The Crucifixion Cycle (Revisited)

Apologies, I first posted this on another site about 6 months ago, but with the fallout from #Plebgate and the really dodgy and unfortunately timed ‘leaking’ of the Operation Tiberius report (a 2002 report that has no business being in the hands of the media, hopefully an investigation into its leaking will follow)  it seemed like an appropriate time to revisit it. If you’ve read it before, there’s nothing new. If you haven’t read it before you might find it of some interest.

And so it has started.

In truth it probably started a year or two ago, but various distractions have kept our blinkers in place.

The Crucifixion Cycle

Stage 1

Slash Resources

Government slashes the resources of the public body in question.  Be it NHS, Armed Forces, Police, Education, Coastguard, Fire Service, Probation…..the list just goes on and on.  They have all had their resources slashed to the bone (and possibly deeper) by this failing coalition government in the name of Austerity. Be under NO illusions, more cuts are coming, Gideon says so.

Stage 2

Highlight The Failings

Next Step is to commission a report highlighting the failings of said public body. Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are widely available) are normally good at issuing reports that seem to support government’s plan of action.

Stage 3

Get the Press to Crucify the Public Body for Their Failings

Certain sectors of the British Press seem only too willing to publish articles, splashed across their front pages, or 1st item on the 10 o’clock news etc, crucifying the public body for their failings. They never seem to mention slashed resources at this stage, just how serious and awful the failings have been, whip up some public backlash, and launch a “heads should roll” theme to move it forward.

Police and NHS are currently suffering at the hands of Stage 3.  Whose turn next?

Stage 4

Privatisation.

These public bodies can’t be trusted to organise a beer-drinking event in a brewery.  Just look at the headlines at Stage 3. I know how to sort this out, we’ll privatise them.  We’ve got some Lords with interests in suitable private companies, let’s give them a shot at sorting it all out, perfect solution.

Am I wrong?

Is this NOT how it happens?

Where are you on the Wheel of Fortune?

Have you been crucified yet?

ConDem – The Government That Just Keeps Giving (And Taking)

In the week when MPs get an 11% pay rise and a brand spanking new pension scheme, (have I mentioned those before?) just so long as they stop claiming for tea and biscuits for the office, we get the disastrous (some may say criminally so) waste of millions/billions of pounds by Government.

I’ve mentioned before the odious Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions and their ridiculous Universal Credit Scheme.  By anybody’s best estimate it is due to WASTE at least £34,000,000 and possibly anything up to £130,000,000 because the IT system won’t work. Back to the Drawing Board there then.

Phillip Hammond’s Ministry of Defence is set to waste £7.4 million because he tried to privatise (that P word again) their procurement system and all but one of the bidders withdrew. I wonder why that could be? Maybe there’s not so much profit in procurement as the private side thought.

This is on top of my old friend “Aircraft Carriers” that I’ve ranted about before.

The Government changed Labour’s plans to buy jump jets. But after delays and more costs emerged, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced a U-turn costing at least £74million, the National Audit Office has revealed.

Margaret Hodge said: “We were supposed to get two aircraft carriers, available from 2016 and 2018, at a cost of £3.65billion. We are now on course to spend £5.5billion and have no aircraft carrier capability for nearly a decade.

“Officials also made incredibly basic errors such as forgetting to include the costs of VAT and inflation.” Now that one’s an absolute classic. I do hope someone got sacked for that.

Hammond’s department was also responsible for a trifling £40,000 bill over the last two years for ringing the Speaking Clock. Speechless.

And then today we get the news that a totally disgraceful £55 BILLION is being wasted through Fraud and Unclaimed Taxes according to the Public Accounts Committee who described this figure as “worryingly high“. The Public Accounts Committee obviously employ masters of understatement amongst their staff.

Total government accounts drawn up by the Treasury show that in 2011-12 some £13.2 billion had to be written off due to fraud and error. Margaret Hodge (again) said: “Taxpayer losses due to fraud and error are worryingly high. It is staggering that, in one year, the public sector was defrauded of over £20 billion and the tax gap rose to £35 billion.”

But it’s OK, we are in times of Austerity. Your pay has been frozen, your pension eroded, but HMG can continue to waster staggering amounts of money and still qualify for an 11% pay rise. When’s the next election? Might just stand, seems like a good number to me.

But one serious question. What could you do with all that money if you added it up and used it for fixing the Police, NHS, Armed Forces. Someone, somewhere wouldn’t be losing their job, folks could have the right kit, we might have a usable aircraft carrier somewhere, hospital waiting times reduced, who knows what you could do with it all. A Bean Counter somewhere could tell us I’m sure.

What Does Your Future Hold?

I do hope you don’t mind Rachel but I’m revisiting one of your quotes and running with it.

Back in February this year Rachel Rogers (@DorsetRachel) a former candidate for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset had this to say;

“The government is using police and crime commissioners to keep the impact of their budget cuts at arms length, thus putting the responsibility on the PCCs to raise money locally to pay for things that were previously paid for by central government.” and  “I would’ve been put in exactly the same position (had I won), and said throughout my police and crime commissioner campaign that the policing precept in Dorset would have to go up in order to compensate for the massive cuts being made by national government.”

The government have, as you well know,  cut the police spending budget by 20% meaning the loss of around 300 officers and 200 staff in Dorset.

Even the dubious Home Office figures show that the total number of Police Officers in Dorset has fallen from 1,486 in March 2010 to 1,301 in March 2013.

Across the country numbers have fallen from 146,912 in March 2010 to 132,608 in March 2013, loss of 14,304 officers (or a smidgeon under 10%) in 3 years, and it’s not over yet.

I can only agree with Rachel, the government is keeping the Police at arm’s length via the PCCs, so conveniently dreamt up by Policy Exchange.  10% and due to rise, the sound of budgets being slashed abounds. Only an idiot would actually agree that the Police can continue to function with less resources. I’m all in favour of efficiency drives but they can only improves things by so much. 10%? I seriously doubt it.

This, and other things that have happened recently, have got me thinking.  Whether or not we move towards a National Police Service, and opinion is divided on that, we certainly seem to be moving towards Fire Brigade Policing.  By that I mean rushing out to deal with the emergencies and less emphasis on routine patrolling. Police Officers are getting busier, measuring crime figures is only one measure of how busy they are. Anti Social Behaviour, Mental Illness (a subject in its own right), Public Order  etc etc all strain reduced resources. And how do you explain a government that is wholly responsible for slashing Police budgets by 20%, manpower by 10% already and then create an environment whereby Joe Public wants to take to the streets and demonstrate against Pay Freezes, Job Losses  and Pension Cuts. This almost guarantees that Police will fail and then we can all blame the Police, because that’s what this government, unlike any other before it,  has taught us to do.

PCSOs and Specials are taking up the slack to a degree but they are a finite resource, and in fact the total number of PCSOs nationally has reduced since March 2010 as well, whereas the total number of Specials has increased by over 3,000 nationally.

Put all this together and my vision of the future is a company such as G4S providing the patrolling function, fixed posts of low sensitivity, protection of insecure or vulnerable premises, reporting and recording of crimes etc. leaving sworn officers to investigate the crimes that have previously been recorded, arresting suspects, armed protection etc  and all other duties which require a sworn officer to carry them out.

So there you have it, RetiredAndAngry’s vision of the future shape of the Police Service. I do hope, just for once, that I’m wrong.

G4S, Brewery, Pissup

Well it doesn’t seem like they can.

If my interpretation of today’s news is correct HM Inspectors have absolutely slated G4S’ running of HMP Oakwood. It’s a nice, modern building,  not a Pentonville or a Brixton, but is still a shambles.

Attention-grabbing headlines include “It’s easier to get drugs than soap”, “Prisoners could not get a toilet roll”

On this evenings Regional News I even heard G4S’ running of the prison branded a disgrace!!

So the company that failed so spectacularly and publicly at the Olympic Games last year, and then found itself facing a criminal investigation for alleged fraud in a government contract has now seemingly failed again.

And apparently it’s still OK for them to bid for more, new government contracts cos Chris Grayling said it was OK.

It wasn’t so very long ago that this company was a firm favourite to benefit from some Police Service outsourcing. James P warned us all about that and look what happened to him, but what if he was right?

Does this company really have the appearance of a fit and proper company to be involved in any aspect of the Police/Judicial/Penal function? I don’t know the answer to that but I have my own opinion.  It’s just a shame that nobody who matters wants to hear it.

Hey You, Yes You – Loser!!

That’s right, you, you’re the biggest loser round here. And I don’t mind telling you why.  There’s tens of thousands of other folk who could tell you why, but they won’t because they’ve got their careers to think about, and that’s perfectly understandable, but before you get the hump with me, I’m a loser too. We’re all losers except for my 4 readers who happen to live abroad, lucky buggers.

Retired folk like me can tell you why you’re a loser and damn the consequences, cos Camoron hasn’t found a way to get to us yet.

Way back in 2006 David Camoron set out his proposals to reform the Police in a speech in East London. I won’t bore you with the details of that speech, the full text is available on the net if you want it.

More relevant is the very close resemblance to his views on Police Reform in recent years and the contents of the Winsor Review, Parts 1 and 2.  It’s almost as though Camoron told Cruella what he wanted and she told Uncle Tom what to write in his report, but surely it can’t be that simple, can it?

Then the very same Mr Winsor is appointed Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, reward or coincidence?

Throw into the pot one Andrew Mitchell MP and his notorious alleged ‘Pleb’ comments. Apart from the very obvious furore this sparked off, the most immediate consequence of this was Mr Mitchell resigning his lucrative Cabinet post and returning to the back benches.  But not for long.  Mr Mitchell is no great loser in this farce.  I have to be honest, I don’t know who the hell to blame. Operation Alice rumbles slowly on, CCTV ‘evidence’ was shown on Channel 4 which appeared to cast doubt on the Police version of events, but that had so clearly been tampered with it was a not very funny joke. Now Mr Mitchell is set to become our next European Commissioner at a salary in the region of £250,000, much more than the Cabinet Minister’s salary that he ‘sacrificed’, so he’s certainly not a loser, any more than Chief Inspector Winsor is a loser.

So, where was I? Oh yes, Camoron and Cruella have engaged Winsor, and possibly others. to bring the Police to their knees. 20% cut in Police Budgets, Police numbers going down all over England and Wales, except for a couple of very minor exceptions.

Another ruse to divert everyone’s attention and help decimate the Police Services is, dare I say it, Privatisation, or Outsourcing/Procurement if you prefer.  It is well known that I’m against it, but I might be wrong. What you can’t deny is the timing. Winsor, Plebgate, Privatisation, Pension Reforms, Budget Cuts, Number Slashing and soon Compulsory Severance, all at the same time, more or less.  Is it any wonder that the Police, along with other Public Services, are crumbling.

Then came Police and Crime Commissioners last year, to further destabilise and confuse. Who are they? What do they do? Why couldn’t Police Authorities have remained? Have they been a force for good?

Plebgate must have come to Camoron like a gift from the gods. Something to reduce public sympathy in the Police. Well, I would venture to say, they don’t need your sympathy. What they need is understanding.

I was fortunate enough to spend my 30 years serving in the Met, a force that was pretty much self-contained. We had our own fleet of prison vans, driven by our own drivers. We had our own garages with our own mechanics (oops sorry, technicians these days).  Almost anything you need to run a police force the Met had somewhere under its umbrella, or should I say, there was a family member somewhere that had it.

Having met up with some of our Constabulary cousins I now realise how fortunate I, and the Met, were. But why couldn’t all Forces have been a scaled down version of the Met, self-contained in a smaller version, or groups of smaller Forces joining together, but keeping it in house?

Camoron didn’t get his way in 2006, but he obviously has a long memory. He also seems to be Hell-bent on being the most despised Prime Minister in British history. Well, he’s succeeding in that at least.

I haven’t the foggiest idea why Camoron despises the Police so, but most, if not all,  Prime Ministers before him have managed the Police but kept them well-resourced, and kept numbers where they need to be.  Camoron/Cruella’s policy of slash and burn, reduce the numbers, slash the budget has apparently now been responsible for a rise in the crime rate.

I have seen many conversations on Social Media about ‘fiddled’ crime stats, crimes that no longer get investigated, regular officers being replaced by PCSOs and/or Specials, Police Staff jobs going over to the private sector. I have sympathy with most, if not all, of these arguments, but surely, at the end of the day, they are just a distraction. A distraction which seems to be working, and preventing us, the great British Public, from realising that we are being conned. We have become losers.

We have lost Police Officers.

we have lost Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen.

We have lost Doctors and Nurses

We have lost Social Workers and Probation Officers

We have lost Coastguards

We have lost Teachers.

I don’t know if it’s too late to reverse this. Sometimes it’s too expensive to put things back the way they were. The way that worked!!

I don’t have a degree in Politics or Political Science, but this certainly isn’t what I understand by DEMOCRACY.

If every inhabitant of England and Wales of voting age was asked

Do you want to cut the Police/Army/NHS/Probation etc etc? What would their answer be?

Ask them Do you want the Public Services to suffer to get us out of this mess, or shall we get the banks and financial institutions to pay for it? What would their answer be?

That would be Democracy in my view.

At the same time as this is going on, MPs are getting a nice fat pay rise, their expenses rumble on seemingly unchecked. When did you last get a pay rise, never mind an above-inflation one?

So, if you’re still with me and made it to the end, who’s the loser here? The Public Services are certainly losers, but it’s US, the Public. We’re the biggest losers, and the government are trying to convince us that we should be grateful.

#AllInThisTogether or #SnoutsInTheTrough?

Meanwhile, if any of you has a couple of groats spare to buy me a new quill I’d be terribly grateful, this one’s getting all blunt and scratchy, I thank you.

Reform

There has been a lot of debate recently about reforms to the Police Service, I have made my views on this subject perfectly clear and do not intend to contribute further today.

What has become clear, however, is this government’s absolute intention to reform everything in sight.  I was watching the BBC London News last night and the lead item was about the proposed reform of the London Fire Brigade.  As part of this craziness called Cost-Cutting they are faced with having to save £65 million from their budget.  This maybe not be a huge amount when compared to savings needed to be found by each and every police force but it represents approximately 840 job losses, 30 Fire Stations to be closed and 30 Fire Engines ‘scrapped’.  How can you close 30 Fire Stations in one city and not affect response times, service to the public and overall efficiency?  Will more of our houses be at risk of burning down now?  Earlier this year the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority outsourced the London Fire Brigade’s control room to Capita on a 10 year contract (does that sound familiar?).  A quick look at the Fire Brigade Union website shows that this course of action is being mirrored all across the country.  In almost every county there are cuts to Front Line fire services.

Earlier this month the Public Accounts Committee published its report entitled Transforming NHS ambulance servicesIt is clear from the ‘Conclusions and Recommendations’ section of this report that the Home Accounts Committee do not really understand the Ambulance Service and how it operates.  With reforms to the NHS seemingly going ahead apace it seems only reasonable to assume that the Ambulance Service will be ‘reformed’ sooner or later, and that can only mean one thing, a reduction in funding and probable outsourcing of some functions.  Who knows we might even see G4S Ambulances on our streets before very much longer.

So if any of you were still in any doubt whatsoever about this ConDem government of ours, the truth is out there.  They are intent on reforming ALL of the Emergency Services, and by reforming I mean ‘cutting back’, slimming down’.  These people would have us believe that they are not stupid, so they must be able to see the consequences of their actions.  Cut Back on the Emergency Services HAS TO put lives at risk.  The public, the Firemen (sorry ladies), the Ambulance workers and Paramedics and the Police Officers.

The Emergency Services are not immune from making savings, I’m sure we can all identify areas of excess and wastage and remedy the situation, but there has to be a limit.  Not a single person’s  personal safety should be put at risk for the sake of Reform.  Reform the House of Commons, I’m sure there’s some wastage of public funds goes on there.  Reform the Banking Industry, they seem to have got us into this mess.  Do not dismantle the Emergency Services, quick to do but not so easy to put right again afterwards.