SILENCE

Sshhhhh, can you hear it?………………….Neither can I.

That is EXACTLY the reaction to my survey, and its results.

I have received a few comments, both public and private, from my readers, and I’ve been amazed, and occasionally humbled, by the support I have had from some of my non-Police readers, the main protagonists will know who you are and I sincerely thank you.

I have forwarded a copy of the results to the Home Office, HMIC,  various politicians, Boris and his Deputy, the Association of PCCs, various offices of the Police Federation inc Head Office, an assortment of journalists, newspapers and News Channels, Trade Unions, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

SILENCE

Many on that list are not subject to the ‘rules’ of Purdah (See Cate Moore’s excellent piece Purdah (she wrote)). Almost all are at Liberty to communicate with me privately.

SILENCE

Everybody on that list, when ‘off duty’ is a citizen, and as such will require and depend upon the Police at some time. It is no use waiting until it’s too late, the time to speak out is NOW. One of our colleagues is currently busy pointing out that cuts to Policing form no part of any party’s pre-election agenda.

SILENCE

Indeed, the reverse is true. Some people following a Slash and Burn Policy are only too quick to blame the Police when things go ‘wrong’.  Who was it who tried to short-cut the system in an attempt to get a ‘Rave’ closed down, then complain when it wasn’t?

Amusingly, this attracted an appropriate response;

We are in a period of Purdah, it’s Easter Weekend but the facts speak for themselves. Much less than half of the people who read my original blog completed the survey for me. As at now, approx 500 people have viewed the results of the survey. It has been forwarded to the list above and what was the result of all that?

SILENCE

If nothing else Journalists and Newsdesks do not sleep. If they felt that there was a newsworthy story to be followed they would be all over it, Bank Holiday or not. So what do I read into their SILENCE? They clearly think that there’s no story there. I can be Twatted, emailed, comment left on blog – SILENCE.

The number of people here, and on Twatter, who regularly engage can definitely be measured in double figures. From the rest – SILENCE.

The solution seems simple, stop banging head on brick wall, and stop annoying folk. 

Camoron, May, Hogan-Who, Milky Bar Kid et al can all relax.

 The Quill rests

Sue & Sophie – What Have We Learnt?

Sorry to keep banging on about it, but I happen to think it’s important. We’ve now had about 48 hours since the news broke that Sue Mountstevens and Sophie Khan are part of the panel looking at Undercover Policing.

Now that the initial hullabaloo has almost died down, what have we actually learnt?

Firstly, we have learnt that I have now been #BlockedBySophieKhan.

Secondly, we have learnt that this panel has been in existence since July 2014 but we are only being told about it now.

We have learnt that the full makeup of the panel is this;

1. Alex Marshall (Chair) College of Policing
2. Stephen Otter HMIC
3. Sophie Khan People Action Centre
4. Sue Mountstevens Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner
5. Richard Martin Metropolitan Police
6. Christopher Nathan University of Warwick
7. Jon Boutcher Bedfordshire Police
8. David Tucker College of Policing
9. Gordon Ryan College of Policing
10. Kerry Robinson College of Policing
11. Rob Beckley College of Policing
12. Joe McGuigan HMRC
13. David Carrigan Independent Advisory Group
14. Dr Chris Nathan Warwick Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group *Duplicate by CofP
15. Bob Satchwell Society of Editors
16. Prof Ben Bowling Dickson Poon School of Law
17. Peter Jukes Media consultant
18. Tom Gash Institute for Government
19. Chris Green Merseyside Police
20. Mick Creedon National Lead Organised Crime
21. John Dilworth Crown Prosecution Services
22. Dr Bethan Lofthouse Centre for Criminology
23. Shaun Sawyer Devon and Cornwall Police

We have learnt that The members of the panel are unpaid volunteers and are not part of the formal Governance structures of the College of Policing.

We now know the Terms of Reference of the panel;

This group will review, challenge and provide feedback on the standards for undercover policing. It will also consider the leadership, management and supervisory frameworks and the way undercover policing is presented to the wider public. It will identify what evidence might assist in developing future practice. Members will support each other in the challenge process.

It will aim to

• Improve public confidence in the use of undercover policing tactics.
• Identify lessons from operations (not live ones), public inquiries or reviews, and make recommendations to the police service on how they should be addressed.
• Review and assess new and emerging undercover policing standards against tests of proportionality and necessity as well as wider judgements of social acceptability and practical applicability.
• Review the evidence base for good and effective practice in undercover policing including cost/benefit analysis.
• Advise on such issues as the ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ policy, Agent Provocateur, Intelligence Deployments and other potentially sensitive or contentious areas.
• Make suggestions about the areas of undercover policing that merit deeper research or analysis.
• Assist in, and guide, the way undercover policing is described and presented to the wider public and consider how wider views and feedback might be gathered from victims of crime, practitioners and those affected by undercover policing.
We have now seen their first set of Minutes, please note this are not the Minutes of their first meeting, but their SECOND.
We have learnt that they had a third meeting in February, but we have not seen any Minutes for that meeting yet.
Most worryingly, we have had it confirmed that all Non-Police members of the Scrutiny Panel will not be subject to the Code of Ethics.
College screengrab 1Reinforced by
College screengrab 2
Most amusingly we have learnt that somebody has attempted to launch a government e-petition in an attempt to get Sophie’s appointment to the panel reversed, but it was rejected due to the inclusion of the word ‘Appointment‘.
We have learnt that the appointment of Sue Mounstevens to the panel was made at exactly the same time that she was being investigated for her ‘serious error of judgement‘ in telling Nick Gargan the identity of the person(s) who had made allegations against him.  We know that she did this because an enquiry has subsequently found that she did and she has apologised for it.
We have also learnt that the Right Honourable Theresa May MP has also commissioned an enquiry looking into the area of Undercover Policing, and that the College Panel are aware of this as it’s referred to in the Minutes of their October meeting.
We know that the College are not awfully keen to answer questions put to them about the appointment of Sophie Khan in particular, and eventually went completely silent on the matter.

So, all in all, I think it’s safe to say that we have learnt that the College are either naive in extremis, or simply arrogant and don’t give a stuff for the morale of the Front Line, Public Expenditure (duplication of effort?) and the vetting (or lack of) participants on their panel, who I assume will have access to some sensitive information at some time (not a live op I realise that, but damage can still be done), bearing in mind that Sophie Khan’s Raison d’etre is to sue the Police. “Good Night all. I’m off to bed. Will be dreaming about suing the police as always. Sweet dreams to you all. I love my job so much :)

I’ll leave you to decide which it is, but suffice to say I’m glad it doesn’t involve me directly, and I can only imagine the thoughts of those officers expected to subscribe to this nonsense.

The Reality Behind The Fudge

If you are, or have been, a Police Officer you can stop reading now, you already know it.

If you’re married to, or in a relationship with, a Police Officer, you can stop ready too, you already know it as well.

I was energised by two things this morning. Chronologically they were;

Tony Munday’s excellent post Cuts Have HUMAN Consequences

And a Tweet by @Stella_Coppard;

Tony makes some very valid, and excellent points, and I just want to take a few minutes to remind everyone just what sort of restrictions working for the Police Service comes with, most of which are not remunerated in any way.

You can never guarantee that you’ll come home at the end of your shift, although almost all officers accept that when they sign up it has an impact on families too.

You can never guarantee having those important dates off work, kids birthdays, anniversaries, wife/partner birthdays, etc etc. you can never even be certain of getting Christmas Day off to spend with the family, we had an unofficial system whereby officers with children got the first crack at being off, but nothing was ever guaranteed.

I do believe that things have improved now, but you could never guarantee being able to live wherever you wanted.

Firstly you had to live within a certain distance (I think it was 25 miles) of Central London if you were in the Met, thereby guaranteeing that your choice of accommodation was well and truly within the most expensive areas available. I know the allowances were more than those paid to County Officers, but not enough to fully compensate.

Secondly, even after you’d found the house of your dreams you couldn’t guarantee that you’d ever own it and move in.  Having found the ideal house for my wife and self, we’d made an offer, negotiated a price and all that kind of stuff, then came the bit of asking the Commissioner for permission to live there (yes, really, that used to be how it was) we were declined the All-important permission as the next door neighbour was on bail for Armed Robbery. I wouldn’t particularly have wanted to live next door to an Armed Robber, but it’s one more example of how the Police used to control our lives.

Caution was required in your choice of pub, who you chose as your friends, who your kids made friends with, totally innocent that one, but Big Brother was always watching.

So, next time you hear about the Cuts and how they have Consequences, please remember that apart from their pay packets our brave Police Officers (and other) have already made numerous sacrifices just to do the job they do, and they do it proudly.

Getting on to Stella’s Tweet, she’s not far wrong, and I’m sure she didn’t mean it literally.

We have already lost 16,000 officers across England and Wales since 2010.  At the end of March 2010 we had 144,236 officers in the 43 Forces.by the end of September 2014 that number was down to 127,909 a reduction of 16,327 or 11.3% across the board.

It doesn’t end there, it has been widely forecast/predicted/admitted that the losses haven’t finished and we’re going to lose more.  The final total is quite likely to be in the order of 22,000 or 15.2%

That doesn’t begin to address the losses of civilian support staff.  These have been cut from 79,596 in March 2010 to 63,378 in September 2014, a loss of a further 16,218 posts or 20.3%, already a higher price than the officers, and set to get worse also.  ACPO have predicted that the final losses will likely total 68,000 by the time this coalition has finished.

So we lose 34,000 officers and 34,000 support staff? (as near as dammit)  What does that matter?  The coalition will be out come May and we can stop this nonsense dead in its tracks.

Maybe.

Assuming that Camoron and Co, Gollum and Cruella get their just desserts, and get pitched off into the long grass, all is OK isn’t it?

Well, no, actually.  Hypothetically speaking, even IF we can oust the coalition and stop the cuts, and even IF we magically recruited another 16,000 Police Officers overnight and even IF we could get them all a place in a Training Establishment on Day One, it takes up to 2 years to fully train a Constable.  Direct Entry Superintendents seem to be able to do it quicker, but approx 6 months of Initial Training followed by a further 18 months of Continuation Training, or whatever they call it now, makes 2 years for a fully fledged Constable, and we all know that those IFs aren’t all going to fall neatly into place.

So next time you’re quietly seething at the cuts wishing there was something you can do, there is.  Take half an hour (ish) of your time and write a letter to your local newspaper Angry of Tunbridge Wells type stuff, and make the true issues known. Mainstream media seem to be completely tied by the government and only report what they want to or are told to, but if ONE person wrote to their local paper every day the groundswell would be noticed.  Thanks to Stella and @Cate_a_Moore for the suggestion, it’s a good one, perfectly legal and definitely worth considering.

I see lots of people on Twitter wishing they could do more, slagging off the government policies etc etc, well there is something we can all do, and it doesn’t take much effort.

Whether you support the Police, Fire, NHS, Coastguard or whoever, it’s the same for us all.  Even the dumbest Editor must sit up and take notice when his Newsdesk gets suddenly overwhelmed by letters from Joe Public supporting their Public Services.

I know I write from one perspective because of my background, but it doesn’t actually matter what your background is, if you support our Armed Forces, Emergency Services, NHS etc etc, simply write one letter to show your support.

This will not go away unless we can make it go away.

 

 

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.

Are You Retired?

It’s not necessary to be Angry also.

Were you a Police Officer or Firefighter?

Did you retire between 1998 and 2007?

If the answer to the previous 2 questions is NO, you might as well stop reading now, this is not really for you.

If the answer is YES, or you know somebody it might apply to, then you might want to carry on reading.

It seems that, unbelievable as it might be, the government and their lackeys may have screwed up your pension, more specifically, the commutation element.

I don’t pretend to understand all things pension, but I know a man who does, or at least he seems to. There is already a current campaign to right this particular wrong which I believe is spearheaded by the FBU. It has already resulted in Early Day Motion 768 meaning that the issue might now get debated.

A Facebook Group has been set up for people who may be affected and currently has over 1,000 members and rising rapidly.

What is the basic issue?

Many thousands of police officers and firefighters who took their pension and commuted part of it for cash from 1998 to 2007 had out of date values applied to the calculation of their lump sum. No revision of the commutation factors took place
during that period. The issue is that this resulted in lower payments than should have been the case as longer life expectancy and other factors were increasing ‘actuarial’ values over that period.

In 2008 new tables were announced. These were applied and later backdated to retirement dates in 2006.

For much more, and certainly more comprehensive, information read the FAQ Document here.

I can only emplore you to write to your MP and ask them to support the Early Day Motion.  If they won’t do that, ask them to write to Theresa May or Penny Mordaunt and ask them to rectify this wrong.

If you do Facebook, head on over to the Police and Fire Service Fairer Commutation Campaign Group and ask to be added, or discretely drop me your email address by DM,or whatever, and I will send you an invite to join.

If the campaign is successful it could be worth thousands of £ for those who are affected, and please pass this info on to anyone else you know who might be one of the affected ones.

ADDENDUM

I have been informed that whilst the FBU are representing their retired members the Police Federation of England and Wales are not representing retired Police Officers in this matter, because they are retired, currently paying no subs and are no longer members.  I cannot vouch for this personally, but I would welcome the truth if anyone knows it.

It’s Going To Be A Busy Old Week

It’s only Tuesday, and my quill is already getting blunt.

Yesterday I discussed the (yet again) vindictive reports coming out of HMIC and IPCC, you can find that here if you haven’t already read it.

Today I’m occupied by the proposed cuts looming for the Met.  I know that the Met is not the only Force facing cuts, merely one of 43, but what staggers me is the size of those cuts and what that means for the future of, what is undoubtedly, the largest Force in the land.

With 31,500 warranted officers it is far and away the largest force, and by comparison the second largest is West Midlands Police with 7,155 warranted officers, all the way down to Warwickshire with a mere 788.

I’ve learned a lot about the Met since I retired and I’m no longer certain that I would describe it as the Best Force, but nobody can argue that it’s the largest and probably best-resourced. In retirement I have spent some wonderful hours sharing many cups of coffee with colleagues still serving in Constabulary Forces and been made aware of the ‘Bleeding Obvious’  The Met do it differently.

In all the time I was serving I was blissfully unaware of just how lucky I was.  We used to moan that we didn’t have a widget for so and so, or a gizzmo for this and that, but basically we were incredibly well off compared to our County Cousins.

I don’t know if it is still the case but the Met used to survive on that dirty word ‘Overtime’.  Entire Public Order events were policed by officers on overtime sometimes, almost inevitably a third to half of a PSU would be on overtime.  Rest days being cancelled, with, or without, notice was a frequent occurrence.

In August 2012 I asked the Met how many Rest Days were still outstanding, waiting to be re-rostered and taken, the reply I got was this

“There are 165,624 rest days (as of 5th July 2012) that are currently shown
as either cancelled, outstanding or waiting for officers to re-roster
them.
However please note there are 43,355 rest days that have been re-rostered
to the future.”

I have read elsewhere that this figure is now closer to half a million.

I remember fondly that when overtime restrictions were first brought in (for welfare reasons allegedly) we were not allowed to incur more than 100 hours overtime a month without a supervisor submitting a report supporting it.  The Met truly did run on overtime even though they had even more than 31,500 officers in those days, and considerably less demand.

Which brings me to the point of today’s post.  In the last round of budgetary cuts in the name of Austerity, the Met lost £600 million from its budget.  Even a behemoth like the Met must have felt the pain. In fact I’m sure they did.  In an attempt to ease the pain Police Stations were sold off, Front Counters closed, manpower lost, back office officers moved back onto the Front Line, even Peel Centre hasn’t escaped untouched.

peel centre

No, they’re not carrying out improvements, that bit’s been sold orft.  Training Centres, Feeding Centres – gone.

Now we hear that the Met has to suffer a further £800 million of cuts and my honest question is simply HOW?

I can’t sit here and pretend that cuts are not necessary, I’m not convinced that they’re being applied fairly and evenly (why ring-fence the Overseas Aid budget for example?) but how on earth can the Met survive?  And what hope is there for the rest of the country if the biggest (by far) Force is suffering?

My loyalty (if I have any left) is obviously to the Met, but I am capable of seeing the bigger picture and I’m convinced that it’s not a good one.  I’ve said before that even if we elected a new Government this Thursday, the changes brought about by May, Camoron and Winsor will take decades to reverse, if ever, and now it’s set to get to worse.

Home Office Stats for Policing Strength are already listed under 10 Regions plus BTP so maybe that’s what’s in store for us. Or maybe a National Force under a new Chief

winsor uniform

Commissioner, who knows.

I have previously writ that I’ve heard a rumour that the inner sanctum of the Home Office contains a document predicting a total National Policing Strength of 80,000, may your god help us if we’re ever reduced to those levels, but it would solve the budgetary problems which is the only priority the ConDems seem to have on their list. They don’t seem to care about the strength of the Armed Forces or any of the Emergency Services, who knows what they’re agenda is?

#TJF #CutsHaveConsequences

doomed

Thoughts For The Week

Winners and Losers

In a week that has seen 2 major documents released into the wild who are the winners and the losers? Are there any winners at all?

Well, there are certainly some losers.

In the 6 monthly release of manpower figures for the 43 Forces, the two outright losers are Durham and West Mercia Constabularies.  Back in 2011 HMIC set each and every Force a Numerical Target for their Manpower, i.e a strength that they were required to attain by March 2015.  According to the September 2014 stats (the latest available) HALF of the 43 Forces in England and Wales have Manpower levels LOWER than they are required to achieve by March.  Durham and West Mercia currently have Manpower levels more than 10% LOWER than their target figure for March.  WHY??

We know that there are more cuts to come, are these two Forces really just getting upstream of the game or is there something more sinister at work?

The biggest ‘winner’ is North Yorkshire with over 5% more than their March 2015 Target, so does this indicate some serious pain ahead for North Yorkshire, or is it 2 fingers from the PCC and Chief Constable?  I do so hope that it’s the latter.

The only Forces whose Establishments were higher in September 2014 than March 2014 were (in no particular order)

Bedfordshire +63

Wiltshire +8

The Met +651

Cumbria +11

Dyfed Powys +41

Thames Valley +55

Northamptonshire +3

Lincolnshire +10

and North Wales +31

So if you live or work in any of those 9 Forces (yes, just 9 out of 43) well done, lucky you.  If you’re one of the 32 others then times are even harder than ever before, and destined to get worse.

Nothing quite like a bit of slanted reporting.

This week also saw the release of the long-awaited report by HMIC into corruption and integrity in the Police Service.

Briefly, this report concludes that there is no evidence that corruption is endemic within the Police Service and that after HMIC’s reviews in 2011 and 2012 122 out of 125 recommendations have been adopted by Chief Constables.  That’s a good thing isn’t it?

You wouldn’t think so if you saw the assorted headlines and the manner in which this document was reported.

Police lack resources to probe corruption, inspectors say

Police ‘need to do more to tackle corruption’

“Better training” needed to tackle corruption says HMIC

Report shows police forces are ‘making progress’ in tackling corruption

Police told to review nearly 2000 cases of alleged corruption

Police turn down cups of tea because they fear it will make them look corrupt

Corruption not endemic in the police service …

Huge differences in the way it has been reported, and most of them negative.

I’m not immensely happy with the methodology adopted for such an important piece of work, but what’s new there?  It consisted of an online survey of police officers and staff achieving 17,200 responses and fieldwork activity in all 43 forces took place between 2 June and 8 August 2014. During that time, our inspection teams spoke to more than 1,500 officers and staff – not a huge percentage, and ranks and grades of those consulted are not disclosed.

At the end of the day the press, as is their way, chose not to highlight the “Corruption is not endemic” headline cos there’s no story for them in that, but most went with a negative slant. The report also added that most officers and staff were “honest and professional”, but there wasn’t a huge amount of reporting of that either.

That’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from our press in the UK, and then they demand our sympathy when they are portrayed as the victims.

Oh well, must go now and find a journo to feel sorry for.