#AllInItTogether or Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a politician who said “We’re all in this together” or something very similar.

Soon after there followed one of the new breed, a Police and Crime Commissioner belonging to the same party as old “we’re all in this together” chops.

We didn’t ask for this new thing called PCCs, we just got them because some politicians somewhere thought it would be a good idea.

Anyway, the point of my tale is this.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for a large, rural force not too far away from DeadBadgerShire has a website. It’s his own personal website, his PCC website is separate, although they do seem to cross over sometimes.

Once upon a time he said this on his website;

“Working with my new Chief Constable, we have cut the cost of the three top salaries from £420,000 to £330,000. I have cut 15% from the cost of governing the police. We are pushing through further reforms to ensure money is spent where it’s most needed – on policing our towns and villages.”

Using the Freedom of Information Act I asked this thoughtful PCC what the three top salaries were that he (they) had reduced.

I must give him (his office) credit for answering that one.

Chief Constable, salary reduced from £175,014 to £161,819

Director of Finance and Resources, salary reduced from £141,295 to £98,000 and a reduction in responsibilities to Director of Resources only.

Chief Executive, salary reduced from £109,584 to £70,589 and responsibilities reduced to Chief of Staff only.

Salary bill reduced from £425,893 to £330,408.

He didn’t tell me that he has also snuck in a Deputy Commissioner at a salary of £53,000, making the figures above somewhat less impressive, but to be honest  I would have left it that had he not rattled my goat with this tweet recently

https://twitter.com/ChrisTRSalmon/status/564018319154774018

This was followed by a challenge from one of our number

To which, the reply was;

I couldn’t resist, so I had to chip in with

To his eternal credit, he came back to me this comprehensive reply

Now, I wanted to be able to explain to you all why the PCC has felt it appropriate to cut three salaries, diminish two top posts and bring on board a deputy whilst maintaining his own salary, but I can’t because I haven’t had it explained to me, but I’m sure there’s a reason, his own salary (I found it eventually, buried deep in the website) is circa £65,000, quite reasonable really.

So I can go into the weekend assured that we truly are #AllInItTogether

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Complaints, Discipline and Social Media – How Big Is The Problem?

There have been a few high-profile cases recently of officers falling foul of their Force Policies on Social Media and incurring the displeasure of PSD/DPS.  The ones that come most readily to mind are Newquay Sarge, Gary Watts, James Patrick and Tony Ryan, although in the case of the last all does not appear to be clear, RYAN was sacked by his Force for being @TheBritishCop, but he maintains it wasn’t him and that the wrong person has been sacked.

So I thought I would try to find out just how big a problem Social Media was in the world of Policing.

I sent the following Freedom of Information request to 7 jForces, of varying sizes and nature;

 

Can you please tell me, for the year 1st April 2013 to 31st March
2014, what percentage of your total Complaints or Internal
Misconduct proceedings related to the usage/misuse or abuse of
Social Media including, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook,
Snapchat and Instagram?

Of these, how many resulted in the ‘accused’ person being dismissed
or required to resign?

Some Forces had problems working out the percentages and could only tell me total numbers and left me to work out percentages myself.  No problem, I can do that, even if they can’t (or maybe won’t).

The first to reply was South Yorkshire Police; the response to both questions was NIL.

Next came West Mercia, who provided as much information as I had hoped and asked for, just couldn’t work out the percentages.

For the year 1st April 2013 to 31st March 2014,
1. How many complaints and Internal Misconduct proceedings did you have.

REPLY:
Complaint cases – 546
Conduct cases – 91

2.How many of these Complaints or Internal Misconduct proceedings related
to the usage/misuse or abuse of Social Media including, but not limited
to, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram?

REPLY:
Complaint cases – 2  (0.4%)
Conduct cases – 7 (7.7%)

3. Of these, how many resulted in the ‘accused’ person being dismissed or
required to resign?

REPLY:
Complaint cases – 0 (0%)
Conduct cases – 1 (14.3%)

 

So, out of 637 Discipline and Misconduct matters only 9 in total involved the use and abuse of Social Media, and only one of those was bad enough to warrant Dismissal as a result.

Third to respond was amazingly Devon and Cornwall, home of Newquay Sarge and Gary Watts.  I expected them to find a reason not to respond to be honest, but respond they did, giving me all the information I asked for, although they don’t do percentages either.

They decided to refer me to an HMIC document showing that they had 359 Complaints per 1,000 employees in the year in question, a figure which I find astoundingly high, and way above the National Average (251) apparently. Last time I looked Devon and Cornwall had 3,096 Police Officers, 1,516 Police Staff, and 382 PCSOs.  Now I make that a total of 4,994, but I’ll call that 5,000. So that means that they presumably recorded 359×5,000=1,793 Complaints.

Additionally there were 28 Misconduct  matters during that time.

3 out of the 1,793 (0.15%) Complaints related to Social Media, and 1 out of the 28 (3.6%) Misconduct Matters

NONE of these 4 cases resulted in a Dismissal or a Required to Resign Finding.

Next to respond was Greater Manchester Police.  They reported a total of 2,155 Complaints or Disciplinary matters in the relevant time-scale.  Of these 22 (1%) were in relation to use and abuse of Social Media or Networking sites.  None of the 22 Complaints above resulted in a Dismissal or the officer being Required to Resign.

Next to weigh in with their response was Dorset, who gave me a very brief response, but told me all that I wanted to know.  0.2% of their Complaints and Discipline matters had related to the use or abuse of Social Media and NONE had resulted in an officer being dismissed or Required To Resign.

Dyfed Powys informed me that Use or Abuse of Social Media had taken up 3 out of 36 (8.3%) of Internal Conduct Matters and 2 out of 579 (0.35%) of Complaints.  Once again, no officers had been dismissed or Required to Resign during that period for abusing Social Media.

Unsurprisingly the Met were absolutely last to reply, granting themselves a unilateral extension on the time limits that are proscribed by law, but while I’m waiting they have sent me some interesting figures from previous years.

This table will show police officers who have been the subject of a conduct matter allegation involving misuse of social networking, by year and by rank.

Financial Year

Allegation Category

DC

INS

PC

PS

MSC

Total

10/11

Oppressive Behaviour

 

 

  3

 

  1

  4

 

Discrimination

 

 

  1

  1

  1

  3

 

Failures in Duty

  1

 

  5

  1

 

  7

 

Incivility

 

 

  1

 

 

  1

 

Other

 

 

  1

 

 

  1

10/11 Total

 

  1

 

 11

  2

  2

 16

11/12

Oppressive Behaviour

 

 

  2

 

 

  2

 

Failures in Duty

  1

  1

  7

  1

 

 10

 

Incivility

 

 

  8

 

 

  8

 

Other

 

 

  5

 

 

  5

11/12 Total

 

  1

  1

 22

  1

 

 25

12/13

Oppressive Behaviour

 

 

  2

 

  2

  4

 

Failures in Duty

 

 

  3

 

  3

  6

 

Incivility

 

 

  3

 

  1

  4

 

Other

 

 

  3

 

  2

  5

12/13 Total

 

 

 

 11

 

  8

 19

Grand Total

 

  2

  1

 44

  3

 10

 60

The following table will show the outcome of the 60 conduct matter allegations relating to misuse of social networking.

Write Off Result

 Write Off Method

10/11

11/12

12/13

Grand Total

Substantiated

Meeting/Hearing

7

10

2

19

 

Management Action

1

1

1

3

 

No Action

0

0

1

1

 

Retired/Resigned

 

3

2

5

Substantiated Total

8

14

6

28

Discontinuance / Not Informed

2

1

1

4

Unsubstantiated

6

9

7

22

Ongoing

 

1

5

6

Grand Total

16

25

19

60

 

The following table will show the outcome of the 19 police officers/special constables where the allegation was substantiated and they then attended a Meeting/Hearing. The allegations against the 19 officers were proven.

Outcome

10/11

11/12

12/13

Grand Total

Dismissal Without Notice

2

 

 

2

Final Written Warning

 

2

 

2

First Written Warning

4

4

2

10

Management Advice

1

4

 

5

Grand Total

7

10

2

19

 

The following table will show Police Staff who have been the subject of a conduct matter allegation involving misuse of social networking, by year and by grade. These cases all concluded in the financial year recorded and none are pending disciplinary investigation or action.

Proceedings concluded 2010/11 financial year: three cases (relating to three individuals)

Band

Type of Social Media

Reason for Action

Case Result

Sanction

Band E

Social media type not specified.

Misconduct –

Discreditable Conduct.

Allegation substantiated.

Final Written Warning With Management Action.

PCSO

Facebook.

Gross Misconduct –

Duties and Responsibilities.

Allegation substantiated.

Dismiss Without Notice.

PCSO

Facebook.

Gross Misconduct –

Discreditable Conduct.

Allegation substantiated.

Formal Reprimand.

Proceedings concluded 2011/12 financial year: four cases (relating to four individuals)

Band

Type of Social Media

Reason for Action

Case Result

Sanction

PCSO

Social media type not specified.

Misconduct –

Discreditable Conduct.

Allegation substantiated.

Apply or Reinstate Stage Two Warning.

PCSO

Facebook.

Misconduct –

Discreditable Conduct.

Allegation substantiated.

Final Written Warning With Management Action.

Band E

Social media type not specified.

Misconduct –

Discreditable Conduct.

Allegation substantiated.

Final Written Warning With Management Action.

Band E

Twitter.

Misconduct –

Discreditable Conduct.

Allegation substantiated.

First Written Warning.

Proceedings concluded 2012/13 financial year: two cases (relating to two individuals)

Type of Social Media

Reason for Action

Case Result

Sanction

Facebook.

Gross Misconduct –

Honesty and Integrity.

Allegation substantiated.

Dismiss Without Notice.

Facebook.

Misconduct –

Duties and Responsibilities.

Allegation substantiated.

Final Written Warning With Management Action.

The following table will show officers and police staff who are subject of a public complaint allegation involving misuse of social networking, by year and by rank. The category of police staff will include Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)

 

Staff Type/Rank

F Year

Alleg Category

Other

Police

Staff

DC

PC

MSC

(SPECIAL)

Total

10/11

Failures in Duty

 

 

2

 

2

10/11 Total

 

 

 

2

 

2

11/12

Incivility

 

 

1

 

1

 

Other

1

 

 

 

1

11/12 Total

 

1

 

1

 

2

12/13

Oppressive Behaviour

 

 

2

 

2

 

Incivility

1

1

1

1

4

 

Other

 

 

1

 

1

12/13 Total

 

1

1

4

1

7

Grand Total

 

2

1

7

1

11

The following table will show the outcome of the 2 public complaint allegations against police staff, relating to misuse of social networking .

Write Off Result

 Write Off Method

10/11

11/12

12/13

Grand Total

Case to Answer

Meeting/Hearing

 

1

 

1

Local Resolution

Management Action

 

 

1

1

Grand Total

 

 

1

1

2

The following table will show the outcome of the 9 public complaint allegations against police officers, relating to misuse of social networking .

Write Off Result

 Write Off Method

10/11

11/12

12/13

Grand Total

Case to Answer

Management Action

 

 

1

1

Local Resolution

No Action

1

1

 

2

No Case to Answer

No Action

1

 

5

6

Grand Total

 

2

1

6

9

k

So, while we are waiting, it seems that none of the officers were subject of complaints made by a member of the public, and not very many needed to be sacked.

Well, they eventually replied by way of giving me 6 tables for 2013/14;

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IMG_0008.GIF

IMG_0009.GIF

IMG_0010.GIF

IMG_0011.GIF

IMG_0012.GIF

So there, my faithful reader, we have it. Hardly a major problem in the greater scheme of things, and not too many, hardly any at all really, sacked for Twatting or Farcebooking. The number of complaints initiated by members of the Public almost nil, I suppose we should not be surprised that the Met leads the way. They are by far the biggest Force, and they have recently highlighted their attitude to Social Media quite unequivocally.

Two or three of our friends have suffered grievously at the hands of an over-exuberant Professional Standards Dept. The stats don’t seem to support their paranoia. It doesn’t seem to be the problem it was made out to be. But let’s be careful out there just the same.

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Dyfed Powys Police Sergeant runs the London Marathon to support Brecon MRT | Brecon Mountain Rescue Team

Dyfed Powys Police Sergeant runs the London Marathon to support Brecon MRT | Brecon Mountain Rescue Team.

Police Sergeant Darren Brown from Welshpool in the North of Powys has set himself the challenge to run the London Marathon on April 13th 2014. In doing so he will also be supporting the work of Brecon Mountain Rescue Team by asking people to sponsor him to complete the challenge.

In his role as a police search advisor (PoLSA) he has worked with Brecon Mountain Rescue Team on many searches throughout Mid Wales, including the search for April Jones in Machynlleth.

When asked about why he chose Brecon MRT and two other charities Daren said

“Over recent years we as a Police service regularly have to rely on the Wales Air Ambulance and in Montgomeryshire we use MEDS (Montgomeryshire Emergency Doctors) to assist with serious medical issues in our area through accidents and other incidents before a patient goes to Hospital. I also utilise Mountain Rescue Teams predominantly Brecon MRT on occasions in my role as a PolSA (Police Search Advisor) to assist with locating lost, injured or ill persons e.g. suicidal persons, persons with dementia and on occasions to assist with persons missing as a result of crime.”

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It’s Been A Funny Old Week

Not that I’m laughing, it’s just that I can’t quite compare it to any other week, some good, some bad.

It started off on Monday with the promise that someone from the Dyfed Powys PCC’s office would phone me to discuss my disappointment at being ineligible to apply for a voluntary role with their force.  Well I waited and I waited, no phone call, so I gave up. Late on Tuesday afternoon my mobile sprang into life and lo and behold it was said PCC’s office.  I had previously voiced my disappointment at not being eligible to apply for a voluntary job as an Animal Lay Visitor (Police Dogs and Horses) on the grounds that I was a retired Police Officer.  After about 5 minutes of talking to this lady it became apparent that she was talking about a position on the Residents Panel. As I’m not a resident of Dyfed Powys it was sort of irrelevant to me, so I pointed out that she’s got the wrong job.  I pointed out to her that the job application pack stated that serving (understandable) and former Police Officers were not eligible to apply, and would not be appointed.  She explained to me that this was in order to assure the public of total Independence on the part of the Lay Visitor.  I then pointed out to her that the two Application packs for Residents Panel, and Lay Custody Visitor only excluded serving Police Officers (again understandable) and NOT former Police Officers. Surely Independence was as important re Custody Lay Visitors if not more so.  She assured me that this appeared to be a mistake and the Job Application Packs would have to be ‘tweaked’ to include former Police Officers as ineligible as well.  Needless to say by the time I got off the phone I was mighty peeved. I was actually quite offended that without seeing my CV, without the benefit of an interview, I had been stereotyped as someone who would not be seen as Independent, and presumably as being incapable of being Independent. Utilising the ancient art of rubbing salt into the wound they later recirculated the same job vacancies emphasising that they would like applications from Solicitors.  I gave up at that point and made a brew.

Then we had Mrs Theresa May’s decision/agreement not to introduce Compulsory Severance “for now“.  “I have decided to accept the Tribunal’s recommendation not to implement measures to introduce compulsory severance at this time.

“However, this remains a reform that I believe government and the police should continue to consider. I have written to the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) to explain my decision in further detail.”

Then she went on to kick the officers on Restricted Duties; the Tribunal accepted a varied definition on Winsor’s Recommendation 39 from the Official Side of the PNB. This means that officers who are unable to undertake “the full range of duties of a police officer” will be regarded as being on restricted duty.

As a result, officers on restricted duties who are not fully deployable after one year should face a pay cut of around £2,922.

But the good news is that it has been alleged that she has told Tom Winsor NOT to wear his ridiculous fancy dress outfit at the National Police Memorial Day events ever again. It remains to be seen if he he dusts it off and brings it out again for any other occasion.

Fast Forward to Friday night and a discussion about Advanced Drivers and Fast Cars.  I cannot believe what I was being told about what some Forces are doing in cutting back the number of Advanced Drivers (and cars) from their strengths.  One officer even told me that some Forces even have “No Pursuit Capability”.  What kind of nonsense is this?  I thought the Front Line was being Protected?  Is being an active Advanced Driver not Front Line Policing?  Skills will be lost, officers will be demotivated and the public will suffer. As somebody said to me last night, “it’s not about the toys, it’s about retaining skills” and hence the service to the public.  I intend to do some digging around numbers of Advanced Drivers and see what pops up.

Finally (mind you the week isn’t over yet) as I was trying to block out the noise of the wind and the rain and get some sleep, news came in that Mental Health Cop’s twitter account and Blog had been suspended, seemingly as part of an investigation by West Midlands Police about their use.  I haven’t seen every single Tweet or Blog he wrote so I can’t really comment with any authority, but the feedback coming in last night and this morning was that this was one of THE most informative and well-used Twitter accounts and blogs of them all. Serving Police Officers and Members of the Public alike hold them in high esteem, and he seems to be the “Go To Guy” for any Police related Mental Health issues.

Well, let’s see what next week holds shall we?

ADDENDUM

And I haven’t forgotten the topsy turvy world of PC James Patrick.  He was told this week that he no longer faces a charge of Gross Misconduct, ‘merely’ a charge of ‘simple’ Misconduct now.   In one way that’s good news, but it is a bit of a double-edged sword, and if you go right back to the very beginnings there remain some unanswered legal questions that make me doubt whether the Met DPS has lost its collective marbles. James knows my views and I won’t repeat them here, but it’s added to a really ‘odd’ week for us all.

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First It’s Mrs Angry Now Me….Crazy Policy? #DontDitchTheDogs

I was relaxing in Angry Towers this afternoon watching a Police documentary, Life On Mars I think it was called, when a Tweet from Dyfed-Powys PCC caught my eye.

Volunteering opportunities.

Lay Custody Visitor – really didn’t fancy that, not my cup of tea at all.

Residents’ Panel – not a resident, I live the right side of Offa’s Dyke, so probably not eligible for that.

So that left the third and final opportunity – Animal Welfare Lay Visitor.  “Each dog handler receives a visit from the Independent Animal Welfare Lay Visitor at least once a year“. I could do that,  Gizz A Job. 30 years unblemished service in the Met (if you don’t count the time I had Defendants after my name, but that worked out OK in the end.  Served in a few highly specialised posts, although there was that one time when I was paper-sifted out of a position at Buckingham Palace when I was the only applicant. I wasn’t overly impressed at the time, but I look upon it as a reference now.  Three years working for the Police Authority as a Forensic Bean Counter. I’ve owned hamsters, gerbils, terrapins, tropical fish and even the occasional dog. I’d be perfect for the role.

WRONG

I set about downloading the associated paperwork and found an all-crippling paragraph under the title of ELIGIBILITY

The Scheme Administrator will not appoint magistrates, serving or former police officers, special constables  or police support staff, as Animal Welfare Visitors

Why-ever not?  “Each application will be treated on its merits, but the over-riding factor will be to prevent possible conflicts of interest for individuals and to maintain the independence and integrity of the Scheme as a whole

Well I can’t say that I’m over-impressed with that.  Does it say the same for Lay Custody Visitor?  No it does not, well not exactly, it says “Is not a serving member of a police force or Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner, and have no involvement in the criminal justice system

So there you have it, PCC’s revenge.  Apparently I’m a fit and proper person to check up on the well-being of prisoners but not Police Dogs. Does this mean that Police Dogs are more highly-regarded than prisoners? I sincerely hope not, although I do regard Police Dogs very highly. #DontDitchTheDogs. What exactly does that say about me? I’m a tad peeved now.

So I’ll just have to get back to Life on Mars and learn just how Policing should be done.

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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?

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Have I Got This Right?

Or am I completely barking?

Police Officers are being moved out of ‘back room’ jobs and put back on the beat where they have always belonged, right?  No arguement there.

Police Staff (Civvies or Civilian Support Staff) then spread themselves more thinly to cover for the Police Officers who have been redeployed onto Beat Duties, right?

Then in whose world does it make sense to shed Police Staff jobs when they’ve just spread themselves more thinly to take up the slack?  Because that’s exactly what the Chief Constable and PCC of Dyfed Powys Police proposes to do.

Having reduced Police Officer strengths below what they need to achieve by 2015, they now propose reducing Police Staff strength by more than 10%. I’m not sure how that improves efficiency or serves and protects the public.

I’m bloody glad I’m a crusty old Pensioner. Happy New Year to Dyfed Powys Police and their Public

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The Loneliness of the Rural Police Officer

I saw a tweet recently from Mr Christopher Salmon, the PCC for Dyfed Powys Police.

It said “A single officer answers a call in remote mid-Wales, an hour from help. Officers in towns are minutes from backup. That’s the #DPRural test.

An odd Tweet I thought so I responded with two of my own;

Is that because of cutbacks or because your officers are more macho?

and

“What exactly is the #DPRural test please?”

This elicited the following answer;

it’s because #DyfedPowys is a big place.”

A very strange answer I thought, it didn’t really answer my question although maybe Mr Salmon thought he was answering me, but it got me thinking.

Dyfed Powys IS a big place. It covers 4,237 Square Miles.  To Police it they employed 1,195 Police Officers in 2010, by March 2013 this had reduced to 1,112 with a target workforce for 2015 of 1,124. So according to the official Home Office Stats they have already shed more posts than they needed to.  You are welcome to challenge me on this any time Mr Salmon as these are Home Office and HMIC stats, not mine.  Or maybe they’ve been fudged?

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, which is very much at odds with the HMIC figure of 3.73 per 1,000 head of population.  However if you add on ALL of the Police Staff and the PCSOs and Specials, then you get MUCH closer to the HMIC figure of 3.73, but that’s not really the right picture is it?  Whilst the civilian support staff do an absolutely fantastic job whilst faced with their own peculiar challenges, I remain to be convinced that it’s fair (or indeed good practice) to include their numbers in the Police to Population ratio.

It gets worse.  The figures above are for ALL ranks within Dyfed Powys Police.  In March 2013 the Home Office stats showed that there were 823 Constables and 201 Sergeants. So, IN REALITY, there are only 1,024 Full Time sworn Police Officers (not counting snr officers) to deal with 514,938 people , or one officer per 502 people, or 2 officer per thousand, not nearly 4 as they would have you believe. Add to this that NONE of the officially published statistics show the divide between Uniform and Detectives, there’s nowhere near as many Police Officers out there as they figures would have you believe, and that’s without taking Annual Leave and Sickness into the equation.

Does this indicate that the public are getting a good service?  In fairness it is quite close to the National Average for England and Wales, but in a large rural community is it appropriate?

What about Officer Safety Mr Salmon?  Officers are no use to anyone if they are alone, single-man crewed and presented with a situation which requires that they receive assistance.  Saturday nights for example.  Pub fights, and drunken domestic disturbances. Is Dyfed Powys so well blessed that your officers don’t encounter these problems?  Instead of Tweeting about the #DPRural Test maybe you should DO SOMETHING about it.

I know that you’re a Conservative PCC and that you will toe the Party Line and do whatever Mrs May tells you to. But you have a responsibility for the safety of your Community AND of your officers. Apart from the fact (as far as I’m concerned it’s fact) that two officers working together produce more work than two officers working singly, they each have an element of protection from each other.  As you rightly point out in your strangely worded Tweet Dyfed Powys is a big place and instead of seemingly boasting that your officers can be an hour from help if they need it, maybe you should take into account their safety. I wouldn’t like to see you squandering your diminishing resources defending a legal action because you hadn’t provided a sufficient level of protection for your remote, rural officers. Maybe you have, maybe you’d like to tell me about it, or maybe I should just ask for your Risk Assessment under the Freedom of Information Act..

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Are the Police Being Politicised? – The Results Are In

A little while ago I wrote a blog about the Dyfed Powys PCC and some of the claims that he had made on at least two websites that he was associated with.  Maybe I should point out that neither of these websites was the official PCC website, one was his own blog and the other Conservativehome, maybe that’s significant, I don’t know.

I took exception to some of the things he stated and sent off a few Freedom of Information requests to see if his claims really held water. I won’t bore you with most of them, but you can read them here if you want to.

One of the four proved to be a little more of a stickier than the rest, and that was ‘Training’.

To avoid being accused of fudging the issue and other things I’ll confine myself to direct quotes to get my point across, I hope you will understand and forgive me.

In his own blog Mr Salmon said  “I have removed all targets from my police force. We have spent millions training the police to cut crime. They know how to do it. Why then tie them to their desks filling in paperwork?”

In the Conservativehome website this is slightly reworded as “I have removed all targets from my police force. The police know their job is to cut crime. We have spent millions training them to do it. Why then tie them to their desks filling in paperwork?”

We have spent millions training them how to cut crime. Not much room for confusion there surely? Mr Salmon and Dyfed Powys Police have spent millions of pounds training their officers how to cut crime? Is that a reasonable interpretation?

So I put it to the test, I fired off an #FOI request to the office of the Dyfed Powys PCC and asked two simple questions;

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?

In relation to b) I got the following response ” 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, no innovative or unique crime reduction training introduced by the PCC? Fair?

a) got far more complicated.

“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, the PCC’s office doesn’t actually KNOW how how much money was spent training officers in Crime Reduction. Does that seem like a reasonable interpretation?

The helpful staff at the PCC’s office then offered to transfer the request over to Dyfed Powys Police for them to answer it. Very nice of them I thought.

Yesterday they replied;

“‘All corporate training provided by Dyfed-Powys Police to Police Officers within the force is focused on force priorities to reduce crime and protect our communities’. However there is no specific breakdown of cost in relation to training police officers to cut or reduce crime.”

So, I think I have to conclude that Mr Salmon’s claims to have spent millions training the police how to reduce crime was a little naughty. Neither his own office nor Dyfed Powys Police actually knows how much money is spent on Crime Reduction Training.

Mr Salmon has been criticised and accused elsewhere of politicising the police. On the basis of my #FOI results I would have to agree. In Dyfed Powys at least their PCC seems quite happy to make political claims that maybe don’t quite stack up under scrutiny.

I see that the Dyfed Powys PCC is currently advertising a couple of Volunteer opportunities. I did consider applying for one of them, the dog section vacancy appealed to me, but I’m pretty sure I’d get paper-sifted now, and I don’t see me as a Custody Visitor really. But if Mr Salmon wants to contact me and offer me a volunteering opportunity with the Dog Section I’m sure I’d make a good Animal Welfare Lay Visitor.

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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.
ADDENDUM
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?

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