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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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