734 – A Funny Old Number

Not quite a Jumbo Jet, but the number of Expenses Claims fraudulently made by Bob Blackman MP (allegedly).

You can find the story here.

Now there may be those amongst you who think I’m being mean-spirited and petty minded, and turning a claim for 2 miles into a claim for 10 miles is not a big deal. Well I happen to think that it IS a big deal. Not due to the amount of money that seems to have been over claimed, but the cynical method that seems to have been applied to a large number of claims.

If this was a Police Officer members of the public (and politicians, you can be certain of that) would be calling for heads to roll. People, quite rightly, expect and demand, the highest levels of integrity from their Police Officers, and, in the main, they get it.

Well I demand the highest levels of integrity from our politicians.

Why? Because, if for no other reason, THEY ARE THE LAW MAKERS.

I am sick to the back teeth of hearing Theresa May, amongst others, running our Police Officers into the ground, while other members of her party are still systematically screwing the expenses system.

The question was asked on Twitter this morning “has this been reported to the Police?” Well it certainly should be. There seems to be more than enough grounds to warrant a criminal investigation, yet IPSA seem to think that a slapped wrist is the appropriate sanction without referring it it onwards to the appropriate authority. How arrogant is that? One more example of the inappropriate use of the word Independent

Rant over, off to B&Q now to buy some Magnolia emulsion for Angry Towers, #Vanilla service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Or maybe not..

ConDem – The Government That Just Keeps Giving (And Taking)

In the week when MPs get an 11% pay rise and a brand spanking new pension scheme, (have I mentioned those before?) just so long as they stop claiming for tea and biscuits for the office, we get the disastrous (some may say criminally so) waste of millions/billions of pounds by Government.

I’ve mentioned before the odious Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions and their ridiculous Universal Credit Scheme.  By anybody’s best estimate it is due to WASTE at least £34,000,000 and possibly anything up to £130,000,000 because the IT system won’t work. Back to the Drawing Board there then.

Phillip Hammond’s Ministry of Defence is set to waste £7.4 million because he tried to privatise (that P word again) their procurement system and all but one of the bidders withdrew. I wonder why that could be? Maybe there’s not so much profit in procurement as the private side thought.

This is on top of my old friend “Aircraft Carriers” that I’ve ranted about before.

The Government changed Labour’s plans to buy jump jets. But after delays and more costs emerged, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced a U-turn costing at least £74million, the National Audit Office has revealed.

Margaret Hodge said: “We were supposed to get two aircraft carriers, available from 2016 and 2018, at a cost of £3.65billion. We are now on course to spend £5.5billion and have no aircraft carrier capability for nearly a decade.

“Officials also made incredibly basic errors such as forgetting to include the costs of VAT and inflation.” Now that one’s an absolute classic. I do hope someone got sacked for that.

Hammond’s department was also responsible for a trifling £40,000 bill over the last two years for ringing the Speaking Clock. Speechless.

And then today we get the news that a totally disgraceful £55 BILLION is being wasted through Fraud and Unclaimed Taxes according to the Public Accounts Committee who described this figure as “worryingly high“. The Public Accounts Committee obviously employ masters of understatement amongst their staff.

Total government accounts drawn up by the Treasury show that in 2011-12 some £13.2 billion had to be written off due to fraud and error. Margaret Hodge (again) said: “Taxpayer losses due to fraud and error are worryingly high. It is staggering that, in one year, the public sector was defrauded of over £20 billion and the tax gap rose to £35 billion.”

But it’s OK, we are in times of Austerity. Your pay has been frozen, your pension eroded, but HMG can continue to waster staggering amounts of money and still qualify for an 11% pay rise. When’s the next election? Might just stand, seems like a good number to me.

But one serious question. What could you do with all that money if you added it up and used it for fixing the Police, NHS, Armed Forces. Someone, somewhere wouldn’t be losing their job, folks could have the right kit, we might have a usable aircraft carrier somewhere, hospital waiting times reduced, who knows what you could do with it all. A Bean Counter somewhere could tell us I’m sure.

#AllInThisTogether – The Nitty Gritty

I’ve had ample time to calm down, my beta-blockers have all run out and my on-call psychiatrist has had a nervous breakdown.

I have had time to take in IPSA’s recommendations for the future salaries and pensions for our illustrious politicians.

It contains some absolute corkers in relation to the 11% pay rise and amended pension scheme.

My work here is done, I’ll restrict myself to some lazy quotes from the document, they, after all, can put it far more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

  • It should be modern, transparent, fair, sustainable, and treat MPs as professionals.
  • We have a duty to contribute to restoring confidence in our Parliament and parliamentarians. The package that we have developed seeks to do so: by investing in the future of our Parliament and our democracy; by bringing an end to the peculiarly generous perks of the past; and, crucially, by seeking to help MPs address an issue raised time and again, namely a large majority of the public simply do not know what their MP does.
  • IPSA’s powers to determine MPs’ pay and pensions are set out in the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 and the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. For MPs’ pay, the powers were transferred from Parliament to IPSA in May 2011. The equivalent powers to determine MPs’ pensions were transferred in October 2011.2. This means that decisions on MPs’ pay and pensions are now taken by  IPSA, independently of government and Parliament. Likewise they will be implemented according to a timetable determined by IPSA alone.
  • We recognise that we must answer the question: why do this now? Why do this at a time of austerity, when the British economy is struggling and when household budgets are under such pressure? Our answer is simple, but not glib: the lesson of the last 30 years is that there is never a good time to tackle this question. Wait for the moment when it is politically expedient to address it – when all the stars are aligned – and one would wait a long time, risking a repetition of the sad story of those last 30 years.

THE PACKAGE

  • the scaling down of the generous resettlement payments;
  • a pension on a par with those which will be payable in other parts of the public service;
  • reinforcing the boundary between business costs and expenses on the one hand and pay on the other;
  • annual reporting by MPs on their activities and spending; and finally
  • a salary of £74,000 in 2015, indexed to annual growth in average earnings in the whole economy thereafter.

…….evidence that MPs’ pay has fallen behind since the last review of their
remuneration in 2007. There is a pay gap, a problem to be fixed  And who else might THAT apply to eh?

……..it is not a series of trade-offs between the component parts of the package. Other
public sector workers have not received salary compensation for the reform of their
pensions. Nor should MPs. Well it damn well looks like one

THE PENSION

MPs’ pensions is to move to a CARE
scheme, along the lines of the reformed public service schemes. The main features of
the new scheme are set out below.

  • Defined benefit scheme, based on career average revalued earnings (CARE).
  • Based on a total cost of 22.9% of payroll (in comparison to 32.4% now).
  • Retirement age to be the same as State Pension Age or 65, whichever is the higher.
  • Accrual rate of 1/51st of pensionable salary each year.
  • Revaluation rate equal to the increase in the Consumer Prices Index.
  • MPs pay 40% of the cost of the scheme; the taxpayer 60%, with a ceiling and floor arrangement to ensure stability in contribution rates and to protect the taxpayer from significant increases in cost.
  •  Death in service and survivor pension benefits reduced to the same level as the Ministers’ scheme.
  • Transitional protection for MPs within 10 years of retirement age on 1 April 2013.
  • Some protection available to MPs between 10 and 13.5 years from retirement.

AND FINALLY…

We have identified a number of expenses which arguably should be paid for by MPs
themselves. These include:

  • the food subsidy that can be claimed if Parliament sits after 7.30pm;
  • hospitality (which includes payments for tea and biscuits in the office);
  • hotels taken before 1 am (but not for those MPs who use hotel accommodation only when in London);
  • taxis home if they are taken before 11pm;
  • home contents insurance (for personal possessions); and
  •  installation of a television and the licence for it in a residential property.

Well, that’s alright then, we are all in this together after all, Silly Me. All the government have to do then is have a mass debate, vote and change the two laws referred to above. Simples.

It’s not as though they haven’t done that before is it?

#AllInThisTogether? Like Hell We Are

The Electorate Have A Long Collectiive Memory
Your Day Will Come Camoron

Yesterday was a Thinking Day at Angry Towers, today is more of a Doing Day, so yesterday’s news hasn’t gone away overnight, time to process it.

At first I rushed to my calendar to check that it wasn’t April 1st. Can MPs really be so insensitive as to award themselves an 11% pay rise? My calendar merely confirmed that this was December 2013, mid term for the ConDem Coalition, the government that NOBODY voted for, and YES they really could be that insensitive. Cynical, Contemptuous, Arrogant, Uncaring. These are all alternative words that sprang to my mind.

The more I processed the news the more it sunk in. The government really do think that we, the electorate, are STUPID.

Parliamentary watchdog IPSA is set to recommend a rise of £7,600 to £74,000, to come in after the 2015 election.

IPSA does not need to get the agreement of Parliament to bring in the changes.

The Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has condemned the11% pay rise.

Mr Alexander told Andrew Marr it would be “wholly inappropriate for MPs to get such a large pay rise at a time when every other public sector worker sees their pay rises capped at one per cent”.

And there is the crux of the problem.  If it’s so inappropriate to receive this pay rise, and they really care about the Public Sector and other workers with capped pay rises then why the hell don’t they just decline IPSA’s very kind offer “No Thanks”, there you are, easy wasn’t it?  The proposal by IPSA to award MPs this lavish increase from 2015 at a time of continuing austerity has been disowned by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.

This is the bit I really like:-

Ironically MPs are powerless to prevent IPSA imposing the increase other than to appeal to it to heed public opinion and rethink its plans – or vote to abolish the body.

What a load of bollocks.

The government was ‘powerless’ to change pension Terms and Conditions for existing members of a scheme. I’m sure ALL Police Officers will remember that one. So what happened? Camoron and co changed the law, that’s what happened.

It’s not like MPs even need this pay rise. They’re not the poor hard done-by souls they would have you believe. Yesterday’s Independent included this absolute pearl

MPs' Salaries 1996 to date
MPs’ Salaries 1996 to date

Just compare that to what’s happened to YOUR salaries. How do they compare?

So come on Camoron, show us what you’re REALLY made of and change the law to allow you to decline this generous offer if you truly do oppose it. Failure to do so will merely confirm waht we al;ready know about you, your cronies, and your policies.

A ConDem government, a Force For Good and Fairness to all, or

#SnoutsInTheTrough
#SnoutsInTheTrough

And finally, before I go, I’ll leave you with this thought;

More working households were living in poverty in the UK last year than non-working ones – for the first time, a charity has reported.

Just over half of the 13 million people in poverty – surviving on less than 60% of the national median (middle) income – were from working families, it said.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said low pay and part-time work had prompted an unprecedented fall in living standards.

#AllInThisTogether? or #AllInTheShitTogether?

MPs’ Expenses Part II

Hey Kev, What’s in the shed?  A Shed Load of Cash for your MP is what’s in the Shed, and make no mistake.

Yesterday’s post was more about the headline figures and big numbers, today I thought I’d have a look at the small numbers,  I find that you can tell almost as much about an MP by what they claim for, as well as how much they have claimed in total.

Before I get to that though, what about IPSA themselves. How transparent are they really?

Back in July I asked them the following under the Freedom of Information Act;

1. – Since 2008 what is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been investigated for mis-claiming Parliamentary Expenses?
2 – What is the TOTAL number that have been prosecuted?
3 – What is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been asked to pay back expenses previously claimed but not prosecuted?

The main thrust of their response was this;

We understand that no investigations conducted by the Compliance Officer for IPSA have resulted in prosecution
The remainder of their answer was a complete cop-out, don’t ask us, ask someone else.
So yesterday I hit them with this one;
Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act could you please supply me with the following information;How many of your staff are qualified in Accountancy?How many of your staff are qualified as Auditors?What level of proactive auditing is conducted by yourselves, or an external body, into matters which are the responsibility of IPSA, such as MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses?”
Quite simple, not much wriggle-room really. Can’t think of a single reason why they shouldn’t answer it, but I’m sure they’ll think of one.

While I’m waiting for their response I thought it would be good fun to look at the very latest data available for 2013/14 re MPs’ Expenses and examine some of the trivia.  As this is a public document I have absolutely no problem with Naming and Shaming.

The document contains 10,500 rows of data, a mere trifle really.

1,570 claims were for less than a fiver.  Nearly 15% of MPs’ Expenses claims are for less than a fiver! Does that tell us anything?

Sharon Hodgson MP claimed £4.44 for Maintaining Office Equipment, that’s official speak for Water Cooler Rental.

Nick Gibb MP had two consecutive claims of £2.25 for Computer Hardware Purchase (item not specified)

Nick Smith MP claimed 0.68p (yes, 68 pence) for his Vodafone usage March to April

Chuka Umunna MP claimed 40 pence for a pint of milk for a meeting.  He/She has also claimed for Coffee, Sugar and Water on separate occasions.

Nadine Dorries, the MP that keeps on giving, claimed £2.10 for an assortment of Highlighter pens.  Doesn’t the House of Commons have a stationery cupboard?

I’m sure you’re getting the picture.

David Cameron’s claims seem to consist mainly claiming back 25% contributions towards his Parliamentary Assistant’s mobile phone bill.

Gorgeous George Osborne has only made two claims, for rental of his Blackberry.

Our old friend Cruella doesn’t seem to claim expenses.

All pretty mundane really, and the full document is readily available from the IPSA website, my point is this;

What a greedy bunch they must be if they have to claim for pints of milk and highlighter pens etc.  There are loads more examples but I’m sure you don’t want to read all of them.  If they have spent the money then I presume that rules entitle them to claim the money back, although I’m sure in the case of milk, highlighter pens etc, other suitable alternatives were probably available.  I just have difficulty, from a personal point of view, understanding the mentality of someone on a hefty salary actually bothering to reclaim 40 pence, but I mustn’t criticise too heftily for following the rules.

Out of 10,500 claims for Expenses only ONE was unpaid, because it did not come under the Expenses Scheme, and that was by Harriett Baldwin MP, for £45 in relation to a  Bryansk delegation.  Bryansk is apparently a city in Russia, known for steel and machinery manufacture amongst other things.

Just like yesterday, if you want to know what YOUR MP is claiming for, ask me nicely and I might just tell you, or you can download the whole picture from the IPSA website.

I can’t help thinking though, that it’s time the whole system was overhauled again, with proper external, independent scrutiny and accountability.  Self-Regulation just doesn’t seem to be working. Parliament seem to think that they can change Terms and Conditions at will, let them have some of it please.

MPs’ Expenses Bill Soars To Almost £100m

Well, there’s a headline to start the week with.  If you’re feeling charitable please feel free to forward new quills to Angry Towers, this one’s getting worn out.

It took me quite a while to locate the document referred to in this article on Sky News, but I found it in the end.  IPSA may be ‘transparent’, but they certainly don’t believe in making it easy to find stuff, but while I was squirrelling I did find reference to a Freedom of Information Request which relates to MPs renting from other MPs.  I don’t know about you but I’d love to read that, trouble is that all their #FOI correspondence is published under a reference number, making it difficult to locate a specific enquiry, but as an infrequent betting man my money would be on “Refused to Answer” or “Information Not Held”.

Going back to the matter in hand, the Sky Headline is a tad misleading (no surprises there) but not too inaccurate.

It’s not just MPs Expenses which constitutes the £100 million but a shed load of other stuff as well.

You can choose from;

  • Constituency Office Spend
  • Accommodation Spend
  • TravelSubSpend
  • Staffing Spend
  • Winding Up Spend (I quite like that one)
  • Startup Spend
  • Misc Spend [sic]
  • StaffingPayroll

Then there’s a few really interesting columns where they have to declare things like

  • Connected Party
  • Connected Party Salary
  • Connected Party Job

Three of our illustrious MPs actually claim salaries for TWO members of their family etc, including the ever-present Nadine Dorries, who never seems to be out of our news.  She appears to have claimed for her two daughters, Philippa and Jennifer as her Office Manager and Senior Secretary respectively, but Philippa may have now left.  Mind you £40-£45,000 is not bad money for an Office Manager.

My own MP, up here in DeadBadgerShire seems to employ his wife as his Senior Parliamentary Assistant at a salary of £30-£35,000 in addition to his own salary of £100,000+.  When’s the next General Election? I might stand.

So, getting back to the £100,000,000.

This is made up of

Constituency Office – £10,400,00

Accommodation – £6,640,000

Travel – £4,215,000

Staffing – £2,425,000

Winding Up – £10,662

Start Up – £25,645

Miscellaneous – £56,000

Salaries – £74,000,000

TOTAL SPEND £97,644,635  and I believe that wives, girlfriends, sons, daughters etc cost extra to this figure.

So as you can see, it’s not all simple expenses, but a bloody lot of money nevertheless.

And whilst we’re on the subject of MPs expenses, I butted into someone else’s conversation this morning about MPs claiming Council Tax as an Expense.

It took me about 2 minutes to discover that in 2012 there were 990 claims for Council Tax totalling £255,550.

I also noted a bit of sneaking by IPSA.  They publish these figures in spreadsheets which you can easily (?) download.  Most people I know process spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel which has a physical limit of 65,536 rows of data, but the spreadsheet for 2012-2013 contains 99,069 rows of data, which means that most people will miss about 33,000 rows of data (claims), about one third of the total.

A cursory examination of the 99,069 claims for EXPENSES by MPs last year shows that they totalled £14,600,543 of which only £3,105 was unpaid for whatever reason.  I’m not quite sure what that tells me, but in olden times that would suggest that if a form had a signature on it the claim was paid. But I might be wrong, our MPs might just be very good at submitting Expenses claims and get them right almost every time.

But of the claims NOT paid I was particularly impressed by one North West MP who had one claim for £3 rejected on the basis that it was a Duplicate Claim.  Fair Enough. What was it for? I hear you ask. Window Cleaning at his office.  Send that Window Cleaner round here, I’ll pay £3 to get my windows cleaned.

How much is YOUR MP costing the country?  Ask me nicely and I might just tell you

MPs Expenses – 2 Versions

I don’t know about you but I’ve absolutely had enough of the sleaze and expenses furore from all parties in our illustrious government, Lords and Commoners alike.

I’m also quite (well extremely actually) fed up with the constant bashing that our public services (and the Police in particular) are taking at the hands of our politicians.

With naughtiness and mischief in mind I let loose an #FOI request to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority asking the following questions;

  • Since 2008 what is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been investigated for mis-claiming Parliamentary Expenses?
  • What is the TOTAL number that have been prosecuted?
  • What is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been asked to pay back expenses previously  claimed but not prosecuted?

Quite simple one would think.  Oh no.

The reply that I got back was this;

IPSA does not hold the information that you request.IPSA began operations on 7 May 2010 and does not hold information relating to claims made or processed prior to that date.
Prior to 7 May 2010, the administration of business costs and expenses was the responsibility of the Department of Resources at the House of Commons. For information relating to claims made prior to 7 May 2010, you may wish to contact the House of Commons FOI team at the following email address:FOICommons@parliament.uk
.
Investigations that relate to business costs and expenses claimed for since May 2010 via IPSA’s Scheme are the responsibility of the Compliance Officer for IPSA, an office independent of IPSA and, for the purposes of the FOIA, a separate public authority. Details of the outcome of all investigations undertaken by the Compliance
Officer,including details of any repayments requested in relation to expenses previously claimed,are published on the Compliance Officer’s website and may be viewed via this link: www.parliamentarycompliance.org.uk
.
We understand that no investigations conducted by the Compliance Officer for IPSA have resulted in prosecution.Investigations that relate to claims made prior to May 2010 via the House of Commons
Department of Resources are the responsibility of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. For more information, you may wish to visit the Commissioner’s website via the following link:http://www.parliament.uk/pcs

So,apparently they don’t hold any archive material from before May 2010.

Well I bimbled on over to the Compliance Officer’s website as suggested, expecting to be absolutely inundated with data.

I dared to look up the investigations conducted by IPSA’s Compliance Officer.

For 2010 (post May obviously) I found NONE

For 2011 I found 21 in the 3rd Quarter of the year

For 2012 I found NONE.

In addition there are more comprehensive reports on investigations into Valerie Vaz and Nadine Dorries.

Just so that you don’t feel left out and frustrated I will reproduce one of the reports into an investigation chosen at random, you’ll like it;

Investigation summary
1.The Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority carried
out an investigation into whether Ian Mearns MP was paid an amount under the MPs’ Expenses Scheme (the Scheme) that should not have been allowed.
2.The investigation was conducted in accordance with section 9(1) of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 (as amended by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act2010) (PSA).
3.The investigation was initiated by the Compliance Officer, as he had reason to believe
Mr Mearns may have received funding for claims relating to a website (www.ianmearns.org.uk) that did not comply with the rules of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) as set out in the Scheme.
4. On 11 April 2011 the Compliance Officer notified Mr Mearns that he was the subject of a preliminary investigation and on 23 June 2011 the Compliance Officer opened a substantive investigation into this matter.
5. On 23 August 2011, the Compliance Officer issued a Statement of Provisional Findings. This statement provides full details of the investigation. The findings are summarised below.
Findings
6. The Compliance Officer found:
a. that, in contravention of the rules of the MPs’ Expenses Scheme, Mr Mearns received reimbursement for claims
he submitted for costs relating to his website at a time when the website contained a party political logo;
b. that Mr Mearns acted swiftly to rectify the contravention;
c. that IPSA was in part at fault as its validation procedures should have prevented reimbursement being made;
d. that seeking a repayment for this contravention would be neither proportionate nor reasonable; and
e. that IPSA had strengthened its validation practices.
Resolution
7. On 7 September Mr Mearns confirmed by telephone that he accepted the provisional findings.
8. No further action was required either of Mr Mearns or of IPSA and on 21 September 2011 the investigation was closed.

An excellent write-up to an investigation I’m sure you’ll agree.  Yes, the MP did something wrong and claimed money he shouldn’t have but IPSA was at fault so we won’t ask him to pay it back.

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve read every single one of the 21 reports but the 3 or 4 that I have read ALL contained this phrase “that seeking a repayment for this contravention would be neither proportionate nor reasonable

So it seems to me that IPSA’s Compliance Officer is a bit of a toothless tiger, might give you a nasty suck but that’s about all.  Nothing there to instil fear into our trusted politicians.

You can probably imagine, I was not best pleased with the lack of information being provided.

So, undeterred I asked the same questions of the Metropolitan Police.

On this occasion they were happy to supply me with some information;

At Question 1 you ask
Since 2008 what is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been investigated for
mis-claiming Parliamentary Expenses?
The MPS response is:
All MPs were subject to an initial assessment.
16 MPs were then subject to an extended assessment or investigation.

At Question 2 you ask
What is the TOTAL number that have been prosecuted?
The MPS response is:
4 MPs were prosecuted and convicted.
1 MP was prosecuted but deemed unfit to be convicted.
1 MP is the subject to an ongoing prosecution.

At first glance it seems like the MPS investigations were somewhat more thorough than those of the IPSA Compliance officer.

Bottom line is though, there was a huge scandal over Parliamentary ‘Expenses’ which has never really gone away.  IPSA’s investigations don’t really justify the name and the Met seems to have as good a job as it can with the information it was provided with. BUT these people are the Law Makers. They have no excuse for breaking the Law. They should, above all people, understand the Law.  It is NOT ACCEPTABLE for IPSA to say “It’s our fault, blame us, we’ll take no action’.

This scandal shows no signs of going away. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution holds good.  They find other ways to get away with claiming dubious expenses.  Just look at the IPSA website and see the kind of claims that are being paid every week as acceptable.  Then come back and tell me they don’t have #SNOUTSINTHETROUGH.

Ethics

Good morning folks,

I woke up this morning to a right little Twitter Shit-Storm about Ethics. I’m sure you’ve seen it, how can you have missed it?

I’m sure it’s reported everywhere this morning but our favourite news agency Pravda, sorry, I meant the BBC, have chosen to report it under the headline

‘Cut police pensions’ to punish misconduct, MPs say

“Police officers who commit serious misconduct should have their pensions docked, a group of MPs has said.

The Home Affairs Select Committee also called for a new code of ethics for all officers in England and Wales.

Its report comes after the “plebgate” affair and a series of allegations about the conduct of undercover police.”

So what’s actually NEW about this?  The old Police Authorities always had the power to take away part of an officer’s pension if he/she was convicted of a serious crime, I presume that PCCs have retained this power, I have seen nothing to the contrary.  Last time I looked British Justice still worked on the ‘Innocent till proven Guilty’ principle, although sometimes I wonder with the way certain sections of the media report things.

“But the committee said it had learned of numerous cases where police officers facing corruption allegations had retired to avoid disciplinary proceedings and had suffered no financial penalty.

It cited the example of Sir Norman Bettison, former chief constable of West Yorkshire, who stepped down while facing a disciplinary investigation for gross misconduct charges relating to the Hillsborough disaster.”

This is true, I’m sure that we can all repeat stories of officers who have resigned in order to avoid disciplinary proceedings, but this is somewhat different.  If an officer is facing allegations of corruption as stated above, the mere fact that they have conveniently resigned does not make them immune from criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution. Many Police Forces allow officers under criminal investigation to resign so that they appear in the dock as “Ex Policed Officer Smith” and not “Serving Police Officer Smith”.  Personally I don’t have a problem with this practice per se as it helps to maintain the image of the Police Service, but it is important that the investigation/prosecution is continued to retain the integrity of the process.

I remain to be convinced that we need a new Code of Ethics, I’m pretty certain that existing policies and procedures are quite capable of dealing with almost any issue if applied correctly and consistently.

As for the allegations about the conduct of undercover officers, they are just that, allegations. Trial by Media has taken place and all 43 Police Forces have been convicted.  If these allegations turn out to be true then I would fully support any action that is taken to bring those responsible to book.  IF they are true there are several people out there who know the truth, let them come forward and we should be big enough and ugly enough to deal with it and take it on the chin, deal with honestly and move forward to retain the respect and admiration that the Police Service in the United Kingdom deserves, and it DOES deserve it.  The SIO must know the truth.  Other Undercover Officers presumably know the truth, there should be a Decision Log in existence somewhere recording the decision and why it was taken.  A costly enquiry will/should uncover the truth anyway, so let those people who know the truth come forward and put us out of our misery.  All I want to hear is the truth, good, bad or indifferent. Is that too much to expect?

As for MPs demanding Ethics from anybody, that’s just laughable.  Ethically bankrupt, I don’t need to go any further than one word – Expenses.  I have no desire to repeat all of the details that we know so well anyway, but I will share one thing with you.  This morning I reversed my own decision, and once again put on my #FOI Cloak and submitted the following request to IPSA and the Met Police

“Since 2008 what is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been
investigated for mis-claiming Parliamentary Expenses?

What is the TOTAL number that have been prosecuted?

What is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been asked to pay back
expenses previously claimed but not prosecuted?”

If IPSA doesn’t duck the issue and refuse to answer this should enable us to quantify the Ethics of MPs.  We know how many MPs make up the House of Commons, if I actually get an answer we can calculate the percentage that is Unethical.

No profession is perfect and I’m not blind or stupid enough to think that the all Police Officers are perfect. But I am arrogant enough to think that those that MAKE the laws of this land should be prosecuted if they BREAK the laws of this land, in EVERY instance.

Finally, is it just a coincidence that this shit-storm broke today, when the other attention-grabbing headline was this one

David Cameron ‘warned he cannot stop pay rise for MPs’

Apparently our politicians think that they deserve a pay rise of up to 32%, although, in fairness, this is likely to be pegged at a mere 15%.

#AllInThisTogether or #SnoutsInTheTrough? You decide.