“Luther” or “Manhunt”.

Two TV series, “Luther”


and “Manhunt”


“Luther” is pure fantasy with a cool detective playing outside the law, ignoring procedure and making look like murders can be solved with guess work, hunches and by a couple of cops. What a total load of crap, yet many buy into it, including some police officers I worked with, who were wannabe Luthers and more concerned about their image than gathering evidence.

“Manhunt” is far better. It shows what detective work really is and should be like. Methodical evidence gathering, considering and prioritising all of the potential sources of evidence and keeping an open mind.

The opening episode dealt with the many hours of CCTV that needed to be tracked down and then viewed. It admitted that is hard work, time consuming and boring. That is because it is. It is very hard to keep concentrating whilst watching hours of CCTV waiting to see something that many last a second or so. The scene with the divers searching the river and how patient they had to be, was excellent. Hats off to those prepared and able to do that work, a fingertip search underwater in low to no visibility. Detective work is not very exciting. I once heard detectives described as glorified statement takers and much of their work involves spending hours tracing people and taking statements.

DCI Luther, or DCI Sutton, if you are the victim of a crime, you want the detective in the anorak who talks about evidence, not the one in the overcoat who talks about themself.


Prevention is better than cure.

Action to prevent crime is far better for society and the police, than a crime being committed. There is a social and financial cost to detecting crime and for the victims to dealing with the aftermath.

An example of crime prevention is the suggestion that petrol is pre-paid for, so as to prevent drive offs is one such action;


“…the (petrol) companies could end “bilking” – where people drive off without paying – at a stroke by making motorists pay in advance as they did in many other countries.”

Simple, but some petrol companies are resisting because of a fear of loss of sales from people going into the shop and buying other items.

The crime issue that has many heads being scratched for a solution, is the huge increase in knife crime in England, especially London and particularly in 2018. Scotland is being heralded as having the solution, as knife crime has dropped dramatically;


“Scotland’s approach has led to a 50 per cent reduction in recorded knife possession since 2009.”

The approach was to make carrying a knife too risky for many, by increasing the likelihood of being caught through stop search and having harsh penalties for those who were caught. As fewer knives were carried, there was less reason for others to carry them “for self-defence”. Youths and gangs in particular, were given good reasons to prevent them from carrying knives. They were less likely to be stabbed and more likely to be caught.

Levels of violence had been dropping anyway, society has been getting less violent for various reasons. But when someone fears they may be attacked and has little fear they may be caught by the police, they will be more likely to carry a knife.

The youths and gangs of London have not been given the reasons the Scots were, to prevent them from carrying knives. An increase in stop search and harsher penalties will give them those reasons.

No festive holidays for the police.

I hated (as did everyone else) that the annual leave period ran from April to April and there was a gap, so no one could go on holiday over Christmas and New Year.

You were allocated a leave group, A to E if I remember correctly and then three times a year, that leave group could go on holiday. That meant every so often, you would have only 2 leave periods in a year, then get 4 the next year.

If you changed shift or department, you would be allocated a new leave period. If you were really unlucky, you could go from the one with only 2 leave periods in the year to the next one with only 2 leave periods in the year. It was common to not have a leave period that coincided with school holidays, great if you did not have children, crap if you did. Schools accepted that police officers were amongst the worst offenders for taking children on holiday during term time, though it was often just a short overlap with the holidays.

Senior managers did not care, as they just went on holiday when it suited them. I never did get why the annual leave could not be January to December and include Christmas and New Year. That would mean if you stayed on the same leave group, about once every 5 years, you would have holidays at the Festive season and get to pretend you were just like everyone else.

Gender equality.

When I joined the police in 1989, the lady policemen wore skirts, carried handbags, had tiny batons and there was usually only one per shift. Hardly any were in CID and if they were, it tended to be for any female and child crimes. Even fewer were in the traffic department. None were firearms officers. I do remember that females were quite well represented in the mounted branch, but that was it. I worked in one office that at one point had only three female officers, so if we arrested a female, we had to call out one of the ladies to do the search.

I do not know for sure if it was connected or not but ending the height restriction seemed to result in more ladies joining. The office that had once had only three females had within a few years, a shift that had three females on it.

It started to become not unusual to put two female officers out on patrol together. They started to drive the traffic cars. It was common to see female detectives and not just for female and child crimes. I never did see a female officer with a gun.

Promotion of females was slow to come. Indeed, I had 20 years’ service before I finally had a supervisor who was female. Within a few years, it was amazing how a female Sergeant went from rare to quite common. It also then became quite common to see more senior female officers.

There was also unequal pay between male and female, but not as you would think. The ladies got a higher take home pay, because their pension contribution was smaller. There was a nice boost to my pension when that was equalised.

Police Scotland’s inadequate record of dealing with complaints about themselves.

Back on the 20th May 2013, PIRC (Police Investigations & Review Commissioner) started to tweet links to their complaint handing reviews, which is where they investigated how well Police Scotland have dealt with complaints made against themselves. On the 15th February 2016, PIRC started to add a summary to each tweet;

PIRC publishes 9 complaint handling reviews, upholding 15 of 30 complaints, with 13 recommendations to police

Only upholding half of all the complaints made and 13 recommendations covering 9 complaints is an indication of very poor performance by Police Scotland. You would think that Police Scotland would look to improve, but no. I have tracked the tweets and wrote this back in July 2018;

I checked through 160 reviews and found 80 were dealt with “to a reasonable standard” and 80 were not.”

This is the latest on the 26th November 2018;

8 out of 12 complaints were handled to a reasonable standard. Six recommendations, 1 reconsideration direction & 2 Learning Points were issued to Police Scotland

The one before that in October had;

18 out of 34 complaints were handled to a reasonable standard. Fourteen recommendations were issued to Police Scotland

Overall, there has been no notable improvement by Police Scotland. Why is that? Why do Police Scotland continually perform to a low standard despite all of PIRC’s recommendations?

The answer is that whilst Police Scotland do respond to PIRC’s recommendations, they fail to learn from them and they don’t need to. That is because, as PIRC admitted to me when I asked about the poor performance;

…we recognise that legislative change is required to strengthen the PIRC’s ability to provide effective scrutiny and oversight of the police.”

Basically, Police Scotland pay lip service to the recommendations and then ignore them. That is why PIRC went on to state;

“It is for this reason that we recently submitted a paper to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee outlining proposals with regard to potential legislative change…”

PIRC’s powers are too weak to force Police Scotland to change and Police Scotland are not interested in providing a proper service to the public when it comes to dealing with complaints made about the police. PIRC are asking for more power, as shown here;


Whilst the current legislation, provides the PIRC with authority to give and supervise reconsideration directions, it does not provide authority to instruct the relevant policing body to uphold a complaint, even in circumstances which overwhelmingly support that it should do so. It is suggested that the legislation be amended to enable the PIRC either to instruct the police to uphold complaints or to replace the policing body‟s determination with the PIRC‟s determination on whether or not the complaint should be upheld.

Very worryingly, PIRC also state that;

From 2016-17 data, it appears that the PIRC is asked to review the handling of less than 5% of all the complaints made about the police. Accordingly, most complaints made are not subject to any independent oversight. Of the 5% brought to the PIRC, several instances have been identified where Police Scotland has failed to refer criminal allegations against officers to the COPFS as required, or attempted to deal with serious and complex complaints via „frontline resolution‟ (a process that should be used only for minor and straightforward complaints).”

That is an admission Police Scotland are blatantly covering up criminality and that is because they can. It further evidences the police cannot be trusted to investigate themselves and that the Professional Standards Department is not fit for purpose. New legislation is needed and it is needed now.


EDIT – since writing this PIRC have tweeted another summary of complaint handling reviews which stated “23/33 complaints were not handled to a reasonable standard. 17 recommendations, 3 reconsideration directions and 4 learning points were issued to Police Scotland”


Throughout our training we were warned to make sure our notebooks were kept properly. Be careful what you wrote, write entries at the time keeping everything chronological, do not rub anything out and do not remove pages. The pages ended up being numbered to make removal much more difficult. Then, whatever you do, do not produce your notebook in court as that means the defence can examine it.

I kept a neat notebook and had no problems referring to it in court. That I would ask to check my note book whilst giving evidence, would cause surprise and invariably the defence would want to look at it. The first thing they would do is to flick through it, looking for problems and signs of tampering. That just meant they would get warned by the Sheriff as they were only supposed to look at the specific entry relating to the case.

Whilst doing court duty, I saw one cop hand over his notebook, which had the relevant entry written in tiny writing compared to the entries before and after. It was obvious he had left a space in his notebook so it could be made up later, but he had not left enough space. Even the Sheriff did not believe him, but oddly nothing was done and the cop got away with lying that he had written his notebook up at the time.

I heard of one occasion when a cop had to hand over his notebook to the defence and it had none of the entries in it that he claimed it had whilst giving his evidence. The defence solicitor just looked at it, closed it and handed it back. After the trial, the solicitor approached the cop and quietly warned him not to do that again, as perjury is a crime. Again, it was odd the cop got away with lying. Letting cops lie just enables more lying.

Notebooks were supposed to be kept for 7 years (unless there were details relating to an unsolved serious crime, in which case they could be kept indefinitely). Invariably, where they were stored ended up in a chaotic mess and many a note book disappeared. I was accused of losing a notebook, that a couple of years later reappeared in an envelope from the PFs office. For some reason the PF must have requested it and it was sent, but that was not recorded in the notebook log. For some cops, going to court without their notebook, because it had been “lost” from the store, was a positive advantage.

This looks like fun!

Watching this has, for the first time since I retired, made me miss the job;


‘Tactical contact’: Police shown ramming cars into moped criminals in video footage of new strategy

The body language of some of those scooter neds after being rammed by the police car is so clear, WTF! you just rammed me! Brilliant and long over due.



Why the conviction rate for police officers accused of crime is so low.

Here is another example of a basic error by those tasked with reporting police officers accused of crimes. It helps to explain why the conviction rate for police officers accused of crime is ten times lower than it is for the public (for more details see post, dated 8th Sept 2017).

An off-duty cop is phoned in the early hours and collects his fiancée from a night out. She is very drunk and has already been in a fight. It would appear there is a bit of a disturbance between them in the car, as the cop drives her home. She then reports the cop had hit her, so he is arrested and charged.

The basic error, going by the newspaper report is this;


But Miss Hambly told the court that, as she had so much to drink on the night in question, she could not remember what she said to police in the statement she gave while at her brother’s house.”

A statement for use in court should not be taken when the witness is that drunk. Basic details can be obtained as to what happened, but at some point, a full statement should be taken when the witness is sober. The witness said during the trial;

“I think I’ve just misread the situation because I was so drunk and I’m not used to drinking that level of alcohol.”

It is clear that the investigating officers made no effort to establish if there really was credible evidence, the Sheriff summed up saying;

I regret to have to say I assess Caleih Hambly as a wholly unsatisfactory witness. “It is hard to see that she has not either made a false allegation or she is deliberately not telling the truth. “I do not accept anything she said as either credible or reliable.”

It is no wonder that the conviction rate for police officers is so low (only 8.7% in 2015-16, whereas for the general public it was 86%). Those responsible for submitting cases against cops have not been ensuring there is sufficient, credible evidence, which was admitted by COPFS in a FOI (for more details, see post, dated 29th May 2017).

If a police officer is accused of a crime, they should be investigated to the same standard as the public are. The reason why they are not is because those tasked with such investigations are themselves dishonest. COPFS know it, but do nothing about it.

Identifying what is reasonable and what is excessive force.

Back in 1991, late at night whilst on patrol, two police officers saw a male acting suspiciously who then ran off into the local railway station. They pursued and were confronted by the male wielding a knife. They radioed for assistance and the shift Sergeant appeared, in the patrol car. Without hesitation, he drove onto the station platform and at the male who he knocked down at low speed. The male then threw the knife onto the tracks and he was arrested. He had only minor injuries from being hit by the patrol car. No one else was hurt.

The Sergeant was then the subject of an investigation for the use of excessive force. But how can it be excessive force when someone has a knife and the result is they are arrested with minor injuries? The Sergeant was finally cleared when it turned out someone had witnessed the whole thing from his flat and he came forward, full of praise for the police and how they had cleverly stopped the knife man. Management decided that maybe it was not excessive force after all and that the Sergeant had sensibly adapted what was to hand to prevent serious harm.

Thank goodness PIRC are able to recognise what was reasonable force, in this case;


when exactly the same happened and a police officer hit a male with a patrol car after the male had attacked two police officers with a knife.

A police officer who used a car to knock down a knifeman after he stabbed two colleagues showed “extreme bravery”, a review has found.

A police watchdog backed the officer who took action when William Taylor walked into a Greenock street “armed with a knife” on 1 June.

..Taylor received minor injuries when he was knocked down.

There are some total idiots in Police Scotland, who are unable to identify what is reasonable and what is excessive force. When a threat of violence is high and the action used by an arresting officer results in minor injuries, it cannot be excessive force. It does not matter how the threat was dealt with, so long the use of force was reasonable, which is clearly is when someone with a knife only sustains minor injuries.

I hope the officer who drove the police car at the knife wielding maniac also gets an award. He should not have been subjected to a PIRC investigation.

Can we be confident in police and prosecution investigations and disclosure?

Down in England and Wales, an investigation by the Attorney General has found that;

“Prosecutors and police are routinely failing in their duties to disclose crucial evidence, leading to cases being pursued that should have been dropped, a review by the attorney general has found.”


I have already written about my experience whereby those investigating me did not bother to investigate and disclose all the evidence. I am sure that was not purely due to malice on their part, but it was also down to their ignorance of the duty to investigate and disclose all relevant evidence.


Apologies for the long-winded title, the key point was the result of an FOI I submitted, in which Police Scotland admitted only 2.25% of all Police Scotland officers have been trained in the Lord Advocate’s Code of Practice for investigation and disclosure.

The Guardian newspaper article includes a paragraph that reads as if it was lifted from the Lord Advocate’s Code of Practice;

“The report says investigators have a duty to conduct a thorough investigation, manage all material appropriately and follow all reasonable lines of inquiry, whether they point towards or away from any suspect.”

We cannot be sure that is happening in Scotland, since so few police officers have been trained in the proper procedure.