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Bonkers Blog November 2012

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28 November (Part 2) - The mystery of police attendance at council meetings

Mr. Barnbrook and policeStationing police inside and outside the Civic Centre before and during public meetings shows signs of becoming the norm. Cabinet Meetings at the Civic Centre are “a complete waste of time” (Source: Bexley council), they are rehearsed, short, ‘no one’ turns up and nothing much happens. If there is trouble the police station is only 150 yards away. Why do the police need to be there and how much do they cost us?

Following the meeting held on 16th October 2012 graced by three policemen, a Freedom of Information request was sent to both the police and the council in an effort to establish some facts.

The police replied “The officers were on duty in their ward and Chief Superintendent Olisa asked for them to pay attention to the public meeting that was being held in the Council office building. There had been concerns raised that this could be disrupted and the officers were there to prevent a breach of the peace. The police officers were there on their ward providing their normal policing duties. The Officers did not provide any special service for Bexley Council.”

As you might imagine, that FOI response did not satisfy Mr. Barnbrook - for it was he - and he sent another. Meanwhile Bexley council replied to their FOI. “There was no request by the Local Authority for police to be deployed at the meeting of the Public Cabinet, which was held in the Civic Offices, Bexleyheath, on Tuesday 16 October 2012.”


TweetThe total ‘public’ attendees that night were five members of the Bexley Council Monitoring Group, an equally elderly lady - and me. One might guess that Olisa decided on police presence because of John Kerlen’s (aka Olly Cromwell) rhetorical question. But why the probable lie about “normal policing duties” and the more obvious one, “did not provide any special service”? On 16th October the time of three officers was wasted for at least an hour.

Do senior police officers have nothing better to do than monitor John Kerlen’s Tweets and if so why don’t they do the job better? Not a single Twitterer replied to his question.

Even if the Olly Cromwell supposition is correct it does not explain the police presence at other meetings. Mr. Barnbrook’s second FOI was more comprehensive…


• "Please supply details of all correspondence, emails, etc. received by Bexley Borough Police from Bexley Council in the last two years that have given cause for concern that any Bexley Council Meeting was likely to, or has been disrupted.
• Please supply details of all correspondence, emails, etc. received by Bexley Borough Police from any other source in the last two years that have given cause for concern that any Bexley Council Meeting was likely to, or has been disrupted.
• Please supply details of all CAD messages in the last two years, requesting police to attend any ongoing disturbance at any council meeting at Bexley Civic Offices.
• Please supply details of police records for the last two years, indicating the number of individuals ejected from, or arrested for, disrupting any council meeting at Bexley Civic Offices."


The police said that all their answers were the same. “The searches failed to locate any information relevant to your request.”

So Bexley council say they don’t ask the police to show up and the police admit to there being no recordable problem at the Civic Offices yet Borough Commander Victor Olisa thinks it is a good use of public resources to get his officers to parade up and down outside the Civic Centre and sit in on meetings. Has the 999 service deteriorated so much that he couldn’t get his men down from Arnsberg Way within a couple of minutes in the unlikely event that was necessary?

Note: CAD: Computer Aided Despatch.

 

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