Are the Police Being Politicised?

Last updated on March 14th, 2019 at 02:26 pm

Reading Time: 7 minutes

My friend Dai in a large Welsh Constabulary brought this to my attention.

This is a post by Tory PCC Christopher Salmon entitled What is a Conservative PCC?.  This post also appears, in a slightly different form on the Conservativesathome website here.  In it’s latter form it has attracted several complaints that Mr Salmon is trying to politicise the Police.  He makes several bold claims about his success as Dyfed-Powys PCC and seems to be implying that only a Tory could match his success.

Dyfed Powys PCC
Christopher Salmon – Dyfed Powys PCC

Before I go any further I have to pay some respect to Mr Salmon and give him some credit because he claims in these two articles to have removed all Targets from his Police Force.  So I checked, I sent an #FOI request to Dyfed-Powys Police asking them what their current policing targets were for this year, and this is their reply;

Enquiries were made with the Force Corporate Development Department who advised that there is no information held as a result of the fact that the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) have not set or published any targets for Dyfed Powys Police.”  So that seems fair enough, no targets.

I did a bit more digging around the PCC’s website and the Dyfed Powys website and decided “What the hell. Why give him an easy time? Let’s challenge him anyway”  So I sent off this #FOI request to the Dyfed Powys PCC himself;

1) In your post entitled What is a Conservative PCC? on your website you state quite categorically that you have “removed all targets from my police force”.

However I note from your Force’s Community Consultation& Engagement Strategy 2013-2016 that you have set a number of ‘objectives’ each of which has a desired outcome.

This will be monitored by Force performance structures and will be regularly updated and reviewed throughout the year.

Your Police and Crime Plan 2013-18 contains several Policing Priorities. Priority 5 includes an assurance that “performance is accurately recorded and action taken quickly to address complaints;”

Surely these are “Targets” under another name.

Could you please tell me the difference between Targets and Priorities&Objectives in your Policing context?

2) In your post entitled “What is a Conservative PCC?” on your website you state categorically that you “have spent millions training the police to cut crime.”

Could you please tell me

a) in 2012/13 How much money was spent in total training Police Officers to cut or reduce crime;

b) What innovative training, or training unique to your Force, have you personally introduced since you became the PCC?

3) In your post entitled “What is a Conservative PCC?” on your website you include the claim that “When I arrived at Dyfed Powys, I inherited an organisation creaking with inflated senior salaries…………Working with my new Chief Constable, we have cut the cost of the three top salaries from £420,000 to £330,000.”

Could you please tell me

a) What were the three top senior posts referred to in that statement;

b) What were the salaries for those posts previously and what are they now.

Please note that I specifically AM NOT requesting any details of the post-holders themselves.

and finally;

4) Could you please tell me

a) The total cost per annum of running the PCC system for your Force, i.e. the total of salaries and expenses of you (the PCC) and all of your directly related staff (not Police Officers or Civilian employees of the Police Service)

b) In the last year of their existence the total cost of the Dyfed-Powys Police Authority.

In other words, in a direct comparison, which system was is/was cheaper PCC or Police Authority?

While I was waiting for his response I had a trundle round the rest of his website and discovered to my horror (although I shouldn’t have been surprised, he IS a Tory after all) that he is openly promoting the idea of Direct Entry, thinks it’s a great idea……

these plans are a good idea. Forget PCCs, this is the reform with the potential to reshape policing for generations to come. Handled well it will breathe new life into venerable old structures.

The police service needs better leadership, more skills in new areas like finance and online crime and ready access to a wider experience base. Opening up recruitment is the best way to achieve this.

The police service has nothing to fear and everything to gain

Clearly a member of the David Cameron/Theresa May Fan Club then.

Well now I have the replies to my FOI requests.  The first one was the one in relation to Training in which Mr Salmon claimed “To have spent millions training the police to cut crime”  The response was this

a)   I can confirm that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys does not hold information in relation to how much money was spent in training Police Officers in 2012/13. This information will be with Dyfed-Powys Police Force.  So despite his claim in his blog to have spent millions he clearly doesn’t actually know how much his Force has spent on Crime Reduction Training.

I rather thoughtfully asked him what training he personally had introduced into his Force for Crime Reduction, the response was this;

b)   I can confirm that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner does hold this information.

Although the Commissioner has overall responsibility for Dyfed-Powys Police, he has not personally introduced any training. Dyfed-Powys Police Force owns the training plan for the organisation.

So, overall, I’m not impressed by his claims on Training, they don’t hold up, and he appears to be making claims that might just qualify him for a Melton Mowbray.

Within his blog Mr Salmon makes reference to inheriting “an organisation creaking with inflated senior salaries. Contracts had apparently been written by staff themselves and signed off by the Police Authority. There were 7.5% bonuses for staying in your job for a year. Police stations had closed while the number of accountants remained untouched. Working with my new Chief Constable, we have cut the cost of the three top salaries from £420,000 to £330,000.”  So I asked him what these reductions had been.

Be prepared for a shock

The three senior posts to have their salaries slashed were

  • The Chief Constable – reduced from £175,014 to £161,819
  • Director of Finances and Resources – reduced from £141,295 to £98,000
  • Chief Executive – reduced from £109,584 to £70,589.

In tandem the Director of Finance and Resources is now only Director of Resources (I do assume that there is a Director of Finance squirrelled away somewhere who will ‘bloat’ these savings somewhat, and the Chief Executive is now Staff Officer.

So, on this occasion he did speak the truth but may not necessarily have told the whole truth.

Next we have my personal favourite, the cost of the PCC’s Empire versus the Cost of the old Police Authority.

2012/2013 was a funny old transitional year, neither one thing nor the other cos PCCs came in in November last year if I recall correctly.

  • But 2011/12 was the last full year of the old Police Authority – Pay-Related Budget – £373,000
  • 2012/13 (the transitional year) – Pay-Related Budget – £369,000 (a very small saving)
  • 2013/14 – Pay-Related Budget – £463,000 (a significant increase I’m sure you’ll agree)
  • 204/15 – Pay-Related Budget – £474,000
  • 2015/16 – Pay-Related Budget – £480,000
  • 2016/17 – Pay-Related Budget – £487,000
  • 2017/18 – Pay-Related Budget – £495,000

I won’t bore you with them but I have the equivalent budget figures for Non Pay-Related Budget and Total Budget figures, and they are available to you if you want them, but suffice to say the PCC’s Empire Pay budgets increase year on year whilst the Non Pay Related Budgets DECREASE year  on year, by approx £150,000 per annum by 2017/18.

So, unless I’ve got this wrong Mr Salmon intends to run his Force more cheaply than the old Police Authority by paying his Empire more and spending less elsewhere. Got It.  I also have the figures for the Chief Constable’s Budget if anyone is sufficiently interested.

This leaves me with just the thorny question of Targets. “In your post entitled What is a Conservative PCC? on your website you state quite categorically that you have “removed all targets from my police force”. This one’s obviously a bit trickier for Mr Salmon because he has yet to reply to this request, but I can always rely on the reply from his Force instead.

Well that’s alright then, yes?  The Force’s Force’s Community Consultation & Engagement Strategy 2013-2016 contains a number of ‘objectives’ each of which has a desired outcome and will be monitored by Force performance structures. Targets? Right?

So the PCC for Dyfed Powys has removed/not set all Targets for his Force and replaced them with a number of Objectives, each of which has a desired outcome, and will be measured. Are these not Targets?

So, to go back to my original question, Are The Police Being Politicised?  I don’t know is the answer, it needs someone far more politically savvy than I to answer that question. One thing is certain however. Mr Christopher Salmon is a TORY PCC who is not above stretching the truth a little and dragging his troops out onto the political battlefield with him.  Leading from the rear if I’m not mistaken.
I have now received the response from Mr Salmon’s office on Targets.
You will remember my question, basically, was this;
Could you please tell me the difference between Targets and Priorities&Objectives in your Policing context?
I will quote the response verbatim as I don’t want to be accused of spinning it (as if)

A priority is the outcome to be achieved i.e. preventing and dealing with incidents of crime.

An objective is how this priority will be achieved i.e. to ensure that prevention is the key focus for both the Police and partners.

A target would put a set expectation on the Force i.e. to reduce crime by 10% – there are no such targets set within the Police and Crime Plan.

In my question I referred to the Community Consultation and Engagement Strategy 2013-16 and that got me a right Royal wrist slap;

“To address the point you make regarding the Community Consultation and Engagement Strategy 2013-16, I would advise that this document is one published by the Chief Constable. The objectives set within it are thereby set by the Chief Constable and are to be delivered by his staff. The aims set out how working relationships can be maintained and built within communities. As is the case with all strategies, delivery will be monitored.”

That’s me told then. If there are any targets/priorities/objectives (delete as appropriate) in the Dyfed Powys police Service they’re the Chief Constable’s fault OK?

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