Police criticised for restraining aggressive individual

The police are often called upon to protect the most vulnerable of society, the sick, the young and the elderly.  So it should be of no suprise to the public that when a care home phoned the police because a they could not control an aggressive male the police arrived and restrained him to protect the residents, themselves and the male.

What makes this particular male different is that he too suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, a disease where depending on the severity can make the patient violent as well as suffer from visual, olfactory and auditory hallucinations.

The article from the Daily Express starts off with an inflammatory headline:

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The family here, as upsetting as it is has mistaken the use of handcuffs with arrest.  While their use is most common during an arrest they’re also used during stop/search and when sectioning a person under s136 of the Mental Health Act.  Unsurprisingly ACPO have a document on the use of handcuffs.  Bearing in mind the potential aggression or violence that Alzheimer’s patients may subject others to then according to the ACPO guidance then at first glance this is an appropriate use of handcuffs.

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This section of the article is overtly critical of officers who had to make a split second decision.  They were confronted by powerfully built male (as shown in the original photo) who no longer has the ability to recognise when he has hurt someone or control his anger in a ‘normal’ way.  The officers had to prevent harm from coming to the other residents and prevent harm from coming to themselves.  There are number of ways this can be done.  A police officer may use certain grips or holds – this means that the officer would have to maintain this hold until such time as the detained person either ceases being violent/aggressive or tires themselves out.  The officer could use arm entaglement but again this means the officer has to remain hands on until such time as the risk is no longer present, or they could do as they have done in this instance and handcuff the person.  It should be noted that it is not best practice to handcuff someone to the front ‘palm to palm’ as this does not allow for effective control and restraint.

I am sure the officers who attended would have attempted to use their conflict management training to calm Mr. Hyrons before using force, however as I was not there (indeed, as were not the family or the reporter) we do not know the level of aggression Mr. Hyrons was offering at the time.

Interestingly the family admit that the gentleman in question has ‘childish tantrums’ however they don’t expand on this.  As their family I would expect them to know what phrases and actions would calm him down however people who have only just met him would have no idea of these tactics so they are not available to either the care home staff or the attending officers.

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There is no doubt that Mr. Hyrons was upset, however an Alzheimer’s patient who is upset can be a terrifying experience for those who are not used to that particular patient, it is also potentially dangerous to allow them to remain unrestrained due to the potential risk of harm coming to the patient and those around them.

Mr. Hyrons son states he spoke to one of the officers involved and the officers were indeed correct in their comments.  As Mrs. Hyron was not present and did not witness her husbands behaviour she cannot state that it was ‘brutish’.  Would she rather her husband was restrained on the floor? Would she rather he ran amok and injured other residents or the staff?  Both of those are potential risks of allowing her husband to remain unrestrained in the way that he was.

The comments from the Alzheimer’s society are spectacularly unhelpful, especially stating that the officers ‘abused’ Mr Hyrons.  They used force on an aggressive male who staff, who are dementia specialists, were afraid of.  If they would rather Alzheimer’s patients remain unrestrained at all times I’m sure they have fool proof ways to prevent harm from coming to those patients?

The balance on this article is poor, four lines are allocated to the police to rebut this article.

The article in the Express is essentially a rehashed version of this article in the Birmingham Mail from 20th September.  The original article has a little more detail than the one in the Express and states that Mr. Hyron was sectioned for 28 days following this incident.  Interestingly in this article Mrs. Hyrons admits that “My husband has been aggressive towards me in the past…” although this comment was absent in the article in the Express.

Overall this incident is fraught with difficulties.  I have no doubt that no officer anywhere in the country wakes up in the morning relishing the thought of restraining an unwell, elderly male.  That said every officer would act to reduce harm to vulnerable people and in this case, as unpleasant as it is, handcuffing an aggressive dementia patient is reducing harm to those around him including the other residents and patients within the care home.

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The Police, trusted by over 60% of the British Public

Today I stumbled over an interesting report by The Committee on Standards in Public Life.  This report, consisting of data from 1968 interviews with a wide ranging cross section of the public, is designed to show how much trust is given to various occupations in the public eye.

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This natty little graph shows a nice trend here since 1999.  That the Police are consistently found to be trustworthy by around 60% of the public.  That’s worth repeating.  Since 1999 60% of the public trust the police, and that it’s held steady.  If we look at the lower end of the chart we find journalism – however I’ll come to that later.  What we find in the mid 40% range is business leaders.  This means the British public trusts those who hold senior business positions consistently less than those who hold senior police positions.  This means that should direct entry for senior ranks happen then the police will be forced to use people who the public trust less than the current senior staff, how this will improve policing I’m not too sure.

It is interesting to note that only 18% of the public trust journalists as a whole.  That’s a full 40 percentage points less than the amount of the public who trust the police, worth bearing in mind the next time a journalist implores greater transparency or other measures to increase trust in the police.

While impressive that the vast majority of the public trust the police there is obviously room for improvement and is an area for further study. Of particular note is that Norway and Germany have consistently higher public trust in their police than the UK (as shown in the graph below).  Our government should be looking to those police systems to see why the public trust them so much so that those systems can be introduced, assuming they fit within UK legal frameworks.

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There is considerably more work that’s needed to be done by Westminster MPs to increase their trust, especially in comparison with other European countries.

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With only 30% of the public trusting Parliament as a whole and even fewer (20%) trusting politicians it appears that Westminster needs to be utterly reformed in order to gain the wholesale public trust.  It is worrying that both parliament and politicians are on a downward trend on public trust.  In this instance HM Government should be reviewing the systems in Norway and the Netherlands to see how the public trust is so high.

The study also shows that the police are held to account more than any other organisation measured, and that the police consistently put the interests of the public above their own.

What is worrying is that only 20% of the public think that politicians tell the truth, that 18% of the public think that politicians ensure that public money is is spent wisely and only 11% of the public think that politicians own up when they make mistakes.  

This study clearly shows that the public consistently trust the police, regardless of what the media may be telling us especially as it has been shown that the amount of the public that trust tabloid journalists is 14%.  It will be interesting to see what measures the tabloids will want to be put in place to increase their levels of trust but I wont be holding my breath that they will want to implement any at all.

How to scare parents

On 16th September the Daily Mail published an article with the headline “Babies given Calpol just once a month ‘are five times as likely to develop asthma'”.  This is of obvious concern to parents who wish to keep their children safe and healthy.  The article describes an article published in May 2012, there is no explanation as to why it has taken the Mail 16 months to get around to publishing this article.

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The article starts reasonably well, with well publicised figures that are can be verified easily. 

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The article states that the Patient Information Leaflet contains no information on health risks, this is demonstrably false – what the Mail meant to say is that ” the Patient Information Leaflet doesn’t contain the results of a study released on 29th May 2012″

 

The article then makes some rather unfortunate assumptions.  They appear to have not read the study correctly, as the study states that the the rate of self reported asthma symptoms increases as opposed to those diagnosed by their Doctor.  I have some concerns about the study itself and will critique that shortly however for the moment I’ll stay with the Mail article.

The Mail, while stating the the risk of asthma increases by 60%, doesn’t say what the overall risk is.  In addition it doesn’t state if the risk in Spain of having asthma is the same as the UK, which incidentally it isn’t, the rate of asthma is Spain in children runs between 1.1% – 2.7% depending on criteria being measured.  A 60% increase of these rates means a potential increase to 1.76% – 4.32%. In the UK the rate of asthma is already higher as it runs from 3.5% – 9.3%, so any percentage increase is significantly different.  The Mail completely fails to point this out.

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It is only right at the very end of the article that any balance is given, by this point worried parents may either have stopped reading entirely or may believe that because there is so little information rebutting the article that the study in question is gospel.  Unfortunately the Mail is either unaware of, or ignoring, medical best practice which is to review all the evidence available and the reliability of the evidence.  The article fails to mention how many articles are available discussing potential causes nor details the reliability of the article itself.

The study, Exposure to paracetamol and asthma symptoms, is a study which is entirely dependent on the recall ability of parents and children.  It asks parents of very young children to remember how often they gave paracetamol based medication during the first 12 months of the child’s life.  One of the questions asked is “In the first 12 months of life of your child, did you regularly give him/her paracetamol” the available answer to this question is yes/no.  My definition of ‘regular’ is different to yours I’m sure and will vary among most people.  It would be far stronger evidence to ask how often paracetamol was given during those 12 months rather than use a vague term with no parameters.  In addition the data obtained simply states whether there was any asthma symptoms at least once during the life of the child.  To extrapolate this to mean ‘asthma’ is disingenuous as there are a number of diagnostic tests that need to be completed to ensure the cause of the symptoms are indeed asthma related rather than any other respiratory disease.  While the key points show there is an increased correlation between paracetamol consumption and symptoms of asthma it (deliberately) fails to state if this is a cause of the asthma or simply because those who are asthmatic may be more susceptible to respiratory illness that could result in a raised temperature.  In addition the article clearly states “a causal relationship cannot be established”, what this means in plain English is that it cannot be said with any authority that paracetamol causes asthma.

Overall the Mail article is written in such a way that causes unnecessary panic in parents.  It fails to give any advice to parents nor assess the strength of the study and in fact it appears that the authors of the article have failed to read the study fully, or failed to understand the limitations of the study.

If you’re a parent reading this and are still unsure what to do then it’s summed up as follows: if your child is running a temperature, or is in pain then paracetamol solutions (such as calpol) are widely acknowledged to be safe as long as the instructions on the packaging are followed.  It is not advisable to give paracetamol to your child for reasons other than those it is indicated for (unless your Doctor or Pharmacist tells you to do so).  If you’re still worried please contact your GP or a nurse working at your GP surgery, Pharmacists are also excellent in providing information about medication and you can talk to them without an appointment.

If you need quicker (or more detailed) information on asthma then NHS Choices or Asthma UK are both excellent sources of information.

Laughing at the misfortune of others

On the 16th September the Daily Mail published the following article.  Unlike the previous post I’ll be adding a link so you, the reader, can see what the title was originally, I’ll post screen shots below so if you don’t want to click the link and increase their revenue you don’t have to.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2422196/Police-officers-funniest-injuries-revealed-Washing-alcohol-hand-gel-blamed-ridiculous-accidents-stations.html

Lets dissect this a little, “Police Officers funniest injuries” (emphasis mine). The title has now however been changed, although the tab title remains the same.  Some of the injuries sound either serious, or extremely painful including the officer who who was scalded by coffee after it was superheated in a microwave, the officer who was sustained a neck injury after a whiteboard fell on them and the officer who tore ligaments during training.  It’s wonderful to see a national paper with a distribution of over 1,500,000 and a website which receives (as of May 2013) 8.2 million unique visitors a day laughing at injuries that would have resulted in hospital treatment, such a lack of basic humanity is appalling.

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The article starts with a glaring error, that these are claims of any type.  These are accident reports, any organisation with more than 10 employees is required by law to maintain records of all accidents that result in injury (no matter how minor).  The records are not ‘claims’ nor ‘potential claims’ these are injuries that people would have suffered at work.  So unless the officer who injured his back while switching on a computer has instructed a lawyer to seek damages this is not in any way a claim.

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Yet again this article confuses accident reports with claims.  There is nothing to suggest within the FOI request that these officers have sought damages from their employer yet the article continues to make this error that accident reports are claims.

The article then moves onto the well publicised incident involving PC Kelly Jones, who in the course of her duties sustained personal harm and was initially seeking compensation for this harm.  There have been numerous articles deriding her for this course of action and the claim has since been dropped.  I am aware that there is at least one Constabulary within the UK that allows officers and staff to use their compensation to repay the Constabulary for their sick leave therefore reducing the cost to the public purse.

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We then move onto a quote from the Taxpayers Alliance.  The Taxpayers Alliance appears to be an organisation funded by wealthy tory donors rather than a true grassroots organisation.  Unfortunately, assuming Mr. Sinclair has been correctly quoted or had the correct information presented to him, he also falls into the same error that accident reports of claims of any type which we already know they are not.  Mr, Sinclair states that some of these accidents are simply that: accidents.  This is true, and the purpose of accident reports is so that employers can review what is happening and ensure their risk assessments are adequate to ensure that further accidents do not occur.  While this process seems onerous it is right that individual Constabularies put into place processes that prevent accidents so that Officers and staff are not injured at work as this means the cost to the public purse is reduced.

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It is worrying that the Mail, which is obliged to be fair and seek out both sides to a discussion, devotes so much time to this article yet only allows the Police Federation a single paragraph in response, I do not know how much the Federation sent as a reply however to not even give the common courtesy of naming the spokesperson speaks volumes.

Oh, and one other thing.  PC Jones is not WPC Jones.  The W was dropped years ago – the sex of an officer is in no way an indicator of their ability to perform and using titles that suggest otherwise is simply demeaning.  The W harks back to the days when male officers of equivalent ranks outranked the female officers simply because of their sex and the W was a mark to show this.

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Speaking of balance, a further negative response is then added by an unnamed retired officer and by an additional unnamed serving officer, with no further response in mitigation.

The remainder of the article then lists some of the injuries suffered by serving officers.

It worries me that there are continued attacks on the police, especially from a paper that derides the lack of respect for law and order within the UK.  It is very odd that a paper can complain of a lack of respect yet humiliate officers in this way.

It is worth reminding people of some of the more serious injuries that officers receive. They are shot, stabbed time and time and time again, they are run over, headbutted and have their jaws fractured among other injuries.  It is also worth noting that while the UK average sick leave is 6 days per person per year for the police it is 8.  Considering the injuries they receive, the incidents they attend and the extended amount they spend driving – including at night (which are all risk factors for injuries) I would suggest the rate of absence is entirely acceptable.  Articles such as the one above mock the police for no other reason than to ridicule them and attack them.

A Thank You

This little blog of mine has been up for just over twenty four hours.  In that time over 100 people from all over the world have taken the time to read my rants about the poor reporting from a paper that’s annoyed me for some time.

I have the next article I want to reply to but after that my posts will be purely determined by the output of the Mail so I can’t guarantee when I’ll post or how often.  If however anyone spots something that they think I may be able to respond to then please feel free to drop an email to my hotmail.com account, titled adifferentviewpoint .  

So thank you again to those who have read the blog and I look forward to hearing your views and replies to any articles I post about.

My response to Peter Hitchens

As promised, here’s my blow by blow response to Peter Hitchens explaining why he is so very wrong, including examples to publicly accessible websites.

 

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Now I apologise for the clunky way I’ve attached the screen caps but I refuse to link back and forth to the website seeing as the newspaper receives advertising funding with each visitor.  With that out the way let’s deal with this article.

Peter starts this article asking what use the police are in the UK.  Well in the 2011-2012 financial year they detected 1,075,927 offences. A million and a quarter offences were ‘solved’ by one way or the other. Considering there were 134,100 full time equivalent officers in 2012 that means that on average they solved 8 crimes a year (roughly).  That doesn’t sound all that impressive I know, but please bear with me.  You see while there are 134,100 officers that doesn’t mean there are that many officers on the beat.  There are considerable number of police officers in control rooms, training departments, custody units, licensing departments (both alcohol and firearms), prisoner processing units, public protection units (comprising of units formerly known as domestic abuse + child protection + offender management units) as well as any number of units and departments that I’ve forgotten the name of.  As you can see there are many officers out there who do a hugely important job that needs to be done and in some cases is a statutory requirement.  My local force may only have 10 officers purely to deal with response duties for 120,000 people.  You may ask what ‘response’ duties are – these are the officers who will come running when you dial 999, these 10 officers are responsible not only for responding to 999 calls but also to managing the inquiries for crimes they attended in other shifts as well as looking for missing people, taking part in ‘constant observations’ when vulnerable prisoners require it as well as escorting prisoners to hospitals etc.  All this means they are very busy indeed, so yes Mr. Hitchens the officer you spoke to may have had far more important things to do than deal with something that is not a criminal offence.

You mention that the police stay indoors an awful lot.  Well yes, they do rather but I can assure you that’s not through choice.  This is a manual of guidance.  It details what the police have to do with every prisoner when they’re arrested and the forms they have to fill in, generally by hand.  In addition all the actions an officer undertakes have to be recorded in their pocket notebook, as do all movements of property, evidence and prisoners.  Speaking of prisoners, this is their manual of guidance. This generates mountains of paperwork to state that all the risk assessments and statutory processes have been met.  All this takes time and if the prisoner process unit is busy then it’s down to response to deal with this.

Mr. Hitchens complains that there are too many firearms officers around.  Unfortunately a quick google search only shows me 2011 Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) there are, they stood at 6,653, this is a rate of around 4%.  It sounds an awful lot, but once you take into account those on rest days, those who are on shift at a point other than ‘right now’ today and those in non-public facing roles (those protecting Royals, VIPs, sensitive buildings etc) then there aren’t that many to go around for the public to see.  It’s also worth remembering that just because an officer is authorised it doesn’t mean they carry a firearm at all times.

I’m barely going to deal with the ‘terrorist’ remark.  Terrorism has been a feature of British life for many years now, if Mr. Hitchens cannot see that then I worry about his ability to gather data correctly.Image

Mr. Hitchens moves onto a recent story.  One where the supposed aggrieved party has already accepted that the police have a difficult job to do.  There are any number of reasons why the police failed to recognise the Prince, ranging from weather, to clothing, to glare – dealing with intruders isn’t easy nor is recognising someone in a split second and seeing as the police were on high alert after a recent security breach it’s only correct that the police challenge someone they don’t recognise straight away.

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The next topic for discussion involves an ongoing investigation – because it’s an ongoing investigation I’m suprised he has decided to weigh in with his opinion, after all we wouldn’t want a jury tainted by information that isn’t presented at trial now would we? For that reason I won’t be responding.

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Now onto the next rant.  So Mr. Hitchens doesn’t want any of the police to be armed.  Well that’s all very nice but what happens when (as happens now) criminals arm themselves? It won’t be the police who respond to you when you’re screaming down the phone but he wants to send the army instead – I’ll deal with this in a moment.

He also wants to get rid of body armour.  Body armour that saves the lives of police officers up and down the land, not only from sharp and bladed instruments but also protects vital organs from blunt force trauma.  It’s nice to see how much Mr. Hitchens values the lives of those who serve him, but that’s another point I’ll be coming back to in a moment.

He also wants rid of helicopters and cars with ‘go faster stripes’, whatever that means.  I don’t think he realises that should helicopters be removed then people will die.  While I can find no FOI requests at this time a google search for “police helicopter missing person found” brings up a huge number of articles where vulnerable, elderly or injured people have been found simply because of the police helicopter.  So remove the helicopter and its infrared cameras and missing people will die before they’re found.  Nice to see how much Mr. Hitchens views the lives of those more vulnerable than he.

If you remove cars then response times will be hugely increased.  Oh it may work in densely populated areas such as London, but any rural county will fail to get anywhere in any decent time.  In addition lives will be lost.  With no traffic enforcement then people will break the law and as a result lives will be lost.  If you want to see what traffic is like with no enforcement then search youtube for ‘Russia car crash compilation’.  If that’s what he wants then sure, take away all the cars.

I’m not sure what he means by ‘proper British uniforms’ however I imagine he means tunics and wool trousers.  Uniform that’s so expensive it’s no longer routinely issued to frontline officers and instead a small pool of which is retained to be issued on an ‘as needed’ basis. But hey, if he wants to increase funding to police to be spent on this I’m sure he won’t mind an increase in his council tax.

Mr. Hitchens wishes to impose marshal law on the UK, I’m not sure why he wants to impose this drastic step but the army doesn’t have an illustrious history in dealing with disorder.

One final point though, with regards to being a public servant.  Police officers aren’t.  They’re Crown Servants, they serve the Queen and their job is to keep the Queen’s peace.  This means that while they sometimes help individual people it’s not their primary role – especially if a persons actions impinge on others or cause harm or suffering (as defined in law) to others.

Mr. Hitchens, if you have read this then I’m impressed but I implore you to do one more thing.  Seeing as it appears you have so much knowledge and expertise to share why are you not a Special Constable? Furthermore why are you not practicing what you preach and patrolling single crewed with no body armour in a sink estate of your choice? Once you’ve done this for a career then you can deliver your lecture with a little more authority.

 

Well done Mr. Hitchens

Mr. Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail today posted this article about the British Police.  It is so badly misinformed and laden with so many errors that I’ve decided to create this blog simply to show you how very wrong he is.

Mr. Hitchens has chosen an easy target, the police.  Why you ask is it easy to critisise the police? It’s easy because they cannot speak out, as individual officers, against such misrepresentation in the media as their disciplinary regulations prevent it.  Furthermore because the press complaints commission will only investigate issues where an individual is harangued they won’t step in.  In addition to these issues the Daily Mail itself has removed the option to post comments at the end of the article.  Why they have done this I don’t know as they normally only do so when it is legally prudent, such as in ongoing court cases.

Either way individual police officers currently have no recourse in such biased articles, hence the reason for this blog.  It wont counter just the anti police articles but also the anti NHS ones too and when I have a screen shot of the page I’ll prove every point and area of misinformation that he’s posted so you can see how very wrong he is.  For the moment however I’ll leave you with just the one point.  He clearly has no regard for the safety of you, the reader, as he demands the removal of TASER from the police.  TASER is a weapon designed to be less lethal than firearms so that the police can deal with those who are so violent or possess such weapons that they would have been dealt with by firearms officers in the past but with a much reduced chance of killing them.  If response officers don’t have TASER then you, the public, will have to wait longer for the police to arrive which means you are at greater risk of being seriously injured.  Like I said, well done Mr. Hitchens.