When The Music Stops or #CutsHaveConsequences

#CutsHaveConsequences is a hashtag that’s been used a lot in the past few weeks, and rightly so. It got me to thinking.

Every single Force in the land has suffered cuts since 2010, all in the name of Austerity. Their respective PCC and Chief a Constable have formed plans to cope with the savagely slashed budgets.

In London Boris seems to have made selling off the family silver one his priorities.

The big one that hit all the headlines was the selling off of New Scotland Yard.  Bought for £123.5 million in 2008, it sold last year for £350, a nice little earner.  I suspect there will be some Tax to pay on the profit.  I suspect there will be costs associated with the move out of NSY to Curtis Green Building and I believe that the Met proposes spending between £30 and $50 million pounds to refurb Curtis Green and make it fit for purpose.

The profit margins are receding.

Then there is the fact that the Met has sold off about 35 of its major buildings including nearly 30 Police Stations for about £125 million.and Boris apparently plans to sell off up to 200 properties across London, although admittedly that figure will include Married Quarters and Section Houses.  Ultimately he proposes reducing the number of residential properties from 862 to a mere 200.

Now the thing that gets me about all this frenzied selling off is “where do the people go?”  Has the Met suddenly taken up Hot Desking?  The people displaced from NSY will not all fit into Curtis Green Building.  Other ‘support’ buildings are also threatened with closure.

In any or all of these buildings there will be (not an exhaustive list by any means);

  • People answering telephones
  • People operating computers
  • Desks for people to work at
  • Lockers for the Operational Officers (and hopefully some changing facilities)
  • Rooms set aside for specific Teams/Squads
  • Filing Cabinets (the Met still has a mountain of paper not yet shredded)
  • Garage facilities for the car
  • Car Parking facilities if you’re lucky and a member of the SMT

Am I being thick here, but if you reduce the number of buildings, the people who worked there either have to be displaced elsewhere or ‘got rid of’.

If they’re displaced elsewhere those elsewheres become overcrowded do they not?

If they’re ‘got rid of and join the ‘disappeared’ somebody else has to take up their work and increase their own workload.  I do not believe that there was a mound of spare capacity just waiting for extra work to land.

This here Austerity is due to be with us until at least 2019 allegedly.  Boris’s £125 million won’t last him very long and where will he get the next bundle of cash from once it has run out?  Why should he care? He won’t be Mayor for much longer.

Do not think for one moment that this is anywhere near the End Game, it isn’t, and if Austerity can knock the Met sideways like this, just think what it’s doing for your local Force.

So, when the music stops, grab a chair, grab a locker or grab an office.  They may not be with us much longer, Tesco et al could become the norm.

LeytonstonePolice_McLellan-23.jpg MCILG-police-206.jpgNo, these officers are not taking a sneaky break, they’re there officially to ‘meet the public’ rather than have a Front Counter remain open.  The police officers had no desk, no private area where they could speak to members of the public in confidence, no means of logging on to the police national computer etc, and they appear not to have official forms.

Contact Points, Coffee With A Cop, Chat With A Cop, call them what you may, they’re a pretty poor substitute for going to the local nick, with all the necessary forms and computers at hand, to report whatever is on your mind. AND NOT BEING OVERHEARD BY THE LOUT WAITING FOR A LATTE.

What Could You Do With £68k?

I was going to take a day off today, but events overtook me.

What could you do with £68,000?

You could employ 3 Police Recruits (or Student Constables, whatever they’re called today) for a year.

You could buy/lease a few nice shiny cars to compliment the fleet.

You could certainly fund a new Reward Specialist.

You could mount several street-level operations against Borough priorities and keep the public happy.

Or you could move a sign.

A Freedom of Information Request (not one of mine this time MPS) has revealed that it cost £68,000 to move the revolving sign outside New Scotland Yard in 2012.  Money well spent I say, seeing as how they’ll all be moving out by 2016 as Boris sells off a bit more of the family silver.

In it’s entirety, mainly cos it;s Monday and I could do with a laugh, here’s the request and the Met’s response.

Enjoy, I’m off to lie down in a darkened room;

I have heard that the MPS spent a considerable amount of money moving the revolving NSY sign outside New Scotland Yard. Could you please advise me:
1. Is this true?
2. When was the work done?
3. How much did the work cost?
4. What was the reason for the move?
5. How far was the sign moved?
6. How long had the sign been in place prior to its being moved?
7. How long is it before the MPS is scheduled to leave NSY, taking the sign with them?

RESULT OF SEARCHES

The searches located information relevant to your request.

DECISION

I have today decided to disclose the located information to you in full. Total costs of replacing and relocating the sign were £68,000. This figure included design and manufacture of a new sign, the mechanical and electrical infrastructure required to support the sign, installation, building work and associated professional fees including Town Planning process.

The works were part of resilience and security redevelopment works to NSY in preparation for the Olympics. The sign now provides electrical points for broadcasting organisations and is located to provide open interview space for news items.
The sign was moved in June 2012. The new site is approximately 15m from the original site of the sign where it had been for over 30 years.

The move of staff and officers from New Scotland Yard will be completed by Spring 2016.

Forgive me for being pedantic, but isn’t this Public (Council Tax Payers’) money? Could it not have been better spent? Yet one more example of inexplicable priorities.

It’s That Time Again

When we come to the thorny subject of fundraising, donating, giving for the family Patrick and James’ ET against the Met.

This is the situation as it stands at 9am TODAY.

The Metropolitan Police Federation have not, to the very best of my knowledge, committed to assist James financially or with legal representation for his Employment Tribunal. If that is wrong I will most happily correct and bring my error to people’s attention.

James and his wife have now been made aware and given an estimate of the likely costs involved in bringing this case to Tribunal.  At this present time I do not wish to disclose what that amount is because it’s James’ and his family’s personal business and it’s up to them to say whether they want that figure bandied about.  Suffice to say, it’s a fair few bob.

With this in mind I am asking you all once again to consider dipping into your pockets, when you have some spare cash, and donating it to the fund.  There have been some reasonably vociferous whisperings on Twatter about the veracity of this fund, and all I can say on the matter is;

It will be administered ever so slightly differently now, the main difference is that all correspondence and appeals in relation to funding will come from me via this blog and my Facebook page.

My Twatter account is not anonymous, you can see who I am and some of you have either met me in the flesh or have worked with me in the past. I am who I say I am, I’m not sitting in Nigeria (other countries are also available) sending off begging letters or telling people they’ve won the lottery, just give me your bank account details and we’ll pay your prize money in.  I am me, and I’m perfectly happy to answer civilised questions on the subject, but if you’re in any way suspicious or reluctant please do not donate.

But here’s a sobering thought;

If every Constable in England and Wales donated just 25 pence James would raise enough money to cover his estimated costs.

TWENTY FIVE PENCE?? That would be enough to make a HUGE difference. So how do we get every Constable to donate 25p?  Some of you read this blog and can donate here.  I would ask you to speak to your mates on shift/team/squad, whatever, point them in the direction of this blog or the RetiredandAngry Facebook page where they can donate via Paypal.  Ask your mates to give you their 25p’s and make a bulk donation on behalf of them all, it doesn’t really matter how it’s done, we just need those 25p’s

If any of you have any lingering doubts about the worthiness of this cause all I can say is this.  James has support in some very high places.  Baroness Jenny Jones immediately intervened and wrote a very strongly worded letter to Mayor Boris and Bernard Hogan-Who.  She has apparently also scheduled some ‘questions’ with MOPAC in a couple a couple of weeks time.

And finally, this morning I got a mail from Baroness Angela Harris (or Angela to her friends).  I shall probably be sent to The Tower because the bottom of the email is peppered with all sorts of threats about ‘unauthorised disclosure’ but I thought it was too good not to share, so buckle up, this may be the last time you hear from me;

“Dear Mr. Wright,

Thank you very much for sending me James’s open letter to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. I was present at the PASC meeting when James spoke about his “whistleblowing” on recording of crime figures.  I was shocked and disheartened to learn that, in my 30+ years of being involved in policing as a member and then chair of a Police Authority, recording of crime figures had not improved.  By speaking out as he has done, James has subjected himself and his family to an unacceptable level of heavy-handed and distasteful treatment and I am deeply saddened that this man, who is full of integrity, should be dealt with in such a way.

Anyone who “blows the whistle” on perceived bad practice or malpractice within any organisation deserves the fullest hearing, followed by concerted efforts to change that organisation.  That can only be done by listening carefully and choosing to deal with the correct information in a timely and judicious way.  Finding out the truth of any allegation is absolutely paramount and I found James’s submission (as did the Select Committee) unequivocal.  That should have been the basis for action.  Sadly, petty rules have come into play and the arguments he made have been subsumed by these.

I well understand that there are such rules in place, but to be hounded by them in answer to a deeper, darker allegation, is, I believe, the wrong way of dealing with this problem. James should be given a respected place within the organisation, where his talent for spotting wrongdoing will be an asset to the organisation.  It will then show that the Met means business when it asserts that wrong practices will be rooted out.

He has my complete support and backing.

Angela Harris”

So, as you can see, James has support in high places, those people will do what is within their power/ability to do.  We, in our turn, can all give 25 pence. Personally I have given more than 25p, but the point is that 25p is all that is needed if everybody gave.  We all know that everybody WON’T give, but it is within our ability to make a difference and make this happen.

Over to you.

BREAKING NEWS – I have largely solved the problem of Paypal fees reducing the donations. For people who already have a Paypal Account, are willing to create one, the solution is this.

From within your opening screen (after logging in to your account) choose Send Money

Send it to the following email address

justice4pcpatrickAToutlookDOTcom (see what I did there?)

Enter the amount in GBP you wish to send

Click on “I’m sending money to family or friends” This option should be free of charges unless you pay by Credit Card and the money ends up in exactly the same account as if you had pressed the Donate Button.

A little more complicated and it only works for Paypal account holders but every fee that we can reduce is more for the Fighting Fund

THIS FUND IS NOW CLOSED

I thank you

Loyalty and Acronyms

I was thinking the other day.  Dangerous I know, but it happens occasionally.

After 30 glorious years (or not so glorious, it would depend on who you spoke to) I left the MPS or the Metropolitan Police Service as they prefer to be known, although it will always be Police Force in my head.  Then I went to join another set of initials, the MPA, or Metropolitan Police Authority as they preferred to be known.  I worked as a Forensic Auditor in the IAD or Internal Audit Directorate as they preferred to be known.

Internal Audit assisted both the Metropolitan Police Authority and the Commissioner in the discharge of their responsibilities for the policing of London. Internal Audit supported the MPA by providing the Treasurer and the Audit Panel with reports and analyses of the degree of adequacy and effectiveness of internal control within the MPS and MPA, and contributeed to the Commissioner’s objective of ensuring that systems are secure and safe against corruption through:

  •  advice on the prevention and detection of fraud affecting the MPS and investigation of waste or abuse within the systems that support the policing of London;
  • evaluation of the adequacy and effectiveness of the corporate control framework;
  • risk based reviews of all internal systems;
  • advice on the adequacy and effectiveness of planned controls in new and developing
  • systems;
  • promulgation of best practice across the MPS.

The bit of IAD that I worked in (Forensic Audit) had a reputation for either recovering through civil actions, prosecutions etc, or saving, more money than we cost every year.  There were 9 of us in the office, more than half retired Police Officers, and this was where our problems started.

My personal opinion is that the MPA Senior Management saw that we already had a pension so they didn’t really play ball with our pay.

A comprehensive pay review was undertaken by an outside body which recommended certain adjustments to our pay.  Well for a variety of reasons they didn’t appear for me and some others. So being a belligerent (some may say bolshy) sort of Forensic Auditor I launched what became the first of a series of grievances against the MPA Pay Policy.  I got to have a personal appearance in front of (I think it was) Sir John Quinton, who listened very carefully at what I had to say and carefully read the documentary evidence I had submitted.  In the fullness of time he issued his decision.

Tough – you’re not getting another penny more, if you don’t like it…….. you get the idea?  He sent me this decision in a personal letter which also stated (presumably in his opinion rather than fact) that I was being DISLOYAL to my employers by pursuing this grievance.  DIS bloody LOYAL!!!  I was incandescent now, never pretty.  That marked the birth of my annual grievance against the Pay Policy, it was never the same because it seemed to change every year, a peculiar side effect of which was that if you were on the bottom of the pay scale you always seemed to remain there under the next year’s scheme. I do so wish that I had kept that letter rather than shred it in total disgust when I resigned.

The flaw in the MPA policies was that they seemed to assume that individuals never discussed their pay with their peers.  Oh how wrong they were, and this marked the birth of actions under the Equal Pay legislation that rumbled on long after I had left.  The final straw for me was when a young lady that I had been helping to train (literally that, I take no great credit for her success) was promoted to Forensic Auditor from Trainee and immediately seemed to be paid more than I was being paid.  Now who’s being DISLOYAL eh?

This coincided with my decision to relocate to France, so ultimately I couldn’t be arsed, and let it go, but I was not impressed. I also received information from other sources that indicated that some of the females were being paid more than their male equivalents.  Political  Correctness gone mad, and those of you that know me in real life will know my take on PC, like “No you can’t have a Christmas Tree in your office, it might offend the non-Christians” that one got me well fired up.

Eventually the MPA was swallowed up by a bigger Acronym, MOPAC and they got what they deserved. Redundancies across the board, certain high-profile people disappearing overnight, and whilst I am completely out of touch, the Forensic Auditing capability still exists but it has been slashed, possibly to 3, I’m not overly certain.  If 9 of us were permanently fully employed and still saved/recovered more than we cost I can only guess at what’s happening now. Or maybe people have simply stopped ripping off the MPS.  Not to worry, they can always buy in services from PWC and the like, won’t cost much.

Here endeth today’s rant.

Miracles Sometimes Happen

And this particular miracle was that I got a response from Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime to my FOI response within 48 hours.  I had asked them for copies of the Job Description and Person Specification for the post to which Rabbi Glibs has been appointed as Principal Advisor to Get Her Shaven Leg .  And they responded, in full, and promptly without making me wait.  Mind you they still haven’t answered my other question about how many candidates, who did the short-listing etc, but we shall see.

Back to the business in hand;

The Job Description is thus;

Job Title: Principal Advisor to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)
Grade: 4
Responsible to: DMPC
Budget responsibility: None
Contract Type: Fixed Term Appointment terminating 5 May 2016
Employer: MOPAC
Job Purpose

  • To provide high level strategic and policy advice to the DMPC.
  • To offer non-executive perspective to the DMPC on designated Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) activity.
  • To develop and maintain effective partnerships with a wide range of specialist stakeholders on behalf of the DMPC.
  • To represent the DMPC – attending MPS/MOPAC strategic boards and meetings and liaising with relevant senior officers in the MPS and MOPAC as well as external stakeholder groups.
  • Main duties and responsibilities/accountabilities relating to designated portfolio
  • To support the DMPC in undertaking his responsibilities by providing advice leading to policy initiatives, planning, strategies and resources decisions.
  • To advise on and implement a communications strategy, including briefing and media advice.
  • To provide non-executive oversight of designated MPS operational activity, structures, use of resources, and risk registers in order to provide impartial advice and guidance on a regular basis to support strategy development and decision-making.
  • To represent the DMPC at relevant board-type environments and in public forums as appropriate.
  • To examine information leading to strategic decisions, assess them from a risk point of view, put them in context and offer advice.
  • To work with MOPAC Senior Management Team and Senior Staff to ensure DMPC priorities and Mayoral commits are developed into strategy and implemented.
  • To source the best policy advice and guidance for the DMPC, ensuring the wider local, national and, where appropriate, international operational context is covered.
  • To ensure that the MOPAC engages in and influences national policy on policing and crime
  • In addition to anticipated duties, undertake, as necessary, additional or other duties, which are within the skills and competences held, to meet the needs of MOPAC business

Now we all know now that Rabbi Glibs was the successful candidate, how do his skills sit with the person specification?;

Person Specification

  • Significant recent relevant experience in advising on and developing policy and reform in the policing and criminal justice sectors, investment and service improvement preferably in the police, local government and/or criminal justice sectors.
  • A successful track record in giving high level professional advice on complex and sensitive issues at a senior level and to politicians.
  • Strong strategic skills with an ability to propose and evaluate strategic options and to influence service improvement.
  • Well-developed analytical and problem-solving skills and an ability to devise creative solutions to complex problems and issues.
  • Exceptional influencing and communication skills, effectively communicating through clear and persuasive oral, written and personal presentations.
  • Knowledge and understanding of, and commitment to, best practice in equal opportunities relating to policing issues. Strong awareness of the need to drive equality and diversity change
  • Knowledge and significant experience of operating in a complex political environment with an appreciation of the statutory and legislative requirements and decision-making process relating to MOPAC arising from the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.
  • Being a team player as part of a leadership team, and being able to apply consultation and negotiation skills to build consensus and promote service change and development.
  • An ability to engender maximum trust and confidence of the DMPC and MOPAC through the highest level of personal and professional integrity.
  • The postholder will need to achieve appropriate security clearance.
  • The post is politically restricted.

The information is there, one must make up one’s own mind as to whether it was a level playing field.  I will, of course, update you all on the outcome of my other, more sensitive, request in this matter.