The Changing Shape of the Police Service

Today sees the release of the latest set of Home Office stats showing that Theresa May is well on course with her project to destroy the Police Service of England and Wales.

These figures make me laugh, they never quite correlate with the previous set of figures, not different by much, but surely they should be identical?

I have produce for your delectation a series of charts showing how the Police Services of England and Wales has changed since 2003.  I could go back further but it’s a right royal pain to get the figures before 2003 and I’m not sure exactly what purpose would be served by it.  Also the Home Office keep changing the format in which they release their data, making Copy and Paste a right royal ball-ache too.

Please bear with me, they take a while to produce, I have attached the first, the overall picture for 43 Forces excluding BTP and Central Secondments, and I will add the others gradually as time allows.  Apologies in advance to my Welsh friends, they will have to wait till last.

43 Forces

                                                                                                                            All 43 Forces

Just click on each image and it will open up larger in a new window

Avon and SomersetAvon and Somerset

BedfordshireBedfordshire

CambridgeshireCambridgeshire

CheshireCheshire

ClevelandCleveland

Cumbria

Cumbria

Derbyshire

       Derbyshire

Devon and Cornwall

Devon and Cornwall

Dorset

Dorset

Durham

Durham

Essex

Essex

Glos

Gloucestershire

GMP

Greater Manchester Police

Hants

Hampshire

Herts

Hertfordshire

Humberside

Humberside

Kent

Kent

Lancs

Lancashire

Leics

Leicestershire

Lincs

Lincolnshire

City of London

City of London

Merseyside

Merseyside

Met

MPS

Norfolk

Norfolk

Northants

Northants

Northumbria

Northumbria

North Yorks

North Yorkshire

Notts

Nottinghamshire

South Yorks

South Yorkshire

Staffs

Staffordshire

Suffolk

Suffolk

Surrey

Surrey

Sussex

Sussex

TVP

Thames Valley

Warwicks

Warwickshire

West Mercia

West Mercia

West Midlands

West Midlands

West Yorks

West Yorkshire

Wilts

Wiltshire

Dyfed Powys

Dyfed Powys

Gwent

Gwent

North Wales

North Wales

South Wales

South Wales

 

There you go folks, official Home Office data all the way.

 

Make of it what you will

I Have Had Enough, War Has Been Declared

Sorry folks this is the ongoing RIPA saga.  I received my most recent refusal today, and once again it was so similar in the way it was worded that there HAS TO BE A POLICY been drawn up somewhere as to how Forces will fob people like me off.  And Fobbed Off I have been.  I can only assume that this policy was drawn up by ACPO or the Association of Police Authorities before the advent of PCCs.

In order not to absolutely bore you to death it has been suggested by my reader that I reproduce just TWO of the replies in full so that you can see just how similar they are and provide hyperlinks to the other three.  I don’t really want to bog this blog down but all joking aside it feels like there’s an important issue here, absolutely current and relevant to some of our number who find themselves under investigation or subject to Words of Advice regarding their participation in the world we know as Twitter.

I originally wrote to Dorset, Dyfed-Powys, West Midlands and the Met.  I subsequently added South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire to the list.  To date I have received 5 of the 6 replies.

Today’s (and the most recent) response came from South Yorkshire.  It read as follows;

REQUEST
1) Can you please tell me for the year 2011, how many RIPA applications were made by members of your Force in relation to Police Officers’ use of Social Media or e-mail? 2) Can you please tell me for the year 2011 what were the relevant offences or Discipline Regulations for these applications? 3) For the year 2011 what was the result of these applications? How many officers were either prosecuted or disciplined? 4) For the year 2011, how many such applications (as above) were refused and on what grounds?
RESPONSE
Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Sec1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Sec1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon s17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
South Yorkshire Police can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you requested as the duty in s1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 44(2) Prohibitions on Disclosure
Section 23(5) Information relating to the Security bodies;
Section 30(3) Investigations;
Section 31(3) Law enforcement;
Section 40(5) Personal information
Sections 44, 23 and 40 are absolute exemptions which means that the legislators have identified that harm would be caused by release and there is no requirement to consider the public interest test, (except for Section 40(5)
Sections 30(3) and 31(3) are qualified and require us to carry out a public interest balancing test before they can be relied upon.
Overall harm for Neither Confirm nor Deny
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) is often a complex piece of legislation to interpret. The RIPA Act is a regulatory framework around a range of investigatory powers to ensure the powers are used lawfully and in a way that is compatible with the European Conviction on Human rights. It also requires, in particular, those authorising the use of covert techniques to give proper consideration to whether their use is necessary and proportionate. A legislative scrutiny framework already exists for RIPA activity: Police surveillance activity is subject to annual inspection by the Interception of Communications Commissioners Office (IOCCO) and Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC). These inspections assess each constabulary’s compliance with the legislation and a full report is submitted to the Prime Minister containing statistical information. In order to counter criminal activity it is vital that the police and other agencies have the ability to work together, where necessary covertly, in order to obtain intelligence within current legislative frameworks to ensure the successful arrest and prosecution of those who commit criminal acts. The prevention and detection of crime is the foundation upon which policing is built and the police have a clear responsibility to prevent crime and arrest those responsible for committing crime. To do this the police require evidence and that evidence can come from a number of sources, some of which is obtained through covert means. To confirm or deny any of the police actions around RIPA would undermine ongoing investigations, reveal policing techniques, risk the identification of individuals and the possibility of revealing involvement of any exempt bodies. Revealing information that specific tactics are used in certain circumstances would help subjects avoid detection, and inhibit the prevention and detection of crime. This could either lead to the identification of specific cases or in providing this level of information at force level is likely to result in significantly small authorisation numbers being published and presents a real risk of identifying the resources available to individual departments to covertly monitor individuals likely to be committing offences under their remit. Disclosure would undermine the partnership approach to law enforcement but also, due to the legal constraints under Chapter 1 of part 1 of the RIPA legislation, it may actually be a criminal offence to do so (Section 19).
To confirm or deny how many RIPA applications have been made relating to police officer’s use of social media or email would compromise ongoing investigations or identify individuals. If a force applied an exemption to the information this would reveal that these policing techniques and investigative activity had taken place. Conversely, by stating ‘no information held’ would highlight to an officer that his conduct is not being investigated and that he is free to continue.
It is important the Police Service discloses information regarding surveillance activity under RIPA where it is appropriate to do so but an officer’s conduct may be investigated covertly by the force PSD (Professional Standards Department) without the member of staff knowing of its existence. By confirming or denying that RIPA applications have been made would alert an officer that may or may not be involved in the misuse of social media or email, not only that PSD have the ability to ask for RIPA applications in these circumstances, but that they are aware of his misconduct. The officer would then cease his activity and perhaps make attempts to hide or delete the evidence. Information compiled for the purposes of an investigation, be it a criminal investigation or internal misconduct hearing, may contain information obtained from individuals to assist with an investigation, which would be in confidence. To disclose investigative information could dissuade people from providing information to the police in future. The public, be they general members of the public or internal police officers or staff, must have confidence that their information is treated sensitively and appropriately. Confirming or denying the information is held could lead to ‘trial by media’ as it is likely to identify any officers that may or may not be involved.
Public Interest Test
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S31 – By confirming or denying that RIPA applications have been made in respect of police officers use of social media would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public.
Factors against confirmation or denial for S31 – By confirming or denying that any information relevant to the request exists, law enforcement tactics could be compromised which could hinder the prevention and detection of crime and more crime could be committed.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for S30 – By confirming or denying that any information relevant to the request exists would enable the public to obtain satisfaction that all investigations are conducted appropriately and that their public money is well spent. Confirming or denying that RIPA is applied to police that misuse social media would increase public scrutiny of police actions and in turn hold the police service to account.
Factors against confirmation or denial for S30 – By confirming or denying that RIPA applications have been made in instances of police use of social media or email would hinder the prevention or detection of crime and undermine the partnership approach to law enforcement.
Balance test – SYP will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would undermine ongoing investigations or compromise law enforcement. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and in this case providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively managing the conduct of police officers, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and operations. There is also no requirement to satisfy any public concern over the legality of police operations and the tactics we may or may not use. The force is already held to account by independent bodies such as The Office of the Surveillance Commissioner and The Interception of Communications Commissioners Office. These inspections assess each constabulary’s compliance with the legislation and a full report is submitted to the Prime Minister containing statistical information. Our accountability is therefore not enhanced by confirming or denying that any other information is held. As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of police officer conduct, this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances. The points above highlight the merits of neither confirming or denying the requested data exists. It is appreciated that members of the public will naturally be interested in techniques employed for surveillance. Likewise, we also understand some people believe surveillance (in any form) is used too widely, and therefore an unnecessary intrusion into their privacy. However, taking into account the fact that the Police Service are already scrutinised as detailed above and effective operational law enforcement would be compromised by any disclosure, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test for confirmation or denial is not made out.
None of the above can be viewed as an inference that any other information does or does not exist.

Compare that to the reply I received from Dyfed-Powys Police (who incidentally protected their response against Copying and Pasting, causing me to waste much time finding out how to Copy and Paste it, but it’s here, so I must have managed it);

FOI Reference: 617/2012
Request:
Could you please provide me with the following information under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000?
1. Can you please tell me for the year 2011, how many RIPA applications were made by members of your
Force in relation to Police Officers’ use of Social Media or e-mail?
2. Can you please tell me for the year 2011 what were the relevant offences or Discipline Regulations for
these applications?
3. For the year 2011 what was the result of these applications? How many officers were either prosecuted or
disciplined?
4. For the year 2011, how many such applications (as above) were refused and on what grounds?
Responses 1-4:
Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Section 1(1)(b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held.

Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies. The Dyfed Powys Police Service can neither confirm nor deny that it holds the information you requested as the duty in Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply, by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 23(5) Information supplied by, or concerning, certain Security bodies Section 30(3) Investigations and Proceedings conducted by Public Authorities Section 31(3) Law Enforcement Section 40(5) Personal Information Section 44(2) Information covered by Prohibitions on Disclosure
Sections 44(2), 23(5) and 40(5) are absolute exemptions, which means that the legislators have identified that harm would be caused by release and there is no requirement to consider the public interest test, (except for Section 40(5)).

Sections 30(3) and 31(3) are qualified exemptions and require us to carry out a public interest balancing test before they can be relied upon.
Overall Harm for the Neither Confirm nor Deny (NCND)

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) is often a complex piece of legislation to interpret. The RIPA Act is a regulatory framework around a range of investigatory powers to ensure the powers are used lawfully and in a way that is compatible with the European Conviction on Human Rights. It also requires, in particular, those authorising the use of covert techniques to give proper consideration to whether their use is necessary and proportionate. A legislative scrutiny framework already exists for RIPA activity: Police surveillance activity is subject to annual inspection by the Interception of Communications Commissioners Office (IOCCO) and Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC). These inspections assess each constabulary’s compliance with the legislation and a full report is submitted to the Prime Minister containing statistical information. In order to counter criminal activity it is vital that the police and other agencies have the ability to work together, where necessary covertly, in order to obtain intelligence within current legislative frameworks to ensure the successful arrest and prosecution of those who commit criminal acts. The prevention and detection of crime is the foundation upon which policing is built and the police have a clear responsibility to prevent crime and arrest those responsible for committing crime. To do this the police require evidence and that evidence can come from a number of sources, some of which is obtained through covert means. To confirm or deny any of the police actions around RIPA would undermine on-going investigations, reveal policing techniques, risk the identification of individuals and the possibility of revealing involvement of any exempt bodies. Revealing information that specific tactics are used in certain circumstances would help subjects avoid detection, and inhibit the prevention and detection of crime. This could either lead to the identification of specific cases or in providing this level of information at force level is likely to result in significantly small authorisation numbers being published and presents a real risk of identifying the resources available to individual departments to covertly monitor individuals likely to be committing offences under their remit. Disclosure would undermine the partnership approach to law enforcement but also, due to the legal constraints under Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the RIPA legislation, it may actually be a criminal offence to do so (Section 19). To confirm or deny how many RIPA applications have been made relating to police officer’s use of social media or email would compromise on-going investigations or identify individuals. If a force applied an exemption to the information this would reveal that these policing techniques and investigative activity had taken place. Conversely, by stating ‘no information held’ would highlight to an officer that his conduct is not being investigated and that he is free to continue. It is important the Police Service discloses information regarding surveillance activity under RIPA where it is appropriate to do so, but an officer’s conduct may be investigated covertly by the force Professional Standards Department (PSD) without the member of staff knowing of its existence. By confirming or denying that RIPA applications have been made would alert an officer that may or may not be involved in the misuse of social media or email, not only that PSD have the ability to ask for RIPA applications in these circumstances, but that they are aware of his misconduct. The officer would then cease his activity and perhaps make attempts to hide or delete the evidence.
Information compiled for the purposes of an investigation, be it a criminal investigation or internal misconduct hearing, may contain information obtained from individuals to assist with an investigation, which would be in confidence. To disclose investigative information could dissuade people from providing information to the police in future. The public, be they general members of the public or internal police officers or staff, must have confidence that their information is treated sensitively and appropriately. Confirming or denying the information is held could lead to ‘trial by media’ as it is likely to identify any officers that may or may not be involved.

Public Interest Test
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for Section 30

By confirming or denying that any information relevant to the request exists would enable the public to obtain satisfaction that all investigations are conducted appropriately and that their public money is well spent. Confirming or denying that RIPA is applied to police that misuse social media would increase public scrutiny of police actions and in turn hold the police service to account.
Factors against confirmation or denial for Section 30
By confirming or denying that RIPA applications have been made in instances of police use of social media or email would hinder the prevention or detection of crime and undermine the partnership approach to law enforcement.
Factors favouring confirmation or denial for Section 31
By confirming or denying that RIPA applications have been made in respect of police officers use of social media would enable the public to see where public funds are being spent. Better public awareness may reduce crime or lead to more information from the public.
Factors against confirmation or denial for Section 31
By confirming or denying that any information relevant to the request exists, law enforcement tactics could be compromised which could hinder the prevention and detection of crime and more crime could be committed.
Section 40(5) Personal Information
The duty to neither confirm or deny under this section of the Act arises where the disclosure of the information into the public domain would contravene any of the data protection principles or Section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998 or would do so if the exemptions in Section 33A(1) of that Act were disregarded.
Disclosure under Freedom of Information is a release of information to the world in general and not an individual applicant. Therefore, simply confirming or not that such information were held would disclose personal information about individuals. As such any disclosure that identifies an individual or identifies that an individual has had contact with Dyfed Powys Police or not is exempt and would be a clear breach of principle 1 of the Data Protection Act. Personal data is defined under Section 1(1)(e) of the Data Protection Act (1998) as:
“… Data which relate to a living individual who can be identified-
(a) from those data, or (b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller, and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of the individual.” In this case, the confirmation or denial of the existence of information (if any) would breach Principle One of the Data Protection Act (details of which are provided below).
Principle One:
“Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and in particular shall not be processed unless
(a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and (b) in the case of sensitive personal data at least one of the conditions in Schedule 3 is also met.”
Balance Test
The Police Service will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would undermine on-going investigations or compromise law enforcement. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and in this case providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively managing the conduct of police officers, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and operations.

There is also no requirement to satisfy any public concern over the legality of police operations and the tactics we may or may not use. The force is already held to account by independent bodies such as The Office of the Surveillance Commissioner and The Interception of Communications Commissioners Office. These inspections assess each constabulary’s compliance with the legislation and a full report is submitted to the Prime Minister containing statistical information. Our accountability is therefore not enhanced by confirming or denying that any other information is held.
As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of police officer conduct, this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances. The points above highlight the merits of neither confirming nor denying the requested data exists. It is appreciated that members of the public will naturally be interested in techniques employed for surveillance. Likewise, we also understand some people believe surveillance (in any form) is used too widely, and therefore an unnecessary intrusion into their privacy. However, taking into account the fact that the Police Service are already scrutinised as detailed above and effective operational law enforcement would be compromised by any disclosure, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test for confirmation or denial is not made out.
None of the above can be viewed as an inference that any information does or does not exist.

The other three responses can be found here (Met) , here (West Midlands) and here (Dorset)

In my view Federation Offices in England and Wales, together with anyone who may be subject to scrutiny over their Twitter antics should take note of this.  These a re most definitely NOT 5 individual responses, separately drafted in response to my question.  This is a very measured response, calculated to deter folk like me from asking tricky questions.  As I have said before the clue is in the title of the Act, FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000, and it’s about time Police Forces and Government Departments accepted that it’s here, people WILL use because of the lack of transparency in all Authorities and instead of looking ridiculous with their corporate heads in the sand, they should INDIVIDUALLY deal with enquiries that come within the spirit of the Act.

I have appealed against 4 of the above Forces, I see no reason not to appeal against the 5th and I have reported another Force to the Information Commissioner on a different matter entirely.

I am only one man with one voice and one quill, but I hope it does some good somewhere, but I fear that it will do no good whatsoever until a sea-change revision of the way in which our enquiries are handled takes place.  It seems to me that instead of just answering the question, even very mundane, non-contentious enquiries are met with “Right, we won’t answer that one until after the time limit has expired”  or “If he thinks he’s getting an answer to that he can think again”  It’s not a Can Do Mentality it’s a How Can We Not Do This Mentality

The Departments of Professional Standards and RIPA – #TheRestIsUnbelievablySilent

Firstly I would like to refer you to my earlier blogs on the subject if you haven’t already read them

Social Media, the Police and RIPA – #TheRestIsSilence

The Departments of Professional Standards and RIPA #TheRestIsSilence

and if you really have nothing better to do

Social Media, The State and Interception #TheRestIsSilence

In the second part of that unholy trilogy I commented that 3 out of 4 Forces that I had written to and requested information under the Freedom of Information Act had refused to supply me with any information and that they had all refused to Confirm or Deny whether they even held the information I was requesting.

After waiting over 2 months for a reply I finally lost patience and informed Dorset Police that if I did not receive my information, or a reasonable explanation why they couldn’t provide it, within 72 hours I would be complaining to the Information Commissioner about their handling of my request.  Well less than 24 hours later I received my reply.   There will no prizes awarded for guessing that this was to be my 4th consecutive Refusal.  Nor is there a bonus prize for guessing that this was to be my 4th consecutive “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” letter.  Could they really not have issued me with that response within the 20 days allowed for such requests?  Smacks of Game Playing to me.

For anybody who is sufficiently bored or masochistic the response from Dorset Police Professional Standards Department can be found here.

It does look rather familiar, it looks very much like its 3 predecessors in fact.

Now it would be no lie to say that I’m a little pissed off by this.  Not because they won’t tell me what I want to know, although I do believe it to be in the public interest, but because the reasons quoted by all four Forces are hardly appropriate.  In fact, I’ve said it before and I shall say it again, it’s almost as though a corporate response has been drafted by an organisation, let’s call them ACPO shall we?, and all UK forces told “This is your answer if anyone comes sniffing around RIPA”.

So I thought I’d have a closer look at some of their objections and see what public opinion has to say about them.  Maybe I’m just being Crusty and Unreasonable;

By confirming or denying that RIPA applications have been made in instances of police use of social media or email would hinder the prevention or detection of crime and undermine the partnership approach to law enforcement.  Really?  Would confirming/denying really compromise the prevention or detection of crime?  How would it affect the ‘partnership approach’ to law enforcement?

By confirming or denying that any information relevant to the request exists, law enforcement tactics could be compromised which could hinder the prevention and detection of crime and lead to more crime being committed.  Now I truly wouldn’t want to do that, nothing that makes life easier for villainy sits well in my agenda, but is this really true?  Are you folk still serving really unaware of these tactics and be advantaged if I let the cat out of the bag?  Sorry DPS, I truly wouldn’t want to do that.

Section 40(5) – Personal Information
The duty to neither confirm nor deny under this section of the Act arises where the disclosure of the information into the public domain would contravene any of the data protection principles or Section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998 or would do so if the exemptions in Section 33(1) of that Act were disregarded.  Where have I asked for Personal Information?  Questions 1, 3 and 4 simply require a number as their answer.  Question 2 simply requires a schedule of offences.  No Personal Information there DPS, sorry, you’ll have to better than that.

The Police service will not divulge whether information is or is not held if to do so would undermine ongoing investigations or compromise law enforcement. Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and in this case providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively managing the conduct of police officers, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and operations.  I absolutely agree with this answer, and that is why I chose 2011 as the date range for my requests.  Are there really any internal, criminal investigations ongoing which have not been concluded since 2011, maybe it’s time to reassess the priorities and proportionality of these investigations.

As much as there is public interest in knowing that policing activity is appropriate and balanced in matters of police officer conduct, this will only be overridden in exceptional circumstances. The points above highlight the merits of neither confirming or denying the requested data exists. It is appreciated that members of the public will naturally be interested in techniques employed for surveillance. Likewise, we also understand some people believe surveillance (in any form) is used too widely, and therefore an unnecessary intrusion into their privacy.  However, taking into account the fact that the Police Service are already scrutinised as detailed above and effective operational law enforcement would be compromised by any disclosure, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test for confirmation or denial is not made out. As previously mentioned, none of the above can be viewed as an inference that any information does or does not exist.  Technobabble, corporate speak.  Is that REALLY a valid reason to neither Confirm Nor Deny or Refuse the request?  I think not.

At the end of the day the clue is in the name of the Act – FREEDOM of Information.  Be big boys and operate within the spirit of the law, the way it was intended, and let the Public have their information.  It’s not only me that’s being affected, hundreds of little retiredandangrys are out there also trying to find out stuff and getting fobbed off.  It’s not State Secrets that we’re trying to get, IT’S THE TRUTH.

It has not escaped my attention that some paragraphs in the letters from the 4 Forces are absolutely identical, word perfect.  Surely this is an indication that ACPO or the Association of Police Authorities foresaw this happening and colluded in an attempt to prevent the release of this information, thus allowing Police Forces to continue unhindered in what might be questionable behaviour.  We don’t know whether it’s questionable or by-the-book because they won’t tell us.  WHY NOT?

 

If my reader does not feel comfortable making public comment re this blog please feel free to DM me and I will respond by the same medium.

Theresa May’s Belated Christmas Present

So yesterday our revered Home Secretary, Theresa May,  published her plans for the future of Police pay, and what wonderful plans they are.

If I understand it correctly the starting pay for a newly recruited Constable has been cut by £4,000 (or 17%) to £19,000 although PCCs and/or Chief Constables will have the discretion to add on regional payments of up to £3,000 on top, bringing the staring pay up to a maximum of £22,000.

Additionally the £1,000 ‘Grab a Grand’ Competence-Related Threshold payments are to be phased out, as expected, but it’s not all bad news, oh no, you will now get a £15 on-call allowance.

I missed it originally, but according to the Daily Mail, Theresa May’s Christmas Bonus includes this little-reported peach as well “Controversially, if officers work for the Met, but travel in from counties such as Hertfordshire or Cambridgeshire, they may not receive the full entitlement of ‘London weighting’ for the first time”  (Click on text for full article)

Unlike some of our politicians, I don’t live in a bubble, I like to think that I live somewhere close to the real world.  I have read the comments in the press, the Grauniad is a particularly fine source, and it’s fair to say that not all of the great British public are sympathetic with the police over their pay being shafted in such a cruel manner.  Some are positively in favour of pay and allowances being cut.  The main issues which seem to me to be at the root of this lack of sympathy are the obvious ones of Hillsborough, Plebgate etc etc re-quoted ad nauseum as valid reasons why the Police should not be better paid etc.  These incidents will be investigated and hopefully wrong-doers will be dealt with in the appropriate manner.

Let us be quite clear.  I do not support or sympathise with any officer guilty of malpractice of any kind in these oft-quoted incidents, but they are NOT the majority.  The vast majority are good, hard-working, honourable lads and lasses with great integrity.

Anyway, I did a little bit of research to put these latest pay cuts into perspective, and I do not claim that it was extensive research, but anyone who is friends with Mr Google can do the same, and I would be grateful for some info from the Fed or PCS/Unison.

I have no idea what the proposals are (if any) for the starting pay of PCSOs.   Maybe someone can enlighten me, but a quick tour of the interweb reveals that their starting pay is not fixed, it varies from Force to Force.  The figures for PCSO starting pay quoted in the PAT document are £16,551 to £21,780, the latter figure relating to the Met.  There is not a huge difference between £16,551 and £19,000 when one considers the different levels of training and qualifications needed to join as a regular officer.  And then it got a bit worse.

The Met’s own website contains the following information relating to THEIR PCSO salaries

The current annual pay for a PCSO working full time and shifts is:

Basic = £20,894

Shift allowance = £2,612 (12.5%) or £3,134 (15%) or £4,179 (20%)

Location allowance = £3,466 (Zone 1) or £1,883 (Zone 2).

On occasion, you may be required to work overtime. You will have the option of payment at time and a half or, where possible, time off in lieu.

Therefore a PCSO working a 20% shift pattern in Zone 1 (Central London) will start on £28,539.

The other issue that concerns me greatly is CORRUPTION.

I do not want to see our great service go back to the bad old days.   I don’t care what anyone says, I do not believe that any Police Service, including the Met, is riddled with corruption, but it cannot be ignored.  If the government continually chip away at officers’ take-home pay, decreased starting salaries, abolition of competency payments, increased pension contributions etc etc, then I can quite see how corruption might raise it’s ugly head once more.

And make no mistake, the days of your archetypal corrupt officer being the sweaty DS/DI with 25 yrs service and a fag hanging out of the corner of his mouth are gone, long gone.  The profile of the ‘corrupt officer’ has shifted.  Uniformed Constables with less than 5 years service, savvy in IT make up a large slice of a small pie.  There are still not many corrupt officers, of that I am sure, but let’s not put in place a system that encourages more.  I know Theresa May isn’t going to read this blog, and even if she did, she wouldn’t take a blind bit of notice of it because she’s too arrogant (allegedly) to take notice of a humble bloggist, she has highly paid advisers for that.  Let us not forget, however, that in the background MPs are clamouring for a 32% pay RISE.  We still haven’t forgiven them for their expenses scandal, and I’m not even convinced that has gone way yet.

I cannot get my head round the unspeakable arrogance of a government that can slash public services, not just the police, in the manner in which they are and then have the temerity to ask for a 32% increase in their own pay.  They are public servants too are they not?  Maybe they will be reminded of that at the next General Election.  Police Officers have very long memories.

Rant over, carry on.