Policing In Austerity Two And A Half Years On

In July 2012 HMIC released a series of reports Entitled Policing in Austerity One Year On. They wrote one report for each of the Forces in England and Wales. In each report was contained details of their individual establishment (Police Officers all ranks) together with their planned establishment for March 2015.

On 31st January the Home Office are due to release their latest set of Manpower stats for September 2013. They only get measured/released once very 6 months.

42% (YES nearly HALF, not a trypo) of the 43 Forces in England and Wales are already reporting that their establishment is currently LOWER than their planned March 2015 Target.

WHY?

As previously commented on elsewhere total establishment for England and Wales has dropped from 131,837 in September 2012 to 128,350 in September 2013.

Planned total Establishment for March 2015 is 128,670, so even the total for England and Wales is lower than it has to be.

WHY?

The Evidence

The League Table

YOU MAY NEED TO USE THE SCROLLBARS TO SEE ALL THE DATA

So I ask you, PCC, Chief Constable, Home Secretary, Mayor of London, Prime Minister – two simple questions:-

Why is it necessary to reduce Manpower levels to LESS than their March 2015 Austerity Target Level?

Could it possibly be that this destruction of our Police Service actually has less to do with Austerity than you would have us believe?

Simple questions, maybe we could have a simple answer please?

Dear Mr Gargan……

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote this blog concerning your recent receipt of a Gold Award from Investors in People.

Today, I read in the news that ‘Significant Cuts’ were coming to the officers of Avon and Somerset Police.  You have been quoted as saying that “seven in 10 officers could have a new role”.   “We used to be a force of 3,350 people. Now we’re something over 2,800. Today’s announcement and the changes next year will take us down below 2,800.

According to HMIC your target establishment for 2015 under the HMIC Policing in Austerity plan is 2,900.  Your Policing Strength is already LOWER than you need to achieve by 2015 and now you’re predicting/planning further losses. How on earth is this Investing in People? It sounds rather hypocritical to me, but I’m just a retired officer who obviously understands nothing.

Please feel free to explain to us all how you are a) Investing in People and b) ensuring the safety of your communities.

Thank you

As Avon and Somerset Police kindly responded to me, informing me that there would be further update released at 3pm, it’s only right and proper to bring that uodate to you;

Avon and Somerset Police has outlined its plans to save £8 million which could include closing the police station in Bath.

The cost-saving measures will also see the loss of 134 police officers across the region, which would be 61 PCs and the rest coming from every rank up to and including chief superintendent.

Chief Constable Nick Gargan said this was 100 fewer PCs than they initially thought they would have to lose and commended the team behind the review for coming up with the most effective and efficient ways of saving money.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens has promised to scrutinise the proposal and ask “the questions that local people will want answered”.

Avon and Somerset in Numbers

2763 – Police officers across the force.
134 – Number of police officer posts axed (61 PCs).
9 – Increase in number of police staff.
9 – Custody suites to close.
0 – PCSO posts to go.
1.99% – proposed council tax precept rise.

Sorry Mr Gargan, I still don’t get it, how is this Investing in People? Which people?

This Is How We Know #CrimeStat Fudging Has Been Going On For Years

I do apologise to you, my reader, but I couldn’t let this go unchallenged any longer.

I very nearly said “Damn” when I saw this.

Mr Tom Winsor, Head Fred at HMIC, said in May 2013, “Police could be fiddling crime figures, watchdog warns”  Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said he wanted to review how all the country’s police forces record crimes amid concerns officers are deliberately changing statistics.

In November last year our own Constable James Patrick, and Dr Roger Patrick (no relation) appeared before Bernard Jenkin MP’s Public Administration Select Committee and told the Committee of their concerns that Police Crime Stats were being ‘fudged’. James was brave indeed and informed the Committee EXACTLY how it was being done, Dr Roger Patrick, broadly speaking, backed up James’ allegations adding his own two pennyworth with definitions and examples of Cuffing, Stitching, Skewing and Nodding.

The other invited witnesses giving evidence that day did nothing to contradict what Messrs Patrick were stating and Committee Members were left suitably aghast that this was going on.

One very high-ranking officer, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM later told the PASC that some of the claims were “worthy of further investigation” but that he needed “to hear more detail”……. “On occasion there might be some inaccuracy but I think on the whole there’s a truth there we need to hear.”

The commissioner said he had not spoken to PC Patrick about his claims but that the Met would in due course.  An internal inquiry, led by deputy commissioner Craig Mackey, has been launched into around 20 claims made by the officer.  “If he has been making these claims for a long time it would have been best they were resolved before now,” Sir Bernard added.

Tom Winsor, who as Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, is leading an inquiry into crime statistics, told the committee he was in no doubt it would uncover “some fiddling of the figures“.

So far, so good, this much we know.

Then I was browsing t’interweb and I came across an old article in The Torygraph dated 5th December 2009.  Much of the article consisted of allegations about crime stat fudging from the very same Dr Roger Patrick, with his Cuffing, Skewing, Nodding and Stitching.

But it also contained some very damning specifics;

In one case, an offender shot at another man at close range but missed and broke a window behind his target. The offence was recorded as criminal damage rather than attempted murder.

One detective, who declined to be named, said: “Name any crime and I’ll tell you how it can be fiddled.”

Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, which represents front line officers, said: “This research demonstrates that senior officers are directing and controlling widespread manipulation of crime figures. “The public are misled, politicians can claim crime is falling and chief officers are rewarded with performance-related bonuses.”

Denis O’Connor, the [then] Chief Inspector of Constabulary, published an official report into the way police record violent crime and admitted the figures may be skewed by “perverse incentives” around government performance targets.

Dr Patrick found that watchdogs such as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Police Standards Unit had a “general tendency to underplay the scale and nature” of gaming.

He was scathing of HMIC’s failure to tackle the problem, noting there were no examples of chief police officers being publicly criticised by inspectors for this type of crime figure manipulation.

HMIC tended privately to refer examples of widespread gaming to the Home Secretary or the police authority rather than “hold the chief constable to account” because of the risk of political embarrassment, he said.

Dr Patrick concluded that HMIC inspectors should be made accountable to Parliament rather than the Home Office, and suggested they should be drawn from other professions rather than solely from senior police ranks. [well that bit happened]

So there we are, all of this was known and brought to the attention of HMIC in 2009, and only now is their Head Fred pontificating on it and thinking that it might well happen. Professional #epicfail by HMIC? Own Goal?

Call it what you want, I call it disgraceful. I would respectfully suggest that this totally vindicates PC James Patrick and how the hell can senior officers like BHH claim that they were unaware of the scale of the problem? Founder members of the Ostrich Club? How dare any one of them criticise James Patrick and any other officers facing a similar dilemma when this has been know for YEARS.

It didn’t start in 2009, it’s been going on for decades. It isn’t helped by successive Home Secretaries introducing different Counting Rules, political interference at its worst and most irresponsible.

Even former Commissioner Lord Stevens has now weighed in to the debate.

Giving evidence to the Commons’ home affairs select committee, Lord Stevens said: “Ever since I’ve been in police service there has been a fiddling of figures. I remember being a detective constable where we used to write off crimes.”

Asked by Keith Vaz MP, the committee chairman, if it was still going on, Lord Stevens replied: “Of course it is. In certain forces.”

There’s the evidence, been going on for years, and it’s an absolute bloody disgrace that HMIC sit in judgement but appear at face value to have completely ignored Dr Patrick’s 2009 findings. Surely an enquiry into figures can’t take 5 years can it?

So Just How Much DO the Beeb Pay Politicians For Their Appearances?

I’m sorry, you’ll probably find that a boring question, but after seeing the same old faces time and time again on Newsnight, Question Time et al, I rather thought that I’d like to know.

So I took out my trusty quill and asked the BBC that very question;

Could you please tell me for the 2012/2013 Financial Year

a) How many serving MPs have appeared in BBC TV programmes (with the exception of live News Broadcasts etc)?

b) What was the total sum of money paid to serving MPs for their appearance/contribution to BBC scheduled TV and Radio programmes?

And today I got my answer;

“The information you have requested is out of scope of the Act. However, we are happy to explain that we do not keep a record of the numbers of MPs and so would in any case be unable to give you this information.”

They then referred me to the Beeb’s Editorial Guidelines for Payments to MPs.

What an interesting document that is, and it contained the following advice;

10.4.7

We should not normally pay MPs, or others clearly identified as representing political parties, for appearances or other contributions to any BBC output in which they are speaking as a member of their party or expressing political views. They can, where appropriate, be paid a limited and realistic disturbance fee and/or any reimbursement for
genuine expenses.

10.4.8

They may be paid for contributions to non-political output, where they are appearing on the basis of their expertise outside politics or of their celebrity, and are not taking part as a member of their party or expressing political views.
(See Section 10 Politics, Public Policy and Polls: 10.4.4)

Active politicians should not normally be paid for an appearance on, or contribution to, BBC News output. The extent to which a contributor is considered an active politician may be influenced in each case by a combination of factors including, for example, the type of programme or other content, the nature of the contribution, the contributor’s political activity or the capacity in which they appear. Further advice should be sought from Chief Adviser Politics.

So, there you are, MPs do it for free Plus Expenses.

So, the Force With 2 Officers Per 1,000 Head of Population Is Getting A Rural Policing Centre Of Excellence

Somewhere round about the middle of December I wrote about the loneliness of the Rural Police Officer in Dyfed Powys Police. You can find it here if you haven’t already read it.

Then I found this article here about how the Dyfed Powys PCC has secured £44,000 in funding to set up a Centre of Excellence for Rural Policing,

First off, I am in no way opposed to Excellence in Rural Policing, or Urban Policing, or indeed Inner City Policing. What I am opposed to is people scoring cheap political points using smoke and mirrors.

So, Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon (who is a Conservative PCC) has secured almost £44,000 from the College of Policing to launch a Centre for Rural Policing and Justice.  Dyfed-Powys Police will collaborate with the Cardiff-based Universities’ Police Science Institute (UPSI) and others to start a high-level network to develop new expertise in keeping rural communities safe from crime.  Mr Salmon said: “The work we do with UPSI and others will lead to people in some of our most isolated areas feeling safer.  No mention of his officers feeling safer though. “This collaboration will initially build new working relationships between academic establishments, Dyfed-Powys Police and my office”

The key collaborative approach is one of a partnership between the Commissioner’s office, Dyfed-Powys Police and UPSI.

The wider collaborative approach will involve a network between academic institutions across Wales, such as Aberystwyth University and University of Wales Trinity Saint David, using a mixture of skills and expertise. It will also incorporate organisations from the voluntary and private sectors.

Mr Salmon has committed £5,000 to the centre’s launch costs of around £49,000. Even £49,000 doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but if Mr Salmon can obtain real benefits at such a low cost all power to his elbow, as we say this side of Offa’s Dyke.

Still no mention of anything practical.  And how much Excellence can you get for £49k anyway? Not very much I suspect.

My issue is simply this; is the Dyfed Powys PCC already demonstrating his commitment to Excellence in his own, rural Force?   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. Just over 2 Police Officers TOTAL per 1,000 head of population, take away Shifts, Abstractions, Leave and Sickness and you could easily be down to 1 Police Officer per 3-4,000 head of population.  Is that Excellence I ask?  One of the main concerns of a large, rural Force HAS to be the safety of its Community AND its officers.  Do these figures demonstrate a commitment to the safety of Community and Officers?  I have to say I don’t know the answer, so I ask the question.

I have no 1st hand experience of Rural Policing, but I know a man who has, and what I hear does not make for comfortable listening. Bronwyn in the Dyfed Powys HQ Canteen is forever telling me how her boyfriend Dai is frequently the only officer on duty in a patch covering hundreds of Square Miles. She worries for his safety, quite naturally. Can Dai keep the residents of Dyfed Powys safe when he’s the only officer on duty for miles around. I know we can’t open another box of Policemen every time we run out, but we can do small things to improve the situation.

For a start the PCC could commission a professional, INDEPENDENT, study of the merits of single-crewing versus double crewing, particularly in isolated areas and on Nights etc..  PCC, Chief Constable and Fed should all sign up to be bound by its findings, the PCC and Chief Constable do have a Duty of Care to their employees after all, and this should not be forgotten or under-estimated.

I’m obviously getting too old for all of this, it all sounds like so much Psychobabble to me. If you, my reader, spots a nugget of real, practical, tangible benefit in this please let me know.  If you, Mr Salmon, want to convince me that I’m old and cynical, and I’ve got this all wrong,  I will quite happily remove this blog and replace it with one promoting this scheme, and I will circulate it to anyone who wants to read it, but I suspect that I will never hear from you. I do think however, that any Centre of Excellence for Rural Policing has to produce benefits for your officers and staff, as well as the greater public.

Just one last thing before I go.  Who is it that sets, or recommends, the ratio of Police OFFICERS (don’t include civilian support staff please) to 1,000 head of population? What should it be for Dyfed Powys? Or do we just wing it and hope we’ve got it right?

Got an iPhone 4S?

Well I don’t, I don’t own any  of their products, but I know a man who does.

About a year ago a new ios upgrade was released for the iPhone 4S.  His was on the Vodafone network but I don’t suppose that matters very much.  Having installed the ios upgrade he noted that the little radio button for turning wifi on and off was greyed out so it had become impossible to connect to a wifi network as it couldn’t be turned on

He spent ages googling the problem, discovering all sorts of ‘fixes’ suggested by folk, none of which worked for him. Then he spent hours on the phone to Apple trying to find a solution and was told “Oh we know about that, your wifi antenna has come dislodged, take it into an Apple store and we can fix that for you for £100”

Needless to say he didn’t because a) It coincided with the release of the new ios and b) it coincided with the release of the iPhone 5.

So, he reluctantly threw the phone in its box in the corner and bought an iPhone 5.

He recently had the idea of selling his old phone on eBay, and realised it would be worth more if the wifi was fixed, so off-a-googling he went again and found something on YouTube.  Not only did this fix work, but allegedly it has been posted on Apple’s website several times but they keep deleting it.

The fix is simply this;

  1. Borrow Mum’s hairdryer (honestly)
  2. Use the hairdryer to heat up your iPhone until the overheating warning appears in the screen
  3. Turn off the hairdryer and allow the phone to cool
  4. Reboot the Phone
  5. Voila, the wifi radio button now works again and wifi can be turned on and off.

This is apparently some technical issue concerning the chip, heating it up forces the phone to recognise the chip again, and all is well.  A certain hard-fruit company is aware of this (allegedly) but seemingly don’t want you to know.

If you have this problem it’s worth a try, not much too lose really.  I know it works, I watched it happen.

Happy Hairdrying.

Stop And Search To Be Replaced By Slap n Tickle?

I might not be the world’s greatest expert on the finer points of PACE but I do like to think that I know a little bit about practical coppering, and I don’t mean bending the rules.

After the recent Mark Duggan Inquest it may come as no surprise to hear that our beloved Home Secretary, or Cruella as I prefer to call her, is once again considering ‘tinkering’ (can I say that?) with Stop and Search Powers.

As you sit with your coffee and donut reading this, every single Police Officer that is on duty in England and Wales, and probably Scotland and Northern Ireland also, is fully accountable for everything they do.  Believe it or not Mr Winsor they are highly trained, and, yes, literate, professionals. Professionals that have had a huge amount of money invested in them, training them to be fit for purpose.

Every time there is a furore concerning Stop and Search the government of the day tries to appease the disaffected population by promising to do something about those naughty Police Officers and their over-zealous use of Stop and Search.

Well, I don’t expect turkeys to vote for Christmas, but neither do I expect my politicians to tell me that I can’t eat turkey at Christmas, or any other time of year, if I want to.

The guidelines about when a Police Officer can Stop and Search someone are contained within Code Of Practice A of PACE, which you can read here if you’re suitably bored.

The Met has gone even further and produced its own lovely colour coded document entitled

Territorial Policing – Patrol OCU
Principles for Stops & Searches
Standard Operating Procedures
Don’t worry though, it’s only 44 pages and you can find it here
So, by the time you’ve finished learning those two documents you are fully prepared to go out in the big, wide world and conduct your own Stops and Searches, knowing exactly what you legally require to conduct them lawfully.

What the hell is wrong with that? The officers are accountable for it. I am in NO WAY suggesting that officers do or should Stop/Search with impunity, but why oh why would you want to set the them ONE Target – Reduce Crime, and then start tying their hands behind their backs when violent crime and crimes against property are on the rise again (#Crimestats permitting).

If any given section of the community complains about the voracious use of Stop and Search it is absolutely pointless, nay counter-productive, for our politicians to try and appease that section of the community by curbing Police use of Stop and Search.  What they should be doing is assuring ALL SECTIONS OF THE COMMUNITY EQUALLY that Police Stop and Search powers will be used appropriately, proportionately and lawfully, as and when, and where, they are needed.  The officers conducting these Stop/Searches are individually accountable, and in the event that a s60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 order is issued then an officer of higher rank has to be in a position to justify this decision, in addition to the officer conducting the Stop/Search.

The illustrious IPCC have outlined their position on Stop/Search here.  It should be noted that they are not saying “Don’t do it”.

I have discussed Stop/Search with several people over the last 48 hours and we almost unanimously agree that if the actions are lawful and reasonable most people will be happy with Police actions if the reasons are adequately explained to them.  One of my Twitter friends described his experiences of Stop and Search as “either ending with a handshake or an arrest” which I think tells a success story. If no arrest was made the person stopped went off relatively happy with Police action once it was explained or they got nicked.  What is wrong with that?

Before I leave this thorny subject, there is one more element to it that should be discussed.  Is it appropriate to use Stop/Search as a Performance Indicator?

When I first joined the Met in the early 70s there was a book, Book 90 (Pre PACE) that contained hand written details of all Stops. Those that had resulted in an arrest were entered in red.  This became one of the best-read books in the nick.  Firstly because your mates wanted to know who was where in the very unofficial League Table and the Management wanted to know who was doing what when it came to AQR (Appraisal) time.  The end result of this was, end of month, the Phone Book came out, or a trip through the local cemetery, collecting names for ‘Stops’ to keep the Chief Superintendent happy.

Was this right? Probably not, but it hurt no-one.

I have been hearing tales this week of Stop/Searches being used as a modern day Performance Indicator and compared against those for neighbouring Boroughs/OCUs.  Can this be right? Most definitely not, and I’m sure the ECHR (and HASC/PASC) would have something to say if they heard about that practice.  Code A states the grounds for Stop/Search and last time I read it I found no reference to Performance Indicator.  Any Stop/Search carried out to keep the Chief Superintendent happy at your appraisal is almost certainly unlawful, unprofessional and far more likely to antagonise the local populace than a targeted Stop/Search in an area of high crime followed by a suitable explanation and apology for the inconvenience.  Yes, that’s right, I said Apology.  Modern day Police Officers should not be reluctant to apologise for inconveniencing a member of the public.  If their actions are reasonable, properly explained and an apology offered, I’m reasonably certain that most law-abiding citizens will walk off more than happy, reassured that you’re actually doing something about crime in their area.

When I went through Henditz to do my Initial Training it included repeated use of the mantra “Never apologise, you’re not sorry”.  Well we don’t live in such macho times any more, we’re much more pink and fluffy.  Apology is good, as long as it’s genuine and appropriate.

If the non law-abiding citizens are less than happy with your actions will I get excited about that?  No. Treat them with the respect they deserve, offer them the same explanation and apology and if they’re still not happy I really don’t see why our politicians should be pandering to them and offering to ‘curb’ the use of Stop and Search like what Cruella has suggested.

Finally, I give you this, Stop & Search to be replaced by Slap n’ Tickle, I’m pretty sure it’s a spoof, but in this day and age who knows?

.