Thoughts For The Week

Winners and Losers

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

Well, there are certainly some losers.

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

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

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

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

Bedfordshire +63

Wiltshire +8

The Met +651

Cumbria +11

Dyfed Powys +41

Thames Valley +55

Northamptonshire +3

Lincolnshire +10

and North Wales +31

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

Nothing quite like a bit of slanted reporting.

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

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

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

Police lack resources to probe corruption, inspectors say

Police ‘need to do more to tackle corruption’

“Better training” needed to tackle corruption says HMIC

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

Police told to review nearly 2000 cases of alleged corruption

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

Corruption not endemic in the police service …

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

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

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

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

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

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Home Office–A Rule Unto Themselves? Surely Not

I won’t bore you for long today.

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

They were due to answer today.

This is the response I have been given;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#cutshaveconsequences

#CutsHaveConsequences

V For Vendetta, V For Vindictive And V Is For Vengeance

All of the above seemingly apply to you Home Secretary, although you’re not really the Home Secretary are you? You’re just another Tory Puppet trying to make Camoron’s 2006 visions become a reality.

A REAL Home Secretary, of any party, would CARE for his/her Police Service.

I know the Federation upset you, but oh deary me, you’re supposed to be a big girl and rise above all that.  Be PROFESSIONAL FFS.

Theresa-May-addresses-the-011_thumb.jpgSince your ill-fated appearance at the Police Federation Annual Conference a while ago you seem to have it in for the Police. Vengeance seems to be your main priority.  Unlike any of your predecessors that I can think of (and they have not all been perfect have they Jacqui Smith?), you appear to be conducting a Vendetta against a Police Service (Force) once the admiration of the entire world.

Since you and your cronies came to power we have had a constant ‘thinning’ of the ranks, unfailingly blamed on Labour, but in reality Camoron’s dream.

You were quick to jump on the Andrew Mitchell Bandwagon, calling for Police Officers to be disciplined for their part in the ‘conspiracy’ to bring down Mr Mitchell. That all ended well didn’t it?

We, the Police Family, are tired of your constant sniping and criticisms.  Dragging up the past, events from a quarter of a century ago may indeed have been wrong, but had NOTHING to do with the vast majority of today’s generation of Police Officers. That is Vindictive.

Constantly the mighty Police Service is being not only kicked in the face by you and your government, but kicked while it is down.  Anybody still serving who tries to put things right from within gets a right good kicking too. Where the hell is the justice in that?  More Vindictive behaviour, and the Home Office just sits back and lets it happen.

Judging by the latest set of figures we are now almost 17,000 officers down on what we had 5 years ago.  Are you proud of that?  We know that Austerity means cuts, but do try to be sensible for once, some things are actually important to the country.  The Health Service is important, and that is finally being recognised and something, hopefully done about it.  The Armed Forces are important but they have been slashed also by your colleagues in Defence.  Education is important and has some of its budget ringfenced.

The main losers in all of this seem to be the Police under YOUR leadership (ha!!)

Some things are too important to be cut.  Even if Austerity ended this weekend it would take generations to get the Police Service back to where it was.  Are you proud of that?

Instead we get Uncle (sorry, Sir) Tom Winsor telling us to ‘work smarter’ and ‘get upstream of the offending behaviour and give proper priority to the need to prevent crime”.  How sanctimonious and condescending is that? Does he think that Police Officers ever forget their Primary Objective which is drilled into them Week 1 of Basic Training.

In 1829 Sir Richard Mayne wrote:
“The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed…….”

We do NOT need reminding by someone who has NEVER been a Police Officer about the need to prevent crime.  More Vindictive comments.

In recent weeks we have seen the tragic attacks on off-duty officers, thankfully not terrorist-related, but every bit as serious and tragic.  Where have the, admittedly unwanted, words of comfort and respect that are traditional from the Home Secretary at times like these?  Nobody wants to hear insincere platitudes, but that doesn’t mean you’re excused from offering them.

Then we did have threats of Terrorist activity aimed at Police Officers, both on and off duty.  WHAT HAS BEEN DONE, OR IS BEING DONE, TO PROTECT THEM?  I don’t want you to reveal the details but I do demand reassurance that something is being done. YOU HAVE A DUTY OF CARE TO THEM HOME SECRETARY.

The security of our nation is now a real concern, and you and Tom Winsor are not helping.  At a time when we need a physical presence to maintain security, you are slashing numbers to the bone, with promises of more cuts to come.  You can hardly call the Army in to help out thanks to the MOD’s far-sighted Human Resource Policy.

How many officers have been ‘lost’ from the Department that provides your (and others) personal security?  Can we do without them?  Are you somehow more important that ordinary folk?  The answer has to be NO, because you come from the public and are elected by the public. You can be replaced.

How long will it be before the tragic events in Paris over the last 24 hours will be repeated in London, Birmingham, Manchester or Edinburgh? Or even Much Wenlock?  It doesn’t matter where, it is far more likely to happen somewhere than nowhere. What are you doing about that?

One thing is certain, the officers that you so clearly despise will, to a man (and lady) DO THEIR JOB, because that is what they do.

Not that you really care but up until this government came to power I always voted Tory.  I will NEVER vote Tory again, EVER. You and your coalition chums have ruined everything that was ever Great about Britain.  Well, we have seen what has happened, and I for one can never forgive you for it.

We’re not stupid, like you clearly think we are, we know that some cuts are necessary, but making cuts all across the board and then pretending you don’t know why things are failing “it must be Labour’s fault” isn’t going to wash any more. We have seen this government  for what they are.

Vindictive, fuelled by Vengeance, conducting a Vendetta.

Make cuts by all means, but you could start by cutting things that are not going to cripple the country.  There is no use in having the ‘strongest economy’ in Europe if everything else about the country has gone to the dogs to achieve that dubious status.

Here endeth today’s rant.

ruin

A Good Day To Bury Bad News……You Were Warned

So, some rebadged twat has won a By Election somewhere in rural England, Big Deal.

The real news of today is this

One in six police jobs expected to go after election, say senior officers

or

Police cuts: Tories to axe another 34,000 cops and police staff..

Yes, today’s big news is that this ragtag government are proposing to slash ANOTHER 34,000 posts, Police and Civilian, in 2015.  It would take total police job losses to 68,000 since the Coalition came to power.

Chief Constable Douglas Paxton, ACPO lead on finances and resources, said: “The Home Office have advised us to make an assumption that the police service will face further funding cuts, and we should assume a cut of 5% in real terms per year – or a further 20% over four more years.

The bit that I hadn’t seen coming was this;

The expectation that police will face a 20 per cent cut in funding is based on grant reductions recommended by the police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

So, HMIC have a hand in this?  Have HMIC become politicised?  Maybe they should be rebranded TMIC or Theresa May’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.  Either way, that man Winsor seems to be at it again.

The Met has already sold off the family silver, it can’t be sold off again.  Other Forces around the country have sold off or closed Police Stations, moved into Tesco (other supermarkets are also available), made redundancies, cut officer numbers.   Where are these cuts going to come from?  Front Line services just HAVE TO BE affected this time round, no option. Many Forces have already exceeded their 2015 Austerity targets, maybe they knew this was coming and that’s why they did it? Who knows? But something stinks in the State of Maidenhead.

Even if you’re not a serving officer dear reader, these cuts will affect you, make no mistake.

I simply cannot envisage how the 43 Forces of England and Wales can absorb these proposals and survive as we know them.  Maybe this is just another way of a tired, weary, unimaginative coalition bullying us in the direction of a National Police Service, or, heaven forbid, G4$ and $erco et al (other private companies are also available and no doubt waiting).

HMIC No Crime The Whistleblowers’ Allegations

Yesterday saw the publication of the HMIC report into allegations that Police Forces across England and Wales have been systematically under-recording crimes.

They conclude that Police Forces have failed to record about 800,000 crimes a year, including 25% of Sex Crimes. An astounding figure, no wonder Crime is down across the UK.

The chief inspector of HMIC, nice Mr Winsor, said that a national crime recording rate of 81% was inexcusably poor: “This is not about numbers and dry statistics – it is about victims and the protection of the public.”

The investigation was based on reviewing 10,267 reports of crime by the public and 3,240 “no-crime” decisions as well as surveying the views of 17,000 police officers and staff.

The report rejects claims that the practice of under-recording is due to “fiddled figures” or dishonest manipulation, saying that although the staff survey and interviews with whistleblowers produced many such allegations, no one came forward with firm evidence.

The report says “that the police must record an incident as a crime when a victim reports circumstances that amount to an offence as defined by the law and there is no credible evidence to the contrary.”

Is this paragraph not at odds with the previous one? Despite surveying 17,000 officers and staff there was no “evidence” so it didn’t happen.

Apparently every allegation of Crime should be ‘Crime’d’. Surely every allegation should be recorded and No Crime’d if that is appropriate after investigation. Maybe Uncle Tom is showing his lack of relevant experience, I don’t believe that he could be that naive. Or maybe we’re simply taking a step back into the past and there will no initial investigation at the scene, just Crime Reporting with a follow-on investigation by the suits?

The inspectors say that a number of police forces accepted that “undue performance pressures had adversely affected crime recording in the past, and the culture of chasing targets as ends in themselves had distorted crime-recording decisions”.

If an allegation of Attempted Burglary is classified as Criminal Damage but contains a Point of Entry within the body of the Crime Report, this has probably been fiddled.

If an allegation of Grievous Bodily Harm has been recorded as Actual Bodily Harm or Common Assault but contains the fact that injuries were “Serious” then this has probably/possibly been fiddled. Need I go on?

I have mentioned this before, but when I last worked on Division (1999) the Met routinely ran an Ethical Audit (a small programme designed to hunt down anomalies such as these) on the CRIS database and bring the results to the attention of the relevant DCI. Does this no longer happen?

There are numerous people who could have told Uncle Tom what was happening and how it is done, but he seems to have chosen not to hear their voices.

Are we to assume then that there are 800,000 genuine “mistakes” across the country, every year, when crimes are recorded? 25% of Sexual Offence crimes contain genuine errors resulting in them being incorrectly recorded.

Or have HMIC just, ironically, classified the Whistleblowers’ allegations as No Crime in contradiction to their own guidelines?

A Thought-Provoking View on Theresa May’s Speech to The Police Federation.

OK, I admit it, I’m biased, I know the author of this article personally, but I still think it’s a valid dissection of Theresa May’s vitriolic address to the Police Federation this year.

Ex DS Chris Hobbs has written a new article on Theresa May’s speech, and you can find the full article here.

Highlights of Chris’ article include;

a)  She would know only too well the results of a recent survey carried out by the University of the West of England which shows police morale to be on the floor with nearly 50% of officers stating that they would move jobs if the opportunity presented itself. She would know that police staff surveys amongst virtually every force in the UK shows widespread disillusionment that should send alarm bells ringing throughout the Home Office.

Yet despite that, like a cowardly street corner thug, she ‘stuck the boot in’ to a world renowned police service which is already on its knees.

b) It wasn’t as if the Police Federation were short of ammunition. Met police whistleblower James Patrick’s book, ‘The Rest is Silence’ forensically dissected the dubious machinations around police reform to reveal dubious practices involving conflicts of interest bordering on corruption. Sadly James’s careful research became lost in the crime figures furore that surrounded the book and his appalling treatment as a police whistleblower.

c)  From Hillsborough to Plebgate, Theresa May did not miss a trick in turning the knife in the already gaping police wounds yet, of course this ignores the fact that of the 132,000 serving officers and indeed a similar number of retired officers, only a tiny fraction of those not even numbering three figures, would be involved in the ‘transgressions’ mentioned almost jubilantly by the Home Secretary.

She accuses the police or more specifically Special Branch’s undercover SDS (Special Demonstration Squad) of ‘smearing’ the Lawrence family when the only evidence appears to some from one former disgruntled undercover officer. Of course, in the aftermath of Stephen’s death, the police had to ensure that the tragedy was not exploited by violent extremist groups and to the Lawrence family’s everlasting credit they rebuffed all advances from groups that espoused violence.

d)  Thrown into this diatribe of contempt almost inevitably was stop and search. Previously Theresa May used the term “absolutely disgraceful” when referring to the issue yet neither she, the Inspectorate of Constabulary or other critics seem to have considered the fact that front line police in inner city areas have an aversion to dealing with young people who had their whole lives in front of them, lying dead or dying having been shot or stabbed.

There are many others, I suggest you read the full article for yourselves, agree or disagree, I believe it will make you think.

I didn’t watch Cruella’s speech  live, my blood pressure wasn’t up to it and Angry Towers would have been in real need of a new TV if I had have done.  But I did watch it that afternoon, and to my simplistic view two things stood out loud and clear.

1)  This was a Home Secretary taking the opportunity of addressing the Federation to berate the entire Police Service of England and Wales for every single alleged outrage since Hillsborough, at least, and possibly earlier.  Some of the officers alleged to have done wrong at Hillsborough weren’t even Federated Ranks, SuperNintendos or ACPO.

2) The venom with which her speech was delivered.

Theresa-May-addresses-the-011   May1

Granted these two photos don’t show off her good looks to their best advantage, but do they look like someone giving a clear, well-balanced, objective speech to an attentive and supportive audience?

Apart from the onslaught at 1) above, I don’t think I can take much exception to the CONTENT of her speech but the delivery was absolutely awful, unprofessional and personal.  Well, actually, that’s not true.  Reform is working……..Is it?  Nick Herbert MP would beg to differ when he tried to rustle up some Police Officers to stop a rave in the middle of the night and there were none to send.

Crime is falling………Is it/  How can you tell, crime stats have been discredited across across England and Wales and we are still awaiting HMIC’s definitive report later this year and a new, improved model for counting them.

An Inspectorate more independent of Government……..don’t make me laugh.

More powers and resources for the Independent Police Complaints Commission…….yeah, of course, they need them don’t they.

Direct entry to inject into the senior ranks different perspectives, fresh thinking and new talent…………Brilliant idea, when will the first one go sickj with a Nervous Breakdown (or worse)?

Our reforms have been crucial in helping you to cut crime even as we have cut spending.

If we hadn’t introduced police and crime commissioners and established the College of Policing, we wouldn’t have been able to break the unaccountable ACPO monopoly at the head of policing in this country. By introducing PCCs we have made police leaders more responsive to the people they serve, and by establishing the College we are improving the professionalism of policing and giving your members a direct say in its future………Hang on, I’ll think of something to say when I stop laughing.

If we hadn’t reformed the way the inspectorate works……..Is this the Inspectorate she has just said is more independent of government?   Oh, I give up.

My quill has gone on strike, my blood pressure is rising, and the monitor is in danger of needing replacement.

If you haven’t yet read Chris’ thought–provoking article, may I recommend it to you now?

I thank you.

Policing In Austerity Two And A Half Years On

In July 2012 HMIC released a series of reports Entitled Policing in Austerity One Year On. They wrote one report for each of the Forces in England and Wales. In each report was contained details of their individual establishment (Police Officers all ranks) together with their planned establishment for March 2015.

On 31st January the Home Office are due to release their latest set of Manpower stats for September 2013. They only get measured/released once very 6 months.

42% (YES nearly HALF, not a trypo) of the 43 Forces in England and Wales are already reporting that their establishment is currently LOWER than their planned March 2015 Target.

WHY?

As previously commented on elsewhere total establishment for England and Wales has dropped from 131,837 in September 2012 to 128,350 in September 2013.

Planned total Establishment for March 2015 is 128,670, so even the total for England and Wales is lower than it has to be.

WHY?

The Evidence

The League Table

YOU MAY NEED TO USE THE SCROLLBARS TO SEE ALL THE DATA

So I ask you, PCC, Chief Constable, Home Secretary, Mayor of London, Prime Minister – two simple questions:-

Why is it necessary to reduce Manpower levels to LESS than their March 2015 Austerity Target Level?

Could it possibly be that this destruction of our Police Service actually has less to do with Austerity than you would have us believe?

Simple questions, maybe we could have a simple answer please?