The attack was wild and fast. Like so many acts of violence in Britain these days, they took place in a quiet place without any provocation.
For a moment, Jeanette Carroll was walking five dogs in a picturesque park on the outskirts of Middlesbrough, Teesside – a job she did every day to earn a few pounds.
The next day, she was punched in the mouth of a middle-aged man, who became berserk simply because she had let the well-trained dogs run through the woods.
Jeannette Carroll was walking her dogs near Flatts Lane Country Park in Middlesbrough when a restless man approached her and punched her in the face. He went crazy because she let the well-trained dogs run into the woods – and the police response was shameful.
He hit Mrs. Carroll, 51, with such a vicious blow that she lost consciousness and three of her teeth were loosened, but she managed to dial 999 on her mobile phone.
It was a cowardly and cowardly act, and yet it is the police's shameful response to his distress call that makes this story even more troubling.
Indeed, even in a week when the reputation of the British police has collapsed, following the report on the appalling investigation of the metropolitan police on a chain of pedophiles VIP nonexistent, the belief is almost hopeless. Because Ms. Carroll's misfortune is to live in a region where the police are so dysfunctional that the Met in difficulty appears as a model of efficiency by comparison.
A damning report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Police and Rescue and Rescue said the Cleveland police were "inadequate" by all police standards two weeks ago (image of the file)
According to a damning report released by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Police and Rescue and Rescue Services, published two weeks ago, the Cleveland police were "inadequate" by all police standards.
This is the first time that such a mediocre grade has been awarded, making Cleveland the weakest force in England and Wales. Given the numerous shortcomings of the police service as a whole, this indictment is rather complex.
But let's go back to Ms. Carroll. Incredibly, when she arrived in the control room, the call manager told her that the assault "was not serious enough" to warrant an urgent intervention – although her assailant would surely have faced a charge of actual bodily injury. at the very least, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
Cleveland police officers (pictured) told Carroll that her assault "was not serious enough", which meant she would not receive emergency signage
Instead, although she bleeds extensively and can barely function, she was advised to go to the hospital and contact the police again after her injuries were treated.
As the thug did not bother to run away – and also attacked a park warden who tried to intervene – Carroll thinks he would have been arrested if a patrol car was dispatched quickly.
She had to wait eight days, even eight, before an officer came to take her statement. To make matters worse, she said, she felt belittled by her "condescending" manner.
Barry Coppinger, Commissioner of Police and Crime in Cleveland, said he would not run for re-election next year
Carroll is sure she can identify the culprit and thinks she lives within 200 meters of her home in Middlesbrough. Yet he remains at liberty. She always wears a corset on her teeth, can only drink soup and takes painkillers.
"I've always been very supportive of the police and I know how difficult their job is because my nephew is a police officer and I'm extremely proud of him," she told me. "But the way I was treated is really shocking."
Everyone who reads his story will undoubtedly agree.
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said the force was struggling to protect the 740 children at Ayresome Elementary School. He says he sometimes went into a lockdown because intruders came in with knives
According to HM Inspectorate, the failures of the Cleveland police are so serious that they are deemed to endanger lives. The force is now placed in the process of national control, the police equivalent of "special measures".
Although it is one of the smallest forces in the country, serving only 500,000 people – the majority living in the cities of Middlesbrough, Stockton on Tees, Redcar and Hartlepool – his disappearance is of great concern to us all. pressing.
Because at a time when the police seem to lose the criminal war on so many fronts – gangs of county traffickers, Romanian burglar syndicates, rampant knife crimes – Cleveland, with its myriad weaknesses, could be considered a microcosm of our police who cracks a service.
Of course, Boris Johnson and Secretary of State for the Interior Priti Patel pledged to reverse the trend by toughening penalties and recruiting 20,000 more officers. They promise the Conservatives will regain their reputation as a party of law and order.
Interior Minister Priti Patel is committed to reversing the trend by stiffening penalties and recruiting 20,000 more officers
However, to gauge the enormity of this task, they should take a train to Teesside, as I did last week (passing by new police chief Richard Lewis, who was heading in the opposite direction, after was summoned to London to attend a mandatory seminar to: improve the performance of his strength).
They could start by walking on Parliament Road, a busy and multicultural street in downtown Middlesbrough, with take-out food stores, convenience stores and an old-fashioned fishmonger.
In the past years, it was the kind of street where order was maintained by the presence of a firm but friendly bobby.
The whimsical Carl Beech invented a series of statements about public figures, which led to an awkward police investigation. Police constable confirmed today that no officer was to blame
Today, those who live and work here tell me that officers rarely venture here to investigate a crime, much less to keep pace, so they control the community themselves. This can be a precarious affair. Usman Wajid shows me in the 19-year-old newspaper business he's been working on images of two shoplifters filmed that day by his CCTV cameras.
"We let this guy go with a warning because he only took jam pies and begged us to feed his family," he said pointing to a man sneaking a package under his coat.
"We did not catch each other, but sometimes they get tough, so we have to pin them and get them back, and it can go bad."
Why not hold them and call the police? He gives me a look that suggests that I had to shine from Mars. "We stopped calling the police for help a long time ago," he says.
For example, Mr. Wajid's young cousin indignantly explained how the Cleveland police treated him when he discovered that his in-house father's house had been robbed. Not only did they refuse to go to the scene, he said, but he was reprimanded for calling 999 for a "low risk" crime.
Opposite the newsagent is Ayresome Primary School, a pillar of the community since the days of inkwells and fountain pens. With its austere Edwardian facade, it seems reassuring, but according to Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston, his staff is struggling to protect the 740 children.
"The school is sometimes locked because intruders have come in with knives," he says sadly. "The staff will not go out for a sandwich because they will be mistreated. The director reported these incidents to the police. Sometimes they come. . . the next day.'
The school did not respond to requests for comment.
The independent mayor, who made a fortune as a manager of municipal hedge funds before returning to Teesside, where he was raised, remains proud of this blue-collar sprawl, which once boasted of the steel, chemical industries. and world-renowned shipbuilding.
Yet he describes Middlesbrough as a city where day-time streets are rife with addicts, beggars and prostitutes, without being disturbed by the police.
And he cites the fate of honest residents, such as "Matt," a single parent whose life, and that of his four-year-old son, is becoming hell for drug traffickers and prostitutes in the next house . It's a familiar story. The police do nothing and Matt does not even complain anymore.
Cleveland, with its myriad gaps, could be considered a microcosm of our cracking police department. The force was placed under national control, the police equivalent of "special measures" (image of the file)
However, other residents, especially those in the Acklam Road area of Middlesbrough, are discovering that the first British "shooting center" will open.
Locals say they were aware of the clinic's new initiative, in which 15 of the region's worst heroin addicts will receive diamorphine twice a day in a safe environment on Facebook. This is an original idea from Barry Coppinger, Cleveland's Commissioner of Police and Crime, whose office will cover one-third of the £ 440,000 annual cost of the clinic.
Mayor Preston attributes some of the blame for the local force to Mr. Coppinger – "a nice guy, but too deep" – who has announced that he will not run again next year. The local newspaper demanded he resign.
It also refers to a culture of cronyism in which the people in power – the commissioner, the deputy, the councilors – never criticize the handling of police issues by anyone, because they are all "comrades" of the Labor Party.
He is optimistic about making the streets safer by increasing the number of "neighborhood guards" from 12 to 60 years old by equipping them with surveillance cameras and giving them the power to impose fines of up to 1,000. £ for antisocial behavior. The Inspectorate's report suggests, however, that more than that will be needed to protect the people of Cleveland, whose police service has "dropped significantly" since the last inspection two years ago.
Fewer resources are devoted to community policing; the force is "without a clear plan or direction"; and while effective in the fight against organized crime, it must "improve" the fight against ordinary offenders who cause untold fear and misery.
According to the report, these so-called "less serious offenses" are not always attributed to qualified staff, and are not subject to thorough investigation or effective supervision (as Jeanette Carroll knows too well).
There are "serious concerns" that the force is not adequately protecting the vulnerable. In Middlesbrough, which has some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the country, there are many.
The desperate call for help can come from a woman beaten by her partner or from a frantic parent whose child is missing. Yet, all too often, it is simply transmitted to an answering machine.
Inspector HMICFRS, Mike Gormley, who led the Cleveland Police Review, told me that not identifying or prioritizing these calls put people at risk.
But the report highlights many other failures: Cleveland mishandles the public and its own staff and misuses resources.
Officers of the rank of superintendent are often uninteresting leaders who do not behave like role models and hide the true extent of the problems from the hierarchy; the "ethical behavior" of the force is not satisfactory.
And, unsurprisingly, in a force entangled in scandals for decades and seeing six gendarmes come and go in the past six years, the Inspectorate said action was needed to "eradicate corruption."
Former Chief Constable Sean Price is among the senior officers fired for wrongdoing. A woman chief inspector with whom he had a relationship (they are now married) was later arrested for drunkenness and allowed to resign. She denied any wrongdoing.
Then, last year, a detective inspector – the professional standards of the force – signed on charges that he had forced a junior officer to have sex.
In a particularly ironic episode, the Cleveland police were also caught hijacking journalists' phones. Seven officers received a disciplinary notice.
Which brings us to Mike Veale, whose lack of judgment could be considered the precursor of the Midland Operation debacle.
During his tenure as Wiltshire police chief, he was tasked with launching the highly controversial investigation into Carl Beech's allegations, aka "Nick," that former Prime Minister Edward Heath was part of a network of sexual relations between children.
Heath's supporters said the inquiry was one-way, but Veale insisted it was unbiased and in the public interest. A report later concluded that, had he been alive, Mr. Heath would have been questioned on bail for allegedly serious sexual offenses against young boys.
For reasons that crime commissioner Coppinger explained well, when Wiltshire did not renew Veale's contract, he was appointed to take over Cleveland.
He resigned after being accused of disciplinary misconduct – unrevealed – of "seriousness". And if this sorry saga continues.
In the Inspectorate's report, the shameful police offer several excuses for its abject performance. It highlights the social problems of the region, claiming the highest number of asylum seekers in Britain and an increase in violence that reflects the national trend. Inevitably, he also mentions the spending cuts, which saw the annual budget of the force reduced by 35 million pounds and made them lose 488 officers.
I'm afraid it will not wash. How can they advocate for poverty while their neighbor, Durham, whose funds have been reduced in the same way, is the best performing force in the UK in four years?
And consider this fact: in recent years, it is estimated that Cleveland spent at least 40 million pounds sterling to investigate and pay its own officers!
So what is the truth behind the cataclysmic decline of the Cleveland Police? After all, this has not always been the case. Formed in 1974 as one of the new 'subway forces', from some constabular Durham and North Yorkshire, Cleveland has earned the reputation of being one of the most effective and innovative forces in the country.
Ray Mallon, a fiercely-charged detective whose adaptation of zero-tolerance police methods developed in New York has reduced crime rates and made them nationally renowned. The editors of the title called it "Robocop".
On the eve of the 1997 general election, he embodied his legendary mantra and finally hollow: "Severe against crime, harsh against the causes of crime" – Tony Blair (accompanied by actress Helen Mirren) rushed to Teesside to present a photo – op with Mallon.
However, Robocop was stopped abruptly. Despised and challenged by his envious superiors, he was accused of bad conduct – unjustly, I wrote after investigating his case – and suspended.
After fighting for four years to get his name elected, he admitted 14 regulatory offenses, but he has always maintained it, so he can resign early enough to run for the first mayor's election. Middlesbrough, in 2002, he won very well.
Mallon was among the 61 officers suspended during Operation Lancet, one of the longest, and many would say futile, that the police were investigating corruption cases.
And according to some former Cleveland officers, the bitter divisions and the climate of suspicion he has created persist to this day.
Informed observers who believe that these tumultuous years have contributed to Cleveland's current problems include Jack Straw, interior secretary of Blair's first cabinet.
In a letter to the Times, Straw said the Cleveland police had become "systematically hopeless" during his tenure and was now "worse off". He regretted not having merged the force with an adjacent police authority.
Mr. Straw told me, "I know from my experience and my knowledge that this (the malignant culture of strength) has been going on for 20 years."
He is convinced that he is now beyond salvation.
Mallon, who stepped down as mayor in 2013 and is now working on the founding of the Middlesbrough FC Foundation, is also dismayed.
When I met him last month, he said that the first thing the police had to do was go back to the rigorous standards he had set.
It describes a force where no one dares to use "pro-active policing" methods, as he did when he "camped at the door" of known burglars, and where officers "are afraid of their own shadow." For fear of violating a politically correct doctrine. established by the mandarins of professional standards.
It is, however, when he discusses the behavior and image of the Cleveland police that he comes to life most.
"The other day, I saw an inspector talking to TV cameras after a trial, and he had no hat, jacket, tie, and hands in his pockets," he said incredulously. "It told me everything I needed to know about the Cleveland Police.
"You may not think it's important for a police officer to wear a hat, but for me it's vital. It gives them a presence and allows them to stand out from the crowd, so it's a crime prevention tool. "
He says the Cleveland police do not respect the rules that apply to ordinary citizens. "They will park in bays with disabilities and are not supposed to do so unless they respond to an emergency.
"Then you'll see children riding a bike on the sidewalk, and a policeman does not have to tell them to get off.
'These may seem like little things, but they add up. Zero Tolerance was about not missing out. It's about keeping an eye on the streets, not distracting them. '
As often, Robocop has his finger on the pulse.
Coming out of Middlesbrough Station earlier in the day, I was surprised to see a police car abandoned in an area reserved for people with reduced mobility for 15 minutes. According to an angry taxi driver, police would park there regularly while buying coffee, but a spokeswoman for Cleveland said the policewoman who had returned to the car had responded to a "security" call.
As the new Cleveland Police Chief, Mr. Lewis, only took office in April – after climbing the ladder in Wales – it is too early to say whether he will prove more effective than his counterparts. predecessors. So far, however, he has impressed observers. And obtained the support of his candor, admitting, for example, that the failure to send officers in the case of the attack victim, Jeanette Carroll, was a mistake and that it "exactly matched the type of thing "reported by the HMICFRS report.
Mr. Lewis said, "This report echoes my initial assessment of strength and will act as a line in the sand. Improvements have already been made and I take full responsibility for completing the changes that are so obviously necessary. We do not underestimate the challenges ahead. "
He urges people to give him time to bring the organization back to zero. They do not have the choice. But during my stay in Middlesbrough, it became very clear that the Cleveland police lacked patience.
Jack Straw is not alone in thinking that this shambolic force has had too many second chances, and that it would be in everyone's interest for his flickering blue light to go out.
Meanwhile, for law enforcement agencies across the country, the struggle to maintain standards at a time when challenges continue to grow, continues.
Additional report: Kevin Donald.