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

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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

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.

I’ll Have A Pint of Whatever The Home Secretary Is Drinking

Can somebody PLEASE tell an old codger WTF is going on?

In the last couple of months we’ve had (and this is just what my old grey cells can remember)

Theresa May orders police: Stop abusing our terror laws to hack phones and spy on journalists 

“Police are to be stripped of the power to secretly spy on journalists’ phones, striking a major blow for press freedom.”……..”The furore over police hacking journalists’ phones led to widespread calls for urgent reforms to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), which allows officers to request call data from phone companies without needing a judge’s approval.”

Well we all know that RIPA is no more used exclusively to investigate journalists than irt is to tackle terrorism. It is a perfectly useful tool in the Police’s Armoury and the only real issue is that that all requests should be AUTHORISED and PROPORTIONATE, NECESSARY and compatible with Human Rights. It would also help if they were Crime-Related.  But no, Teflon Theresa bows to pressure and jumps on the bandwagon, desperate to be more popular and maybe even get some votes next May.  Nothing too cynical there then.

We have also had;
Theresa May introduces new restrictions on stop and search powers

“Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has unveiled a series of measures which will scale back the way police can stop and search suspects.

Tougher thresholds will mean officers in England and Wales are able to use the most controversial form of stop and search powers much less frequently.”

Once again Stop and Search is a perfectly useful tool but it needs to be used properly and in line with the laws. Officers are always accountable for their Stop and Searches, they have had to provide a copy of the Stop/Search record on request for years now, nothing new there. Get the supervising officers to SUPERVISE and I don’t see the problem, every officer accounts for his/her Stop/Searches (and if they can’t they shouldn’t have done it) and what’s the problem?  Why take away or reduce a valid tool in the battle against Crime?

And now we have had;

Theresa May moves to give police powers to identify internet users

“Police are to get powers to force internet firms to hand over details linked to IP addresses in order to help them help identify criminal suspects online.

The Anti-Terrorism And Security Bill will oblige internet service providers (ISPs) to retain information linking IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to individual users.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said the measure would boost national security – but again complained that Liberal Democrats were blocking further steps.”

So she doesn’t like RIPA because it upsets her friends in the media but this is OK?  Seems far more sensitive and intrusive to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I don’t see anything wrong with RIPA either.

Smacks of a Home Secretary who is lost. Up the proverbial and doesn’t know which way to turn. Vote-seeking. Or maybe simply a Home Secretary who doesn’t know what her view is until she’s told, or simply weak in reality and is blown by the wind. Whoever blows strongest gets her support maybe.

Whichever it is, I simply don’t get it.

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.

British jihadists ‘walk through’ airports

Below is reproduced a letter from The Independent, 20 June 2014

You may recognise the author, he is one of life’s Good Guys, on the side of the angels;

I find what he had to say deeply disturbing;

“Concerns, recently articulated by David Cameron, referring to the number of UK and UK-based jihadists training and fighting abroad have been expressed by Special Branch and counter-terrorist officers for many years.

In 1995 at Heathrow I stopped two British passport holders who arrived from Pakistan, and the chilling documentation in their possession showed clearly that they had been comprehensively terrorist-trained.

Intelligence poured into Special Branch clearly illustrating the scale of the problem, yet in 1998 Jack Straw, then the Home Secretary, to the fury of police and immigration officers, abolished embarkation (departure) controls.

That means that even in today’s world, ridden with terrorism, 99 per cent of passengers will board flights in the UK without passing under the eyes of any UK law-enforcement officer.

The saving was £3m a year and successive Home Secretaries have ignored pleas for these controls to be reintroduced.

Former colleagues I have spoken to believe that despite the increasing number of arrests of returning jihadists, it is generally far too easy for most of these individuals to enter and leave the UK. As one despairing officer told me it’s a “walk in the park” and most trained UK jihadists remain below the intelligence radar.

Instead of shredding the morale of the police service, who of course will be in the front line when the predicted jihadist attack occurs, today’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, should listen to front-line counter-terrorist and Border Force officers and strengthen our borders.

Chris Hobbs

London”

I just hope that no Home Secretary, current or future, has need to justify and defend this appalling lack of action. Our Border Security is a joke, only beefed up in response to an actual threat, otherwise anyone can come and go.