#Cuts – Here Are Some Of The Real #Consequences

I was minding my own business, enjoying the solitude of Mrs Angry being on babysitting duties somewhere in the frozen north, and I became disturbed by some of the facts, figures and anecdotes I was reading.

The first one to grab my attention was this

One in 5, 20%, that’s appalling. Angry Junior lives in Dorset so I’m unashamedly biased, but it’s still an awful figure.

Next came

The equivalent of 7 (admittedly the smaller ones) Police Forces being lost thanks to Camoron, Gollum and Cruella is stunning, nothing short of criminal.

Then I made the mistake of reading the results of the ITV poll of Police Officers across the country.  About 500 of them responded apparently, and contributed the following, depressing, nuggets;

  • Our main priority is now servicing 999 calls. We spend no time on responses, on actually targeting criminals- we are just responding to calls
  • Not enough police cars to go around. Most officers seen out on foot are doing this as they have lost the scramble for the car keys.
  • As back office staff are reduced the work they did has not diminished. It is now officers who are having to complete the bureaucracy.
  • It is regularly impossible to get access to computers or vehicles.
  • Unable to attend community meetings due to further areas of responsibility which take precedence at the last minute and members of the community believe we don’t care.
  • As a Detective many of the rape cases take some time to investigate. I am dealing with some cases which are in excess of 6 months old. Due to lack of trained staff we have problems getting video interviews conducted.
  • Incidents such as attempted rapes would have previously been investigated by crime departments. these are now routinely being allocated to uniformed 24/7 officers who don’t have the time to ensure a quality investigation is carried out unless they are taken off response duties thereby reducing the number of officers available.
  • Having to decide which rape will be investigated today and which one we will investigate tomorrow as there was not enough staff to do both.
  • Police officer assaults are more frequent as all officers are now singled crewed
  • Due to lack of frontline officers, we are regularly being single crewed and sent to violent incidents, putting our personal safety in jeopardy. Also, due to lack of officers, there have been lack of resources to assist when officers have called for emergency assistance.
  • Unarmed officers having to attend armed incident because armed officers are too far away.
  • I have recently uncovered keeping detainees in custody too long as there are no staff to deal with them.
  • We have closed so many police stations and are now all based in “super” police stations miles from our communities. We have officers who do not know the areas, the criminals, the community contacts or the problems. I think this is a massive retrograde step.
  • Inexperienced call-takers, who are under pressure to answer an unrealistic volume of calls, are creating jobs for matters that are not in the police remit, mainly so they can move onto the next call, rather than dealing with the call effectively. In the last month I have been sent to incidents where callers should have been referred to Social Services, the Ambulance Service, the RSPCA, the Fire Brigade, Action Fraud, Environmental Health, the Dog Warden and the Taxi Licencing Authority.
  • Officers are spending up to an hour waiting to process prisoners booking into custody at peak times.
  • We have serious crimes waiting to be allocated but there aren’t enough people to allocate the work to, as officers are inundated.
  • On nights we have only 6 officers, 5 sometimes, to cover a population of a quarter of a million.
  • There just isn’t enough of us to cope.
  • Burglary victim has waited three days for a visit.
  • Every major incident has an affect, be it policing sporting events to murders, resources are stretched to breaking point.
  • Prisoners being bailed out without being questioned…due to insufficient officers available to interview them.
  • Significant investigation into vehicle crime had to be suspended as there were not enough officers to investigate.

So there you have it, not my words, not my interpretation, but the actual words of some of the 500 who responded.

This is EXACTLY how the cuts are having consequences on YOUR communities, and those cynical bar stewards at Westminster couldn’t give a stuff, or those that do are shouted down.

Then just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, ACPO predicted this;

Police cuts could cost 34,000 jobs. Here’s how to save 8,000 of them

The possibility/probability of 34,000 MORE losses yet to come.

#CutsHaveConsequences at ALL levels and in ALL communities.

Tell your MP, tell your local paper, tell ANYBODY who will listen, or the future is truly bleak

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The Reality Behind The Fudge

If you are, or have been, a Police Officer you can stop reading now, you already know it.

If you’re married to, or in a relationship with, a Police Officer, you can stop ready too, you already know it as well.

I was energised by two things this morning. Chronologically they were;

Tony Munday’s excellent post Cuts Have HUMAN Consequences

And a Tweet by @Stella_Coppard;

Tony makes some very valid, and excellent points, and I just want to take a few minutes to remind everyone just what sort of restrictions working for the Police Service comes with, most of which are not remunerated in any way.

You can never guarantee that you’ll come home at the end of your shift, although almost all officers accept that when they sign up it has an impact on families too.

You can never guarantee having those important dates off work, kids birthdays, anniversaries, wife/partner birthdays, etc etc. you can never even be certain of getting Christmas Day off to spend with the family, we had an unofficial system whereby officers with children got the first crack at being off, but nothing was ever guaranteed.

I do believe that things have improved now, but you could never guarantee being able to live wherever you wanted.

Firstly you had to live within a certain distance (I think it was 25 miles) of Central London if you were in the Met, thereby guaranteeing that your choice of accommodation was well and truly within the most expensive areas available. I know the allowances were more than those paid to County Officers, but not enough to fully compensate.

Secondly, even after you’d found the house of your dreams you couldn’t guarantee that you’d ever own it and move in.  Having found the ideal house for my wife and self, we’d made an offer, negotiated a price and all that kind of stuff, then came the bit of asking the Commissioner for permission to live there (yes, really, that used to be how it was) we were declined the All-important permission as the next door neighbour was on bail for Armed Robbery. I wouldn’t particularly have wanted to live next door to an Armed Robber, but it’s one more example of how the Police used to control our lives.

Caution was required in your choice of pub, who you chose as your friends, who your kids made friends with, totally innocent that one, but Big Brother was always watching.

So, next time you hear about the Cuts and how they have Consequences, please remember that apart from their pay packets our brave Police Officers (and other) have already made numerous sacrifices just to do the job they do, and they do it proudly.

Getting on to Stella’s Tweet, she’s not far wrong, and I’m sure she didn’t mean it literally.

We have already lost 16,000 officers across England and Wales since 2010.  At the end of March 2010 we had 144,236 officers in the 43 Forces.by the end of September 2014 that number was down to 127,909 a reduction of 16,327 or 11.3% across the board.

It doesn’t end there, it has been widely forecast/predicted/admitted that the losses haven’t finished and we’re going to lose more.  The final total is quite likely to be in the order of 22,000 or 15.2%

That doesn’t begin to address the losses of civilian support staff.  These have been cut from 79,596 in March 2010 to 63,378 in September 2014, a loss of a further 16,218 posts or 20.3%, already a higher price than the officers, and set to get worse also.  ACPO have predicted that the final losses will likely total 68,000 by the time this coalition has finished.

So we lose 34,000 officers and 34,000 support staff? (as near as dammit)  What does that matter?  The coalition will be out come May and we can stop this nonsense dead in its tracks.

Maybe.

Assuming that Camoron and Co, Gollum and Cruella get their just desserts, and get pitched off into the long grass, all is OK isn’t it?

Well, no, actually.  Hypothetically speaking, even IF we can oust the coalition and stop the cuts, and even IF we magically recruited another 16,000 Police Officers overnight and even IF we could get them all a place in a Training Establishment on Day One, it takes up to 2 years to fully train a Constable.  Direct Entry Superintendents seem to be able to do it quicker, but approx 6 months of Initial Training followed by a further 18 months of Continuation Training, or whatever they call it now, makes 2 years for a fully fledged Constable, and we all know that those IFs aren’t all going to fall neatly into place.

So next time you’re quietly seething at the cuts wishing there was something you can do, there is.  Take half an hour (ish) of your time and write a letter to your local newspaper Angry of Tunbridge Wells type stuff, and make the true issues known. Mainstream media seem to be completely tied by the government and only report what they want to or are told to, but if ONE person wrote to their local paper every day the groundswell would be noticed.  Thanks to Stella and @Cate_a_Moore for the suggestion, it’s a good one, perfectly legal and definitely worth considering.

I see lots of people on Twitter wishing they could do more, slagging off the government policies etc etc, well there is something we can all do, and it doesn’t take much effort.

Whether you support the Police, Fire, NHS, Coastguard or whoever, it’s the same for us all.  Even the dumbest Editor must sit up and take notice when his Newsdesk gets suddenly overwhelmed by letters from Joe Public supporting their Public Services.

I know I write from one perspective because of my background, but it doesn’t actually matter what your background is, if you support our Armed Forces, Emergency Services, NHS etc etc, simply write one letter to show your support.

This will not go away unless we can make it go away.

 

 

Is This A Pattern I See Before Me?

Sorry Mr Shakespeare, but it was quite appropriate and almost right.

According to an article in the Police Federation’s POLICE magazine, morale has hit rock bottom and thousands of cops are thinking of quitting.

Reforms to pay and working conditions have left thousands of officers saying they are planning to leave the service and not recommend policing as a career, revealed in a survey on morale by the Police Federation.

 The poll, which surveyed 32,606 serving officers, found that nearly 5,000 said they were planning to leave the service in the next two years, andhttp://www.policemag.co.uk/editions/nov14_news_morale_plummets.aspx 94 per cent believed morale was either low or very low in the police service.” 

I’m sure that this is not news to any of us, it isn’t even new news, dating from November last year, but it occurred to me that our ‘friends’ in the media don’t seem to like reporting on too many similar stories all at once. People might be able to work out what the wicked government is up to if they did.

You’ll find stories about Nurses, Junior Doctors and Senior Doctors leaving the NHS in droves, but not necessarily on the same day or in the same paper.

Teachers are another profession targeted by Camoron’s Army, and getting ready to quit.

I see no evidence that Fire Fighters are leaving in droves in protest against the reforms but there is plenty of evidence that Fire Fighters are being shoved out of their profession as a result of the government’s swingeing, and reckless, cuts across the whole country.

Finally for today, the Marine and Coastguard Agency. I truly don’t know what to make of what’s happening with them.  About 50% of Coastguard Stations around the country have either been closed, or marked for closure. Yet the remaining stations are reporting that they are under-manned, at levels lower than previously agreed.

Like the majority of the others, the continuance of an efficient Coastguard Service is essential for public safety, but instead the figures below just go to show one more example of how the government are cynically uncaring of public safety in their headlong rush to be voted “the best economy in Europe”.







So it seems that there is a pattern, once the government have got a Public Service in their sights they either make conditions so unbearable that everyone wants to leave, Instil such a lack of confidence that the end result is the same, or they simply get rid of them. Whichever way you look at the Public Services, particularly the Emergency Variety, are cut to the bone and beyond, and make no mistake, whatever happens in May, this cannot be rectified overnight, it will take years, assuming that the damage has not already gone too far.

Camoron, Osborne, May, Winsor, Mordaunt and all the rest, I HOPE YOU CAN SLEEP AT NIGHT

Don’t have nightmares, you’ve got rid of the people who can keep you safe.

Benches Of Green, Empty They Are

The current furore over Rifkind and Straw got me thinking.  Rifkind’s extraordinarily arrogant comment about being self-employed and not getting a salary  really got my goat.

I won’t go over the same arguments all over again, of course he’s not self-employed. It did, however get me thinking about how much time our politicians should be spending in the House of Commons.  Naively I assumed that as elected politicians, elected to represent US in the House, they should be spending some time each, or most, days on the Benches. How wrong was I?

Members of Parliament are not obliged by parliamentary rules to attend the House at any time.  So, like many other things, if it’s not covered by the rules they can, and do, ignore it.  Can you imagine ANY organisation being effective and efficient if the staff just turned up when they felt like it?

If you want to know how often your MP has attended the House, the official advice is this;

You can scan Hansard to collect figures on the voting records of particular MPs 

Or

Furthermore, you can also access Hansard by Member and view contributions made by MPs during the current session, sorted by date or subject heading

Or

For Select Committees, the members that attended are listed at the top of the of each evidence session. Furthermore, each edition of the Sessional Returns provides details of membership and the number of meetings attended. 

For public bill committees, the full membership of the committee is listed and the Members who attended each particular sitting are asterisked.


The best I can work out is that MOST MPs attend the House of Commons about 66% of the time, or put another way, for about one third of the time they’re either committed elsewhere or can’t be arsed. 


WE pay them £67k per year, minimum, more if they’re a Minister or belong to a Committee and still Rifkind thinks that’s not enough.  They seem to have completely forgotten that they are paid out of the Public Purse, no matter how much they’re getting paid. They’ve had their 11% pay rise, their increased pension pot and their more than generous Expenses Scheme, is it too much to ask that they actually rock up and do a full day’s work?




When The Music Stops or #CutsHaveConsequences

#CutsHaveConsequences is a hashtag that’s been used a lot in the past few weeks, and rightly so. It got me to thinking.

Every single Force in the land has suffered cuts since 2010, all in the name of Austerity. Their respective PCC and Chief a Constable have formed plans to cope with the savagely slashed budgets.

In London Boris seems to have made selling off the family silver one his priorities.

The big one that hit all the headlines was the selling off of New Scotland Yard.  Bought for £123.5 million in 2008, it sold last year for £350, a nice little earner.  I suspect there will be some Tax to pay on the profit.  I suspect there will be costs associated with the move out of NSY to Curtis Green Building and I believe that the Met proposes spending between £30 and $50 million pounds to refurb Curtis Green and make it fit for purpose.

The profit margins are receding.

Then there is the fact that the Met has sold off about 35 of its major buildings including nearly 30 Police Stations for about £125 million.and Boris apparently plans to sell off up to 200 properties across London, although admittedly that figure will include Married Quarters and Section Houses.  Ultimately he proposes reducing the number of residential properties from 862 to a mere 200.

Now the thing that gets me about all this frenzied selling off is “where do the people go?”  Has the Met suddenly taken up Hot Desking?  The people displaced from NSY will not all fit into Curtis Green Building.  Other ‘support’ buildings are also threatened with closure.

In any or all of these buildings there will be (not an exhaustive list by any means);

  • People answering telephones
  • People operating computers
  • Desks for people to work at
  • Lockers for the Operational Officers (and hopefully some changing facilities)
  • Rooms set aside for specific Teams/Squads
  • Filing Cabinets (the Met still has a mountain of paper not yet shredded)
  • Garage facilities for the car
  • Car Parking facilities if you’re lucky and a member of the SMT

Am I being thick here, but if you reduce the number of buildings, the people who worked there either have to be displaced elsewhere or ‘got rid of’.

If they’re displaced elsewhere those elsewheres become overcrowded do they not?

If they’re ‘got rid of and join the ‘disappeared’ somebody else has to take up their work and increase their own workload.  I do not believe that there was a mound of spare capacity just waiting for extra work to land.

This here Austerity is due to be with us until at least 2019 allegedly.  Boris’s £125 million won’t last him very long and where will he get the next bundle of cash from once it has run out?  Why should he care? He won’t be Mayor for much longer.

Do not think for one moment that this is anywhere near the End Game, it isn’t, and if Austerity can knock the Met sideways like this, just think what it’s doing for your local Force.

So, when the music stops, grab a chair, grab a locker or grab an office.  They may not be with us much longer, Tesco et al could become the norm.

LeytonstonePolice_McLellan-23.jpg MCILG-police-206.jpgNo, these officers are not taking a sneaky break, they’re there officially to ‘meet the public’ rather than have a Front Counter remain open.  The police officers had no desk, no private area where they could speak to members of the public in confidence, no means of logging on to the police national computer etc, and they appear not to have official forms.

Contact Points, Coffee With A Cop, Chat With A Cop, call them what you may, they’re a pretty poor substitute for going to the local nick, with all the necessary forms and computers at hand, to report whatever is on your mind. AND NOT BEING OVERHEARD BY THE LOUT WAITING FOR A LATTE.

#AllInItTogether or Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a politician who said “We’re all in this together” or something very similar.

Soon after there followed one of the new breed, a Police and Crime Commissioner belonging to the same party as old “we’re all in this together” chops.

We didn’t ask for this new thing called PCCs, we just got them because some politicians somewhere thought it would be a good idea.

Anyway, the point of my tale is this.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for a large, rural force not too far away from DeadBadgerShire has a website. It’s his own personal website, his PCC website is separate, although they do seem to cross over sometimes.

Once upon a time he said this on his website;

“Working with my new Chief Constable, we have cut the cost of the three top salaries from £420,000 to £330,000. I have cut 15% from the cost of governing the police. We are pushing through further reforms to ensure money is spent where it’s most needed – on policing our towns and villages.”

Using the Freedom of Information Act I asked this thoughtful PCC what the three top salaries were that he (they) had reduced.

I must give him (his office) credit for answering that one.

Chief Constable, salary reduced from £175,014 to £161,819

Director of Finance and Resources, salary reduced from £141,295 to £98,000 and a reduction in responsibilities to Director of Resources only.

Chief Executive, salary reduced from £109,584 to £70,589 and responsibilities reduced to Chief of Staff only.

Salary bill reduced from £425,893 to £330,408.

He didn’t tell me that he has also snuck in a Deputy Commissioner at a salary of £53,000, making the figures above somewhat less impressive, but to be honest  I would have left it that had he not rattled my goat with this tweet recently

https://twitter.com/ChrisTRSalmon/status/564018319154774018

This was followed by a challenge from one of our number

To which, the reply was;

I couldn’t resist, so I had to chip in with

To his eternal credit, he came back to me this comprehensive reply

Now, I wanted to be able to explain to you all why the PCC has felt it appropriate to cut three salaries, diminish two top posts and bring on board a deputy whilst maintaining his own salary, but I can’t because I haven’t had it explained to me, but I’m sure there’s a reason, his own salary (I found it eventually, buried deep in the website) is circa £65,000, quite reasonable really.

So I can go into the weekend assured that we truly are #AllInItTogether

Time For Change?

A bit of banter between Twitsters yesterday gave birth to a #Hashtag.

@Roman_Viterus (yes, him again) put forward the suggestion that the Police Federation of England and Wales should be staffed not by serving officers but by retired officers.

As you can imagine, this very quickly provoked many responses.

Some were, for varied reasons, violently opposed to this suggestion.

Some were, equally vehemently, in favour.

Others were maybe non-committal but receptive to the idea, but with the exception of a small minority, most seemed to be in agreement that some form of change is needed.

One reason against retired officers running the Fed was that they’re dinosaurs and out of touch.

One of the reasons in favour was that retired officers would be far less likely to crumble under pressure from ACPO and government, precisely because they are NOT serving, and not subject to the same regime.  Like it or not, that is how many outside the Federation see it.

One concern that was voiced was that replacement of the Fed with retired officers or civvies might lead to a short-term success but then an experienced void would be left, and the Service would actually be worse off.

I’m not certain that is necessarily true, but why shy away from change because of fear of the potential consequences. Nothing will change if nothing changes.

I am one of those out of touch dinosaurs, I admit it, but as a retired officer I hear things that disturb me. I have read allegations of bullying, sexism and extravagance about the National Fed. I have no idea if they are true, but it’s out there damaging the image.

I have heard members complaining about lack of support from the Federation. Again, I have no personal knowledge, but if the officers feel betrayed and let down that’s not an image that the Federation should portray or accept.

As a retired officer I have heard that the Federation are not supporting members, like myself, whose pension commutation seems to have been reduced by the government. I paid my subs for 30 years and I would expect the Fed to represent me, and the thousands like me in the same position, on any matter in relation to my pension, not just cast us adrift as ex-members.

If these things are untrue, let’s hear the truth.

It’s not my place to dictate what should happen, nor could I, but I don’t see any problem with sparking a debate. Let’s have some ideas. Does the Federation need to change or are we happy with what we have?

Is it lawful, or desirable, for the Fed to buy in some expertise from a relevant, large Union? As far as I know that would be innovative, but would it be useful?  I previously posted a blog promoting the idea that the affected services work together in some way.  I don’t know if that’s feasible, but struggling on in isolation isn’t getting us anywhere.  Slowly, slowly the other public services are achieving small concessions from Central Govt.  What concessions have we achieved?

Is there a case for a panel of Retired Police Officers, to be consulted on matters of policy and major disputes? Would their input be desirable or of any value?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti Federation and I have absolutely no idea what goes on at Leatherhead.  The Police Federation have been brilliant in the past, and have much to be proud of, but Modern Problems require Modern Thinking, and I’m not seeing much of that come out of Leatherhead.  Again, the individual offices have been doing some sterling work, and I’m loving the series of #CutsHaveConsequences videos (which I believe the public are supportive of too) but I’m seeing no signs of co-ordination from HQ.  Am I missing something here?

What do you think? Does the Fed need to change? If so, how? As a total outsider now, I would say that some sort of change would seem appropriate, but what that change should be I’m far from clear about. I have a soft spot for the Fed, I was a Local Rep myself for a short period of time, but like other things about the Police, I don’t quite recognise everything I see now, and I’m not always happy about that.

I realise that not all of these comments can be universally popular with everyone, but if it stirs debate and leads to some kind of change for the good, then it will have been worth it.

Have your say and use the #Hashtag #FedChange.