The Polls, The Story So Far

Here are the results of our polls as at 08:45 on 30th July 2012

It is not too late to vote if you want to, you will find the polls further down this blog

Just click on any result above to see a larger image

 

 

 

Loading Likes...

The Factory Worker Mentality

PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS BLOG IF YOU ARE FEELING DELICATE AND MAY BE EASILY UPSET, NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED SHORTLY.  YOU HAVE BEEN ADVISED.

I did promise that I wouldn’t make personal attacks on Tom Winsor the man.  well, be warned, I am about to break that promise.

I don’t normally do stories about me, unless I’m pissed, or swapping war stories with ex colleagues.  I thought long and hard about this while I was battling my way south down the M6 yesterday evening having been to visit my delightful grandson, and left my wife babysitting as it’s our daughter’s wedding anniversary this weekend, but that’s by the by.  I have decided to tell this story because there’s a point to it, which I hope you will get by the time you reach the end.

Many years ago ( my best recollection would be late 80s) a friend/colleague of mine attempted to take his own life.  It was nothing to do with his job, nothing to do with his marriage, he was happily married with no kids.  His wife came home from work one Friday and found him collapsed in the lounge having taken an overdose.  I shall call him Jim, but that is clearly not his name.  He was promptly taken off to hospital, seen, treated and admitted to a psychiatric ward.  Twice during the night he tried to jump out of the 8th floor window, and eventually at about 10 o’clock in the morning he walked out of the hospital.  About half an hour later I received the fateful call from my Duty Inspector to come in and see him.  Being blissfully unaware of what had happened so far, I returned to the nick wondering what on earth I had done wrong this time.  Anyway the Inspector filled me in with what had happened and then said “You’re only one on duty who knows him so I’m giving you the Missing Person enquiry to deal with” Cheers guv.

Maybe 2 hours later a call was received in the Control Room, reports of a woman’s body on the railway line.  This turned out not to be a woman but Jim.  It was his hospital gown that made the caller think it was a woman.  Jim seems to have hidden in the workman’s recess in a tunnel on the London-Glasgow line and awaited his opportunity.  Everything points to him having stepped out in front of an approaching express train but timed it slightly wrong.  Instead of hitting the front of the train, he made contact with the side of it which threw him off and he proceeded to bounce backwards and forwards between the tunnel and the train until it had passed.  The driver was completely unaware of anything.  To add insult to injury, he fell on the live rail and fried.  Yours truly was then left to retrieve the body parts and, at the same time, stop my stupid sergeant from stepping on the live rail, as the power had not yet been turned off (but we had been given nice orange waistcoats, so we were fine).  I’m not anti-sergeant normally, but this one was a Lulu, and I had enough to contend without babysitting him.  After all of this I then had the continuity excercise of accompanying the body to hospital, to be told what I already knew, and then to the mortuary.  Write the report and then Coroner’s Inquest.

“What the buggery balls of Antioch has this got to do with Winsor?” I hear you ask.  Well there is a point, and the point is this;

I have addressed the issue of the Clock In/Clock Out mentality previously here .  My point now is that I don’t know a single factory worker that has, would or could have dealt with the scenario I was faced with that Saturday, mid-day.  I am not looking for sympathy, it was a long time ago, it’s not about me. I’ve stopped having nightmares about it, but if I choose to I can see the scene as though I was there today.

We think we know what drove poor Jim to his death, but I won’t be telling you. Sadly, I haven’t spoken a single word to his widow since the day of the Inquest, but it was nothing to do with her either.

The more I hear about Winsor’s Independent Review, the more I speak to people or read what others have written, the more I realise that he doesn’t have a single clue. His review is riddled with inaccuracies, misunderstandings and at least one absolute bramah.

Mr Winsor you publicly stated at the Police 2012 Conference in London “that a career in the police service is like being a ‘factory worker’ and urged officers to think better of themselves”.  Well I hope you get the opportunity to read my blog above, I would like you to make a comment at the bottom of the page and tell ME how you feel about it, and then I WANT YOU TO PUBLICLY WITHDRAW THAT REMARK.  It is an insult to 130,000+ Police Officers of all ranks who perform similar duties to that without the opportunity to say “NO, I’m not doing that”.  The Police that you will soon oversee don’t have the luxury of turning away, they are unable to to do nothing, the eyes of the public are on them and the public expects.  They will grit their teeth and get on with it.  They will do it professionally and even, dare I say, willingly.  They will do it with PRIDE. In the privacy of their own homes later they may weep, they may have a single malt or two, they may even shout at their families.  But they will have done their job and in so doing will have done more than most..  How very dare you accuse them of having a ‘Factory Worker Mentality”.

See also Constable Chaos’ blog on a similar theme

Just to bring this story up to date, if you are lucky you can do all this for £19,000 per year, which is less than Parliament pays it’s posh coffee makers (true).

Loading Likes...

The Appointment of Mr Tom Winsor as Chief Inspector HMIC

Hello again friends,

I want to start by making it quite clear that neither this blog, nor my previous one on Mr Tom Winsor is a personal attack on him, with the sole exception of the fact that I do not rate the standard of his research very highly.  However the Olympics are upon us, G4S are rightly taking a lot of flak and Tom Winsor’s appointment to HMIC is in danger of being forgotten.

This blog is intended solely to address the issues surrounding his selection and the process involved.

Personally I find it quite bizarre that there seems to be an official campaign run by the Home Office to prevent us from knowing who the unsuccessful candidates were. Short List, Long List, it’s all been kept under wraps.  Nailing my colours to the mast I belong firmly in the camp that thinks that the Chief Inspector HMIC should have relevant ‘Policing Experience’. I’m quite happy to leave it to others to define that, but if I was suddenly appointed Chief Executive of Transport for London I wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing and quite rightly the Staff, the Public and my fellow Directors would wonder what on earth was going on and how did I get the job?  My reply of “It’s alright I’m going to ask Blakey the Bus Inspector when I get a bit stuck” wouldn’t go down very well I’m sure.  When Mr Winsor wrote his Independent Review he had Sir Edward Crew on his team to advise him in all things Policing.  Is that sufficient for HMIC?  I don’t think so, but what do you think?

Under the Freedom of Information Act I have asked the Home Office the following;

In relation to Tom Winsor’s selection as Preferred Candidate for
the post of Chief Inspector of Constabulary can you please supply
me with all documentation exchanged between the Home Secretary and
any other officials within the Home Office recorded in hand-written
copy, email, minutes of meetings, letters, notes and any other form
of documentation either in hard copy or electronic form which
relate to his selection for this post. This should specifically
include minutes of all meetings held by the selection panel and any
notes made by members of the selection panel

Could you also please supply me with the names of all persons who
sat on the selection panel for this post.

Now I would have thought that this was a perfectly reasonable request to make.  Surely I’m not the only person who wanted to satisfy themselves that the process had been open, fair and above-board?  I didn’t know who any of the other candidates had been (I thought I had included that in my request but apparently I didn’t).  I had heard a few rumours about who two of them MIGHT have been but nothing substantiated.

The response I got to this request was this;

Dear Mr Wright, 
 
I am writing further to my letter of 25 June 2012 about your following request – 
 
“In relation to Tom Winsor’s selection as Preferred Candidate for the post of Chief
Inspector of Constabulary can you please supply me with all documentation
exchanged between the Home Secretary and any other officials within the Home
Office recorded in hand-written copy, email, minutes of meetings, letters, notes and
any other form of documentation either in hard copy or electronic form which relate
to his selection for this post. This should specifically include minutes of all meetings
held by the selection panel and any notes made by members of the selection panel.

Could you also please supply me with the names of all persons who sat on the
selection panel for this post.”

Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of 
Information Act 2000. 
 
We are considering your request.  Although the Act carries a presumption in favour 
of disclosure, it provides exemptions which may be used to withhold information in 
specified circumstances.  Some of these exemptions, referred to as ‘qualified 
exemptions’, are subject to a public interest test.  This test is used to balance the 
public interest in disclosure against the public interest in favour of withholding the 
information. The Act allows us to exceed the 20 working day response target where 
we need to consider the public interest test fully.   
 
The information you have requested is being considered under the exemption in 
section 36 of the Act, which relates to prejudice to the effective conduct of public 
affairs. This is a qualified exemption and to consider the public interest test fully we 
need to extend the 20 working day response period. We now aim to let you have a 
full response by 6 August. 

Now I’m a simple chap at heart, tend to speak a bit plain, and I don’t quite get it.  How on earth could my request be anything other than in the Public Interest.  How could it prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs to be open, honest and transparent.  I noticed that when Theresa May was asked a direct question recently as to the identities of the other candidates she dodged the issue and declined to answer the question.  I want to believe that we still live in a democracy, Theresa May recently announced an end to diktats. In her first speech as Home Secretary she said the following

The Policing Pledge, the national targets, the initiatives, the diktats and the red tape are all going. In their place, I have set the police one simple mission: to cut crime.

I have to point out at this stage (purely because the story amuses me, it isn’t relevant in any way) that I have met one of the alleged candidates.  The female Chief Constable of a large Constabulary was rumoured to be one of the unsuccessful candidates.  Well I had the pleasure of meeting that person one day when she was an ACC, my Det Ch Supt had an appointment with her regarding an issue which I shall not elaborate on.  For reasons best known to him he decided at the last minute to take me with him.  So there we were in the ACC’s office, me in my best jeans and T Shirt ad the ACC asking “Tea or Coffee gentlemen?” All it needed was the White Rabbit to complete the scene, quite surreal.  I found her to be nothing but charming and professional in her approach to the issue we were discussing and that is the only time we have spoken.  The other alleged candidates I have neither met nor spoken to.

I know of no reason why either of the other alleged Short List candidates would not have been suitable for the post.  I know of no reason why Mr Winsor would have been suitable for the post.  I was asked several years ago in my Police career if I would have a problem with a member of the civil staff doing my annual appraisal.  My response to that was (and still would be today) “Not at all just so long as he/she understands what I do”   Not an unreasonable response I don’t think, and my Annual Appraisal was never carried out by any member of the civil staff.  I would apply the same logic to the candidates for Chief Inspector HMIC.  “If they understand Policing and what it is about then no problem”.  Tom Winsor demonstrated that he didn’t understand Policing when he had to engage Sir Edward Crew to assist and advise him in compiling his report.  From the assorted bits of his report that I have read (and I freely confess that I haven’t read it all) it seems to me that he doesn’t have a grasp on Policing. He wants to reform something (or has been told to reform something) he doesn’t yet understand.  You can’t get that knowledge from reading a book, you have to live it.  I have heard it stated by my colleagues/companions “Policing is not a job, it’s a vocation”.  How very true.  I don’t know many lawyers who describe their chosen occupation as a vocation, except possibly practicing barristers occasionally.

I hear it all but it all sounds so hollow.  How can I have any confidence in the selection process for CIHMIC?  How can I have any confidence in the Home Office?  How can I have any confidence in Theresa May?  If you can think of a single thing that I have missed that would cause me to have confidence in any of those things please let me know, I promise to listen.

Well, that’s about it, a bit on the heavy side for my first week, but it helped me get a few things off my chest, hopefully it helped you get to know me and ‘how I roll’ a bit better.  It’s also intended to help our non-police colleagues better understand what is happening.

As a suitable post-script, I thought you might like to know that HMIC have joined the other bodies such as the Home Office who seem incapable of answering an FOI request within the legal time-frame.  Or maybe they just didn’t like being asked ‘How much is Tom Winsor’s pension>” and “How much does it cost to run HMIC each year, and what is your establishment?”

If you liked it tell your friends, if you didn’t like it, tell me.

 

Loading Likes...

From Behind The Cloak of Anonymity

I have been thinking a lot over the last few days about those of us who tweet or blog from behind a cloak of anonymity.  I completely and utterly understand why a serving officer would want to disguise their true identity, but I have to say that I’m a tad confused by the Regulations and what they actually mean in today’s modern world.

@J_amesP has written an excellent piece on the subject at http://thepolicedebatingdirective.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/the-politics-of-impossible.html .  Police Officers are subject to the Police Regulations, of course they are, but they can also benefit from the Human Rights Laws as well.  Now I fully accept that I’m a long time retired from Her Majesty’s Police Farce, but when I was serving we were left in no doubt whatsoever that A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere; and in particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in politics meant that you should not take an ACTIVE part in politics like joining a party, canvassing etc etc.  Nobody I know ever got into trouble for discussing politics in the canteen, or even in the back of the Station Van whilst out on patrol.

In this modern, hi-tec world in which we live,  is it so very different to Tweet our thoughts to the world?  From an official Police Twitter account, I would argue that it is absolutely NOT right.  However from an officer’s personal account I don’t really see how that breaches the regulations, particularly if the account contains the usual disclaimer that “these views are mine and not necessarily shared by my employer” as most invariably do.  I have even heard anecdotal evidence of officers being asked to supply the passwords of their personal accounts so that they can be checked.  If this is true then it is outrageous.  Many things have changed in The Job that I don’t necessarily agree with, like calling your Sergeant John, particularly if her name’s Alice, but that’s just me.  The management also have to accept that the world as a whole has changed and people, including Police Officers, have more rights than they used to have.

Some of us have addressed this issue by Tweeting from behind a Cloak of Anonymity.  Personally I find this a little sad, but I do understand and accept the issues of scrutiny from PSD and also abuse from fellow Tweetmates.  I too have an anonymous account, some of you know what it is, most don’t.  However, I don’t really care any more.  I am on the verge of ‘retiring’ my anonymous account.  I wonder if @SirIanBlair will do the same.  There’s a challenge, I will if you will.  It is unfortunate that any one of us to suffer personal abuse on Twitter because we have merely shared our thoughts with others’

Feel free to voice your views in ‘Comments’, anonymously or otherwise, I don’t care either way. One final thought, however, as this is clearly bothering so many of us, maybe the Federation could spend some of their pennies on obtaining some 1str Class Legal Advice from an expert in the field and putting this subject to bed once and for all.

Well, that’s me about done, I don’t propose to go over too much ground that others have already discussed, but you may like to anonymously answer the1 question below. It might be interesting to see the results.

Loading Likes...

Our Shrinking Police Service

Dear Reader

The Home Office has kindly released the figures for the ‘Policing Strength of England and Wales’ as at 31st March 2012,  Yesterday’s headline figure was that approx 5,000 officers had left their forces since the same time last year.  What they’re not so keen to tell you is that the Civil Staff (or whatever you prefer to call them) was reduced by 6,536, PCSOs fell by a further 1,427. All this means that the Police Family shrank by a total of 12,972 posts of all ranks & grades across all Forces in England and Wales.

The chart below illustrates the manner in which the Police Service is shrinking, this chart includes ONLY Police Officers and illustrates how we are leaving a period of relative stability of numbers and have entered the downward spiral.

Comparison

This diagram shows where those officers have been lost from;

geography

1. Avon and Somerset 12. Dyfed-Powys 23. Lincolnshire 34. Staffordshire 2. Bedfordshire 13. Essex 24. Merseyside 35. Suffolk 3. Cambridgeshire 14. Greater Manchester 25. Metropolitan and City 36. Surrey 4. Cheshire 15. Gloucestershire 26. Norfolk 37. Sussex 5. City of London (see 25) 16. Gwent 27. North Wales 38. Thames Valley 6. Cleveland 17. Hampshire 28. North Yorkshire 39. Warwickshire 7. Cumbria 18. Hertfordshire 29. Northamptonshire 40. West Mercia 8. Derbyshire 19. Humberside 30. Northumbria 41. West Midlands 9. Devon and Cornwall 20. Kent 31. Nottinghamshire 42. West Yorkshire 10. Dorset 21. Lancashire 32. South Wales 43. Wiltshire
11. Durham 22. Leicestershire 33. South Yorkshire

 

So, you can get a rough idea of how these cuts will affect you from the diagram above.  Just click on the two diagrams to see a larger version.

But, sadly, none of this tells us the full picture.  Front-Line services will never be affected we were told.

My final diagram shows the ‘bigger picture’ some of which must surely contain Front Line services.  It shows the shrinkage of the whole Police Family over the last few years.  These are figures which, whilst not secret,and are indeed openly available, we are not encouraged to put them together and do a bit of joined-up thinking.

Family

I leave you with this thought, without any spin whatsoever, it is obvious to me that the Police Family is shrinking.  What is more, it is my belief that it is shrinking faster than the Home Office would have us believe.  I will repeat my offer, if you want to declare your home Force, I will happily supply the data as it relates to your Force, after that you can do what you want with it, it’s been released into the Public Domain

Don’t have nightmares, and thanks for reading

Loading Likes...

Policing Strength England and Wales 2011/2012

At 09:30 this morning the Home Office released the latest batch of data laying out the policing strength of England and Wales 31st March 2011 to 31st March 2012.

The headline figure is that the total manpower has dropped a further 5,000 officers since end of March last year, which in itself was approx 4,000 less than the year before.  Hence we have already lost 9,000 officers across all ranks and forces in 2 years.

I have not yet had the opportunity to study these figures in any depth, but I have a copy of the raw data plus the accompanying report.  If you would like to let me know your home force I will happily supply the information as it it applies to you.  All of this data was released into the public domain this morning, so there is absolutely no problem with you having it and doing what you will with it.

Hopefully I will have the opportunity to study this info in greater depth over the next few days.

Loading Likes...

Tom Winsor – The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing Like The Truth

OK, so I’ve done with Overtime for a while.  I know we’ve all had the Tom Winsor, Case & White, G4S, Lincolnshire debate for days now, but I’d thought I’d have a stab at putting it all together in one place, try not to put too much of my own spin on it, and let you all decide for yourselves whether ‘The Truth Is Out There’.

As you all know he, with a little help from his friends, wrote that magnificent work entitled “Independent Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration and Conditions“, more commonly known as the “Winsor Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration and Conditions“, a title I prefer for obvious reasons.  I’m not going to waste very much of your time on debating the quality of his research, I heard him try to justify it on Radio 4 and it just stunk.  His figures in relation to Obese Cops are pathetic, he clearly stated that he didn’t have a comparator so he went to the only one he could find – Cops who were worried about their weight.  I don’t think I need say any more on that.

Anyway, to get back to the point, on 22nd March 2011, a gentleman called Nigel Tompsett (@PolicePensions), who is a Sergeant in the Suffolk Constabulary asked the Home Office “how much Tom Winsor has either been paid or will be paid to carry out his review on remuneration and conditions of service for police officers and staff in England and Wales?
In relation to this review, can you please also inform me the amount of money paid or being paid to Sir Edward Crew and Professor Richard Disney for their work in participating with Tom Winsor?”

In reply to this question he was given the following information The law firm White and Case, at which Tom Winsor is a partner, will receive £300 per day for his services. Sir Edward Crew, who is the review’s Policing Advisor, will also receive £300 per day for his services. Richard Disney is Professor of labour market economics at the University of Nottingham. The university has received £16,000 for his report.  So far, so good.

Then on 22nd June 2012 I asked the Home Office a subtly different version of the same question

In relation to Mr Tom Winsor’s Review of Police Officers’ & Staff Remuneration & Conditions I request that you furnish me with the following information

1) What was the total amount of money paid to Mr Winsor’s firm, White and Case, for his services in compiling the report in relation to this review.

2) What was the total amount of money paid to Sir Edward Crew for his services in assisting Mr Winsor in this matter.

This request relates to both Part 1 and Part 2 of Mr Winsor’s report”
On 18th July 2012 I received the following response;
Q1. Neither White & Case nor Mr Winsor has received any remuneration in respect of Mr Winsor’s work on the review.

 The terms and conditions of Mr Winsor’s appointment provided for £300 per day to be paid to him in remuneration for his work on the review. However, the Home Office has received no request for payment from Mr Winsor. I understand that he does not intend to claim this money.

 Mr Winsor has submitted expense claims that amount to £3,910.19, incurred during the production of his report, although these have yet to be paid.

 Q2. Sir Edward Crew provided advice and research support to Tom Winsor during the course of the review. Sir Edward Crew was paid £23,493.45, which was paid on several dates.

This response raised a few eyebrows because it almost contradicts their earlier response to Sergeant Tompsett.  It also raises the very important question as to why anybody working for a private, international firm of lawyers would not claim any fee that was due to them for work done, and neither did his firm. Why?

Then we had Mr Winsor’s remarkable performance at the Home Affairs Select Committee when Tom was almost laughing at Keith Vaz and said that at £300 per hour his firm could not have made any money.  I guess most people will have seen his performance and formed their own opinions as to his credibility as a witness.

This performance had people asking why on earth Mr Winsor would not claim approx £104,000 in fees which had been approved and were due to him. I don’t know many people who could afford not to claim a pay cheque of that magnitude.

Just as the dust was settling from that, Keith Vaz then Tweeted a few days ago that White and Case had informed him that they had continued to pay Tom Winsor his salary, as a partner, whilst he was engaged on a project for the Home Office.  If you go back a few paragraphs you will see from the Home Office’s original response that the agreement was that THEY would get paid the £300 per day for Tom Winsor’s services.

So now we have the question “Why would White and Case not claim the £104,000 that was due to them for Tom Winsor’s Review?”  It can surely have nothing to do with another team of lawyers from White and Case who were advising G4S on a proposed contract with Lincolnshire Police Authority to take on some of their ‘back room’ services.

To return to the actual Review for one moment , I put a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office asking the following;

1) Could you please furnish me with copies of any ‘What If’
Analysis carried out in relation to the recommendations contained
within Part 1 of Mr Winsor’s Review.
2) Could you please furnish me with copies of any ‘What If’
Analysis carried out in relation to the recommendations contained
within Part 2 of Mr Winsor’s Review.”

The reply I received to this was that no formal Risk Assessment had been undertaken in relation to Winsor’s Review.

I asked the question;

“1) Could you please furnish me with copies of any Impact Assessment
carried out in relation to the recommendations contained within
Part 1 of Mr Winsor’s Review.
2) Could you please furnish me with copies of any Impact Assessment
carried out in relation to the recommendations contained within
Part 2 of Mr Winsor’s Review.”

The response I got to this question was;

No formal impact assessment has been carried out in relation to the recommendations. Therefore, the Home Office does not hold the information you have requested. The recommendations in the Part 1 Report were considered by the appropriate bodies, including the police negotiating machinery and the Police Arbitration Tribunal (PAT). The Home Secretary, having taken account of all relevant considerations, decided to accept the PAT award.

Note the wording of the 1st sentence.  How does that correspond to this document contained within Winsor’s Review?  Equality Impact Assessment Report Independent Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration and Conditions: Part 1 Report  Surely that constitutes a formal Impact Assessment?

I also asked them this question;

1) Could you please furnish me with copies of any ‘What If’
Analysis carried out in relation to the recommendations contained
within Part 1 of Mr Winsor’s Review.

2) Could you please furnish me with copies of any ‘What If’
Analysis carried out in relation to the recommendations contained
within Part 2 of Mr Winsor’s Review.

To date, they have chosen not to answer that question and their response is about a month overdue.  I requested a Review of their handling of my request and they just appear to have treated that as a new request, the response to which is now overdue.

And whilst all this is going on we have the absolute bombshell announcement that Tom Winsor is the Preferred Candidate for the the post of Chief Inspector HMIC.
So, if you’ve kept up with me so far, just how ‘Independent’ does this make Tom Winsor’s review?  Even if I accept that he personally had nothing to do with the G4S contract, there is still his work that has gone unpaid and his, now successful’ selection to the post of Chief Inspector HMIC, a selection that I shall return to on a later date.  Is there any connection?  You decide.  All I know is that it is far from straightforward, better men than I will debate the actual contents of the Winsor review but a wise, crusty old Sergeant once told me “Son, if it stinks, it’s probably rotten”.

At this point I will stress the point that the following comment is my opinion alone and in no way represents anybody else, although everyone is entitled to agree or disagree as they see fit.  Taking into account the various responses I, and others,  have had from the Home Office I have absolutely no confidence that we are being told the truth.  Commercially there is a lot at stake and I just feel like a mushroom, kept in the dark and fed bullshit.  In my experience the Home Office’s handling of Freedom of Information requests is woeful.  I find it incredible that every request needs more than the statutory 2o working days to process, and frequently, as soon as they are prodded a response is forthcoming.  A clearly worded request for a Review of their handling of a request should be treated as just that, not treated as a new request and give yourselves another 20 days to respond.

As I said just now I shall return to the selection of Tom Winsor to HMIC on a future date, but to my simplistic view there has been a complete lack of transparency here, it seems that Theresa May likes to use the word ‘transparency’ but seemingly only in relation to Equalities issues.

I can verify everything that I have stated in this blog. Can the Home Office, Tom Winsor et al verify everything they have said? Is The Truth Out There? You decide.
Thanks for staying with me to the end, until the next time, cheerio

Loading Likes...

Unpaid Overtime 2011/2012

Colleagues, friends, fellow conspirators,

I have had many an argument with Forces across the land about what constitutes Casual Overtime as it relates to my Freedom of Information Act request.

Basically, for the benefit of our non-police friends, overtime falls into one of two categories Casual and Pre-Planned. Some forces prefer to call Casual Overtime Unplanned. I don’t really care. One large force close top London thought that Casual Overtime was overtime paid to Casual Staff, I kid you not.

The important difference is that when claiming Casual Overtime, for the 1st 4 occasions in any given week the 1st 30 minutes are deducted and not paid for. This 30 minutes is only paid on the 5th and subsequent claim in each week. As you can imagine there are not many occasions on which it gets paid. This period of 30 minutes has attracted the unofficial title of The Queen’s Half Hour.

After Tom Winsor made his famous statement likening the Police to factory workers with a clock in/clock out mentality I was sufficiently incensed to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act to every Police Force (sorry, Service) in England and Wales in an attempt to quantify how much work was being done by our thin blue line that was not getting paid for. The results have absolutely staggered me in more ways than one.

I found 45 Forces to write to, including City of London and British Transport Police.

Out of 45 Forces 14 have refused to answer my question on the grounds that it is too expensive to answer.. The Freedom of Information Act allows the Authority to refuse to process the request and provide the information if it is going to take more than 18 hours, or cost more than £450 to answer it. Well14 of our Forces have decided that their systems are so rigid that they can’t extract the data I am seeking without resorting to a manual check of every single overtime claim in the year. I can quite see how that might take more than 18 hours.

A further 4 Forces have informed me that they can’t answer the question because the information is Unavailable. Their systems do not differentiate between Pre-Planned and Casual Overtime and so they can’t give me any data at all.

5 Forces still have not replied, are about a week past the legal deadline and are now in breach of the terms of the Freedom of Information Act which requires them, by law, to respond within 20 Working days.

This leaves me with the 22 Forces that have given me some data, as near as damnit half of them. 15 out of the 22 gave me a complete set of data to answer my questions. The remaining 7 gave me sufficient data for me to make a realistic estimate of the value of their unpaid overtime.

Based on these 22 Forces ALONE the figures are astounding (in my opinion)

For the Financial Year 2011/2012 approx 242,000 hours of Overtime went unpaid
The Financial Value of this unpaid overtime is approx £4,685,019, and this figure represents just HALF of our Police Forces, although it has to be said that the Met contributes about of this figure by itself. That still leaves a potential for about £6,000,000 worth of overtime to go UNPAID every year across England and Wales.

So I think, Mr Winsor, that you should retract that analogy, because this, to me, indicates a vocation that is very far removed from a Clock In/Clock Out mentality. No other occupation would stand for figures like that but the Police do it day in day out across the country.

If I ever get a response from the last 5 Police Forces I will, of course, update my figures, and if you wish to tell me what your home Force is and I can give you a copy of their individual response if you’d like it. One or two Forces shine as being particularly helpful to my request, one in particular, is either being very obstructive or their accounting systems are shite. (that’s an official auditing term)

The Forces that have either Refused or state that the data is not available bother me somewhat. Not so much because they didn’t answer the question but it raises questions about their Financial systems and how good and robust they may be. I have no idea how the auditors cope with those Forces.

Number-crunching over for today,

I’m happy to answer questions if there’s anything else you’d like to know about this project.

Loading Likes...

My First Blog

Hello world,

One or two of you have suggested that I should enter the world of blogging, which is something I had not previously considered.  A few words of introduction would be appropriate at the moment I guess.

I’m Alan, 50 something (well 60 soon to be honest) and retired from the Metropolitan Police in 2002 after 30 glorious years.  Because I’m retired I can ay what the hell I want to in my blog and don’t have to worry about being censored or disciplined for my ramblings.  Before I joined the Met I spent 2 yrs as a Trainee Radio-Isotopes technician for the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital in London.  This was a very rewarding job in some ways but it soon became apparent that I was going to get bored with it very rapidly, as my weeks were all very predictable.

I spent 30 years in the Met, 30 years which, on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed. There were a few years in the middle of my career which got a bit rocky, but a change of direction soon sorted that out and I soon went back to loving my job.

After that I was employed by the Metropolitan Police Authority as a Forensic Auditor, sounds grand and has absolutely nothing to do with Forensics.  Simply put it involved investigating alleged fraudulent activities by contractors supplying the Met with their services, and occasionally by the Met’s own employees.  The results of any investigation were then handed over to the Police to progress if it was felt that there was a case to answer.  The most complex case I was involved in there was investigating alleged overclaiming by SOME translators and interpreters, which resulted in High Court actions and criminal convictions against some, and the return of approx £250,000 from one such linguist.

After that the attraction of the sunshine and red wine pulled me and my my wife to South West France where we ‘Lived The Dream’ for 5 and a half years before returning to the UK in 2011 and settling in North Shropshire, although it seems more like Wales, and Wales is indeed at the end of the road (literally).

That’s how I became retired, why am I angry.  Well, my would tell you that I’m always angry, but in the context of this blog I am angry because of the unholy damage this government seems intent on wreaking on the Police Services of England and Wales, and other wonderful institutions like the NHS, Armed Forces and Coastguard. I’ve signed all the petitions going and felt like I wanted to do something, so I now use my position as a retired officer and concerned member of the public to make life as uncomfortable as I can for those in power by use of the Freedom of Information Act to uncover the truth behind the smokescreen and then Tweet, and now blog, the responses with the sole intention of getting the message out there so that those who can make a difference and change the course HMG seems determined to take.  I am not opposed to change, I used to be a dinosaur but I’m better now. What I am is opposed to ‘Change for Change’s Sake’. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that I’m not always comfortable with change, and maybe that’s something that is common to a lot of Police Officers, but I don’t reject it out of hand, but I have yet to see a single proposal from Mssrs Herbert, Winsor & Cameron or Mrs May which convinces me that it’s for the public good. I’m not thinking of myself, I’ve retired. I’m thinking of the 137,000 (March 2011) and the Great British Public, and they ARE great in the main.

Well, I think that’s about enough about for me now.  I shall return soon and bring you some updates regarding the various Freedom of Information requests that are currently in progress. I hope that you will find them as informative as I do.

Loading Likes...