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.

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And now an extra question;

One more question, multiple choice;

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.

On Balance, The Public Interest Is……

in favour of non -disclosure.

Well, that’s a bloody surprise…….NOT.

Today I received my final response from the Home Office in relation to my request regarding Risk and Impact Assessments re the further cuts to Police Budgets.  I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to see one, but I did think I’d just get an outright Refusal.

What I got was this:-

After careful consideration we have decided that the pieces of advice to Ministers, relevant to your request, are exempt from disclosure under 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.

and

The advantages of releasing the advice to  Ministers are that it would help the public to better understand how Ministers came to their decisions.  

The disadvantages of releasing the information are that officials would feel constrained in their advice to Ministers.

and

Therefore, we have determined that on balance, the public interest is in favour of non-disclosure.

So if I have interpreted this correctly, it’s not in the Public Interest for you/us to understand how Government came to this decision, and we’re better off not being told.

Well, I’m glad I’ve got that one sorted then.

#CutsHaveConsequences

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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

Have ACPO Finally Grown A Pair? Or……..

What on earth is going on in the rarified atmosphere occupied by the ACPO types? They’re beginning to sing from the same hymn book as us lesser mortals (or are they?)

The last few days has seen headlines such as

Lincolnshire Police chief says force will go out of business in letter to the Home Secretary

and

Cuts without reform put the public at risk

The first is obviously Neil Rhodes’ voiced opinion that his Force will go out of business if the current unsustainable funding arrangements continue.

The second is Bernie Hogan-Who’s belated entrance into the fray, in which he claims that “The police and other emergency services are looking at years of austerity. We must slash the number of forces and make a host of other radical changes if public safety is to be maintained”

My initial reaction was “About bloody time too, why have they taken nearly 5 years to speak out, we all know that already?”

And then I got to thinking……a dangerous pasttime I know

In July this the Uncle Tom’s organisation released a report updating us on how our 43 Forces were meeting the challenges posed by Austerity.  Three Forces were highlighted as needing to do much more to catch up and survive, these were Bedfordshire, Nottinghamshire and Gwent.

The Met, for example, was graded GOOD  on the grounds that

  • HMIC is assured that the MPS is using a range of methods to understand the demand placed on its services and the consequences of that demand, for example the numbers of staff required for prosecution file preparation and for crime investigation.
  • Through the use of a ‘star chamber’, the MPS has an efficient way to align human resources to emerging threats and retain staff in critical posts.
  • The force has maintained its drive on crime reduction and victim satisfaction throughout the spending review period.
  • Within this effort, it is recognised that securing the satisfaction of victims of crime in the capital is challenging.
  • The MPS is introducing ever more innovative means of interacting with the public ranging from greater use of social media to replacing traditional police station front counters with more flexible drop-in centres.

Well that’s all fine and dandy then.  Or is it?  This HMIC report is now yesterday’s chip wrapper. Nobody remembers it.  It was news for about one day in July and then……..nothing.

We had headlines from the Fed such as

More than a third of forces could struggle to provide the same service to the public if cuts continue, says HMIC

And then……….nothing.

So what if the public proclamations of Bernie and Neil Rhodes are nothing more than Cruella May leaking her vision for the future through the ‘trusted’ media of the Police in order to soften us up.  In the main we trust what the Police tell us more than we trust our politicians.

Is it vaguely conceivable that a couple of highly-placed cops could become government mouthpieces?  Surely not?  No place for politics in policing, wouldn’t happen would it? Would we be more receptive to the Home Secretary’s (and Camoron’s) Reform Agenda if it came out of the mouths of our Police Leaders who were seeming to be on ‘our side’ for once.

Or have ACPO finally grown a pair. You decide.

Personally I have been predicting a National Police Force, Fire Brigade policing and a higher level of front-line involvement for PCSOs and Specials for over a year now.  Is this what Bernie is suggesting?   At least the uniforms and vehicles will be cheaper if they’re all the same.

Why We Are Hurtling Towards Lawlessness, Courtesy of HMG and The Press

Over the last 24 hours I have read, reread and reread again this article in the Daily Fail;

The first thing (but not the most serious by any means) was the bold assertion that the Police had ‘hacked’ the phones of journalists. We all know what is meant by ‘hacking phones’ thanks to various assorted members of the press themselves.

Is this really what the Police are doing?

NO.

The second thing that peeved me was the assertion that RIPA is an Anti-Terrorist law, it is not. I would imagine that Terrorism forms a small percentage of RIPA applications. If you want to know the TRUTH about the sort of things that RIPA covers look here.

What the Police are doing, whether you think it’s right or wrong, is making an application under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) for an itemised phone bill for a specified phone number.

I agree that it is possible to abuse this process, much like any other regulated procedure, politicians expenses for example, but this is clearly wrong and such cases would, in my opinion, form the absolute minority of applications submitted. All applications are written and the original copy is retained for future accountability purposes.

Not one single itemised phone bill can lawfully be supplied by the phone companies without such an application.

So, in attempt to appease the whiter than white journalists, the whiter than white politicians, led by Imelda May, are now proposing to change RIPA meaning that all such applications would need to be authorised by a Judge.

The sheer volume of such requests that are made across the UK every year means that Judges would be bogged down with RIPA applications.

The likely result of that is that most would be rejected, or not even make it to the Judge in the first place.

These applications currently have to be authorised by a senior officer, they have to be proportionate to the gravity of the offence being investigated and have to be ‘targeted’ i.e. they can’t be part of a ‘fishing expedition’.

So, in order to appease the journos, Imelda will be tying one hand behind the back of every officer who is investigating something. Armed Robbers, Drug Dealers, Terrorists even, must be rubbing their hands in glee as it will now be made more difficult to gain evidence or intelligence on their activities and associates.

Surely it would be better to restrict your interference to ensuring rigidly that the requirements of RIPA are complied with, applications correctly compiled, submitted, authorised and retained for accountability.

Why would you weaken the Police Arsenal at a time like this, you’ve already nicked 16,000 of them, why take their powers away as well?

Be careful what you wish for journos, you might just get it.