead, said sergeant gave the order that the youth had to be arrested for something now to justify the force that had been used, and explain away the injury that the youth sustained. The youth was later charged and prosecuted for jumped up charges relating to offences at a football ground. The officer who caused the injury was praised, invited to join the team full time if he wished. A team who had connections to the officers involved in the death of Sheku Bayoh.
I would be remiss if I did not state that there are many good officers out there, however, the organisation as a whole is wholly and entirely corrupt. This slowly but surely alienates these officers into turning a blind eye to the actions of the bad officers, who sadly, are encouraged and flourish within most roles.
You characterise the police accurately in many of your videos, however, I do not believe you truly understand just how deep the general contempt for the public is within the police, and the sometimes truly awful, disrespectful and unprofessional manner in which many officers carry out their duties, or the conversations about said public in private.
I would go as far as to suggest that viral videos of police brutality or unlawful behaviour that incite a negative response from the public, do not make up even a fraction of the same type of behaviour, or worse behaviour, that isn’t caught on camera.
I think the main issues with the police are threefold:
- political correctness (the thoughts and feelings police)
- the skewed process of police promotion
- lack of retention of the knowledge acquired from training
The recruitment process has gotten easier and easier to the point that a bog standard application will get you accepted because the rest of the process has become so easy to pass. From my experience I would say the average length of service in the bread and butter response/community teams would be anywhere between 2-4 years. Almost half of any given team are often still probationers in their first 2 years because they are simply losing more than they can recruit, which leads to a very watered down level of quality.
I can only hope the police service improves in future by one means or another.