Are the Police Being Politicised? – The Results Are In

A little while ago I wrote a blog about the Dyfed Powys PCC and some of the claims that he had made on at least two websites that he was associated with.  Maybe I should point out that neither of these websites was the official PCC website, one was his own blog and the other Conservativehome, maybe that’s significant, I don’t know.

I took exception to some of the things he stated and sent off a few Freedom of Information requests to see if his claims really held water. I won’t bore you with most of them, but you can read them here if you want to.

One of the four proved to be a little more of a stickier than the rest, and that was ‘Training’.

To avoid being accused of fudging the issue and other things I’ll confine myself to direct quotes to get my point across, I hope you will understand and forgive me.

In his own blog Mr Salmon said  “I have removed all targets from my police force. We have spent millions training the police to cut crime. They know how to do it. Why then tie them to their desks filling in paperwork?”

In the Conservativehome website this is slightly reworded as “I have removed all targets from my police force. The police know their job is to cut crime. We have spent millions training them to do it. Why then tie them to their desks filling in paperwork?”

We have spent millions training them how to cut crime. Not much room for confusion there surely? Mr Salmon and Dyfed Powys Police have spent millions of pounds training their officers how to cut crime? Is that a reasonable interpretation?

So I put it to the test, I fired off an #FOI request to the office of the Dyfed Powys PCC and asked two simple questions;

a) in 2012/13 How much money was spent in total training Police Officers to cut or reduce crime;

b) What innovative training, or training unique to your Force, have you personally introduced since you became the PCC?

In relation to b) I got the following response ” I can confirm that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner does hold this information.

Although the Commissioner has overall responsibility for Dyfed-Powys Police, he has not personally introduced any training. Dyfed-Powys Police Force owns the training plan for the organisation.”   So, no innovative or unique crime reduction training introduced by the PCC? Fair?

a) got far more complicated.

“a)   I can confirm that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys does not hold information in relation to how much money was spent in training Police Officers in 2012/13. This information will be with Dyfed-Powys Police Force.”  So, the PCC’s office doesn’t actually KNOW how how much money was spent training officers in Crime Reduction. Does that seem like a reasonable interpretation?

The helpful staff at the PCC’s office then offered to transfer the request over to Dyfed Powys Police for them to answer it. Very nice of them I thought.

Yesterday they replied;

“‘All corporate training provided by Dyfed-Powys Police to Police Officers within the force is focused on force priorities to reduce crime and protect our communities’. However there is no specific breakdown of cost in relation to training police officers to cut or reduce crime.”

So, I think I have to conclude that Mr Salmon’s claims to have spent millions training the police how to reduce crime was a little naughty. Neither his own office nor Dyfed Powys Police actually knows how much money is spent on Crime Reduction Training.

Mr Salmon has been criticised and accused elsewhere of politicising the police. On the basis of my #FOI results I would have to agree. In Dyfed Powys at least their PCC seems quite happy to make political claims that maybe don’t quite stack up under scrutiny.

I see that the Dyfed Powys PCC is currently advertising a couple of Volunteer opportunities. I did consider applying for one of them, the dog section vacancy appealed to me, but I’m pretty sure I’d get paper-sifted now, and I don’t see me as a Custody Visitor really. But if Mr Salmon wants to contact me and offer me a volunteering opportunity with the Dog Section I’m sure I’d make a good Animal Welfare Lay Visitor.

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4 thoughts on “Are the Police Being Politicised? – The Results Are In

  1. Policing has always been politicised, there has not been a ‘golden age’ in our recent post-1945 history where politics was not involved. Now whether politics and politicians intervened in ‘operational matters’ is of course loudly denied, but one suspects they did. I do not refer to operational policy around a national event such as the Miners Strike, but local and sometimes individual decisions.

    The PCC concept is in my opinion rests on a “leap of faith” as to their effectiveness – some of which is now clearer – and partly reflected in the criticism of the Stevens Report. I have my doubts that the actual design and detailed procedures around them enable the elected PCC to be effective. They are in a “no win” situation. Whatever changes they do make are peripheral to the public’s concerns, although some like ending police custody for the mental ill are very welcome.

    Do they hold their police via the Chief Constable to account? That maybe largely dependent on the relationships established and their determination where the small discretionary amounts in the PCC’s budget will be spent. I have yet to see much substantive evidence they do. In the West Midlands there has one major policy decision on business partnerships and a very minor one on how PSD presents its results. Have planned police station closures been stopped? No. Are more police officers on neighbourhood duties? No, as they are doing more response work.

    This being the ‘media age’, reinforced by the ostensible ‘demands’ of social media, the PCC’s appear to be falling into the easy virtues of public relations. Hence the cited statements of your PCC on other websites than his own. See the COPACC report on PCC & police use of Twitter & Facebook: http://copacc.org.uk/compare-pccs/

    Now we don’t know if a labour government will retain the role of the PCC. Even if they are the next government, as polling suggests, will police governance be a legislative priority? More of the same, with a stronger emphasis on neighbourhoods and partnership – with no extra money. Will local PCC’s of another persuasion be robust in saying no?

    .

    • Thank you for your contribution David. I don’t know very much about the West Midlands Force/PCC as it’s not my local one, but I do know that the West Midlands PCC fully supports the decision to kick A19 into touch and begin recruiting again. http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/np/coventry/news/newsitem.asp?id=15781 Surely that’s a good thing in anybody’s book?

      My point really has always been that no PCC should have to make things up or over exaggerate them, if he/she is up to the mark there should be plenty of good work to cite, not make claims that don’t really hold water, and I don’t care what party they represent.

  2. Yes, it’s the endless false headline claims at sunrise whch are so pernicious, many of which must be withdrawn or denied by sunset – having already performed their task of public deception before a morning coffee can even alert you.

    “training provided by Dyfed-Powys Police to Police Officers within the force is focused on force priorities to reduce crime”
    ..sounds very much as though training revolves round crime targets (despite their abolition, according to the Home Secretary) which are said not only to tempt ‘early risers’ to improve – and to claim as having personally improved – in aid of their own promotion, but also still to be distorting response options, policy and resources.

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