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I'M GUILTY; Police chief grovels for branding his officers `crap and awful'.

Byline: NORMAN SILVESTER

A POLICE chief has made a grovelling apology to his officers after branding them "crap and awful".

Assistant Chief Constable David Mulhern, who runs British Transport Police in Scotland, slammed his force at a public meeting.

Mr Mulhern, who took charge in August, was unveiling tough new plans for running the force to Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority.

But he astonished councillors and members of the public with a series of attacks on his force's shortcomings.

He called it an invisible force and criticised the way British Transport Police had been run in the past.

Mulhern, who has a reputation as a no-nonsense tough-talking boss, said: "The profile and image of the British Transport Police is crap and awful."

His comment drew comparison with jewellery boss Gerald Ratner, who famously branded his product "crap". His business never recovered.

Mulhern went on to claim the BTP had an inferiority complex compared to other Scottish police forces.

He also accused certain senior officers of using the force as a "training ground for retirement."

He revealed how he planned to have more patrols to crack down on railway crime and rid stations of drug dealers.

But his remarks infuriated members of the 200-strong force in Scotland and have seriously affected morale.

As a result of the remarks, Mulhern was forced last week to send each member of staff an e-mail explaining and apologising for his remarks.

He admitted using the expression "crap and awful" but said it referred to the state of offices and their location not the work of the staff themselves.

Mulhern also admitted saying British Transport Police officers had an inferiority complex and describing the force as invisible to the public.

But in the e-mail of apology, he also acknowledged that their skills levels and application were higher than many other forces.

He also admitted describing the force as a "training ground for retirement" but said the remark was not directed at current staff but some of his predecessors who had taken up the post having retired from other forces.

He concluded in the e-mail: "I am absolutely delighted to be part of the British Transport Police. I think it is a highly professional organisation achieving great things with very few resources."

His public comments had angered officials of the British Transport Police Federation.

Senior federation representatives privately complained to the force Chief Constable Ian Johnston, who is based in London.

Alex Robertson, chairman of the British Transport Police Federation, said: "Any remarks which Mr Mulhern made were personal remarks and do not reflect other people's views of the organisation.

"As regards our profile being crap I have to say that in the last 10 years we have progressed out of all recognition.

"It may well be his perception we are crap but it is not the federation's.

"His remarks are certainly not helpful at this particular time."

Mulhern took over British Transport Police after having been a superintendent with Strathclyde Police at Partick in Glasgow.

At the Scottish Passenger Transport Authority meeting where he made the remarks, he also outlined a series of tough measures he hoped would reduce crime on the railways. They included stepping up police patrols and ridding stations of drug dealers.

Passengers who spit at rail staff will be hunted down using DNA evidence.

Mulhern built up a reputation for strong-arm tactics while at Strathclyde Police, establishing a special unit to tackle drug gangs and sending the first mounted patrols into housing estates.

He also helped Rwanda establish a police force following the 1994 genocide in the African state.

Though his remarks were met with dismay by his own staff, the tough talking on crime has been welcomed by ScotRail and the rail union, RMT, which represents conductors.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 27, 2002
Words:625
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