Come On Cruella – Explain It To Us

Ii have heard many eloquent people highlighting the problems faced by Police and Public alike caused by the government’s reckless policy of repeatedly cutting the Police Budget.

I know that this problem applies to other PublicSectors also, but today I am concentrating solely on the Police.

It is frequently stated within the Police Service that if the reasons for doing something (for example Stop/Search, Kettling, Tasering) are explained to the public in a calm and reasonable manner then they will probably understand and possibly even support the action, or at the very least become less vociferous in their opposition. A calm explanation as to why I was Stop/Searching an apparently innocent person, the grounds and reason behind it, was frequently all that was required to defuse a tense situation and the person quite frequently went off perfectly happy.

So, Theresa May, David Cameron, why don’t you tell us, the Police and Public, just exactly why the cuts that you have already enacted, and the cuts that you have cued up for the next five years are actually ALL NECESSARY.

I have pointed out previously, on more than one occasion, that many of the 43 Forces have already shed more officers than they needed to to attain their 2015 Austerity Target set by HMIC.  Please explain to us calmly, in a language that we can all understand, why this was necessary.

Please explain to us why, when other public services find their budgets ring-fenced, the Police Budget is not.

Why is the Foreign Aid Budget ring-fenced and the Police Budget not?

Please explain to us why we keep hearing the mantra “Crime Is Down” to justify the cuts when overall demand on the Police Service is UP.

So would you please explain to us all quite calmly all of your reasons for decimating what used to be the finest Police Service in the world.  If you try and explain in a non-confrontational manner we might just understand and agree with you, possibly not, but go on try it, what do you have to lose?

The impression amongst the Police Service is that you are on a mission to destroy the Police Service, well you need to remember that the vast majority of the British Public have no connections with the Police Service whatsoever, but they still need for a Police Service to exist to report their crimes, deal with their Anti-Social Behaviour, maintain their public tranquility ( The Queen’s Peace) etc etc.

Demand UP, Establishment DOWN please explain to us why, JUSTIFY IT.


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Ponder This Cruella

Thursday saw a bizarre event.

The people voted and it seems that the people voted for five more years of Cuts and Austerity, and that is absolutely the country’s right, if that’s what they want.

However, within 36 hours of the result being confirmed we had civil disorder outside Downing Street.

I am neither condoning nor discouraging civil disorder, but I AM anticipating it.

Are we heading for a new Summer of Discontent?  Because if we are, think on this, you and Milky have already disposed of over 17,000 warranted Police Officers since 2010, PCSO and Special Constabulary numbers are also down I believe, as are Police Staff.  If this isn’t bad enough you’ve kept your job and are about to embark on 5 more years of cuts leading to the loss of a similar number more.

What are you going to do when the wheel comes off?  When the Met has to ask for Mutual Aid like it did in 2011 something has gone terribly pear-shaped.  We’ve got even less than that now, more destined to go, where will the Mutual Aid come from.  17,000 officers, as has been pointed out elsewhere, is the equivalent of FOUR entire Police Forces along the South Coast, and you intend to DOUBLE that? Think about it I implore you.

Take a look at what happened only yesterday.

Can you hear the people sing?

Can You?

who you gonna call

It Has Never Been A Better Time To Be A Volunteer

It’s Official.

Be a Volunteer.

Loads of opportunities.  Never be Bored and Fed Up again.  Let’s take a look and see some of the opportunities Volunteering has to offer.

Territorial Army – OK I know it’s not Voluntary Work in the accepted sense, but I’m sure you get my drift.  “They have sometimes been dismissed as “weekend warriors” who lack the fitness, discipline and commitment of regular soldiers.

But the Territorial Army (TA) – in the process of being rebranded the Army Reserve – already makes up a sizeable part of the British Army’s manpower and will soon be playing an even greater role.”

Under the government’s Army 2020 review, the size of the regular army is being reduced by a fifth and reservists will have to help meet the shortfall.

The intention of the MOD is that by 2020, the British Army will have 120,000 soldiers, of which 84,000 will be Regulars and 35,000 Reservists (a ratio of 70/30).

I am most definitely knocking the TA, they do a fine job, but what kind of half-arsed mentality would have 30%  of our Army as Reservists?  Or is it just me?  Maybe I’m the half-arsed one and everybody in government and MOD is normal.  And that’s just the Army, not taking into account the fine chaps of the RAF and Navy.

It is intended that by 2020 10% (1,800 personnel) of the RAF will be High Readiness Reserves.

It is intended that by 2020 the trained strength of the Maritime Reserves will be 3,100 sailors and marines

So there you are, plenty of opportunity, go Volunteer.

Policing – Theresa May has got that one sussed;

The number of the voluntary officers would increase more than fourfold – from the current 15,000 to the peak levels of 67,000 last seen more than 50 years ago, said Theresa May, the Home Secretary [in 2010]

She also outlined plans for a volunteer “police reserve force” to bolster the country’s 141,000 (Ha!!!) front-line police officers, whose numbers are said to be under threat because of public sector spending cuts.

Mrs May disclosed the volunteer plans as she outlined a wide range of police reforms, described as the most radical for half a century.

The trouble is that her plan has gone a little wobbly and Specials numbers have actually REDUCED.

There were 17,789 special constables in the 43 police forces on 31 March 2014, a decrease of 1,222 or 6.4 per cent compared with a year earlier  By 30th September 2014 this number had gone down even further to 16,792, or a further 5.6%.

With the College of Policing’s plans for the Special Constabulary it has seldom been a better time to Volunteer.

Especially when you take into account the College of Policing’s marvellous tome, Leadership Review.

You don’t need to read all 37 Pages, the bits that refer to the benefits of Volunteering are here;

5.4.17
“As well as having access to leadership development, police staff and members of the special constabulary should have the opportunity to be considered for police officer positions, via direct entry routes.Developing leadership opportunities for police staff is discussed further in recommendation 7.”

5.6.4
“Specials cannot currently progress beyond constable, and the ranks they have are administrative grades. They should be entitled to seek promotion to different ranks, provided they meet national standards and pass the selection process. If they attain a rank and are deemed proficient they could be considered for direct selection to full-time roles. In doing this, it is important to ensure that the essence of volunteering is retained, and a two-tier culture is not created within the special constabulary.”

Specials do a fine job, of that I have absolutely no doubt, but I do feel that they are being used as a Tactical Option in the war on the Police Service being waged by Imelda and the Milky Bar Kid..

…………….and every other Police Force you can mention

 

milkybar

…………….and every other Police Force you can mention

CHARITY SHOPS – one of the traditional locations for anybody wanting to give up some of their time and help the less fortunate.  Well, actually, don’t bother.  Charity Shops have now become de rigeur for anybody on Job Seekers Allowance, to maintain their benefits they are being sent to work (unpaid I believe) in the nation’s Charity Shops.  Mrs Angry is less than impressed.  Her sanctuary at the local Charity Shop has been invaded by a veritable army of Job Seekers sent their by the Job Centre, who don’t want to be there and just clutter the place being sulky like Kevin the Teenager, and generally spoiling the atmosphere to the extent that quite a few of the Blue Rinse Brigade (duck!!!) have left because they felt so uncomfortable.

But if you still feel lie a bit of Voluntary Work, fret not, Sir Dave has come to the rescue with his Election Pledge

15 million workers to get three days’ paid volunteering leave each year

Every public sector worker and anyone working in a company with at least 250 employees – more than 15 million people in total – would be entitled to the volunteering leave.

Who is going to pay for this three days extra leave?  The Employer? – That will just be added on to the end cost and prices and inflation will ultimately rise accordingly, it will not come out of profits you can rest assured on that.  The Government?  Well if they can afford to fund that, they’ve got more money in the kitty than they’re letting on and they should put into one of the struggling Public Services instead.

Finally I thought that the whole concept of Volunteering was based on the principle of giving up some of your own time for the benefit of others.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Numbers Just Don’t Make Sense Imelda

Nearly 17,000 trained Police Officers have been discarded by the current coalition since they came to power.

A similar number of Police Staff (civvies in old money) have also been turfed onto the scrap heap.

It is estimated that a similar scale of carnage will be committed in the following years due to the coaltion’s absolute refusal to ring-fence the Police Budget.

A total loss to the Police Service of somewhere in the region of 68,000 by the end of the next term.

In whose world does that make sense?

 Blunderwoman. That’s who.

In tandem with the decimation of Policing as we know it comes the predictable onslaught on Stop and Search.  Apparently it is a much over-used and misused tactic. Allegedly a disproportionate number of ethnic minority citizens are finding themselves on the receiving end of a Stop and Search conducted by an overwhelmingly white Police Service.

“Crime is down is” the constantly repeated mantra churned out by the Home  Office and Senior Officers alike.

Is it? Is it really? Do we actually have a reliable set of #CrimeStats that we can feel comfortable quoting yet?

Have the number of Stabbings and Shootings really gone down, is it only in my head that there seem to be more? Those weapons are transported through our streets, under our very noses, and we are expected to conduct LESS Stop and Searches.  Before an officer can conduct a Stop/Search on a person of ANY ethnicity he/she has to have ‘grounds’ to conduct that search. Every officer is accountable for every Stop/Search he/she conducts. If those ‘grounds’ exist, are we saying that the Stop/Search should not be conducted, despite those ‘grounds’  just in case the person being Stop/Searched is upset by it? If one of our officers failed to Stop/Search a person who was subsequently found to have been carrying a concealed weapon which was used to kill somebody, at the very least the Daily Fail will be crying for that officer’s career to be terminated, but maybe it’s just better not to risk upsetting anyone out on the streets?

Every Stop/Search must be recorded including the ‘grounds’ for it, and the subject of it is entitled to apply for a copy of that record. I wonder how many are actually requested, or is this just another smokescreen?

Now I read that HMIC are recommending/requiring that all Traffic stops are now recorded as there are concerns that these too might be unduly weighted towards certain ethnic groups

And this following on from Imelda’s promise to cut red tape and bureaucracy.

So, maybe now we need to scrap all ANPR machines, together with mobile and static Speed Cameras just in case they catch too many citizens from certain ethnic groups.

All I know is that if I were still serving I would be hugely offended that Imelda and the Milky Bar Kid didn’t trust me enough to use my professionalism properly and account for my actions, having acted ‘without fear or favour’ in my quest to uphold the law and maintain Public Safety.

It’s not about Ethnicity.

It’s not about Institutional Racism.

It is about professional officers trying to do their duty in the face of a barrage of diversionary tactics.

So you want to extract your revenge for your treatment at Conference? Give the Police a damn good kicking? Make them know their place, reduce their effectiveness so that they can never again show you such disrespect? Is that it? Well remember who the Collateral Damage is in your campaign, the Great British Public! or The Electorate as they are sometimes referred to. I refer you back to a previous post Home Secretary.

With rapidly dwindling resources, an increased terrorist threat and Stabbings and Shootings, not to mention the myriad of other assorted crimes, just how are we to achieve the Primary Objective’ i.e. The Prevention of Crime?

The numbers don’t make sense, they are stacked against us and smug soundbites like a Smaller, Faster, Smarter Police Service don’t really hold up to the reality of what is happening, and that is that #CutsHaveConsequences and we don’t need any more ostriches thank you, we have enough of those already.

The only thing more ludicrous than these proposals would be to hear that my old friend Sophie as standing for Parliament or was going to be a PCC somewhere.

Finally, one last number that bothers me personally, is to do with pensions. This government has royally screwed up the pension arrangements for thousands of serving officers. I haven’t heard of many officers who won’t be worse off in some way. But what about the already-retired? I have always understood that there is no ‘pension fund’, that our pensions are paid from the contributions of today’s members. So what happens when ‘today’s members’ have been slashed by 30,000 or more?  Less contributions going into the kitty but the same amount going out surely? The government picks up the shortfall?

As I said, the numbers Just don’t make sense Imelda.

#MaysMayhem

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.

 

 

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.

Goodwill

I was prompted to write this by a recent Tweet;

One of our more recent Twitterers, @roman_virtus, reminding me of the importance of Goodwill.

I only have personal, first-hand experience of two of the Public Services, the Health Service and the Police Service. Both were heavily impregnated with a rich stream of Goodwill.

The politicians will not like it, but it’s only Goodwill that makes the Job work sometimes. I have seen officers stay on past the end of their shift to finish what they’re doing. Not for the overtime (minus the first 30 minutes of course, who on earth signed up for that one?), but for a job well done. To give the Public the Personal Touch, the level of service they deserve.

I have seen officers change their Rest Days so that one of their colleagues could have Time Off that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to have.

I have seen Officers cover for colleagues, without recompense, so that a colleague could take their child to a hospital appointment.

I have seen officers working on beyond their scheduled Tour of Duty without claiming overtime, because they KNOW that money is short.

These things are called Goodwill. The Job wouldn’t work anywhere near as well without it., The government squeeze and slash, in the last 5 years they have got rid of 17,000 full time officers. Just reflect for one moment and think of the effect that withdrawing Goodwill would have.

Officers know the shortcuts. Not because they are lazy, but they know the practicalities of getting the job done. If everything was done by the book, the way the #DoItRight campaign would have things done, it would take twice as long, and the end result would be the same. Withdrawing Goodwill would have exactly the same effect.

Make no mistake, we are about to lose a few thousand MORE officers under the government’s next round of Austerity cuts, destined to last until about 2019 ish.

Can you imagine that?

Some things need numbers. I am not opposed to increasing efficiency in order to reduce numbers slightly, but the final total should be dictated by need not Economics. If you do that, you, The Public, suffer. Police Officers are also The Public. They have your interests at heart, honestly they do.

Never underestimate the true worth of Goodwill.