David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ex-US Police Pro: Direct Election 'Unsuitable'

Government ministers and law enforcement analysts have clashed in their views on the introduction of Directly Elected Police and Crime Commissioners.

Addressing the Policing 2011 conference in London Jessica de Grazia (pictured), a former Chief Assistant District Attorney in New York, said the proposed system of governance would be unsuitable for the UK – and could pave the way for corruption.

She also admitted surprise at comments made by Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert, who said the introduction of direct election was not inspired by the American model.

Mr Herbert had pointed towards London – where the mayor is accountable for law enforcement – as the example of success in which the policy had its roots.

But Ms de Grazia said: "This is the first time I have heard that this model has not come from the USA – I am not aware of any other jurisdiction that uses it.

"The question is whether the Directly Elected Police and Crime Commissioner can remain independent and politically neutral – the short answer is no. This is a person who is going to have a huge amount of power over the police.

"Let us make this clear – this is not a police authority, it is a person who, with modest checks and balances is going to be able to appoint and fire the chief constable, the deputy chief constable and the assistant chief constable.

"On top of this they will be responsible for making sure a force is run effectively and efficiently – and we do not yet know who is going to run for office."

Ms de Grazia asserted that the cost of election campaigns would immediately preclude some would-be candidates from putting themselves forward. And she argued that the risk of an undesirable individual making it into the position needed to be countered by a robust package of checks and balances.

She also stressed that – in the US model – the prosecutor had far more power in deciding whether complex cases of organised crime should be investigated in the first instance, a check that did not exist in the proposed British model.

However, the views of the former Chief Assistant District Attorney were challenged by Lord Wasserman, a government advisor on policing and criminal justice who also has considerable practical experience of the American system.

The peer maintained that the policy of directly elected individuals "is not as radical as it sounds" and that chief constables would retain operational independence.

He also highlighted that senior officers are "not pushovers" and that there would be trouble if a directly elected commissioner needlessly overstepped the mark.

Lord Wasserman added: "I could not disagree more with Jessica – I believe that we are going to have Directly Elected Police and Crime Commissioners and they will be people who already have a standing in policing."

Meanwhile the debate also attracted strong views from Richard Kemp, Vice-Chair of the Local Government Association. He believed the policy of introducing the individuals was unsuitable and they would ultimately be scrapped in years to come.

Article courtesy of Cliff Caswell-www.policeoracle.com

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Brain Scans 'To Predict Future Criminals'

Courtesy of: Ananova and www.policeoracle.com

Scientists may soon be able to identify potential criminals using developments in brain research on children as young as six months, an expert has claimed.

Psychologist Dr Adrian Raine said recognising problems in a child's limbic system, which controls emotion, will allow scientists to predict future offenders and psychopaths.

"Seeds of sin are sown quite early in life," Dr Raine told a science conference in the US.

“People would have to decide whether or not to intervene at an early age to stop crime despite possible mistakes in predictions”
The British scientist, who is at the University of Pennsylvania, said three year olds with a poorly-functioning amygdala, a key part of the limbic system, were more likely to commit crime 20 years later.

Further research presented at the conference showed emotional problems, like "callous-unemotional" (CU), were hereditary.

CU traits are associated with a lack of emotion, empathy and guilt and are linked to persistent bad behaviour in young children.

After assessing more than 9,000 twins between the ages of four and 12, Dr Nathalie Fontaine concluded that genetics played a fundamental role in the emergence of CU traits, especially in young boys.

Dr Raine said that a time would come when "we are going to be able to predict reasonably well which individuals at a modest age say eight to 10 years old are predicated to become criminal offenders".

The scientist added people would have to decide whether or not to intervene at an early age to stop crime despite possible mistakes in predictions.

Omega 3 - a fatty acid that helps build brain cells - was identified as being able to reduce aggressive behaviour in children based on studies that have shown giving supplements to prison inmates cut serious offending by a third.

"Its very simple - bad brain, bad behaviour... improve brain functioning and you will improve behaviour," Dr Raine said.