David (Warwickshire) Vs Goliath (West Mercia)

Forget #Brexit, this is much closer to home and just as gripping to some of us.

Before I go any further, beacuase I’m a fair kind of person, I must point out the collaboration between Warwickshire and West Mercia Police Forces came into being in 2012, the present encumbent in West Mercia, my old adversary John Campion, has only been in post since 2016.  He had no say whatsoever in the planning and setting up of the colloboration between the 2 Forces.

Right, that’s got the civilities out of the way, let’s begin.

It would appear that Conservative PCC John Campion has decided to end the Strategic Alliance with Warwickshire, without Warwickshire actually agreeing to it.

Chief Constable Martin Jelley of Warwickshire said

Our two forces entered into a strategic alliance in 2012 which has been recognised nationally for the extensive nature of its collaboration and has demonstrated significant benefits from shared working.


In fact, it has allowed both forces to save more than £35million and maximise resources to Frontline Policing? Excellent, what could be wrong with that.

Save more than £35 Million?  Has to be good.  Maximise resources for Front Line Policing?  An excellent plan.  What could possibly go wrong?

The alliance between Mr Campion and his own Chief Constable is what could possibly go wrong.

As a Council Tax payer contributing to West Mercia’s coffers I have been shocked and appalled by some of the decisions and policies coming from the penthouse suite at Force HQ.

They include (and please feel free to add others in the comments below or email them to me and I will add them anonymised)

  • Withdrawal from the Central Motorway Police Group
  • Sale of VRM AB1, possibly at lower than best market value.
  • Closure of many operational Police Stations leaving (I believe) just one Charging Centre per County serving Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, 3 quite large counties)
  • Project Athena, an IT system so frail and flawed it seems worse than some of the antiquated systes in use prior to my retirement. I can think of at least 2 IT systems from my era that could have been brought up to date and function better than Athena.
  • Failing to acknowledge the ‘experience gap’ in the West Mercia caused directly by Conservative cuts since 2010, merely pledging to recruit extra brand new officers.
  • The current ‘divorce’ between West mercia and Warwickshire.

In relation to Athena, I asked the question of West Mercia

1) Could you please tell me the total cost to date to West Mercia and Warwickshire Police of joining Project Athena?

2) Could you please tell me the cost for this Financial Year (alternatively the total number of hours) of overtime incurred by Police Officers in relation to file preparation etc for Project Athena?

The response I received was

The implementation of Athena has resulted in West Mercia Police and
Warwickshire Police force Alliance investment costs to date of £4.423m.
This represents the one-off costs from both capital and revenue.

The overtime cost to date for this financial year 2017/18 is £127,205.

The initial cost for the original 7 Forces was £32 Million over a period of 10 years. I’m no expert but the best part of £4 and a half Million so far for West Mercia and Warwickshire seems a little steep and possibly indicates a bit of creep ahead, but we’ll have to see. £127,205 is surely a scandalous figure for overtime costs on a system designed to be more efficient and save money.

In relation to AB1 I submitted the following FOI to Mr Campion

In relation to the sale of Vehicle Registration Mark AB1 could you please supply me with the following:-
Copies of Minutes of any Meeting where the sale of AB1 was proposed or discussed (redacted if appropriate) including the very first proposal to sell it. I have yet to locate in the Disclosure Log any document containing the original proposal to sell it and ensuing discussion. Decision Notice 8 only records the decision to accept the offer of £160,000, specifically NOT the Decision to sell the VRM.
Copies of any documents including, but not limited to, any correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRM, any letters or emails between OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchaser
Copies of any other documents or emails, not specifically requested previously, that contain reference to the sale of AB1 and have not been previously included in a Disclosure Log

His response?

a) Copies of Minutes of any Meeting where the sale of AB1 was proposed or discussed (redacted if appropriate) including the very first proposal to sell it. I have yet to locate in the Disclosure Log any document containing the original proposal to sell it and ensuing discussion. Decision Notice 8 only records the decision to accept the offer of £160,000, specifically NOT the Decision to sell the VRM.
The answer to this was:-
There are no copies of minutes or any other documents regarding the first proposal to sell AB1. Decision Notice 8 implicitly incorporates the recommendation to sell with the recommendation to accept the offer
b) Copies of any documents including, but not limited to, any correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRM, any letters or emails between OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchaser
The answer to this was:-
The documents and correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRN and copies of emails between the OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchase are exempt from disclosure under Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act – Commercial Interests.

And now we have the best of all, the ‘divorce’ and breaking up of the collaboration that was meant to save £35 Million.

A Freedom of Information Request submitted to West mercia PCC by A N Other, asking for the cost of the breakup was met with this response

There is currently no total estimated cost for ending the two force
alliance.

Well, in my humble opinion that is nowhere near good enough.  Mr Campion is controlling a huge budget, he has already increased the Council Tax Precept for Policing, West Mercia covers 3 large counties in rural England and he is publicly accountable for his budgets and decisions.  There seems to be an emerging pattern, common to Conservatives everywhere in Public Office, that they don’t have to do Risk and Impact Assessments, then they can’t be held up as getting it wrong.

In fairness, Mr Campion did record this monumental decision in a publicly available format (for what it’s worth), enjoy (Please note it comprises 4 pages, just use the arrow at the bottom for Next Page)

26-Record-of-Decision-Ending-of-Strategic-Alliance-with-Warwickshire-Police

Now for the really boring bit, this would never had happened if I had been the West Mercia PCC, but Mr Camoron made damn sure that I (and many other Independeent candidates) hastily withdrew from the elections when he craftily increased the deposit payable by all candidates from £500 to £5000, which he did not apply to any other elections, just the PCC elections. Short of remortgaging Angry Towers, that well and truly saw me off without the might of a large, powerful political party behind me and the personal support of Theresa May I was toast.  Surprisingly (well I thought so anyway) Mr Campion didn’t even want to short-list me as an applicant to be his Deputy, but that’s another story entirely.

In conclusion, as a resident of West Mercia, who pays their Council tax (on time as well), takes an interest in the local Constabulary and their problems and interractions with their public I am appalled that such a decisision has been taken by Mr Campion.  I fully understand the anxst of the Warwickshire PCC and Chief Constable.  I truly do not understand how this will benefit ANYBODY, either side of the Alliance.  I can only hope that the people who did vote for him can live with that decision and tolerate the potential damage that will be done to Public Safety if this reckless proposal eventually goes ahead. But what do I know?

“I will be open and transparent in how decisions are made and how tax payer’s money is spent”

“I will be open and transparent in how decisions are made and how tax payer’s money is spent” – these are the words of Mr John Campion, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia. This was his promise when he was campaigning to be be elected PCC.

Time has moved on, he is now the successfully elected Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia. His official website now contains the following:-

As your Commissioner I will:

Be open and transparent in all the decisions and appointments I make and in the way I hold the Chief Constable to account

Be under no illusions, this is clearly a man who is going to be open and transparent with his Public.

18 months or so down the line since his success in the elections and we have the controversial sale of Registration Mark AB1. I have already written about this here and here.

Under the terms of the FOIA I requested the following from the PCC

Copies of Minutes of any Meeting where the sale of AB1 was proposed or discussed (redacted if appropriate) including the very first proposal to sell it.

His response was this

There are no copies of minutes or any other documents regarding the first proposal to sell AB1. Decision Notice 8 implicitly incorporates the recommendation to sell with the recommendation to accept the offer.

Very open and transparent I must say. I can only say that I am really glad that I will never have to rely on Decision Notice 8 as my Original Notes in any Civil or Criminal Court proceedings as it is seriously lacking as a document to rely upon when giving evidence. PLUS, am I really supposed to believe that in the process of making the decision to sell off some of the ‘family silver’ no meetings were held to discuss it, no notes of any discussions were written down, in short there is NO written record of anything until Decision Notice 8 records the decision to accept £160,000.

Is THAT ‘Open and Transparent’?

I also asked for

Copies of any documents including, but not limited to, any correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRM, any letters or emails between OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchaser.

Copies of any other documents or emails, not specifically requested previously, that contain reference to the sale of AB1 and have not been previously included in a Disclosure Log.

The PCC’s response to these requests was:-

The documents and correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRN and copies of emails between the OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchase are exempt from disclosure under Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act – Commercial Interests.

The copies of any other documents not specifically requested previously that contain reference to the sale of AB1 and not previously included in the Disclosure Log are all exempt from disclosure under either Section 43(2) – Commercial Interests, Section 42(1) – Legal Professional privilege, Section 33(2) – Audit Functions or Section 22(1) – Information held with a view to its publication at a future date, which has all since been published.

An assortment of reasons why the information I requested should not be disclosed. Open and Transparent?

So I requested a Review of their (lack of a) response.

In your response you have referred me to Decision Notice 8. At the bottom of Decision Notice 8 (a document signed by both the PCC and the Chief Executive, entitled PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION. Within this section it states that any information that cannot be made available automatically on request are included in a Part 2 Report. It then categorically states that THERE IS NO PART 2 REPORT. On the basis of this statement I request that you conduct an Internal Review into your response to my request.

Their response to this was:-

As per your request dated 2nd December 2017, I have reviewed the handling of your Freedom of Information request regarding the sale of the vehicle registration ‘AB1’, with specific reference to the information published in decision notice PCC/D/2017/08.

Every decision notice on the PCC’s website makes reference to public access to information and the potential for a ‘part two report’. In this instance, the notice correctly indicates that no part two report was completed for PCC/D/2017/08, as it was not deemed necessary. This is common practice for decision notices, as can be verified on the PCC’s website.

This does not mean the information you requested does not exist, but it does not form part of the formal decision notice and is exempt from publication for the reasons stated in our previous correspondence.

As such, the previous response you received to your request was correct and appropriate.

And this response from an un-named ‘FOI Officer’ in an unsigned letter

So, there we have it, a completely Open and Transparent account of all the relevant decisions behind the sale of VRM AB1.

A cynical person might think that something was being covered up but I can’t believe that, the PCC has pledged to be Open and Transparent.

Above, in its entirety, is reproduced Decision Notice 8/2017. This appears to be the only document that has been Openly and Transparently disclosed, and is the only publicly available document that records the ‘entire’ decision-making process re the sale of VRM AB1.

Open and Transparent? Commercially and Legally Sensitive? Is that appropriate? You decide.

60% Of The Public Support Me (Honest, They Do)

That is the bold claim of the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr John-Paul Campion, who just happens to be a Conservative.

What is he referring to?

He is talking about his bid to incorporate Fire and Rescue Services in his portfolio.

For 3 months he hosted a poll on his website asking the public if they supported him taking over responsibilty for Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire Fire Authorities under his PCC Umbrella, claiming that he could save £4 Million

MORE than 60 per cent of people are in favour of the region’s police and crime commissioner taking over the fire service, a consultation has revealed.

Let’s examine this claim.

The population of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire is a tad more than 1 million people.  If this claim has any credibility it must mean that >600,000 people have taken part in the survey and support the proposal. Yes?

Well, erm, NO actually.

Just over 1,300 people took part in the survey and 61% of them supported the idea. If my abacus is working correctly that would be about 870 people then.  The vast majority of the people did not even support the poll, never mind the proposal.

Acuurate and truthful facts are all I want to hear from my PCC, not spin reminiscent of the kind coming out of the Conservative Party much of the time.  By my reckoning less than 0.1% of the relevant population have actively supported the proposal, not 60%.

Who Are West Mercia Police?

A good question.  They cover a HUGE area, 2,868 square miles, and almost 1.2 million people, but not many people could find them on a map.  Basically it consists of the counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.

Why am I bothering with a Police Force that most people know nothing about?

Well, a little birdie whispered in my ear that West Mercia Police are, or are considering, withdrawing from the Central Motorway Police Group.  This is a group consisting of officers from West Mercia, West Midlands and Staffordshire Constabularies.  Withdrawal of any one party will no doubt have a significant effect.  Their role is to patrol and Police the motorways of Central England dealing with anything between mobile phone usage whilst driving to collisions with multiple fatalities.

You may think that is not important, but Policing the motorways is important to many people in a whole variety of ways.

Why are they withdrawing from CMPG?  To save money for the Force it seems.  How much do they hope to save? £16 Million it seems.

I can find no reference to this proposed withdrawal on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website, but I assume that he was involved in the decision.  He is John Campion, a Conservative, who appears to faithfully toe the Tory Party Line.

He has some bold visions.  He wants to make West Mercia Police Officers more visible.  How is he proposing to do this?  Extra officers?  No he’s spending £4 million of the Force’s Reserves to buy new IT, Smart Phones and laptops.

He is also proposing to spend £36 million on new Police Stations for Shrewsbury and Hereford.

I am of the opinion that Mr Campion is a true follower of Theresa May and her doctrines.

His plan for West Mercia for the current Financial Year is

  • Put victims and survivors first
  • Build a more secure West Mercia
  • Reform West Mercia
  • Reassure West Mercia’s communities

Nowhere in his plan to achieve this does it mention withdrawing from CMPG.

Point 3 mentions Reform.  Theresa May is also fond of Reform.  Government mantra is all about preserving and protecting the Front Line.  Is Policing motorways not Front Line Policing then?  Withdrawing from CMPG does nothing for this particular element of the Front Line. Maybe motorways should just become lawless zones where cameras are king? Generate income for the coffers and never mind the fatal collisions or the mobile phone users or dangerously overloaded lorries and vans?

At the beginning of 2017 there was in excess of £50 Million in the Force Reserves.  Mr Campion intends to invest most of this in Policing, by buying some phones & laptops and building some new Police Stations.

Other Forces are selling off their family silver to offset “the cuts”, West Mercia seem to be able to build new family silver and still avoid the worst effects of “the cuts”, and at the same time save a further £4 million by taking over the Fire and Rescue Service also, another one of Theresa May’s ideas I believe.

Well, in my opinion (and it is only that) but I feel that I am entitled to hold and express an opinion, Fire and Rescue as well as Police and Crime is too much for one person to do justice to.  I am a resident of West Mercia and I applied for the position of Deputy to the PCC when it was advertised, but I’m clearly the wrong kind of candidate, the job went to a Conservative Councillor in the end, and me? I didn’t even warrant an interview, so yes, I will take a keen interest in what goes on in West Mercia and challenge it when I think it’s appropriate.

In other news, I have heard from Bronwen’s brother, Mihangel, who used to work in the canteen before it was closed and he was laid off, that West Mercia are really struggling, they don’t seem to have enough officers available to deal with the number of 101 and 999 calls that are coming in.

According to Mihangel officers are being pressurised to work overtime just to get the basics done and keep the good ship afloat. If I was them I wouldn’t be answering any calls from witheld numbers.

You don’t have to take my word that West Mercia is struggling at the moment, see here

It seems that Mr Campion has got a rocky road ahead of him.  Trying to keep Theresa May or Amber Rudd happy and keep his Force on track, plus plotting to take over the Fire Service can’t be easy.

Maybe, just maybe, Mr Campion has his priorities a tad wrong.  I KNOW about competing priorities, and it isñ’t always possible to keep ALL one’s balls in the air, but surely the over-arching priority has to be that West Mercia Police can do their job, Serve and Protect the people of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire. Shiny new Police Stations ARE important but more important than being able to effectively serve your communities? It’s definitely a challenge, and it’s a challenge I would have relished, but now I am merely resident, observer and commentator. The safety and public tranquility of the Public are, in my humble opinion, more important than Party loyalties. Theresa May and Amber Rudd don’t always get it right, to follow meekly is not always the appropriate option.

Another Force entirely, that is NOT the Met, is receiving approx 30,000 non-urgent calls and about 50,000 999 calls each month and can barely cope, if indeed they can.

There is a Crisis In Policing. West Mercia are struggling it would seem, through no fault of their own. Many other Forces will no doubt look the same if we study them. It isn’t difficult to spot.

Meanwhile, back at the beginning;

Why not have your own say

Should West Mercia Police leave the Central Motorway Police Group

I’m Telling You Nuffink Rozzer

Some time ago, you may remember, I posed the question whether it was approriate that one of our more northerly PCCs paid the ACPO membership fees.

http://retiredandangry.thisistap.com/2016/05/24/tory-pcc-expenses-foi-raise-their-ugly-heads-again/

I got a very fuzzy reply from the PCC concerned, that it was all a mistake and had come out of the wrong budget, still hasn’t been replaced though last time I looked.

As a response to an FOI request I was supplied with a copy of the invoice showing that this had been agreed at a General Meeting of the Association of Police and Crime Commsissioners.  So I was straight on it and asked for a copy of the minutes of that meeting.

SILENCE

Eventually I got a reply back from somebofy called James Waters

As we are a membership organisation these are private confidential documents, and we are not covered by the FOI terms.

If you can be specific about what information you are seeking, we can reconsider the request and try and assist further.

Regards,

James

So I was VERY specific about what I wanted, just that part of the minutes that covered that alleged agreement

SILENCE

Despite the fact that PCCs are subject to the Freedom of Information Act, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners feels that it is not, and we ain’t telling you nuffink.

‘Nuff Said.

Nepotism Or Not Nepotism?

That is the question……

Some of you will know that I was going to stand for the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia until Call Me Dave and the Cabinet Office tilted the playing field against Independent candidates.

Many of you will know that I subsequently applied for the position of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia but was unsuccessful.

For these reasons I feel that I am entitled to hold an opinion and comment on the outcomes.

First off, the position of Police and Crime Commissioner went to a Conservative Councillor from Wyre Forest District Council, John-Paul Campion, who, bizarrely, follows me on Twitter so will doubtless see this post.  The previous post-holder had been an Independent and his, then, Deputy, entered the fray as an Independent this time round and finished 4th.  The Independents relegated from 1st to 4th.

Possibly the intervention of Theresa May had something to do with it, with her unsolicited emails supporting the Conservative candidate.  Where did she get non-Party Members email addresses from? Did somebody abuse the Data Protection Act?

Come the recruitment time for Deputy I took the view that I had nothing to lose and would try to inject some balance into what I saw as a bad situation for Policing in West Mercia.

My background, antecedents and experience speak for themselves.  My CV and Personal Statement were checked out by some people who know about these things. You know who you are and I am truly grateful.

And……………I didn’t make it through the short listing.  20 applicants, 6 made it on to the Short List.  I have no idea what the short-listing criteria were but I was disappointed not to make it.

For what seemed like an eternity I sat and patiently waited while the interviews were conducted and eventually the successful candidate was announced………..a Conservative Councillor from Wyre Forest District Council.  Incredible coincidence.

The local Press have not been slow to pick up on this amazing piece good fortune.

New ‘part-time’ deputy PCC appointed on £40,000 salary – as police chief denies “nepotism” claim

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion defends appointing Wyre Forest District Council colleague Tracey Onslow as deputy

One of the above Press articles makes this very valid point, and implies, if not states, that both are hanging onto their Councillor jobs as well, contradiction of that would be most welcome if this is not the case;

The West Mercia PCC represents the people who live in four local authority areas; Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire.

“John Campion is a Wyre Forest DC and Worcestershire County Councillor. Tracey Onslow, is presently a Conservative Wyre Forest DC Councillor so we have a PCC and deputy PCC who are both from the Wyre Forest area of Worcestershire.

How WILL they adequately serve the people and Police of West Mercia if they also have “day jobs”?

I did manage to get hold of a set of the questions put to each of the 6 candidates who made it through to the interview stage, naive in parts, possibly tailored for a certain kind of person in others

 

The final insult for me personally is a pinned Tweet on Mr Campion’s personal Twitter account

Earlier in the week I was angry, today I am more sad.  Even if nepotism has not raised it’s ugly head, the people and Police of West Mercia surely deserve better.  This is a clear reminder of what can happen when you mix up Policing and Politics.  I blame Theresa May for that, Well Done, and for that, she is likely to be our next Prime Minister.

Please feel free to Unfollow me Mr Campion, but I have had just about enough of politics interfering with with Policing, and quite honestly, I’m GLAD I get didn’t the job as your Deputy.


Is This A Strange Way To Record Accounts/Expenses?

During the run-up to the recent Police And Crime Commissioner Elections I noticed what I thought was a disparity in the incumbent North Yorkshire PCC’s published expenses.

In 2013 it included an entry for >£10,000 for ACPO fees.  As PCCs are not members of ACPO so should not pay membership fees (Association of PCCs fees also paid, no problem there) I submitted a Freedom of Information Request asking who these fees were relating to and for a copy of the invoice.

I notice from the Commissioner’s published expenses an entry on 13th June 2013, this is for Invoice Number SI10384, payable to the Association of Chief Police Officers, for PCCs Fees and Subscriptions, for an amount of £10,695.34 with a description of ACPO fees.

Could you please tell me;

a) To whom do these fees refer?

b) Could you please provide me with electronic copies of the invoice and any other documentation referring to this item of expenditure?

The first reply I got (late) was this;

Good Morning,

I acknowledge that your request is overdue however we are still waiting for the statistics from the relevant business area. I can only apologise for the delay and will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

What a L.O.B.  I wasn’t even asking for statistics, PCC’s office running amok.

Eventually they provided with this response

Decision

I have today decided to disclose the located information to you.

Please find enclosed an electronic copy of the invoice described within your request which details membership costs paid by North Yorkshire Police to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). To clarify, these expenses were subtracted from the North Yorkshire Police budget and not the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioners budget (OPCC). These expenses were published upon the OPCC website in error.

With, as promised, a copy of the invoice.

Invoice for ACPO Fees

 My question is this, bearing in mind the number of wholesale changes made to her published expenses just before the elections (possibly hundreds of new or altered entries dating back years), why, when I checked last night is this entry still listed as an expenditure.  Surely it should either have been deleted as erroneous or an equal amount shown as an income (virement from the correct account) to negate the expenditure.  As it stood last night Ms Mulligan’s published expenses still contained a £10,000+ ‘error’.

Sloppy?  Something worse?  Or have I missed something here?  Or is this a perfectly valid way of publishing expenses?

Tory PCC Expenses & #FOI Raise Their Ugly Heads Again

Has anybody here seen Julia Mulligan since the PCC Elections?  She seems to have gone walkabout, or at least her office has in FOIWorld.

31st March, I posed a simple question (or at least I thought it was)

Dear North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner,

I notice from the Commissioner’s published expenses an entry on 13th June 2013, this is for Invoice Number SI10384, payable to the Association of Chief Police Officers, for PCCs Fees and Subscriptions, for an amount of £10,695.34 with a description of ACPO fees.

Could you please tell me;

a) To whom do these fees refer?

b) Could you please provide me with electronic copies of the invoice and any other documentation referring to this item of expenditure?

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Not an unreasonable question I thought, shouldn’t take too long to answer that one.  It was particularly relevant in the run-up to the Election because Ms Mulligan was being particularly transparent and bringing her Expenses and Allowances data on her website up to date.  Very commendable, good to see.

In view of my question just imagine how shocked and surtprised I was when the 20 day limit came and went, and I was forced to issue a gentle reminder.

Nowhere near as shocked and bemused as I was when I received the following response on 29th April

Good Morning,

I acknowledge that your request is overdue however we are still waiting for the statistics from the relevant business area. I can only apologise for the delay and will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

Robert Bates
Collar Number 5480
Legal Officer (Civil Disclosure)
North Yorkshire Police

Committed to the Code of Ethics

Well, here we are on the 24th May, still no reply, the statistics are presumably still not ready.

Come on Ms Mulligan the Law requires you to respond.  This is your opportunity to show us that you are not a Home Office puppet.  Don’t follow their lead whgen it comes to the Freedom of Information Act please, they have an abysmal track record there.  It’s a simple question, who wwere the £10,695.34 ACPO Membership Feesw paid for and why.  Why did this money come out of your account and not the Chief Constable, it’s not like you are a Chief Police Officer is it?  You’re a Police and Crime Commissioner, something totally different.

It’s Wednesday today, if I don’t have a response by the end of the week Internal Review and Information Commissioner will surely follow.

I thank you, obliged.

ADDENDUM

 

Here is the oath sworn and signed by Ms Nulligan after her re-election.  It does say something about ‘transparency’ in there somewhere

julia oath

A Post-Apocalyptic Dawn

Well, it’s taken 4 years but the Horsemen finally seem to have earnt their corn.

The votes have been counted and verified and I can announce that the winner is Theresa May.

Results in Wales are not set to be announced until Sunday but it seems that the Tory Machine has won the day.  Having lost Cheshire, Leicestershire  and Humberside to Labour, they went on to take Hampshire from Independent, Kent from Independent, Lincolnshire from Independent, Norfolk from Independent, Surrey from Independent, Warwickshire from Independent and West Mercia from Independent.  So, apart from 3 losses to Labour it seems that ALL of the Tory gains were at the expense of the Independents.

I don’t really see why we should be surprised by that, the Tories seem to have targeted the Independent seats with some very (in my view) questionable tactics.

Firstly we had the Cabinet Office decision at a very early stage to withdraw/withold funding for a free mailshot.  Not everyone agrees with me but it is my view that this seriously disadvanaged the Independent candidates without the deep pockets of Party candidates.

We have seen Spin, More Spin and downright untruths from some of the Tory candidates in this campaign.  What on earth is wrong with simply telling the truth?  The story you are telling might not be a vote winner, but your proposals for dealing with it might well be.  Don’t keep telling us that Crime is Down, when it demonstrably is not, tell us that crime has risen and what you propose to do about it.  Way too simple that one for some candidates, they had to have a waltzer ride instead.

In Surrey we saw the late entry of two more Independent candidates which caused a few raised eyebrows and split the Independent vote, but having said that the Tory candidate attracted more votes than all three Independent candidates added together.

Here in DeadBadgerShire we had the (unwelcome) intervention of Mrs Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary.  She seemed to be targeting undecided voters with an email assuring us all that Tory was the only way to go.

A certain amount of spin surely?  Not only the Conservative PCCs that have had the power to ‘Hire and Fire’.

Not only the Conservative PCCs that have set the Policing priorities and overseen multi million £ budgets.

Crime is down by more than a quarter since 2012?  Really.  CrimeStats have endured all kinds of problems over the last few years.  The Home Secretary knows full well that the Counting Rules have chsnged more frequently than my socks.  Recorded Crime is on the increase once more but no mention of that.

We need a PCC that will take the job seriously and work with the government?  Is she implying that ONLY a Conservative candidate will take the job seriously?  Why is it essential to work with government?  It isn’t, it is essential to make Policing work properly, and to serve the public properly.  Mind you, it makes Theresa’s life easier to have a compliant PCC, that could well explain why she wants a PCC that will work with government.

How did she choose who to send it to?  How did she get their email addresses (that could be a worry)?  I didn’t get one so it wasn’t sent to all.

Even if wasn’t wrong to chip in (and some think it wasn’t) just because she COULD, doesn’t mean that she SHOULD have.

In Dorset she progressed to a rather more controversial video, promoting the same message as the email but targeted at Dorset.

Some of you know, most of you don’t know, but I was originally standing as an Independent Candidate for my local Force.  I had received all my registration paperwork from the Electoral Commission, I had sorted my £5k deposit, was designing a campaign website and was well over half way through getting my initial 100 nominations as required when the Cabinet Office withdrew mailshot funding. I was left in a similar position to Mike Pannett but with three entire counties to cover I certainly couldn’t afford leaflets for 3 large counties, I couldn’t effectively ‘Press the Flesh’ over such a large area.  Rightly or wrongly I took the decision early that the field was being tilted and manipulated by government so I withdrew.  Ultimately the sole Independent candidate here finished 4th, so it is highly unlikely that I would have won.  The Tories overthrew a reasonable Independent majority, despite the fact that the only candidate I knew anything about was the surviving Indie, and I was taking an interest unlike the average voter.

Do I regret withdrawing? I most certainly do.  Do I think I could have won?  Almost certainly not, but I am immensely grateful to those who supported and encouraged me, and I’m sorry if you feel that I let you down, but realistically I am convinced, with the benefit of hindsight, that success was far from assured.

There is an element that doesn’t believe that an ex Police Officer would make a good PCC.  Whyever not?  Almost anybody from a School Leaver to a 100 year old pensioner is eligible to stand.  How is any knowledge and experience, at whatever level, be a negative thing?

With just the Welsh votes to be declared the Tories have 20 out of the 36 PCCs elected in England.  More than half.  Labour have 13 PCCs in England, leaving a meagre 3 Independents. THREE!!

Party Politics now play a HUGE part in Policing of England, and I’m sure Wales will follow suit.  Who is to blame?  Personally I blame, partly, Theresa May, for her questionable interventions, but mainly, our old friend APATHY.

The government did a wonderful job of keeping the elections low-key, but I’m sure more people COULD have voted but presumably didn’t think it was important.

Finally I want to pay my own personal tribute to Mike Pannett.  I know the administrative hoops that he had to jump through in the background.  He had to endure some pretty tacky tactics along the way, but he did so with head held high.  Well done Mike.  You have lost no friends or supporters here.  The boy done good.

Welcome To North Yorkshire, The Safest County In England

Or something like that.

The incumbent Police and Crime Commissioner, Ms Julia Mulligan has made great play on Facebook about the latest set of Crime Stats from the Office of National Statistics showing that North Yorkshire has the lowest crime rate in England.

Well, I never could resist a challenge, I have been known to mull over dry old figures once or twice before, so how does her claim stack up?

She begins her Facebook post like this

Official figures showing North Yorkshire has the LOWEST crime rate in England demonstrate my record of delivery as Police & Crime Commissioner.

One of her claims is true, crime in North Yorkshire has only risen by 5% compared to 8% nationally.  Crime is UP?  Surely some mistake there?  I presume Reform is working.

Most of the credit can be attributed to a decrease in Theft (down 1%), Theft From Person (down 9%), Other Theft (down 8%), Drugs (down 7%) and Possession of Weapons (down 22%).  The last two can presumably be explained by the lower number of officers on the streets and the Home Secretary’s desired practice of reducing Stop and Search, so less opportunity to find these items.

The other side of the coin is not so rosy it would seem.

Violence Against The Person (UP 22%), Violence With Injury (UP 16%), Violence Without Injury (UP 31%), Sexual Offences (UP 18%), Robbery (UP 24% against a national DECREASE of 2%), Domestic Burglary (UP 4% against a national decrease of 3%), Non Domestic Burglary (UP 4% against a national decrease of 4%).  These are not my categories but the ones quoted by ONS.

So, Ms Mulligan, returning to your Facebook post you seem to be quite happy to take the credit for North Yorkshire having the lowest crime rate in England( 45.1 crimes per 1,000 of the population)

………demonstrate my record of delivery as Police & Crime Commissioner.

My plan for the future will build on this success – that’s why I’m asking you to make me your FIRST Choice for PCC on May 5th.

so I presume you will be equally happy to take the credit for all those offences which are UP.  Violence, Sexual Offences, Robbery, Burglary all UP.  This is the success you will be building on.

No Crime is a good thing but as you know Crime is categorised Minor and Major.  Virtually all of the crimes that are UP are in the Major Category.  I’m guessing that’s not actually a good thing.

Sadly the only conclusion that I can come to is that this is Party Political Spin.  Mrs May and her office keep telling us that Crime is Down, Reform is Working.  Well, even the lauded ONS statistics show us that All Crime (excluding Fraud) is up by 8% year on year.

Could candidates please abstain from spin and just give us the TRUTH, all of it, not just some of it?

I thank you