If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It–What The Country Voted For

In Camoron’s first incarnation as the Nation’s Prime Minister he set about reforming the Legal System system, amongst others.  In doing so he aimed to save about £450 Million from Legal Aid bills.  This led to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO coming into force.

This Act, which personally I had never heard of before, seems to only apply to Civil cases, but some of those Civil cases might affect us at some point in our lives.  It has removed countless cases from the scope of the Legal Aid scheme.

LASPO reverses the position whereby legal aid is accessible for all civil cases other than those excluded by the Access to Justice Act 1999. Whole categories of law have been taken out of scope for legal aid; others only qualify if they meet certain criteria. The categories now out of scope include:

  1. Family cases where there is no proof of domestic violence, forced marriage or child abduction. There has been a 60% fall in family cases granted funding and two thirds of cases in the family court now feature somebody representing themselves.
  2. Immigration cases that do not involve asylum or detention
  3. Housing and debt matters unless they constitute an immediate risk to the home
  4. Welfare benefit cases; except appeals to the upper tribunal or high court
  5. Almost all clinical negligence cases
  6. Employment cases that do not involve human trafficking or a contravention of the Equality Act 2010

The 4 out of 6 that I have highlighted are the ones that are most likely to affect us at some time. Don’t think that Criminal Law has escaped either, as from last April the government has cut the Criminal Legal Aid budget by £215 Million as well.

To clarify, this is what I wrote about the (then) forthcoming changes on another site;

“Changes to legal aid

Welfare benefit appeals

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you make an appeal against a decision on welfare benefits unless you’re making an appeal to the Upper Tribunal or higher courts.  So, once again our caring sharing government has excelled, not only do they slash benefits, ATOS assessments abound, everyone being forced off the rock and roll, but we’ve taken away the only way an unemployed/ill person can use to challenge that decision.  Without a sudden increase in charitable funding, how are these folk going to pay their legal fees to challenge what they undoubtedly see as an unfair assessment etc etc?  Surely this is akin to the school bully nicking your dinner money and then tying you up so you can’t tell anyone?  Or is it just me that thinks that?

Debt

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with your debts unless a creditor is making you bankrupt or taking court action to evict you from your home

Housing

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with housing problems unless:

  • there’s serious disrepair in your home
  • you’re homeless
  • you’re being evicted from your home
  • the council is taking action against you because of anti-social behaviour.

Employment

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an employment dispute or go to an employment tribunal unless it’s a discrimination case.

Private family law

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with private family law problems unless you’re a victim or are at risk of domestic violence or there has been or is a risk of child abuse These include:

  • divorce
  • dissolution of civil partnership
  • financial disputes
  • property disputes
  • disputes over children.

Asylum support

If you’re an asylum seeker, you won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with asylum support unless you have applied for both housing and financial support.

Non-asylum immigration

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an immigration application unless you:

  • have been detained
  • make an application under the domestic violence rules
  • make an application because you’re a victim of human trafficking.

Education

You won’t get legal aid to help with education problems unless the child or young adult has Special Educational Needs.

Consumer and general contract law

You won’t get legal aid for any action you want to take for consumer problems or problems you have with general contracts.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cases

You won’t get legal aid to help with the costs of trying to get compensation because you’ve suffered a criminal injury.

Clinical negligence cases

You won’t get legal aid for most clinical negligence problems.

What will you still be able to get legal aid for

You’ll still be able to get legal aid for the following problems:

  • care proceedings
  • family mediation
  • asylum applications
  • mental health proceedings
  • community care cases
  • discrimination. “

I seem to recall reading somewhere previously that we can no longer get Legal Aid to challenge Government Decisions but as I write I can’t quite lay my hands on that gem, or I might just be getting old.  I did however find this which might mean that I’m NOT going senile.

“In a judgment handed down on 3rd March 2015, the High Court ruled that regulations brought in by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, in April 2014 to cut legal aid funding for judicial review are unlawful.

The case hinged on the MoJ’s decision to restrict legal aid for Judicial Review challenges of decisions made by public bodies

Now we’ve had our General Election and the country voted.  They voted Tory and brought in a (small) majority government with Camoron at the helm.

One of his avowed policies is to scrap the Human Rights Act.  By doing so he will be removing the following collection of Rights from the Statute Book

  • The right to life
  • The right not to be tortured
  • The right not to be a slave
  • The right to a fair trial
  • The right NOT to be punished if you haven’t broken the law
  • The right to private family life
  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
  • The right to freedom of expression
  • The right to marry and start a family
  • The right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions
  • The right to education
  • The right to free elections
  • The right NOT to be given to death penalty

Some are clearly more important than others, and I’m certainly not saying that these rights and this Act won’t be replaced by something else, but what guarantees do we have?  Do we trust a Tory government not to weaken our basic Human Rights? Will there be a replacement Act?  Why replace the one we have?

People of Britain this is what you got when you voted.  Personally I’d rather not replace something unless it’s broke. In terms of Public Protection we seem to be considerably worse off than we were.

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?

Have Your say – Let’s Tell HMG How The Police Service SHOULD Be

In just a few weeks Call Me Dave will hopefully be an unpleasant memory, and regardless of who gets in the shape of Policing is destined to change even more than it has already.

I have devised a short series of questions to establish what the POPULATION thinks. Police, Ex Police, Never-Been-Police, all are welcome to take part.

Please RT as far as you can, the more answers we get, the more weight behind the arguments.

There is no particular order to the questions, merely how they came into my random mind.  If you want to suggest a SENSIBLE question please do so and I will include it.

Interim results will be published next Friday, 3rd April 2015.  Once the results are compiled I’ll have a crack at getting someone interested in them.

Thank you for your time and interest. Good Luck.

badge

And now an extra question;

One more question, multiple choice;

Are You Retired?

It’s not necessary to be Angry also.

Were you a Police Officer or Firefighter?

Did you retire between 1998 and 2007?

If the answer to the previous 2 questions is NO, you might as well stop reading now, this is not really for you.

If the answer is YES, or you know somebody it might apply to, then you might want to carry on reading.

It seems that, unbelievable as it might be, the government and their lackeys may have screwed up your pension, more specifically, the commutation element.

I don’t pretend to understand all things pension, but I know a man who does, or at least he seems to. There is already a current campaign to right this particular wrong which I believe is spearheaded by the FBU. It has already resulted in Early Day Motion 768 meaning that the issue might now get debated.

A Facebook Group has been set up for people who may be affected and currently has over 1,000 members and rising rapidly.

What is the basic issue?

Many thousands of police officers and firefighters who took their pension and commuted part of it for cash from 1998 to 2007 had out of date values applied to the calculation of their lump sum. No revision of the commutation factors took place
during that period. The issue is that this resulted in lower payments than should have been the case as longer life expectancy and other factors were increasing ‘actuarial’ values over that period.

In 2008 new tables were announced. These were applied and later backdated to retirement dates in 2006.

For much more, and certainly more comprehensive, information read the FAQ Document here.

I can only emplore you to write to your MP and ask them to support the Early Day Motion.  If they won’t do that, ask them to write to Theresa May or Penny Mordaunt and ask them to rectify this wrong.

If you do Facebook, head on over to the Police and Fire Service Fairer Commutation Campaign Group and ask to be added, or discretely drop me your email address by DM,or whatever, and I will send you an invite to join.

If the campaign is successful it could be worth thousands of £ for those who are affected, and please pass this info on to anyone else you know who might be one of the affected ones.

ADDENDUM

I have been informed that whilst the FBU are representing their retired members the Police Federation of England and Wales are not representing retired Police Officers in this matter, because they are retired, currently paying no subs and are no longer members.  I cannot vouch for this personally, but I would welcome the truth if anyone knows it.

It’s Going To Be A Busy Old Week

It’s only Tuesday, and my quill is already getting blunt.

Yesterday I discussed the (yet again) vindictive reports coming out of HMIC and IPCC, you can find that here if you haven’t already read it.

Today I’m occupied by the proposed cuts looming for the Met.  I know that the Met is not the only Force facing cuts, merely one of 43, but what staggers me is the size of those cuts and what that means for the future of, what is undoubtedly, the largest Force in the land.

With 31,500 warranted officers it is far and away the largest force, and by comparison the second largest is West Midlands Police with 7,155 warranted officers, all the way down to Warwickshire with a mere 788.

I’ve learned a lot about the Met since I retired and I’m no longer certain that I would describe it as the Best Force, but nobody can argue that it’s the largest and probably best-resourced. In retirement I have spent some wonderful hours sharing many cups of coffee with colleagues still serving in Constabulary Forces and been made aware of the ‘Bleeding Obvious’  The Met do it differently.

In all the time I was serving I was blissfully unaware of just how lucky I was.  We used to moan that we didn’t have a widget for so and so, or a gizzmo for this and that, but basically we were incredibly well off compared to our County Cousins.

I don’t know if it is still the case but the Met used to survive on that dirty word ‘Overtime’.  Entire Public Order events were policed by officers on overtime sometimes, almost inevitably a third to half of a PSU would be on overtime.  Rest days being cancelled, with, or without, notice was a frequent occurrence.

In August 2012 I asked the Met how many Rest Days were still outstanding, waiting to be re-rostered and taken, the reply I got was this

“There are 165,624 rest days (as of 5th July 2012) that are currently shown
as either cancelled, outstanding or waiting for officers to re-roster
them.
However please note there are 43,355 rest days that have been re-rostered
to the future.”

I have read elsewhere that this figure is now closer to half a million.

I remember fondly that when overtime restrictions were first brought in (for welfare reasons allegedly) we were not allowed to incur more than 100 hours overtime a month without a supervisor submitting a report supporting it.  The Met truly did run on overtime even though they had even more than 31,500 officers in those days, and considerably less demand.

Which brings me to the point of today’s post.  In the last round of budgetary cuts in the name of Austerity, the Met lost £600 million from its budget.  Even a behemoth like the Met must have felt the pain. In fact I’m sure they did.  In an attempt to ease the pain Police Stations were sold off, Front Counters closed, manpower lost, back office officers moved back onto the Front Line, even Peel Centre hasn’t escaped untouched.

peel centre

No, they’re not carrying out improvements, that bit’s been sold orft.  Training Centres, Feeding Centres – gone.

Now we hear that the Met has to suffer a further £800 million of cuts and my honest question is simply HOW?

I can’t sit here and pretend that cuts are not necessary, I’m not convinced that they’re being applied fairly and evenly (why ring-fence the Overseas Aid budget for example?) but how on earth can the Met survive?  And what hope is there for the rest of the country if the biggest (by far) Force is suffering?

My loyalty (if I have any left) is obviously to the Met, but I am capable of seeing the bigger picture and I’m convinced that it’s not a good one.  I’ve said before that even if we elected a new Government this Thursday, the changes brought about by May, Camoron and Winsor will take decades to reverse, if ever, and now it’s set to get to worse.

Home Office Stats for Policing Strength are already listed under 10 Regions plus BTP so maybe that’s what’s in store for us. Or maybe a National Force under a new Chief

winsor uniform

Commissioner, who knows.

I have previously writ that I’ve heard a rumour that the inner sanctum of the Home Office contains a document predicting a total National Policing Strength of 80,000, may your god help us if we’re ever reduced to those levels, but it would solve the budgetary problems which is the only priority the ConDems seem to have on their list. They don’t seem to care about the strength of the Armed Forces or any of the Emergency Services, who knows what they’re agenda is?

#TJF #CutsHaveConsequences

doomed

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.

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.