The devil finds work for idle hands
— Henry David Thoreou
We have it on good authority that our website is widely read not only by injured officers or those seeking further information about the ill-health or injury award process, but by SMP’s, force solicitors, HR managers and maybe even Chief Constables.
A number of months ago we introduced ‘Like’ and ‘Dislike’ (or thumbs up/down) buttons for the user submitted comments on our blogs. As an organisation that believes everyone is entitled to their own view, we are happy to have ‘Dislikes’ as well as ‘Likes’. We have in the past also published negative opinions about our blogs.
However, it wasn’t long before we noticed that a person or persons unknown went on a frenzied clicking spree, ‘Disliking’ all publicly published comments on our blogs. The ‘Dislikes’ far outweighed the ‘Likes’ for any particular comment, and disproportionately so.
On 18th March 2020, we released a factual news item concerning Gareth Morgan, the Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police where we highlighted a recent BBC documentary where is was said that he had wept – https://iodpa.org/2020/03/18/chief-constable-gareth-morgan-weeps/. The item gave no personal opinions and linked to both the program and a number of online news articles. This resulted in some public comments being posted.
The day after the news item appeared, the phantom clicker was back, putting twenty three ‘Dislikes’within tweleve minutes on just about every one of the user comments! Only this time, we captured the Internet Protocol (‘IP’) address of the user making the clicks.
For the non technically minded, whenever one computer talks to another using something called Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (‘TCP/IP’), certain additional information is always passed in the transaction. This includes a numerical identifier separated by dots, which is a unique reference to the computer or network at the time. It is something that always happens in the background, that most people are probably not even aware of.
Here is a list of the ‘Dislikes’ that were recorded –
You will see that the IP address captured was – 18.104.22.168
A reverse Domain Name Server (‘DNS’) lookup using one of the many publicly available tools gave us details of who that particular IP address was assigned to.
You will see that a static block of IP addresses 22.214.171.124 – 126.96.36.199 has been permanently assigned to none other than…
Yes, that’s right, someone viewing our site from within Staffordshire Police is frantically clicking the ‘Dislike’ button on every public comment published.
The following day there was another tranche of ‘Dislikes’. This time, twenty one ‘Dislikes’ in a period of two minutes. The IP address this time was 188.8.131.52. Wait for it… yes, it is another IP address in a range (184.108.40.206 – 220.127.116.11) allocated to none other than Staffordshire Police.
This obviously begs, the question, who is it? Is it a member of HR such as Andrew Coley, who has been driving the injury reviews? Is it a member of his team, or maybe it is a member of senior management? Of course it could be Gareth Morgan himself?
We have supplied sufficient information for Staffordshire Police IT department to check their own server logs and identify who this person is, and would be very happy to hear from the person directly? As we have previously said, we are more than happy to place alternative views on our website; it is always interesting to hear the argument from another viewpoint.
You may, of course (as always), leave a comment on this blog, but just bear in mind that you may, at some stage, get a ‘Dislike’ for it, but don’t take it too personally as it appears to be the work of one person, and judging by the emails we receive from serving and retired officers from Staffordshire Police, we know that their view doesn’t represent the rank and file from within the force.