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

Controversial?  Me? Maybe Just This Once

Next month will bring us the 2016 elections for Police and Crime Commissioners.  At this precise moment I have no idea how they will go.  Most areas have Local Authority Elections on the same day which will hopefully improve the turnout over the 2012 disaster, but who knows, time will tell.

The government seem to be intent on tilting the playing field in their favour.  They have declared their hand by nishing the free leaflet drop which will comprehensively disadvantage any candidate not allied to a major political party, i.e. the Independents.

Rumours have been reaching the press in recent weeks how the Tories overspent on their election expenses in some constituencies at the last General Election, showing the contempt they have for the Electoral Process.  The last four years has proved to them the PCC system has not exactly fulfilled their plans and the popularity of Independent candidates such as Mike Pannett and Kevin Hurley has clearly got them rattled.  They seem hell-bent on gaining as many victories as possible this time round, and Theresa May has entered the fray urging everyone to vote Tory.

Purdah?  What Purdah?

So, unless Common Sense prevails (didn’t happen in the General Election) we should prepare ourselves for a plethora of Tory PCCs.  We have seen just what a good impression some of those have made of being government puppets.  Northants, North Yorkshire, Dyfed Powys to name just a few. They have all given a damn fine impression of obeying Theresa May without question.

So, what can we do about it if it all goes wrong?

Personally I’m not a huge fan of “Blue Flu”, it’s never really very popular, hardly ever effective and may send the wrong message to the public.

I prefer the #DoItRight philophosy.  Do absolutely everything by the book.  It normally takes much longer than taking the shortcuts, you can’t be wrong and you can’t, justifiably, be criticised.

Alongside this, my personal preference is to withdraw all of the things we do on a totally voluntary basis, such as driving Police Cars and/or carrying firearms etc etc.  I know many will not agree with that stance and that is your right, but let me just tell you this;

One dark day I was involved in an accident driving a Police Car, nobody died, nobody was injured but there was a very expensive pile of junk left at the side of the road. The Garage Sergeant appeared to be shocked that I was sober at 9 o’clock in the morning and that I was Guilty of being stationary whilst being hit by a 113 mph Porsche and I was accordingly prosecuted for this heinous offence.  Acquitted at Court with No Case To Answer, I had received no assistance from the Federation except offering to pay my legal bills.  Upon acquittal a Traffic Chief Inspector said “we all know what happens at Court son, the Innocent go down and the Guilty go free”.  On that day I vowed NEVER again to exceed the speed limit on duty,  NEVER to creep across a set of red lights, NEVER again to do one single thing driving a Police Car that would put my personal driving licence in jeopardy.  The Presumption of Guilt saw to that.

If a significant number of officers adopted similar views, Response Times would go out the window, jobs would stack up waiting to be done and it would become blatantly obvious that we need MORE cops, not less, just to tread water and get the Job done.

Not all of you will agree with me, and that’s fine.  I merely ask you to consider it, and if there is anything that you can stop doing, or do less, that won’t get you into trouble, then consider it.  Direct Action is seldom ignored, but I’m not sure that we can emulate the French Farmers and cover Parliament with cowshit or blockade our ports.  We cannot strike, that’s currently a No No, but if there is anything at all that we can lawfully do, that doesn’t breach the Discipline Code, just think about it.  I don’t want one single one of you to drop yourselves in the mire, but I am convinced that there are things that you can do (or not do) that will be noticed and make a difference.

Hunt’s speeches in the HoC over the last two days have shown how much sympathy and concern we can expect from the government, he has just been priceless.

I hope that the Independents will be successful next month, or at the very least, that the Tories fail, but if not you may need a Plan B.

Is This A Good Use Of Public Money? You Decide

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a Police and Crime Commissioner.

As part of Crime Commissioning duties he dcided to invest some of his budget in a private company.

An innovative new company has been set-up by the PCC in conjunction with local prisons, with the aim of reducing re-offending, rehabilitating offenders and helping victims of crime.

The PCC has provided an interest-free loan to establish a company which will sell goods made within prisons, to the public. It is hoped that the company will help improve perceptions to would-be employers, by showing to both industry and the public that offenders are capable of delivering high quality products, and a good & reliable service.

Profits from the company will be re-invested into things like crime prevention measures and other rehabilitation programmes for offenders. The company will be run entirely independently of the OPCC, although a representative from the PCC’s office will sit on a board of six company directors – among representatives for the prisons, manufacturing, finance & governance, justice/charity and the community.

So far, so good?

I was intrigued by this project and I had heard rumours that sums of money up to £100,000 had been invested in it, so I wanted to find out more about its potential to be successful.

I asked the PCC’s Office;

How much of the Commissioner’s funds have been invested/donated in/to this private company?

How many retail outlets are confirmed as selling their products?

How much profit has, to date, been redirected towards preventing reoffending?

Three perfectly reasonable questions as it is Public Money we are talking about.

The answer to Question 1 was £37,000.

Question 2. 

The OPCC does not hold this information at this time. XXXXXXXX  XXXXXXX is a company limited by guarantee and not subject to FOI. Under the terms of the Grant it is due to report on its progress on 7 April 2016. 

Question 3.  As above 

As a member of the public I find it astounding that the lender (i.e. The PCC) does not know how many retail outlets have been confirmed as selling the products and also that no early, interim or provisional profit estimates are available.

So, I ask the question, Is this a good use of Public Money? Should the Public be concerned by the absence of update information, or is this normal?  Should the PCC be using his resources in this manner, setting up a private company with an Interest Free Loan?

Answers on a Postcard please.

In Support Of The NARPO Army

There has been a lot of comment on Twitter recently to the effect that ex Police Officers should not stand for election in the forthcoming PCC Eelections in May.  Why not?  Who CAN stand in a hope of being elected?  ALMOST ANYONE.

To be able to stand as a candidate at a Police and Crime Commissioner election in England (excluding London, and Wales, you must be:
 at least 18 years old on the day of your nomination

 a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a
citizen of any other other member state of the European
Union, and
 registered as a local government elector in a local council
area that is within the police area in which you wish to stand, both at the time of your nomination and on polling day.

To be fair there are some people who cannot stand, who are they?

Bascally they are;

Disqualifications

1.2 Apart from meeting the qualifications for standing for election, you must also not be disqualified.

1.3 Most disqualifications apply on the day you are nominated and on polling day (see paragraph 1.4), but some will only apply on taking up office (see paragraph 1.5).

Disqualifications that apply on nomination and on polling day

1.4 You cannot stand for election if on the day of your nomination and on polling day:

I. You have been nominated as a candidate at a Police and Crime Commissioner election taking place on the same day for a different police area.

II. You have ever been convicted of an imprisonable offence. This disqualification applies even if you were not actually imprisoned for that offence, or the conviction has been spent.

III. You are a police officer or are directly or indirectly employed by the police. For further information, see paragraph 1.8

IV. You are disqualified under certain provisions of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, (as amended), if you are a civil servant, a member of the armed forces or hold any judicial office specified in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the House of Commons Disqualifications Act 1975 (as amended).

V. You are a member of the legislature of any country or territory outside the UK.

VI. You are a member of staff of a local council that falls wholly or partly within the police area in which you wish to stand, or you are employed in an organisation that is under the control of a local council in the police area in which you wish to stand.
Note that you may be employed by an organisation that is under the control of a local council, for example, if you work for certain fire services or health services. This list is not exhaustive. For further information see paragraph 1.13.
At a Police and Crime Commissioner election you are not treated as being employed by a local council if you work at a school (either as a teacher or a member of non-teaching staff) that is maintained or assisted by a local council.

Elected members of councils are not disqualified from being elected at a Police and Crime Commissioner election.

VII. You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order. For more information, see paragraph 1.20. 

Much has been made of ‘political independence’.  My take on this is; even if you regard PCCs as a political post (and most people do) if the candidate or post-holder are not aligned with or supported by a Political Party then surely they may truly be regarded as Independent.  After all, we have Independent MPs, Independent Councillors, nobody describes them as not being ‘Independent’ but we happily accept that they are indeed ‘political’.  What is the difference please?  Free from the shackles of Party Politics, no expectation or obligation to “toe the Party Line”.

When it comes to “holding the Chief Constable to account” we are faced with the assertion that anyone who didn’t rise to the rank of Chief Constable has somehow ‘failed’.  I for one do not regard myself as having failed in this quest quite simply because I did not attempt to reach those dizzy heights. I joined the Police to be a ‘Copper’, not to jump through assorted hoops to attain great rank.  I would certainly be offended to be branded a ‘failure’.

There also seems to be an assumption that an ex Police Officer would be incapable of forming a professional, working relationship with the Chief Constable and would be forever ‘blurring the lines’ or ‘overstepping the mark’.  How condescending is that?  What guarantees do you have that a professional politician would be any better, or do they have the monopoly on forming such working relationships?

I have also seen the arguement on Twitter that ex Police Officers are unlikely to act with an appropriate level of Integrity and Ethics.  In my view that is an outrageous generalisation.  Why on earh should ex Police Officers, retired or not, have less integrity than a politician, or Mrs Miggins who was a full time florist until just a week ago?  At various points in their careers Police Officers will have been vetted.  How would politicians or members of the public score in a Vetting Process? When it comes to public confidence, the Police still score higher than politicians;

I am not naive enough to think that all Police Officers, Ex, Retired or Serving, are all 100% perfect, but I certainly don’t believe that their standards are lower than the norm.

At the end of the day all I ask from any of the candidates is that they tell the truth and stick to stablished facts in their campaigns.  That way the electorate can vote for the candidate of their choice, having been ptoperly informed along the eay, and not persuaded or disuaded by somebody before the campaigns have even properly begun.

To return to the beginning, do I see a problem with ex (retired) Police Officers standing as a candidate? No I most certainly do not.  If that’s what the public want then they can and will vote for them.  The converse is also true.

The Countdown To 5th May Has Begun

Just 2 months to go until possibly one of the most important elections in recent years.The elections for Police and Crime Commissioner.  Local Authority and Mayoral elections (where applicable) are being held on the same date and hopefully this will improve the turnout.

Unlike in 2012 , when the last PCC elections were held, Police and Crime Commissioners are no longer an unknown quantity.  There are good, there are bad ones and there are PCCs who are totally unfathomable.  You wil each have your own opinion of your own PCC.

There are some excellent Independent candidates this time around, Mike Pannett in North Yorkshire, Barrie Sheldon in West Mercia, both of whom have a wealth of relevant experience for different reasons.

Kevin Hurley in Surrey is standing for re-election and I guess that the people of Surrey have had plenty of time to decide whether they like his style or not, but he does come with a reputation for telling THE TRUTH.  If that’s what you want then maybe he’s your man.

One thing we definitely do not want is a PCC who is part of one of the mainstream political parties.  Just look at the track record of some of the Tory PCCs, nothing more than Theresa May’s Yes Men.  If that’s what you want then fine, but honestly, party politics has no place in Policing.  It is clearly wrong.  It unduly influences decisions taken by the PCC and is undoubtedly detrimental to impartial Policing.  That is exactly what Policing should be – Impartial, Without Fear Or Favour, with their loyalties being to the people they serve, NOT the Home Office.

The government has already interfered to disadvantage the Independent candidates, some Tory PCCs seeking re-election are beginning to make claims that they really can’t back up.  Don’t be fooled by smoke snd mirrors.

I’m sure there are other excellent Independent candidates, not just the ones I have mentioned above, and if I have forgotten or omitted you then I apologise.  The important thing is that you seriously consider voting Independent, whoever your candidate is. I fervently believe that the safe and continued future of our fine and proud Police Service depends on keeping politics out of Policing.

BREAKING NEWS:- Mike Pannett To Stand For North Yorks PCC

Hear ye, hear ye, at 11 o’clock this morning it will be announced that our very own Mike Pannett will be standing for election to the post of Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire.

Needless to say he will be standing as an Independent candidate, free from the shackles and interference of Party Politics.

There can be few people better qualified to stand.

Mike is fiercely independent.

He has a solid background in Policing.

He is well known, not only in North Yorkshire, but now nationally thanks to his contributions to numerous news stories and Current Affairs stories in the mainstream media.

Mike knows from personal experience how Policing should work, and he commands the respect of many Front Line officers thanks to his never-ending support for the Police, particularly the Front Line.

People across the country know that Mike firmly believes that Party Politics has no place whatsoever in Policing, not in the current era, nor any other.

A well respected local, retired Naval Officer, Rear Admiral Bob Cooling,  has this to say in support of Mike

As a former officer in the Royal Navy who spent 34 years in the service of my country, loyal to the Crown regardless of the colour of Her Majesty’s Government, I see three compelling reasons why Mike Pannett is the right choice for PCC in North Yorkshire:

First, he is an Independent candidate and therefore unencumbered by a political agenda and able to serve the whole community without the distraction of party politics. Politics should not be mixed with public service and Mike really understands that.

Second, he combines an unmatched wealth of experience of the Police Service and community issues (both rural and urban) having served as a police officer for 20 years and subsequently been deeply immersed in community affairs in North Yorkshire.

Third, he is a man who is utterly committed to delivering the support and resources our beleaguered Police Service so desperately needs, while also ensuring that our community receives the best possible support from a Police service that is adequately funded, skilfully led, and highly motivated.

With this rare and admirable combination of attributes Mike Pannett is in my view the most compelling candidate at this critical time for the role of PCC in North Yorkshire.

There’s not much more I can add to that really, but if you agree that Mike Pannett (@MikePannett) is the right man for North Yorshire’s PCC in next year’s elections then send him a message of support if you wish and if you live in North Yorks please think very carefully and vote next year, and hopefully that vote will be for Mike.

I thank you.

When The Politicians Are In Charge

Strange things happen.

We used to have Police Authorities, even the Met had one eventually.  Then some bright spark at a well known Think Tank came up with PCCs.  Needless to say, most of the elected PCCs represent one political party or another, the Independents have a particularly hard time of it.

My old friends at Policy Exchange actually conducted a poll, and far and away what the public want is someone who is ex Police or ex Military, but what did we end up with.

Kevin Hurley, and others, seem to be doing an excellent job as Independents but I feel like the government regard them as a real irritant.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the should ALL be Independent.  Politics and Policing should not mix.  What we now have is a generation of politicians, embroiled in Policing (no other Public Services too) and simply refusing yo listen to those who actually know what they are talking about.

Home Secretary, Policing Minister etc. What did they KNOW about Policing prior to their appointment? What experience did they bring yo the post.  It’s very much like me bring elected as an MP and given the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer.  I would be an unmitigated disaster because I know nothing of Economics beyond a Household Budget.  Having a Health Minister with no background in the NHS.  SON of a Naval Admiral, educated at Charterhouse and Oxford, degree in Philosophy, Politics and Education. Where is his relevant experience for steering our NHS?

I digress.

All around us are politicians of similar background forming our current government.  Arrogant Oxbridge Graduates who do absolutely nothing that their electorate actually WANT.  Do the great British Public WANT the Police Service slashed? Do they WANT the Armed Forces cut?  Do they WANT their NHS sold off to the highest (or maybe not) bidder?

We have a bunch of toffs with no relevant experience who seem to truly believe that they don’t need to listen to the practitioners who actually know what they’re talking about.  Instead they embark upon a media campaign to discredit whichever Public Service is in their sights this week.

If they listened do you think we would be having discussions about terrorists sneaking in amongst the refugees?  We could have predicted that.  Border Force emasculated, I’m perfectly sure that there are many of us who have crossed the Channel via the Tunnel and witnessed a TOTAL LACK of any form of security checks on either ride of the Channel.  When I lived in France I made the journey from London to the South of France, by road, without ever once being stopped and checked, on several occasions the booths were simply not manned.  We might just as wel have signed up to Schengen for all the good the checkpoints were.  I just hope that it is better now.

Any function that includes Crime, Public Safety or Terrorism etc should not be left in the hands of politicians.  They have proved time and time again that all they are interested in is that their spreadsheet balances.  Bean counters the lot of them.

Policing, along with other Public Services, is not a business.  It does not make anything that can be sold. It cannot be expected to show a profit.  If the politicians get their way and chunks of it are sold off to G4$ or $ERCO then profit will be everything.  THEIR Primary Objective is to make a profit for their shareholders, the Clear Up Rate for example is of far less importance than that.

Many things have changed in the world over the last 10-15 years and yes, the Police Service does have to change the way things are done in order to keep, but that does not mean that it has to have change forced upon it by arrogant (young) politicians with no life experience, never done a proper job, and have no idea of the subject they are changing.

If we are to make Regorm a success maybe we simply need a few panels of experts to work things out and report back to the government with their recommendations, a clear debate in Parliament and accompanied by a permanent record (Hansard) of why the recommendations were or were not accepted.

Some things cannot be fun on a shoestring.