To Pleb Or Not To Pleb? That Is The Question

Make no mistake, this bad been a very bad week for the Police Service. A Weekus Horribilis.

Like, I suspect, most of you I have absolutely no idea what the truth of the Plebgate matter is, but I also suspect that we haven’t heard it yet.

In my last post here I expressed my views on Deborah Glass’ ill-judged (or possibly deliberate) comments on the West Mercia investigation and I won’t repeat them today.

Since I wrote that piece three more things have come to my attention which may have no significance at all, or may just muddy the waters further.

1)  Our good old friends the Mail published this nice little paragraph “Theresa May last night called on a chief constable to apologise after an explosive report suggested senior officers had lied to blacken the name of former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell.”  Were the three Federation Representatives really “Senior Officers” One is an Inspector, at least one a Sergeant I believe, and not sure about the third.  They sure as hell weren’t what I would call Senior Officers or they wouldn’t be in the Fed (Ch Inspectors maybe).  An attempt by Cruella to make it sound even worse? Or just my imagination running amok again?.

2)  I read in the Huffington Post, a most reliable publication I’m sure, that Michael Portillo no less claims that he has heard Andrew Mitchell MP use the word Pleb in a private conversation, but he did not believe it was something the former chief whip would have said in public.

Well that made me sit up and take notice.  After all his protestations maybe it IS a word he might have used. Doubt now enters the equation, but who will get the benefit of it?

3)  Yesterday our allies at the BBC waded into the debate and published an article in which Portillo claims that he ‘Misspoke” in his previous comments. Who on earth uses that word?

“In a live discussion on the BBC’s This Week, Mr Portillo revealed: “I have heard him use that word in private conversation – the pleb word, I mean.”

But he now says he got “carried away”.

Pressed on the This Week programme on Thursday about whether he had heard Mr Mitchell use the word, Mr Portillo said: “I think I did, but not in a bad context.

“Some policeman thought: ‘Ah, that’s a word that people will believe that Andrew Mitchell might have used.’

“But he wouldn’t have used it in that context.”

On Friday, the former Conservative cabinet minister added: “I seem to have misspoken. I had no right to say that.

“I think I got carried away in the heat of the moment. I did not mean to say it and I want to withdraw it.””

To me, Portillo has always come across as Mr Calm and Composed. Is he really the type of man to have got carried away in the heat of the moment in a live TV debate? He’s always on our screens FFS, you can’t get away from him.

Or are these the words of a man who has been got to by the Tory machine and ebgaging ina bit of Damage Limitation, and trying to unsay the said?

All I know for sure that this has developed into one of the most important eras for Policing in general and 4 Police Forces in particular.

The arrogant twats won’t back off, Mitchell steadfastly refuses to enlighten us what he did actually say apart from agreeing to one use of the F word, and every man and his dog seems intent on besmirching the reputation of a once proud service.  I for one refuse to believe in a Federation Conspiracy, that would be brave, foolhardy, and totally corrupt.

Hard-hitting politicos have been bashing the Police for years now and I absolutely dread to think what Camoron’s final solution will be.  I fear greatly for the future of the Police Service and if there has indeed been a conspiracy, who orchestrated it. The Police? The Federation? Or the Tories?

Enjoy your weekend, I’m sure there’s more to come out yet.

And the answer to one person on Twatter is “Yes, I am bored of #Plebgate too, but somehow that seems to be the point. The Government and their shady allies seem to keep coming up with ways to keep it in the public eye, so that we will get bored with it, and maybe they’re hoping that any sympathies might shift away from the Police Service as the boredom factor grows.”

People in Glass Houses – Remember That

People in Glass Houses really shouldn’t.

I wasn’t going to write about this sorry saga, I’m sure numerous other people will have done so already, but it got the better of me.

This is, of course, the story of the now infamous meeting between 3 Police Federation Representatives and foul-mouthed Andrew Mitchell MP.

As a direct result of this meeting West Mercia Police conducted a disciplinary investigation into the conduct of the three Federation reps.  It has been stated that West Mercia Police referred the investigation to the IPCC, who declined to investigate it, but made a decision to ‘Supervise’ the West Mercia disciplinary investigation.  To the best of my knowledge that is exactly what happened.

After conducting what I assume was a thorough investigation into the conduct of the 3 officers West Mercia Police announced that there was no evidence of Misconduct or Gross Misconduct on the part of the 3 Fed Reps.  That really should have been the end of it, but oh no, Deborah Glass, Deputy Chair of the IPCC and IPCC Commissioner for the LONDON area, decided that wasn’t good enough.

For some really obscure reason she has publicly stated that the West Mercia investigation, whilst carried out to her apparent satisfaction appears to have reached the wrong findings. She says that three Police Federation officials may have given a “deliberately misleading” account of a meeting with the Conservative MP, who has always denied calling officers in Downing Street “plebs.” and ”the evidence indicates an issue of honesty and integrity.”. Her organisation, the IPCC Supervised this enquiry from start to finish, and now she comes out and says something like that.  The I in IPCC stands for Independent, Really?

It truly doesn’t say much for the credibility and ability of the IPCC if she can go all loose cannon on us and come out with a statement like that which surely reflects as much on the IPCC as it does West Mercia Police.

Then, our revered Home Secretary, Theresa May, bundled into the arguement saying things like “she felt that disciplinary proceedings should have been taken against the Police Federation officers.” and “the IPCC’s report “made troubling reading”.

At the end of the day Andrew Mitchell has NEVER made a complainst against any Police Officers in relation to this matter.

Despite claims to the contrary, whilst he has been vociferous in denying what he was attributed as saying, he has not yet publicly stated what he DID say, although he maintains that he has a clear memory of what he said.

I can only conclude that this is another chapter in the ongoing war between the Government and the Police. The IPCC have chosen their side and stand alongside Andrew Mitchell and Theresa May.

As @OldBill_43 put it yesterday “I have had court cases resulting in acquittals. Would it be OK to issue press releases stating how convinced I am of their guilt?”

If this is British Justice at it’s best, Guity when found Innocent, then I fear for the future of our country.

Definitive video shows Plebgate should not damage confidence in police

The CCTV that Channel 4 used appears to have had the time stamp tampered with on at least one of the tapes;
The odious Mitchell has never told us what he DID say, only what he claims he didn’t say;
He has yet to make any formal complaint against the officers concerned.
So how on earth does he have any credibility. All I actually want is for the TRUTH to come out, whatever that truth is.

The SKWAWKBOX

The Chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, is quoted in today’s Sunday Telegraph and on BBC News as saying that

Public confidence in the police has been shaken after failures over the way officers responded to the Hillsborough disaster, and new disclosures over the “Plebgate” controversy

and calling for a public inquiry into policing.

Nobody can question that the Hillsborough disaster was a catastrophe for those affected by it, or that it cast the South Yorkshire police of the time in a very grim light. But to put that tragedy – which happened over 2 decades ago – alongside ‘disclosures over the “Plebgate” controversy” in order to describe public confidence in the police as ‘shaken’ is to give the supposed ‘disclosures’, by former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and his supporters via Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ programme, a weight and credence that they simply do not deserve.

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Dad’s Army or Only Fools and Horses?

What’s your comedy of choice?

Mine is this one.

Bill Longmore, West Mercia PCC

Bill Longmore, West Mercia PCC

This is the story of Bill Longmore, PCC for West Mercia Police.  Naively I thought that when PCCs came into existence that would be the last we heard of the old Police Authorities.  But in West Mercia, not so.  The Chief Executive of West Mercia Police Authority, David Brierley, was apparently retained as some kind of assistant to Bill Longmore, newly appointed PCC.  His official title seemed to be Chief Executive PCC Office, whatever the hell that means.  Well he’s retiring next March so you might think that would be an end to all this nonsense, but you’d be wrong.

Mr Longmore has decided to advertise for a replacement, to find someone to look after his office in Shrewsbury. The post has a pay scale typical of an Assistant Chief Constable which, based on national figures, is between £88,000 to £103,000.

BUT, the PCC’s website says this;

“The salary for West Mercia’s  Police and Crime Commissioner is £75,000 per annum.  This salary was set nationally by the Home Secretary on recommendation from the Senior Salary Review Body. The Police and Crime Commissioner has fixed his Deputy’s salary at £50,000 per annum.”

So don’t ask me why this mythical beast, the PCC Chief Executive Office, commands a salary higher than both the PCC and his Deputy. I haven’t a clue.

The person appointed to the role will be responsible for leading staff within the office of the commissioner, providing advice to the commissioner in the development and implementation of the Police and Crime Plan and statutory obligations as well as to ensure the office meets its duties.

They will also be required to maintain and develop a strong working relationship with West Mercia Police and partners, particularly Warwickshire Police, and they might even have to work unpaid at weekends and in the evenings!!

In West Mercia at least, it seems that the advent of PCCs has done little to reduce costs as they’ve retained the high-earners from the old Police Authority that they replaced. I fully understand that the PCC needs staff, does he/she REALLY need the services of the old Chief Exec, who, after all, would have been the single highest earner on the Police Authority?

The Office of the PCC comprises the PCC (Bill Longmore) and his Deputy (Barrie Sheldon) together with the employed staff shown below:

  •         Chief Executive*
  •        Chief Finance Officer *
  •        Deputy Finance Officer
  •        Criminal Justice Manager (seconded post)
  •        CJM secretarial services (seconded post)
  •        Media services (external service level agreement)
  •        Policy Officers (3)
  •        Administration (2)
  •        PA to PCC (vacant and under review)

* these are mandatory posts

Click here  to view an organisation structure chart for the Commissioner’s office – West Mercia

On election, Commissioners inherited the administrative staff which supported the old Police Authorities.

I’m sorely tempted to do one of two things;

Fire off a Freedom of Information request to West Mercia PCC asking for comparable costs, PCC vs Police Authority

Apply for the job, Shrewsbury’s only half an hour away after all.

Sod it, maybe I’ll do both

“Dear West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner,

Could you please tell me

a) The total cost per annum of running the PCC system for your
Force, i.e. the total of salaries and expenses of you (the PCC) and
all of your directly related staff (not Police Officers or Civilian
employees of the Police Service)

b) In the last year of their existence the total cost of the
West Mercia Police Authority.

In other words, in a direct comparison, which system was is/was
cheaper PCc or Police Authority?”

One down, just the job application to go

G4S, Brewery, Pissup

Well it doesn’t seem like they can.

If my interpretation of today’s news is correct HM Inspectors have absolutely slated G4S’ running of HMP Oakwood. It’s a nice, modern building,  not a Pentonville or a Brixton, but is still a shambles.

Attention-grabbing headlines include “It’s easier to get drugs than soap”, “Prisoners could not get a toilet roll”

On this evenings Regional News I even heard G4S’ running of the prison branded a disgrace!!

So the company that failed so spectacularly and publicly at the Olympic Games last year, and then found itself facing a criminal investigation for alleged fraud in a government contract has now seemingly failed again.

And apparently it’s still OK for them to bid for more, new government contracts cos Chris Grayling said it was OK.

It wasn’t so very long ago that this company was a firm favourite to benefit from some Police Service outsourcing. James P warned us all about that and look what happened to him, but what if he was right?

Does this company really have the appearance of a fit and proper company to be involved in any aspect of the Police/Judicial/Penal function? I don’t know the answer to that but I have my own opinion.  It’s just a shame that nobody who matters wants to hear it.

If we must have a British FBI…

Nicely put, half-arsed, I like that

forthedefence

It would seem that there is a national need for a national police force. Whatever that need is, I have never really understood.

I personally don’t understand how we can have a new National Crime Agency without a Royal Commission on Policing or similar. Apparently, it’s more than rebranding SOCA, apparently it’s a new way we do national policing.

I’m sorry, it feels half arsed to me. In short, SOCA has been rebranded, CEOP (a good agency) has been subsumed and the troubled bits of the UKBA has been absorbed into the National Crime Agency.

And it’s clear that the Coalition have a brand in mind. They want the ‘NCA’ to be the British FBI. That’s clearly the brief which has been given to the media.

I pause at this stage and note, there’s nothing terribly ‘federal’ about the NCA. It’s got no powers to institute proceedings Scotland and only…

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Policing on the Cheap

I would like to begin by wishing my reader a very happy Friday and to assure him/her that this is going to be a short blogpost to finish off the week.

You don’t need me to tell you that England and Wales are being Policed on the cheap.

You can see the Police Stations with For Sale boards outside, you can see the Police cars, no longer maintained regardless of cost, now looking a little shabby on too many occasions. When did you last see a Police Horse, Police Dogs seem to be an endangered species, but I can’t begin to imagine why, and too many helicopter services have been merged or ‘rationalised’.

You might be thinking “I don’t seem to see so many Bobbies on the beat these days” or “It takes the Police much longer to respond to my call these days”. Well maybe this is why;

Specials v ConstablesClick on Image above to enlarge

What can’t speak can’t lie, since 2009/10 numbers of Regular Constables has been falling and coincidentally the number of Specials has been rising.  Proof, if any were needed that Cruella intends to Police this country on the cheap, oblivious to all of the associated risks.

Will the last one out please turn off the lights.