Will The Last One Out Please Turn Off The Lights – UK PLC Is Heading For The Badlands

As a devout cynic I shuddered mightily when the announcement, followed by the reality, that we were going to (and have done) lose 17,500 Police Officers under Dave Camoron’s ‘Reforms’.

That was bad enough and I don’t need to go over old ground, we have all seen the reality, the constant ‘Crying Wolf’, Cuts do indeed have Consequences and we are seeing them.  It was brought home to me JUST how bad things are this weekend, the Notting Hill Carnival.  As an established veteran of that event dating back to the most awful events of 1976 I always take an interest in how it’s going.

6,000 officers on Sunday (traditionally Children’s Day) and 7,000 officers on Monday.  Over 300 arrests across the 2 days, 44 arrests for Knife-related offences, and at least one if not two Police Officers stabbed.  I heard a rumour (unsubstantiated I agree, but neither has it been denied) that the Met ran out of Custody space at 10.30 on Monday night.  That is a disgraceful situation,. there must be dozens of redundant Custody Suites dotted around the Met in Stations that have not yet been sold off or closed down, but, oh yes, you need experienced officers to staff them.

Then, to compound my angst, I caught up with the predictions that we are set to lose anything up to 22,000 jobs, and this based on the lowest estimate of a 25% budget cut, it could be as much as 40%.

Several Chief Officers are now coming out of the woodwork to complain about the cuts, with few exceptions, we should have heard from them so much sooner.

In the midst of it all we have whiny, negative Sara Thornton, who I always thought was better than that, banging on about how we can’t cope, we’ll have to stop visiting burglary scenes, etc etc, instead of using her privileged position to properly fight back.  Give them some stick Sara, what have you got to lose?

I should be used to negativity from senior officers by now, but it still doesn’t sit well, how can anybody follow a Chief Constable who is hell-bent on apologising and making excuses for problems caused by government?

 

It’s a good job I’m not a cynical man or I might think that the current furore in the press about Police Cars without sirens being used in a Response mode was designed to deflect public attention away from the bigger problem.  That is a separate, and valid, argument/discussion in its own right, but basically caused solely by Camoron’s savage desire to ‘Reform’ the Police Service.

More and more people are beginning to notice that their politicians are lying to them (allegedly) and it is no duty of a politician of any colour to tell outright porkies.

Camoron, Cruella, Milky Bar – You are NOT Reforming the Police Service, you are ANNIHILATING it.  Stick THAT in your Manifesto’

Surely it is time for ALL Chief Constables, NPCC, PCCs, Federations and PFEW to join forces and totally condemn these evil practices and show a united front for once.  Is that so unreasonable?

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Just Open Another Box

If ever I needed proof that the government have succeeded in hoodwinking the great British Public it was served up in abundance on last night’s BBC1. One Show.

Firstly we had Richard Garside from  The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.  I assume that this is some kind of Think Tank that the government has commissioned to come up with crap ideas.  His astoundingly brilliant theory last night was that we actually have too many Police Officers and the Austerity cuts are to be seen as an ‘Opportunity’.

I was so busy spluttering over this contribution to the problem that I completely missed what Jabba the Hutt was saying afterwards.

Richard Garside’s contribution led to this exchange of Tweets later

 

Then we were treated to a series of street interviews with a random assortment from the Public at Large.  Some, surprisingly if you believe in stereotypes, bemoaned the shortage of Police Officers and were not comfortable with it.  These appeared to be given slightly more prominence by the BBC.  Star of the show was a delightful old lady, just like your favourite, slightly odd, aunt.  She was absolutely convinced that the Police were perfectly capable of dealing with any challenge or scenario that comes their way. She then came out with the quote of the night which seemed to set the tone for the entire piece.  If there were to be a major outbreak of rioting (for example) or any other similar problem that the Police actually struggled to deal with, then the Police would tell the government and they would be given more Police Officers, completely ignorant of the fact that a) Theresa May WON’T be giving us any more and will continue unchecked with her cuts, b) it takes time to recruit, select and train Police Officers and c) the current budgets and government policies will not sustain wholesale recruiting by the Police.

There are no boxes of Reserves that a Chief Officer can open and unleash on any given Policing problem. We cannot just open another box of Policemen.

The two presenters seemed quite comforted by the old lady’s contribution and studio guest Clive James, who I have always credited with more intelligence, did not seem to feel the need to contradict ‘old lady’.

So, there we have it, the government has succeeded in hoodwinking the Public, they are getting away with it. If only we could open another box of politicians and replace some of them.

BBC One Show item 2 June 2015

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Is Theresa May Completely Out Of Touch With Everybody?

Have her advisers and researchers let her down? Is she poorly briefed?

Maybe she just knows better than everybody else and we have yet to realise that.

Maybe she is rigidly toeing the Party Line and doing & saying just what Mr Camoron tells her to do and say.

One thing that is for certain is that she is hell-bent on taking no notice whatsoever of what the Front Line are telling her.  Apparently we are all just “Scaremongering”. I’m sure you all heard her speech at the PFEW Conference or have read the headlines.  Crime is down and those that say otherwise are just Scaremongering.

So please – for your sake and for the thousands of police officers who work so hard every day – this crying wolf has to stop

 

Today, you’ve said that neighbourhood police officers are an “endangered species”. I have to tell you that this kind of scaremongering does nobody any good – it doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t serve the officers you represent, and it doesn’t serve the public.

 

So that is my offer to you: more reform to make your lives better, to save police time, and to give you more discretion so that you can get on with the jobs you are trained to do.

You can choose to work with me. Or you can choose to shout from the sidelines. What I offer is a positive vision for policing, one in which it is an exciting time to be a police officer, where you have the freedom to get on with your job, where you are rewarded for your skills and hard work, and where policing is fit for the future.

 

So, we’ve established that she’s out of touch with the Police.

IMG_0387.JPG

She said the next phase of her police reform programme would include technological changes such as transforming police cars into police stations and the wider adoption of body-worn video cameras. But it would also include moves to reduce demand on policing at a time when crime is falling.

She accused the Police Federation of scaremongering and repeatedly “crying wolf” over the impact of the previous round of cuts in police funding as part of the government’s austerity programme – and rejected their claims that further cuts would force them to adopt “paramilitary styles of policing” in Britain.

 

The home secretary said that a new policing bill in next week’s Queen’s speech would “allow us to go further and faster with reform freeing up police time and putting policing back in the hands of professionals”.

 

Is that really what is necessary or wanted?  Not wanted by the Police, not considered necessary by the Police and I’m reasonably sure that huge chunks of the Public don’t want it or believe that such swingeing cuts are necessary or good for the Country.

So there you have it, I already think that the Home Secretary has lost touch with the reality of what the people on the ground, the practitioners, are saying.   The only organisation she takes notice of is HMIC apparently, need I say more on that subject?

Is she ignoring everybody or is she being worked by a Puppetmaster?

But Mrs May is an elected Member of Parliament and has Constituency matters to occupy her time as well as being Home Secretary.  Surely she would have her ear to the ground and know what was going on in leafy Maidenhead, wouldn’t she?

The town of Maidenhead has a population of about 80,000 and Wiki describes it thus;

Maidenhead is a large affluent town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, in Berkshire,

Not too shabby.  There are approx 75,000 voters in the constituency.

A few, short days ago I wrote a post challenging the idea that Crime is Down.  I haven’t heard anything from the Home Secretary so I presume she hasn’t read it yet, but I’m sure she will.  So, we’ve now established that she’s out of touch with the various bodies that publish Crime Stats.

So how is crime doing in leafy Maidenhead? Down or Up?

Surely Mrs May would know what was happening with Crime in her constituency wouldn’t she? After all, Crime Is Falling.

http://www.ukcrimestats.com/Subdivisions/WMC/65901/ tells us what the crime situation is in the parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead.

Crime in the Parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead
Crime in the Parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead

It gets slightly easier to read if you click on it.

Sadly I can’t extract the whole data table from the website but it it’s clear from the data above that overall, after a dip last year, total crime is now on the increase in Maidenhead.

Graphs of Crime, both with and without Anti-Social Behaviour over the last 12 months show that crime is once again on the increase in Maidenhead, not significantly I grant you, and it peaks and troughs throughout the year, but I see NOTHING in the crime data for Mrs May’s constituency to convince me that CRIME IS DOWN.  You would think that she would know what was going on in her own constituency wouldn’t you?

Crime without ASB Maidenhead

 

Crime including ASB Maidenhead
Crime including ASB Maidenhead

So maybe she’s out of touch with her public as well.

Just to rub salt into her wounds I suppose I should remind us all that she remains only the second serving Home Secretary to have a conviction for Contempt of Court, so I guess she’s out of touch with the judicial system as well.  On the first occasion, in 1991, Kenneth Baker ignored an instruction from a judge in an asylum case and the ruling against him was backed up by five law lords in a landmark judgement.

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Mutual Aid

in the week that sees the Annual Police Federation Conference in Bournemouth I was reading Chris Hobbs’ powerful letter to Theresa May 

After exchanging a bit of banter with Clive Chamberlain it hit me.  It has often been quoted that cuts to the Police Service have already amounted to losing the equivalent of Devon&Cornwall, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Wiltshire Forces, 6 Constabularies that would include Bournemouth if it were that simple.  Imagine seeing no Police at all around the town of Bournemouth and beyond.  6 Constabularies that will be more by 2020 if nothing is done to stop the cuts.

In years gone by when Forces have been stretched they have had the Plan B of Mutual Aid to fall back on, asking surrounding Forces to supply some PSUs to help out in the short term, normally just a few days.

We have already lost 17,000 warranted officers under the coalition, Cameron’s new Tory government seems certain to continue the threatened cuts into the next 5 years.  Horrendous further cuts are only just over the horizon.

So where does that leave Mutual Aid?  Your Force can’t cope so you ask your neighbours to pitch in for a few days and help out.  Only those neighbours are all suffering the same cuts and might not be able to send Mutual Aid without leaving themselves vulnerable back home.

2011 saw the Met ask for Mutual Aid for the riots in London.  It took Mutual Aid of 16,000 to quell the disquiet in London in 2011, we’ve lost 17,000 since then with more horrendous cuts to come.  What’s your answer to that Mrs May?

Somebody please tell me, how the hell is Mutual Aid going to work under the Tories?

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If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It–What The Country Voted For

In Camoron’s first incarnation as the Nation’s Prime Minister he set about reforming the Legal System system, amongst others.  In doing so he aimed to save about £450 Million from Legal Aid bills.  This led to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO coming into force.

This Act, which personally I had never heard of before, seems to only apply to Civil cases, but some of those Civil cases might affect us at some point in our lives.  It has removed countless cases from the scope of the Legal Aid scheme.

LASPO reverses the position whereby legal aid is accessible for all civil cases other than those excluded by the Access to Justice Act 1999. Whole categories of law have been taken out of scope for legal aid; others only qualify if they meet certain criteria. The categories now out of scope include:

  1. Family cases where there is no proof of domestic violence, forced marriage or child abduction. There has been a 60% fall in family cases granted funding and two thirds of cases in the family court now feature somebody representing themselves.
  2. Immigration cases that do not involve asylum or detention
  3. Housing and debt matters unless they constitute an immediate risk to the home
  4. Welfare benefit cases; except appeals to the upper tribunal or high court
  5. Almost all clinical negligence cases
  6. Employment cases that do not involve human trafficking or a contravention of the Equality Act 2010

The 4 out of 6 that I have highlighted are the ones that are most likely to affect us at some time. Don’t think that Criminal Law has escaped either, as from last April the government has cut the Criminal Legal Aid budget by £215 Million as well.

To clarify, this is what I wrote about the (then) forthcoming changes on another site;

“Changes to legal aid

Welfare benefit appeals

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you make an appeal against a decision on welfare benefits unless you’re making an appeal to the Upper Tribunal or higher courts.  So, once again our caring sharing government has excelled, not only do they slash benefits, ATOS assessments abound, everyone being forced off the rock and roll, but we’ve taken away the only way an unemployed/ill person can use to challenge that decision.  Without a sudden increase in charitable funding, how are these folk going to pay their legal fees to challenge what they undoubtedly see as an unfair assessment etc etc?  Surely this is akin to the school bully nicking your dinner money and then tying you up so you can’t tell anyone?  Or is it just me that thinks that?

Debt

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with your debts unless a creditor is making you bankrupt or taking court action to evict you from your home

Housing

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with housing problems unless:

  • there’s serious disrepair in your home
  • you’re homeless
  • you’re being evicted from your home
  • the council is taking action against you because of anti-social behaviour.

Employment

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an employment dispute or go to an employment tribunal unless it’s a discrimination case.

Private family law

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with private family law problems unless you’re a victim or are at risk of domestic violence or there has been or is a risk of child abuse These include:

  • divorce
  • dissolution of civil partnership
  • financial disputes
  • property disputes
  • disputes over children.

Asylum support

If you’re an asylum seeker, you won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with asylum support unless you have applied for both housing and financial support.

Non-asylum immigration

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an immigration application unless you:

  • have been detained
  • make an application under the domestic violence rules
  • make an application because you’re a victim of human trafficking.

Education

You won’t get legal aid to help with education problems unless the child or young adult has Special Educational Needs.

Consumer and general contract law

You won’t get legal aid for any action you want to take for consumer problems or problems you have with general contracts.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cases

You won’t get legal aid to help with the costs of trying to get compensation because you’ve suffered a criminal injury.

Clinical negligence cases

You won’t get legal aid for most clinical negligence problems.

What will you still be able to get legal aid for

You’ll still be able to get legal aid for the following problems:

  • care proceedings
  • family mediation
  • asylum applications
  • mental health proceedings
  • community care cases
  • discrimination. “

I seem to recall reading somewhere previously that we can no longer get Legal Aid to challenge Government Decisions but as I write I can’t quite lay my hands on that gem, or I might just be getting old.  I did however find this which might mean that I’m NOT going senile.

“In a judgment handed down on 3rd March 2015, the High Court ruled that regulations brought in by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, in April 2014 to cut legal aid funding for judicial review are unlawful.

The case hinged on the MoJ’s decision to restrict legal aid for Judicial Review challenges of decisions made by public bodies

Now we’ve had our General Election and the country voted.  They voted Tory and brought in a (small) majority government with Camoron at the helm.

One of his avowed policies is to scrap the Human Rights Act.  By doing so he will be removing the following collection of Rights from the Statute Book

  • The right to life
  • The right not to be tortured
  • The right not to be a slave
  • The right to a fair trial
  • The right NOT to be punished if you haven’t broken the law
  • The right to private family life
  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
  • The right to freedom of expression
  • The right to marry and start a family
  • The right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions
  • The right to education
  • The right to free elections
  • The right NOT to be given to death penalty

Some are clearly more important than others, and I’m certainly not saying that these rights and this Act won’t be replaced by something else, but what guarantees do we have?  Do we trust a Tory government not to weaken our basic Human Rights? Will there be a replacement Act?  Why replace the one we have?

People of Britain this is what you got when you voted.  Personally I’d rather not replace something unless it’s broke. In terms of Public Protection we seem to be considerably worse off than we were.

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Come On Cruella – Explain It To Us

Ii have heard many eloquent people highlighting the problems faced by Police and Public alike caused by the government’s reckless policy of repeatedly cutting the Police Budget.

I know that this problem applies to other PublicSectors also, but today I am concentrating solely on the Police.

It is frequently stated within the Police Service that if the reasons for doing something (for example Stop/Search, Kettling, Tasering) are explained to the public in a calm and reasonable manner then they will probably understand and possibly even support the action, or at the very least become less vociferous in their opposition. A calm explanation as to why I was Stop/Searching an apparently innocent person, the grounds and reason behind it, was frequently all that was required to defuse a tense situation and the person quite frequently went off perfectly happy.

So, Theresa May, David Cameron, why don’t you tell us, the Police and Public, just exactly why the cuts that you have already enacted, and the cuts that you have cued up for the next five years are actually ALL NECESSARY.

I have pointed out previously, on more than one occasion, that many of the 43 Forces have already shed more officers than they needed to to attain their 2015 Austerity Target set by HMIC.  Please explain to us calmly, in a language that we can all understand, why this was necessary.

Please explain to us why, when other public services find their budgets ring-fenced, the Police Budget is not.

Why is the Foreign Aid Budget ring-fenced and the Police Budget not?

Please explain to us why we keep hearing the mantra “Crime Is Down” to justify the cuts when overall demand on the Police Service is UP.

So would you please explain to us all quite calmly all of your reasons for decimating what used to be the finest Police Service in the world.  If you try and explain in a non-confrontational manner we might just understand and agree with you, possibly not, but go on try it, what do you have to lose?

The impression amongst the Police Service is that you are on a mission to destroy the Police Service, well you need to remember that the vast majority of the British Public have no connections with the Police Service whatsoever, but they still need for a Police Service to exist to report their crimes, deal with their Anti-Social Behaviour, maintain their public tranquility ( The Queen’s Peace) etc etc.

Demand UP, Establishment DOWN please explain to us why, JUSTIFY IT.


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Ponder This Cruella

Thursday saw a bizarre event.

The people voted and it seems that the people voted for five more years of Cuts and Austerity, and that is absolutely the country’s right, if that’s what they want.

However, within 36 hours of the result being confirmed we had civil disorder outside Downing Street.

I am neither condoning nor discouraging civil disorder, but I AM anticipating it.

Are we heading for a new Summer of Discontent?  Because if we are, think on this, you and Milky have already disposed of over 17,000 warranted Police Officers since 2010, PCSO and Special Constabulary numbers are also down I believe, as are Police Staff.  If this isn’t bad enough you’ve kept your job and are about to embark on 5 more years of cuts leading to the loss of a similar number more.

What are you going to do when the wheel comes off?  When the Met has to ask for Mutual Aid like it did in 2011 something has gone terribly pear-shaped.  We’ve got even less than that now, more destined to go, where will the Mutual Aid come from.  17,000 officers, as has been pointed out elsewhere, is the equivalent of FOUR entire Police Forces along the South Coast, and you intend to DOUBLE that? Think about it I implore you.

Take a look at what happened only yesterday.

Can you hear the people sing?

Can You?

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I Can’t Quite Work It Out

The people have voted, and it seems like they’ve got Camoron for another full term.

I don’t agree with them, but I can see why the Jocks have voted SNP, at least that makes some kind of sense.

The rest of the UK have voted for some strange things

They have voted for a much reduced Police Service with a much hampered ability to respond to our various problems.

They have voted for a much reduced Armed Forces, they are at their lowest strength for decades and getting smaller.

They have voted for an NHS in danger of being dismantled and privatised.  Starved of funding, forced to fail, cue private companies riding in to pick up the pieces and rescue them.

They have voted for a shackled Justice system.

They have voted for a slimline Coastguard Service.

They have voted for Probation, Education and Prison Services to be neutered or privatised.

What do all of the above have in common?  None of them sell anything.  Traditionally they have all been sectors that soak up money without the ability to make a profit. How could they?  Until very recently consecutive governments have accepted that fact and whilst there have been minor cuts and Efficiency Drives along the way, it was always accepted that they were sectors that had to have money pumped into them to make them work with no option of getting a profit out at the end. It has always been that way, and I don’t see how it could be any different to that.  Oh, hang on,……..Privatisation might help.

They have voted for Bankers Bonuses.

They have voted for Outsourcing

I truly hope that the the great British Public do not find the need for the NHS, do not ever need a Police Officer, I hope their kids are properly educated, I hope they never need a Coastguard etc etc, because the shape of this country has changed irrevocably, and it’s what the country has voted for.

I didn’t, my conscience is clear, but very many did. I have heard it described as selfish voting. Who knows?

I leave you with one last thought, Be very careful what you wish for because you might get it.

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Have Your Say, Tell Me What You Think–The Results Are In

A while ago I posed the question – Would you be willing to pay a small amount more each month to help safeguard our Public Services? I posted a short online survey for you to tell me your views, and the results are in.

Shown below are the actual responses received, minus names and email address etc, apart from that untouched.

I’m not certain that the volume of respondents constitutes a statistically significant sample (I’m sure it doesn’t), but most folk who replied would be willing to pay SOMETHING extra on their taxes, NI contributions etc to help keep our Public Services afloat.

Just a shame that the government never thought of asking the question really, they might have got a bigger response.

Would you be willing to pay a small amount more each month to help safeguard our Public Services? Police NHS Armed Forces Education Coastguard What is the Max amount PER MONTH you would be willing to pay on top of your current taxes?
yes yes yes yes yes yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 100
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes No No £1
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 5
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes £50
Yes Yes No No Depends which sector No 10
Yes. Already paying extra via CT to POLICE Yes Yes No Yes Yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 100
yes yes yes yes yes yes 10
No No No No No No 0
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 25
no no no no no no 9
yes yes yes yes yes yes £10
yes yes yes yes yes yes 5
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 50
yes yes yes yes yes yes 6
no yes yes yes no no £40
yes yes yes yes yes yes 20
Yes Yes No Yes No Yes 10
yes yes no yes no yes 2
yes yes YES yes yes yes 2
yes yes yes yes no yes 10
no no no no no no 0
Yes Yes def Yes def Yes defs No Yes £5
Yes Yes No Yes No No 5
no no yes no no no 10
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We – The People Wot Know

We are the people, the people who know. And because we know we are dangerous. We are a threat. There are tens of thousands of us and we all know, every single one of us.

We know EXACTLY what this government is doing to this, once proud, country. Whether we support the Police, The NHS, the Armed a Forces, the Coastguard Service, Courts, Prisons, Probation, we all KNOW.

120 odd thousand of us can be controlled by the State. Forget bloody Purdah, I’m sick of the word, and it’s dodgy utilisation. I’m talking about the 120 odd thousand Police Officers who are discouraged from speaking out by the out-dated Police Regs.  Some have, many ‘signed’ the open letter recently, but many, many more didn’t.  ACPO types were riding Social Media actively discouraging serving officers from signing it.  But those officers KNOW.

The rest of us, the ‘silent’ majority of retired officers and supportive Members of the Public, get ‘controlled’ in a much quieter, insidious way.

We get ignored.

I am not alone in trying to bring the consequences of #MaysMayhem to the attention of the media. A few of my retired colleagues have tried and I know of at least one MoP who spent what seemed like an entire morning forwarding links and messages to just about the entire UK Media a Industry.

Nothing.

We get ignored.

Freedom of Information requests to the Home Office get Refused more times than not. Police Forces fail to respond within the allotted timescale, and then claim an Exemption more often than not.

We get ignored.

And by being ignored lies the biggest act of Control possible. We don’t exist. We have no voice. We can achieve nothing. Why? Because the State have obviously decided that we will not be bamboozled by them so they simply refuse to Engage.

We will not even scratch the armour of Dodgy Dave, Teflon Theresa or Tiny Tim unless the Media start to take notice, and I’m not too optimistic about that, but if you can get one local paper, local radio station, local TV news interested in the TRUE SCALE OF THE CUTS and what it means IN REAL TERMS we might just stand a chance.

Good luck.
Ave imperator, morituri te salutant

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