Reform

No, not the legendary Think Tank, but Police Reform.

Where are we with Police Reform?  Quite honestly I’ve had enough of hearing about it, and I’m somewhat bemused by it.

In 2010 we were introduced to Reform because it was a necessary part of the Austerity Programme, the Police Service needed to be ‘Reformed’ to save the country money and contribute towards fixing the carnage caused by greedy bankers.

What a load of bollocks.

So, what IS Reform?

The Oxford Dictionary defines Reform thus;

Make changes in something, (especially an institution or practice), in order to improve it:

‘the Bill will reform the tax system’

So where have the government “Reforms” improved the Police Service?

Police and Crime Commissioners?  I don’t see any improvement over the old Police Authorities.  They may possibly save money, but are they better?

Rationalising the National Police Air Service.  What has this improved?

Almost 20,000 fewer Police Officers in England and Wales.  What has that actually improved?

Fewer Traffic Police patrolling our roads?  Any improvements there?

Fewer detectives investigating more crimes, an improvement?

Police Officers working into their 60s after the government, with the assistance of Tom Winsor, ‘Reformed’ their Pension Scheme.  This is an improvement how?

I could go on, but I won’t.  Please feel free to add further examples of government ‘Improvements’ in the Comments section below, every single one will be published.

I thank you, obliged.

It’s All The Police’s Fault (No It Isn’t)

I am grateful (again) to @NathanConstable. I had the read the article about West Yorkshire Police and dutifully spluttered coffee into my All Bran but Nathan tweeted that we should read he comments, which I had failed to do. 

The gist of the article was about the reduction of Police Officers and PCSOs in West Yorkshire Police since 2010.  Nearly 100 fewer officers in Bradford alone.

To offset these losses more Specials have been recruited.

The comments, however, were shocking.  Some quite vociferous condemnation of West Yorkshire Police for what? For carrying out government policy, Reform if you wish.

Has one person from the Home Office stood up and said “It’s our fault, not the Police’s. We told them to do it”?  NO

Cruella and the Milky Bar Kid are the architects of this reform, and they remain notably quiet.

We tend to be a bit parochial and most of us only take notice of the Police Forces a) Where we live and b) any Police Forces we may have served in.  This story may be being repeated all across the land.  I don’t know because I haven’t looked, but as Nathan points out, the detail is in the Comments. It seems that at least some of the Public have been taken in by the government snd HMIC and do actually beieve that it’s the Police’s fault.

A couple of years ago I posted The Crucifixion Cycle and sadly it seems to be coming true, whilst we still (in the main) enjoy a good level of Public Confidence, there are those who would seek to crucify us, and government and HMIC are doing NOTHING to correct the opinion of those who believe that it is the Plice’s fault. NOTHING.

Some Thoughts On Some Thoughts

Some things just don’t go away, they hang around like an unwelcome guest, or the after effects of Brussel Sprout Soup.

This last week or 10 days, whatever it is, has seen Direct Entry and Graduate Recruitment take centre stage.

The WORST argument (in my opinion of course) in favour of Direct Entry Inspectors and Superintendents comes from the College of Policing themselves.

Never mind he arguments for or against, the main issue that completely stunned me was the apparent disregard by the author of the effects on suitably qualified Police Officers awaiting potential promotion from within, in the traditional manner;

Another frequent question I am asked is ‘will the Direct Entry at inspectors and superintendents be taking promotion opportunities from serving officers?’

I come back to my earlier point that the police service needs to be the strongest it can be with the best person for each role being fairly and correctly selected. 

The numbers of Direct Entry officers that are entering the service are extremely small compared with the numbers in the rank or aspiring to the rank.

We are well aware there are thousands of fully qualified and talented officers awaiting promotion and what we are doing is absolutely not designed to negatively affect their chances. 

In other words, there are so few of them, relatively speaking, that they don’t matter.

MY big question would be “If these Direct Entry Insps & Supts possess such desirable qualities why cant we train our own?”  An officer awaiting promotion to Inspector or Superintendent has built up a whole wealth of experience along the way.  They will have acquired a significant amount of knowledge and assorted skills, yet not the right ones it seems.  So why can’t these officers be simply taught these desired skills that they apparently lack?  

Or is there a totally different agenda at work at the College?

Moving on, the very same College thinks that all recruits into the Police Service should possess a degree in Policing Skills.

Under the proposals, new police applicants would need to complete either a degree in practical policing or a conversion course after graduating in another subject.

Dr Sam Peach, who has put together the plan for the college, said: “The majority of other professions have graduate entry in the UK.

“There’s a lack of parity with other professions and because of that the police is not recognised as a legitimate profession.

“We are looking to have degree-level qualifications for constable and masters for superintendent.”

Why would 100% of recruits in the future require a degree?  I fully accept that Policing has become complex over the years, but I never once felt that I was missing out, inadequate or incompetent in any way because Ai didn’t have one.

Let me say here and now that I have absolutely no problem with Cops With Degrees, my issue is entirely with the perceived need for 100% Graduate Cops, and not just any old degree either.

Would we be having this conversation if ACPO hadn’t ‘dumbed down’ recruitment over the years?

What effect will this policy have on the Home Secretary’s edict to increase Ethnic Minority Officers in the PolicecService.  Surely recruitment of ALL Ethnic Origins will FALL?

Does anybody think that this policy will INCREASE the numbers of recruits of ANY. Race, Gender, Sexuality or Religion etc?

If establishment numbers mysteriously rise more than normal during the pilot study I will happily shut up and never mention it again, but I truly don’t see how it will.

I have also heard it mentioned that Police Officers without a degree, addressing an audience predominantly of graduates, may feel inadequate and awkward.  In my experience if you know what you’re talking about and are comfortable with your subject this should not be an issue for the majority.

Can we cope with fewer, better educated officers?  I doubt it, some scenarios just need numbers, pure and simple.  If a PSU full of graduates turns up at a riot, wil the rioters pack up and go home in the face of that particular opposition? Maybe, time will tell.

What do the College intend to do with the tens of thousands of officers across the ranks that don’t have a degree?  UPP abounds.  The Federation will be busy, assuming that they have their degrees.  

Existing officers will be encouraged – but not required – to improve their qualifications to degree level.

There is definitely a place in Policing for Officers with degrees, particularly on promotion.  However, I seriously question the need for 100% Graduate Profession.  I remain to be convinced, but for those of you who may think that I am ridiculing our current crop of Graduates in somecway, I most definitely am not, nor do I defend the alleged use of Bag Carrying comparisons.  I didn’t see it, nor did I use it, but I do still have the right to hold and express an opinion, I do not have to fall in line and agree with Dr Peach and other proponents of the scheme.

Job for life?  Vocation? The only job I’ll ever have/want?  Or just a 5 year ‘tick box’ posting.  Cut back on training costs, cut back even more on pensions.  Oh Cruella WILL be pleased.

Letter to John McTernan

After today’s item (I can’t bring myself to call it a piece of journalism) in the Torygraph I felt obliged to write to Mr McTernan, so I emailed him this;

Dear Mr McTernan
Where do I begin?
Your item in The Telegraph regarding George Osborne ‘ruing’ the day left me angry, and quite frankly appalled.
Firstly you describe the Police Service as ‘the last bastion of unreformed public services’. You have presumably never heard, then, of the Police Reform Act of 2002 and the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.
Sir Patrick Sheehy and Sir William Macpherson both presided over major Enquiries which brought about significant reforms. Indeed the last, coalition, government instigated Tom Winsor’s Reforms and the current Home Secretary is constantly telling us that ‘Reform is Working’. So on what do you base your assertions that they are ‘unreformed’?
“The last bastion of union control”. You should be fully aware that the Police Federation is specifically NOT a union, the Police have no industrial rights and many actually view the Police Federation as a ‘toothless tiger’, certainly not the aggressive Union that you seem to have in mind.
You do the thousands of good, honest, hard-working officers, each of whom has considerable restrictions placed on their private lives, no credit whatsoever. Your item will no doubt be seen as negative and offensive by many, and, accordingly I would invite you to apologise to them all for the ‘inaccuracies’ in your item.
Regards
Alan Wright

Retired Police Officer

If anybody else wants to write and offer him your opinion lease feel free to do so.

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.


Misleading Parliament

I’ve had enough, I’m getting even angrier.  Apart from anything else there seems to be no justice in this country at the moment and we certainly don’t seem to be living in a Democracy at the moment.

Two years ago three Police Officers were threatened with being charged with Contempt if Parliament because it was felt that they had lied to a Committee.  I have no idea whether they lied or not, the important part for me today is what they were threatened with.

As ordinary citizens we have to listen to our politicians misleading Parliament EVERY SINGLE DAY, yet there is no retribution whatsoever.  When they do it nobody within Parliament, any Party, takes any notice whatsoever. It’s just accepted as the Norm, part of The Game.

Well, it’s not a bloody game when people’s lives are at risk.  Public Safety should be right up there with the principal objectives of government, but it clearly isn’t.

I am absolutely sick to the back teeth with Tory MPs of assorted levels spouting the tired old mantra “Reform is working”.  Reform is defined in the dictionary thus

make changes in (something, especially an institution or practice) in order to improve it.

We are not witnessing Reform, we are witnessing wholesale destruction of the Police Service in a manner, and at a pace, never before witnessed in this country.  YOU CANNOT MAKE SOMETHING BETTER by slashing the resources that you pour into it and simply sit back and say “Deal with it”. That in no way fits the definition of Reform.

The Prime Minister, Home Secretary and someone called Penning keep telling us, and Parliament, that “Crime is Down”.  It is NOT.

I will go so far Dave, Theresa, to accuse you both of LYING to us the Public and your contemporaries in Parliament.  I challenge you both you demonstrate to us a) how the Police Service is being ‘Reformed’ and not destroyed and b) that these ‘Reforms’ are working.  How has the Police Service been ‘Improved’?

If you repeatedly make these false claims in your official speeches and addresses in Parliament, then surely you are Misleading Parliament and presumably vulnerable to a charge of Contempt of Parliament as were our three Police Officers?  Oh no, of course, silly me.  You can hide behind Parliamentary Privilege.  You can spout whatever spin and alternative version of the truth that you want to with complete immunity.

As forDemocracy, I don’t believe that we are currently seeing policies from our Tory party that in any way reflect what the majority of the electorate wish for.  Do the public that elect you want the Police Service to be cut beyond recognition? In this age of heightened Terrorist Threat, do  the public that elect you want FEWER armed officers on our streets, fewer Border Force officers, indeed many fewer Police Officers generally?

I am now hearing about a potential threat of chemical or biological attack, maybe in France, maybe elsewhere.  Our government think that we can best proceed by cutting the number of officers on our streets and, by extension, our ability to prevent or react to any such attack.

In the long term I think it would be infinitely better for the government to admit they got it wrong and urgently set about putting things right again.  I don’t suppose for one second that Camoron gives a tuppenny toss what I think but I for one will never forgive him, or any of his government, if anything happens on UK mainland that could have been made less serious without their ‘Reforms’.

Is It Time To Arm The British Police?

The question is really aimed at my former colleagues but please feel free to join in whoever you are.

The world has changed after Paris 2015. First Charlie Ebdo and the accompanying attacks at the beginning of the year. Then, tragically, Friday the 13th.

The events unfolding within the Bataclan Theatre must have been horrific and unthinkable when relayed to the Gendarmes by the survivors that managed to escape.  Faced with horrendous consequences for not doing anything the French launched s rapid strike on the theatre in a desperate attempt to rescue what they could from an unthinkable situation.  I can only imagine imagine how the cops on the street and their leaders must have felt, and they had very little time in which to act, it seems that theatre-goers were being murdered one by one.

How would we have dealt with a similar scenario?  It does seem increasingly likely that we might have to, someday, somewhere.

We have Armed Police available, every Force (I believe) now fields a number of Armed Police in ARVs routinely, 24 hours per day.  These men and women are fantastically well trained and superbly equipped, they will put their lives on the line at a moment’s notice in an attempt to resolve whatever problem they are faced with.  I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that our armed cops would have done their very best to resolve the ‘Bataclan’ scenario if they were faced with it.  Their courage and professionalism is right up there with the very best, no question.

The biggest problem, as I see it, is that even if you can find a senior officer with the balls to use the assets at his/her disposal, how long would it take to muster SUFFICIENT resources at the scene to be effective.

In this respect the French had it easy, their Gendarmes are routinely armed, and there seemed to be plenty of them available.  An ‘elite’ unit was on scene very quickly.

In the UK we have a Chancellor intent on slashing budgets, a Prime Minister who gives every impression of an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand and a Home Secretary and her entourage who seem to be intent on destroying the very fabric of British a Policing, and by extension our ability to mount an effective First Line response.

Systems are in place across the country to move suitably equipped and trained Police Officers to wherever they are needed.  The system is tried and tested and it works.  Where it is weak is when that help is needed NOW.  We can move cops from Manchester to London for example, but the two main issues are a) it takes time, and b) in the initial stages it leaves behind a void, which, initially, represents a vulnerability to a secondary attack.

The victims trapped in a nightclub being shot one by one, wouldn’t be terribly reassured to be told “help is on way, it will be here in 2 or 3 hours”. They needed appropriate help IMMEDIATELY.

As a cop I never wanted to be armed.  I never for one moment wanted ‘my’ Met to be paramilitary, routinely armed to the teeth and visible everywhere.

However, two things have changed since I was serving

1). The face of International Terrorism has changed.  9/11 happened in the dying months of my career. 7/7 after I had retired.  The events in Paris and elsewhere now getting more frequent and moving closer to home.

2). The face of Policing has changed since I retired.  The Home Secretary’s ‘Reforms’ have made it slmost inevitable that we could not mount an Immediate Response consisting of anything other than Cannon Fodder.  Mrs May has insisted on ruthlessly cutting budgets and resources.  In response PCCs have sold off Police Stations by the score.  The necessary resources are fewer and further away.

DeadBadgerShire actually consists of 3 large, rural counties.  To be honest I don’t actually know how many ARVs are available to the Force at any given moment, but even with the advantage of blue lights and sirens it would take a while to get them all together to mount an Initial Response.  Even in London they would encounter similar problems.

In theory we can call on the Army, but they are also being systematically reduced, many are already deployed abroad somewhere,  and where will the next attack on UK soil be?  It doesn’t have to be London, there are plenty of international airports to choose from for example.

So what do we want?  Is it time to complete the change in British Policing and, at the very least, train all of our Front Line cops, even if they are not routinely armed they will be trained and available to be armed.  Do we put firearms and trained officers in ALL of our Response Vehicles, locked in the boot etc until needed? Or do we go the way of our Continental Cousins and just arm all of our Cops on the streets 24 hours a day?

I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but I’m quite happy to provoke a debate.  Cop, Ex Cop, Member of Public, what is your view.

All that I think I know is that in the modern world Islamic State and Dixon of Dock Green probably can’t co-exist.

What think you?

The Front Line Has Been Protected (Trust Me)

Just another quickie from me today, as the Bishop said to the Actress.

In Mar 2010 there were 223 Chief Officers in the 43 Forces, in March 2010 there were 201, a reduction of 22, or just under 10%.

In the same period Superintendents, Chief Superindents numbered 1,502 in 2010, reduced to 1,157 in 2015, a reduction of 345, or 22%.

Chief Inspectors, 1,974 in 2010 reduced to 1,657 in 2015, a reduction of 317, or 16%

Inspectors went from 7,258 in 2010 to 5,701 in 2015, a reduction of 1,557 or 21.5%

Sergeants?  They went from 23,109 in 2010 to 19,148 in 2015, a reduction of 3,961 or 17%.

And finally, the Constables.  109,669 in 2010 became 98,954 in 2015, a reduction of 10,715 or 9.8%

So, contrary to my expectationms, the middle ranks have actually fared much worse, I must confess I was anticipating the exact opposite.  Surely there is room here to get rid of a few Chiefs though?  Their sacrifices seem disproportionately small to me, and more money to be save by culling them a little.

Have a good weekend, and avoid promotion like the plague.

I Need Help To Work This Out

Since 2010 we have been enduring a period of Austerity, Reform in many Public Sector Services, in particular the Police Service.

In the last 5 years we have seen the loss of more than 17,000 officers from the Police Service of England and Wales.

In the next 5 years we are due to witness the further loss of a similar number of officers.

Budgets have been slashed to the bone, some Forces are struggling simply to survive and ALL Forces are looking at themselves to prioritise what functions they carry out and which ones they can stop doing.

Some Forces have brought in the new Voluntary Severance scheme in order to reduce their numbers in line with government diktats.

I don’t think that any of this is a surprise to anyone, we’ve all heard it before.

So, in a time of cutbacks and shrinkage, what kind of moron is it that criticises Police Forces for being “too white”.  Apparently, many Forces have failed to RECRUIT and RETAIN sufficient officers from Ethnic Minority backgrounds.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with VEM/BME officers, nothing at all. They add depth and a different perspective to any organisation, but times such as these are no time to worrying about Targets and Percentages.

When your Force is lucky to be in a position to recruit ANYBODY, they should concentrate on recruiting the BEST, recruit on ABILITY and what they can offer NOT what they look like.  Some of these may well be VEW/BME applicants, and that should be regarded as a bonus, not the ultimate aim.

When Peel came up with his famous “The Police Are The a Public And The Public Are The Police” he did not dictate ethnic minority percentages, in 1829 it was hardly an issue, the population was nowhere near as cosmopolitan as it is now, so we really don’t need any moronic Home Secretary using that as a stick to further beat an injured, possibly dying, Police Service.

Ponder this Mrs May, maybe if you stopped bullying, criticising, going out of your way yo find ‘fault’ with the Service and try supporting and helping the Service to survive you may just get a better result.

Instead you kick them when they are down and stoop to criticise them for bring “too white” instead of praising them for doing their damndest under almost impossible conditions.

Unprecedented numbers are actively looking to leave the Service and that is YOUR FAULT Mrs May.

Think on that.

I really do need help to work out why you would choose to do that yesterday.

Surely It’s Now Time For Theresa May To Go

Her time is done, she’s set about the wholesale destruction and discrediting of the British Police. Her and Tom Winsor set in place a plan which is reducing the British Police from being the pride of the world to a mere shadow of its former self.
In the name of ‘Reform’ she is changing the shape of Policing in the UK forever.  To me ‘Reform’ implies that the subject of the reform will be made in some way better.  What is happening yo Policing UK is in no way an improvement.
Since 2010 the size of the England & Wales Police Service has shrunk by 17,500 officers with a similar number set to go by 2020.  It. Is IMPOSSIBLE to continue to Police the country with shortfalls of that magnitude.  This is not about doing things more efficiently, yes we can, but this is far deeper and darker than efficiency.
After 5 years the Police Chiefshave entered the fray but let’s be clear, this is far too late.  They should have voiced their concerns at the very beginning, instead they merely conducted witch hunts against serving officers who dared to speak out.  You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Those senior officers who stood by and let this happen, saying nothing, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Little credibility in joining in 5 years later when all is virtually lost.

Now today we have had to contend with Theresa May speaking to the National Black Police Association.  Even before lunch she had invoked angry responses from the Met, Durham and Dyfed Powys Constabularies. Apparently our Home Secretary was addressing the NBPA with inaccurate information.  Deliberately provocative or incompetent?  You would think that if one of our senior politicians was going to give such a high profile address, already leaked to the Press in advance, that she would get her facts right.  Or are the 3 Police Forces lying?  Publish the stats, flush out the liar(s).

Then she embarked upon another narrative guaranteed to provoke and annoy.  The thorny subject of Stop and Search.

 “I know there are those who say that our reforms have gone too far, that the pendulum has swung too much the other way, and that reforms to stop and search are linked to knife crime in our capital and elsewhere. But to them I say this: stop and search reform has worked, it must continue, and – if you look at the evidence – it shows no link whatsoever with violent crime.”

To her I say this – show us the evidence then. Convince us, stop relying on anecdotal vide cue, show us the proof that there is no connection between Stop/Search and Knife Crime.

In relation to her provocative comments about Police Forces being “too white” I will dare to say that Police a Forces should endeavour to be as good as they can be.  There should be no “acceptable” levels for any ethnicity. We should recruit the best candidates whatever their ethnicity, gender or sexual persuasion.  All Police Recruits take an oath to serve and uphold “Without Fear or Favour”. That should be sufficient.

What percentage of MPs, the Home Office, the Cabinet are from Ethnic Minorities?  How many are female?  Come on Theresa tell us?  It’s a perfectly reasonable request.  I am not the only person to require an answer to that question.

Between them Theresa May and Tom Winsor have destroyed the fabric and the morale of the British Police Service.  Very few Police OR Public have any confidence them.

I expect Sir Hugh is still available for the HMIC job, I believe he would bring some credibility to the post once more.  We could probably rustle up s Home Secretary with some credibility from somewhere.

Personally I have #NoConfidenceInTheresaMay and I shall be sharing my concerns  with my elected MP.  Whether you do the same is, of course, up to you.