PENETRATION – Fact, Fiction or Theory.

Now that I’ve got your attention I have to confess that word should have been INFILTRATION.

I’m not very experienced at a Fiction writing, hardly any at all compared to some others in much higher office and their Expenses Claims.  The utter drivel I am about to reveal to the world might be fact, it might be fiction or maybe just a plausible theory. I’ll leave you, my reader, to decide which it is.

I retired from the Met in 2002 so, quite rightly, I’m completely out of touch with the current goings-on and shenanigans, but before I left there was at least one successful infiltration (I say successful because it was more than a mere attempt) by a criminal enterprise. A member of said enterprise, who had no convictions, had applied, been accepted, undergone training, and been posted to a Police Station in uniform.  That person was nothing less than a ‘Sleeper’ waiting to be activated and presumably pass on information to his/her associates outside of the Force.

That is shocking.

Fortunately, it was rumbled before any damage was done but I HOPE that it served as a Wake-Up call to the organisation and alerted them to what is possible.

Then a chance Tweet got me thinking.

My old mate Obbsie may have been joking when he tweeted but what if he is right?   What if…… What if our government has been infiltrated?  Depletion of our Armed Forces, that’s certainly happening.  Would it benefit a foreign power?  Putin and ISIS are the two that come easiest to mind, but yes it would/could.

Depletion of the Police Service – that’s most definitely happening.  Would that benefit a malevolent foreign power?  In certain aspects yes. Our ability to contain Civil Disorder is almost certainly already impaired.  If Police numbers are reduced too far it cannot help but impact upon the Police’s Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism responsibilities.

The Fire and Rescue Service has been watered down by this coalition? Is this a benefit to a foreign power? In the modern era I’m not actually certain, but their attendance at a major Terrorist Incident would most certainly impact upon others elsewhere with appliances and crews being out of place with less cover available.

The National Health Service has suffered really badly at the hands of this government, even though the Tories lie through their teeth and try to deny it.  Would this be a benefit to a foreign power? Quite possibly in at least two ways.  Firstly our response capabilities (Ambulance, Paramedics, A&E Doctors & Nurses) have been diluted so we would possibly deal less well with the results of a major Terrorist Incident, their would also be knock-on consequences further down the chain.  Secondly the ever-present spectre of Privatisation would be an attractive proposition to a foreign government to pick up contracts in the UK Health sector.

Other Public Sector areas have also been affected; Courts, Probation, Education, Coastguards etc etc.  to be perfectly honest I have no idea if or how these would be of benefit to a foreign government, but the Public Sector as a whole has been CONSIDERABLY weakened by this coalition.

It may well be considered ludicrous to suggest that there could be infiltration at the very top of government but the incontrovertible fact is that our nations enemies, be they ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Argentina or Putin (maybe even the SNP???) , will have viewed the havoc wreaked upon our police, fire and ambulance services, the NHS and indeed our armed forces with a mixture of incredulity and delight.

I implore you, do not be complacent.  Unlikely and fanciful as you might find it, Infiltration can happen, it has happened and COULD happen again, either in Government, Police or the Civil Service.  Will it happen again?  I have absolutely no idea, but I wouldn’t rule it out.  If I was a foreign power I would certainly have considered it years ago.  Look at some of the recent defectors to Syria; Humanitarian or Infiltrator/Sympathiser?  Again, I have no idea, but we should be open to all possibilities.

Infiltration – Fact, Fiction or (Conspiracy) Theory?  All I will say is that I truly hope it is not Fact.

I’ll let Chris have the last word

Going To Market – The New Outsourcing/Privatisation

It seems like a large Police Force in London has quietly taken the decision to go private, or “to the market” as they poncily like to call it. What does this mean? What has happened? Should we be concerned?

Is this simply the thin end of the wedge?

Anyway, this large Force has been deliberating, and had four options to choose from re Procurement etc;

  • Option 1 – Do Nothing, everything stays the way it is
  • Option 2 – Keep everything in-house but Streamline and Improve.
  • Option 3 – Outsource to a new supplier, this would involve undertaking a whole, full-blown new procurement process to identify a new supplier.
  • Option 4 – Outsource to a supplier under an existing shared service framework contract.

The critical factors for declaring any one of the above a success would include service quality, cost reduction, timeframe for delivery of savings and the ability to deliver a service supporting efficient and effective operations.

This process decided that Do Nothing was not an option.  In-house transformation ticked a couple of the boxes, acknowledging the committed, hard-working employees, and the substantial savings that have already been achieved by them.  It scored poorly on outdated and expensive technology, and “Transformation Capacity” (no, I don’t know either).

Apparently, Going To The Market offers ‘fit for purpose’ technology already in use, the transference of risk on savings and delivery, the ability to check out a supplier with their other customers and the potential to achieve savings more quickly.

Whilst it appears that no final decisions have been made, only Option 3 and Option 4 remain on the table. It is anticipated that more work will be undertaken to establish the best route to market, and the In-House Option is dead in the water, hard-working and committed employees included.

A final decision is expected around Easter time with implementation in the Summer, with a period of transition lasting until Spring 2016.

Some staff may have the opportunity to TUPE across to the new supplier, Redundancy Packages are far from certain, but it does seem like jobs are at risk, AND SOON, and who knows where this new supplier(s) will be based??

All that is certain is that this large Police Force loves its committed and hard-working employees, and services will not be remaining in house after Spring 2016 at the latest.

 

Don’t have nightmares, and do have a Merry Christmas, Bah Humbug

We’re Not Gonna Take It

A rare treat for you, a musical blog.

David Camoron, we’ve had enough, WE’RE not gonna take it any more, and if you don’t do something about it you may find the results at the ballot box next May.

I know you’ve been busy, I saw you on my telly box at Stonhenge the other day. Have you become a Druid? When you’re not busy being busy I invite you to take a look around you;

On Tuesday we had the announcement that PCSOs and Police Staff ACROSS THE COUNTRY had voted to take strike action.

In the not too distant past we have had lawyers on strike bringing chaos to the Courts, do you remember that?

Teachers have been striking.

Local Councils have been striking.

Fire Brigades across the country have been striking, and indeed (I believe) some of them have lost their jobs over it.

Health Service workers have been striking.

Probation Officers have been striking.

Prison Officers have been threatening strike action.

Public sector workers from courts, museums, driving test centres, Job Centres, airports and other facilities have all been striking.

Do you want to know why all these, normally loyal and law-abiding people have been striking? Well, I’ll tell you anyway.  It’s all to do with your Pay Restrictions, messing with people’s pensions and your dangerous privatisation plans.

If you add up all of those people either striking, threatening or contemplating strike action it would come to a very big number indeed.  What on earth would you do if they all chose to strike on the same day? Once you’d summoned COBRA or RATTLESNAKE or whatever it’s called you’d panic because you would then be told that there weren’t enough Police Officers left to deal with the problem.  Plan B, call in the Army. Ooips, can’t do that either, same reason, got rid of too many already.  Maybe the French could let you have some CRS Troops on Mutual Aid, after all, the Mayor of Calais is asking for British Police to go and sort out the carnage with illegal immigrants there.  Oh how I laughed at that one.

Police and Armed Forces aren’t allowed to go on strike, so you’re reasonably safe there. Although I am informed that we are the only country in the EU that does not give our Police Officers Employment Rights.

Maybe you could explain to us exactly why it is that you politicians are reluctantly accepting your generous pay and pension awards?  If the problem is that the law doesn’t a;;ow you to decline them, then maybe you’ve got enough time left in the government to change the law, to make it lawful. After all, you managed to do that with so many public sector pensions, why not your own? #JustAsking.

While you’re at it, in the week that another 5 years of Austerity has been announced, more cuts, 5 more years of no, or inconsequential, pay rises, how is that we have money to spare to drive a road tunnel underneath Stonehenge? Could that money not have been better spent elsewhere? #JustAsking

Does none of this bother you? Are you even aware of the carnage you’re causing? Silly question, you must be.

In 2010 we were fooled, many of us voted Tory but got lumbered with a toxic coalition that nobody had voted for.  Many of us will not make that mistake again, we won’t be fooled by your insincere rhetoric.  Maybe you don’t get it, but many of us have seen through what you’re doing. We may be small in number but your own actions and those of your ridiculous collection of ministers is doing our work for us. You are spreading the word yourselves. More and more people are realising what you’re doing.

WE Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

RIP Keef & The Ox

Band On The Run

Nothing whatsoever to do with a rather mediocre album of the same name.

More to do with serving prisoners on the run.

A recent spate of prisoners deciding not to return to their prisons after weekends out in the community inspired me to treat HM Prison Service to one of my #FOI requests.

I was curious to find out just how many serving prisoners are actually Unlawfully At Large.

Their response was to refuse my request, on the grounds that it would cost more than £600 to answer it.

Once I got over the initial shock and disappointment I continued reading and discovered that whilst they couldn’t actually give me an up-to-date figure they had sent me lots of historical information up to and  including 2013, so almost as good, and in far more depth than I had originally requested.

I’m certainly not an expert on the Prison Service but I know someone who is, so if I make any fundamental errors I’m sure that person will steer me in the right direction.

Very helpfully they have included separate information for Public and Private prisons enabling an old cynic like me to make certain comparisons.  How will the Private Sector compare?

The first little gem was ‘Mandatory Drug Tests’ (see, I told you they’d given more info than I asked for).  Most years the percentage failing these tests was approx 1-2% higher in the Private Prisons, mot an astounding difference.  In 2012-13 the percentage was 6.7% in Public Sector prisons and 8.9% in the Private Sector yielding a service total of 7.0%, so not really any great difference, but in the bad old days, well.

In 1998/99 the failure rate was 17.4% in the public sector and 27.6% in the private sector with a Service Total of 18.3%  So well done to the Prison Service and their Contracted Out partners (who knew there were contracted out prisons in 1998?).  Massive reductions achieved by both sectors which seems to have been relatively constant for a number of years now.

The prison population; has risen from 49,570 (Public) and 2,043 (Private) in 95/96 to 73,247 (Public) and 12,483 (Private) or from 51,613 to 85,895 in total since 95/96.  That seems like quite a lot to me.

Overcrowding – now that’s a subject that frequently makes the news.  The percentage of prisoners regarded as being in ‘overcrowded accommodation’ has unsurprisingly risen steadily since 1998/99. The number of overcrowded prisoners in the Public Sector has risen from 19.4% to 21.8% in 2012/13 and just fluctuated a little bit in the years between.  In the Private Sector overcrowding has risen from 27.9% to 29.3%. Quite a bit different to State Prisons, does this tell us anything??

Prisoners ‘Doubled Up’ in a cell – I must confess I thought that was the norm, but the figures show that in 95/96 16.7% of prisoners in public prisons and 11.3% in the private sector were ‘Doubled Up’.  By 2012/13 this had changed to 21.3% (Public) and 28.2% (Private), quite a change over the years, public sector coming down and private sector going up.  Does this tell us anything?

Prison Escort Escapes – these were really quite high in 95/96 with 35 (Public and 1 (Private) but by 2010/11 these figures had come down to between 0 and 2, a really good improvement, well done.

Escapes From Prison – these are the figures that everybody dreads and it’s fair to say tha the public sector did not do very well in the past, with 52,33,23, 28 and 30 respectively in the years 95/96 – 99/2000, set against the Private Sector’s 0-4 over the same period. Since 2008 both sectors have been reporting Prison Escapes between 0-2 per year.  Much, much better.

The good news is that only 5 Category A escapes have been reported between 95 and 2013.

The Really bad news for the Public Sector seems to be with Absconders – between 19995 and 1999 the Public Sector saw approx. 1,000 Absconders per year against a total of 4 in the Private Sector.  This has sort of settled at 175-250 in the Public Sector and 1 in the Private Sector.  Does this tell us anything?

The Private Sector seems to have NO Absconders still at large (not that they lost many) but the Public Sector cannot claim the same, most years seeing double figures of Absconders who successfully remain at large.

Apart from an absolutely awful year in 1995/96 when the Private Sector only had 18% of its inmates released on Temporary Licence actually come back, both sectors have reported a minimum of 94% since then, well done both.

I’m not quite sure what the difference is but the last piece of bad news for the Public Sector is Temporary Release Failures To Return. Anyone tell me the difference between this and the previous category?  Anyway the Private Sector have consistently performed well in this area, reducing a peak of 10 in 1995/96 gradually down to 2 in 2012/13.  The Public Sector, however, has figures that have increased from 356 in 1995/96 to 429 in 2012/13, although, to be fair, they did go down to 248 in 2007/08, before creeping back up again.  Does this tell us anything?

So, there we have it, much more information than I expected to receive and absolutely not the results I expected to see.  The Private Sector seems to out-perform the Public in certain areas, but by no means all.

The Crucifixion Cycle (Revisited)

Apologies, I first posted this on another site about 6 months ago, but with the fallout from #Plebgate and the really dodgy and unfortunately timed ‘leaking’ of the Operation Tiberius report (a 2002 report that has no business being in the hands of the media, hopefully an investigation into its leaking will follow)  it seemed like an appropriate time to revisit it. If you’ve read it before, there’s nothing new. If you haven’t read it before you might find it of some interest.

And so it has started.

In truth it probably started a year or two ago, but various distractions have kept our blinkers in place.

The Crucifixion Cycle

Stage 1

Slash Resources

Government slashes the resources of the public body in question.  Be it NHS, Armed Forces, Police, Education, Coastguard, Fire Service, Probation…..the list just goes on and on.  They have all had their resources slashed to the bone (and possibly deeper) by this failing coalition government in the name of Austerity. Be under NO illusions, more cuts are coming, Gideon says so.

Stage 2

Highlight The Failings

Next Step is to commission a report highlighting the failings of said public body. Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are widely available) are normally good at issuing reports that seem to support government’s plan of action.

Stage 3

Get the Press to Crucify the Public Body for Their Failings

Certain sectors of the British Press seem only too willing to publish articles, splashed across their front pages, or 1st item on the 10 o’clock news etc, crucifying the public body for their failings. They never seem to mention slashed resources at this stage, just how serious and awful the failings have been, whip up some public backlash, and launch a “heads should roll” theme to move it forward.

Police and NHS are currently suffering at the hands of Stage 3.  Whose turn next?

Stage 4

Privatisation.

These public bodies can’t be trusted to organise a beer-drinking event in a brewery.  Just look at the headlines at Stage 3. I know how to sort this out, we’ll privatise them.  We’ve got some Lords with interests in suitable private companies, let’s give them a shot at sorting it all out, perfect solution.

Am I wrong?

Is this NOT how it happens?

Where are you on the Wheel of Fortune?

Have you been crucified yet?

ConDem – The Government That Just Keeps Giving (And Taking)

In the week when MPs get an 11% pay rise and a brand spanking new pension scheme, (have I mentioned those before?) just so long as they stop claiming for tea and biscuits for the office, we get the disastrous (some may say criminally so) waste of millions/billions of pounds by Government.

I’ve mentioned before the odious Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions and their ridiculous Universal Credit Scheme.  By anybody’s best estimate it is due to WASTE at least £34,000,000 and possibly anything up to £130,000,000 because the IT system won’t work. Back to the Drawing Board there then.

Phillip Hammond’s Ministry of Defence is set to waste £7.4 million because he tried to privatise (that P word again) their procurement system and all but one of the bidders withdrew. I wonder why that could be? Maybe there’s not so much profit in procurement as the private side thought.

This is on top of my old friend “Aircraft Carriers” that I’ve ranted about before.

The Government changed Labour’s plans to buy jump jets. But after delays and more costs emerged, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced a U-turn costing at least £74million, the National Audit Office has revealed.

Margaret Hodge said: “We were supposed to get two aircraft carriers, available from 2016 and 2018, at a cost of £3.65billion. We are now on course to spend £5.5billion and have no aircraft carrier capability for nearly a decade.

“Officials also made incredibly basic errors such as forgetting to include the costs of VAT and inflation.” Now that one’s an absolute classic. I do hope someone got sacked for that.

Hammond’s department was also responsible for a trifling £40,000 bill over the last two years for ringing the Speaking Clock. Speechless.

And then today we get the news that a totally disgraceful £55 BILLION is being wasted through Fraud and Unclaimed Taxes according to the Public Accounts Committee who described this figure as “worryingly high“. The Public Accounts Committee obviously employ masters of understatement amongst their staff.

Total government accounts drawn up by the Treasury show that in 2011-12 some £13.2 billion had to be written off due to fraud and error. Margaret Hodge (again) said: “Taxpayer losses due to fraud and error are worryingly high. It is staggering that, in one year, the public sector was defrauded of over £20 billion and the tax gap rose to £35 billion.”

But it’s OK, we are in times of Austerity. Your pay has been frozen, your pension eroded, but HMG can continue to waster staggering amounts of money and still qualify for an 11% pay rise. When’s the next election? Might just stand, seems like a good number to me.

But one serious question. What could you do with all that money if you added it up and used it for fixing the Police, NHS, Armed Forces. Someone, somewhere wouldn’t be losing their job, folks could have the right kit, we might have a usable aircraft carrier somewhere, hospital waiting times reduced, who knows what you could do with it all. A Bean Counter somewhere could tell us I’m sure.

How Do You Find James Patrick – Guilty or Not Guilty?

I do not know James Patrick in the traditional sense, we have never met.  We have exchanged views many times on Twitter however.

As many of you know he came to our notice with a video on YouTube called The Last Call To Attention.  It doesn’t matter what I think about this, over 14,000 have now viewed this video made by a serving officer who clearly has the utmost passion for the Police Service.

Further videos followed and then a series of blogs, at first collectively entitled “The Police Debating Directive”, and then succeeded by “The Candle Legacy”

A book was published entitled “The Rest Is Silence”. This book was nothing more than a collection of previously published blogs, nothing new. Nothing that hadn’t been seen previously. It is important to note that James did not receive a single penny in recompense for this book, all proceeds were donated to charity, Care Of Police Survivors, and that was always his stated intention.

After the book was published the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards took an interest and disciplinary proceedings followed. James found himself in the absolutely awful position of being investigated for Gross Misconduct, an allegation that could have a profound effect on his future career.

The allegations made against him were;

1. He has written and published a book about police service in contravention of MPS Policy.
2. Some of the contents of the book could be harmful to the reputation of the police service and adversely impact on public confidence.

I can’t comment on allegation 1 as I don’t know what MPS policy on this matter currently is, but I do not believe that he is the first serving Police Officer to have written a book about his/her experiences.

As far as allegation 2 is concerned I have now read this book cover-to-cover twice, and I can’t find anything in it whatsoever that would damage public confidence in the police service.

There is plenty in it that might damage public confidence in the government and other public AND private organisations but these are not James’ words.  He has merely circulated information which is already in the public domain and easily accessible to anyone who’s halfway decent in the use of Google (other search engines are also available. I honestly don’t believe that I read a single sentence that was not obtained from public domain material on the interweb.

So by collating and distributing this information does James (and I do mean James personally) damage public confidence in the police service? Or is any perceived damage caused by the authors of the documents and policies that James highlights? Personally I believe that it’s the latter, but you are obviously free to make up your own mind.

And finally, last week James appeared before the Public Administration Select Committee of Parliament chaired by Mr Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative MP.

I watched James give his evidence together with the other 3 witnesses in that session. If you haven’t already seen it, or you want to watch it again, you can find and follow it here

Personally I have a few minor issues with the manner in which James sometimes presented his evidence, but I can easily write that off to nerves.  I don’t have a single issue with WHAT he said however. He gave a full and frank statement to the committee not only highlighting what I, and numerous others, have known for years, but also things that I hadn’t previously known,  He then went on to explain how skewed crime statistics perversely influenced resource allocations across London. He was broadly supported by the three other witnesses in his session and the chairman ended up saying this “I would like to apologise on behalf of politicians of all parties”.  Mr Jenkin said politicians were responsible for “creating this atmosphere in which targets must be achieved”. He added: “I have no doubt political leadership has played a big part”.

And James Patrick still stands accused of “harming the reputation of the police service”.

A Met Commander whose name was immediately forgettable appeared on our TVs that night defending Met Crime Statistics, implying or stating that the 4 witnesses that morning had been wrong.

Only today, Policing Minister Damian Green said “Recorded crime has fallen by more than 10% since the government came to power and we have put in place long-term reforms to help the police continue that downward trend.

“We have stripped away targets and red tape to free police from desk-bound jobs; we have installed the National Crime Agency to take on organised crime; we have installed a College of Policing to professionalise policing; we have modernised outmoded pay and conditions; and we have introduced a newly-reinforced ethical framework to ensure police conduct is on an equal footing to cutting crime.”

Erm excuse me Mr Green, but aren’t those figures in severe doubt now? But you still rely on them to spout your propaganda.

Additionally much of what James told us about in his book “The Rest Is Silence” and his earlier blogs has now been endorsed by Lord Stevens, no less, in his report published today;

The review said the PCC model had “fatal systematic flaws” and “should be discontinued in its present form at the end of the term of office of the 41 serving PCCs.”

The review’s survey of officers had found that the government’s “failure to engage the service in the programme of reform” had led to a “damaging stand-off” and “plummeting morale”, Lord Stevens said.

Restrictions on the use of private companies such as G4S and Serco for policing functions

That is just some of it.

To return to the beginning, do I think that James Patrick has damaged public confidence in the Police Service? He has said many things that have made me wince, we have not always agreed on everything he has said or done, but when I strip that away I see a man who is totally dedicated to his profession/vocation. I have seen untold numbers of people on Twitter who have no direct connection with the Police Service supporting James for his stance. I don’t recall seeing anyone (apart from MPS management) condemning him. He has done nothing more than tell it like it is. Should we prevent our police officers from telling the truth? Do we want them to not tell tell the truth. Who would you trust more, someone who is demonstrably trying to get the truth across or someone who is endeavouring to fudge the issue?

Finally, unless someone can correct me, James has NEVER been instructed to remove his book from sale, or take down his blogs, thus permitting a continuance of the alleged offence.

I rest my case members of the “jury”.