Is The Police Family Dying? Or Merely Playacting?

I’m not sure that I know the answer but I fear it may be the former, but some important people have yet to come up with some important answers.

Time to update an old favourite., Our Shrinking Police Service.

Where were we?  Oh yes, back in 2012   The attention-grabbing headline back then was that 5,000 Police Officers had disappeared into the ether in the previous 12 months.  So, how are we doing today? Well since then a further 6,191 have followed them.

Since the evil coalition came to power they have reduced the 43 Forces from 143,770 to 127,909 or 15,861 (11%) Police posts have GONE.

Many commentators have reported this today, but there is a bigger picture that I have yet to see reported prominently.

Our proud Police Family also includes Support Staff (civvies), PCSOs and Specials.  How are they doing?

Support Staff

  • Pre-Coalition – 79,296
  • 2012 – 67,472
  • 2014 – 64,096

A loss since the coalition came in of 15,200 or 19.2%

PCSOs

  • Pre-Coalition – 16,507
  • 2012 – 14,393
  • 2014 – 13.066

A loss since the coalition came in of 3,441 or 20.8%

Special Constables

  • Pre-Coalition – 14,251
  • 2012 – 20,343
  • 2014 – 17,789

An overall gain since the coalition came in of 3,538 or 24.8% , but don’t forget the recent trend is also downwards after a peak in 2012

So at first glance it looks like the Specials are taking up some of the slack like Cruella said they would, but their numbers are currently reducing as well.

The Ouchy Bit

  • Total Police Family in 2009 was 253,824
  • 2012 – 236,308
  • 2014 – 222,861

A total loss to the Police Family of 30,963 or 12%.

Nearly 31,000 family members gone since this lot took power.

A certain politician was quoted today as saying that crime is down so the police have less to do.

  • Crime Stats have yet to be sorted out as far as I know
  • Police do far, far more than prevent and investigate crime
  • If he and our other politicians actually believe this rubbish then it’s not so much a case of TJF, more like The Country’s F******.

And finally, the important (it is important surely?), unanswered question.

May I take you back to a previous blog

Policing In Austerity Two And A Half Years On

I wrote that at the beginning of this year and I asked the question;

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

Today’s figures show that those levels have dropped even further.

I would welcome any or all of our PCCs and/or Chief Constables to provide me with copies of their Risk and Impact Assessments for this (in my view) dangerous policy.

You can cut the budgets as much as you like Cruella, it still needs x number of Police Officers on duty, or available, to maintain the public safety of y head of population.

We’re getting Water Cannons, maybe you’ve got Drones and RoboCop in mind, I don’t know.

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

Mr Winsor has done you proud, can’t imagine why he never picked up his final paycheck.

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MPs raise fears over cuts to Army

No Shit Sherlock.

Who do they think we are?  Do they think we’re really stupid? Don’t answer that, of course they do.

Plans to cut soldiers could leave the Army “short of personnel” and unable to meet future national security needs, a report by MPs has warned.

The Commons Defence Select Committee has also expressed its concern over the “the lack of consultation over the Army 2020 plan.”   That’s not an unfamiliar story either.

Under the Future Army 202 plan personnel numbers will be cut from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2018, with a doubling of reservist numbers. (Still sounding familiar).  The number of part-time soldiers, or reservists, is to be doubled from 15,000 to 30,000, but the Army is still a long way off from meeting its targets and the MPs’ report says there is scepticism that it will be able to recruit the numbers it needs.

Overall, the report echoes a familiar theme: the cuts to the armed forces have been driven by the need to save money, rather than any strategic vision of Britain’s place in the world.

So here we have it, a government hell-bent on doing whatever they think fit just to try and balance the books and make themselves look good, scoring a few points off the Opposition as they go.

Is that what we, the taxpayer, the voters, really want?

I, for one, want an Army (Navy/Air Force) that is fit for purpose.  I don’t want an Army that’s Second-Rate, poor relation to the rest of the world.

But it isn’t just the Armed Forces is it?  Police numbers cut by 16,000 so far, with more to come.  Coastguard Stations closing all around our coast. If you think you don’t need them then I assume you never go swimming in the sea on holiday, never go surfing, never take a Cross Channel Ferry. Why else would you not need them?

The NHS is in crisis with 145 Hospital Trusts forecasting that they will end the year in the red.

Some of the worst are;

Barts Health trust £50m

University Hospitals of Leicester trust £40m

University Hospital of North Staffordshire trust £28m

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals trust £24m

Mid Essex Hospital Services trust £20m

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals trust £20m

North West London Hospitals trust £20m

South London Healthcare trust (dissolved) £20m

East Sussex Healthcare trust £19m

Croydon Health Services trust £18m

Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals trust £17m

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS trust (West Midlands) £17m

United Lincolnshire Hospitals trust £17m

Plymouth Hospitals trust £13m

North Cumbria University Hospitals trust £12m

Wye Valley trust £11m

Is yours there?

And then we have the banks.

RBS have recently announced losses of £8.2 Billion this financial year, with a staggering total of £46 BILLION lost over the last 6 years.  Are the bosses in prison, on bail awaiting trial, queuing up at the dole office, P40 in hand? NO they are not.  Instead they are paying themselves slightly smaller bonuses.

RBS set aside £576m for staff bonuses in 2013, of which £237m went to investment bankers; the bonus pot is down 15% on the previous year.

The bonuses for RBS alone would completely wipe out the £500 million savings that the Met (the largest Force in England & Wales) are having to make.  Pick on a few more banks, confiscate their bonuses (unless they actually deserve them of course) and UK Policing would start to look a bit more viable again.

I don’t have a degree in Advanced International Economics, but Vince Cable said

“But British taxpayers are still paying for the terrible mistakes of the past and I see no sign yet of a turnaround in the continuing decline of net lending to small business.

The public will simply not understand why big bonuses and large salaries continue to be paid out by a loss-making public enterprise, still underperforming in many areas.” and he’s quite right, I don’t bloody understand it.

If savings really have to be made then they have to be made, but I have seen some really reckless, foolhardy decisions over the last year or so, and it really winds me up to see the bankers seemingly immune to it all when it was them, globally, wot started this whole mess.

May I refer you back to one of my blogs from January?

Policing In Austerity Two And A Half Years On

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.  That’s not about Austerity, it’s gone beyond that. What are ACPO doing about that statistic?  Are ACPO driving that statistic? Or is it Cruella, the driving force.

One thing is for certain, it’s not over yet. We have yet to see the end game. What will UK Policing look like in 2015? No dogs, no horses, a few water cannons to make up for pitifully low manpower levels?.  Who knows, but I truly fear that it will get worse before it gets better.

The Front Line Is Being Protected (or Maybe Not)

I was chatting to my old mate Dick over at Force HQ the other day (no, I’m not going to tell you which Force) and I got the distinct impression that, despite promises to the contrary, the Front Line was getting a wee bit stretched.

We’ve all heard the stats showing the pitiful number of Police Officers left in the Police Service after nearly 4 years of austerity, and we’ve heard the promises of Cruella and our masters of varying titles that the Front Line would be protected.  Well I thought I’d take a look from a slightly different angle.

In September 2013 Dick’s Force consisted of 2,750 Police Officers and in March 2013 (the last time the Home Office made this figure available) 2,185 of them were Constables.

BUT, what sort of service can these fine men and women provide in times of Austerity?

So, I asked the question – for 2010-2013 how many Advanced Drivers were available on District?

How many Fast Cars were available on District for those Advanced Drivers to drive?

The first question fell at the first hurdle. They don’t hold historical data, they can only tell me how many Advanced Drivers they have TODAY at District level,  and the answer is 238.

So how many cars have these Advanced Drivers had access to over the last for years?

2010 – 213

2011 – 219

2012 – Data Not Held

2013 – 142.

So between 2011 and 2013 we have seen a 35% reduction in fast cars on the Front Line.

I had a quick word with Dick, and he doesn’t believe it, he thinks the reduction is possibly closer to 70%

Whichever way you look at it you have 238 drivers to drive 142 cars.  That doesn’t seem enough does it?  Surely half this meagre total of cars is lying idle due to lack of available drivers due to the Shift System, sickness, leave etc, and that’s assuming that all of the cars are fit, healthy and roadworthy.

Or just maybe not all of these 142 cars are in routine use.

I don’t have a clue what the formula is or what it should be but slightly less than 10% of their total Constables are Advanced Car Drivers. After you’ve taken out the specialist postings etc that figure looks a little better. All I know is in the days when we had P6 Rover 3500s each shift had about 3-4 PCs authorised to drive them, fighting over the keys almost, never a shortage.

So, don’t worry, the Front Line IS being protected and the service we can provide the public is 1st Class and not hampered in the slightest by shortage of vehicles or kit. Or maybe I’m being sarcastic.

It’s Been A Funny Old Week

Not that I’m laughing, it’s just that I can’t quite compare it to any other week, some good, some bad.

It started off on Monday with the promise that someone from the Dyfed Powys PCC’s office would phone me to discuss my disappointment at being ineligible to apply for a voluntary role with their force.  Well I waited and I waited, no phone call, so I gave up. Late on Tuesday afternoon my mobile sprang into life and lo and behold it was said PCC’s office.  I had previously voiced my disappointment at not being eligible to apply for a voluntary job as an Animal Lay Visitor (Police Dogs and Horses) on the grounds that I was a retired Police Officer.  After about 5 minutes of talking to this lady it became apparent that she was talking about a position on the Residents Panel. As I’m not a resident of Dyfed Powys it was sort of irrelevant to me, so I pointed out that she’s got the wrong job.  I pointed out to her that the job application pack stated that serving (understandable) and former Police Officers were not eligible to apply, and would not be appointed.  She explained to me that this was in order to assure the public of total Independence on the part of the Lay Visitor.  I then pointed out to her that the two Application packs for Residents Panel, and Lay Custody Visitor only excluded serving Police Officers (again understandable) and NOT former Police Officers. Surely Independence was as important re Custody Lay Visitors if not more so.  She assured me that this appeared to be a mistake and the Job Application Packs would have to be ‘tweaked’ to include former Police Officers as ineligible as well.  Needless to say by the time I got off the phone I was mighty peeved. I was actually quite offended that without seeing my CV, without the benefit of an interview, I had been stereotyped as someone who would not be seen as Independent, and presumably as being incapable of being Independent. Utilising the ancient art of rubbing salt into the wound they later recirculated the same job vacancies emphasising that they would like applications from Solicitors.  I gave up at that point and made a brew.

Then we had Mrs Theresa May’s decision/agreement not to introduce Compulsory Severance “for now“.  “I have decided to accept the Tribunal’s recommendation not to implement measures to introduce compulsory severance at this time.

“However, this remains a reform that I believe government and the police should continue to consider. I have written to the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) to explain my decision in further detail.”

Then she went on to kick the officers on Restricted Duties; the Tribunal accepted a varied definition on Winsor’s Recommendation 39 from the Official Side of the PNB. This means that officers who are unable to undertake “the full range of duties of a police officer” will be regarded as being on restricted duty.

As a result, officers on restricted duties who are not fully deployable after one year should face a pay cut of around £2,922.

But the good news is that it has been alleged that she has told Tom Winsor NOT to wear his ridiculous fancy dress outfit at the National Police Memorial Day events ever again. It remains to be seen if he he dusts it off and brings it out again for any other occasion.

Fast Forward to Friday night and a discussion about Advanced Drivers and Fast Cars.  I cannot believe what I was being told about what some Forces are doing in cutting back the number of Advanced Drivers (and cars) from their strengths.  One officer even told me that some Forces even have “No Pursuit Capability”.  What kind of nonsense is this?  I thought the Front Line was being Protected?  Is being an active Advanced Driver not Front Line Policing?  Skills will be lost, officers will be demotivated and the public will suffer. As somebody said to me last night, “it’s not about the toys, it’s about retaining skills” and hence the service to the public.  I intend to do some digging around numbers of Advanced Drivers and see what pops up.

Finally (mind you the week isn’t over yet) as I was trying to block out the noise of the wind and the rain and get some sleep, news came in that Mental Health Cop’s twitter account and Blog had been suspended, seemingly as part of an investigation by West Midlands Police about their use.  I haven’t seen every single Tweet or Blog he wrote so I can’t really comment with any authority, but the feedback coming in last night and this morning was that this was one of THE most informative and well-used Twitter accounts and blogs of them all. Serving Police Officers and Members of the Public alike hold them in high esteem, and he seems to be the “Go To Guy” for any Police related Mental Health issues.

Well, let’s see what next week holds shall we?

ADDENDUM

And I haven’t forgotten the topsy turvy world of PC James Patrick.  He was told this week that he no longer faces a charge of Gross Misconduct, ‘merely’ a charge of ‘simple’ Misconduct now.   In one way that’s good news, but it is a bit of a double-edged sword, and if you go right back to the very beginnings there remain some unanswered legal questions that make me doubt whether the Met DPS has lost its collective marbles. James knows my views and I won’t repeat them here, but it’s added to a really ‘odd’ week for us all.

A Gold Star For Avon & Somerset

I mentioned in a recent blog that the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, Mr Nick Gargan QPM, had been publicising on Twitter the fact that his force had been awarded a Gold Achievement Award by Investors in People.

This got me thinking, because I normally associate awards such as that with business, and the Police Service should not be regarded as a business, but that’s another blog for another day.

Why Avon and Somerset?  Why aren’t all the Police Forces queueing up to get one of these awards? Are they really worth the paper they’re printed on?

So I took out my trusty quill and scratched out an #FOI request to Avon and Somerset, asking the following questions;

I saw on Twitter recently that your Chief Constable announced that Avon and Somerset Constabulary had been awarded the Investors in People Gold Award.

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act I would ask you to supply me with the following information specifically in relation to the Gold accreditation (I am aware that you achieved Silver Status in 2012, but I am not requesting any info re that achievement)

a) How many Police Officers were interviewed as part of this accreditation and how many of each rank interviewed please? I am not requesting names or any other identifying features.

b) How many Support Staff were interviewed as part of the accreditation process and how many of each grade interviewed please? Again I am not requesting names or any other identifying feature.

c) What was the TOTAL cost to Avon and Somerset Constabulary paid to Investors in People for this accreditation?

Well, surprise, surprise, they eventually answered every question.

How many Police Officers were interviewed? – The Gold Investors in People assessment was a follow up to the previous assessment where we achieved Silver status.  The assessors reviewed specific area’s as part of the Gold assessment, and therefore a smaller number of staff and officers were interviewed.

Our records show that 37 police officers were interviews as part of the process. The number of each rank  interviewed is as follows:

Rank                                        Total
Constable                                    25
Sergeant                                       2
Inspector                                       4
Chief Inspector                              2
Chief Superintendent                    3
CC                                                 1
TOTAL                                          37

How many Support Staff? – Our records show that 59 members of staff were interviews as part of the process. The number of each role interviewed is as follows:

Grade                                           Total
Scale 3                                           5
Scale 4                                           13
Scale 5                                           4
Scale 6                                           7
Senior Officer (SO)                        12
Principle Officer (PO) and             18
above
TOTAL                                           59

What was the TOTAL cost to Avon and Somerset Constabulary? – As of the date this request was made, Avon and Somerset Constabulary have not as yet made any payments to Investors in People for this accreditation, however the cost is approximately £10,000.

So, let’s crunch some numbers;

Total number of Police Officers in Avon & Somerset is 2,873. 37 out of 2,873 is 1.3%.

The total number of Constables in Avon & Somerset is 2,196. 25 out of 2,196 is 1.1%

The total number of Sergeants in Avon & Somerset is 438. 2 out of 438 is 0.5%

The total number of Chief Superintendents in Avon & Somerset is 12. 3 out of 12 is 25%, a much higher proportion when it comes to Police senior management. Why would that be? Surely Constables and Sergeants are People to be Invested in too?

Now for the Civilian Support Staff;

Avon and Somerset has 1,779 Police Staff of all grades, unfortunately the Home Office do not provide a breakdown of grades and numbers.

59 out of 1,779 is 3.3%

Even without a breakdown of grades, we can see that Investors in People have interviewed more Police Staff out of a smaller total number resulting in, proportionately, more than double the number of Police Staff than Police Officers have been interviewed.  Of these the largest grade interviewed was Principal Officer or above.  Avon & Somerset Constabulary kindly informed me that Principal Officer or above grades approximately equate to Superintendent or above.  So once again the largest segment interviewed was Senior Management.  Should I be surprised?

As far as the troops on the Ground Floor are concerned can they have any confidence that this Investors in People Gold Award has any real benefits for them? Have they just been included in the process for appearance’s sake?

£10,000 (approximately). Total number of Police Officers and Police Staff is £4,652, so this represents an expenditure of just over £2 per head of all staff, but has it really achieved anything? Do the officers and staff of Avon and Somerset Constabulary feel more valued? Have they benefited in any way? What the hell is the purpose of this scheme in policing?

Interesting though that it was awarded mainly following the input from Senior Management not Ground Floor troops. Or maybe I’m just being cynical.

Have a good weekend.

Have I Got This Right?

Or am I completely barking?

Police Officers are being moved out of ‘back room’ jobs and put back on the beat where they have always belonged, right?  No arguement there.

Police Staff (Civvies or Civilian Support Staff) then spread themselves more thinly to cover for the Police Officers who have been redeployed onto Beat Duties, right?

Then in whose world does it make sense to shed Police Staff jobs when they’ve just spread themselves more thinly to take up the slack?  Because that’s exactly what the Chief Constable and PCC of Dyfed Powys Police proposes to do.

Having reduced Police Officer strengths below what they need to achieve by 2015, they now propose reducing Police Staff strength by more than 10%. I’m not sure how that improves efficiency or serves and protects the public.

I’m bloody glad I’m a crusty old Pensioner. Happy New Year to Dyfed Powys Police and their Public

Who’s Looking After Mike Pannett?

The last (honest) in my mini-series on the perils of Rural Policing features North Yorkshire Police, and the home county of our much-loved and respected Mike Pannett (@MikePannett), author and TV/Radio Celebrity.

North Yorkshire is the biggest rural area in England, so if it needs to be suitably policed.

North Yorkshire consists of 3,209 square miles and contains 798,989 people.  Not quite as large as Dyfed Powys but 1.5 times as many people.

According to the HMIC stats the Force Strength is 3.24 Full Time Equivalent Staff (this figure apparently DOES NOT include Specials like I previously thought it did, but does include everybody else) per 1,000 head of population.

As we’ve seen before Home Office figures often contrast considerably with HMIC figures because the HMIC figures are slanted to make you think that there are more officers looking after your streets than there really are. So what does the Home Office have to say about North Yorks?

In March 2010 North Yorks had a total establishment of 1,486 Full Time Equivalent Police Officers or one officer for every 538 people or 1.88 officers per 1,000 head of population or 1.42 Constables per 1,000 head of population.

In March of this year those HO figures were; a total establishment of 1,370 officers or 1.71 officers per 1,000 head of population and a mere 1.3 Constables per 1,000 head of population. Coincidentally their Target Establishment for 2015 is also 1,370, so they have already achieved that 2 years early.

1.3 Constables per 1,000 head of population. Take away Abstractions, Sickness, Annual Leave, Specialist Duties etc and how many are there left?  I don’t know that figure is not published.

To revise my earlier questions;

  • Is a figure of slightly more than one and a half (or probably LESS) Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Public Safety?
  • Is a figure of slightly more than one and a half (or probably LESS) Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Officer Safety?
  • Why do the Home Office and HMIC use different comparators for illustrating Policing Strengths?
  • Why is it appropriate to include civilian Police Staff in HMIC Policing Strength figures?

I return to my original question, “Who’s Looking After Mike Pannett?” Almost nobody I suspect. You OK there Mike? Don’t worry Mike I’ve forwarded these figures to PASC as yet another example of Police Stat-Fudging. You’ll be OK.