What Every MP Needs To Know

By listening to my friends and colleagues and reading the Twats on Twatter it is evident to me that our MPs do not all understand what is happening to Policing in this country, and maybe not the other Public Services either.   It seems to me tat not only are a lot of them completely unaware of Tom Winsor’s Independent Review of Police Officers’ and Police Staff’s Pay And Conditions but are also completely unaware of the uncanny resemblance between it and David Cameron’s speech to the Dalston Youth Project in January 2006 and his Lecture to the Police Foundation in July 2006 on the subject of Police Reform.

A lot of what was said on those two occasions was subsequently referred to in April 2007 in a report entitled Policing For The People, an Interim report of the Police Reform Taskforce, authored by Brick Nether MP, ably assisted by Rabbi Glibs and 2 other folk.

In January 2006 David Camoron made the following recommendations on Police Reform

We should start with the reform of police pay and conditions.

  1. So first, we need local flexibility for pay and conditions. An officer who has given good service, and for whom it would be better personally and for the force if they moved on, has a huge incentive to wait around until thirty year’s service is up before getting a pension
  2. So second, we need further reform of police pensions so people can join and leave the force at the right time and the right level. We must get rid of that pensions cliff-edge.  Chief constables will tell you that today, an underperforming police officer is almost unsackable. That’s absurd.
  3. So third, the police should have modern employment contracts so bad officers can be sacked. Considerable progress has been made in relation to medical retirements and the days lost through sick pay – but much more needs to be done.
  4. So fourth, we must tackle the issue of a relatively large number of officers kept on restricted duties, on full pay. Some officers today have second jobs. In one force, as many as one in fifteen are in this position.
  5. So the fifth priority in reforming police pay and conditions should be to insist that policing is a full-time occupation in all but exceptional cases.
  6. As well as reforming pay and conditions, we will also look for more flexibility in the structure of policing. Today’s police family no longer consists only of regular police officers. Community support officers have begun to change the public face of policing and the nature of the workforce. Local authority wardens are proving popular in their communities. Support staff are increasingly being used to release officers for frontline duties. Chief constables should have greater discretion over the structure of their workforce so that they, rather than the government, can decide the right balance of staffing in their forces.
  7. More flexible policing structures will also require a new flexibility in police recruitment. Scientific and technological advances will mean that, increasingly, we will want to recruit professional experts who are now key in the fight against crime. So enhanced entry schemes should make it possible for talented people and professionals to join the police later in their careers and at all ranks.

In July 2006 David Cameron made the following recommendations in his lecture to the Police Foundation;

  1. If we have learnt one painful lesson in the last decade, it should be that money alone isn’t the route to successful public sector reform.  Of course, resources are important.  And I welcome the  increase in police numbers ……the deployment of Community Support Officers …… and the development of neighbourhood policing. We can take these reforms much further.  We could grow the police family further by empowering local authorities to recruit  many more wardens.   I’ve seen myself the success of initiatives like the one in Westminster, which has  piloted over 100 ‘city  guardians’.  They work closely with neighbourhood policing teams to deal with problems such as antisocial behaviour.  But it’s not enough to put uniformed officials on the streets just to provide a
    reassuring presence.
  2. The private sector has been operating prisoner transport and managing custody suites for some time.  There’s no longer a hard and fast divide between the public, private and voluntary  sectors … and innovative Chief Constables will combine them in new ways to  achieve the best results.  Forces need to look at other ways to reduce the cost of services and release manpower.
  3. In my speech in Dalston at the start of the year I set out a tough agenda for reforming police pay and conditions.  Local flexibility for pay and conditions …Modern employment contracts so that bad officers can be removed …Payment to reflect skills, competence and performance rather than simply length ofservice or seniority …Enhanced entry schemes to make it possible for talented people and professionals to join the police later in their careers …I recognise that this agenda is a challenging one … but it’s hugely in the interests of all committed police officers – and that is, let me say it loud and clear, the overwhelming majority of every force. I’d like to see Senior Constables recognised and rewarded for their experience and long term commitment … so that they are incentivised to stay in their neighbourhoods.
  4. Back office functions could be contracted out.
  5. Support services could be shared and procured collectively.  These arrangements could be made robust and legally binding.
  6. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary should be strengthened and fully separated from police forces and the Home Office.  The Inspectorate is too close to both.  It needs to become in part an economic regulator, ensuring value for money as well as monitoring standards.

As Sir Robert Peel said in 1829, “the police are the public and the public are the police”. The link between the constable and the citizen is the foundation of policing by consent.

Then along came Tom Winsor and his team, tasked with undertaking his Independent Review.  After a few delays he published his proposals in two parts, too comprehensive to repeat here.  However, contained within his recommendations, in no particular order, were the following;

That Direct Entry should exist at Inspector and Superintendent level for suitably qualified candidates – see point 7 of Camoron’s January 2006 speech

Officers on Restricted Duties should have their salaries reviewed and reduced – see point 4 of Cameron’s January 2006 speech.  In February 2012 Tom Winsor e-mailed Steve Kershaw at the Home Office with a draft re-definition of Restricted Duties and asked the question “Is this on target?”  How does that affect the Independence of his Review?

Winsor has completely reformed the Police Pension Scheme, more or less in line with Lord Hutton’s Review of Public Sector Pensions – see point 2 of Cameron’s January 2006 speech. Pensions are now reformed to the extent that most officers will work longer, pay more and receive a smaller pension at the end of it.

The Police Regulations 2003 should be amended to create a system of compulsory severance for police officers with less than full pensionable service from April 2013 – see point 3 of Cameron’s January speech

Police forces should review and, if necessary, amend their pay grading systems in relation to local pay rates to ensure that they are paying no more than is required to recruit and retain individuals of the requisite quality. – see point 1 of Cameron’s January 2006 speech

In June 2012 Mr Winsor claimed that his recommendations had no hidden privatisation agenda (see point 6 of Cameron’s January speech) . However, the issue has already been raised that there is a ‘conflict of interest’ because his law firm worked with G4S to partner up with Lincolnshire Police.  See point 4 of Cameron’s July 2006lecture.

Whilst it is not strictly speaking part of Mr Winsor’s Independent Review we come inexorably to the question of HMIC.  In July 2006 Camoron said Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary should be strengthened and fully separated from police forces and the Home Office.  The Inspectorate is too close to both.  It needs to become in part an economic regulator, ensuring value for money as well as monitoring standards.  Lo and Behold, Tom Winsor (ex Rail Regulator) is now Chief Inspector Elect of HMIC.  Indeed @iofiv Twatted only yesterday “@iofiv: Whatever HMICs phrase “Independent Professional in the field” means, ACPO see HMIC role is moving from “support & challenge” to regulation” Is this just me being cynical or does something seem a bit pre-ordained here?

At the end of the day, however, it’s not about how cynical I may be, these are all things, in my humble opinion, that your MPs should be aware of and if they aren’t, they need to be made aware of them.  If any of you attend your MP’s Surgeries, and I know that some of you have, no matter how well-meaning your MP (of whatever political persuasion) may be, they need to be in possession of the facts, and 99% of what I have written is that – factual.

I think most will agree that there IS a similarity between Cameron’s vision for Police Reform and Tom Winsor’s Independent Review.

I hope this helps

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