You’ve Been A Very Naughty Boy

Just for once I’m not referring to myself but somebody else, honest.

I have been so caught up with COVID-19 and the myriad of other things going on that I took my eye completely off the AB1 ball.

Some of you will no doubt remember that some time ago I post a blog post regarding The Curious Case of Police Car AB1.

Time has passed and the matter has been resolved (pardon me if I laugh). I’m not sure how I missed it, but miss it I did.

Be assured, the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel have given this matter their full attention and have come to a decision. He shouldn’t have done it!!

The West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr John-Paul Campion, was cleared of acting dishonestly but the panel DID criticise him for failing to achieve ‘Best Value’ for the Number Plate.

You may recall it was withdrawn from auction and sold privately for a lower sum than the highest bid received by the auction house. It was sold for £160,000 despite a higher bid of £305,000 being made to the auction house.

The panel decided that Mr Campion DID have the authority to sell off the number but whether he SHOULD have done is a matter for his conscience.

“There was no evidence it was improper for the PCC to be involved in the sale of AB1 to the purchaser, as there was no evidence the purchaser was a friend of the PCC or closely connected to him.”

So, who the hell did he sell it to then? The answer to that my dear reader is a man called Paul West who is a former Chief Constable of West Mercia Police.

To be scrupulously fair it is right to note the chain events here. The Number Plate AB1 was lodged with the auction house on July 15th 2017, Mr West made his offer privately, outside of the auction process on 17th July, the item was withdrawn from sale on the 18th July and on 19th July an anonymous bidder offered a higher price by e-mail.

“The PCC stated he considered he was legally bound to accept the purchaser’s offer. With hindsight he accepted it would have been better to have continued negotiations with the person offering £305k.”

“The PCC had been somewhat naïve in putting himself in this position and processes should be improved to ensure best value is received for sale of assets in the future,”

In the spirit of fairness and good sport I will let Mr Campion have the final word on this matter, what I think, even as resident of West Mercia, is of little consequence.

“The panel’s report is clear I had the right to sell the registration, that the sale was conducted with integrity and it was sold to the person who made the highest bid while AB1 was on the market. The panel’s recommendations are noted.”

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

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)


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?

An Open Letter to the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner

Dear Mr Campion,

You have been the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner for several years now, and as you know the world of Policing has suffered some savage cuts brought about, mainly, by Mrs Theresa May. ince 2010. Policing as a whole has lost approximately 21,000 officers in total across England and Wales. How does that affect West Mercia I wondered. Unfortunately there is no published data prior to 2012, but below is a diagramatic representation of what Mrs May’s cuts have meant to the corporate experience of West Mercia Police.

It is immediately obvious that the band which held most of your experience, the 5-10 years service officers, have been savagely cut from 599 in 2012 to a mere 115 in 2019 (31st March). With the exception of the 30+ band, your band with the most experienced officers in it is now the band with with the fewest officers in it, a reduction of approx 80%.

As time goes by, over the next 10-20 years that band will simply move to the right across the chart meaning that there will be very few officers within your Force with any significant eperience, the left hand side of the chart being populated by Recruits and Probationary Constables. This will presumably cause problems within your Force going forwards when it comes to Specialist Employments and Squads etc. The ‘experienced’ officers staffing Major Incident Teams will be no more, will have retired, and been replaced from within the mere 115 officers currently with 5-10 years service.

Boris Johnson’s planned uplift of 20,000 officers will not help to ease the situation because the Service will lose approx 21,000-22,000 officers in the next 3 years due to Retirements and Resignations. If he means 20,000 EXTRA officers, how will we train them all, particularly in the light of the College of Policing’s Graduate Entry Scheme? Where will we put them all as approx 650 operational Police Stations have been closed down, including some in West Mercia.

Inter-Force transfers would help alleviate the problem, but is that really realistic on that scale?

I can only conclude that Mrs May’s cuts have done deep and irreparable damage to the Police Service of England and Wales and that West Mercia Police is a major casualty in that.

Do you actually have any plans that will tackle the lack of experience within your Force, rather than merely boosting the numbers with raw recruits? The College of Policing’s PFEQ policy will probably not boost numbers sufficiently and certainly will not bring experience, or do you not believe that experience is essential?

PCC’s Response


My Reply


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.

Citizens of West Mercia…….

This possibly won’t be my best-read post, but I feel I owe it to the citizens of West Mercia.

The benevolent Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion, has decided that we can have some ‘extra’ Police Officers. He hopes to have at least 2,000 officers by the end of August, and to have hit the dizzy heights of 2,145 by the end of December, a level not seen since 2012 he claims.

I love a good set of numbers me, so how do claims and wishes stack up? Could he be onto a winner here? He certainly seems to have nurtured the Magic Money Tree.

The first thing that strikes me is that in September 2018 (the latest set of official data available at this time) the total strength of West Mercia Constabulary is quoted by the Home office as being 1922.

Mr Campion said the 115 police officers, on top of the extra 100 officers he had already promised, would return the number of officers employed by West Mercia to 2,145

I checked my abacus and it tells me that 1,922 plus 215 = 2,137. It’s only a small difference I agree, but a difference nevertheless.

The other factor to bear in mind is how many are joining and how many are leaving.

Most years, it would seem, more officers leave West Mercia than join, so in order to achieve an establishment of 2,145 West Mercia would need to recruit approximately 315 extra officers before the end of this calendar year. I don’t want to poop on Mr Campion’s parade but West Mercia have never recruited more than 178 officers in a 12 month period since 2010. This was in 2014, and in that year they lost 122 officers making their net gain 56 officers only. So I will watch this recruitment campaign with interest and see exactly how he does it.

Finally, Mr Campion states that this wonderful recruitment drive is being funded by a 10% increase in the Policing Precept.

In his budget for 2019/20, Mr Campion included a ten per cent rise for the police precept in his budget – around £1.63 a month for a band D household – to cover the cost of recruiting the extra officers.

Call me old fashioned but isn’t that a bit like paying for your Police Officers twice? The total establishment of West Mercia Constabulary has fallen steadily since 2010 to its current levels. I don’t recall that the Policing Precept was reduced over those years to take account of the fact that there were fewer officers. Now that some of them are scheduled to be replaced Mr Campion wants more money. A Conservative Home Secretary reduced the number of Police officers counrty-wide and a Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner wants us to pay more to offset just some of those losses. All I can say is that it’s a good job Policing and politics don’t mix, we’d be in an awful mess.

Finally Mr Campion, I would respectfully ask you this. If you succeed in your quest to raise the establishment to 2,145 as you have stated, what do you propose to do about the Police Stations that you have closed under the guise of #Austerity? What do you propose to do about providing extra vehicles for your extra officers, or will they all be deployed on foot patrols, only I thought that was a matter for the Chief Constable? Police Staff numbers have been reduced by 18% since 2010 despite a slight resurgence in 2016/17 and PCSO numbers have reduced by almost 25% since 2010. Do you propose to address these cuts or just ignore them and pretend that it’s only Police Officers that matter? It wsn’t so very long ago that members of the government were loudly proclaiming that it wasn’t “all about the numbers”, but it looks like that might disagree with that notion now. Police Officer numbers are important, of course they are, but the more you increase the number of officers the more Support Staff you need, and PCSOs have a role of their own which is now being eroded.

A Freedom of Information request in relation to closure of Police Stations received the following response:-

Within West Mercia 18 police stations or beat offices have closed. In addition 3 others (Market Drayton, Bromsgrove and Wem) have been closed and replaced with new buildings. 25 Front counters have also closed

Not brilliant is it?

In short Mr Campion, I admire your attempt to to increase the number of Police Officers in West Mercia, I truly do, but a) I’m not convinced that it is achievable within your timeframe and b) You completely ignore the value added by Support Staff and PCSOs. Your party caused this mess, it’s time to ‘fess up’ and put the whole mess right, not just a headline-grabber. I know that this will take years, if not decades, but a start has to be made somewhere and a good place to start would be to admit that Theresa May got it wrong and a committment to put everything back together again.

“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.

The Curious Case Of Police Car AB1

Well, strictly speaking, not the car but the Registration Mark.  At various times the actual car has looked like this:-

And now, in 2017, after all this history, it has gone.  Having been in the ownership of West Mercia Constabulary for over a Hundred Years, the Registration Mark has been sold.

At least it must have sold for a fortune, a mark like that with its history, must be really valuable. Right?

It was placed for a sale with a well-respected auction house who put a guide price of £175,000 on it.  Independent valuations suggested a sale value of £500,000, or possibly more.  Index number AG1, which is similar but does not have the same history and associations, is currently valued at £500,000. Predictions are that the value would only increase, possibly to as much as £700,000. Other sources suggest that the Guide Price may have been as high as £250,000.

So, apart from the actual issue of selling the family jewels which I am never in favour of, all is looking good. Right?  What could possibly go wrong?

Having lodged the mark with said Auction House for sale by auction it could reasonably be expected that it would sell in the region, or in excess, of the Guide Price.  One assumes that a suitable Fixed Reserve was set to protect the asset.

When news of the sale hit the press it sparked off a rash of Freedom of Information Act requests (not just me then).  One of the first things I noticed was the PCC’s decision regarding the sale of the mark.  Firstly he had completely skipped the decision-making process for the actual sale (so I have submitted a further request asking for just that).  Secondly the Decision Notice seems to be contradictory.  As it has been referred to in a Freedom of Information Act response it is in the Public Domain, so I have no issue with showing the document here:-

The assertions re Value For Money in the Executive Summary do not appear to be in accord with the recommendation on Page 2 of the same document.

In response to an appeal against the outcome of one of the FOI requests the PCC’s Chief Executive says this

The number plate was not sold to a private individual at a significant discount, but at the highest offer made within a reasonable time frame.

This document is also in the Public Domain, and here it is

However, it is alleged, that the direct offer was accepted and the mark withdrawn from the auction.  Who is to say how much it might have sold for on the open market?

In a different request, part 18 of the request asked this question

The response given was this

You can see from Decision Notice 8 (above) that the information requested is simply not included. Smoke and Mirrors? Human Error? Misunderstanding?

I wish to make it absolutely clear that I have no criticism whatsoever of the Auction House, Brightwells, in all of this. They have done nothing wrong.

The PCC and his Chief Executive consistently refuse to confirm the Guide Price placed on the Registration Mark by Brightwells, claiming an exemption that it would breach the Commercial Interests of Brightwells and the PCC.  I don’t see that personally.  Brightwells would presumably have published the Guide Price in their catalogue, the alleged Guide Price has been widely reported in the local and national Press, and it’s history, it’s been sold now, so what exactly is the issue?  Why hide the information?

The original decision to sell allegedly originates in a discussion between the PCC and previous Chief Constable in 2016, but no record of this has yet been produced.

To tidy up what I see as some loose ends I have submitted my own FOIA Request seeking the following information:-

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

I understand that the Independent Police Complaints Commission have been asked to investigate this matter but, to date, I have not seen any confirmation or update.

My personal opinion is that it would have been better to leave it with the auction house and it would probably have sold for more, although nothing is guaranteed.  Instead it was pulled from sale before the auction date and sold to a previous Chief Constable for a figure less than the reported Guide Price.

Once the decision to sell had been taken surely the Force were obliged to achieve the best price possible for it.  Several people have come forward to claim that it was worth much more, or that they offered to pay more but were declined. One businessman, Tim Brookes, alleges that he offered £305,000 for the mark some two weeks before it was sold for £160,000. Mr Brookes has since allegedly complained to the IPCC.

Value For Money?  You decide.  Or maybe the IPCC will.

The PCC’s own Press Release on the sale of AB1 can be found here

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

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.