Thoughts For The Week

Winners and Losers

In a week that has seen 2 major documents released into the wild who are the winners and the losers? Are there any winners at all?

Well, there are certainly some losers.

In the 6 monthly release of manpower figures for the 43 Forces, the two outright losers are Durham and West Mercia Constabularies.  Back in 2011 HMIC set each and every Force a Numerical Target for their Manpower, i.e a strength that they were required to attain by March 2015.  According to the September 2014 stats (the latest available) HALF of the 43 Forces in England and Wales have Manpower levels LOWER than they are required to achieve by March.  Durham and West Mercia currently have Manpower levels more than 10% LOWER than their target figure for March.  WHY??

We know that there are more cuts to come, are these two Forces really just getting upstream of the game or is there something more sinister at work?

The biggest ‘winner’ is North Yorkshire with over 5% more than their March 2015 Target, so does this indicate some serious pain ahead for North Yorkshire, or is it 2 fingers from the PCC and Chief Constable?  I do so hope that it’s the latter.

The only Forces whose Establishments were higher in September 2014 than March 2014 were (in no particular order)

Bedfordshire +63

Wiltshire +8

The Met +651

Cumbria +11

Dyfed Powys +41

Thames Valley +55

Northamptonshire +3

Lincolnshire +10

and North Wales +31

So if you live or work in any of those 9 Forces (yes, just 9 out of 43) well done, lucky you.  If you’re one of the 32 others then times are even harder than ever before, and destined to get worse.

Nothing quite like a bit of slanted reporting.

This week also saw the release of the long-awaited report by HMIC into corruption and integrity in the Police Service.

Briefly, this report concludes that there is no evidence that corruption is endemic within the Police Service and that after HMIC’s reviews in 2011 and 2012 122 out of 125 recommendations have been adopted by Chief Constables.  That’s a good thing isn’t it?

You wouldn’t think so if you saw the assorted headlines and the manner in which this document was reported.

Police lack resources to probe corruption, inspectors say

Police ‘need to do more to tackle corruption’

“Better training” needed to tackle corruption says HMIC

Report shows police forces are ‘making progress’ in tackling corruption

Police told to review nearly 2000 cases of alleged corruption

Police turn down cups of tea because they fear it will make them look corrupt

Corruption not endemic in the police service …

Huge differences in the way it has been reported, and most of them negative.

I’m not immensely happy with the methodology adopted for such an important piece of work, but what’s new there?  It consisted of an online survey of police officers and staff achieving 17,200 responses and fieldwork activity in all 43 forces took place between 2 June and 8 August 2014. During that time, our inspection teams spoke to more than 1,500 officers and staff – not a huge percentage, and ranks and grades of those consulted are not disclosed.

At the end of the day the press, as is their way, chose not to highlight the “Corruption is not endemic” headline cos there’s no story for them in that, but most went with a negative slant. The report also added that most officers and staff were “honest and professional”, but there wasn’t a huge amount of reporting of that either.

That’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from our press in the UK, and then they demand our sympathy when they are portrayed as the victims.

Oh well, must go now and find a journo to feel sorry for.

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On Balance, The Public Interest Is……

in favour of non -disclosure.

Well, that’s a bloody surprise…….NOT.

Today I received my final response from the Home Office in relation to my request regarding Risk and Impact Assessments re the further cuts to Police Budgets.  I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to see one, but I did think I’d just get an outright Refusal.

What I got was this:-

After careful consideration we have decided that the pieces of advice to Ministers, relevant to your request, are exempt from disclosure under section 35 (1)(a) of the Act, which provides that information can be withheld if it is likely to prejudice the policy making process and the delivery of effective government.

and

The advantages of releasing the advice to  Ministers are that it would help the public to better understand how Ministers came to their decisions.  

The disadvantages of releasing the information are that officials would feel constrained in their advice to Ministers.

and

Therefore, we have determined that on balance, the public interest is in favour of non-disclosure.

So if I have interpreted this correctly, it’s not in the Public Interest for you/us to understand how Government came to this decision, and we’re better off not being told.

Well, I’m glad I’ve got that one sorted then.

#CutsHaveConsequences

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The State Of The Nation

The American President gets to give a State of the Nation speech so, in an Election Year, I thought I’d give it a go.

Unaccustomed as I am to Public Speaking here are the Highlights

Police – Threat levels rising, the threat from International Terrorism is at unprecedented levels and what are we doing about it? At the last count we’ve got rid of nearly 17,000 fully trained and experienced Police Officers and we’re promising to shed more over the next 5 years. An unconfirmed rumour circulating is that Camoron and co want to cull the total down to about 80,000. Can you imagine that? 135,000 a few years ago, down to 80,000, cracking idea.

How many Police Stations or Front Counters have closed across the country? Too many.

The Armed Forces, they’re very important right now. In my humble opinion they deserve the best kit, and basically the best of everything because I’ve always been immensely proud of our fighting heroes, they’re well-trained, do a fantastic job, often in the worst conditions, and are regularly shat upon by successive governments. Having already been decimated to nothing much more than a decent-sized Defence Force rumours abound that they too are to be cut further, to as little as 60,000. Under the Government’s current Army reforms, the number of regular soldiers is already being cut from 102,000 to 82,000, and the number of Territorials is meant to increase to help take up the slack, only it isn’t, they’re actually getting smaller too, not by a huge amount but over 10,000 short of the government’s target of 30,000.  At the end of 2014 our Army consisted of 14,080 Officers and 80,101 Other Ranks. Current plans appear to call for an Army of 112,000 by 2020. This would result in a Regular Army strength of 82,000 and a Reserve strength of 30,000. Figures include 2,790 Gurkhas and 1,240 Full Time Reserves. (FTRS).

The National Health Service – despite Camoron’s constant reassurances that the NHS is safe in Tory hands, there appears to be a shortage of approx 20,000+ Doctors and Nurses, whilst the pay of NHS Chief Executives is climbing so much that one of them now earns more than the Prime Minister (allegedly).

Social Care cuts for Local Authorities have resulted in NHS Bed Blocking as Councils no longer have the funding and resources necessary to care for many patients on their discharge from hospital. This results in the patients failing to be discharged even though though there is no medical reason for them to remain and blocking a bed needed by somebody else.  Government blames Local Authorities, but in reality it is Government Cuts that have brought this about.

The Fire and Rescue Service. I don’t know what the figures are nationally, but almost every region has seen Fire Stations closed, Fire Engines sold off or scrapped. Jobs lost or at risk this is another example of an area we can’t take risks with.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard Service (or Marine & Coastguard Agency). There’s another Emergency Service that’s been decimated Camoron and Co. I’ve blogged about them numerous times before and I make no apology for including them here. We don’t think about them enough. The one thing I will repeat is this, if you swim in the sea, scuba dive, surf, let your kids on the water on inflatables, take a ferry to France, Ireland or anywhere else for your holidays then you absolutely NEED the Coastguards when this go wrong. According to Ordnance Survey the UK coastline is a smidgen over 11,000 miles long. Other agencies, however, have the coastline as anywhere up to 24,000 miles http://coastguardsos.com/how-long-is-a-piece-of-string/ After Camoron and co have had their way there will be just NINE Coastguard Stations left open.

The new National Maritime Operations Centre plus

Stornoway
Shetland
Aberdeen
Belfast
Humber
Holyhead
Milford Haven
Falmouth
Dover
Plus a 1 man station in London Port Authority (which so far failed to be manned at least once)

Do you REALLY, HONESTLY think that’s enough? Human lives are at stake daily. How many major incidents at sea have we heard about just since Christmas?

The last one I shall mention today is the Border Force and the monumental cock-up by the Home Office there (remind me someone, who’s in charge of the Home Office? Anyone we know?)

The Home Office has managed to come up with its own version of an IT catastrophe. Having hired Raytheon, a US company, to put in place “e-borders”, a computer system to log every person who crosses the UK border, it now turns out that Britain will not only be without the e-borders system, we will also have to pay more than £220 million for not having it. That’s in addition to the hundreds of millions of pounds that have already been spent on a system that does not work as intended. Thousands of people are slipping into Britain illegally and in-noticed. How many of them are returning Jihadists?

So there we are. The State of the Nation? Comprehensively ‘Cattled’ would be my assessment. In addition to posts lost, both the Police and the Armed Forces are ‘losing’ experienced personnel and replacing them with cheaper, untrained personnel. The loss of experience to this country is staggering, and cannot be replaced or reversed quickly.

Camoron and Co think that it’s all about saving money, well it isn’t. We can’t go on haemorrhaging skills and experience yet still expect our response to assorted threats to remain the same. That doesn’t work. Those that are left behind are disenchanted, having seen their pensions and terms of employment turned on their heads. Work Longer, Pay More, Less Pension seems to be the Mantra these days, unless you’re an MP That is. They claim that the Law does not allow them to decline their over-generous pay and pensions package. Well I’ve got a suggestion for you there Dave; change the bloody law like you did for hundreds of thousands of decent, hard working folk in order to make your unlawful pension reforms lawful. There’s a challenge for you.

I no longer care which party or parties form a government in May, but I do care about TWO things. They should have the good of the country in their hearts and all of their policies should be for the benefit of the country, not themselves or their fat cat business associates.

The State of the Nation is perilously poised.

Home Office–A Rule Unto Themselves? Surely Not

I won’t bore you for long today.

Basically, I made an FOI request to the Home Office asking for copies of Risk Assessments and Impact Assessments in relation to the previously announced 5% cut to Police Budgets.

They were due to answer today.

This is the response I have been given;

We are considering your request. Although the Act carries a presumption in favour of disclosure, it provides exemptions which may be used to withhold information in specified circumstances. Some of these exemptions, referred to as ‘qualified exemptions’, are subject to a public interest test. This test is used to balance the public interest in disclosure against the public interest in favour of withholding information. The Act allows us to exceed the 20 working day response target where we need to consider the public interest test fully.

The information you have requested is being considered under the exemption in section 35 (1)(a) of the Act, which provides that information can be withheld if it is likely to prejudice the policy making process and the delivery of effective government. This is a qualified exemption(s) and to consider the public interest fully we need to extend the 20 working day response period. We now aim to let you have a full response by 17 February 2015.

In the mean time you may find published reports about this subject matter useful. These include the Peel Assessment and the ‘Meeting the Challenge’ report, carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). Both these reports show that forces are successfully managing to balance their books while protecting the frontline and delivering reductions in crime and are taken into account by Ministers before they make their final decision. To access these reports please visit the following websites:

https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/our-work/peel-assessments/the-first-peel-assessment/

https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/our-work/value-for-money-inspections/policing-in-austerity-meeting-the-challenge/

Additionally, you may like to see the Provisional Police Grant Report and Written Ministerial Statement (WMS). Both these documents explain how the policing budget is calculated and how this calculation is used by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to plan their budgets. Please view these documents at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/police-finance

Is it just me?  Am I being mugged off?  What I’m asking for is some reassurance that they have actually considered the consequences of these cuts, not how they work the bloody budgets out in the first place. Surely that IS in the Public Interest.

So, are HMIC party to this illusion that all is well and books are being balanced? Why would Uncle Tom feed Cruella anything other than the truth?

Now I sit and wait for another month and dare I anticipate that the Home Office will invoke the exemption and ultimately refuse like they normally do? Or am I the only one who wants to be satisfied that the risks have been suitably assessed.

#cutshaveconsequences

#CutsHaveConsequences

Justice For WPC Yvonne Fletcher

Two for the price of one today.

I came across this yesterday, it shocked me I have to be honest.  John Murray has given up a considerable amount of his own time in the pursuit of justice for WPC Yvonne Fletcher.  I have Copied/Pasted it in its entirety, no changes whatsoever. Please take the time to read it, and hopefully share it.

For those that haven’t heard of John before, he quite probably devotes more time and energy to this cause than a certain Baroness you may be familiar with, but for reasons which may become apparent, has not received the same level of recognition.

The campaign for justice for WPC Yvonne Fletcher

Here is the latest update from Ex Bow Street PC John Murray on his campaign for justice for the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Lybian Embassy in St James’s Square in 1984.
“I am very grateful indeed to all of you reunion organisers who have passed these updates on to your readers, contacts and former colleagues. Some of you have been absolutely brilliant in the numbers of people that you have been able to inform about John’s campaign. I know that your support means a great deal to him on his brave and lonely quest for justice.

Can I first start by wishing all a very belated Happy New Year. I would have done this sooner but it was not possible. Can I also thank you all for your support and especially regarding my last request. The response was fantastic.
There are too many people to thank personally, but I tried to contact most of you before I left the UK, to those of you that did not hear from this was because I was away.
Libya at the moment is a war zone, it is the worst I have seen on my many visits. There are no direct flights to Libya, a journey which would normally take about 4 hours from the UK turns into 36 hours now. The border crossings from Tunisia into Libya are closed, however, without saying too much, I managed it. I met with the militia leader in Bengazi, who was well aware of my visit and had arranged safe passage for me. He also supplied two armed bodyguards, (one spoke English), and a vehicle.
The militia leader (I cannot mention his name) was in London, outside the embassy, when Yvonne was shot. He himself was also wounded and treated in the UK.
He told me that although he had been asked by the US and the UK Governments for information, he would only speak to me, as he knew all about our campaign and that he wanted justice not only for Yvonne but also for the Libyan people. He told me the name of the shooter that day and told me where he is. However the plot thickens.
As a direct result of the Lockerbie bomber, it was apparently agreed between the US and the UK, that should Libya surrender Megrahi, then Yvonne’s killer would be granted immunity and would not be pursued. It was said that Lockerbie was more important to the US and UK than Yvonne. You can imagine my reaction.
This brings to the point of ‘The Ones’. I don’t know if you have heard of this but this refers to the letters issued to IRA suspects giving them immunity from prosecution in past murders they have committed. It may be that Yvonne’s murderer has the same. If this is correct it makes a complete sham of the ‘ongoing investigation’ which is always mentioned by the MPS and the Government when I ask awkward questions.
However, all is not lost. I can promise you that. Having taken legal advice it may be that this has no basis in International Law.
I do not want to be accused of interfering with the ‘police investigation’ and I have therefore been seeking advice on what to do with all the new evidence I have obtained. I await a response which may take a few weeks.
Over the new year period I was searching for any new papers which may have been released under the 30 year rule. The one paper I really need to see is Sir Anthony Duff’s report to Thatcher. She appointed Duff to hold a cabinet enquiry into the failings of GCHQ and the spooks to deal with the warnings which were given beforehand, which would have prevented Yvonne’s murder. I again spoke with the National Archives this week, they really are very helpful, and was told that this report has been retained as a matter of National Security by the justice secretary Chris Grayling. I happen to know that this report is damning and supports our claim for an enquiry, which is why it is being retained. It is part of the papers they don’t want us to see.
To conclude I have to say that I believe that the ongoing investigation is a sham. The Metpol and Home Office are lying when they suggest something else (if they are reading this sue me in open court). This also explains why the PM, Home Sec, Commissioner and the Mayor refuses to meet me.
If they think we are finished they are wrong. We will continue until the truth comes out, it is, slowly but surely. Police officers deserve justice too. Finally, I was not mentioned in the New Years Honours, I wonder why?
I have much more to say but there is enough for the moment, as always you can contact me direct if you wish.
John Murray”

Now There’s Controversial Isn’t It

Yesterday (Sunday) I happened upon a conversation that had been started on Facebook. .An ex colleague was mulling over the options that the UK would have in the event of terrorist incidents such as Paris the other day. Some of his thoughts are reproduced below

 

Many years ago, in the face of numerous known terrorists being similarly free in Northern Ireland, a government acted decisively to intern them. As of course we did during both World Wars. It is much easier and cheaper to keep tabs on the enemy when they are all kept, securely, together. That would be possible now, or at least we have the resources to do so. But many years ago safety and security were not trumped at every stage by the need for ‘social cohesion’………..

………..Do we have the leadership prepared to do what is necessary, in Government or the Police? Of course not. There is an election brewing for one thing, but beyond that our political elite seem to be lacking in vision, in their ability to act in the national rather than personal interest and in, well, common sense. They will steadfastly refuse to be decisive now and protect our nation.

 

it got me thinking, and I’m perfectly well aware that my thoughts will not be popular with all of you.

We (and our government) HAVE to accept that the face of International Terrorism has changed drastically already.

Successive government policies have weakened our ability both to prevent a terrorist attack such as Paris, and to investigate it afterwards, or mount a proactive operation such as we saw last week.

Questions have already been asked by the media such as “How could those events be allowed to happen?” and “If those terrorists had already come to notice how could they be allowed to carry out those attacks?”

Nobody ALLOWED them to happen. Intelligence is not evidence. 17 innocent people, including 3 Police Officers, lost their lives. Any Law Enforcement Agency would have prevented that if they could. Nobody wants that on their watch.

So, the authorities had received intelligence about all four of them at some time.

I have been that man that trawls through thousands of lines of telephone data trying to make sense of it. There are some excellent bits of proprietary software that will do it for you, but they can only tell you that Phone A was in contact with Phone B 27 times yesterday. They cannot tell you who was making or receiving the calls.

That takes good old-fashioned coppering. It takes time and it’s resource intensive. Or it requires a warrant signed by the Home Secretary (no laughing at the back).

So what are the alternatives, what else can we do?

My initial response is reproduced below.

Seeing as how terrorists seem to rewrite the rules of engagement with alarming frequency maybe a combination of Internment and a panel of Judges to oversee it might work. Not a huge fan of locking people up on mere suspicion, but you’re right, it probably is time to try something different, but we would need to get it right first time.

We can’t put very many more Police Officers on the streets etc than we do because we’ve simply run out. May and Winsor have seen to that, with nearly 17,000 gone already with the promise of more to follow.

Soldiers? We could put soldiers on the streets except that the government has slashed the numbers in the military as well.

We could increase the number of Bobbies that are armed, but last week’s operations in Paris apparently involved over 80,000 Gendarmes, Marines, Soldiers and Special Forces. We could not currently match that I’m sure. We most certainly possess, or have access to, all the skills and equipment needed, but a tad short on numbers, and a government with the balls to authorise such an operation.

To return to my response above, if the face of Terrorism has changed, we have to change. If you’d asked me a year ago my answer may well have been different, but just maybe George Dixon has had his day.

If numbers are to stay reduced maybe the Police Service (or a big chunk of it) needs to become more paramilitary. Maybe the government do need to rethink Internment, with suitable safeguards such as a panel of judges hearing all the intelligence, possibly in camera.

I have never been a huge fan of Internment, and I think I can see most of the problems and objections, but if it saves lives, would that make it worthwhile? I most certainly don’t make this suggestion light-heartedly and would welcome alternative suggestions and discussion.

I’m sure someone in the private sector will be only too happy to build and run a couple of Detention Centres.

I’m Glad Our Press Are So Perfect

Well, actually they’re. Not, far from it.

I, for one, am absolutely sick and tired of the British Media constantly playing the Blame Game.

Now that the excitement of yesterday’s fast-moving events is over they have adopted their default stance. Knocking, Sniping, Criticising, Blaming, and pointing out, from their nice warm studios, what exactly could have been done better.

In my opinion, and it is only that, the tragic events in Paris over the past few days were swiftly brought to an end by the French Gendarmes , Special Forces and GIGP. To my mind the authorities excelled themselves with an early identification of the suspects, which I believe was achieved by rapid processing of DNA evidence.

Plain, old-fashioned, balls out bravery was evident everywhere as Gendarmes followed up on leads and sightings, knowing full-well what the end game was likely to be.

Eventually the two Kouachi brothers were located and contained.

Not long after we had the siege at the KosherSupermarket.

It soon became apparent that the two incidents were linked and the Police and Special Forces hatched their plans.

In my opinion they did an excellent job. They didn’t have very much time in which to plan and coordinate between the two scenes. They did not have much previous experience to fall back on, as this scenario, fortunately, does not occur very often.

In the fullness of time we saw the end game unfold live on TV and all I saw was immense bravery by every single person involved.

It was quite obvious that the two operations had been coordinated, but there appears to have been a very slight delay at the Supermarket, POSSIBLY caused by a lack of cooperation from the Media.

Tragically four hostages lost their lives, but TV footage shown on French TV clearly shows their bodies on the floor BEFORE Rapid Entry. Investigations will ultimately confirm it, but it seems very clear that they did not die in the Rescue Operation.

This morning there is no live action for the media to cover, so we are now faced with journalists of several companies picking apart yesterday’s events, looking to see who they can blame for what. The Police and Security Services get a huge chunk of their criticism because these three terrorists had previously come to the notice of the authorities but we’re allowed to roam free and carry out these atrocities unhindered.

The simple answer to that one dear journalists is EVIDENCE. Members of our illustrious media would be absolutely incandescent if we started locking people up without evidence. Surveillance is time-consuming, resource-intensive and expensive. It also provides no absolute guarantees that the events of the past few days could have been prevented.

Maybe it’s possible for whoever ACPO are today to arrange an anti-terrorist exercise and invite representatives of the media to participate. Let them experience at first hand how it feels to contain and confront armed terrorists, have guns aimed at them and discharged, how things evolve in the Command and Control Centre, what it’s like to be in the immediate vicinity of a Flash Bang (Sorry, Stun Grenade), and maybe, eve, explain to journalists that INTELLIGENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE.

I don’t envy or underestimate journalists in war zones, but they do need to play fair with scenarios such as we have just witnessed. If they have all the answers why are they journalists and not Tactical Advisors?