Monday, 29 June 2020

Lanty Slee and his 'Mountain Dew'.

Yew Tree Tarn and Holme Fell, near High Arnside, Tilberthwaite.
A lot has previously been written about Lanty Slee, the most notorious illicit whisky distiller in Lakeland. Although the likely locations of his illicit stills have been identified, little more has been added to the facts of his life, moving him more towards a legendary figure, rather than a man of the times, trying to make an extra 'bob', albeit an unlawful one, to maintain his family. I will now try and add that more factual detail, and add at the end to the folklore that developed at the time, based on his notoriety, even some time after his death.

Black Fell summit, behind High Arnside.

Lancelot, or Lanty, Slee was born in the Kirkby Irleth area of Lancashire (now in the south of Cumbria) around 1802. Little further is known of him until he was married to a Miss Mary Richardson who was 18 years younger, on 3rd June 1839, at Ulverston. Lanty's occupation was recorded as a husbandman, so he was involved in farming. In the 1841 census the Slee's were recorded as living in the Tilberthwaite area.
The first clue to Lanty's additional 'profession' as a fermenter of Morning, or Mountain, Dew, came on Tuesday 28th September 1841. Excisemen at Ambleside had received information that an illicit still was at work at the premises of Lanty Slee, who lived in a remote cottage near Tilberthwaite. They set off on that day from Hawkshead, accompanied by constables Grisdale and Jackson. Once there, they systematically searched for the still and eventually found it in an ingenious location; the floor of the stable block had been excavated and a trap door built at its head where the horse's forelegs would be. This had been hidden from view by a heavy covering of hay, and of course, the horse. All Lanty had to do was to call the animal, which would then allow either ingress or egress to or from the hidden vault. A great deal of work had undergone its construction in order to prevent discovery while in operation. The flue of the 25 gallon capacity boiler had been ingeniously routed underground and linked into the chimney of the house itself. It was clear to these officers of the law that the equipment was nearly new, a great expense having been laid out as the scale of the illegal operation of distilling had been expanded to increase the very profitable, yet unlawful, production of the 'dew'. Also seized were two barrels of malt, two casks of sour porter, one cask of treacle, and 27 gallons of wash. Found concealed in some nearby bracken was a small quantity of the whisky itself, which was also impounded; everything was hauled off for storage at Ambleside by the police, as evidence for the court, and also for its later destruction. The excisemen and police had known that Lanty had been conducting his illicit operation for the last 20 years, but had never had the information to locate his still. It has long since been said that he was known to have various such equipment spread across the surrounding valleys, he being a man of the area, working by day in the quarries and mines, also to some degree by farming the land; yet under the cover of darkness he engaged himself in the more profitable occupation of distilling and smuggling his whisky, producing annually 400 to 500 gallons. His product was said to be the strongest known and that now he was caught, the locals would commence a Tea-total Society, as they normally would when his stocks had run low; now it appeared this was forced upon them, by the invoking of the law on his illicit actions.
The newspapers of the day reported that he would never have been caught had it not been for the report of his 'wily lodger'; it appears he was informed on by another. This passing of information to the authorities would no doubt have brought about some reward to the informer; without that it was said he would have continued uninterrupted long into the future. Who that informant was is unclear, but known to be lodging with him in June of that year were two other adults, a 70-year-old quarryman called James Woodend, and a 65-year-old Mary Graham. One other possibility was a Henry Brake who also lived in the Tilberthwaite area. Lancelot Slee had just been before the local magistrates and fined £4 for assaulting Brake. This was the highest fine issued that day at court, the next highest being only £2. Whoever the informer was, he or she, would be forever disowned by the whole neighbourhood; their supply of whisky was now severely interrupted.
On 7th October Lanty was taken before the magistrate W. Gale Esq., by the excise men and fined £30 for the illegal production of whisky. In default of the fine, he was committed to Preston House of Correction for 3 months. 

High Arnside Farm.
By the census of 1851 the Slee family were shown to be at Arnside, Lanty was now recorded as a farmer with 94 acres. He was known to have not altered his ways and continued with his illegal industry to supplement his legal occupation of farmer, come quarryman. He displayed great guile in the concealing of his operations and was never caught in the act of actually transporting, or supplying his much sought after product. The problem of remaining secret would once again rear its head as the crime of illicit whisky distilling requires: possession of a great deal of equipment which would be housed in one location, along with the storage of products for fermentation, and finished whisky for distribution. All that is needed by the excise officers is that the equipment is found, then the identification, and prosecution of the fermenter is inevitable. Lanty lasted for another 12 years before his operations were once again 'interrupted'. He appeared before the Hawkshead Magistrates on 9th May 1853, charged firstly with possession of a private still for illicit distillation, and secondly for having such a still in his custody. A Mr. Scott, of the Board of Inland Revenue prosecuted the case and Lanty was defended by Mr. Wilson of Hawkshead. 
Apart from the defendant the main witnesses were, Mr. C. Bowdon of Customs and Excise, Mr. Gilbanks who was the property owner who rented the High Arnside to the defendant, and a Mr. (William) Pattinson who was from the area. A summary of all the evidence shows that Mr. Gilbanks had rented the property to Lanty, three years previous to the last Martinmas, the first six months were for free rent. He was unaware of any cave in the field, which was known as Old House Field. 
Mr. Bowden had gone to the premises of High Arnside on 12th March, based on information he had received, and discovered a cave about 400 yards from the house in the named field. The entrance was blocked off by a flag and loose brackens. When he entered it he found it to measure about 15ft by 10ft; it was 4ft high at the entrance, rising to about 7ft further back. There was a flagged floor, with rafters and flags for a roof, covered with turf; the sides were also mainly of flags. Inside was a fireplace with recent ash in the grate, the chimney of which was also concealed with flags and bracken. There was a copper still in the fireplace, with a head and worm attached. Mr. Bowden also found a wash tub with a quantity of fermenting wash inside, three casks with taps, two gallons of treacle, two further gallons of 'low wines' (the name given to the first product of the distillation process), three pints of whisky, a second tub, a quantity of oak firewood, and several feet of lead piping. Water was conveyed into the cave via a concealed drain from a dam above, which had been ingeniously constructed to appear to irrigate the adjacent field by the simple turning of a diverting stone, when not in use feeding the boiler. On going to the house, Mrs Slee said her husband was not at home. Mr. Bowdon then went into the barn to obtain a horse and cart to remove the items for evidence, and found within firewood similar to that in the cave. The boiler itself could not initially be removed from the cave entrance; two flags had to be taken down in order to finally do this. He informed the court that a nearby cart track also showed signs of recent and continual movement along it. He finally caught up with the defendant on 27th April, whereupon he served several summonses on him. On cross-examination he stated that it was his opinion that the cave had been used for the illegal distillation process for up to three years, the rafters, being well blackened by the smoke created. The entrance stone was three feet by one and a half feet in size, and a stile leading from the house to the cave was about 8 yards away from it. 
The well worn track.

A possible location of the still?

Mr. Pattinson had been the previous tenant and he told the court that when he had left there was no cave in the field only a small pit, nor any watercourse, dam, or sluice. There had been a stile from the house into the field, but no footpath. The field used to be mown, but he had never seen the Slee family doing so, nor had he recently seen any animals grazing on it. The cave itself could not be seen from the road. When he was questioned about his relationship with the defendant he confirmed he had quarrelled with him about the delivery of sheep. He had killed him a sheep, but had never stolen sheep from him, nor killed one without Slee's knowledge; he denied ever killing his dog. He accepted that 12 weeks previous he had spent some time in the House of Correction through him being unable to pay his debts.
At the conclusion of the evidence Mr. Wilson addressed the magistrates, saying that the evidence was not sufficient to convict his client, but after a lengthy consultation, the magistrates disagreed and found him Guilty and fined him £100, granting a warrant for immediate levy of the fine, to be paid within 6 days. It had been clear that despite no direct link to Slee, no one else could have conducted such a business at the cave without his knowledge and connivance.

It was reported by the news correspondent for the area that the locals of Great and Little Langdale had enjoyed the soothing privilege of the 'Mountain Dew' for nearly 50 years. Despite the vigilance of the excise men and officers of the law, as soon as one still was discovered and broken up, another would take its place and production would increase. Only the previous week one such still had been found in a mud hut in a plantation, near a mountain called John Kell. The apparatus was carried away and the hut raised to the ground. Only a few years previous a still was discovered and impounded at Ambleside. That very night a party of Dalesmen 'released it from the custody of the law', and when the guilty party was released from a period of hard labour, his apparatus was ready for him to continue production. Was this Lanty's equipment from his first arrest? 

That was not to be the last contact of Lancelot Slee with the law. It has always been the case that those that flout to law, still turn to it at their perceived moment of need, and Lanty was no different to other law breakers. On 15th November 1859, so when he is around 57 years old, he was at a wood sale at the house of farmer John Greenhow, at Tilberthwaite, when he alleged he was assaulted by Daniel Dawson of High Park, and Daniel Graves of Oxen Fell. Dawson had remonstrated with Lanty over his sheep being loose and in his fields, to which Lanty called him a liar. He said he was struck in the face by Dawson for this. He got up to leave their company when Graves tripped him and both then set about punching him. Lanty's son John confirmed this account and added that all three men were drunk at the time. As a result of other witness depositions, Dawson was acquitted and Graves was found Guilty and fined 20 shillings.

There have been many widespread accounts of the number of illicit stills dotted secretly around the Tilberthwaite, Wrynose and Langdale areas, some within the living memory of local people, still showing the evidence of equipment storage and the burning of wood for the boilers. It is clear from both these above reported court cases that Lanty had been engaged in the production of his 'Mountain Dew' for all his adult life and had shown him to be well known as the expert at both its production and the avoidance of discovery. Had it not been for the informants in both these incidents, then he would have evaded the law all through his illicit distilling career. Of Pattinson, to speculate, it appears he was in severe debt and therefor ripe for an influence from the excise authorities, perhaps through a visit to the House of Correction and an inducement to a reward for any information leading to a successful prosecution. It is believed that he, understandably, could not show his face in the area again after giving evidence against a hero of the community. Later accounts said of 'Will Patty' that he was in business with Lanty but always managed to distance himself from the production process and himself evade being captured in the act of illegal distilling of the 'Dew'. It seems likely that the whole debacle was a fall out of business partners.

Of the Slee family, it has been discovered from census entries that Lanty and Mary had ten children; however there appears to have been eleven. Their son Joseph was born at the end of 1851, but this name appears to have been a reused one. A Joseph Slee was born in the same area, in the first quarter of 1850 (mother's maiden name of Richardson) and died in the last quarter of the same year. No other Slee's with a mother of that same maiden name were born in the area, so it seems the name was repeated following the death of their child; the dates meant the first Joseph missed any census recordings. Lanty himself passed away at Greenbank Farm, Little Langdale, on 21st May 1878, and was buried in nearby Chapel Stile churchyard; Mary had died 3 years earlier. On his death his illicit activity does not seem to have brought him great wealth as his probate recorded his estate to be valued at below £100. Still, he lives on in the folklore of the area and wider three counties community of Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland. 

Emphasis of this point  was given when on 28th October 1897, when Mr. Daniel Irvine Flattely died at his Windermere residence. In his earlier life he had been the local supervisor of Excise at the Inland Revenue of the Civil Service and spoke with some humour on his dealings with the notorious Lanty Slee, who he regarded as the foremost countryside distiller of those earlier days. He quoted where Lanty had been detained and his illegal still, worm, and working plant, had been taken to Ambleside by the police. No police station yet existed there, so it was all stored for security overnight in the brew house of The Royal Oak, for production at court the next day. The local people were at odds with these actions of the officials of the law and in the morning it was found that all the equipment had disappeared, causing the prosecution to fail. He went on to quote that Lanty was not always that lucky, but the fines, although severe, did not cease his operations, the public themselves subscribing to these penalties, meaning they were paid almost immediately. Lanty apparently had a number of 'interviews' with the magistrates and it was recalled that he could be compared to a modern magician, for within a radius of 20 miles he was supposedly able to lay his hands on a bottle of his 'Dew' within 5 minutes. Mr. Flattely had said that Mr. Davy, the magistrate, had once said to Lanty in the court: "I am told that you are able to furnish your friends with a glass of spirit at any time when desired, but I think we have broken the spell this time." To the considerable merriment of the court audience, and no doubt to the annoyance and humiliation of the magistrate, Lanty produced a full bottle from his coat pocket, held it up and replied: "Mappen ye'r rang. Will ye hev a touch"? The fine on that occasion was set at £50, but again, it was subscribed by the townspeople and paid within an hour of being set. The equipment had also been 'relieved' by them from the custody of the law enforcers and was ready for use by the time Lanty had returned to his place of 'work'. It was also said that this was the third time such a seizure of equipment had been so relieved from lawful possession by the authorities. The law officer and the offender can always have a healthy respect for the task of their adversary, each metaphorically nodding to the cunning and adptitude of the other; it appears this was certainly the case with Mr. Flattely, and no doubt it was with Slee himself.
One other account that supports this return of fermenting apparatus and circumvention of the law, came from a W. Nuttall, of Mountain View, Borrowdale, who told the a newspaper in the 1950's, that his father had known Lanty. Slee had said to a partner, who Mr. Nattall believed to be Neddy Mawson, "If ivver I'se te'an thou mun folla un meak sew'er thou gits t'worm." (Translated as: "if ever I'm taken you must follow and make sure you get the worm.") One day his unfortunate detention occurred. Lanty and his equipment were bundled into a cart for transport to Kendal for his appearance at court. As they passed Skelwith, Lanty pressed his escort to allow him a drink but the escort would hear none of it; this was repeated at Ambleside and again refused. However, when they got to the Lowwood Hotel the escort relented and both went inside. Eventually, when they came out, Lanty had to lean against the cart for support but was able to look inside and see that the worm had indeed been removed, no doubt in accordance with his earlier instruction. At court the following day his defence was that it was impossible to use the equipment for distillation. An expert was called into court, who confirmed that without a worm one could not make alcohol with the equipment. The case was dismissed and no doubt the property returned to Lanty, and the whole operation would recommence.


Lanty was not the only brewer of Mountain Dew that plied his trade in the Lakes. Perhaps the other renowned one was Moses Rigg, but despite his name embedded in the landscape of Moses Trod and his 'smugglers retreat' at the back of Great Gable, nothing can be found of his existence and operation. One of the Ambleside locality was Johnnie Campbell who was renowned in the area, but never caught by the woefully few excise men assigned to enforcing the law. It was said that he had a number of narrow escapes, just avoiding the schemes of authorities to catch him with the evidence upon him.
Another was 'Whisky Walker' who plied his trade in Borrowdale, another area of mining and quarrying operations. It appears he was never caught, but may not have been on the same scale as Lanty. Tales also abounded about Walker, and in a letter of Thomas Carlyle to Alexander Craig Gibson (1813 - 1874) a surgeon, folklorist and antiquarian, on his receipt of a copy of 'The Folk Speech of Cumberland', Gibson spoke of his rendering aid to two young men who came across a barrel of Walker's whisky and drunk the product neat, with disastrous results. It was not said whether they died of that gleeful alcohol gluttony. he also spoke of Neddy Mawson, confirming him as a further accomplice of Lanty Slee. 


Monday, 15 June 2020

The Shepherd of Skiddaw Forest

The mother of all modern democracies would, understandably, be claimed by the English nation, with its Parliament, later to expand beyond its boundaries to join with Scotland, forming the British Parliamentary system. At the heart of that is the fundamental right to vote(although I accept that never arrived for women until after the suffrage movement in 1916-1917.) Did every man have that right, or at least that ability to influence the direction of his nation?

One article I came across was 6th September 1890 edition of the Westmorland Gazette which suggests that was not always the case, and that came about purely by the practicalities of location. I attach the article as a point of Lakeland history:



The remote township of Skiddaw, in Cumberland, is the scene of constitutional struggle. In Skiddaw there is no church, no post office, no police station, and indeed no population save the solitary occupant of the only house of which the township boasts. It is by and on behalf of this individual that the struggle with the State is being carried on. He is the shepherd of what is known as Skiddaw Forest, although the term used to designate a region that is destitute of anything that may be called a tree. Being neither a pauper, a criminal, nor lunatic, living in his tenement continuously, and at peace with himself, he claims the right of a British citizen to exercise the franchise. It is here that the difficulty has arisen. There are no overseers of Skiddaw to make out a voters' list, and, further, there is no place of worship or public building whereon to post it. Overseers of adjoining townships decline to meddle in the matter and the result is deadlock. In ordinary circumstances a refusal to pay taxes would probably elicit from some quarter or another an ingenious solution of the difficulty. But unfortunately the rates appear to be paid by the landlord's agent to the Cockermouth Union, so that our luckless shepherd makes no direct payment that might be withheld. In the old days had he been possessed of resources, not to say local influence with himself, he might possibly have bribed himself, voted for himself, and unanimously lent himself to sit in Parliament for Skiddaw. But this royal road was long ago closed for repairs, and has never been re-opened. Under these circumstances, it is not easy to see what the shepherd of Skiddaw Forest is to do. If he were to get himself appointed as local census clerk, to count himself next April, his house, where this operation would be conducted, might perhaps by a stretch be called a populous place within the meaning of the Act. But even then there would be no overseer to post his name upon it, and he would have to remain without the privilege and dignity of the franchise unless he could be made an overseer as well. It is to be feared that the noble British Constitution has been framed in ignorance of the needs of Skiddaw. 

This of course was the remote shooting lodge of Lord Lechonfield, which would contain his gamekeeper for the area and the keeper's family.

Skiddaw Forest with the wood at centre left containing the secluded Skiddaw House.
It is believed this voting anomaly continued until corrected by the Keswick Revision Court on Tuesday 2nd September 1930 when it was corrected, certainly for local government voting.

Friday, 12 June 2020

National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) Security Systems Policy Failures.

**I am now retired from the Police Service and later resigned as a police staff member. I would usually write about two main subjects, fell walking history and police history, especially within my county, discovering two officers who's deaths have been since added to the National Roll of Honour. To that end, both the brave and moral service the police provide to my county has always been at my heart. That said, if you have no police connection, or have no premise, business or dwelling that is protected with a police compliant alarm, or have a professional interest in ensuring the police provide the ethical service they state they do, then this will be of little interest to you. If you fall into any of those categories, then although this is a big read, it is an important one and goes to the very core of the moral stance, or lack of it, of the NPCC officers themselves, sadly across the country. If that group wish to make any observations on any perceived failings in my below comments, they are entitled to do so below, for the public to further scrutinise, indeed I would encourage anyone who has a comment, positive or negative, to document those in the 'comments' field, just keep it professional.**


National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) Security Systems Policy Failures.

The National Police Chief’s Council is a police body which is made up of those most senior ranks of officers of Chief Constables (C. C.’s), and their Deputy and Assistant C. C.’s. They have been selected through a rigorous process designed to identify their natural skills in Leadership, Effective Management, and their Strategic Planning abilities on a county and national level. That planning they accomplish by the formulation of policies, protocols and guidelines, all encompassed within identified Policing Ethics and Principles. These are derived from a Code of Ethics devised by the National College of Policing in 2014 and published by each constabulary, to give the public the confidence that their particular constabulary will apply those ethics to everything it does in order to serve them justly. Those 9 principles are:
Accountability, Honesty, Openness, Fairness, Integrity, Objectivity, Leadership, Respect, and Selflessness.

These sound ethics go on to inform Chief Officers at section 1.4.3 that they will:
       ‘show by personal example how the principles and standards in this Code apply
       promote, support and reinforce ethical behaviour at all times
       show moral courage to do the right thing even in the face of criticism
       be consistent in what you do and say
       promote openness and transparency within policing and to the public
       promote fairness and equality in the workplace
       create and maintain an environment where you encourage challenge and feedback
       be flexible and willing to change a course of action if necessary.’

In the Preamble it states that the Code of Ethics have a statutory basis for the Code in Section 39(a) of the Police Act 1996(as amended by section 124 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014) and goes on to state at 1.2.2:
‘As a code of practice, the legal status of the Code of Ethics:
a.      applies to the police forces maintained for the police areas of England and Wales as defined in section 1 of the Police Act 1996 (or as defined in any subsequent legislation)
b.      relates specifically to chief officers in the discharge of their functions.’

Later at 1.3.2 it further states:
The expectation of the public and the professional body is that every person working in policing will adopt the Code of Ethics’

To reiterate that desire for public confidence the College of Policing go on to state:
We are committed to ensuring that the Code of Ethics is not simply another piece of paper, poster or laminate, but is at the heart of every policy, procedure, decision and action in policing.’

These are fine words, but can we test whether these ethics are at the heart of every policy, procedure, decision, and action of policing? Let us measure these ethics against the NPCC National Security Systems Policy.
To give some context to the history, there was a dramatic increase in security system activations as society went towards electronic protection systems of commercial and domestic property from criminal activity. This was also added to by vehicle alarms. The situation was becoming untenable as such systems were regularly attended as a potential crime in progress. Invariably it was from a faulty sensor or failure of staff through lack of training, or indifference in the knowledge that the police would always attend. It was realised that a definitive policy was required to give justifiable reasons why the police would NOT attend a specific activation, thus correctly utilising valuable police resources to protect the vulnerable of society and protect life itself. That policy came into existence now over 24 years ago. By its implementation it is acknowledged to have been responsible for a 90% reduction in police attendance to electronic sensor activations and its use has been a positive benefit to the correct utilisation of police resources; each attendance would have been at Immediate (blue light) Response, with all the risks that entails to public safety and staff.
Recently, it appears to have been decided that every police incident log should contain a further Risk Assessment which takes into account the Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigative Opportunities, Vulnerability, Evaluation, and Prevention and Intervention, this is the anagram THRIVE, or THRIVE+. I will touch on these later on.

Here is a link to the policy statement etc.:

The policy today has the stated objectives:
·        ‘To reduce the number of false calls passed to the police
·        To provide an immediate police response to compliant security systems
·        To provide guidance to the public and security companies on police response to non-compliant systems
·        To place responsibility for compliance with the policy on a UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited certification body. Enforcement of standards is not a police function
·        To achieve a unified approach to the administration process’.
Over 24 years the policy document has constantly been updated, at the time of commencing this the document was updated in October 2018, now a revised one is published in 2020 and is downloaded as a Word document in the top left corner of the section of attached documents near the start.
The downloaded document states on the first page: ‘These revised requirements have been produced and approved by the NPCC Crime Operations Coordination Committee. Requirement produced by the NPCC should be used by chief officers to shape police responses to ensure that the general public experience consistent levels of service.
So, each constabulary should provide a consistent level of service, in short it is a national policy and having published the document, each constabulary should uniformly act within its principles.
The participating or relevant bodies are:
a)      The alarmed premise/owner of the protected building [their contract is with b) below].
b)     The alarm installing company (if they take part in the police policy and fulfil the stringent requirements, they become a ‘compliant installer’.)
c)      The Police, who will issue a Unique Reference Number, referred to as a URN, to the compliant installer for that individual alarm.
d)     A compliant Alarm Receiving Centre, or ARC, who the URN is passed to by the installer at b) for 24hr monitoring. Each ARC is supplied with a single priority telephone number to contact the police with, to be used when the alarm is activated.
Within the NPCC Requirements document those alarms that are compliant are called Type A systems (see 3.1). Those that have made an informed decision NOT to take part are called Type B systems (see 3.6). The bulk of activations are the Intruder alarms, then it is the Hold Up alarms, then a very small number of CCTV systems.
If any such system has been issued with a URN, then it is a Type A, alarm and gets an Immediate police response. Those that declined to accept the police policy were classed as Type B alarms and it is for the keyholder to attend the scene first (in the 2018 document this was section 3.6.2, now section 3.6.3). If they witness what they believe to be criminal activity, then they are to contact the police who would attend a report of a crime. There are set conditions on the Type A alarm, namely it must be of a certain British and European Standard, fitted by a compliant company, whose staff had all been disclosure checked, sold to potential customers in a certain ethical manner, and if it had a certain number of false activations in a rolling 12 months period, then it is placed in a ‘Withdrawn’ status, and if the failure was not corrected it would eventually be placed in a Deleted status.
Crucially the compliant ARC cannot contact the police about the activation during this ‘Withdrawn’ period; it has fallen to the same status as the Type B alarms – a keyholder must attend, not the police. This is a crucial part of the policy as it ensures that the premise owners conduct correct training of their staff to prevent false activations and also any alarm sensor fault is immediately reported and corrected, to prevent another similar failure, thus risking being ‘Withdrawn’. These are stringent and onerous requirements to prevent such false activations, for no premise owner wishes it or their staff to be vulnerable through no police response.
By devising and applying this policy the NPCC author, currently the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, working with a police initiative company called ‘Secured By Design’ (who write the policy for signing off by the author), ensure that police resources are effectively managed. It is crucial to understand that it is a policy of Risk Management, NOT Risk Avoidance; if it were the latter then in order to be fair to all, that would entail attending every activation that was reported to the police. All Chief Officers have agreed to this policy, published it on their website, and issue URN’s; crucially none have objected to its basic structure or principles. Although separate in their geographic nature, by strategically applying this policy, the intention is to bring about a realisation in the public and commercial businesses, many of a national nature, that irrespective where they reside or conduct business, in order to gain a police response to an activation they MUST have fitted a compliant Type A URN system, but that only works if all Chief Constables act in unison. The alarm companies are partners in the scheme, and many have taken that business risk to achieve the necessary compliance status in order to gain that potential remuneration from customers who wish to have fitted a URN alarm. The public have been given an informed choice on whether to fit a Type A system that will generate a police response to a sensor activation. Some may disagree, but since that information is published, it is both fair and ethical for the police to uniformly apply this policy of Risk Management. Those NPCC officers have fulfilled their function of managing their limited resources in an effective and nationally strategic manner.
Do they?
Through a dispute with one police force over its incorrect application I began to suspect that there was great disparity on how this policy was being implemented nationally and decided to apply to each constabulary in the country to check whether this policy was being uniformly, fairly and therefor ethically applied. Firstly I would say that one would think that after 24 years of being in existence, with constant regional meetings, bringing about updates to its correct application, and/or highlighting any individual failings, it could be expected by the public that it would by now be robust and fully in accordance with the policing ethics, highlighted earlier. The first indicator that something is wrong with this policy is that despite the Requirements placed on the alarm customer, with all the possible penalties, including being Withdrawn, leading to possible Deleted status, the policy author applies no checks on constabularies to ensure they are serving the public in the manner they have stated they will, namely not attend Type B alarms where only the keyholder would attend in the first instance (the policy says ‘a person at the scene’, which is invariably the keyholder in attendance). One would have thought that with all these potential and onerous penalties on the public that there would be at least a moral duty to also ensure constabulary compliance to the policy.
The Information Commissioner’s Office website outlines the original information to the public on the purpose of the Act, namely:
       "Openness is fundamental to the political health of a modern state. This White Paper marks a watershed in the relationship between the government and people of the United Kingdom."
       "Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in governance and defective decision-making."
That Openness brings about Accountability through lack of Secrecy; if it does not exist then that Arrogance and Defective Decision Making prevails, and the watershed spoken of by the ICO will never occur in relation to this policy. The NPCC have placed those severe but necessary Requirements, with their accompanying punitive measures (of Withdrawn/Deleted status) on the compliant alarm companies and their customers; one would think they would recognise a duty in either law or morality, to ensure they effectively receive that published service.
Before I give the individual constabulary results of the Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests regarding this policy’s application I would add that it has been a murderous process to undertake. There is a requirement for all public bodies to respond within 20 working days to FOI requests. They can refuse to respond for a number of reasons, one being that the information requested would take too long and therefor cost too much to compile; that time limit is basically 18 hours; this is section 12 of the FOI Act.  This information retrieval would be simple, if the NPCC applied those checks I earlier spoke of, and they were consistent. These applications I undertook were anything but simple and after 6 months is still an ongoing piece of work, but now thankfully concluding. Virtually every constabulary used section 12 as a reason for refusal to supply the statistics, despite me asking for only the last 50 examples of application of the policy to Type B activations from non-compliant Alarm Receiving Centres. If the NPCC, as part of any constabulary participation had required each to collate such information, to: ‘… ensure that the general public experience consistent levels of service. …’ that they reassured the public of in the policy, then there would no issue; but there certainly was and still is one. Through my previous experience of police communications centre procedures and my knowledge of alarm activation procedures, by appeals both to the constabulary, then to the ICO, I slowly drew out some information that can now give a fairly clear national picture of the policy’s application, albeit at present not a complete one. I also stress that any inaccuracy through differing criteria constabularies have supplied me, and similarly through any small batch numbers, is the sole fault of the NPCC and not one of mine. Any Chief Officer who wishes to contest any conclusion, can contact me and supply a more accurate batch of figures, if we can agree the criteria, for I have certainly tried.
I will try and outline any differing issues for the reader to be aware of, to judge for him/herself on any meaning. Initially I asked for all Type B calls (they mainly come from non-compliant ARC’s and also calls from people hearing an alarm on the street, which would mean it had no URN, as no call was received from a compliant ARC). Following repeated refusals, I changed to apply for those calls from Non-compliant ARC’s only; it was no better, but I decided to remain with this criteria as if a constabulary were getting that right, then the rest would likely slot into place correctly AND it is these non-compliant ARC’s that are acting on behalf of their customers who have declined that informed choice to come under the umbrella of the NPCC Security Systems Policy.
The Individual Constabulary Responses.
01 - Avon and Somerset Constabulary – Over three months they received 8 calls and after THRIVE was applied they attended all eight, a breach rate of 100%
02 - Bedfordshire Police – ‘THRIVE is applied to Type B alarms however we DO NOT routinely send officers. There would have to be aggravating factors involved to dispatch officers. (THRIVE + identifies the key considerations for evaluating any given situation, these being but not limited to, Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigation, Vulnerability, Engagement and Prevention and Intervention)’  They go on to say that in three months they attended no Type B alarms, a breach rate of 0%
03 - Cambridgeshire Constabulary – They share an alarm function with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and state: ‘We do not have calls into the FCR from non-compliant ARCs. Type B calls come from members of the public / witnesses to alarm activations rather than from ARCs. All such calls as assessed using THRIVE and dealt with appropriately based on this assessment. To assist, Cambs FCR have checked the last 10 such calls, these are classed as ‘Audible Alarm’. These were all subject to a THRIVE assessment and none were attended.’ I have to assume this to mean that the breach rate is 0%, although it is confusing as SOME calls have to be from non-compliant ARC’s, but attendance at no Audible only ones suggest a breach rate of 0%.
04 - Cheshire Constabulary – As a result of an appeal they then stated that they apply THRIVE to Type B alarms, then went on to say that: ‘Cheshire Constabulary do not attend Type B’s unless following the Thrive and NDA process has taken place, the call taker has been given no evidence from a person at the scene that a criminal offence is in progress which indicates that a police response is required.  We do not attend if we just get a call from a non-Complaint ARC stating that an activation has occurred.’ Although no actual figure has been given, their method of applying the policy, even with THRIVE, suggests a breach rate of 0%, but that is based on their word and NOT figures supplied.
05 - City of London Police – They failed to respond, but after a reminder they stated that they cannot supply data but that they applied THRIVE to all incidents, including Type B activations and attended all alarm calls, irrespective of Type A or B. I have submitted an appeal to the ICO as no figures were returned, but their response suggests a breach rate of 100%
06 - Cleveland Police – This was one of my first requests and Cleveland stated that they had 143 calls which included from non-compliant ARC’s over a 12-month period and they attended 49, making a breach rate of 34%. These will be both Audible only and Non-compliant ARC calls, the latter figure would likely be worse, if stood on its own.
07 - Cumbria Constabulary – I enquired over 3 separate 3 month periods and they stated: 55% breach in 2016, 29% in 2018(while I was there), 55% in 2019(I have redacted the reasons for this wide variance but it is enough to say there is an explanation). If we take the latter one that is a breach rate of 55%. This includes the ‘audible only’ alarms from members of the public so breaches of non-compliant ARC’s could be expected to be higher.
08 -Derbyshire Constabulary – Following an appeal Derbyshire confirm they apply THRIVE but are unable to supply any hard data. They state that they are: ‘…. able to confirm that the Constabulary conforms to the National Security System Policy unless, and following the application of THRIVE, there are other circumstances that indicate police attendance is required. This is unclear as it is THRIVE that causes attendance and has to be accepted as a failure to reply, beyond THRIVE being applied. (This I again put down to the NPCC’s failure to require statistical data on the correct application of the policy).
09 - Devon and Cornwall Police – They apply THRIVE and attendance is dependent on that assessment. Of 8 calls from non-compliant ARC’s over that period of time, they attended all 8, making a breach rate of 100%. This effectively means that their interpretation of THRIVE is it will always cause a response, even merely from a sensor activation only.
10 - Dorset Police – Dorset work in partnership with Devon and Cornwall, so once again, THRIVE has to be accepted as being applied causing a breach rate of 100%.
11 - Durham Constabulary – Following an appeal and an amended request they stated:
‘A review of all incidents opened with the code 331 returned 0 (zero) Non-URN Activations that were received from Non-Compliant Alarm Receiving Centres. As per the NPCC Policy, we do not action any non-compliant alarms. We only deal with compliant security companies.’  Although no calls seem to have been recorded from Non-compliant Arc’s, it seems clear that Durham apply the policy correctly and therefor have a breach rate of 0%.

12 - Dyfed-Powys Police – They stated they attend Type B activations, based on the THRIVE assessment. Of 10 calls they attended eight of them, giving a breach rate of 80%.
13 - Essex Police – This perhaps is best explained by letting their reply explain best of all the Essex Constabulary stance:
‘When the NPCC Response to Security Systems Policy was revised in 2018 the then Head of the FCR accepted the revised Policy and gave his full backing to the stronger advice in regard to calls from uncertificated alarm receiving centres requesting a response to Type B systems and should a Force Control Room Operator accept such a call and allocate a response they are required to justify their action. Calls from uncertificated non-compliant Alarm Receiving Centres attempting to pass intruder or personal attack alarms, are THRIVED but are then routinely rejected in accordance with the NPCC Policy.
In order to assist FCR Operators we have flagged 59 telephone numbers known to be used by these companies with a warning to FCR Operators to remind them of the need for a URN before accepting the call and allocating a response. We seem to have identified the majority so far and it has not been necessary to add any further numbers in the last six months. A number of our operators when taking this robust stance were met with various demands with claims that we had a duty to attend. These incidents were in some cases followed up by the management of the facility demanding an explanation. The position taken by Essex Police has been extremely successful and non-compliant Alarm Receiving Centres appear to have understood.’
They went on to say:
‘During this period Essex Police registered 520 alarm calls and only find one where although the ARC was actually a certificated ARC they monitor an increasing number of non-compliant systems which obviously do not have URN’s, the call was rejected.’ Taking this it is clear that there is a breach rate of 0%. See my comments below in the Lancashire section.
14 - Gloucestershire Constabulary – My failure, I omitted them from my FOI’s.
15 - Greater Manchester Police – This is complicated by the inclusion of the airport, but they state:
‘Ordinarily a Type B Alarm call would not be deployed to. However, such reports could come via 999, 101 or Officer radio.
For the period 1st April to 30th June 2019 there was a total of 392 Type B Alarm incidents created. Of these 176 (45%) were attended – all reported via 101 or Officer radio. 999 calls were not deployed to.
Of the last 50 jobs (08:55 23/06/2019 to 23:52 30/06/2019) 27 (54%) were attended. Of these 25 were at the Airport & subsequently attended by Airport Officers & 2 were on District and the reports were received via Officer radio so the Officer was already at the scene.’
If we look at the last paragraph and exclude the airport, the two incidents where officers were the reporting source are understandable and excluded. It suggests that GMP in general follow the policy, although the earlier paragraph confuses this matter, so I applied no breach rate due to this.
16 - Gwent Police – Gwent refused to give details on the basis of time and cost. The matter is under appeal to the ICO. What response they gave stated: ‘Gwent Police apply NSSP and would not respond to type B Activations unless the THRIVE assessment indicates there is a potential Crime in Progress or person(s) at risk.’ It suggests that THRIVE may well alter the attendance.
18 - Hampshire Constabulary – They state that they DO NOT apply a further risk assessment of THRIVE. They are unable to supply actual figures but go on to state: ‘I can confirm that Hampshire Constabulary robustly follow the National Security System Policy and have no examples of this policy being breached by our force.’ As best as can be stated, this gives confidence that there is a breach rate of 0%.
19 - Hertfordshire Constabulary – They state that they apply THRIVE but cannot give statistics for Non-compliant ARC’s. They state: ‘We do not have calls into the FCR from non-compliant ARCs. Type B calls come from members of the public/witnesses to alarm activations rather than from ARCs. All such calls as assessed using THRIVE and dealt with appropriately based on this assessment. To assist Herts FCR have checked the last 10 such calls, these are classed as ‘Audible Alarm’. These were all subject to a THRIVE assessment and none were attended.’ This again is confusing as calls MUST at times be received from Non-compliant ARC’s, but in the absence of other information I have to accept this as a breach rate of 0%.
20 - Humberside Police – This was one of the first requests and was based on Type B’s, so would be Non-compliant ARC’s and Audible Only, from callers hearing an alarm activation. Over a period of a year they had 340 Type B calls and attended 280 of them. This is a breach rate of 83%. As earlier stated, the non-compliant ARC calls would most likely be higher.
21 - Kent Police – They refused on the grounds of time and cost to supply this information and it is currently under appeal to the ICO. **Note** They responded to the appeal, although I found the figures to be overexplained and therefore confusing. Not wishing to cause further work to the constabulary I decided to leave the matter, although it is enough to say that THRIVE is applied to the Non-compliant calls.
22 - Lancashire Constabulary – Lancashire were unable to supply statistics, but it is clear from the copy letters they supply that they conduct a robust application of the policy by not attending, with letters sent out when calls are received from these Non-compliant ARC’s. They also respond in a similar manner to the alarmed premise, informing them of the policy itself and how to gain a response. They go on to state: ‘We have identified a number of alarm companies (over 50) who are regular callers. We have the following message attached to those companies telephone numbers which states the following:
*PLEASE NOTE THIS NUMBER IS FOR - ………………………………. - AN UNCERTIFIED ALARM RECEIVING CENTRE THAT HAS CHOSEN TO OPERATE OUTSIDE THE NPCC/LANCASHIRE ALARM REQUIREMENTS. IF THERE IS NO URN QUOTED OR NO EXTENUATING CIRCS WE SHOULD NOT DEPLOY - EMAIL ALARMS ADMIN WITH LOG*’ Like Essex I will later comment on this. I am satisfied that Lancashire will have a breach of 0%. That said, well done Lancashire THAT is how it should be done, and along with Essex, is a shining torch to those that fail.
23 - Leicestershire Constabulary – They state that they apply THRIVE but calls from non-compliant ARC’s would not normally be attended, unless another factor increases the Risk Assessment. No such calls were recorded for 2019 giving a breach rate of 0%.
24 - Lincolnshire Police – Out of 15 calls from Non-compliant ARC’s, They attended 10 of them, thereby giving a breach rate of 67%. This is itself disappointing and surprising as *********. (I have redacted my comment beyond there is a clear link of association between the constabulary and ‘Secured by Design, who write this policy for alter ‘signing off’ by the NPCC author.)
25 - Merseyside Police – The request was sent on 4th September 2019. They refused all the information I requested. I appealed and they then sent some of the easier information, stating they applied a Risk Assessment to all calls to the control room. With regards to attendance to Type B activations, they stated: ‘The attendance (or not) of a Type B Alarm will be based on the information passed by the caller at that time and enquiries made from the reporting person at the scene that a criminal offence is in progress which indicates that a police response is required.’ They again refused to supply further actual attendance data based on section 12 of FOI Act. The matter was under appeal to the ICO and after their intervention, on 31.03.20, nearly 7 months after my request that should have taken one month only, I was finally supplied with information that better explained the attendance/non-attendance to Type B activations. Out of 64 they attended 59, making a breach rate of 92%. What chance has an ordinary member of the public got to ever obtain these statistics which are a terrible indictment on Policing Principles, especially Accountability? They never have, and if they do, they never can.
26 - Metropolitan Police Service – All 999 calls go through a THRIVE process. Out of 50 calls they attended 28 as Immediate Response, and 7 as Significant Response. 56% or 70% breach of Policy. As there are two levels of attendance let us take those Immediate Response, so there is a breach rate of 56%.
27 - Norfolk Constabulary – Although THRIVE is applied Norfolk attended no calls from Non-compliant ARC’s, giving a breach rate of 0%. They work in conjunction with Suffolk.
28 - North Wales Police – Although THRIVE is applied, of 4 calls from non-compliant ARC’s none were attended, giving a breach rate of 0%. (I have previously professionally met the Alarms Manager of North Wales and believe this to be very accurate).
29 - North Yorkshire Police – They apply THRIVE and out of 3 calls they attended all three, giving a breach rate of 100%.
30 - Northamptonshire Police – Refuse to supply any information and under appeal to the constabulary.
32 - Nottinghamshire Police – They apply THRIVE and out of 53 Type B (Non-compliant ARC’s and Audible only) incidents they attended 4, giving a breach rate of 8%. That is acceptable where management structures can address individual staff failings, as stated at 31) above.
33 - South Wales Police – South Wales confirm that they attend no alarm activations where there is no URN. A Breach rate of 0%.
34 - South Yorkshire Police – Again, like Merseyside, I sent an FOI on 4th September 2019 and they refused to supply the crucial statistics, quoting time/cost factors, applying section 12 of the FOI Act. However, they confirmed that they did apply THRIVE. Following an appeal they did supply some data, based on 10 calls. Crucially to the question I asked on Type B calls from non-compliant ARC’s, there were three calls from such, and all three were attended. There were two calls of CCTV, one was attended. I was not satisfied with this as their Chief Constable was the author of the policy and one would have expected him to have his ‘finger on the pulse’ and know how his constabulary applied his own policy. An appeal was submitted to the ICO and after an initially informal intervention by them, this eventually led to a discussion with the FOI department, followed by a similar one from the Temporary Superintendent of the Comms department. I then received an email to show that of 22 incidents of Type B calls from non-compliant ARCs, 15 were attended; again, like Merseyside that took until late March 2020, and hones in on the general public’s inability to ever obtain these figures to show compliance to the policing principles.  It was said that these non-compliant activations were risk assessed (or THRIVE’d) and that extra assessment showed justifiable reasons sitting outside the mere sensor activation, why they should be attended, despite the policy saying it required a ‘person at the scene’ to report it, usually the keyholder on attending. This gives a breach rate of 68%.
35 - Staffordshire Police – They confirm that they apply THRIVE and if 12 calls received, they attended 10 of them, giving a breach rate of 83%. Even if the other calls are accepted, there is still a significant breach rate.
36 - Suffolk Constabulary – They apply THRIVE and of 10 calls they attended 3, giving a breach rate of 30%.
37 - Surrey Police – They confirm that they apply THRIVE BUT apply the policy and of 10 samples checked, none were attended, giving a breach rate of 0%. They included Audible only calls, but the constabulary stress that they adhere to the policy. This is a breach rate of 0% but did not state a number for Non-compliant ARC calls.
38 - Sussex Police – After initially failing to respond Sussex say that they apply THRIVE, but wen on to say that they adhered to the NPCC policy. They further stated: ‘10 calls regarding Type B systems including audible only systems, have been checked and based on the information provided at the time of the call, officers were not deployed to any these calls.’ After a phone call to their FOI who himself had checked certain criteria I am satisfied that they follow the policy regarding Audible only systems ANF calls from non-compliant ARC’s. This gives a breach rate of 0%.
39 - Thames Valley Police – They apply a further Risk Assessment to Type B calls received and base attendance on that information. They state they follow the policy but have no means of supplying the information requested. This is unacceptable for where is the accountability to the public? It is a failing of the NPCC at a national level for that accountability should always be a key factor to any of its policies.
40 - Warwickshire Police – Work in conjunction with West Mercia (See below)
41 - West Mercia Police – They give details of 13 calls from Non-compliant ARC’s and attended 8 of them, giving a breach rate of 62%.
42 - West Midlands Police – They apply THRIVE and of 26 calls received they attended 22 of them, giving a breach rate of 84%.
43 - West Yorkshire Police – After two failures to respond and a threat if action from the ICO they stated they apply THRIVE and only if extenuating circumstances are present; ie., suspicious circumstances, intelligence on the address/location. That said they then state to attending non-compliant ARC calls: ‘In relation to 999 calls only, between 1st April 2019 to 30th June 2019 a total of 21 Alarm calls from TypeB alarm companies were recorded. A total of 17 of these calls were attended.’ This means virtually every incident has such circumstances to warrant attention, giving a breach rate of 81%.
44 - Wiltshire Police – They quote the policy and state that there were zero calls from non-compliant ARC’s. Although that is a 0% breach, it seems difficult to believe that no calls were from such ARC’s.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – in the 3 months there were 16 Type B’s from non-compliant ARC’s and they attended 15 – a breach rate of 94%
Police Scotland - after appeal. Out of 51 Audible incidents, they attended 17 incidents, a breach of 33%. (They were unable to give figures for pure non – compliant ARCs, would likely be a higher figure.)
The first question to ask is: ‘Did the NPCC achieve its 24-year-old goal of ensuring that the general public experienced consistent levels of service? It is blatantly obvious that they did not. To say that the above data is the best that they can achieve after over 24 years is a sad indictment on their leadership, management, and strategic planning capabilities; it is an abject failure of their duty to the public. I decided to question this further and sent an FOI request to the NPCC itself; in it I asked:
‘In order to: 'shape police responses to ensure the general public experience consistent levels of service' that is a clear indicator to there being a level of service identified and expected for each constabulary to ensure it achieves. Based on this document and specifically the section I have highlighted, I would ask a number of questions:
a) Is their such an identified police response level of service to Type A activation reports?
b)  Is their such an identified police response level of service to Type B activation reports? (I am aware these can be from a member of the public hearing an alarm, or a non-compliant Alarm Receiving Centre.)
c) Specifically, what is that level of service (identified by the NPCC) for Type A and Type B activations that each constabulary should ensure it strives to achieve in order to show it is complying with its own published policy (namely the national one)?
d) Are the Police Requirements above, Requirements or Guidelines? (It uses both terms, which causes confusion.)
e) Is this NPCC compiled document (for the public's knowledge in making informed decisions), founded in the Policing Ethics and Principles of: Honesty, Fairness, Openness, Integrity? (I expect this to have been fully considered and documented.)
For a) and b) they steer me to sections 3.1 and 3.6.2 of the (now older) policy, and for all other questions they state: ‘The NPCC does not hold recorded information captured by your request.’ This means that having required all constabularies to apply the policy consistently, after 24 years they themselves have no recorded information what that consistent level of service should be! To say that is bizarre is to put it mildly. They similarly cannot say if it is Requirements or Guidelines, nor even whether the document is founded in the Policing Principles! These are crucial points as *******, one constabulary I checked with has used the fact that they are ‘Guidelines only’ to justify their continued substantial breach, which they state they will continue to do, through the application of THRIVE. I would use the term ‘abuse of’. I decided to ask that failing constabulary the same questions, and this was refused on the grounds of being ‘vexatious’, which is basically making a request, for little or no other reason than the requestor just can, and for no justifiable reason. After assuring them that it was an issue of public interest, and it was my intention to inform the public, and having considered the questions and reduced them to a simple one on that national ‘consistent level of service’, and what that specifically meant to them in non-attendance or attendance to Type B alarms, they ‘specifically’ informed me:
'To achieve a consistent level of service ********* Constabulary use a risk-based decision-making model “THRIVESC and the NDM”.  This means that every incident is risk assessed based on the information available.  A decision on how to best deal with the incident is then made.  There is no “target” based approach to how many incidents of a specific nature we attend. The response to each incident will be based on risk assessments. There are however built in risk assessments within certain policies that will dictate police attendance automatically.'

Again, I don’t care if they do or don’t apply this further Risk Assessment (THRIVE or now THRIVESC), so long as they do it equally and fairly for the 2nd group on keyholder attendance only, namely those Type A alarms who have been made ‘Inactive’ and are therefore on that same attendance status. It is blatantly unfair to them to do otherwise and happens BECAUSE THERE IS NO PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILTY. Despite me pointing this out on a great number of occasions to *********, they ignore the three questions later set and are therefore Secretive, not Open, as they espouse in their Policing Principles. I have not asked other failing constabularies, for I know the response will be just the same, a failure to be Open and Accountable to the public they serve and are supposed to do so honestly. The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, the policy author, could of course unequivocally now state, in the interests of clarity to the public and alarms industry, what that specific consistent level should be. I suspect however that this will remain forever unstated, for he fails, in his adherence to his open policy, based on the figures his own constabulary supplied. It is a travesty of Justice and a failure to the public, nationwide, not just South Yorkshire. As an example, according to that quoted failing constabulary, that ‘consistent level’ is wherever THRIVE leads them, and that (national) consistency, or inconsistency, is exposed by the failure of all those constabularies that do not have the courage to apply the policy, despite saying they do. I currently have this matter of ********* Constabulary failing to answer the question set correctly under appeal with the Information Commissioner and will update this matter when this is finalised.
If we return back to the Policing Principles and those responsibilities of Chief Officers, there has been an abject failure of the policy author and all those failing Chief Officers to the promotion of Openness and Accountability. Once exposed by those statistics I have tortuously obtained, both at a local and national level, the integrity of the NPCC and those failing chief officers in their own constabulary areas is dramatically called into question. The duties, or responsibilities, that the College of Policing specifically placed on the individual Chief Officers, bullet pointed above, have been ignored by the ones that have failed to ensure their policy is applied. Consider those security system users that have accepted the policy as fact, within the guidance the policy has given them, in order to achieve a police response to a sensor activation. Through that mis-information published by each failing constabulary, those users who have had too many false activations and whose system is in a Withdrawn status, their compliant ARC CANNOT now contact the police, so they get a worse service as those who have declined to take part (Type B systems). Those Type B systems are always being considered for attendance in the failed constabularies, through the application of THRIVE. It becomes obscene the closer a failing constabulary reaches a failure rate of 100%!  
Those failing Chief Officers need to ask three simple questions of themselves to decide on their stated high ethics:
1)     How can my constabulary apply a second Risk Assessment of THRIVE on the Type B alarms (who, despite having information to make an informed choice, never took part in the policy), not disclose that we are doing so, yet maintain our Openness, Honesty, Fairness, Integrity, and Accountability?
2)     Having applied this undisclosed Risk Assessment of THRIVE how can my constabulary cause the % deviation away from not attending Type B alarms (again who never took part in the policy) without telling the public about the scale of the breach it causes; in a significant number either approaching or even reaching 100%), yet maintain that we are acting with Openness, Honesty, Integrity and are Accountable?
3)     In applying THRIVE how can my constabulary apply it to Type B alarms (who never took part in the policy) who are supposed to be on a Keyholder attendance only, when those Withdrawn Type A alarms who have dropped to the same Keyholder Attendance only status, have been banned from contacting the constabulary, and therefor they cannot be equally THRIVED? How can I justify my assertion of Openness, Honesty and Fairness and state my constabulary is displaying Integrity?
The questions are unanswerable as the application of THRIVE causes clear and obvious severe breaches of Openness, Honesty, Fairness, and Integrity, yet has been allowed to occur over 24 years BECAUSE THERE IS NO ACCOUNTABILITY, WHICH IS CAUSED BY NO REQUIREMENT TO PUBLISH FIGURES TO SHOW HOW EACH CONSTABULARY ADHERES TO THE POLICY! That lack of Accountability results in the:
"Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in governance and defective decision-making.",  
the ICO highlight on their website; they do so with good reason. If I am permitted to once stray into sarcasm I would say that any Chief Officer who needs advice on whether these issues addressed in the 3 questions above cause breaches in the policing ethics, I would advise them to attend the nearest playschool group and ask the first two year old they come across for their opinion. These failing Chief Officers require their staff to fully apply the policing ethics as they go about their duties or functions as they represent their constabulary, yet these high ranking officers do not apply those same standards to themselves, clearly now seeing their own principles as obstacles, to be circumvented. It is hypocrisy of the highest order, especially those who have been made aware of this breach and still fail to act, in order to address their own breach of their stated ethics; it is simply a deceit and the house of cards it is based upon falls down, when exposed. With the exception of one, all can perhaps say that they were unaware and have unwittingly migrated to this position; that one, over the last 18 months say that they have given this considerable thought and are satisfied that they can apply THRIVE, but have repeatedly refused to inform the public, nor answer the above three simple questions. It is a refusal to openly display that stated Accountability, it can be nothing else. I now attach a link to a Government document on Accountability. Although it speaks of Government, it is equally relevant to ANY public body that similarly is supposed to serve the public.
 The NPCC Security Systems Policy itself is one of a Risk Assessment yet THRIVE is a further Risk Assessment on a policy where Risk has already been managed. One is tempted to say that in effect, THRIVE seems to supersede the policy, so why have a policy at all? Just apply THRIVE to every call, and that is both ethical and fair. Again, THRIVE has been applied only over the last couple of years and these failing constabularies have always been attending these calls, irrespective of any THRIVE assessment; in short, they just cannot live with their perceived implications caused by their publication of their own policy. That said, the policy identifies those alarm activations that do not justify attendance through an objective test, or tests. The main one is the quality of the system, requiring a ‘sequential activation’ of a certain European Standard. This gets away from that instinct to attend everything, and only a VERY small percentage are genuine activations caused by criminal activity. These failing constabularies then apply THRIVE, which at best is subjective, and returns back to attending on instinct, as it is an activation and may just be a crime. It begs the obvious question: if THRIVE is to be so widely applied across the constabularies, then it is only Open to show that it is, by inserting it into the policy at section 3.6 AND require its monitoring; that would fulfil the policing principles.
Let us THRIVE it then: As stated above, only a VERY small percentage are crimes (and these are the robust URN ones), so that draw of police resources and ‘blue light’ attendance, is NOT justifiable, particularly when you take into account a constable’s primary responsibility of protecting life. Could you account for such a breach of the policy at an inquest following a fatal collision? At such high breach rates these failing Chief Officers are effectively saying that they disagree with the policy yet publish it and NEVER challenge it. By publishing they are saying they agree with it, but then effectively ignore it. That could not stand the forensic scrutiny of an inquest or criminal court, and communications centre inspectors need to be absolutely clear on that vulnerability, for it is them that authorise attendance, by a positive instruction or failure to address consistent breaches which occur on their watch. They need an instruction from their Chief Constable, who themselves must justify why they publish the policy, then ignore it through THRIVE. I do not doubt that there may be times, and these will or should be rare, where an assessment may be made that causes attendance, BUT it should be from one outside the scope of the Security Systems Policy. As an example, if a call were received of a Type B alarm activation and shortly before it occurring a person was recently seen acting in a suspicious manner in that area, then common sense would say to attend. What is actually occurring is that no such factors are occurring to cause attendance. I don’t accept South Yorkshire’s assurance that 15 of 22 incidents justified attendance for justifiable reasons, after THRIVE was applied; that should show in the figures of crimes found; ie., ‘15 attendances to Type B incidents, 15 crimes found to have been committed’. Since every other constabulary has a miniscule crime level at alarms, why is South Yorkshire’s so different in perceiving crimes are occurring from mere non-compliant alarms? The police are attending for no other factor than an alarm has sounded (see the 100% breaches), or because of the value of the property/contents, or the time of night, etc. All those factors were known to the premise owner when they decided not to apply for a URN alarm; other similar premise owners protected their property by obtaining a police policy compliant system, so the non-compliant premise owner should have too. The first responsibility to protect property lies with the property owned themselves, and they fail where they do not obtain a URN system. Incidentally, these companies who choose a non-compliant system can easily be identified by a walk down the High Street. Looking at premise alarms it is clear that all the (***redacted) shop chains choose this non-compliant means of alarm system ‘protection’. Similarly, (***three national chains redacted) also have non-compliant systems. No sympathy can be felt for such companies as their profits are vast, yet they choose these cheaper non-compliant options. Last year (**redacted) alone published profits of nearly 83 million pounds in 2018, (**redacted) profits for 2019 were £341 million.  The (**redacted) companies are similarly in the 100’s of millions profit brackets. They can hardly say they cannot afford compliant alarm systems. The term ‘you make your bed, then lie in it’ comes to mind.
Getting back to this THRIVE, if THRIVE is to be applied it should be similar to:
‘This alarm system is of an unknown British and European Standard, sold and fitted by a non-compliant company whose company and staff honesty and training are also unknown. Also, any repeated false sensor activations cannot lead to the non-compliant alarm being Withdrawn, as can result from compliant system activations. As such the Risk Assessment has already been completed within the NPCC policy, published on the constabulary website and the premise owner has made an informed choice not to come within the scope of the policy discipline. This is not suitable for police attendance. The caller has been advised to contact the keyholder in the first instance and if they witness what they believe to be a crime, to then contact the police.’
If however THRIVE were to be applied to cause attendance, then IT HAS TO BE APPLIED TO BOTH THE TYPE B AND THE WITHDRAWN TYPE A ALARMS. To apply it to the former, but not the latter, is grossly unfair, both being on the same ‘Keyholder attending’ status. IF however,  to be fair you apply it to the failed Type A alarms as well as the Type B ones you have scuttled your policy as there is no punitive measure for that failure, you have just given them another number to ring the police on, and that is 999! Still, there are enough failing Chief Constables that if they acted together could apply pressure to change the policy. However, as stated above, the problem then is that effectively you do not have a policy and no matter what the objections may be given, I cannot see that being applied. It once again simply comes down to this: There is a perfectly sound policy (in the principles and structure of its writing) that has been there for over 24 years BUT lacks that crucial Accountability. A significant number of constabularies (Essex and Lancashire are the shining examples) correctly apply it, why then can’t they all? Again, it is an issue primarily of Leadership, or the lack of it.
One of the greatest controversies is that of non-compliant CCTV activations and in a quotation from the FOI I submitted to the NPCC on this THRIVE application they stated that a senior officer there had stated, where a person reported witnessing someone on CCTV they would have difficulty in not responding. I understand that BUT if that is the case then it should be removed from the policy. Once again, URN’s are issued to CCTV alarms and they can be then made ‘Inactive’. To consider attendance to the non-compliant ones, and invariably doing so, is grossly unfair to any compliant systems that have been made Inactive, for they are on the same attendance status, but are not considered for attendance like the non-compliant ones. This point was used by ******** constabulary to justify the whole of their abuse of attendance to ALL calls from non-compliant ARC’s, resulting in a large breach, despite these controversial CCTV URNs accounting for a miniscule number. (The breach is significantly higher than that quoted, for it is masked by the ‘Audible Only’ calls received, which are usually not attended).
Personally, I left my employment as an Alarms Manager, due to the immoral position I found myself in and a failure of senior officers/managers to recognise their failings, despite trying to alter it for 10 months in employment, now over two years. In those two years those three simple questions have been continually asked of that constabulary, but they have never responded to them, for they cannot square the circle. In my discussions with other Alarms managers/staff in my requests for information, a number of others have expressed the same concerns. They of course have careers to build, mortgages to pay, and families to care for; therefore, they cannot raise their concerns sufficiently to address the intransigent attitude of their senior managers and NPCC officers. As an example, take the position I have encountered, whereby the senior communications centre senior officers were intransigent, the legal team and Professional Standards Team displayed severe failings in understanding a policy and more seriously, failing to understand the application of simple Policing Principles. These are not difficult words, Honesty, Fairness, Openness, Integrity, Accountability. I of course, needed none of these career issues and am beyond my policing development and merely looked to contribute further to the constabulary and community by doing a good job of work and earn a small amount of remuneration for ‘pleasures’. Unfortunately, I CAN read a policy and understand the principles of applying it, despite perceived problems it may cause; ‘challenges’ is the usual NPCC word.
When you holistically view this, it is clear the policy is not fit for the purpose it is intended (through that lack of public Accountability), despite those 24 years of ‘fine tuning’. All these failing Chief Constables surely cannot be getting it so wrong after such an extended period to understand the policy? It appears that they want to have their cake and eat it, or put another way, have a policy to reduce demand on calls for service yet consider attending all alarms that are passed via 999 from non-compliant ARC’s to their communication centres(which they invariably do so). Clearly, they just cannot live with saying, ‘No’ to the non-compliant ARC calls and use THRIVE to justify their failing. It is the job of the non-compliant ARC caller to use emotive language and persuade the communications centre call handler that they should send a response. They will speak of the surety that this is a burglary, for one reason or another and/or that the alarm is a sequential system. The call handler will be in a quandary, in the knowledge that they will surely face criticism IF it is later found to be a crime. They need the full support of effective and brave management to state that the policy will be followed and to merely ask for a URN, nothing else, and inform the non-compliant ARC caller of the policy (which they know better than the police comms handler) and to send a keyholder; in short, hold to the policy. This failure to effectively manage the policy leads to a justifiable concern that trust cannot be placed in the NPCC author (perhaps the NPCC themselves), nor ‘Secured By Design’, to alter the policy so that it can work effectively in the correct interests of the public(through that Accountability), which should always be the police goal. With ‘Secured By Design, I have passed my evidenced concerns to them and they have merely chosen to ignore me, despite, or perhaps because, I am the only person in those 24 years to highlight this significant failing on their part. I have no confidence in their ability to address this matter at best they are burying their head in the sand and continue to do so.  It is my belief that this is something for the Policing Minister to be made aware of, and address. How can he be asked for extra resources when those that the Chief Officers already have are being wasted? If it is happening with this area of policing, what other areas also need highlighting? The police compete against other public bodies for those finite government funds with the Health Service and Education Service both needy and worthy departments.
I would personally only be satisfied if Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) conducted an inspection of this policy application and reported on it, with an ability to then highlight the failing constabularies and require improvements. In future, figures should be required of every constabulary and those that passed scrutiny, with near zero policy failures and management structures that challenged individual breaches by staff with re-training and monitoring of those staff members, those constabularies could be exempted for a period of say 3 or 5 years. Those that breached the policy by a substantial amount should be addressed by requiring the Chief Constable to correct those clear failings AND if they continued to misinform the public, they should then have the ability to advertise that they apply the policy, to be withdrawn from their organisation. Those somewhere between should again be required to improve and be continually reassessed, until they achieved that near zero failure tier.
For these failing chief officers’, it appears that they do not apply their own high ethical standards to themselves. It leaves them open to an allegation of hypocrisy, for none of their stated high ethics they require of ALL their staff can be applied to their NPCC National Security Systems Policy application. They urgently need to redress this and state to their management team:
'Apply my Policing Ethics and irrespective of any concerns, those ethics are my tenets of policing and are NOT to be breached under ANY circumstances. Any issue of perceived conflict or serious concern should be raised for a decision to be made by myself.'
They should recognise these ethics as underpinning EVERYTHING their staff do in terms of decision-making and policing actions they take. Chief Constables have a further duty to three clear groups with regards to this policy:
1.      The public, from the (at best) inaccurate information that the constabulary pass to them, meaning they are unable to make an 'informed choice'.
2.      The Communications Centre staff, who if they apply the C.C.’s published policy are criticised when a burglary indeed has occurred, leading to an attitude of self-protection, so mark logs to attend everything. (We have all felt the criticism of that system, when scrutinised by senior officers the next morning, including each C. C. as a young in-service PC).
3.      The Alarms staff who are given the role profile of applying and advising on the policy but are then expected to do anything other than correctly and ethically apply it, in those failing organisations. They make failing alarms Inactive while they read the incident logs of attendance to a substantial number of non-compliant alarms, particularly the commercial ones (in some cases ALL of these 999 calls).
What right does any failing chief constable have to bring Police Regulation proceedings against any officer for any breach of the Policing Principles when they cannot keep to these themselves? They instinctively know this as they will never inform the public of this second Risk Assessment application and its effect on the policy the public believe they have made that ‘informed choice’ on. The first weapon any constable fights crime with is Honesty, for without that there is no public confidence in his/her Office. That applies equally from the student officer up to and including the Chief Constable.
On that issue of risk, the police have managed risk; they have shut police stations the length and breadth of the country and have understandably justified such closures on the basis of an acceptable risk. They have also reduced Crime Scene Investigators from attendance at lower level crimes through the night, getting police officers to try and protect forensic evidence as best they can so that it can be inspected in the morning, losing that continuity and possible evidence to weather or other factors. This is based on the efficient use of the police budget in providing excellent policing, but based on the budget they have available to fulfil all the calls for service from all requirements of our society; I fully support them in these difficult decisions on factors of service and risk. Where the Compliant ARC alarm activation Immediate Response calls cause longer attendance times they can say, ‘we just missed catching them’ and show that at least they tried, but with an alarm activation that falls outside their policy requirements they feel they cannot bring themselves to explain why they chose not to attend, and so deploy to them also. Well done Essex and Lancashire, who are the forefront of good practice in the ethical way they apply the policy, and make it work correctly. If all followed these champions in the policy application then that stated ‘consistent level of service’ would have been achieved many years, if not decades ago. It still remains as a terrible indictment on the NPCC’s ability to apply a national strategy to achieve a stated goal. It should be South Yorkshire constabulary who is that champion, but sadly languishes in this regard.
There should be either the courage to follow ethically the policy principles, or courage to inform the public of the 2nd Risk Assessment and its subsequent effect, but there is neither.
Each failing Chief Constable has to accept that they have 2 years of hard work to embed this procedure into the consciousness of their public and those failing constabularies have not yet begun that arduous, but necessary process. It is said at regional alarm manager meetings that it cannot be understood why more companies fail to take up and abide by the URN system. It really isn’t rocket science; where constabularies fail, they make that ‘take up task’ more difficult to embed in EVERY constabulary, as many are national companies and are invariably getting a service to non-compliant systems.
(**Since writing this document, the new ECHO (Electronic Call Handling Operations) should have been in place, but due to the COVID 19 Pandemic, this has understandably been delayed. It is designed to cut out the police control-room call handler, thus speeding up the sending of a vital resource to a Compliant (URN) activation. The alarms industry has invested a great deal of time and money into its development and are under the false belief that it will remove the subjectivity still further; it should, but it will not! Why? Because nothing prevents the call from a non-compliant ARC being received and THRIVE, that undisclosed secondary risk assessment (that Inactive URN’s cannot equally benefit from, despite also being on Keyholder attendance only), will still be applied by those failing constabularies, due to the lack of moral courage by those failing constabulary NPCC officers.**)
I have a number of suggestions on how to move this policy positively forward to but what is fundamentally missing from it is that ‘…… consistent level of service…..’. The policy, after 24 years (as the quote from the NPCC shows and I suspect the same would be from every one of the failing constabularies), should actually state what that service should be, ie., a zero or near zero breach, for only then does it hold to the Policing Principles. This may seem too prescriptive but look what that failure to provide that direction has resulted in; remember, 24 years!
To work in an Alarms Department in these failing constabularies is to be handed nothing more than a poisoned chalice and any alarms staff member who cannot work within that hypocrisy is being driven towards being constructively dismissed, these failing Chief Constables need to be VERY careful of that allegation.
May I take this opportunity to remind ALL chief constables of the College of Policing direction to every one of them and this is especially true of the policy author, the South Yorkshire Chief Officer:
1.2 Statutory basis of the Code
1.2.1 The College of Policing has issued the Code of Ethics as a code of practice under section 39A of the Police Act 1996 (as amended by section 124 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014).
1.2.2 As a code of practice, the legal status of the Code of Ethics:
a). ........
b). relates specifically to chief officers in the discharge of their functions.
Chief officers 1.4.3 
As the head of your force or organisation you will: 
  •  show by personal example how the principles and standards in this Code apply. 
  •  promote, support and reinforce ethical behaviour at all times. 
  •  show moral courage to do the right thing even in the face of criticism. 
  •  be consistent in what you do and say. 
  •  promote openness and transparency within policing and to the public.
  •  promote fairness and equality in the workplace
  •  create and maintain an environment where you encourage challenge and feedback. 
  •  be flexible and willing to change a course of action if necessary 
This policy I regard as the single greatest breach of public trust on the part of those officers who charge their staff with upholding, through the application of their Policing Principles; namely the National Police Chief’s Council themselves. Openness, Honesty, Fairness, Integrity, Accountability, where are those qualities displayed by the NPCC here? Measured against those principles, its application by those failing chief constables is obscene to suggest they are applied, in reality, it is a deceit and the house of cards collapses if the Accountability is addressed; sadly I fear it never will be.
For Compliant Alarm Companies and/or their Customers
I can understand the desire of any compliant alarm company being reluctant to make a complaint against their own constabulary, concerned that it may put them in a bad light by that service. This is something that each company must consider, otherwise this abuse will continue, as it has already done for the last 24 years. I would suggest the asking of a simple question on receipt of a ‘Warning’ or ‘Withdrawn’ letter, and that is:
'We have received a 'Warning/Withdrawn' letter from the constabulary concerning the Alarm URN *****. If withdrawn(or warned it may be), and placed on the same attendance status as those alarms that never took part in the NPCC Security Systems Policy and therefore have no URN, can you confirm that this Withdrawn system will be treated equally, namely neither will achieve any response? If that is not the case, why are the two systems now on the same attendance status, being treated differently in that one is considered for attendance (no URN) and other is banned from contact (Inactive URN), when the policy states that both equally require someone at the scene to report criminal activity?
We as a company, for ourselves and on behalf of our customer, look forward to your early response'
It is a perfectly reasonable question and if not answered, it can be a request submitted as a Freedom Of Information request. If asked through the Alarms Administration who sent the original letter, a request to forward the matter to the FOI department would bring about a legal requirement to respond under the FOI Act. Such a request would hone the minds of the senior managers (NPCC, whose policy this is) of the constabulary and would be duty bound to answer it in a manner that displays that Fairness, contained in their Policing Principles, that sadly they have not to date fulfilled. I have attached my email address for any assistance you may require.

Ray Greenhow.
**Footnote**. Since writing this the COVID 19 pandemic struck the world it even put this abuse of public trust in the police, in some perspective. That said, the lockdown has ended, and to now leave this until the crisis ends would make these figures far less relevant due to time factors alone. Here we have a large proportion of the police service, on a national level, wasting vital resources on alarm activations they have identified as not to be attended, yet they attend. They are now so desperate for resources that they have taken the unheard-of step (certainly since WWII) of asking for retired officers to volunteer to return to assist them through this staffing crisis. Also to be considered by the police is the aftermath that will follow this pandemic; that will be the worst recession we will have known in our lifetime, with the police numbers likely to be further reduced and more involvement in other roles as other services contract, and the police ‘pick up’ those incidents which those services can’t cope with. Still constabularies waste time, risk safety, and pour stress on stretched officers through a failure by police managers to do just that, manage.