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A COMMUTER who narrowly escaped death in the terrorist attack on the London Underground has called the attackers "animals". Joanne Gittins boarded the Circle Line at Gloucester Road with her boyfriend last Thursday morning and sat in the third carriage from the front.
At around 8.50am she heard a loud crack and saw a bright flash, followed by a rushing noise, as the carriage shook and filled with smoke which smelt like gun powder.
She said: "I thought I was going to die. I couldn't breathe, the smoke was burning the back of my throat and my eyes." The 23-year-old took tissues from her bag to cover her face and help her breathe.
As her eyes adjusted she looked at the carriage of a train which had been passing hers. She said: "It was jagged and opened up like a cracker. The passengers were hysterical." Miss Gittins later learned she had been caught up in the terrorist attack believed to have been committed by Islamic fundamentalists just outside Edgware Road tube station.
The explosion on the Circle Line train had blown a hole in the wall of the second carriage and hit Miss Gittins' train, which was on an adjoining line. Miss Gittins, of Susan Wood, Chislehurst, said: "There was a man hanging out of the carriage. His legs were trapped and he was just looking at us. I don't know what happened to him."
Her boyfriend shielded her from the carnage and later told her he saw bodies with limbs missing and people suffering horrific burns. The force of the blast threw people from the train and she remembers a terrified man with his shirt blown off, alone on the tracks among the bodies, desperately trying to get back onto a train. Back in Miss Gittins' carriage, a male passenger had taken control of the situation and was asking for first aiders and water.
Miss Gittins, who had been on her way to work in an advertising agency in the city, handed over a bottle of water. When it was poured on a burnt man's legs she saw steam rise from him. Desperate to suppress her rising hysteria, Miss Gittins approached a man in a pinstripe suit curled up in a ball on the floor. He was suffering anxiety attacks and was terrified, so she put her arms around him and held him.
She said: "It was easier to deal with if I didn't think about myself. "Putting someone else first was the only way I could deal with things." An hour later, they were finally freed and a London Underground staff member took her by the hand and then put his arm around her to lead her over train tracks.
She said: "They were brilliant, it was like they were angels. Unlike the people who did this, who are animals." Miss Gittins is traumatised by the explosion and said: "I feel guilty I didn't do more, that maybe I could have put my arms around someone who was dying."
The bombers struck the Circle Line at Edgware Road and Aldgate, the Piccadilly Line at Russell Square and on a route 30 bus in Tavistock Square on the morning of July 7, killing 52 people and injuring 700 others. Detectives are still sifting through evidence in the hunt for the terrorists and yesterday carried out raids at four addresses in West Yorkshire.
If you have information about the attacks, call the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789321.
9:55am Wednesday 13th July 2005
April 2005 Police Magazine
Sir Ian Blair on PCSOs
the download needs Adobe Reader to either view or print the report, click here
The face of policing
The Federation has criticised the lack of training given to CSOs, which originally amounted to three weeks. Does he think this is adequate for those who are joining beat bobbies as the ‘face of the service’?
‘I feel very strongly that the level of attack on PCSOs is disproportionate; many have only been with us a short time. They need to be able to make adjustments to their role. I am happy to admit there was not enough training, three weeks is too little. I also think we do need more training on how officers supervise them,’ he replies.
Does he believe a gap in training has led to more complaints against CSOs when dealing with the public? He says most are around ‘minor disciplinary issues’ and that this is not consistent across the board, on community teams, for example, there are almost none at all.
Sir Ian says that sickness and complaints in Westminster are higher, where CSOs are used for security reasons around buildings etc, particularly after September 11. He adds that the reason for this is because it is a ‘difficult job and it is boring’, adding that he brought CSOs in to do the job because it is ‘tedious, absolutely necessary and vital, but tedious’.
The Met is deploying mixed Safer Neighbourhood Teams, generally made up of a police sergeant, two police officers and three CSOs, which Sir Ian says will be the main link to communities and that the teams will always include fully trained and sworn police officers.
‘The police officer brings intelligence-generating analysis, value-added skills. PCSOs bring ability to problem-solving, dealing with very minor issues. It’s a long time since police officers wanted to deal with graffiti.’ The Government announced this month that they plan to provide every community in the country with its own dedicated neighbourhood policing team by 2008, which gives an indication of how far ahead Sir Ian seems to be when it comes to locking into the current political party’s vision of the service – or perhaps he has helped to shape that vision. ‘We are almost two and a half years after the introduction of PCSOs, frankly, it’s the most substantial change in the type of workforce in over 175 years,’ says Sir Ian.
Sir Ian said that the CSOs are bringing a completely new vein of people into the organisation who would not necessarily have applied to be police officers. ‘I group them into three parts,’ he says, then explains that there are those ‘who are really effectively coming to look at us, asking, “Is this service a service I think will be welcoming to us”, adding ‘that is why 30 per cent are from minorities’.
He also flags up a group of ‘mid-life changers’, who ‘always fancied the police, were slightly too old to join as a constable, but who bring a fantastic set of life experiences’.
Finally, he cites those who ‘come from professions like teaching and nursing and are interested in people. They want to do this job’.
Will the Safer Neighbourhood Teams always be the same mix of police officers and CSOs? ‘Yes’, he says, here in London we will not have any CSO supervisors. The mistake of the traffic service is that we had a completely different supervisory range that was utterly disconnected from policing. ‘Every evaluation has proved they [CSOs] are successful,’ he comments, which is true of the Met and of the Government’s assessment of CSOs across the country, and generally reflects their role as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the service.
But this is not totally true of other studies, such as that carried out last year by Adam Crawford and Stuart Lister at the University of Leeds. The study, research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that there was public confusion over the roles of CSOs and what could be expected of them when it comes to tackling crime. The Skills for Justice organisation, who draw up skills profiles, have only just completed one for CSOs and the Government’s evaluation was carried out after their initial rollout and does not cover any possible expansion of their role.
No more powers
Does Sir Ian think the powers for CSOs, which now include the ability to detain for 30-minutes, should be extended further, taking them deeper into the realm of a police officer’s role?
‘No’, he says, he would not want to see their powers increased beyond those already outlined in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, adding that if the powers were extended it would add weight to the argument that they are ‘policing on the cheap’.
Back in 2001, Jack Straw, the then Home Secretary tried to initiate plans for private security guards to fill the gap left by plummeting police numbers, suggesting forces should collaborate with accredited security firms, local council wardens and nightclub bouncers.
Sir Ian believes the police service is pulling back control of patrol and other key elements by using CSOs.
Sir Ian has been in office as Met commissioner since February. How does he view his own leadership abilities and what does he think police officers on the ground think of him? At this point I can’t help but smile, as he says something slightly reminiscent of Ricky Gervais in the comedy series, The Office. ‘Someone once asked me, “What does transformational leadership look like?” It’s about whether people can see any values through any action. He adds: ‘I have a saying: ‘there is no ‘I’ in team’.’
Sir Ian is talking about those he works with who keep The Met ticking over: ‘I see the management board as a team of professionals leading a gigantic organisation.’
When it comes to the front line, where Sir Ian has found himself, by some, being branded a PC [politically correct] PC, he says of his officers: ‘There are a number of years to go before they know who I am.’
the above excerpts are from a larger article published in the April 2005 Police Magazine. Why not download the whole article from:
Why we need bobbies
back on the beat
28 January 2005
What is the Safer Neighbourhoods (SN) programme?
Teams of six officers - typically one sergeant, two PCs and three Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) - are dedicated to a defined area, which here in Islington are wards. It's not the job of these officers to respond to emergency calls or report crime. It's their job to work with the community to develop solutions that will make everyone feel safer.
Why was it introduced?
In my 26 years in the police, we have tried on several occasions to implement community policing to make people feel safer and to improve communication between the police and the people we serve. This has always failed because officers inevitably get diverted away when crime increases or serious incidents happen. The difference this time is we have extra funding and can therefore guarantee they won't be diverted away except in exceptional circumstances.
How many wards in Islington currently have a Safer Neighbourhoods team?
Mildmay, St Mary's and Holloway have had them since the summer. Bunhill and Clerkenwell and Finsbury Park are getting their teams this week, Caledonian and Hillrise at the end of next month and Tollington at the end of March. That means by Easter nine of Islington's 16 wards will be in the SN programme.
Has crime gone down in the three wards where the Bobbies were first introduced?
Yes. In Mildmay we have seen a 20 per cent drop in crime and a 14 per cent drop in the number of calls to police. In Holloway crime and calls to police are both down 13 per cent. In St Mary's the crime rate has stayed about the same, but we think this is because while we have reduced the number of public order offences like rowdy behaviour, there has been a rise in shoplifting and other thefts which often went unreported before the neighbourhood officers were around.
Which type of crimes have the teams had most impact on?
Anti-social behaviour, graffiti and other criminal damage, speeding, begging, prostitution and vehicle crime. They have also been able to deal with issues such as problems with local rat runs.
Will we see more Anti-social Behaviour Orders (Asbos) handed out in Islington because of the SN programme?
The officers in SN teams are given specific training around the Asbo process, which will lead to more applications. There are currently five Asbos on Mildmay, including one on a youth who has been banned from entering the area without an adult for the next five years. However Asbos are not a panacea to a lot of community problems. They are in most cases a last resort when all other efforts to change someone's behaviour have failed.
What sort of feedback have you had from the communities?
Most has been positive and many officers have actually had Christmas cards from members of the public, which is not something I've experienced before. There is some frustration around the fact that even a team of six officers will struggle to be everywhere on a ward at once, but I firmly believe that as the community ties strengthen, the teams will develop an omnipresence through the networks they help create.
What are the powers of the PCSOs in the SN teams?
They can issue fines for cycling on the pavement, selling drugs, littering and public disorder. They can confiscate alcohol, remove abandoned vehicles, carry out road checks and in some circumstances stop vehicles. They can also require people to give their name and address if they suspect they are committing a crime and it is an offence not to do so.
Aren't PCSOs just a cheap alternative to real police officers?
For a start they aren't cheap, typically earning £22,000 a year or more. But the fact is that because they don't have the full range of police powers they avoid getting involved in protracted matters with loads of paperwork. As a consequence they can spend most of their time patrolling the streets.
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PCSO's graffiti pest arrest
By Sarah Bell
13th January 2005
A graffiti vandal who plagued the streets of Whitton has been convicted following the hard work of a Police Community Support Officer.
PCSO William Smith gained the trust of the community and tracked down vital information leading to the arrest of the youth, who had committed 26 incidents of graffiti in the area.
The officer is part of the Whitton and Heathfield Safer Neighbourhood team, which focuses on issues troubling people in the area.
When it was set up in September, residents said that graffiti was one of the main problems they wanted to be tackled.
The tag "Hats" was found all over the area but its "owner" was not known, despite the efforts of other police officers, so PCSO William Smith was set the task of tracking down the perpetrator on his beat.
Over a period of weeks PCSO Smith spoke to many people in the community and eventually located a source who, although reluctant to do so at first, was eventually persuaded to identify the owner of the tag.
The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted the 26 offences at Richmond Youth Court on January 4 and was given a two year antisocial behaviour order.
PCSO Will Smith, who has only been in the job for six months said: "Hopefully this shows how useful PCSOs can be. We don't just walk around for the sake of it, we are trying to make a real difference.
"It's a nice feeling knowing that I can contribute to my team in this way and makes me want to achieve more."
Team Sgt Dan Turner said: "We have tried to focus a lot of work towards graffiti and this is a prime example of this work. Whitton is a nice area and we want to keep it that way. It sends a positive message that we are making an effort to deal with the problem and this should be noted by other people who are doing graffiti.
"PCSO Smith has gained the trust of the community so they will give important information to him.
"That doesn't happen overnight and is something he has had to work on. People sometimes think that PCSOs are plastic policemen but although they don't have full powers they can be used extremely effectively."
Safer Neighbourhood Team Inspector Mike Rabstein said the conviction showed how valuable PCSOs are in Richmond borough.
"They are the eyes and ears of police. By building support, trust and confidence within the community, the police can more effectively tackle antisocial behaviour such as graffiti, which so affects the quality of life of our residents."
Richmond police have had a successful year in their battle against the scourge of graffiti. Community officers have arrested 21 youths and achieved five Anti-Social Behaviour Orders against offenders to curb their behaviour. These figures don't count the many others who have been arrested by response officers at Richmond and Twickenham police stations.
1:58pm Thursday 13th January 2005
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Third of Police Oppose Community Support Officers
By Neville Dean, PA Crime Correspondent Tue 15 Feb 2005
A third of police officers are opposed to the Government’s controversial community support officers and many compare them to “problem children”, new research revealed today.
A survey of rank-and-file officers found 33% disapproved of CSOs – the so-called “plastic policemen” – while only 39% were actually in favour of them. Frontline officers were aware of CSOs with criminal records, a CSO who took Class A drugs, a CSO suffering from mental health problems and of a CSO being recruited without even having been interviewed.
And in some cases, officers said “wannabee” CSOs went over the top and “escalated situations”, putting themselves and any attending police officers at unnecessary risk.
The research was carried out on behalf of the Police Federation, which represents 136,000 Police Constables, Sergeants, Inspectors and Chief Inspectors.
Community Support Officers were first introduced to act as the “eyes and ears” of the police service. As civilian wardens, they are intended to patrol the streets and deal with low-level anti-social behaviour.
However, the Police Federation study identified situations where CSOs had deliberately been deployed in, or involved themselves in, confrontations. In one example, a CSO in the West Midlands was said to have rugby tackled a woman suspected of having stolen goods, while in London a CSO had apparently dragged suspects off a bus.
A “recurring description” of CSOs was of them being like “problem children”, the researchers said.
Some officers said they had a tendency “not to use common sense” and often got “bogged down in trivialities”. A lot of officer time was spent giving advice to CSOs who had reported suspicious activity which turned out to be “groundless” or misinformed. Many officers also complained that CSOs were often unable even to give a clear witness statement about what they had seen or heard.
An overwhelming majority of police officers were also against CSOs being given more powers, according to the study. Two-thirds were opposed to plans to give CSOs the power to stop and search suspects in the street, while 83% said they should not have the power of arrest.
A majority of frontline officers were even opposed to CSOs having some of the powers they already had. More than half said they should not be able detain a suspect for 30 minutes until the police arrived or stop vehicles to carry out roadside checks.
All of the 116 frontline officers who took part in the research thought that the Government’s intention in introducing CSOs was to get “policing on the cheap”. Given the choice, they all said they would rather the money was spent recruiting a smaller number of police officers. Last year, former Home Secretary David Blunkett announced plans to extend the number of CSOs from the current 4,000 to 25,000, at a cost of £50 million.
The introduction of CSOs has been opposed by some sections of the Police Federation, which have described CSOs as “Blunkett’s bouncers” and “yellow-clad numpties”.
Jan Berry, Police Federation chairman, said today: “Police officers can see the value of community support officers used in non-confrontational roles.
“However, CSOs have neither the skills, training, equipment or accountability to deal with confrontational situations and this is reflected in the research.
“Officers also believe that CSOs should wear a distinctive uniform from that of a police officer which clarifies their role and prevents any confusion among the public.
“In the absence of a role profile for community support officers, the Police Federation are now proposing their own and believe training should be provided to support that.” A Home Office spokesman said the report provided “useful additional information” and “a number of positives” on the role of CSOs.
He added: “However, the report is not a conclusive look at the part that CSOs are playing in reassuring communities and dealing with anti-social behaviour. “It is based on the views of a limited sample of Police Federation members and does not cover the reactions of the public to CSOs or incorporate the views of senior police officers.” full report here
so let me get this right, the report states that there are some 136,000 Police Officers OF WHICH 116 took part in the research. Of those 116 officers 33% disapproved of CSOs – wow, now that IS worthy of the headline "Third of Police Oppose Community Support Officers" - just goes to show, you just cannot believe every headline you read in the newspapers nowadays
Starting from 10th September 2003, two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have been deployed on the streets of Gornal. The aim is to provide a visible presence in communities suffering crime and disorder and anti-social behaviour.
Liz Manton and John Tighe will become a familiar sight in Gornal over the coming months. As PCSOs they will have the power to confiscate tobacco and alcohol, issue certain fixed penalty notices, and demand names and addresses of people engaged in anti-social behaviour - though they will not have the power of detention.
They will work with local communities to tackle low level crime such as antisocial behaviour, graffiti, abandoned cars, and broken street lighting, which the police find difficult to dedicate the necessary time towards. They will speak to and work with young people to develop opportunities for local youngsters to lessen youth offending and anti-social behaviour.
Liz is from Oldbury, an ex-police officer who found the reams of paper-work to be the least interesting part of the job. In contrast, PCSO's will be out and about for around six hours of every eight. "As soon as I heard about the PCSO roles I knew it was right for me" she told Yampy. John is a born and bred Gornal chap, looking to make a real contribution to his community. We wish them both the best of luck.
Warden plan against estate yobs
By Mark Andrews
Mar 30, 2005, 08:46
An amblecote estate plagued by vandals and arsonists is to get eight police security wardens in a crackdown on yobbish behaviour. Eight new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will patrol Withymoor Village, Amblecote.
The idea follows months of complaints from residents. People living in the area say they have been living in fear of gangs of up to 30 teenage yobs starting fires, breaking windows and throwing bricks at people. Dudley South PCSO co-ordinator Pc Kim Humphreys said an extra 12 support officers were being taken on in the Stourbridge sector, with eight of them concentrating on Amblecote.
As well as patrolling Withymoor Village, the the new PCSOs will also cover Thorns Road in Quarry Bank, Penfields estate in Stourbridge, and the area around Corbett Hospital. "We see this as the way forward to get back into the community," she said. "They provide a link between the police and the community, they're often aware of what's going on regarding those types of incidents."
Pc Humphreys said two other officers would be used to patrol Queensway on the Pedmore Fields estate and Kingsway in Wollaston, which had also been identified as hotspots for anti-social behaviour. Across Dudley South an extra 26 PCSOs are being taken on, in addition to the 10 who already patrol the area.
Last year Amblecote ward councillor Mrs Pat Martin said she feared last year that if action was not taken people would take the law into their own hands. She said a main concern is youths, often drunk, wandering along the canal path behind their homes and vandalising their property.
Diana Dunn, whose road haulage business borders the area, complained about gangs of youths sitting around before heading up the bank and throwing missiles across the canal
Concern at spread of 'plastic police'
Motoring organisations fear cutbacks in forces' traffic staff as a new generation of civilian officers take to the motorways
Andrew Clark, transport correspondent
Monday March 21, 2005
They have flashing lights, fast cars, yellow jackets and they must be obeyed. But a new generation of law enforcers who can pull you over on the motorway are not police but controversial "civilian traffic officers". In an effort to free police time to tackle more serious crime, officials from the government's Highways Agency have been given powers to direct traffic, close roads, clear up accidents and rescue stricken motorists.
But motoring organisations fear their presence will be an excuse for cutbacks in genuine traffic police. The Police Federation has questioned their value for money and is doubtful about their effectiveness after just eight weeks' basic training.
Critics have dubbed them "plastic police" and compared them to community support officers, who pound the streets in towns and cities but have no power to arrest.
The first 128 traffic officers have been fully empowered since January in a pilot scheme spanning 650 miles of motorway around Birmingham. This summer, the service will be extended to the south-east with the rest of England to follow by March 2006.
To the untutored eye, the difference is marginal. But traffic officers' cars have orange, rather than blue, lights and on close inspection their clothes bear the logo of the Highways Agency.
On a typical patrol in the West Midlands last week, the Guardian observed traffic officers deal with errant lorry drivers who were resting illegally on the hard shoulder. A farmer was ticked off for burning crops too close to the M40, causing smoke to billow in front of motorists. A motorist who had unexpectedly vomited all over his shirt was given a helping hand.
Disobeying or impersonating a traffic officer has been a criminal offence since the beginning of the year. In a measure which has worried breakdown services, they also have the power to tow away vehicles and to demand a fee of £105 from owners.
Paul Watters, head of traffic policy at the AA Motoring Trust, said: "We're concerned about any overzealous traits they might display. It's important that motorists should have the right to call, and wait for, their own breakdown services."
Officers are armed with "pictograms" for common commands to show to foreign lorry drivers who often speak little English.
A senior traffic officer, Richard Arrowsmith, said patrols had rescued horses, dogs and a swan from the motorway. A cyclist was redirected after heading the wrong way down the hard shoulder and a motorist who felt unable to drive because of a spider on the dashboard was moved along.
Mr Arrowsmith said: "The motorway's a very frightening environment and people want reassurance. We aren't replacing police resources - we're releasing police resources for other things."
The service faced its biggest test last month when two lorries exploded after colliding on the M6, causing a 15-hour closure of the motorway and forcing the evacuation of 100 motorists. Traffic officers worked with the police all night to reopen the carriageway in time for the morning rush-hour.
Not everybody, however, is convinced. Rob Dallie, vice chairman of the Police Federation, said another uniform could confuse the public: "How would a vulnerable person feel if they were approached by someone in an unfamiliar uniform, rather than the reassuring presence of a police officer?"
He feels the new officers will be an excuse to whittle down the already dwindling ranks of traffic police, which dropped in manpower from 7,500 to 6,200 between 1998 and 2002. Traffic police are viewed as crucial - more than a quarter of people stopped for motoring offences are found to have committed more serious crimes.
Police officers are also envious about rates of pay - after struggling to attract recruits, the Highways Agency raised basic salaries to £25,000, equivalent to a police constable with six years' experience.
Mr Dallie said: "There are certain duties where a police officer's time can be spent better - cone placing, cleaning up after accidents and removing vehicles. But we would have to question whether this initiative is really delivering good value for money."
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By staff reporter
THE MYSTERIOUS rise in dog mess in Lane End has been solved by the village's Police Community Support Officer.
Lane End residents had made several complaints to Andrew Seston, their local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), about the amount of dog fouling taking place on the public footpaths.
PCSO Seston investigated the complaint and established a large amount of the mess was from dogs owned by the elderly, who could not reach down to clean up the mess.
The dogowners' arthritis had prevented them from clearing up after their pets, said PCSO Seston. He added: "It is a real pity, sometimes animals are the only friends or family for many old folks. They don't mean to get their animals a bad name but arthritis and other complaints often make it really hard to bend down."
The problem was reported to Marlow Acting Police Sergeant Jon Taylor, who got in touch with Russell Lacey, owner of the Desborough Pets, which has a shop in Desborough Road, High Wycombe.
Last Monday Mr Lacey donated six lightweight extended "poopa scoopas" and bags for the elderly in Lane End to use. He said: "We at Desborough Pets are committed to animal welfare. Sometimes this means helping pet owners to do the right thing."
Acting Sgt Taylor added: "Our Police Community Support Officers are out there daily, working along side the dog wardens and other agencies"
9:34am Wednesday 31st August 2005
Prison Officers PCSOs H A T O S Windsor Safari
Prison Officers H A T O S Police Community Support officer