Places I HaveBeen

Good Day to you Readers.
I thought I’d give you a break from my normal blogs and tell you about some places I have been or would like to go to.
I have been in many places, but I have never been in Cahoots.  Apparently you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone
I’ve never been in Cognito.  I hear no one recognises you there.
I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport, you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.
I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump to get there and I’m not too good on the physical activity any more
I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.
I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.
Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I get older.
One of my favourite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart.  At my age, I need all the stimuli I can get.
I have been in Decisive, but I’m not sure sure how I feel about it there.
I have also been in Ept, but that was a stupid idea.
I love to travel,  however, I never want to be in Continent.

What Dave’s Government REALLY thinks of the Police

Yesterday Gideon revealed to the world his 2013 Spending Review. I’ll keep it brief, I won’t go through it item by item, we’d all lose the will to live.  The Headline Figure for me was that “Police Budget will be cut by less than 6%”.  We’ve heard since that the actual figure will be 4.9%.  This on top of the 20% already announced and being suffered by many.  Where exactly will these savings come from in a resource that’s already been cut to the bone and beyond?

In his response to Gideon’s speech Ed Balls informed us that Police and Crime Commissioners are costing the country more than the Police Authorities that they replaced.  This is something that I had long-since suspected but had not heard quoted before.  So I did some digging.

More than a third of police and crime commissioners are already costing the public more than the police authorities they were elected to replace last November, according to parliamentary research.

The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee says six months after their election, 17 out of the 41 PCCs have set budgets higher than the police authorities they replaced. The largest increase so far is a rise of 133% in Hampshire where the police authority budget of £1.5m last year has risen to £3.5m this year.

The report noted large differences in the size of staff and the additional roles created.

The report said the PCCs were reporting their costs in different ways, which made direct comparisons difficult.

It also noted significant differences in the size of the PCC offices – the Greater Manchester PCC employs 45 people while Northumbria PCC employs four.

Keith Vaz, the Home Affairs Committee chairman, said the survey showed a national register for PCCs was vital for local accountability despite the idea having been rejected by the home secretary, Theresa May.

He said there was an urgent need to guard against “maverick decision-making” by PCCs, citing the examples of the suspension of the Lincolnshire chief constable, controversial appointments such as the “youth PCC” in Kent, and commissioners with second, third and even fourth jobs.

So much for budget cuts eh?

And if this isn’t bad enough, on the very same day that Gideon outlined his 4.9% slash of Police Budgets it was announced (quite separately obviously) that HS2, the High Speed rail link that seemingly nobody but the coalition actually wants, is likely to cost £10 BILLION MORE than previously estimated.

What could you do with £10 Billion?  How many cuts would be necessary with £10 Billion?  How many cuts could be saved if PCCs were not so expensive?  It’s relatively small amounts of money but it’s the principle that counts. We are all in this together after all.

I have blogged before on government wastage. Just go over to the Big Picture and search on ‘wastage’ if you want to read the articles, I won’t bore you here.

But at least we know what  the government really thinks of the Police, Armed Forces, NHS etc etc.  A bloody train line is more important.

Enjoy your cornflakes, rant over for now.

A One Man Think Tank

I don’t often recirculate old blogs, but I do occasionally, and today is one of those days.

Conversations on Twitter over the last week or so put me in mind of this blog ‘ere.

Most folk are of the opinion (possibly correct but possibly not) that they can’t do anything about the situation that we, the country, find ourselves in, after the actions of a despicable, arrogant coalition government who were elected by ……………erm ……nobody.  Did you vote for a coalition? I didn’t.

As somebody much wiser than I once said “A journey of a thousand miles begins in another man’s shoes” or something like that.

I am like a one-man think tank. I have ideas. Some may be good, some may be crap, some may be awful, that’s the way it goes. Policy Exchange for One.  They seem to be able to shape or influence government policy so I thought I’d have a go at it myself. I am not in a position to get anything done. I can’t really influence change, not by myself.

You may not think that we need to change anything, and that is clearly your right. You don’t have to change anything just coz I says so. But if you do want to change something, and, unless we are in a total dick tatership, we should be able to influence change, think on this.

Think about yourself for a mo.

If you are a Police Officer you will have access to a Federation Rep, or you might even be one.

If you belong to to one of the other Public Services that are threatened by this destructive, privatising government who pray nightly to the god of outsourcing you will have access to a Shop Steward, but that might mean that have to join the Union first.

I’m not quite sure how the Armed Forces work but I’m equally certain that you will have access to someone, I just don’t know who that someone is.

The Police Federation are not going to win this fight on their own.

Unison and PCS are not going to win this fight on their own.

The Armed Forces and the Coastguard Service are not going to win this fight on their own.

Why not reverse Divide and Conquer?  Unity is Strength.

I’m sure thousands of well meaning Police Officers and other Public Servants will shudder at the prospect, but just think how much ‘power’ can be wielded by all of these bodies working TOGETHER against the common enemy.

Before I’m carted off to the Tower and locked up for Treason or Subversion I must emphasise that I am not asking a single one of you to do something unlawful/unethical or immoral.  I believe I’m right in thinking that the Met Police Federation had a #DoItRight campaign, which would be something similar to a Work to Rule policy I guess.  They’re a right royal pain in the arse to follow but they tend to work. Take the Goodwill out of the equation and each and every one perform their duties just the way they are meant to be carried out.

The point is soon  made.

Joint rallies would potentially bring 100 of thousands onto the streets. I deliberately haven’t mentioned the word ‘strike’ that’s not what I’m about.

Please think about this seriously. We must be able to achieve something if we all pull TOGETHER.  A quick look at my blog 2015 will give you an idea of the scale of the problem.  I was recently described as a joiner up of the dots.  Well I’m going to try Painting By Numbers now. The government don’t really want you to join up the dots, they don’t want you to see the Big Picture.  By joining up the dots or painting the picture the scale of this government’s excesses becomes much clearer and that’s exactly what they don’t want you to see. To give them the benefit of the doubt one could describe it as young, inexperienced politicians being swept away by the power they suddenly find that has been vested in them.  On they other hand it could just be #SnoutsInTheTrough.

There you go, a relatively short blog today, but a blog from the heart of a one-man think tank.

Our Well-Respected Peers of the Realm

Is it just me who thinks that Peers of the Realm should be above reproach?  Should they not lead lives, personal and professional, devoid of controversy, ethical and moral. Upright citizens, a role model to us all?  Isn’t that how it should be? Except for Lord Prescott who is a roll model.

And then I saw this Tweet;

@TimesCrime  Lord Reid, former Home Sec, has joined the board of the crome and security consultancy @crestadvisory

I haven’t got a clue what crome refers to, but I know about Crest Advisory.

According to their own bio on Twitter;

Crest Advisory provides robust, independent advice to PCCs, criminal justice agencies, professionals and the security sector.

And that is the beginning of my problem.

Robust, independent advice to PCCs, that’s where it all starts to unravel in my tiny mind.

John Reid, Director, G4S Regional Management (UK & Ireland) Limited
John Reid, or Lord Reid of Cardowan, as he prefers to be known, joined G4S in 2009, having previously been Tony Blair’s Home Secretary and Secretaries of State for Health and Defence. The £50,000 a year it is giving the New Labour hard man quickly paid off for G4S as it landed a multi-million pound, four-year contract to supply private security guards for around 200 Ministry of Defence and military sites across the UK just three months after it took him on. Since then he has been diligent in ensuring the hi-tech security used by his employers is a feature of parliamentary debates whenever possible.

Also involved in G4S is one Lord Condon;

Paul Condon, Senior independent director, Non-executive director Ex-copper Condon, now Lord Condon to his friends, has earned his G4S stripes with the company’s move into policing. The former Chief Constable of Kent and Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police‘s advice and contact book will have been the subject of Buckles and co.’s attention recently. Condon has also worked at the British Security Industry Association and the International Cricket Council‘s anti-corruption unit. According to the G4S annual report, he has a “particular focus on the group’s involvement with sporting events” for the company. And if the potential for conflicts of interest weren’t already strong enough, in addition to the G4S grind, Condon currently spends his time as an advisory board member of Vidient Systems, a provider of “video analysis solutions for security, safety, and business intelligence applications” and is the Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Kent.

G4S earnings: £125,000 a year.
Shares: 2,000

So, what do you, my reader, reckon?  Are PCCs likely to get robust, independent advice from Crest Advisory?

Another, less well advertised, appointment to Crest Advisory was this one;

We are delighted that Gordon Scobbie joins us as Associate today. Over the past few months clients have been asking us about how to use social media and technology to connect with the communities they serve. Gordon has joined us to bring the expertise we need to help clients make this connection. Gordon is an experienced leader and innovator with almost 33 years of experience in policing, criminal justice and partnership working.  He has a strong track record of delivering performance in operational and executive roles, supported by an academic background at Masters level and a career long commitment to continuous professional development. He has a passion for leadership, as well as a commitment to developing others through coaching, mentoring and acting as a supportive role model. He has been an innovator throughout his career, recently holding two national portfolios in policing at the executive level where innovation is pivotal to delivering successful outcomes.  Since 2009 Gordon has been the national police executive lead for social media and digital engagement as well as sitting on the ACPO ‘Policing Futures’ Board, with a particular focus on technology and innovation in policing.

Gordon Scobbie should be quite well known to most Twitter users reading this post.

Crest Advisory is the business of one Gavin Lockhart-Mirams.

Never heard of him? Neither had I.

Crest was established in 2011 by Gavin Lockhart-Mirams, who was a special adviser on home affairs to David Cameron in Downing Street for the first year of the Coalition government, though he was usually known then as plain Gavin Lockhart.

Before that, from 2009 to 2010,  Lockhart-Mirams was “the Conservative Party’s in-house expert responsible for supporting the development of the criminal justice reform programme”.

And further back, from 2006-2009, he worked for Policy Exchange, the think tank which was largely responsible for the PCC policy, where he was head of the Crime and Justice Unit.

From Policy Exchange to Conservative HQ, to Downing Street, and now private consultancy, all within four years.

I’ll ask again, Are PCCs likely to get robust, independent advice from Crest Advisory?  I have absolutely no idea. I hope they do, but fear that they might not. There are some very familiar names above, but not necessarily in the context we expect.

Crime Recording – The Angry Perspective

In February 2013, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent (the Commissioner) commissioned Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct an inspection “to determine whether the people of Kent can have confidence in Kent Police’s crime figures.  This followed an internal review by Kent Police focusing on crime detections and performance culture.
To answer this question, HMIC reviewed the force‟s practices at every stage of the crime-recording process, from the point at which a member of the public calls the police, to the final resolution (or „disposal‟) of the crime (for instance, through a caution or penalty notice for disorder).

The above is a direct lift from the Executive Summary of the HMIC Report entitled

Crime Recording in Kent

A report commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent

My first question would be “What constitutes an Inspection?”  Was this a far-reaching Review, or an Audit?

My second question would be “Was it Necessary?” Followed rapidly by “Did it provide good Value for Money?”

My final question would likely be”Why on earth did they not do this in-house for next to no money at all?” If Ms Barnes was worried about independence, transparency and credibility then she could have requested a Review or Audit from another Force (sorry, Service).

I must remind you, my reader, that it is almost 11 years since I retired from the Metrolopitan Police Farce (sorry, Service) only to be swallowed up by the MPA for 3 years, so my knowledge of current procedures ranges from rusty to non-existent, so please forgive me.

When I last served on Borough one of the tasks we were given each month was an Ethical Audit of CRIS, the Met’s Crime Reporting and Information System.  At first I simply regarded this as just one more chore to be carried out. A program had been written by some geeky Sergeant at Stoke Newington, floppy discs (remember them?) were circulated containing a program to be run on the Crime Analyst’s desktop and the results were written direct to the same floppy disc which was subsequently returned to the same geeky Sergeant and forgotten about till next month.  Until the DCI appeared one day asking questions about some issues highlighted by the audit.  Yes, he had been Memo’ed!!

Sitting down with him to answer the points in his ‘Memo’ it became clear what this program that we had to run actually did.  It interrogated the CRIS system between dates and highlighted crimes such as;

  • Classified Common Assault with victim suffering Serious Injury
  • Classified Criminal Damage to a building with a Point of Entry recorded
  • Classified as Theft (Person) with victim suffering use of Force
  • Crimes classified No Crime and then reclassified as a Crime after the end of the month

I could go on, I’m sure you get the point.

My point is this, I have never been in favour of manipulating the stats, good, bad or indifferent they should be reported accurately.  Manipulation of the figures, or indeed, genuine human error,  soon came to light and was highlighted to the DCI in a ‘Memo;’.  To do this took about an hour or 2 per month, not exactly time consuming or ‘resource intensive‘.

I’m not aware of any Force (Service) that still records crimes on paper and issues their staff with the prized ‘binder winder’ any more, so any computer system can be interrogated easily and electronically by another program, you just have to get someone to design and write it.

When I worked for the MPA I was employed as a Forensic Auditor within the Internal Audit Directorate. Sounds posher than it was.  Forensic Auditors made up about a quarter of Internal Audit, with the rest being formed of Systems Auditors and Analysts.  There wasn’t very much that happened within a Police Force (sorry, Service) that we couldn’t audit/investigate. CRIS would have been a breeze.

Maybe other Forces don’t have the luxury of having a dedicated Internal Audit department and they (ouch) Outsource that function as and when they require it (and they will require it eventually) and it’s an expensive function to outsource.  Maybe the PCCs should consider pooling their resources and having Internal Auditors to service 3 or so adjoining Forces.   Forensic Auditors are indeed a luxury but our office ALWAYS saved or recovered more money than we cost every year. We were no strangers to the High Court seeking recovery of monies fraudulently claimed from the Met (not allegedly, we also obtained criminal convictions first).

Systems and Forensic Auditors working together and their analysts could keep on top of any system such as Crime Recording, and many more, cheaply, efficiently and within the control of the host Force, no commissioning of HMIC to carry out an ‘Inspection’. After all, an Inspection can simply mean ‘have a quick look at’.

Head honcho auditors then write annual reports on the systems they have audited and the Force and Public can both have a measurable degree of confidence that things are either Ticketyboo, or steps are in place to remedy the problems which have been highlighted.

With a system such as this across England and Wales, surely the Public at large can once again have confidence in the crime figures that are released and form their own, reasonable, impressions about the state of criminal activity in this country? It would also be quite helpful if the Home Office didn’t keep redefining the Counting Rules according to who is in power and what their agenda is.

Here endeth the Angry Perspective

Room 101

Room 101 means many things to many people but normally it comes down to a choice of two common meanings;

1. Room 101 is a place introduced in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. It is a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love in which the Party attempts to subject a prisoner to his or her own worst nightmare, fear or phobia. The novel’s popularity has resulted in the term “Room 101” being used to represent a place where unpleasant things are done, like the Home Office perhaps?

2. Room 101 is a BBC comedy television series based on the radio series of the same name, in which celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates and persuade the host to consign them to a fate worse than death in Room 101, named after the torture room in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is itself named after a meeting room in Broadcasting House where Orwell would sit through tedious meetings

I have to say that I quite like the TV show and was reminded of it recently by a conversation on Twitter.

So let’s play a quick game of Room 101;

“Contestant 1, what would you like to send to Room 101?”

“Police Reform. David Camoron told Theresa May who told Tom Winsor what Police Reform should look like. Tom Winsor then wrote two large books on the subject, changed absolutely everything that makes the British Police the finest in the world. Some of his research appears dubious at best, he wants officers to work longer, pay more into their pension schemes and get less out of them. He wants to be able to make them redundant but not give them the Right to Strike, for example. On top of all this he wants Inspectors and Superintendents to be ale to join the Police and take charge of their units without ever having been anywhere near a Police Force ever before. None of this makes any sense and for those reasons I want to send Police Reform to Room 101.”

“Thank you Contestant 1, now Contestant 2, what do you want to send to Room 101?”

“Thank you, Police and Crime Commissioners. What are they about? Do they work? Does anyone actually understand them and want one? They were imposed on the people by a draconian government with no explanation as to how they would work. No-one understood them, even fewer voted for them, yet we have them, how does that work? And then they all seem to appoint their chums as their ‘assistants’ at huge public expense, buy new offices, cars, chauffeurs and we’re no better off than we were with Police Authorities. For these reasons Police and Crime Commissioners should go into Room 101.”

“Thank you for that Contestant 2, a contender if ever I heard one, now Hello Contestant 3, what would you like to send into Room 101?”

“I’m obliged. I would like to send Social Media 101 into Room 101.”

“Why’s that?”

“Social Media 101 was the most recent, and last, event in a series of events organised by the College of Policing. It addressed the issue of use of Social Media and was apparently held at the Home Secretary’s fortress in London. It was organised by Nick Keane and sought to address the disparity between Forces in their Social Media policies (if they even exist). Several speakers came and went over the course of the day, some were presumably better than others, but what did the day recommend?  Where are the recommendations for our colleagues to follow? What has been decided. In my opinion a common policy covering ALL the forces in England and Wales which every single officer is aware of.  Publishing something in a few months time (or longer) is simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Our colleagues are dropping into the deep and murky stuff NOW. Not because they are flouting the rules but because it is as clear as fog what the rules are where. #Flumpy is alive and well, a potentially important opportunity has possibly been wasted, and for this reason I want Social Media 101 to be put into Room 101.”

“Well I’ve listened carefully and now I have to decide which, if any, of your suggestions will make it into Room 101. You’ve all made good arguments for your case, I couldn’t really disagree with any of them, and for this reason I will take the extraordinary step of allowing them ALL into Room 101. Thank you all and goodnight”