Policing Experience – Is There Another Crisis Waiting To Happen?

We’ve heard plenty about #CrisisInPolicing and I’m not going to convince you that there isn’t one. I have said before that there is, caused directly and personally by David Camoron and Theresa May. They were both arrogant and refused to listen to those who knew what they were talking about. Instead they preferred to accuse their critics of ‘Crying Wolf’. It’s obviously one of The Tories’ favourite sayings, only days ago Jacob Rees-Mogg accused the Remain supporting MPs of ‘Crying Wolf’.

The Tory #Cuts have left their mark, but does anybody really know what they look like? 31st March 2012 saw 136,339 oficers. I have studied the Length of Service of officers in all 43 Forces in England & Wales (NOT BTP) and the length of service in 2012 looked like this:-

A good wedge of experience in the 5-10 year service band and the remainder, more or less, even, albeit with fewer officers in each band. It makes Future Planning much more simple when the bands are roughly equal in size, Natural Wastage at the latter stages being compensated by Recruitment at the other end.

Fast Forward to 2019, what does the Service look like now?

The total number at 31st March 2019 has reduced to 125,114. The 5-10 year band is much smaller, there are way more officers with 5 years or less service and the 10-15 and 15-20 year bands have closed up and got bigger. At first glance this looks good, but what happens in 15-20 years time when the 10-20 year officers of today have retired or will soon do so?

Is this another crisis lurking, waiting to hit us when it’s too late to do anything about it? It might be easier to work out if I superimpose one set of data on the other, that shows some stark differences.

Just take a look at the 5-10 year service point. 24,000 fewer officers. More than the total of the Tory cuts. 10,000 more in the 15-20 year bracket, so a short-term gain there. From 20 years onward the downward curves more or less tally with other. BUT the huge difference at the 5-10 year mark MUST be making a difference NOW, possibly with Response and SNTs, probably less so with specialist postings, but does not bode well for the next 20 years or so, to whatever the government decide will be the appropriate time/age to hang up your boots.

Is there a further crisis coming? Yes, I certainly think so. Boris’s 20,000 will be nowhere near enough, and besides, 20,000 new recruits do not fill the experience gap.

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First It Was Athena………..

……………Now we have iOPS

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with a rehash of everything good about the wonder that is Athena.  Hot on the heels of Athena Greater Manchester Police have the wondrous iOPS system.  From reports I’m hearing it’s every bit as good as Athena.

I don’t think that I can sing its praises any better than the Manchester Evening News has in it’s piece subtly entitled 

The astonishing testimony of police whistleblowers who claim the new GMP computer system is so unusable that people will die unless it’s fixed

Multiple whistleblowers have allegedly contacted the Manchester Evening News complaining about the shortcomings of GMP’s £27 Million computer system iOPS.  Designed by Capita, the Force’s Integrated Police Operating System has been beset with problems from the outset, many so serious that officers fear that lives may well be lost if it is not sorted soon.  Whilst the Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, has fiercely defended the system, many officers and support staff including SNT Officers, Detectives and Middle Ranking Officers have complained that it is basically unusable.

Problems range from inability to log on and inability to access information about crimes on their ‘patch’ depriving them of vital intelligence when they go out on patrol.  The officers were/are so worried about it that a Group was set up on Facebook called iFlops, ad a humourous post on the Force’s own internal Bulletin Board just said

“This is like groundhog day, achieving the square root of nothing.

Is it home time yet?”

In less than a week iFlops gained over 1,500 members but the Group has now been ‘frozen’.

I urge you to read the full Newspaper article (link above) it contains far, far more info and examples than I have used. One thing is for certain though, following on the heels of Athena, the Police Service does not need another dud. “Designed by Capita….?” Is this another startling success for a previous Home Secretary’s outsourcing policy? Most of those have been abject failures so far.

Anyone brave enough to supply examples of iOPS’ iFlops please feel free to use the Comments section below, anonymously of course, and I’m quite happy to give them an audience if that is your desire.

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Police Suicides – The Grim Reality (Edited Version)

Many apologies for the length of time it hs taken to get this post from Draft to Published, I am still awaiting responses from far too many Forces for my liking.  Not acceptable for any request, but this one is simply numbers-based, but may have stirred up some embarrassment.

Following on from Carl Eve’s excellent piece in the Plymouth Herald I decided that I would repeat the exercise. I’m not assuming that Police Forces will tell me things that they wouldn’t tell him, they should answer ‘blind’ and give everyone who asks the same answer. They may, however, give me a different answer, and even if they don’t I’m free to present them in a different way to Carl.

I have asked each of the Forces the same two questions

  • For each of the previous 5 years how many Police Officers serving in your Force have taken their own lives?
  • For each of the previous 5 years how many former officers from your Force have taken their own lives?

So, only 1 Force (some have not respected the 20 working day deadline and responded yet)  records the number of serving, or former, officers who have taken their own lives? One single Force.  Most don’t record that information, many have Refused it on grounds of Cost.  Some have even referred me the the Coroner, which is quite inappropriate and displays lack of understanding in my opinion.

Quite, quite disgraceful. This excercise has done little more than to confirm the work of Carl Eve and demonstrate, in my view, that NONE of the UK Police Forces cares enough about its officers in the 21st Century to consider that some may take their own lives and record that fact, quantifying it. It’s a bit like the Drugs Squads of Yesteryear. If you don’t have a Drugs Squad, you don’t arrest many people for drugs and therefore you don’t have a drugs problem. Naively, Police Forces seem to take the attitude that if they don’t count the number of, at least, serving Police Officers who take their own lives, it isn’t happening. They don’t have a problem so they don’t have to do anything about it. How can any organisation that claims to care about its workforce say “We don’t know how many have taken their own lives because we don’t record that information”?

Stress/PTSD comes to us in many ways, and yes, I am aware that it affects all of the Emergency Services and Armed Forces, but I’m staying in my comfort zone. Others can write more eloquently about other Services affected.

I’m willing to bet that almost every Police Officer knows about at least one officer in their own Force who has taken their own lives. I knew two. The one that I have previously written about took his life for reasons that were completely unrelated to his occupation. I know what they were but I will not be stating them. The second was an officer I knew previously well from an adjoining Borough/Division and he took his own life because of the demons from a particular event he had been involved in during his official duties. The Sergeant from the local SNT where I live also took his own life a year or two ago but I had never met him personally. There is more out there than you may think.

Leaving aside the traumatic experiences that our officers suffer on a daily basis, the demand upon a much reduced Police Service is increasing alarmingly. The total ‘Police Family’ has reduced from almost 257,000 in 2010 to 207,000 last year. 50,000 lost to the ‘family’. That HAS to mae a difference and increase the stresses and orkload on those still serving. Crimes have gone up. 999 nd 101 calls for Police attention have gone through the roof, but the government still seem to think tha the anwer is to ‘work smarter’. More and more leaves are being cancelled. The ‘extra’ officers so frequently referred to by the government and media do not exist, they are an illusion, the same old burnt-out officers with their leaves cancelled again, or working extended shifts.

As I have said previously, back in the 80 the Met had its own Nursing Home at Hendon. There was some form of an annexe in South London near Denmark Hill, there were at least 4 Welfare Officers (not many for so many officers but better than none). I have no idea what facilities other Forces had but I suspect that they were better then than now. No Nursing Home, I don’t know how many Welfare Officers but I suspect none. A situation that is almost certainly repeated in the Counties. There is Flint House at Goring but that is one facility for the whole of England and Wales, concentrating mainly (or possibly exclusively) on physical injuries.

Officers unsurprisingly feel like there is no support for them. They are almost all too proud to seek help from the Samaritans etc (not a criticism by any means) and their families, whilst meaning well, lack the professional expertise to support them properly (again, not a criticism).

I know that Theresa May abhors the ‘Canteen Culture’ but canteens have always played a vital role in helping our officers deal with their stress atc. They provided a multitude of informal routes for lowering stress and coming to terms with the trauma of the day. Chatting or even arguing with your colleagues, a game of cards, a quick zap of the Space Invaders machine, writing up the last job, or just generally sounding off putting the world to rights. Costa (other expensive coffee shops are also available) is not the place for this, plus it comes with the added disadvantage that there will always be a random ‘David Bailey’ who wants to take pics of cops doing what cops do, eat and drink, in his/her local MacDonalds etc etc. Not doing anything wrong, they have to eat and drinks somewhere. Many, if not all, canteens at operational Police Stations have been closed, or the Station that housed them closed down. Still plenty left at HQ Buildings though, I bet.

Is it any wonder some of them seek release by taking their own lives. If the Forces actually knew how many officers had taken their own lives I might be persuaded that they care, but they don’t know. “We don’t collect that data”. Well they should. I was lucky all those years ago, thanks to ‘Don’ I got help whilst it was still there. Today’s version of me is not so lucky. Even if ‘Don’ still exists where can he take his officers for help?

It is a disgrace. I do not attempt to quantify the scale of the similar problems in the other Emergecy Services or Armed Forces, but I suspect they are similar. there really isn’t a reason why they shouldn’t be. Central Government needs to recognise the problem and dedicate sufficient resources to tackling the problem in a meaningful way. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for failing to look after the mental health and wellbeing of our Emergency Services and Armed Forces. I am not differentiating, they all deserve our total support.  In My Humble Opinion there is absolutely no excuse in for any organisation in this age not to monitor employees who take their own lives. I can excuse slightly not monitoring Former Officers but current, serving Officers and Staff should definitely be monitored. How else does the organisation become aware that there is a problem?

#ProtectTheProtectors applies to all of them.

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Boris’s Mythical 20,000

Relax, this post will be very short.

Within hours of being appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson was promising to recruit 20,000 extra Police Officers for England and Wales. The majority said “Wow”, “Brilliant” and other such sayings.

Me, I said “Bollocks”.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish him well, I have no idea how the savagely depleted infrastructure will cope, but to process 20,000 recruits over 3 years will take some doing, not impossible, but highly improbable.

Only it isn’t 20,000 is it?

Since 2005 the Police Service has experienced between 6,500-8,500 ‘Leavers’ per annum. That’s way before the Tory cuts began. Govt cuts have mainly been achieved by reducing Recruiting as Police Officers cannot be made redundant.

One fact is possibly an important contributory factor, since 2010 Leavers have ALWAYS outnumbered Joiners from 2010 until 2019, when the lines cross very slightly once more..

In order for Boris to succeed in his rather rash promise the Police Service of England and Wales, collectively, will have to recruit > 40,000 not 20,000, otherwise wastage will negate Boris’s target. Boris, College of Stupid Ideas and NPCC will have to get their heads together and sort out Retention, no easy task after Cruella’s Pension Reforms.  I wish him well, we need some positive action and news to make us more optimistic, I just wish he would be more honest with the numbers (again).

I rest my case.Last Updated on

#Specialgate

Before I go any further this is NOT a post rubbishing Specials. If you search through my posts I don’t think I have ever done that, there are good and bad just the same as Regulars, and I have worked with some very good ones who went on to join as Regulars.

This post is about the College of Stupid Ideas and how #Degreegate will apply to Specials.

First we had their controversial admission that the lack of a Degree will not be a bar to promotion

Times have moved on and I was interested to know what the position was with members of, or entry to, the Special Constabulary. After all, PCSOs will now be subject to their own Apprenticeship Entry Scheme from this year.

So I asked the question

The answer that I received was this

However, somebody else got a different answer

At the very basic level Specials do very much the same job as Regulars, recently some have even been recruited into Specialist roles presumably due to the difficulty in filling those roles with Regulars. Every day of every week however Specials are carrying out the same roles as Response Officers. So my question is this:-

If Specials on the Front Line are not required to have a Degree then why are the Response Officers they work alongside required to have one? Or, more accurately, new recruits will be required to either possess a relevant Policing Degree or obtain one. The probationers and new recruits of the future will be working alongside Specials who are not required to have any sort of Degree.

I emphasise once again, this is not a dig at Specials but of a policy coming out of the College that does not seem to have been properly thought through.

Don’t get me started on Boris’s magic 20,000 extra officers. I truly hope that he can deliver it. I’m just struggling to see how he can faced with an average of 7,500 officers leaving the Service every year, so he really needs to recruit approx double his stated figure. The logistical problems of that are endless thanks to Tory cuts.Last Updated on

What The College Did Next by Enid Blyton

The only problem is that it’s not a children’s novel, it’s a reality, and it’s coming to a Police Force near you soon.

Not content with Graduate/Apprenticeship Entry as part of the grandly entitled Police Framework Education Qualifications scheme, they’ve snuck in Apprenticeship Entry for PCSOs.

A key feature of the new PCSO entry routes is an enhanced connection between professional learning and professional practice.

▪ Level 4 PCSO Apprenticeship entry programme (England) (the End-Point Assessment is only applicable to England).

▪ Level 4 PCSO Apprenticeship entry programme (Wales)  (details of the Apprenticeship Framework (identity number: FR04078) are via the link)

▪ Level 4 (non-apprenticeship) PCSO entry programme

Forces can work with different awarding bodies for you to gain this Level 4 qualification.  The professional curriculum covered and the level of professional education and competence you will achieved is identical.

▪ an Ofqual-regulated Awarding Organisation (in which case the qualification is titled a Level 4 Diploma in Community Policing Practice)

                Or

▪ a Higher Education Provider (in which case the qualification is titled a Level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice)

 

 Qualifications required and how do I apply?

Applications are submitted through your preferred force, and you should check eligibility and recruitment windows locally.  

The College of Policing’s web pages have further information about recruitment and the new police constable entry routes.

No, I don’t understand it, but one thing is for certain, the College are driving a Bulldozer through Sir Robert Peel’s famous qoute

The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

If the College carry on with their unpopular PFEQ programme they will have successfully transformed a once world-respected Police Service into a sorry, upper class, shadow of its former self.

I have no idea how many of you knew about this plan for PCSOs but I certainly didn’t before today.

I have been called a dinosaur, resistant to change, in the past, and I don’t always object to that. Dinosaur? If that means Old School then Yes. Resistant to change? Resistant to change for change’s sake. Yes.

I do hope the PCSOs’ union takes this up with the College.Last Updated on

Police Car AB1 – A Slight Reprise

My good friend Dr Ben (not 😂😂) recently suggested that I should go away and write another blog about car registration plates, so I have, not just to please Dr Ben but to highlight a potential concern.

I have previously made a request of the West Mercia PCC to obtain copies of the decision about the sale of the index mark. That didn’t end well.

The sorry tale surrounding the sale can be found here, but it appears that the VRM was sold for £160,000 despite one interested party allegedly making an offer of nearly double that figure.

Today I received a tip-off that the Index Mark has changed hands again, and is now displayed on a new motor

Hmm. I have no idea who owns the Roller, I have no way of finding out, and I cannot find any public record of its subsequent sale.

Neither do I have any idea what the result of the complaint to IPCC was, but I can probably guess.

I just hope that it didn’t change hands for significantly more than £160k or yet again it means that the public purse has missed out due to potential profiteering. Or it may still be with the original purchaser, just proudly displayed on a Roller now.

It’s much easier when everything is transparent.Last Updated on

Stop And Search – A Peace Offering (Of Sorts)

There has been much animated discussion on Twatter over the weekend on the thorny subject of Stop and Search. There have been suggestions (often ignored), anger, sarcasm and even personal abuse from both sides of the argument.

I have given the subject much thought over the past 48 hours and I’m not sure the two sides of the argument will ever agree on anything.  My personal opinion is that is because they are approaching the same problem from two different directions, from different disciplines and with totally different objectives and agendas.

My thoughts, for what they’re worth, are these;

The law, in the form of s1 Police and Criminal Evidence Act allows the Police in England and Wales to stop and search an individual under certain conditions. (s60 is totally different and I will not be discussing it here)

A constable may exercise any power conferred by this section—
(a) in any place to which at the time when he proposes to exercise the power the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission; or
(b) in any other place to which people have ready access at the time when he proposes to exercise the power but which is not a dwelling.

Subject to subsection (3) to (5) below, a constable—
(a) may search—
(i) any person or vehicle;
(ii) anything which is in or on a vehicle,
for stolen or prohibited articles [F1, any article to which subsection (8A) below applies or any firework to which subsection (8B) below applies] ; and
(b) may detain a person or vehicle for the purpose of such a search.

Next comes what I think is the most important part of the current debate;

This section does not give a constable power to search a person or vehicle or anything in or on a vehicle unless he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that he will find stolen or prohibited articles

Unless he/she has REASONABLE GROUNDS THAT HE/SHE WILL FIND STOLEN OR PROHIBITED ARTICLES. That is the knub of the matter. Wether to Stop/Search or not to Stop/Search is an operatinal matter for the officer involved to consider and take the appropriate action at the time of the ‘incident’. Officers are accountable in this and have to record the reasons for the Stop/Search and provide (on request) a copy of the written Stop/Search record to the person who has been Stop/Searched.

What is so unclear about all of that, that it needs endless debate as to wether or not more Stop/Search would be effective? Why is it so contentious to people who have nothing to fear?

In an ideal world Stop/Search is like water, it will find its own level, a level appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and available intelligence.

Now it’s my turn to be contentious. I’m sure my reader will inform me if I’m too far off the mark.

Stop/Search (s1) is a POWER given to us by the lawmakers of England and Wales (Parliament). I see absolutely no reason not to use it as many times as is appropriate. What is vitally important is that it is used CORRECTLY. The GROUNDS need to exist. There is absolutely no reason why, in the vast majority of cases, it can’t be carried out with courtesy, understanding and professionalism. In those rare cases where the subject being Stop/Searched chooses to resist then he/she can be removed to the Police Station where the procedure can be carried out out of the glare of the public eye and under the care and supervision of the Custody Officer. What on earth is wrong with that? Why should that be demonstrably contentious?

What is vitally important for this to work is an adequate level of Training. No officer should be unleashed onto the streets and still be unsure of what their powers are under PACE and how to use them properly. At the bare minimum they should be accompanied and supervised by somebody who does know what to do.

Not Rocket Science is it?

The problem is that Stop/Search is a ‘dirty’, hands-on procedure that doesn’t translate well into the classroom or the analyst’s workbook. It is not an exact science. We can all crunch numbers and come up with a variety of hypotheses. Unfortunately those hypotheses aren’t worth the fag packets they’re written on if they’re not tested.

I’ve heard much said about Stop/Search ‘targets’, particularly one of a 20% Arrest Rate in the Met. I retain my view that such numerical targets are unlawful because they take no account of ‘Grounds’ and encourage officers to conduct Stop/Search procedures without those vitally important grounds merely to attain a Target and keep the bosses happy. Am I wrong? I suspect that the 20% rate in London is actually a figure they would ‘hope’ to achieve and not an actual target.

So, how can we appease the opposition? My suggestion is totally binary;

  1. Continue with Stop/Search in its current form with no changes to legislation or practice/methodology BUT it is vitally important that ALL officers (including Senior Officers and IOPC) are trained to the highest levels in what is required to constitute a lawful Stop/Search, and how to professionally conduct one.
  2. OR Government can repeal s1 PACE. Stop/Search will cease overnight because nobody likes it anyway and it isn’t effective and we can all sit back and see what happens to the streets of our towns and cities. maybe words like ‘causation’ and ‘correlation’ will have a clearer meaning then.
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Are Theresa May’s Policies The Real Reason Behind Our Children Being Killed By Knives?

Yes……….in a word.

Why do I say that so positively?

This won’t take long, but here is why I think that.

After their election victory in 2010 David Camoron appointed Theresa May as Home Secretary and she in turn engaged Tom Winsor to write an ‘Independent’ review on Policing, which came remarkably close to mirroring one of David Camoron’s speech from 2006.

Tom, as we know, later went on to become Head Fred at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, despite never having served in the Police Service at any rank. I wonder what Her Majesty made of that. Even later he became Sir Tom, for reasons that elude me.

Whilst the Police Service was still reeling from the recommendations of Winsor’s ‘Independent’ Reviews they were hit by two sledgehammers from Theresa May.

1. Police budgets will be cut due to #Austerity (yeah, right) which, to date, has resulted in the loss of approx 21,000 warranted Police Officers with a lower number of PCSOs and Police Support Staff, and the closing of approx 650 Police Stations.

2. In her 2014 speech to the Police Federation Theresa May issued an edict that Stop and Search must be curtailed, or there would be ‘consequences’, because certain members of the population were unhappy about it.

Please note the two charts below. I will deliberately NOT claim that there is any correlation between the datasets, I merely present the facts. After the lashing I got from Dr Ben this week I must bow to his undeniable superior intelligence so I will leave it to him and the other Academics to explain them.

Fig 1

Figure 1 shows the total number of Stop/Searches conducted in England and Wales against the total number of Knife-Related Murders.

Fig 2

Figure 2 shows the total number of Police Officers in England and Wales against the total number of Knife-Related Murders.

Three FACTS are apparent from these two diagrams. Two of the FACTS are directly related to Theresa May’s policies.

  1. Stop and Search has REDUCED
  1. Police numbers have REDUCED
  1. Knife-Related Murders have INCREASED.

With facts like these staring them in the face, the College of Policing, UK Home Office and anybody else who can actually achieve anything should get off their arses, stop having nice chatty meetings and actually commission some proper research to

a) Establish if there is any correlation between all three of the FACTS

b) Identify, and put into action, a proactive, multi-agency plan to put an end to the carnage on our streets. We have had too many young people slaughtered already, we don’t need any more. I will say it again, I don’t give a stuff what colour or ethnicity these young people are, the killing simply has to stop.

In conclusion, do I think that the Tory and Coalition governments have blood on their hands? Yes I do, and Theresa May was the worst offender. I really don’t know how her, and all the politicians and Police Chiefs who sat by and said nothing can sleep at night.

In my opinion Theresa May’s policies have been directly responsible for many young lives being lost on our streets.Last Updated on

Hello – Is There Anybody There?

Dorsetshire is a lovely county on the South Coast of England as I’m sure you all know. It boasts rolling hills, trout-bearing chalk streams and the Jurassic Coast. Something for everyone. That is exactly why, with the school summer holidays almost upon us, thousands of people will be temporarily increasing the population of Dorset while they take their Summer Holidays there.

A good time for Dorset Police to introduce a brand new Communications Protocol then? Possibly not, read on.

Who’d have guessed that my ace contact Blodwyn has a Niece working in Dorsetshire? Difficult to imagine I know, but sometimes these coincidences happen.

Bodwyn’s Neice (I’ll call her Rita because that’s her name) sent me this;

Dorset are now going to 2 radio channels for the entire force. That’s 2 radio operators for everyone 24/7 – except Friday lates when they’ll have a third. So Bournemouth, Poole & Christchurch will go on one channel and the rest of the force on the other. This is going live in 2 weeks time – right at the start of the tourist season. Fucking genius.

Fucking genius? Sounds like it to me. The County (Force area) gets busy, this can be predicted, it happens every year. A great time to introduce a new scheme. What could possibly go wrong?

If you are a resident of Dorset, or a holidaymaker within the county, and you have problems communicating with the Police in the County, particularly if it’s an emergency, and you feel they could have done better, maybe you could drop a quick note to their Police and Crime Commissioner or Chief Constable and make them aware of your problems in plenty of time for their Review of the improvements which I’m sure will come.Last Updated on