Monday, November 19, 2012

Entire British police team axed for playing poker and cleaning golf clubs

An entire neighbourhood police team has been axed after they were caught playing cards, board games and even cleaning golf clubs when they were supposed to be patrolling the streets.

Three officers were sacked and another four resigned following an internal investigation by the Metropolitan Police. The team, made up of regular officers and community support officers, were supposed to be helping keep the streets safe in Bromley, south east London.

But instead hidden cameras and listening devices found them playing backgammon and poker or just watching television. One officer regularly went out for a run rather than working while another was cleaning his gold clubs in the office. Some then claimed overtime for shifts they had not worked.

Commander Allan Gibson, head of the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, said: "These officers let the whole of the service down with their behaviour; but more importantly they let down their local community. "There is no place for lazy attitudes in the MPS and those who are found to be failing in their duties will be held to account."

The activities were exposed during an undercover operation by Cmdr Gibson’s unit into the Safer Neighbourhood Team in the Mottingham and Chislehurst North ward of Bromley in 2010. Disciplinary proceedings were only concluded last month.

One sergeant and a constable were sacked after the Met's disciplinary panel found them guilty of gross misconduct. Another constable and three of the team's community support officers resigned, while a fourth PCSO was dismissed.

In a statement, the Met said: "The disciplinary panel heard evidence that officers from the team had played backgammon and poker whilst on duty, watched TV in the office, frequently failed to go out on patrol, had not worked full tours of duty and also claimed overtime that had not been worked. "In addition, one officer had gone out for runs during the working day whilst a further officer cleaned his golf clubs in the office. These activities appear to have taken place at the expense of policing duties, such as patrolling the local area."

Roger Charsley, an ex-police officer and now local councillor for the ward, said: “I was horrified by this. “The public expect the police to do their job not sit around watching television and playing cards.”

A Met source added: “It was an extraordinary state of affairs. “The public will be shocked to learn how little work was actually being done by this team.”

Neighbourhood teams were introduced by the Met in 2004 and subsequently rolled out across the country. They were intended to make the police more accountable to the public because local people would get to know their designated team. They were described at the time as the “greatest development in community policing in the past 30 years”.

PCSOs have come under criticism since they were introduced by the last Labour Government. Dubbed “Blunkett’s bobbies” after the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, critics warned they would result in policing on the cheap.

Original report here

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