Policing numbers is Warwickshire

Steve B’s concerns on our Shrinking Police Service

Steve Bs' thinking space

Alan Wright posted some up to date information  on police force numbers the other day and asked “How does this affect your force?” in an accompanying Tweet.

I have been thinking about this in relation to Warwickshire constabulary – the force that is responsible for policing the area where I live and believe that the current and future reductions in police officer numbers will have a negative impact on crime in Warwickshire and that the short term savings will result in a long term increase in crime.

In the last 12 months Warwickshire has lost 75 officer and now has a total of 844 police officers. That is it there are no more just 844 in total from Constable to Chief Constable and all ranks in between uniform and detective.

According to Alan Plaskitt a prospective PCC for Warwickshire the HMIC report predicts that frontline officers will fall from 810 to…

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The Queen’s Half Hour

Unsurprisingly I am still waiting for any kind of reply to my original request fro data from 2 Forces, Cumbria and Lincolnshire.  They have both had reminders about their legal obligations on 12th and 27th July, but not even an acknowledgement have I received to those reminders.  In the case of Cumbria I clarified my request to them on 18th June and that is the last I have heard from them.  Similarly with Lincolnshire I got an letter of acceptance on 14th June and not another word since.

I will let sleeping dogs lie until the end of the week and then I will prepare my final set of figures on how much overtime goes unpaid each year, but I can tell you, from the data I have received (i.e. the Forces that did not respond with a refusal, or “We don’t hold that information”  the total is nearly £5 million.

HMIC – The Appointment Brief

I must really stop banging on about Tom Winsor and his recent appointment to the post of Chief Inspector HMIC, only I can’t because it still won’t reconcile itself within my head.

If you’ve learnt anything about me in the last week or so from reading these blogs it should have been that I believe in ‘Fairness’ and ‘Transparency’ in the workplace.  I understand all about Secret and Confidential, and all that but the appointment of Chief Inspector HMIC shouldn’t attract those labels.

I am grateful to @FlysCarpet for putting the idea into my head, so I went hunting for the Job Description and Person Spec for the said post.  I found the following lengthy document on the Parliament Website

Home Affairs Committee – Third Report
Appointment of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary

It can be found here

Contained within it I found all sorts of information, but for the purposes of this blog I shall restrict myself to information about the selection of the successful candidate.

“The next HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary will be an inspirational leader with extensive understanding of operational policing. They will direct transformational change in HMIC to refocus its core purpose on supporting effective crime—fighting and stronger accountability to the public for chief constables and their forces.”

“The challenge for the new Chief Inspector is to take forward a powerful and professional programme of work that supports the reforms that are changing the policing landscape.”

“Applications will be considered from candidates with a policing background (serving UK chief constables or HM Inspectors) as well as from other professional backgrounds where candidates can demonstrate strong understanding of operational policing.”

Person specification

Applications will be considered from candidates with a policing background (serving UK Chief Constables or HM Inspectors) and from other professional backgrounds where candidates can demonstrate understanding of operational policing and how they might apply that to HMIC’s strategy and programme of work.

Owing to the sensitivity of some of the material that the HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary needs access to, this appointment is open only to UK nationals.

To help you to decide whether you are the right person for this role, we have listed below the criteria that will be applied when assessing candidates. To be considered, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the qualities, skills and experience to meet these.

  • Resilient and inspiring leader who has strong experience of leading organisations through major transformational change.
  • Strong understanding of policing and the broad reforms to the policing landscape and accountability framework, including relationships between forces, police and crime commissioners, police and crime panels, and the public, as well as how you might apply that to a broad strategic vision for the Inspectorate that is both forward thinking and outward facing.
  • Excellent customer engagement, demonstrating evidence of building and maintaining successful relationships and partnerships with policing and the wider public, private and third sector communities.
  • Positive evidence of challenging service delivery to drive continuous improvement.
  • First class communicator, capable and confident in influencing a wide variety of audiences on different and complex issues. Decisive but also open and collaborative in considering different views and opinions.
  • Strong planning and organisational skills to ensure that competing priorities are balanced and key commitments are met.”

 

The Job Advert can be found here

 

Does any of this sound familiar?  Does any of this convince you that Mr Winsor was the right man for the job after all?

Having read the above post maybe those of you who haven’t yet taken the polls re Mr Winsor’s appointment could find the time to take them now.  They are completely anonymous, even I don’t know who’s voted never mind what they voted for.

The WordPress.com Blog

Have you ever come across a blog post that you enjoyed so much you wanted to easily share it with the readers of your own blog? Sure, you can copy and paste the link and perhaps even a snippet of text with your own comments, but overall it’s not a particularly enjoyable experience. We wanted to change this and make sharing other posts with your readers as easy as posting to your blog.

Today we’re introducing a new like and reblog feature enabled across the whole of WordPress.com. When you’re logged in to WordPress.com and viewing a post you’ll notice a new link in the admin bar at the top of the page. If you really enjoyed the post then you can click the “Like” link to signify this. This will then show the author how many readers liked the post.

You Like ThisOnce you’ve liked the post, the link will…

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The Polls, The Story So Far

Here are the results of our polls as at 08:45 on 30th July 2012

It is not too late to vote if you want to, you will find the polls further down this blog

Just click on any result above to see a larger image

 

 

 

The Factory Worker Mentality

PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS BLOG IF YOU ARE FEELING DELICATE AND MAY BE EASILY UPSET, NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED SHORTLY.  YOU HAVE BEEN ADVISED.

I did promise that I wouldn’t make personal attacks on Tom Winsor the man.  well, be warned, I am about to break that promise.

I don’t normally do stories about me, unless I’m pissed, or swapping war stories with ex colleagues.  I thought long and hard about this while I was battling my way south down the M6 yesterday evening having been to visit my delightful grandson, and left my wife babysitting as it’s our daughter’s wedding anniversary this weekend, but that’s by the by.  I have decided to tell this story because there’s a point to it, which I hope you will get by the time you reach the end.

Many years ago ( my best recollection would be late 80s) a friend/colleague of mine attempted to take his own life.  It was nothing to do with his job, nothing to do with his marriage, he was happily married with no kids.  His wife came home from work one Friday and found him collapsed in the lounge having taken an overdose.  I shall call him Jim, but that is clearly not his name.  He was promptly taken off to hospital, seen, treated and admitted to a psychiatric ward.  Twice during the night he tried to jump out of the 8th floor window, and eventually at about 10 o’clock in the morning he walked out of the hospital.  About half an hour later I received the fateful call from my Duty Inspector to come in and see him.  Being blissfully unaware of what had happened so far, I returned to the nick wondering what on earth I had done wrong this time.  Anyway the Inspector filled me in with what had happened and then said “You’re only one on duty who knows him so I’m giving you the Missing Person enquiry to deal with” Cheers guv.

Maybe 2 hours later a call was received in the Control Room, reports of a woman’s body on the railway line.  This turned out not to be a woman but Jim.  It was his hospital gown that made the caller think it was a woman.  Jim seems to have hidden in the workman’s recess in a tunnel on the London-Glasgow line and awaited his opportunity.  Everything points to him having stepped out in front of an approaching express train but timed it slightly wrong.  Instead of hitting the front of the train, he made contact with the side of it which threw him off and he proceeded to bounce backwards and forwards between the tunnel and the train until it had passed.  The driver was completely unaware of anything.  To add insult to injury, he fell on the live rail and fried.  Yours truly was then left to retrieve the body parts and, at the same time, stop my stupid sergeant from stepping on the live rail, as the power had not yet been turned off (but we had been given nice orange waistcoats, so we were fine).  I’m not anti-sergeant normally, but this one was a Lulu, and I had enough to contend without babysitting him.  After all of this I then had the continuity excercise of accompanying the body to hospital, to be told what I already knew, and then to the mortuary.  Write the report and then Coroner’s Inquest.

“What the buggery balls of Antioch has this got to do with Winsor?” I hear you ask.  Well there is a point, and the point is this;

I have addressed the issue of the Clock In/Clock Out mentality previously here .  My point now is that I don’t know a single factory worker that has, would or could have dealt with the scenario I was faced with that Saturday, mid-day.  I am not looking for sympathy, it was a long time ago, it’s not about me. I’ve stopped having nightmares about it, but if I choose to I can see the scene as though I was there today.

We think we know what drove poor Jim to his death, but I won’t be telling you. Sadly, I haven’t spoken a single word to his widow since the day of the Inquest, but it was nothing to do with her either.

The more I hear about Winsor’s Independent Review, the more I speak to people or read what others have written, the more I realise that he doesn’t have a single clue. His review is riddled with inaccuracies, misunderstandings and at least one absolute bramah.

Mr Winsor you publicly stated at the Police 2012 Conference in London “that a career in the police service is like being a ‘factory worker’ and urged officers to think better of themselves”.  Well I hope you get the opportunity to read my blog above, I would like you to make a comment at the bottom of the page and tell ME how you feel about it, and then I WANT YOU TO PUBLICLY WITHDRAW THAT REMARK.  It is an insult to 130,000+ Police Officers of all ranks who perform similar duties to that without the opportunity to say “NO, I’m not doing that”.  The Police that you will soon oversee don’t have the luxury of turning away, they are unable to to do nothing, the eyes of the public are on them and the public expects.  They will grit their teeth and get on with it.  They will do it professionally and even, dare I say, willingly.  They will do it with PRIDE. In the privacy of their own homes later they may weep, they may have a single malt or two, they may even shout at their families.  But they will have done their job and in so doing will have done more than most..  How very dare you accuse them of having a ‘Factory Worker Mentality”.

See also Constable Chaos’ blog on a similar theme

Just to bring this story up to date, if you are lucky you can do all this for £19,000 per year, which is less than Parliament pays it’s posh coffee makers (true).

The Appointment of Mr Tom Winsor as Chief Inspector HMIC

Hello again friends,

I want to start by making it quite clear that neither this blog, nor my previous one on Mr Tom Winsor is a personal attack on him, with the sole exception of the fact that I do not rate the standard of his research very highly.  However the Olympics are upon us, G4S are rightly taking a lot of flak and Tom Winsor’s appointment to HMIC is in danger of being forgotten.

This blog is intended solely to address the issues surrounding his selection and the process involved.

Personally I find it quite bizarre that there seems to be an official campaign run by the Home Office to prevent us from knowing who the unsuccessful candidates were. Short List, Long List, it’s all been kept under wraps.  Nailing my colours to the mast I belong firmly in the camp that thinks that the Chief Inspector HMIC should have relevant ‘Policing Experience’. I’m quite happy to leave it to others to define that, but if I was suddenly appointed Chief Executive of Transport for London I wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing and quite rightly the Staff, the Public and my fellow Directors would wonder what on earth was going on and how did I get the job?  My reply of “It’s alright I’m going to ask Blakey the Bus Inspector when I get a bit stuck” wouldn’t go down very well I’m sure.  When Mr Winsor wrote his Independent Review he had Sir Edward Crew on his team to advise him in all things Policing.  Is that sufficient for HMIC?  I don’t think so, but what do you think?

Under the Freedom of Information Act I have asked the Home Office the following;

In relation to Tom Winsor’s selection as Preferred Candidate for
the post of Chief Inspector of Constabulary can you please supply
me with all documentation exchanged between the Home Secretary and
any other officials within the Home Office recorded in hand-written
copy, email, minutes of meetings, letters, notes and any other form
of documentation either in hard copy or electronic form which
relate to his selection for this post. This should specifically
include minutes of all meetings held by the selection panel and any
notes made by members of the selection panel

Could you also please supply me with the names of all persons who
sat on the selection panel for this post.

Now I would have thought that this was a perfectly reasonable request to make.  Surely I’m not the only person who wanted to satisfy themselves that the process had been open, fair and above-board?  I didn’t know who any of the other candidates had been (I thought I had included that in my request but apparently I didn’t).  I had heard a few rumours about who two of them MIGHT have been but nothing substantiated.

The response I got to this request was this;

Dear Mr Wright, 
 
I am writing further to my letter of 25 June 2012 about your following request – 
 
“In relation to Tom Winsor’s selection as Preferred Candidate for the post of Chief
Inspector of Constabulary can you please supply me with all documentation
exchanged between the Home Secretary and any other officials within the Home
Office recorded in hand-written copy, email, minutes of meetings, letters, notes and
any other form of documentation either in hard copy or electronic form which relate
to his selection for this post. This should specifically include minutes of all meetings
held by the selection panel and any notes made by members of the selection panel.

Could you also please supply me with the names of all persons who sat on the
selection panel for this post.”

Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of 
Information Act 2000. 
 
We are considering your request.  Although the Act carries a presumption in favour 
of disclosure, it provides exemptions which may be used to withhold information in 
specified circumstances.  Some of these exemptions, referred to as ‘qualified 
exemptions’, are subject to a public interest test.  This test is used to balance the 
public interest in disclosure against the public interest in favour of withholding the 
information. The Act allows us to exceed the 20 working day response target where 
we need to consider the public interest test fully.   
 
The information you have requested is being considered under the exemption in 
section 36 of the Act, which relates to prejudice to the effective conduct of public 
affairs. This is a qualified exemption and to consider the public interest test fully we 
need to extend the 20 working day response period. We now aim to let you have a 
full response by 6 August. 

Now I’m a simple chap at heart, tend to speak a bit plain, and I don’t quite get it.  How on earth could my request be anything other than in the Public Interest.  How could it prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs to be open, honest and transparent.  I noticed that when Theresa May was asked a direct question recently as to the identities of the other candidates she dodged the issue and declined to answer the question.  I want to believe that we still live in a democracy, Theresa May recently announced an end to diktats. In her first speech as Home Secretary she said the following

The Policing Pledge, the national targets, the initiatives, the diktats and the red tape are all going. In their place, I have set the police one simple mission: to cut crime.

I have to point out at this stage (purely because the story amuses me, it isn’t relevant in any way) that I have met one of the alleged candidates.  The female Chief Constable of a large Constabulary was rumoured to be one of the unsuccessful candidates.  Well I had the pleasure of meeting that person one day when she was an ACC, my Det Ch Supt had an appointment with her regarding an issue which I shall not elaborate on.  For reasons best known to him he decided at the last minute to take me with him.  So there we were in the ACC’s office, me in my best jeans and T Shirt ad the ACC asking “Tea or Coffee gentlemen?” All it needed was the White Rabbit to complete the scene, quite surreal.  I found her to be nothing but charming and professional in her approach to the issue we were discussing and that is the only time we have spoken.  The other alleged candidates I have neither met nor spoken to.

I know of no reason why either of the other alleged Short List candidates would not have been suitable for the post.  I know of no reason why Mr Winsor would have been suitable for the post.  I was asked several years ago in my Police career if I would have a problem with a member of the civil staff doing my annual appraisal.  My response to that was (and still would be today) “Not at all just so long as he/she understands what I do”   Not an unreasonable response I don’t think, and my Annual Appraisal was never carried out by any member of the civil staff.  I would apply the same logic to the candidates for Chief Inspector HMIC.  “If they understand Policing and what it is about then no problem”.  Tom Winsor demonstrated that he didn’t understand Policing when he had to engage Sir Edward Crew to assist and advise him in compiling his report.  From the assorted bits of his report that I have read (and I freely confess that I haven’t read it all) it seems to me that he doesn’t have a grasp on Policing. He wants to reform something (or has been told to reform something) he doesn’t yet understand.  You can’t get that knowledge from reading a book, you have to live it.  I have heard it stated by my colleagues/companions “Policing is not a job, it’s a vocation”.  How very true.  I don’t know many lawyers who describe their chosen occupation as a vocation, except possibly practicing barristers occasionally.

I hear it all but it all sounds so hollow.  How can I have any confidence in the selection process for CIHMIC?  How can I have any confidence in the Home Office?  How can I have any confidence in Theresa May?  If you can think of a single thing that I have missed that would cause me to have confidence in any of those things please let me know, I promise to listen.

Well, that’s about it, a bit on the heavy side for my first week, but it helped me get a few things off my chest, hopefully it helped you get to know me and ‘how I roll’ a bit better.  It’s also intended to help our non-police colleagues better understand what is happening.

As a suitable post-script, I thought you might like to know that HMIC have joined the other bodies such as the Home Office who seem incapable of answering an FOI request within the legal time-frame.  Or maybe they just didn’t like being asked ‘How much is Tom Winsor’s pension>” and “How much does it cost to run HMIC each year, and what is your establishment?”

If you liked it tell your friends, if you didn’t like it, tell me.