The Home Office Really Have Lost The Plot

And this time it is nothing to do with me.

Two like-minded citizens currently have Freedom of Information Requests languishing with the Home Office.  One has been refused and is undergoing an appeal, the other they are considering whether to confirm or deny that they have the information requested.  Don’t you like that one? Considering whether to confirm or deny.  Well you just know that they have the information then don’t you.

What is this oh so delicate request I hear you ask.  Well they are very similar requests, identical in nature but asking very slightly different questions, but they both relate to Home Office funding of TV programmes.

The most recent one says this;

I believe in 2008, the Home Office paid £400,000 to fund the series
UK Border Force for Sky television.

Please supply under the provision of the FOIA 2000:

1) Detail all instances available since the initial funding of the
UK Border Force series of any television programmes funded by The
Home Office.

a) How much money
b) The date the funds were paid
c) the series / programme / film it was funding
d) the job role of the individual who authorised the funding
e) the reasoning behind the funding, and how the Home Office
justified the use of taxpayer money.

This is the request that is currently under consideration, and there is another by someone else that has already been refused.

The grounds for Refusing the Request?  The grounds for considering whether to confirm or deny?

“We are considering whether to confirm or deny we hold the information you have requested under the exemptions at section 24(National Security), section 38 (Health and safety), and section 43 (Commercial interests). These are qualified exemptions and to consider the public interest test fully we need to extend the 20 working day response period.”

National Security? Health And Safety?

They really are having a laugh at the Public’s expense.

I know what my course of action would be if they were my requests.

Advertisements

The Public Cost of The James Patrick Disciplinary Investigation

As you all know PC James Patrick of the Metropolitan Police has been facing Disciplinary Proceedings for approx 18 months (forgive me on the exact length of time, but it’s about that).  Initially he was told that he was facing a charge of Gross Misconduct and as such faced losing his job if found guilty.  This charge, to the best of my knowledge and belief, related to the publication and sale of his book, The Rest is Silence and the associated, alleged, ‘Business Interest’  Once more, please forgive me if this is less than 100% correct, but that is my understanding.

Then the evidence was reviewed (I believe) by an outside Force and AFTER that review the charge was reduced to one of ‘simple’ Misconduct, the consequences of which are slightly less dire, but still have unwelcome and complex ramifications.

I’m a simple soul at heart, easily pleased, I live in a world of black and white (can I still say that?). I don’t do grey. So why has it taken so very long to proceed with this case? In my world it is not complex. Was there an undisclosed and unauthorised Business Interest?  A lot has happened to James since, and a lot has been said since, but if you strip it back to its barest bones did the publication and sale of James’ book constitute any kind of Disciplinary Offence?  How on earth has it been allowed to drag on so long?  I have known complex fraud cases come to Court and be dealt with more efficiently than this, and all the time James has got the potential consequences of this action hanging over his head, and that of his loyal family.  That is the (high) personal cost that James and his family are continuing to pay every day.

What about the cost to the Public Purse?  How much has this protracted enquiry cost the London Council Tax Payer?  So, I thought I’d ask.

I submitted the following request to the MPS;

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

It has been well reported in the media that one of your officers,
PC James Patrick, has been the subject of Disciplinary Proceedings
concerning an alleged offence of Gross Misconduct.

Enquiries by MPS Directorate of Professional Standards have been
ongoing for quite some time.

Today I read that these proceedings have been ‘downgraded’ to
Misconduct.

Could you please tell me the total cost of this investigation to
date?

I specifically do not require any personal information, or complex
breakdowns of cost, just one simple total amount please.

Today, I received their response, and to say that I was astounded is a mere understatement, my flabber has seldom been so ghasted.  Gird your loins, here it is in its entirety;

Following receipt of your request, I have conducted searches to locate
information relevant to your request. These searches failed to locate
information of the description specified by your request
DECISION
Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) investigations are not
routinely costed by the MPS. The investigation into PC James Patrick has
accordingly, not been attributed a cost. Furthermore, should a member of
staff endeavour to calculate the cost of this investigation, there is
insufficient information held by the MPS to undertake this calculation.
For example, police officers are required, each day, to complete a duty
state. The duty state records the activities performed by a police
officer. This record does not contain sufficient detail to allow the time
spent by a police officer on a particular investigation to be calculated.
This is largely because police officers tend to be involved in more than
one investigation at any given time and the duty state does not record
each activity performed by an officer and attribute this activity to a
particular investigation. Moreover, it should also be noted that no record
of duties exists for members of police staff. Other costs connected to an
investigation such as the equipment and information technology used in an
investigation and other tangible resources are also not attributed to a
particular investigation by the MPS, which makes calculating the cost of
this investigation impractical.

Having considered your request, I have found that the requested
information cannot be provided as it is not held by the MPS.

So there you have it, they don’t bloody know.

When I last worked in the MPS every enquiry had a Resource Code that it was costed against. I had to show on my Duty State every separate enquiry that I had been involved in during the day and the number of hours for which. Why? Nobody seems to take any notice. Or is it simply that this enquiry has got so disproportionately expensive that the MPS are embarrassed by its cost.

I am seriously considering appealing this decision, comments on a postcard please.

My Old Friend IDS Has Done It Again

Iain Duncan Smith, IDS, (or IBS to his friends) has excelled himself once more.  His Department is completely and utterly incompetent and he should fall on his Biro, that he’s probably claimed on expenses anyway.  just as an aside he claimed (and was paid) almost £91 for some Banner Pens. He must write a lot.

You don’t need me to remind you what a shit-storm there has been lately about a  certain organisation seemingly fudging its official figures, and how they have had their ‘kitemark’ revoked as they cannot currently be relied upon.

You would think, would you not, that in the light of that any Government Department releasing some official figures would double check them for accuracy. Wouldn’t you? Or is it just me?

Then I found this headline;

Universal credit claimants not counted in jobless figures, says Labour

It would appear to an old duffer like me that the government have made fudging their figures so bloody complicated that they don’t even understand how to do it themselves.

For as long as I can remember there has been a seemingly endless see-saw of figures between Unemployed and Incapacitated.  Depending upon the government of the day, their colour and this week’s message people have been swapped between lists in order to get one or the other looking better. Am I being too cynical, because that’s EXACTLY how it looks to me in Angry Towers.

Errors by the Department for Work and Pensions have meant claimants are being excluded from official unemployment figures.  The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which publishes unemployment figures, said the DWP had not been able to supply it with information in a way that has allowed Universal Credit claimants to be counted.

The shadow work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves said “If David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith can’t ensure UC claimants are included on official unemployment figures, how can we have any confidence in their ability to deliver this flagship project?  There are now serious questions about whether the government even knows how many people are being left off official unemployment figures.”

The fact that some Universal Credit claimants are working is neither here nor there. The DWP clearly doesn’t have a database which is capable of separating them out, schoolboy error.

In a period when HMG has severely criticised the Police and its Stats you really would think they would get it right. Stat Fudging on an Imperial Scale.

Roll on 2015.

Iain-Duncan-Smith-3002319

Iain Duncan Smith DWP

Iain Duncan Smith

Challenge and change: Police Identity, Morale and Goodwill in an Age of Austerity.

I begin by thanking @Peter_Kirkham for the inspiration for today’s blog.  I have no idea where he dug it up from but he found and circulated a scientifically based academic document entitled Challenge and change:
Police Identity, Morale and Goodwill in an Age of Austerity.

As far as I am concerned and aware It is the intellectual property of Dr James Hoggett of the University of the West of England in Bristol, so just for once I will refrain from quoting wholesale from it but I would seriously encourage you all to read it, just click on the link above.

Most importantly it is an INDEPENDENT assessment of the current state of play across all 43 Police Forces.

Almost as important is the methodology of the sampling used, just over 13,500 Police Officers between Police Constable and Chief Inspector have submitted their views in reply to the questionnaire, which is FAR more scientific and representative than any sampling conducted by a certain Mr Tom Winsor.

This has resulted in a lengthy report (some 170 pages) but if you haven’t got the time for all of that PLEASE please please read the Executive Summary, that’s only 3 pages.

Stick Boy is sadly absent but even I can get the gist of what’s being said from the Exec Summary.

Not comfortable reading for HMG, so you may never read this report again. Please take the time to read and possibly disseminate this report.

Finally, if I have done the wrong thing in any way by highlighting this report I do apologise, my intentions were honourable.

Why We Fight – Police Choice

Below is a website that was brought to my attention recently.  It is a little bit different from to the norm. It’s author is a retired Police Inspector. I make no comment or specific recommendation but it might be worth a look. Challenging times sometimes call for something just a little bit different

Why We Fight – Police Choice.

We believe that Policing is NOT a ‘Blue collar job’ that is overpaid.
Policing is NOT a ‘job for life’ for malingering malcontents.
Policing is a vocation that should attract the best of our citizens. They understand the realities of life in our country. Police Officers deal with the demands of a Public who, through misinformation, do not understand the impact of the savage cuts on the Service.
The ‘Unholy Alliance’ of Government, private security firms like G4S, plus the Association of Chief Police Officers [ACPO] continually tell the public that ‘it is business as usual’!
They allege that the ‘Front Line’ is being protected, and that ‘inefficient’ back offices functions are being ‘sorted’. The reality is so different.
In our view, this is either disingenuous or daft, as NO ONE HAS EVER DEFINED THE ‘FRONT LINE’!!

It’s Been A Funny Old Week

Not that I’m laughing, it’s just that I can’t quite compare it to any other week, some good, some bad.

It started off on Monday with the promise that someone from the Dyfed Powys PCC’s office would phone me to discuss my disappointment at being ineligible to apply for a voluntary role with their force.  Well I waited and I waited, no phone call, so I gave up. Late on Tuesday afternoon my mobile sprang into life and lo and behold it was said PCC’s office.  I had previously voiced my disappointment at not being eligible to apply for a voluntary job as an Animal Lay Visitor (Police Dogs and Horses) on the grounds that I was a retired Police Officer.  After about 5 minutes of talking to this lady it became apparent that she was talking about a position on the Residents Panel. As I’m not a resident of Dyfed Powys it was sort of irrelevant to me, so I pointed out that she’s got the wrong job.  I pointed out to her that the job application pack stated that serving (understandable) and former Police Officers were not eligible to apply, and would not be appointed.  She explained to me that this was in order to assure the public of total Independence on the part of the Lay Visitor.  I then pointed out to her that the two Application packs for Residents Panel, and Lay Custody Visitor only excluded serving Police Officers (again understandable) and NOT former Police Officers. Surely Independence was as important re Custody Lay Visitors if not more so.  She assured me that this appeared to be a mistake and the Job Application Packs would have to be ‘tweaked’ to include former Police Officers as ineligible as well.  Needless to say by the time I got off the phone I was mighty peeved. I was actually quite offended that without seeing my CV, without the benefit of an interview, I had been stereotyped as someone who would not be seen as Independent, and presumably as being incapable of being Independent. Utilising the ancient art of rubbing salt into the wound they later recirculated the same job vacancies emphasising that they would like applications from Solicitors.  I gave up at that point and made a brew.

Then we had Mrs Theresa May’s decision/agreement not to introduce Compulsory Severance “for now“.  “I have decided to accept the Tribunal’s recommendation not to implement measures to introduce compulsory severance at this time.

“However, this remains a reform that I believe government and the police should continue to consider. I have written to the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) to explain my decision in further detail.”

Then she went on to kick the officers on Restricted Duties; the Tribunal accepted a varied definition on Winsor’s Recommendation 39 from the Official Side of the PNB. This means that officers who are unable to undertake “the full range of duties of a police officer” will be regarded as being on restricted duty.

As a result, officers on restricted duties who are not fully deployable after one year should face a pay cut of around £2,922.

But the good news is that it has been alleged that she has told Tom Winsor NOT to wear his ridiculous fancy dress outfit at the National Police Memorial Day events ever again. It remains to be seen if he he dusts it off and brings it out again for any other occasion.

Fast Forward to Friday night and a discussion about Advanced Drivers and Fast Cars.  I cannot believe what I was being told about what some Forces are doing in cutting back the number of Advanced Drivers (and cars) from their strengths.  One officer even told me that some Forces even have “No Pursuit Capability”.  What kind of nonsense is this?  I thought the Front Line was being Protected?  Is being an active Advanced Driver not Front Line Policing?  Skills will be lost, officers will be demotivated and the public will suffer. As somebody said to me last night, “it’s not about the toys, it’s about retaining skills” and hence the service to the public.  I intend to do some digging around numbers of Advanced Drivers and see what pops up.

Finally (mind you the week isn’t over yet) as I was trying to block out the noise of the wind and the rain and get some sleep, news came in that Mental Health Cop’s twitter account and Blog had been suspended, seemingly as part of an investigation by West Midlands Police about their use.  I haven’t seen every single Tweet or Blog he wrote so I can’t really comment with any authority, but the feedback coming in last night and this morning was that this was one of THE most informative and well-used Twitter accounts and blogs of them all. Serving Police Officers and Members of the Public alike hold them in high esteem, and he seems to be the “Go To Guy” for any Police related Mental Health issues.

Well, let’s see what next week holds shall we?

ADDENDUM

And I haven’t forgotten the topsy turvy world of PC James Patrick.  He was told this week that he no longer faces a charge of Gross Misconduct, ‘merely’ a charge of ‘simple’ Misconduct now.   In one way that’s good news, but it is a bit of a double-edged sword, and if you go right back to the very beginnings there remain some unanswered legal questions that make me doubt whether the Met DPS has lost its collective marbles. James knows my views and I won’t repeat them here, but it’s added to a really ‘odd’ week for us all.

First It’s Mrs Angry Now Me….Crazy Policy? #DontDitchTheDogs

I was relaxing in Angry Towers this afternoon watching a Police documentary, Life On Mars I think it was called, when a Tweet from Dyfed-Powys PCC caught my eye.

Volunteering opportunities.

Lay Custody Visitor – really didn’t fancy that, not my cup of tea at all.

Residents’ Panel – not a resident, I live the right side of Offa’s Dyke, so probably not eligible for that.

So that left the third and final opportunity – Animal Welfare Lay Visitor.  “Each dog handler receives a visit from the Independent Animal Welfare Lay Visitor at least once a year“. I could do that,  Gizz A Job. 30 years unblemished service in the Met (if you don’t count the time I had Defendants after my name, but that worked out OK in the end.  Served in a few highly specialised posts, although there was that one time when I was paper-sifted out of a position at Buckingham Palace when I was the only applicant. I wasn’t overly impressed at the time, but I look upon it as a reference now.  Three years working for the Police Authority as a Forensic Bean Counter. I’ve owned hamsters, gerbils, terrapins, tropical fish and even the occasional dog. I’d be perfect for the role.

WRONG

I set about downloading the associated paperwork and found an all-crippling paragraph under the title of ELIGIBILITY

The Scheme Administrator will not appoint magistrates, serving or former police officers, special constables  or police support staff, as Animal Welfare Visitors

Why-ever not?  “Each application will be treated on its merits, but the over-riding factor will be to prevent possible conflicts of interest for individuals and to maintain the independence and integrity of the Scheme as a whole

Well I can’t say that I’m over-impressed with that.  Does it say the same for Lay Custody Visitor?  No it does not, well not exactly, it says “Is not a serving member of a police force or Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner, and have no involvement in the criminal justice system

So there you have it, PCC’s revenge.  Apparently I’m a fit and proper person to check up on the well-being of prisoners but not Police Dogs. Does this mean that Police Dogs are more highly-regarded than prisoners? I sincerely hope not, although I do regard Police Dogs very highly. #DontDitchTheDogs. What exactly does that say about me? I’m a tad peeved now.

So I’ll just have to get back to Life on Mars and learn just how Policing should be done.