This Is How We Know #CrimeStat Fudging Has Been Going On For Years

I do apologise to you, my reader, but I couldn’t let this go unchallenged any longer.

I very nearly said “Damn” when I saw this.

Mr Tom Winsor, Head Fred at HMIC, said in May 2013, “Police could be fiddling crime figures, watchdog warns”  Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said he wanted to review how all the country’s police forces record crimes amid concerns officers are deliberately changing statistics.

In November last year our own Constable James Patrick, and Dr Roger Patrick (no relation) appeared before Bernard Jenkin MP’s Public Administration Select Committee and told the Committee of their concerns that Police Crime Stats were being ‘fudged’. James was brave indeed and informed the Committee EXACTLY how it was being done, Dr Roger Patrick, broadly speaking, backed up James’ allegations adding his own two pennyworth with definitions and examples of Cuffing, Stitching, Skewing and Nodding.

The other invited witnesses giving evidence that day did nothing to contradict what Messrs Patrick were stating and Committee Members were left suitably aghast that this was going on.

One very high-ranking officer, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM later told the PASC that some of the claims were “worthy of further investigation” but that he needed “to hear more detail”……. “On occasion there might be some inaccuracy but I think on the whole there’s a truth there we need to hear.”

The commissioner said he had not spoken to PC Patrick about his claims but that the Met would in due course.  An internal inquiry, led by deputy commissioner Craig Mackey, has been launched into around 20 claims made by the officer.  “If he has been making these claims for a long time it would have been best they were resolved before now,” Sir Bernard added.

Tom Winsor, who as Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, is leading an inquiry into crime statistics, told the committee he was in no doubt it would uncover “some fiddling of the figures“.

So far, so good, this much we know.

Then I was browsing t’interweb and I came across an old article in The Torygraph dated 5th December 2009.  Much of the article consisted of allegations about crime stat fudging from the very same Dr Roger Patrick, with his Cuffing, Skewing, Nodding and Stitching.

But it also contained some very damning specifics;

In one case, an offender shot at another man at close range but missed and broke a window behind his target. The offence was recorded as criminal damage rather than attempted murder.

One detective, who declined to be named, said: “Name any crime and I’ll tell you how it can be fiddled.”

Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, which represents front line officers, said: “This research demonstrates that senior officers are directing and controlling widespread manipulation of crime figures. “The public are misled, politicians can claim crime is falling and chief officers are rewarded with performance-related bonuses.”

Denis O’Connor, the [then] Chief Inspector of Constabulary, published an official report into the way police record violent crime and admitted the figures may be skewed by “perverse incentives” around government performance targets.

Dr Patrick found that watchdogs such as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Police Standards Unit had a “general tendency to underplay the scale and nature” of gaming.

He was scathing of HMIC’s failure to tackle the problem, noting there were no examples of chief police officers being publicly criticised by inspectors for this type of crime figure manipulation.

HMIC tended privately to refer examples of widespread gaming to the Home Secretary or the police authority rather than “hold the chief constable to account” because of the risk of political embarrassment, he said.

Dr Patrick concluded that HMIC inspectors should be made accountable to Parliament rather than the Home Office, and suggested they should be drawn from other professions rather than solely from senior police ranks. [well that bit happened]

So there we are, all of this was known and brought to the attention of HMIC in 2009, and only now is their Head Fred pontificating on it and thinking that it might well happen. Professional #epicfail by HMIC? Own Goal?

Call it what you want, I call it disgraceful. I would respectfully suggest that this totally vindicates PC James Patrick and how the hell can senior officers like BHH claim that they were unaware of the scale of the problem? Founder members of the Ostrich Club? How dare any one of them criticise James Patrick and any other officers facing a similar dilemma when this has been know for YEARS.

It didn’t start in 2009, it’s been going on for decades. It isn’t helped by successive Home Secretaries introducing different Counting Rules, political interference at its worst and most irresponsible.

Even former Commissioner Lord Stevens has now weighed in to the debate.

Giving evidence to the Commons’ home affairs select committee, Lord Stevens said: “Ever since I’ve been in police service there has been a fiddling of figures. I remember being a detective constable where we used to write off crimes.”

Asked by Keith Vaz MP, the committee chairman, if it was still going on, Lord Stevens replied: “Of course it is. In certain forces.”

There’s the evidence, been going on for years, and it’s an absolute bloody disgrace that HMIC sit in judgement but appear at face value to have completely ignored Dr Patrick’s 2009 findings. Surely an enquiry into figures can’t take 5 years can it?

Who’s Looking After Mike Pannett?

The last (honest) in my mini-series on the perils of Rural Policing features North Yorkshire Police, and the home county of our much-loved and respected Mike Pannett (@MikePannett), author and TV/Radio Celebrity.

North Yorkshire is the biggest rural area in England, so if it needs to be suitably policed.

North Yorkshire consists of 3,209 square miles and contains 798,989 people.  Not quite as large as Dyfed Powys but 1.5 times as many people.

According to the HMIC stats the Force Strength is 3.24 Full Time Equivalent Staff (this figure apparently DOES NOT include Specials like I previously thought it did, but does include everybody else) per 1,000 head of population.

As we’ve seen before Home Office figures often contrast considerably with HMIC figures because the HMIC figures are slanted to make you think that there are more officers looking after your streets than there really are. So what does the Home Office have to say about North Yorks?

In March 2010 North Yorks had a total establishment of 1,486 Full Time Equivalent Police Officers or one officer for every 538 people or 1.88 officers per 1,000 head of population or 1.42 Constables per 1,000 head of population.

In March of this year those HO figures were; a total establishment of 1,370 officers or 1.71 officers per 1,000 head of population and a mere 1.3 Constables per 1,000 head of population. Coincidentally their Target Establishment for 2015 is also 1,370, so they have already achieved that 2 years early.

1.3 Constables per 1,000 head of population. Take away Abstractions, Sickness, Annual Leave, Specialist Duties etc and how many are there left?  I don’t know that figure is not published.

To revise my earlier questions;

  • Is a figure of slightly more than one and a half (or probably LESS) Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Public Safety?
  • Is a figure of slightly more than one and a half (or probably LESS) Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Officer Safety?
  • Why do the Home Office and HMIC use different comparators for illustrating Policing Strengths?
  • Why is it appropriate to include civilian Police Staff in HMIC Policing Strength figures?

I return to my original question, “Who’s Looking After Mike Pannett?” Almost nobody I suspect. You OK there Mike? Don’t worry Mike I’ve forwarded these figures to PASC as yet another example of Police Stat-Fudging. You’ll be OK.

The Loneliness of Another Rural Police Officer

Don’t panic this isn’t going to be a series of all the rural Forces in England and Wales. Having picked on Dyfed Powys and received some quite useful feedback I thought that in the interests of fairness I would pick on another Force and see how the figures for Dyfed Powys stacked up against another Force.

I decided to pick on Avon and Somerset Constabulary for two reasons;

They too have rural officers covering places such as Simonsbath as well as a city, Bristol and largish towns like Minehead, Taunton and Weston Super Mare.

The other reason was their recent achievement of the receiving the Gold Award by Investors in People.  Their Chief Constable has been boasting of this achievement recently. This implies to me that they must be doing something really well.

Avon and Somerset covers a MUCH smaller area than Dyfed Powys, a mere 1,847 square miles, containing a population of 1.6 million individuals (source HMIC).  HMIC quotes the Force strength as 3.15 full-time equivalent staff per 1,000 population.  I note the use of ‘full time equivalent staff‘. I assume this to mean everyone from the Station Cleaner upwards to the Chief Constable.

In March 2010 Avon and Somerset had an establishment of 3,302 Police Officers, or 2.07 officers per 1,000 population, and a Constables Strength of 1.59 per 1,000 population.  Not quite the ‘just over 3’ that HMIC would have you believe is it?

By March 2013 the establishment had dropped to 2,873 or 1.79 officers per 1,000 population and 1.37 Constables per 1,000 population.  The official Avon and Somerset target for 2015 is 2,900, so like Dyfed Powys they have already shed more posts than they needed to.

It’s fair to say that I am dismayed. The two Forces that I have looked at, almost at random, have both shed more posts than they were required to to meet their 2015 ‘austerity’ target. Even more sinister than that is the issue of the Police Strength stats.  Is it just me? Am I being terribly naive?  If someone quotes Policing Strength figures to me I expect that to refer to the number of Police Officers on the books.  Whilst I have the utmost respect for the Station Cleaner and the Canteen Staff is it really right that they should be included in official HMIC figures, giving a completely bloated fiction of how many police officers are available to protect the community?

As a brief, and possibly irrelevant, comparison, the Met currently has 3.71 officers per 1,000 population and 2.84 Constables per 1,000 population, with far fewer rural areas to police, and for Cross Reference purposes Home Office stats show that Dyfed Powys currently has 2.16 Officers per 1,000 population and 1.6 Constables for the same figure.

Maybe I should submit my concerns to Bernard Jenkins’ PASC session looking a Crime Stats. More wholesale ‘fudging’ of figures is my view, with no valid reason other than make the situation look better than it really is.

One more time I find myself saying “Don’t fudge the stats. Good, Bad or Indifferent, tell us the TRUTH

Behind the cynicism are some serious questions;

Is a figure of less than 2 Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Public Safety?

Is a figure of less than 2 Police Officers per 1,000 head of population sufficient to ensure Officer Safety?

Why have these two Forces (and probably others too) seemingly reduced their official establishments BELOW their 2015 Target Figure?

Why do the Home Office and HMIC use different comparators for illustrating Policing Strengths?

Is this compatible with an Investors in People Gold Accreditation Award?

I’ll happily accept answers in the Comments Section from any ACPO officers who can answer any or all of these questions, thank you.

101 Things We Should Never Forget

Well maybe not quite 101, but I’m sure you get the idea.

When you reach my ripe old age the grey matter isn’t as sharp and efficient as it once was, so I find it helpfulo to write things down so I don’t forget.

Here’s my list of things I don’t want to forget, please feel free to add your own in the comments at the bottom if you feel I might benefit from them.

THE NHS IS SAFE IN OUR HANDS – funny that because I thought it seemed like it was being dismantled and sold off, but it must be true Camoron said so and I mustn’t forget.

Tom Winsor never got paid for his far-reaching reports – I must have missed something somewhere because people ALWAYS want to be paid for work they’ve done, don’t they?

Tom Winsor was appointed Chief Inspector HMIC despite having no previous (or current) policing experience. I’m sure there’s no connection between these two, it just seemed convenient to list them both together.

Andrew Mitchell MP never said ‘Pleb’ He refuses to tell us what he did say, but he never said ‘Pleb’. Although he did feel it prudent to resign his Cabinet post a month later.

Andrew Mitchell MP is offered the post of UK European Commissioner at a salary approximately TWICE that of his Cabinet post.  Well, that’s the most recent story I heard, and absolutely nothing to do with the above.

G4S made an absolute shambles of their commitment to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

G4S and Serco face a multi million pound fraud enquiry into alleged charging for non-existent services in relation to Electronic Tags.

G4S and Serco are both able to bid for new Government contracts despite being subject of an ongoing fraud enquiry.

The 6 day a week service of the Royal Mail is enshrined in law and is therefore protected.

Pension conditions for existing members are protected by law and therefore safe. That’s why the government changed the law, so that they could change the conditions, so must remember not to be taken in by promises that something is protected.

Coastguard Stations will remain open until at least 2015, said David Camoron. Apparently this was a drafting mistake in his letter and he didn’t really mean it.

The Police have only ONE Target and that is to cut crime, said Theresa May.  Police and Crime Commissioners think otherwise, have over-ruled Theresa May and set a whole raft of targets for Police Forces to meet.

There will be NO Frontline cuts. Damn good job too, my dog’s got fleas and needs dome Frontline, shame they won’t reduce the price though.

There will be no Tuition Fees – well we all know where that one went.

There will be no increase in VAT – not since they raised it to 20% anyway.  As an aside to this VAT in France is dual band, 19.6% for most things, and 5.5% for renovation works (i.e. building work on a property you have owned for more than 2 years), cafes, restaurants and numerous others. Certainly helped to kick-start the economy and get people back into restaurants and have work done to their houses.

We will provide 3,000 extra Police Officers – still waiting for them to turn up, late on Parade.

There will be no bonuses for Bank Directors – Bankers are even being given bonuses for making a loss, what chance do we stand with that one?

That’s about all my ageing brain can think of at the moment, if I think of any more howlers I’ll certainly add them, but as I said at the beginning, please feel free to add your own.

Hey You, Yes You – Loser!!

That’s right, you, you’re the biggest loser round here. And I don’t mind telling you why.  There’s tens of thousands of other folk who could tell you why, but they won’t because they’ve got their careers to think about, and that’s perfectly understandable, but before you get the hump with me, I’m a loser too. We’re all losers except for my 4 readers who happen to live abroad, lucky buggers.

Retired folk like me can tell you why you’re a loser and damn the consequences, cos Camoron hasn’t found a way to get to us yet.

Way back in 2006 David Camoron set out his proposals to reform the Police in a speech in East London. I won’t bore you with the details of that speech, the full text is available on the net if you want it.

More relevant is the very close resemblance to his views on Police Reform in recent years and the contents of the Winsor Review, Parts 1 and 2.  It’s almost as though Camoron told Cruella what he wanted and she told Uncle Tom what to write in his report, but surely it can’t be that simple, can it?

Then the very same Mr Winsor is appointed Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, reward or coincidence?

Throw into the pot one Andrew Mitchell MP and his notorious alleged ‘Pleb’ comments. Apart from the very obvious furore this sparked off, the most immediate consequence of this was Mr Mitchell resigning his lucrative Cabinet post and returning to the back benches.  But not for long.  Mr Mitchell is no great loser in this farce.  I have to be honest, I don’t know who the hell to blame. Operation Alice rumbles slowly on, CCTV ‘evidence’ was shown on Channel 4 which appeared to cast doubt on the Police version of events, but that had so clearly been tampered with it was a not very funny joke. Now Mr Mitchell is set to become our next European Commissioner at a salary in the region of £250,000, much more than the Cabinet Minister’s salary that he ‘sacrificed’, so he’s certainly not a loser, any more than Chief Inspector Winsor is a loser.

So, where was I? Oh yes, Camoron and Cruella have engaged Winsor, and possibly others. to bring the Police to their knees. 20% cut in Police Budgets, Police numbers going down all over England and Wales, except for a couple of very minor exceptions.

Another ruse to divert everyone’s attention and help decimate the Police Services is, dare I say it, Privatisation, or Outsourcing/Procurement if you prefer.  It is well known that I’m against it, but I might be wrong. What you can’t deny is the timing. Winsor, Plebgate, Privatisation, Pension Reforms, Budget Cuts, Number Slashing and soon Compulsory Severance, all at the same time, more or less.  Is it any wonder that the Police, along with other Public Services, are crumbling.

Then came Police and Crime Commissioners last year, to further destabilise and confuse. Who are they? What do they do? Why couldn’t Police Authorities have remained? Have they been a force for good?

Plebgate must have come to Camoron like a gift from the gods. Something to reduce public sympathy in the Police. Well, I would venture to say, they don’t need your sympathy. What they need is understanding.

I was fortunate enough to spend my 30 years serving in the Met, a force that was pretty much self-contained. We had our own fleet of prison vans, driven by our own drivers. We had our own garages with our own mechanics (oops sorry, technicians these days).  Almost anything you need to run a police force the Met had somewhere under its umbrella, or should I say, there was a family member somewhere that had it.

Having met up with some of our Constabulary cousins I now realise how fortunate I, and the Met, were. But why couldn’t all Forces have been a scaled down version of the Met, self-contained in a smaller version, or groups of smaller Forces joining together, but keeping it in house?

Camoron didn’t get his way in 2006, but he obviously has a long memory. He also seems to be Hell-bent on being the most despised Prime Minister in British history. Well, he’s succeeding in that at least.

I haven’t the foggiest idea why Camoron despises the Police so, but most, if not all,  Prime Ministers before him have managed the Police but kept them well-resourced, and kept numbers where they need to be.  Camoron/Cruella’s policy of slash and burn, reduce the numbers, slash the budget has apparently now been responsible for a rise in the crime rate.

I have seen many conversations on Social Media about ‘fiddled’ crime stats, crimes that no longer get investigated, regular officers being replaced by PCSOs and/or Specials, Police Staff jobs going over to the private sector. I have sympathy with most, if not all, of these arguments, but surely, at the end of the day, they are just a distraction. A distraction which seems to be working, and preventing us, the great British Public, from realising that we are being conned. We have become losers.

We have lost Police Officers.

we have lost Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen.

We have lost Doctors and Nurses

We have lost Social Workers and Probation Officers

We have lost Coastguards

We have lost Teachers.

I don’t know if it’s too late to reverse this. Sometimes it’s too expensive to put things back the way they were. The way that worked!!

I don’t have a degree in Politics or Political Science, but this certainly isn’t what I understand by DEMOCRACY.

If every inhabitant of England and Wales of voting age was asked

Do you want to cut the Police/Army/NHS/Probation etc etc? What would their answer be?

Ask them Do you want the Public Services to suffer to get us out of this mess, or shall we get the banks and financial institutions to pay for it? What would their answer be?

That would be Democracy in my view.

At the same time as this is going on, MPs are getting a nice fat pay rise, their expenses rumble on seemingly unchecked. When did you last get a pay rise, never mind an above-inflation one?

So, if you’re still with me and made it to the end, who’s the loser here? The Public Services are certainly losers, but it’s US, the Public. We’re the biggest losers, and the government are trying to convince us that we should be grateful.

#AllInThisTogether or #SnoutsInTheTrough?

Meanwhile, if any of you has a couple of groats spare to buy me a new quill I’d be terribly grateful, this one’s getting all blunt and scratchy, I thank you.

Crime Recording – The Angry Perspective

In February 2013, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent (the Commissioner) commissioned Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct an inspection “to determine whether the people of Kent can have confidence in Kent Police’s crime figures.  This followed an internal review by Kent Police focusing on crime detections and performance culture.
To answer this question, HMIC reviewed the force‟s practices at every stage of the crime-recording process, from the point at which a member of the public calls the police, to the final resolution (or „disposal‟) of the crime (for instance, through a caution or penalty notice for disorder).

The above is a direct lift from the Executive Summary of the HMIC Report entitled

Crime Recording in Kent

A report commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent

My first question would be “What constitutes an Inspection?”  Was this a far-reaching Review, or an Audit?

My second question would be “Was it Necessary?” Followed rapidly by “Did it provide good Value for Money?”

My final question would likely be”Why on earth did they not do this in-house for next to no money at all?” If Ms Barnes was worried about independence, transparency and credibility then she could have requested a Review or Audit from another Force (sorry, Service).

I must remind you, my reader, that it is almost 11 years since I retired from the Metrolopitan Police Farce (sorry, Service) only to be swallowed up by the MPA for 3 years, so my knowledge of current procedures ranges from rusty to non-existent, so please forgive me.

When I last served on Borough one of the tasks we were given each month was an Ethical Audit of CRIS, the Met’s Crime Reporting and Information System.  At first I simply regarded this as just one more chore to be carried out. A program had been written by some geeky Sergeant at Stoke Newington, floppy discs (remember them?) were circulated containing a program to be run on the Crime Analyst’s desktop and the results were written direct to the same floppy disc which was subsequently returned to the same geeky Sergeant and forgotten about till next month.  Until the DCI appeared one day asking questions about some issues highlighted by the audit.  Yes, he had been Memo’ed!!

Sitting down with him to answer the points in his ‘Memo’ it became clear what this program that we had to run actually did.  It interrogated the CRIS system between dates and highlighted crimes such as;

  • Classified Common Assault with victim suffering Serious Injury
  • Classified Criminal Damage to a building with a Point of Entry recorded
  • Classified as Theft (Person) with victim suffering use of Force
  • Crimes classified No Crime and then reclassified as a Crime after the end of the month

I could go on, I’m sure you get the point.

My point is this, I have never been in favour of manipulating the stats, good, bad or indifferent they should be reported accurately.  Manipulation of the figures, or indeed, genuine human error,  soon came to light and was highlighted to the DCI in a ‘Memo;’.  To do this took about an hour or 2 per month, not exactly time consuming or ‘resource intensive‘.

I’m not aware of any Force (Service) that still records crimes on paper and issues their staff with the prized ‘binder winder’ any more, so any computer system can be interrogated easily and electronically by another program, you just have to get someone to design and write it.

When I worked for the MPA I was employed as a Forensic Auditor within the Internal Audit Directorate. Sounds posher than it was.  Forensic Auditors made up about a quarter of Internal Audit, with the rest being formed of Systems Auditors and Analysts.  There wasn’t very much that happened within a Police Force (sorry, Service) that we couldn’t audit/investigate. CRIS would have been a breeze.

Maybe other Forces don’t have the luxury of having a dedicated Internal Audit department and they (ouch) Outsource that function as and when they require it (and they will require it eventually) and it’s an expensive function to outsource.  Maybe the PCCs should consider pooling their resources and having Internal Auditors to service 3 or so adjoining Forces.   Forensic Auditors are indeed a luxury but our office ALWAYS saved or recovered more money than we cost every year. We were no strangers to the High Court seeking recovery of monies fraudulently claimed from the Met (not allegedly, we also obtained criminal convictions first).

Systems and Forensic Auditors working together and their analysts could keep on top of any system such as Crime Recording, and many more, cheaply, efficiently and within the control of the host Force, no commissioning of HMIC to carry out an ‘Inspection’. After all, an Inspection can simply mean ‘have a quick look at’.

Head honcho auditors then write annual reports on the systems they have audited and the Force and Public can both have a measurable degree of confidence that things are either Ticketyboo, or steps are in place to remedy the problems which have been highlighted.

With a system such as this across England and Wales, surely the Public at large can once again have confidence in the crime figures that are released and form their own, reasonable, impressions about the state of criminal activity in this country? It would also be quite helpful if the Home Office didn’t keep redefining the Counting Rules according to who is in power and what their agenda is.

Here endeth the Angry Perspective

A Certain Person’s Pension

I can’t possibly write the full answer to the question in 140 characters and Tweet Longer isn’t necessarily the best solution, so I have decided upon a short, to-the-point extra-ordinary blog.  Here is the information regarding the new Chief Inspector HMIC.  As you will see it is written in a way that suggests it was formulated before the selection process was complete.  And I quote:-

Contract — The appointment is for a fixed—term of three years, with the option of extending it for a further two years subject to satisfactory performance and Ministerial approval.

Remuneration — The salary scale for the appointment is £195,000 to £199,995, and will be determined upon appointment. No allowances will be paid.

Working hours — The normal hours of work are based on a five day week of 36 hours, excluding meal breaks.

Location — The post is in London although there is a requirement to travel across the UK.

Annual leave — The annual leave allowance will be 30 days per year. In addition, the postholder will receive 8 days bank and public holidays and two and a half privilege days, which are to be taken at specific times of the year.

Pension — The appointment will be pensionable from the outset.

  • Serving police officers will be able to continue contributing to the Police Pension Scheme (PPS) for the duration of this appointment as the post falls within the scope of the scheme (Police Pensions Act 1976). This abates the pension of retiring/retired police officers.
  • Those who are not serving police officers will be able to join the Civil Service pension scheme. This offers a choice of a career average or stakeholder pension, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best. The alternatives are:

—  Nuvos — A high quality, index—linked defined benefit pension scheme, payable at 65, that currently has a 3.5% member contribution rate. We also make contributions and meet the bulk cost of the scheme.

—  Partnership Pension Account — This pension account provides a way of saving for retirement. The department will make contributions to a stakeholder pension, which is a form of personal pension. The departmental contribution will vary according to your age at the beginning of the tax year. You may decide how much you want to contribute, but you do not have to contribute anything. If you do contribute, the department will match your contributions up to a maximum of 3% of pensionable earnings.

Please note:

  • If you previously worked for an employer who participated in the Civil Service Pension Scheme, different conditions may apply, as may your benefits if you left the Civil Service with an early retirement, severance, or redundancy package. Additional details can be found on the website: www.civilservice—pensions.gov.uk. Further information about these schemes will also be made available on appointment.
  • Abatement of pension may apply if you are in receipt of a public service pension. In addition, civil servants who have been granted early retirement (under the terms of the Compulsory Early Retirement, Compulsory Early Severance, Flexible Early Retirement or Flexible Early Severance schemes) may be required to repay all or part of their lump sum compensation payments if their re—employment commences during the period represented by the compensation payment.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – the Nitty Gritty

Good afternoon folks, or whatever time of day it is when you’ve got your feet up with a cup of tea reading this.

You may not want to know about the nitty gritty of HMIC, in which case I apologise for taking up your time.  Some of you might believe that the devil is in the detail and want to know how HMIC works, and, possibly more importantly, how much it costs our country each year to staff this beast.

Anyway, I asked those awfully nice people at HMIC a couple of questions recently and I’ve finally been blessed with a response.

The first (cheeky I admit) question I asked them was this

a) What will be the benefits and entitlements of the new Chief Inspector HMIC’s  pension scheme?

b) How much will his contributions to that scheme be as a percentage of his salary?

The reply I got was this

You may find the following link to the recent Home Affairs Committee report on the Appointment of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary useful. Page 18 sets out the pension arrangements applicable to the post:  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/HASC – Appointment of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary.  Very useful I’m sure, but I eventually found it here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmhaff/183/18302.htm

I’ll try and save you a bit of time and give you the gist of it here;

Pension — The appointment will be pensionable from the outset.

  • Serving police officers will be able to continue contributing to the Police Pension Scheme (PPS) for the duration of this appointment as the post falls within the scope of the scheme (Police Pensions Act 1976). This abates the pension of retiring/retired police officers.
  • Those who are not serving police officers will be able to join the Civil Service pension scheme. This offers a choice of a career average or stakeholder pension, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best. The alternatives are:

—  Nuvos — A high quality, index—linked defined benefit pension scheme, payable at 65, that currently has a 3.5% member contribution rate. We also make contributions and meet the bulk cost of the scheme.

—  Partnership Pension Account — This pension account provides a way of saving for retirement. The department will make contributions to a stakeholder pension, which is a form of personal pension. The departmental contribution will vary according to your age at the beginning of the tax year. You may decide how much you want to contribute, but you do not have to contribute anything. If you do contribute, the department will match your contributions up to a maximum of 3% of pensionable earnings.

I note that as a non-police officer his pension contributions will be considerably less than those of a serving officer.  I don’t know if that is anything the Federation has considered and might be able to address.

My other question, for any other number-crunchers amongst us, was this;

Could you please tell me what the current staffing levels at HMIC indicating the Job Titles and total number of staff in each job e.g. Analysts, Finance Officers etc etc. This request is designed to include all ranks/grades from Chief Inspector down to Admin Assistant.

What is the total salary bill per annum?

Well those awfully nice people sent me handful of spreadsheets which I’ve been able to unravel and this is basically what I found;

There is the equivalent of 132.7 post-holders in the Junior Staff category.  I won’t bore you with their breakdown but if you really want to know you only have to ask.  I was provided with the payscale for each grade but not each post-holder’s actual salary.  On the figures provided the annual salary bill for the junior staff (their description, not mine) is between £5,641,769 and £6,576,265 p.a.

The senior staff is a little more straightforward.

There are a totally of 17 senior posts although not all of them seem to be currently filled, or ‘culled’.

Again, individual salaries were not disclosed by post-holders are clearly identified together with their pay-bands.

The total salary for the 7 posts currently filled is between £1,125,000 and £1,159,993.

Having got my trusty abacus out, I make it that the total annual salary bill for HMIC is between £6,766,769 and £7,736,258

My regular readers will recall that this figure is more or less the annual equivalent of the Queen’s Half Hour.  Is this fair? You decide.

So, What Have I Learnt?

Good morning folks,

As I write, the sun is creeping out from behind the cotton wool clouds, I have an adequate supply of hot coffee.  All is well in my world, or is it?

After my first full week as a bloggist what have I learnt?  I have learnt that even though I didn’t think I had a blog in me, after the first full week I seem to have rattled a few cages, so maybe I did have a blog in me, and maybe I still have some more (sorry about that).  I have also learnt that I can type with more than 2 fingers sometimes.  Sometimes the letters even appear on the screen in the right order!!  I have also learnt that there is a lot of support out there in the blogasphere for blogs such as mine.  Some write similar blogs, some offer words of encouragement and some attract whatever attention they can to the subject of the day.  I think someone once said “They also serve who only sit and Retweet” and if they didn’t, they should have done.

On a more serious note, and to get back to the real topic of this blog, what have I learnt?  I have learnt that the Freedom of Information Act is a useful tool for groups such as ours.  In theory, we can obtain all sorts of information held by the various public authorities which may be helpful to our cause..  I have also learnt that bodies such as the Home Office don’t always welcome these requests, and in my opinion, don’t treat them properly.  My experience of the Home Office is that almost never answer a query on time, when you prod them and tell them that their answer is overdue they can frequently produce it within a matter of hours.  Really? Well I don’t think so, I think it was there all along, just waiting to be fired off.  It has happened too many times to just be a coincidence.  The Home Office have also ‘misread’ a query answering only part of it, when asked for the rest of it they just award themselves another 20 days to produce a response.  Well, I’m sorry Mrs May but that is not how the Freedom of Information Act is worded, your obligation is to produce a response within 20 working days of it being received.  Don’t send out an auto-acknowledgement and then claim you hadn’t read the full question, get the staff in to do it right.  And when you get a request for a formal review of your handling of the request, that is NOT an invitation to give yourselves another 20 working days to answer the original question, it is what it is, a request for a Formal Review.

I have learnt the true value of the Queen’s Half Hour, more on this in a separate blog, but I was quite gobsmacked by the responses.

I have learnt that SOME forces appear to do anything to avoid answering an FOI request.  There are only so many exemptions you can legally invoke.  I think it’s time to Name And Shame West Yorkshire Constabulary.  I submitted an FOI request asking for details of any Staff Satisfaction Surveys carried out within their Force over the last 5 years.  Not too sensitive you may think.  Nothing there to strike fear into the hearts of the Information Keepers.  All in all a particularly benign request.  I will give you the benefit of the exact text of their response

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 obliges us to respond to requests promptly and in any case no later than 20 working days after receiving your request. We must consider firstly whether we can comply with S1(1)(a) of the Act, which is our duty to confirm whether or not the information requested is held and secondly we must comply with S1(1)(b), which is the provision of such information.
However, when a qualified exemption applies either to the confirmation or denial or the information provision and the public interest test is engaged, the Act allows the time for response to be longer than 20 working days, if the balance of such public interest is undetermined. In this case, we have not yet reached a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies in respect of either of the above obligations. We estimate that it will take an additional 20 working days to take a decision on where this balance lies.

As one of our number put it so eloquently – WTF?

How on earth can Public Interest be any sort of issue to a Staff Satisfaction Survey.  They haven’t even confirmed that they’ve carried out any.

On the other side of the coin I feel that I should Name And Shame Derbyshire and Sussex Constabularies.  They have been absolutely magnificent with their co-operation, Sussex not only supplied me with all of the information I had requested but accompanied that with a detailed spreadsheet of data.  Derbyshire felt that they couldn’t comply with my request on the grounds of cost and applied the appropriate Exemption, they did, however, supply me with as much data as they could gather within cost whereas most others just applied the Exemption and offered NO data.

Finally I have learnt that 2 out of 91 Voters think that Tom Winsor is the right man for the job, 7 out of 97 Voters think that the selection process was fair, open and transparent, and, finally, 27 out of 27 Voters thought that Police Officers should be allowed to Tweet their personal political opinions so long as it was from as personal account.

Here endeth my first week

The Appointment of Mr Tom Winsor as Chief Inspector HMIC

Hello again friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The response I got to this request was this;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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