05 October 2006

The Oath

"I, .. [officer's name].. of .. [address].. do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of Constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law."

When I first heard this morning about the Muslim police officer, PC Basha, in the Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) who was moved from guarding the Israeli embassy, I thought that there was going to be probably more to it than the initial knee-jerk reaction that some were offering. Rent-a-quotation types like former Flying Squad commander John "Captain Crimeshare" O'Connor were lining up to pass judgement.

(O'Connor's previous pedigree includes, "Forest Gate raids were very unprofessional", "the attack on Jill Dando was carried out by somebody who was clearly professionally trained ... in close quarter combat ...to use a converted weapon", "the taser was unreliable and unpractical", that Freemasonry is the reason the police is still racist, policing of Buck House is "an absolute disgrace", that Sir Ian would probably resign over de Menezes and a hundred other Pub Landlord/White Van Man style pronouncements; in fact there is practically nothing this man will not open his gums and yawn on about for money/fame/gin or whatever his motivation might be)

By lunchtime, the story had changed. Now it was "for safety reasons" as the officer had Lebanese relatives who might be put in danger if he were to guard the embassy (??). This other message from Deputy Commissioner Stephenson, as reported on the BBC:

"Our priority is making sure that any officer we deploy can have their mind on the job and make sure they discharge effectively and efficiently.
"That's what a risk assessment is about, it is not about political correctness and we do not allow officers to pick and choose their deployment on the basis of their personal views."

This brings up a few points: was this officer really so stupid and short-sighted to think that, as an officer in the DIPLOMATIC PROTECTION GROUP, he would not have to guard an embassy such as this one? I know of many, many Irish and Northern Irish officers who have stated they would not wish to join Special Branch precisely because they have relatives in the Auld Sod - could Basha really not have considered this a possibility in the DPG??

Or was it more of a case of "don't wanna", as some bloggers have - not unreasonably - suggested? It would not be the first time an officer had tried it on with a minority card - unfortunately this is usually pandered to, instead of receiving the correct answer, "no we are not telling you to do this standard, everyday, dull duty/posting because you are female / gay / black / Muslim / Catholic / other but because you are a bloody recruit / bloody probationer / bloody PC, now KNOW YOUR PLACE!!" [at this point I feel the need to remind that I am an officer who is in about 4 or 5 different minority groups and am not a white straight male who, as we know, are not allowed to comment on such matters at all these days!]

So is PC Basha
a) lazy?
b) paranoid?
c) in the wrong department?
d) contemptuous of his oath?
e) just being misunderstood / misquoted?

Who knows?

But in the meantime I shall defer to the good Mr Stephenson, whose priority is making sure our minds are on the job. As Autumn's coming in now my hands and lips are starting to chap and let me tell you, it's jolly distracting. In fact, it's really keeping my mind from the job. I request, on safety and health grounds of course, that I either:

  • be provided with Job-issue hand cream and lip balm, or
  • not be posted anywhere outside my nick

...so that I can keep my mind fully on the job. I thank you.


Blogger BelfastPeeler said...

(As far as I can tell) He didn't REFUSE to do that duty, he ASKED to be excused and gave his reasons. His supervisor would have presumably considered if the reasons were valid, if resourcing issues meant he could afford to and based on his subordinates welfare it would be reasonable to excuse the officer.

Much the same way I'd ASK to help with a rugby match in my area because I like rugby(I'm deliberately picking somethig mundane). If the skipper says no, then so be it, how can it hurt to ask?

From the officer's point of view it could be that he just thought he'd ask on the offchance. And if they said no then he'd do it. In which case, whats the fuss about? I imagine its more to do with the abuse he'll get from the missus "Oh how can you defend 'them' while" etc etc etc

On the other hand what would happen if a constable of Iraqi or Afghan extraction asked to be excused from guarding the American embassy I wonder?

Should he have asked, course he should, why would you not. We all ask for stuff all the time, whether it's for a day off to go shopping or to be excused yet another pub kicking out time operation on your rest day. Should they have said yes? Well, if it was a case of 2 people from the same team swapping what doorway they stand in every day and no one minded WHO CARES?

Tbh if my supervisor said to me "Well about you guarding somewhere else, theres no operational reason why you shouldn't, and Bill there is happy to swap with you but to be honest I don't think it's appropriate because of the political implications" I'd be on the phone to the fed. Wouldn't you?

06 October, 2006 11:39  
Blogger PC South West said...

I think it would be ambiguous if the officer had refused to do this particular job if ordered. But he clearly did not, and as is already stated he asked if he could be excused and we all do that in one way or another.
I would imagine that if he had been ordered to, he probably would have done the duty.
However we were not there and do not know what the circumstances were.

06 October, 2006 23:28  
Blogger Bitseach said...

It's looking more and more like option e), as more information comes to the fore but it sure has been interesting watching the press's immediate knee-jerk on the basis of no proper info at all, especially if it'll feed into the red-tops' current obsession with all things Islamic. Glad that former Flying Squad Blah Blah O'Connor got his moronic quotation out quickly though - do you think he gets paid much for all his rubbish or does he do it for media star-/whore-dom?

In fact, I'd now add an option f) which I foolishly omitted from my post and should have come first - that it was perhaps arse-coverage by a senior officer? Again, who knows what the truth of this very odd story was? None of us, that is the only thing of which we can be sure...

07 October, 2006 00:02  
Blogger totallyun-pc said...

It won't belong before the Metropolitan police are sued from within yet again.

You heard it here first.

I know, its not the biggest revelation in the world, cos they do seem to lay themselves open a lot, Many news reports have suggested that the officers past, and his associations with radicals leave a lot to be desired anyway (The Sun 06/10/2006), and this does beg the question as to how he was cleared for the DPG when CT clearance is often so rigid, but at some stage, a clever lawyer will establish that letting the individual do has he has chosen, has in some way disadvantaged him on grounds of race or religion. Its got to happen.

I can imagine how the conversation will go in future.....

"sarge, I don't want to work at the Israeli Embassy, you see I'm a Muslim, and my religion, family and beliefs are at odds with those of the Jewish faith during the current regime, I cannot be sure that I can carry out my duties effectively"

Now most of us may have said "tough, lad, If you can't carryout your duties, here's an application form for ASDA's"

But it probably went like this...

"ok, I'll let you work at the American Embassy instead"

"well sarge, I can't really do that either, you see the Americans have been strong supporters of Israel since the State was created, and they are the lead in the fight against radical Muslim brothers throughout the Arab world"

"oh, ok, good point, well, you can go to number 10 then"

" sorry sarge, but Tony Blair and The Americans share a special relationship which makes them political bed fellows and he has lead England to a war against the Holy Muslim States which I am also at variance with"

"I see, so what about France?"

"don't like snails sarge"


"Nope! They were nasty 60 years ago, still hurts to think of the atrocities.."

"so, what do you suggest?"

"Well sarge, I quite like Borat from Khazakstan, any chance?"

"are you sure that's ok?"

"I'll manage sarge thanks, though the media coverage of his mockumentary about the little known nation is something I find offensive I can find no political or religious motivation to abstain from actually doing the job I applied for today!"

"what would we do without your selfless acts Officer? I'll just risk assess whether you will be sensetive to the approaches of a charchter based comedian, if you see Sacha Baron Cohen aproach, don't hesitate to call for back up... OK?"

The point is, You can find something to disagree with for every nation under the sun if you really try. But if this is the way you see life, and you are bound by a belief system that at best can be described as intolerant, then applying for the Diplomatic Protection Group was probably as ill advised a career move as getting Peter Sutcliffe to join the Vice unit...

I had a little sympathy for the officer initially... But as the story develops and the officer gets more well known, Its becoming more and more clear that this entire endeavor has been stage managed from the beginning to reap the whirlwind that it has caused, with the only possible outcome ending in another red face for the police, and a field day for extremists.

Oh, and a few quid for the bloke who'll sue! can't help thinking the outcome is inevitable, Well done everyone.

13 November, 2006 09:19  

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My views are my own and would probably not endear me to my dear employers.