So, the Force With 2 Officers Per 1,000 Head of Population Is Getting A Rural Policing Centre Of Excellence

Somewhere round about the middle of December I wrote about the loneliness of the Rural Police Officer in Dyfed Powys Police. You can find it here if you haven’t already read it.

Then I found this article here about how the Dyfed Powys PCC has secured £44,000 in funding to set up a Centre of Excellence for Rural Policing,

First off, I am in no way opposed to Excellence in Rural Policing, or Urban Policing, or indeed Inner City Policing. What I am opposed to is people scoring cheap political points using smoke and mirrors.

So, Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon (who is a Conservative PCC) has secured almost £44,000 from the College of Policing to launch a Centre for Rural Policing and Justice.  Dyfed-Powys Police will collaborate with the Cardiff-based Universities’ Police Science Institute (UPSI) and others to start a high-level network to develop new expertise in keeping rural communities safe from crime.  Mr Salmon said: “The work we do with UPSI and others will lead to people in some of our most isolated areas feeling safer.  No mention of his officers feeling safer though. “This collaboration will initially build new working relationships between academic establishments, Dyfed-Powys Police and my office”

The key collaborative approach is one of a partnership between the Commissioner’s office, Dyfed-Powys Police and UPSI.

The wider collaborative approach will involve a network between academic institutions across Wales, such as Aberystwyth University and University of Wales Trinity Saint David, using a mixture of skills and expertise. It will also incorporate organisations from the voluntary and private sectors.

Mr Salmon has committed £5,000 to the centre’s launch costs of around £49,000. Even £49,000 doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but if Mr Salmon can obtain real benefits at such a low cost all power to his elbow, as we say this side of Offa’s Dyke.

Still no mention of anything practical.  And how much Excellence can you get for £49k anyway? Not very much I suspect.

My issue is simply this; is the Dyfed Powys PCC already demonstrating his commitment to Excellence in his own, rural Force?   4,000+ square miles that contain 514,938 people.  Now I make that ONE Police Officer per 463 people, or 2.2 Police Officers per 1,000 population. Just over 2 Police Officers TOTAL per 1,000 head of population, take away Shifts, Abstractions, Leave and Sickness and you could easily be down to 1 Police Officer per 3-4,000 head of population.  Is that Excellence I ask?  One of the main concerns of a large, rural Force HAS to be the safety of its Community AND its officers.  Do these figures demonstrate a commitment to the safety of Community and Officers?  I have to say I don’t know the answer, so I ask the question.

I have no 1st hand experience of Rural Policing, but I know a man who has, and what I hear does not make for comfortable listening. Bronwyn in the Dyfed Powys HQ Canteen is forever telling me how her boyfriend Dai is frequently the only officer on duty in a patch covering hundreds of Square Miles. She worries for his safety, quite naturally. Can Dai keep the residents of Dyfed Powys safe when he’s the only officer on duty for miles around. I know we can’t open another box of Policemen every time we run out, but we can do small things to improve the situation.

For a start the PCC could commission a professional, INDEPENDENT, study of the merits of single-crewing versus double crewing, particularly in isolated areas and on Nights etc..  PCC, Chief Constable and Fed should all sign up to be bound by its findings, the PCC and Chief Constable do have a Duty of Care to their employees after all, and this should not be forgotten or under-estimated.

I’m obviously getting too old for all of this, it all sounds like so much Psychobabble to me. If you, my reader, spots a nugget of real, practical, tangible benefit in this please let me know.  If you, Mr Salmon, want to convince me that I’m old and cynical, and I’ve got this all wrong,  I will quite happily remove this blog and replace it with one promoting this scheme, and I will circulate it to anyone who wants to read it, but I suspect that I will never hear from you. I do think however, that any Centre of Excellence for Rural Policing has to produce benefits for your officers and staff, as well as the greater public.

Just one last thing before I go.  Who is it that sets, or recommends, the ratio of Police OFFICERS (don’t include civilian support staff please) to 1,000 head of population? What should it be for Dyfed Powys? Or do we just wing it and hope we’ve got it right?

Are the Police Being Politicised?

My friend Dai in a large Welsh Constabulary brought this to my attention.

This is a post by Tory PCC Christopher Salmon entitled What is a Conservative PCC?.  This post also appears, in a slightly different form on the Conservativesathome website here.  In it’s latter form it has attracted several complaints that Mr Salmon is trying to politicise the Police.  He makes several bold claims about his success as Dyfed-Powys PCC and seems to be implying that only a Tory could match his success.

Dyfed Powys PCC
Christopher Salmon – Dyfed Powys PCC

Before I go any further I have to pay some respect to Mr Salmon and give him some credit because he claims in these two articles to have removed all Targets from his Police Force.  So I checked, I sent an #FOI request to Dyfed-Powys Police asking them what their current policing targets were for this year, and this is their reply;

Enquiries were made with the Force Corporate Development Department who advised that there is no information held as a result of the fact that the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) have not set or published any targets for Dyfed Powys Police.”  So that seems fair enough, no targets.

I did a bit more digging around the PCC’s website and the Dyfed Powys website and decided “What the hell. Why give him an easy time? Let’s challenge him anyway”  So I sent off this #FOI request to the Dyfed Powys PCC himself;

1) In your post entitled What is a Conservative PCC? on your website you state quite categorically that you have “removed all targets from my police force”.

However I note from your Force’s Community Consultation& Engagement Strategy 2013-2016 that you have set a number of ‘objectives’ each of which has a desired outcome.

This will be monitored by Force performance structures and will be regularly updated and reviewed throughout the year.

Your Police and Crime Plan 2013-18 contains several Policing Priorities. Priority 5 includes an assurance that “performance is accurately recorded and action taken quickly to address complaints;”

Surely these are “Targets” under another name.

Could you please tell me the difference between Targets and Priorities&Objectives in your Policing context?

2) In your post entitled “What is a Conservative PCC?” on your website you state categorically that you “have spent millions training the police to cut crime.”

Could you please tell me

a) in 2012/13 How much money was spent in total training Police Officers to cut or reduce crime;

b) What innovative training, or training unique to your Force, have you personally introduced since you became the PCC?

3) In your post entitled “What is a Conservative PCC?” on your website you include the claim that “When I arrived at Dyfed Powys, I inherited an organisation creaking with inflated senior salaries…………Working with my new Chief Constable, we have cut the cost of the three top salaries from £420,000 to £330,000.”

Could you please tell me

a) What were the three top senior posts referred to in that statement;

b) What were the salaries for those posts previously and what are they now.

Please note that I specifically AM NOT requesting any details of the post-holders themselves.

and finally;

4) Could you please tell me

a) The total cost per annum of running the PCC system for your Force, i.e. the total of salaries and expenses of you (the PCC) and all of your directly related staff (not Police Officers or Civilian employees of the Police Service)

b) In the last year of their existence the total cost of the Dyfed-Powys Police Authority.

In other words, in a direct comparison, which system was is/was cheaper PCC or Police Authority?

While I was waiting for his response I had a trundle round the rest of his website and discovered to my horror (although I shouldn’t have been surprised, he IS a Tory after all) that he is openly promoting the idea of Direct Entry, thinks it’s a great idea……

these plans are a good idea. Forget PCCs, this is the reform with the potential to reshape policing for generations to come. Handled well it will breathe new life into venerable old structures.

The police service needs better leadership, more skills in new areas like finance and online crime and ready access to a wider experience base. Opening up recruitment is the best way to achieve this.

The police service has nothing to fear and everything to gain

Clearly a member of the David Cameron/Theresa May Fan Club then.

Well now I have the replies to my FOI requests.  The first one was the one in relation to Training in which Mr Salmon claimed “To have spent millions training the police to cut crime”  The response was this

a)   I can confirm that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys does not hold information in relation to how much money was spent in training Police Officers in 2012/13. This information will be with Dyfed-Powys Police Force.  So despite his claim in his blog to have spent millions he clearly doesn’t actually know how much his Force has spent on Crime Reduction Training.

I rather thoughtfully asked him what training he personally had introduced into his Force for Crime Reduction, the response was this;

b)   I can confirm that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner does hold this information.

Although the Commissioner has overall responsibility for Dyfed-Powys Police, he has not personally introduced any training. Dyfed-Powys Police Force owns the training plan for the organisation.

So, overall, I’m not impressed by his claims on Training, they don’t hold up, and he appears to be making claims that might just qualify him for a Melton Mowbray.

Within his blog Mr Salmon makes reference to inheriting “an organisation creaking with inflated senior salaries. Contracts had apparently been written by staff themselves and signed off by the Police Authority. There were 7.5% bonuses for staying in your job for a year. Police stations had closed while the number of accountants remained untouched. Working with my new Chief Constable, we have cut the cost of the three top salaries from £420,000 to £330,000.”  So I asked him what these reductions had been.

Be prepared for a shock

The three senior posts to have their salaries slashed were

  • The Chief Constable – reduced from £175,014 to £161,819
  • Director of Finances and Resources – reduced from £141,295 to £98,000
  • Chief Executive – reduced from £109,584 to £70,589.

In tandem the Director of Finance and Resources is now only Director of Resources (I do assume that there is a Director of Finance squirrelled away somewhere who will ‘bloat’ these savings somewhat, and the Chief Executive is now Staff Officer.

So, on this occasion he did speak the truth but may not necessarily have told the whole truth.

Next we have my personal favourite, the cost of the PCC’s Empire versus the Cost of the old Police Authority.

2012/2013 was a funny old transitional year, neither one thing nor the other cos PCCs came in in November last year if I recall correctly.

  • But 2011/12 was the last full year of the old Police Authority – Pay-Related Budget – £373,000
  • 2012/13 (the transitional year) – Pay-Related Budget – £369,000 (a very small saving)
  • 2013/14 – Pay-Related Budget – £463,000 (a significant increase I’m sure you’ll agree)
  • 204/15 – Pay-Related Budget – £474,000
  • 2015/16 – Pay-Related Budget – £480,000
  • 2016/17 – Pay-Related Budget – £487,000
  • 2017/18 – Pay-Related Budget – £495,000

I won’t bore you with them but I have the equivalent budget figures for Non Pay-Related Budget and Total Budget figures, and they are available to you if you want them, but suffice to say the PCC’s Empire Pay budgets increase year on year whilst the Non Pay Related Budgets DECREASE year  on year, by approx £150,000 per annum by 2017/18.

So, unless I’ve got this wrong Mr Salmon intends to run his Force more cheaply than the old Police Authority by paying his Empire more and spending less elsewhere. Got It.  I also have the figures for the Chief Constable’s Budget if anyone is sufficiently interested.

This leaves me with just the thorny question of Targets. “In your post entitled What is a Conservative PCC? on your website you state quite categorically that you have “removed all targets from my police force”. This one’s obviously a bit trickier for Mr Salmon because he has yet to reply to this request, but I can always rely on the reply from his Force instead.

Well that’s alright then, yes?  The Force’s Force’s Community Consultation & Engagement Strategy 2013-2016 contains a number of ‘objectives’ each of which has a desired outcome and will be monitored by Force performance structures. Targets? Right?

So the PCC for Dyfed Powys has removed/not set all Targets for his Force and replaced them with a number of Objectives, each of which has a desired outcome, and will be measured. Are these not Targets?

So, to go back to my original question, Are The Police Being Politicised?  I don’t know is the answer, it needs someone far more politically savvy than I to answer that question. One thing is certain however. Mr Christopher Salmon is a TORY PCC who is not above stretching the truth a little and dragging his troops out onto the political battlefield with him.  Leading from the rear if I’m not mistaken.
I have now received the response from Mr Salmon’s office on Targets.
You will remember my question, basically, was this;
Could you please tell me the difference between Targets and Priorities&Objectives in your Policing context?
I will quote the response verbatim as I don’t want to be accused of spinning it (as if)

A priority is the outcome to be achieved i.e. preventing and dealing with incidents of crime.

An objective is how this priority will be achieved i.e. to ensure that prevention is the key focus for both the Police and partners.

A target would put a set expectation on the Force i.e. to reduce crime by 10% – there are no such targets set within the Police and Crime Plan.

In my question I referred to the Community Consultation and Engagement Strategy 2013-16 and that got me a right Royal wrist slap;

“To address the point you make regarding the Community Consultation and Engagement Strategy 2013-16, I would advise that this document is one published by the Chief Constable. The objectives set within it are thereby set by the Chief Constable and are to be delivered by his staff. The aims set out how working relationships can be maintained and built within communities. As is the case with all strategies, delivery will be monitored.”

That’s me told then. If there are any targets/priorities/objectives (delete as appropriate) in the Dyfed Powys police Service they’re the Chief Constable’s fault OK?