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.

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MOPAC – And How They Just Keep Giving

Well, that’s giving in a taking sort of way really. I must thank @TanyaSmith67 for bringing this matter to my attention, it had completely passed me by.  I’ll stop writing about it just as soon as Boris and co let me, honest I will.

Not content with selling off huge chunks of the Met’ s Estate (and I know there are those of you out there who aren’t quite as outraged as us at Angry Towers) but Boris’ deputy, Steve Greenhalgh, has found himself another controversy to get involved in.

Being in charge of the MOPAC/MPS estates strategy, Greenhalgh has endorsed, if not decided upon,.the sale of certain properties within the estate deemed ‘Surplus to Requirements’.  Last week, a mayoral press release said Greenhalgh had “intervened” to stop the sale of the Raynesfield homes in Raynes Park, “I was not happy with how they had been treated,” said Greenhalgh of Raynesfield’s residents. “I was not prepared to see key workers like nurses, carers and teachers forced to move out of their homes.”  In August it had been reported that “Nurses and school workers facing eviction from their police-owned homes say they are being “cleansed” from the borough due to a lack of affordable housing.

Key workers living at Raynesfield in Raynes Park and 30 Griffiths Road in Wimbledon will be evicted from their flats by the end of the year after the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) sold the land. The sale forms part of Boris Johnson’s long-term estate strategy to sell off properties and invest profits back into frontline policing.

Residents of the two estates, mostly on low salaries, will now have to leave the borough because they neither earn enough to rent privately nor meet criteria to qualify for social housing.”

Well, I have to say that I was completely unaware that the Met owned residential properties that were rented out to others, I was only aware of the Section Houses and Married Quarters.  Presumably these are ex Married Quarters that have been vacated by the officers, under whatever circumstances, and put onto the rental market. What do other Forces do?

The same thing happened in Hammersmith, where MOPAC owns a block of flats called Broadmead. Greenhalgh said he had been “very shocked” to learn that Broadmead’s residents might be turfed out and that he’d discovered this “all because” Tory councillors in his old borough had brought the tenants’ situation to his notice.

So I’m beginning to see the pattern now, Greenhalgh decides to sell off the Met-owned residential properties, that are now managed by a Housing Association and occupied by key workers or others on low income.  Then, when he hears that they residents are to be displaced (whatever did he think was going to happen to them?) he steps in top prevent it and everybody hails him as a hero.

Apparently Deputy Mayor Greenhalgh still wants those homes sold, but says this will now only happen if the new owner can offer existing tenants “similar or better terms” than they presently enjoy, ensuring that they can afford to stay, rather than selling the sites vacant on the open market for as much money as possible.

Tom Copley calls for apology from Deputy Mayor for Policing

So what is he playing at? I seen to recall that his political career has been dogged by controversy of one kind or another, and nothing seems to have changed.  He now seems to be quite happy to put people in fear of being evicted from their reasonably priced homes, then mounting his blue stallion and charging in to save them from the fate that he himself had instigated.

Or is that just the jaundiced view of a cynical duffer?

WTF Are You On Boris?

Just as the ink had dried on my last post, and my aged quill was cleaned and dry, one of my erstwhile colleagues enlightened me to something else not quite right with the Met’s Property Portfolio. [Santa, please send new quill and ink for Crimbo, much obliged, I have been good].

According to that unmissable publication Mayor Watch the Met (or Boris) has seemingly blundered again.  Bought NSY for £120 million (if memory serves me well), put it up for sale at £250 million and finally sold it to an offshore investor from UAE for £370 million.

So far so good, although I suspect there may be some Capital Gains Tax liability there somewhere.

So, having sold off the Crown Jewels Boris now finds that the replacement premises that the NSY staff will be relocating to are too f’ing small.

Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.

Proceeds from the sale will kick-start a major investment opportunity to secure the future of the Met Police, with the funds being used to kit out officers across London with mobile technology such as tablets, smartphones and body cameras, enabling them to spend more time out on the streets. It will also allow much-needed investment in the remaining estate along with modern ICT infrastructure and new software platforms.

However the Met are relocating to Curtis Green building on Embankment but have already identified the need for extension works, they are planning the construction of a new rear extension to help create “525 work spaces” for officers and civilian support workers.

At the same time MOPAC has authorised a revamp of Holborn police station to accommodate the Met’s legal department and the refurbishment of three floors at its Marlowe House office block to create a further 616 work stations.

However a briefing document drawn up for Stephen Greenhalgh, London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, warns that the combined space created by the projects may be insufficient to house all of the Met’s HQ functions.

The document states: “One of the original planning assumptions for the Mayor Buildings Estates Strategy and the exit of NSY was that all teams exiting NSY will be relocated within the remainder of the MOPAC estate.

“Whilst this position can be achieved in terms of available floor space, certain facilities would require further investment to maintain operational performance.”

The document continues:

“Recent developments have necessitated the need to look at the accommodation requirements of specific teams again, and occupational arrangements of key partner agencies.

“A growth bid for the specific team will require the provision of further accommodation. Studies are underway to model whether the existing MOPAC estate can meet these requirements or whether third party accommodation is needed.”

So, forward planning not high on MOPAC’s skillset then.  Green party AM Baroness Jenny Jones commented: “It does seem a bit ridiculous that the Mayor in his rush to sell off police buildings has left the Met with a headquarters that is too small.

Curtis Green, or Scotland Yard as it will soon be known, may not even be operational until October 2016.

And then, hold your breath dear reader, there’s the Met’s other White Elephant, Empress State Building which presently provides nearly 4,000 desk spaces for the Met.

ESB

This one is only leased, but is also on ‘the list’.

If I may quote from an article in the Grauniad last year…….

“Anyone as enmeshed in London government as Boris Johnson’s policing deputy Stephen Greenhalgh makes connections in overlapping fields. These can be valuable but also trigger unhelpful suspicions. Greenhalgh’s energetic history as a Conservative politician and company director illustrates how such problems might arise.

His present job as head of MOPAC – the mayor’s office for policing and crime – involves lots of complex maths about where Metropolitan Police Service personnel should be based. The objective is to save money in the context of big pressures on budgets. Several police stations are to be sold, along with New Scotland Yard, the Met’s famous HQ since 1967. And then there’s the Empress State Building (ESB), a 31-floor, 117 metre tall tower, which presently provides nearly 4,000 desk spaces for the Met.

The ESB is leased by MOPAC on the Met’s behalf from the property developer Capital and Counties (Capco), which bought a 50% share of it in 2008 and announced in May that it had bought the other half. The building’s location is significant. It stands within the 77 acres of prime west London land Capco intends to clear and replace with four high-priced urban “villages”, destroying in the process the historic Earls Court exhibition centre and the homes of around 2000 people, most of whom would sooner be left alone despite a promised offer of replacement dwellings nearby, if their responses to the council’s consultation on the issue are any guide.


This
widely-opposed redevelopment, known as the Earls Court Project, is dear to Greenhalgh’s heart. Most of the territory it covers lies within the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (H&F), which Greenhalgh led for six years from May 2006. Greenhalgh championed the scheme when at H&F. Shortly before leaving for his new job at City Hall described it to the Guardian as “the best deal in the history of redevelopment in London.” Johnson too is a big fan, hailing it as a “landmark project” in one of his London Plan Opportunity Areas.”

My apologies to the Grauniad for such a large quote, but it seemed fairer and more effective than paraphrasing it.

Is it just cynical, suspicious me, or is there a potential conflict of interests here?

It certainly does nothing to help resolve the Met’s almost critical shortage of desk space.

Never mind, it will sort itself out and all become clear in the fullness of time. It’s probably just me.

Has The Apocalyptic Horseman Risen Like The Phoenix?

Is that a Mixed Metaphor?

Is Anarchy breaking out within MOPAC and/or the Met?

So many questions for a Monday morning, and I am aware that I am far from being the only person asking them.

BoJo’s Policing SPAD has been suspiciously quiet since his notorious and ill-judged Four Horseman of the Apocalypse Tweet (sorry Mr Gibbs, I won’t forget it and why should I?), but recently we have seen two absolute crackers come out of BoJo Towers and/or BHH.

Firstly, in a fine display of unilateralism, the likes of which I have seldom seen, we have Boris announcing the purchase of two Water Cannon for the people of London.  They still haven’t been signed off by Cruella as far as I know, but you Londoners can have them anyway.  As a major strategic resource it is unthinkable that BoJo’s SPAD will not have been involved in that decision.

Now today we have the ground-breaking announcement that recruitment of Constables into the Met will be open only to the residents of Greater London (within the M25 basically).

Now this causes me several problems really.

1,  Why only Constables?  If this is really such a good idea why not apply it to ALL ranks.

2.  The Metropolitan Police Farce proudly declares itself as an Equal Opportunities Employer.  Really?  Bernie Hogan-Who has previously admitted that his in favour of Positive Discrimination, but this just takes the argument to a whole new level.   Can the genuine needs of the Met be realised from recruiting solely from the Greater London Area.  Neither Bernie the Ostrich nor BoJo are Londoners themselves I believe.  What is it that Londoners bring to the party that is so important at Constable level (absolutely no offence intended)

Boris says “Every police officer is always and will always be selected on merit, but there is more than enough talent in this great city to give the Met all the devoted and skilled new recruits they need to go on keeping Londoners safe.”  Really?  Then the Met should have never suffered any recruitment problems and all the excellent members from outside the M25 were really never needed then?

3. The policy change will not affect serving officers, existing MPS police staff, members of the Special Constabulary, or existing police officers seeking to transfer from other UK forces.  Not that I have a problem with transfers in from another Force, but why are they an exception?  Is this an indication that the policy might not actually be lawful?  Conservatives are, after all, renowned for their unlawful policies.

4.  And this really is my biggest problem with it.  The Metropolitan Police Service intends to recruit 5,000 new Police Constables before 2016.  Boris Johnson wants to keep police numbers around 32,000.  In March 2013 there were 30,398 Constables in the Met.  This is approx 3,000 fewer than March 2010.  The Home Office have ‘helpfully’ changed the format for their twice-yearly Policing Strength stats and no longer include the breakdown by rank (oh, I wonder why), all I can tell you is that by September 2013 the TOTAL strength of the Met was down to 30,631.  Under it’s plans for dealing with ‘Austerity’ the MPS has a plan in place to reduce its TOTAL strength to 31,960 by March 2015.

So, I come back to the point I have made several times before, and the the Met, MOPAC and the government have taken absolutely no notice;  if the 2015 target is 31,960, why are we now at 30,631, a level lower than is targeted. Why are senior Police Officers and politicians, once again, playing games with the figures/  They did it with #CrimeStats and now they’re doing it with Policing Strength.  London presumably needs a certain number of Poilice Officers to keep it safe. So why would you deliberately go below that level and announce it was your intention to recruit 5,000 more?  Not that 5,000 is a realistic figure because the difference between current and planned establishments is much less than 5,000 and we all know that more cuts are planned for post 2015.  MOPAC’s latest TOTAL establishment figure for the Met is May 2014 and showed  30,945.

Cynical, risky, reckless, downright criminal.  They are playing with the safety of their residents and Tax Payers?  If you cut Blair Gibbs in half I suspect you would find Policy Exchange running all the way through.  Another major policy that I find inconceivable that he was not involved with.  Are we now witnessing the rising of Phoenix Gibbs from the Bonfire of the Vanities?

This tells me everything I need to know about MOPAC and the Met.  They have changed into a team of game-players.  Maybe BHH, BoJo and Blair will be appearing on Big Brother sometime soon.

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.

RetiredAndAngry’s Whistle-Blowing Policy

I sat down this morning to watch the video of the Greater London Policing and Crime Committee meeting from 13th May and to read the transcript of same meeting.

I very soon thought I was watching an episode of The Muppet Show.

There was somebody there impersonating the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolis.  He couldn’t have been a real policeman because he kept using posh twatty words like Inculcate;

“I think our procedure, and I accept you do not have this but when you get it you will see that actually by rewarding them, is to effectively inculcate them and to provide some support around them in terms of the process around it. In terms of bringing things forward and raising issues, that is one of those things that we constantly say. The rewarding as well is about being very clear on where the values of the organisation are, so being very clear with people about doing the right thing, the courage and integrity you need to step forward and say things that are wrong in your place of business. The reward per se, we have looked at things like, and I know some people talked about, “Do you commend everyone who blows the whistle?” It feels a bit like a gimmick, I have to say, that sort of thing. “

 

Roger Evans AM: I am surprised that you think that commending people for it is a gimmick. I suppose it would be if you commended everyone. If you commended people where they had found something really serious that you are pleased to have been told and been able to put right–

Craig Mackey (Deputy Police Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Absolutely, yes.

Roger Evans AM:– that seems to me to be entirely appropriate.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Police Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes.

Roger Evans AM: Does it happen? Do you have any examples?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Police Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No. At times people get rewarded and thanked for raising issues and other times they do not.

And then we have absolute pearls like this;

“I can think of some examples where the support has been right, they have raised an issue about their supervisor and the supervisor has gone, or moved, so they have been absolutely right in terms of that approach. I welcome views if  colleagues think there is a way of rewarding people for whistleblowing, or incentivising it.”

Does Mackey really think it’s as simple as moving a supervisor who’s been complained about?  What chuffing planet are you on?  Not the same one as me obviously.

Well, that looks like a bloody good, consistent policy then.

The full encounter can be found here, it’s a great read.

Which brings me on to the title of today’s piece.

RetiredAndAngry’s Whistle-Blowing Policy is this

I promote a system that encourages people to bring to the notice of their senior management or appropriate body  all examples of wrong-doing or malpractice without fear of repercussions.  I actively discourage the Blame Culture that pervades so many organisations.  Whistle-Bl;owing is not necessarily about dropping someone in the mire, it is about identifying something that is going wrong and getting it put right.  That does not necessitate any kind of witch-hunt either against the whistle-blower or the individual(s) identified in the Disclosure (if appropriate), it just involves Getting It Right, and Doing It Right.

Is that so very difficult to comprehend Mr Mackey?

A Tale From The Auditor’s Chair

I need to start this blog with a warning – I haven’t been able to confirm the end of this particular tale (yet) but the source is impeccable.  It is rumour, unsubstantiated, but maybe my friends in the Met can shed some light on it.

When I left the Met, all those years ago, I went and worked for the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) as a bloody civvie.  I applied for, was interviewed for, and was selected for a job as a Forensic Auditor (never be afraid of good, open, honest competition).  Now that’s a very grand sounding job title and let me tell you it has absolutely nothing to do with Forensics.  It meant working for the Internal Audit Directorate, alongside the bean counters and investigating stuff.  They had a whole load of bean counters of various grades and qualifications, but the bean counters (lovely people almost all of them) couldn’t investigate their way out of a game of Cluedo.  Nor should they, horses for courses, that’s not where their skills lie, any more than I and my colleagues could go and conduct a proper audit.  The job involves studying stuff in Forensic detail, looking for the frauds and corruptions that may, or may not not, exist in bloody civvie world.

The Met is not immune to corruption and fraud, perpetrated against it.  Some contractors ‘double billed’. Some contractors billed for services they had not provided. Some contracts were remarkably favourable to the contractor and should never have been written in the manner they were.  Some practices, policies and systems were flawed, and could be exploited by unscrupulous contractors and/or staff.

The majority were absolutely fine, but the Met needed protection from those intent on profiting at its expense.  The Met had a reputation some time ago of ‘just paying’ for stuff.  Submit an invoice and it will be paid, no-one seemed to check very well whether the work had been done or not.  That may not always have been the case, but that was frequently how the Met was perceived.

Our office was staffed mainly, but by no means exclusively, by retired Police Officers. There were three teams of three, each team consisting of a Senior Forensic Auditor and 2 Forensic Auditors, or in my case, me and a Trainee Forensic Auditor. This may sound excessive to you, a luxury that Met couldn’t afford. I would dispute that. We were never sitting around twiddling our thumbs, work was always at hand. Some was referred top us by Finance or Procurement, some was simply stumbled upon or referred by Met SMT and some was self-generated.  In the 3 years I was there our collective salaries were never more than the figure we had been able to save the Met or recover.

The two ‘Headline Grabbing’ enquiries our office dealt with in my time there were ‘Interpreters’ and ‘Misuse of Corporate Credit Cards’, but there were many others, some big, some small, some ‘quick wins’ ad some ‘plodders’.

The main one that I was involved in was the Interpreters enquiry, which had been brought to our attention because a certain Interpreter/Translator who was retained on a part-time basis, paid hourly plus expenses, was found to be earning more than the Commissioner and he was not best pleased.

We were quickly able to establish that the system for paying Linguists was a little lax and would benefit from a bit of tightening up.  My team sat down, looked at the information we had in front of us and devised a strategy for dealing with it, and establishing the size of the problem. An executive decision was taken that we would Forensically examine the ‘Top 10’ earners over a 5 year period.

Welcome to Paper Mountain.

To cut a very long story short, we quite quickly established that SOME of the Linguists had been systematically milking the Met for all they could, but one was head and shoulders above the rest.   Some of you Met and ex Met may well remember the files that came out from us seeking to verify (or otherwise) hundreds of claims for payment submitted by Linguists. The results were astonishing, the most outstanding and an Oscar Winning Performance was by our League leading Linguist for 3 days over a Bank Holiday Weekend, for 14-18 hours per day, at Double Time or Time and a Half plus Travelling Time and Travelling Expenses.  A monumental amount of money claimed for allegedly translating documents relating to a property fraud.

After this person was arrested (and arrested she most surely was) her diary and personal work records (for they were all free to work for other organisations also as the Met couldn’t guarantee them work) were seized and with bated breath I checked her records for this particular Bank Holiday Weekend.  Was she indeed at a Central London police Station all weekend as she had claimed and a certain Detective Sergeant had inadvertently confirmed by signing her claim form for HIS enquiry?

It should come as no surprise by now, dear reader, to discover that the little lady had not been in this particular Central London Police Station for all of those hours, she wasn’t even there for any of those hours, she wasn’t even in England that weekend.  She was in Toulouse providing contemporaneous translation services at a conference, for another agency.  How bold was that?

She was eventually tried, convicted and would have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment if she hadn’t developed cancer whilst awaiting trial.  Then followed the High Court action to recover the monies she had claimed.  All my work had to be examined independently by a Forensic Accountant (I want to be one of those in my next life, they charge more than solicitors) and a Consultant Statistician, by order of His Judgeness.  Once this had been done His Judgeness found in our favour and impoverished Linguist was made to repay over a Quarter of a Million British Pounds to the MPA, and this just represented what we could demonstrate that she had been overpaid in a 5 year period.

Further prosecutions followed, followed by further High Court recovery actions.  I am proud to say that we did not ever lose one of them, we just, occasionally, had to negotiate on the amount the Linguist in question would repay.

Systems and Practices were tightened up in the wake of this enquiry, some Linguists will never work again in that field.  The Met now has a completely revamped method for paying for Language Services., and for any Linguists reading this blog I KNOW that you’re not all like that.  Some even underclaimed their entitlements.

And finally to the point of this blog;

I received information this weekend that almost all of my old department (now under the MOPAC umbrella) is faced with the threat of redundancy.  It has been suggested that an office of 3 and 6 will be reduced to 1 and 1.  Is this really a good idea given the success of our office at saving money, as I said we saved/recovered more than we cost.  We always had a feeling that a chill wind would blow through the Directorate one day, but we always thought that 3 teams would be reduced to 6, not all the way down to 2 thirds of a team.

The example I have illustrated above is by far and away the worst excess that I was aware of in my time there, but there were others. The Corporate Credit Card enquiry was almost as bad, and left unchecked and undetected would have been a corporate disgrace.  I don’t disagree with any department being run efficiently, money can be saved where possible, but NOT at all costs.  I know from personal experience that an establishment of 2 investigators will soon be overwhelmed by any large or complicated enquiry, or even a significant number of small, uncomplicated enquiries.  Maybe MOPAC would have to ‘Buy In’ services from the Private Sector?, but I’m sure Blair Gibbs would probably approve of that.

I’m certainly glad that I’m no longer a Council Tax payer in London. The old MPA did occasionally demonstrate that it had some teeth.  Will Boris?  Will the other PCCs have any teeth, and are they prepared to use them in this manner?  Who knows, time will tell but it may well be too late by then.