Who’s Looking After Mike Pannett?

The last (honest) in my mini-series on the perils of Rural Policing features North Yorkshire Police, and the home county of our much-loved and respected Mike Pannett (@MikePannett), author and TV/Radio Celebrity.

North Yorkshire is the biggest rural area in England, so if it needs to be suitably policed.

North Yorkshire consists of 3,209 square miles and contains 798,989 people.  Not quite as large as Dyfed Powys but 1.5 times as many people.

According to the HMIC stats the Force Strength is 3.24 Full Time Equivalent Staff (this figure apparently DOES NOT include Specials like I previously thought it did, but does include everybody else) per 1,000 head of population.

As we’ve seen before Home Office figures often contrast considerably with HMIC figures because the HMIC figures are slanted to make you think that there are more officers looking after your streets than there really are. So what does the Home Office have to say about North Yorks?

In March 2010 North Yorks had a total establishment of 1,486 Full Time Equivalent Police Officers or one officer for every 538 people or 1.88 officers per 1,000 head of population or 1.42 Constables per 1,000 head of population.

In March of this year those HO figures were; a total establishment of 1,370 officers or 1.71 officers per 1,000 head of population and a mere 1.3 Constables per 1,000 head of population. Coincidentally their Target Establishment for 2015 is also 1,370, so they have already achieved that 2 years early.

1.3 Constables per 1,000 head of population. Take away Abstractions, Sickness, Annual Leave, Specialist Duties etc and how many are there left?  I don’t know that figure is not published.

To revise my earlier questions;

  • Is a figure of slightly more than one and a half (or probably LESS) Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Public Safety?
  • Is a figure of slightly more than one and a half (or probably LESS) Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Officer Safety?
  • Why do the Home Office and HMIC use different comparators for illustrating Policing Strengths?
  • Why is it appropriate to include civilian Police Staff in HMIC Policing Strength figures?

I return to my original question, “Who’s Looking After Mike Pannett?” Almost nobody I suspect. You OK there Mike? Don’t worry Mike I’ve forwarded these figures to PASC as yet another example of Police Stat-Fudging. You’ll be OK.

The Loneliness of Another Rural Police Officer

Don’t panic this isn’t going to be a series of all the rural Forces in England and Wales. Having picked on Dyfed Powys and received some quite useful feedback I thought that in the interests of fairness I would pick on another Force and see how the figures for Dyfed Powys stacked up against another Force.

I decided to pick on Avon and Somerset Constabulary for two reasons;

They too have rural officers covering places such as Simonsbath as well as a city, Bristol and largish towns like Minehead, Taunton and Weston Super Mare.

The other reason was their recent achievement of the receiving the Gold Award by Investors in People.  Their Chief Constable has been boasting of this achievement recently. This implies to me that they must be doing something really well.

Avon and Somerset covers a MUCH smaller area than Dyfed Powys, a mere 1,847 square miles, containing a population of 1.6 million individuals (source HMIC).  HMIC quotes the Force strength as 3.15 full-time equivalent staff per 1,000 population.  I note the use of ‘full time equivalent staff‘. I assume this to mean everyone from the Station Cleaner upwards to the Chief Constable.

In March 2010 Avon and Somerset had an establishment of 3,302 Police Officers, or 2.07 officers per 1,000 population, and a Constables Strength of 1.59 per 1,000 population.  Not quite the ‘just over 3’ that HMIC would have you believe is it?

By March 2013 the establishment had dropped to 2,873 or 1.79 officers per 1,000 population and 1.37 Constables per 1,000 population.  The official Avon and Somerset target for 2015 is 2,900, so like Dyfed Powys they have already shed more posts than they needed to.

It’s fair to say that I am dismayed. The two Forces that I have looked at, almost at random, have both shed more posts than they were required to to meet their 2015 ‘austerity’ target. Even more sinister than that is the issue of the Police Strength stats.  Is it just me? Am I being terribly naive?  If someone quotes Policing Strength figures to me I expect that to refer to the number of Police Officers on the books.  Whilst I have the utmost respect for the Station Cleaner and the Canteen Staff is it really right that they should be included in official HMIC figures, giving a completely bloated fiction of how many police officers are available to protect the community?

As a brief, and possibly irrelevant, comparison, the Met currently has 3.71 officers per 1,000 population and 2.84 Constables per 1,000 population, with far fewer rural areas to police, and for Cross Reference purposes Home Office stats show that Dyfed Powys currently has 2.16 Officers per 1,000 population and 1.6 Constables for the same figure.

Maybe I should submit my concerns to Bernard Jenkins’ PASC session looking a Crime Stats. More wholesale ‘fudging’ of figures is my view, with no valid reason other than make the situation look better than it really is.

One more time I find myself saying “Don’t fudge the stats. Good, Bad or Indifferent, tell us the TRUTH

Behind the cynicism are some serious questions;

Is a figure of less than 2 Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Public Safety?

Is a figure of less than 2 Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Officer Safety?

Why have these two Forces (and probably others too) seemingly reduced their official establishments BELOW their 2015 Target Figure?

Why do the Home Office and HMIC use different comparators for illustrating Policing Strengths?

Is this compatible with an Investors in People Gold Accreditation Award?

I’ll happily accept answers in the Comments Section from any ACPO officers who can answer any or all of these questions, thank you.

The Loneliness of the Rural Police Officer

I saw a tweet recently from Mr Christopher Salmon, the PCC for Dyfed Powys Police.

It said “A single officer answers a call in remote mid-Wales, an hour from help. Officers in towns are minutes from backup. That’s the #DPRural test.

An odd Tweet I thought so I responded with two of my own;

Is that because of cutbacks or because your officers are more macho?

and

“What exactly is the #DPRural test please?”

This elicited the following answer;

it’s because #DyfedPowys is a big place.”

A very strange answer I thought, it didn’t really answer my question although maybe Mr Salmon thought he was answering me, but it got me thinking.

Dyfed Powys IS a big place. It covers 4,237 Square Miles.  To Police it they employed 1,195 Police Officers in 2010, by March 2013 this had reduced to 1,112 with a target workforce for 2015 of 1,124. So according to the official Home Office Stats they have already shed more posts than they needed to.  You are welcome to challenge me on this any time Mr Salmon as these are Home Office and HMIC stats, not mine.  Or maybe they’ve been fudged?

4,000+ square miles that contain 514,938 people.  Now I make that ONE Police Officer per 463 people, or 2.2 Police Officers per 1,000 population, which is very much at odds with the HMIC figure of 3.73 per 1,000 head of population.  However if you add on ALL of the Police Staff and the PCSOs and Specials, then you get MUCH closer to the HMIC figure of 3.73, but that’s not really the right picture is it?  Whilst the civilian support staff do an absolutely fantastic job whilst faced with their own peculiar challenges, I remain to be convinced that it’s fair (or indeed good practice) to include their numbers in the Police to Population ratio.

It gets worse.  The figures above are for ALL ranks within Dyfed Powys Police.  In March 2013 the Home Office stats showed that there were 823 Constables and 201 Sergeants. So, IN REALITY, there are only 1,024 Full Time sworn Police Officers (not counting snr officers) to deal with 514,938 people , or one officer per 502 people, or 2 officer per thousand, not nearly 4 as they would have you believe. Add to this that NONE of the officially published statistics show the divide between Uniform and Detectives, there’s nowhere near as many Police Officers out there as they figures would have you believe, and that’s without taking Annual Leave and Sickness into the equation.

Does this indicate that the public are getting a good service?  In fairness it is quite close to the National Average for England and Wales, but in a large rural community is it appropriate?

What about Officer Safety Mr Salmon?  Officers are no use to anyone if they are alone, single-man crewed and presented with a situation which requires that they receive assistance.  Saturday nights for example.  Pub fights, and drunken domestic disturbances. Is Dyfed Powys so well blessed that your officers don’t encounter these problems?  Instead of Tweeting about the #DPRural Test maybe you should DO SOMETHING about it.

I know that you’re a Conservative PCC and that you will toe the Party Line and do whatever Mrs May tells you to. But you have a responsibility for the safety of your Community AND of your officers. Apart from the fact (as far as I’m concerned it’s fact) that two officers working together produce more work than two officers working singly, they each have an element of protection from each other.  As you rightly point out in your strangely worded Tweet Dyfed Powys is a big place and instead of seemingly boasting that your officers can be an hour from help if they need it, maybe you should take into account their safety. I wouldn’t like to see you squandering your diminishing resources defending a legal action because you hadn’t provided a sufficient level of protection for your remote, rural officers. Maybe you have, maybe you’d like to tell me about it, or maybe I should just ask for your Risk Assessment under the Freedom of Information Act..

The Bonus Culture In Public Service

My Flabber was literally Ghasted recently when I read in the News that DWP staff had been paid cash bonuses for basically doing their job.  Approximately £44 Million was shared between about 98% of them

62 people shared £671,000 on top of top salaries adding to a six figure. The average 99,739 staff shared more than £43.8million which comes down to £515 each.

As if that is not enough a huge sum of in-year rewards was handed out in cash and vouchers adding £5.3million

And this from a Department which is in the process of wasting >£100,000,000 due to a defunct IT system for Universal Credit.

Waste money – get a bonus.  I’ll ask again – What is the Bonus Culture doing in the Public Sector?  It’s not even close to healthy in my humble opinion.

But anyway, I digress slightly, this got my old grey cells a-bubbling. “I wonder if my old friends at the Home Office get paid bonuses? They won’t mind me asking will they?”

Dear Home Office, It was reported some time ago that DWP staff had been paid bonuses
from £500 per person upwards.

Do Home Office staff receive bonuses on top of their salaries?

If so

What is the minimum and maximum amount paid out in bonuses?

What percentage of Home Office staff received a bonus in 2012/2013
Financial Year?

What was the total amount paid out in bonuses in Financial Year
2012/2013?

Well, blow me down, I actually got a reply today;

“Bonuses are based on performance levels attained and are made as part of the appraisal process. Bonus payments disclosed in this report for 2012-13 are bonus payments for the 2011-12 performance year which were paid in July 2012. Payments relating to 2012-13 are yet to be finalised.

The assessment and review of performance for senior civil servants is based on individual performance. Individuals were ranked in three performance groups in each pay band

  • Group 1 – top 25% of performers
  • Group 2 – achieving 65% of performers
  • Group 3 – bottom 10% of performers

For the 2011-12 performance year, only Group 1 was eligible for a non-consolidated performance payment. The Senior Salaries Review Board (SSRB) determines the percentage of SCS pay that can be used for nonconsolidated performance payments. Following SSRB recommendations, the Cabinet Office set the guidelines on senior civil service bonuses for all government departments. For the 2011-12 performance year Cabinet Office guidelines allowed for up to 5% of the SCS paybill to be used for these payments. The Home Office paid out 1.2% of the SCS paybill which equates to £280,000.

Bonus payments for the 2011-12 performance year were paid in July 2012. These were up to £10,000 (Pay Band 3); £7,000 (Pay Band 2) and £5,000 (Pay Band 1). The assessment and review of performance for the 2012-13 performance year will be undertaken shortly.”

They also revealed that 40% of Home Office staff had received a cash bonus in 2012/2013 and that 11,672 staff bonuses were paid, totalling £6,524,712

“Please note that staff below the senior civil service can receive more than one bonus in the financial year, for example they can receive an in-year special bonus and an end of year performance bonus. Therefore the number of bonuses paid out is greater than the number of employees who received a bonus”

Well that’s alright then, nowhere near as many bonuses as DWP. Didn’t get all the information I asked for, but at least it wasn’t an outright refusal.

Still don’t know why the Bonus Culture exists in the Public Sector though. Maybe it’s just me.

ConDem – The Government That Just Keeps Giving (And Taking)

In the week when MPs get an 11% pay rise and a brand spanking new pension scheme, (have I mentioned those before?) just so long as they stop claiming for tea and biscuits for the office, we get the disastrous (some may say criminally so) waste of millions/billions of pounds by Government.

I’ve mentioned before the odious Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions and their ridiculous Universal Credit Scheme.  By anybody’s best estimate it is due to WASTE at least £34,000,000 and possibly anything up to £130,000,000 because the IT system won’t work. Back to the Drawing Board there then.

Phillip Hammond’s Ministry of Defence is set to waste £7.4 million because he tried to privatise (that P word again) their procurement system and all but one of the bidders withdrew. I wonder why that could be? Maybe there’s not so much profit in procurement as the private side thought.

This is on top of my old friend “Aircraft Carriers” that I’ve ranted about before.

The Government changed Labour’s plans to buy jump jets. But after delays and more costs emerged, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced a U-turn costing at least £74million, the National Audit Office has revealed.

Margaret Hodge said: “We were supposed to get two aircraft carriers, available from 2016 and 2018, at a cost of £3.65billion. We are now on course to spend £5.5billion and have no aircraft carrier capability for nearly a decade.

“Officials also made incredibly basic errors such as forgetting to include the costs of VAT and inflation.” Now that one’s an absolute classic. I do hope someone got sacked for that.

Hammond’s department was also responsible for a trifling £40,000 bill over the last two years for ringing the Speaking Clock. Speechless.

And then today we get the news that a totally disgraceful £55 BILLION is being wasted through Fraud and Unclaimed Taxes according to the Public Accounts Committee who described this figure as “worryingly high“. The Public Accounts Committee obviously employ masters of understatement amongst their staff.

Total government accounts drawn up by the Treasury show that in 2011-12 some £13.2 billion had to be written off due to fraud and error. Margaret Hodge (again) said: “Taxpayer losses due to fraud and error are worryingly high. It is staggering that, in one year, the public sector was defrauded of over £20 billion and the tax gap rose to £35 billion.”

But it’s OK, we are in times of Austerity. Your pay has been frozen, your pension eroded, but HMG can continue to waster staggering amounts of money and still qualify for an 11% pay rise. When’s the next election? Might just stand, seems like a good number to me.

But one serious question. What could you do with all that money if you added it up and used it for fixing the Police, NHS, Armed Forces. Someone, somewhere wouldn’t be losing their job, folks could have the right kit, we might have a usable aircraft carrier somewhere, hospital waiting times reduced, who knows what you could do with it all. A Bean Counter somewhere could tell us I’m sure.

#AllInThisTogether – The Nitty Gritty

I’ve had ample time to calm down, my beta-blockers have all run out and my on-call psychiatrist has had a nervous breakdown.

I have had time to take in IPSA’s recommendations for the future salaries and pensions for our illustrious politicians.

It contains some absolute corkers in relation to the 11% pay rise and amended pension scheme.

My work here is done, I’ll restrict myself to some lazy quotes from the document, they, after all, can put it far more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

  • It should be modern, transparent, fair, sustainable, and treat MPs as professionals.
  • We have a duty to contribute to restoring confidence in our Parliament and parliamentarians. The package that we have developed seeks to do so: by investing in the future of our Parliament and our democracy; by bringing an end to the peculiarly generous perks of the past; and, crucially, by seeking to help MPs address an issue raised time and again, namely a large majority of the public simply do not know what their MP does.
  • IPSA’s powers to determine MPs’ pay and pensions are set out in the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 and the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. For MPs’ pay, the powers were transferred from Parliament to IPSA in May 2011. The equivalent powers to determine MPs’ pensions were transferred in October 2011.2. This means that decisions on MPs’ pay and pensions are now taken by  IPSA, independently of government and Parliament. Likewise they will be implemented according to a timetable determined by IPSA alone.
  • We recognise that we must answer the question: why do this now? Why do this at a time of austerity, when the British economy is struggling and when household budgets are under such pressure? Our answer is simple, but not glib: the lesson of the last 30 years is that there is never a good time to tackle this question. Wait for the moment when it is politically expedient to address it – when all the stars are aligned – and one would wait a long time, risking a repetition of the sad story of those last 30 years.

THE PACKAGE

  • the scaling down of the generous resettlement payments;
  • a pension on a par with those which will be payable in other parts of the public service;
  • reinforcing the boundary between business costs and expenses on the one hand and pay on the other;
  • annual reporting by MPs on their activities and spending; and finally
  • a salary of £74,000 in 2015, indexed to annual growth in average earnings in the whole economy thereafter.

…….evidence that MPs’ pay has fallen behind since the last review of their
remuneration in 2007. There is a pay gap, a problem to be fixed  And who else might THAT apply to eh?

……..it is not a series of trade-offs between the component parts of the package. Other
public sector workers have not received salary compensation for the reform of their
pensions. Nor should MPs. Well it damn well looks like one

THE PENSION

MPs’ pensions is to move to a CARE
scheme, along the lines of the reformed public service schemes. The main features of
the new scheme are set out below.

  • Defined benefit scheme, based on career average revalued earnings (CARE).
  • Based on a total cost of 22.9% of payroll (in comparison to 32.4% now).
  • Retirement age to be the same as State Pension Age or 65, whichever is the higher.
  • Accrual rate of 1/51st of pensionable salary each year.
  • Revaluation rate equal to the increase in the Consumer Prices Index.
  • MPs pay 40% of the cost of the scheme; the taxpayer 60%, with a ceiling and floor arrangement to ensure stability in contribution rates and to protect the taxpayer from significant increases in cost.
  •  Death in service and survivor pension benefits reduced to the same level as the Ministers’ scheme.
  • Transitional protection for MPs within 10 years of retirement age on 1 April 2013.
  • Some protection available to MPs between 10 and 13.5 years from retirement.

AND FINALLY…

We have identified a number of expenses which arguably should be paid for by MPs
themselves. These include:

  • the food subsidy that can be claimed if Parliament sits after 7.30pm;
  • hospitality (which includes payments for tea and biscuits in the office);
  • hotels taken before 1 am (but not for those MPs who use hotel accommodation only when in London);
  • taxis home if they are taken before 11pm;
  • home contents insurance (for personal possessions); and
  •  installation of a television and the licence for it in a residential property.

Well, that’s alright then, we are all in this together after all, Silly Me. All the government have to do then is have a mass debate, vote and change the two laws referred to above. Simples.

It’s not as though they haven’t done that before is it?

#AllInThisTogether? Like Hell We Are

The Electorate Have A Long Collectiive Memory

Your Day Will Come Camoron

Yesterday was a Thinking Day at Angry Towers, today is more of a Doing Day, so yesterday’s news hasn’t gone away overnight, time to process it.

At first I rushed to my calendar to check that it wasn’t April 1st. Can MPs really be so insensitive as to award themselves an 11% pay rise? My calendar merely confirmed that this was December 2013, mid term for the ConDem Coalition, the government that NOBODY voted for, and YES they really could be that insensitive. Cynical, Contemptuous, Arrogant, Uncaring. These are all alternative words that sprang to my mind.

The more I processed the news the more it sunk in. The government really do think that we, the electorate, are STUPID.

Parliamentary watchdog IPSA is set to recommend a rise of £7,600 to £74,000, to come in after the 2015 election.

IPSA does not need to get the agreement of Parliament to bring in the changes.

The Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has condemned the11% pay rise.

Mr Alexander told Andrew Marr it would be “wholly inappropriate for MPs to get such a large pay rise at a time when every other public sector worker sees their pay rises capped at one per cent”.

And there is the crux of the problem.  If it’s so inappropriate to receive this pay rise, and they really care about the Public Sector and other workers with capped pay rises then why the hell don’t they just decline IPSA’s very kind offer “No Thanks”, there you are, easy wasn’t it?  The proposal by IPSA to award MPs this lavish increase from 2015 at a time of continuing austerity has been disowned by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.

This is the bit I really like:-

Ironically MPs are powerless to prevent IPSA imposing the increase other than to appeal to it to heed public opinion and rethink its plans – or vote to abolish the body.

What a load of bollocks.

The government was ‘powerless’ to change pension Terms and Conditions for existing members of a scheme. I’m sure ALL Police Officers will remember that one. So what happened? Camoron and co changed the law, that’s what happened.

It’s not like MPs even need this pay rise. They’re not the poor hard done-by souls they would have you believe. Yesterday’s Independent included this absolute pearl

MPs' Salaries 1996 to date

MPs’ Salaries 1996 to date

Just compare that to what’s happened to YOUR salaries. How do they compare?

So come on Camoron, show us what you’re REALLY made of and change the law to allow you to decline this generous offer if you truly do oppose it. Failure to do so will merely confirm waht we al;ready know about you, your cronies, and your policies.

A ConDem government, a Force For Good and Fairness to all, or

#SnoutsInTheTrough

#SnoutsInTheTrough

And finally, before I go, I’ll leave you with this thought;

More working households were living in poverty in the UK last year than non-working ones – for the first time, a charity has reported.

Just over half of the 13 million people in poverty – surviving on less than 60% of the national median (middle) income – were from working families, it said.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said low pay and part-time work had prompted an unprecedented fall in living standards.

#AllInThisTogether? or #AllInTheShitTogether?