I can see how this might increase the number of BME applicants of Asian origin, but as for anybody else? Who knows.
I shall probably be chastised as racist but when I lived in France I had to talk to the Gendarmes in French.. When I went to an official meeting and handed a leaflet it was in French, if I wanted it in English it was my responsibility to take it away and get it translated at my expense.
How many perfectly competent applicants from BME backgrounds, who would otherwise be an asset to the Met, be put off applying because they don’t speak one of the approved languages as well as English?
An applicant from Greece now, who can speak Greek and English, would now have priority over somebody who is born and bred in this country but can only speak English and Russian for example.
Looking at the article as it is wrote, it seems to me that the indigenous Englishman is well and truly disadvantaged, and that I, along with thousands of others, would no longer be eligible to apply.
I do apologise for two posts in one day, but this one has just kettled my swede as my eldest would say.
Never mind all of the other attributes one might be able to bring to the Met, being a Cunning Linguist is far more important at the moment.
This morning’s blog post provoked a reaction. A reaction I wasn’t exactly expecting, and a reaction that isn’t in any way good news.
I have to confess, I take a share of the blame myself here, we do tend to concentrate on the Front Line, the ever-shrinking Police Services around the country, and we may be a little bit guilty of forgetting the Police Staff, the Support Staff, the Bloody Civvies without whose help nothing would ever get done.
Well my quill was barely back in its pouch this morning when I received an e-mail from one of those loyal Bloody Civvies who works in the Met. Naturally enough they’ve no desire to be identified for obvious reasons, but basically their story is this;
It’s like Miley Cyrus says, they came at us like a wrecking ball. 289 CJU staff to be reduced to 129 replaced by iPads sending case papers to court digitally. We all have to apply for our own jobs pitted against our peers.
The 156 unlucky ones will end up in re deployment with little chance of getting out.
That is reality for the a certain section of Support Staff in the Met TODAY. Not threats for the future, NOW.
How exactly is the Front Line meant to continue persecuting, sorry, prosecuting the criminal fraternity with the CJU Staff being slashed by more than half?
How many departments within the Met is this being repeated in?
How many other Forces are suffering the same?
Bottom line, how much efficiency is being affected by draconian cuts?
When I first joined the Met it was a much different animal to the one it is today. At just about all ranks from Sergeant up to the Commissioner supervising officers threw their weight around and frequently (but certainly not always) bullied and cajoled junior officers into doing as they were told.
Being the sort of person I am I frequently found myself on the receiving end of the mother of all bollockings, somewhat similar to Fergie’s famous ‘Hairdryer’. Did I deserve them? Probably. Did they affect me? Almost certainly. Did disciplinary proceedings follow? Almost never.
Without those bollockings I wouldn’t be the man I am today, they toughened me up and helped form my character. The 19 year old that joined the Met in 1972 is not the same person I am now. Was it right? Quite honestly, I can’t answer that question. By today’s standards definitely not, but do I resent it? No I do not.
I most certainly remember undergoing my initial training at Hendon, a shy, retiring 19 year old being ‘tutored’ in the art of telling someone that their son/daughter/spouse had been killed in an accident etc. I stuttered along with epics like “I’m sorry to have to tell you…..” or “I’m afraid I have to tell you…..” only to be shouted at by the instructor “You are NEVER sorry” and “You are NEVER” afraid. I hate to think what modern-day training methods would make of that, but we all endured it and grew quickly.
There was what I used to call the Captain Nike culture about the place; “Just Fucking Do It” or simply JFDI.
Occasionally, just occasionally, one of those supervisors, normally an Inspector, would inspire and you would follow him/her to the end of the Earth and back again. That was a Leader. They would shine like a beacon and would seldom be popular with senior management, mainly because they cared about their troops. It worked because of something called RESPECT, and it went both ways.
Then, some time around the late 80s things began to change. Constables were calling their Sergeants Jim, Steve or Harry, and this practice continued upwards. Instead of being told to do things, we were getting asked “would you mind awfully doing a School Crossing at Fenn Street?” Frequently answered with “I’d rather not if it’s all the same to you”
Some time around the mid 90s the third era of ‘Leaders’ emerged. These were people who couldn’t actually ‘lead’ you along a length of rope. Having got to their esteemed position in life they set about surrounding themselves with their chums. Inspector or Chief Inspector Smith would get promoted and their friend Chief Superintendent Jones would discover that he/she had a vacancy and Smith would find themselves being posted to Jones’ unit.
In the twilight of my career I worked in an environment where we had to be vetted above the normal level. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that I got more than a tad pissed off seeing senior officers transferring in to our unit who either failed the vetting, or refused to be vetted, because their chum was in charge and said it would be OK. One particular senior officer got quite prickly with me because I repeatedly refused to tell him things he had not been vetted to receive. Oh the perks of being in your 30th year.
These people are not Leaders, and I doubt that they ever could be. If they’re lucky they’re Managers, possibly Bosses, but Leaders they ain’t.
I don’t have close contact with anyone left serving any more so I’m a bit out of touch, but I get the distinct impression from what I can see and what I can read the the Met is now almost devoid of Leaders. They seem to have an abundance of Bosses, not many Managers, and few, if any, Leaders, but they do seem to have a lot of Senior Officers who have served time on Merseyside, or maybe that’s just in my imagination.
So there we are, at the end of my potted history of modern day bosses in the Met. If I had my time all over again, which era would I choose?
No contest. Take me straight back to the 70s or I wouldn’t join again. Did I enjoy being shouted at and getting the odd bollocking? No, nobody does, but despite everything I KNEW WHERE I STOOD, and if the excrement ever did hit the apparatus with rotating blades the bosses would normally back one up, the Leaders ALWAYS would. You may think that constitutes ‘Squaring things up’. I don’t. I think it’s a very effective way of dealing with a problem without causing unecessary shite. The problems were dealt with in a far more effective way than involving the forerunners of Professional Standards, and I’d call that Leadership, using Discretion, and making sure whatever it was never happened again.
I absolutely despair when I see the antics of the modern era Professional Standards, and I seriously don’t understand how they can continue to operate, particularly in the manner that has been described so often over the last couple of years. If anybody there thinks they are a Leader, I’ll send for the men in white coats myself.
One thing is for certain, there is no place in the Command Chain for ‘Jobs For The Boys’. We need an IMMEDIATE return to ‘Best a Person For The Job’, and ALL Police Ooficers, regardless of rank, should possess a a higher than average level if a Ethics and Integrity. Lack of Integrity should automatically bebar any promotion candidate. Only then can we once again claim to have true Leaders, able, and willing, to Lead from the front. Get it right and the troops will actually WANT to follow.
We must never forget, of course, that a true LEADER can be found at any rank, not just the higher echelons. Even the humble Constable can prove to be a LEADER. My last thought, is that in order to re-establish confidence in the MANAGEMENT, any officer, of any rank, who thinks that it’s appropriate to refuse to submit to Vetting at any level, should be sidelined, and left to count beans until they change their mind. Promoting candidates in one’s own image, or because they belong to the same Lodge etc is a practice that should be formally outlawed. I have never had a problem with “best person for the job” and what little I did achieve in my career was obtained soley on merit and not Masonocracy or whatever.
The Sweeney, Ashes To Ashes, Life on Mars and even The Bill to a degree, I could live quite comfortably under regimes like those, with all their faults (I would never say that the Met has ever been perfect). Pink and Fluffy, and Politically Correct do my head in, not because I want to slag people off and get away with it, but because, tough as it was, as I said before, YOU KNEW WHERE YOU STOOD.
While I sit and ponder my future I found myself thinking about a couple of ‘Improvements’ that Theresa May has made to Policing. My experience and knowledge is really linked to the Met, so if I say something which does not extend to your Force please forgive me, unlike Ms Khan, any unfair generalisations are not intention.
Firstly, the changes restrict the controversial “no suspicion” powers, which allow officers to stop and search members of the public even when they do not suspect a crime has been committed. This refers to s60 Stops, which in my experience were seldom used, and then mainly at Public Disorder, or occasionally sporting events. I’m not sure that is going to make a huge difference, but does shine a light on to Imelda’s way of thinking.
In the second measure forces will have to record the outcome of searches in more detail.
Officers who carry out a stop and search will have to make a note of the outcome– such as whether it led to an arrest, a caution or no further action.
The Home Office has previously reduced the complexity of paperwork required by stop and search after criticisms that it was overly bureaucratic and officers were being tied up with red tape.
Alex Marshall, chief constable of the College of Policing, said: “Stop and search powers are necessary to help us tackle crime and keep people safe but it is clear that they are being misused too often.
“Under this scheme search outcomes will be recorded in more detail so we have a greater understanding of how the powers are being used.
Well, in my humble opinion this is just the College and the rest of AVPO (or whatever they’re called today) rolling over to have their bellies rubbed.
There is no doubt that Stop and Search is Intrusive, no doubt whatsoever! but unless someone has rewritten PACE while I’ve been asleep it has always contained the following;
1 Power of constable to stop and search persons, vehicles etc.
(1) A constable may exercise any power conferred by this section—
(a) in any place to which at the time when he proposes to exercise the power the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission; or
(b)in any other place to which people have ready access at the time when he proposes to exercise the power but which is not a dwelling.
(2) Subject to subsection (3) to (5) below, a constable—
(a) may search—
(i) any person or vehicle;
(ii) anything which is in or on a vehicle,
for stolen or prohibited articles [F1, any article to which subsection (8A) below applies or any firework to which subsection (8B) below applies; and
(b) may detain a person or vehicle for the purpose of such a search.
(3) This section does not give a constable power to search a person or vehicle or anything in or on a vehicle unless he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that he will find stolen or prohibited articles [F2, any article to which subsection (8A) below applies or any firework to which subsection (8B) below applies
2 Provisions relating to search under section 1 and other powers.
(1) A constable who detains a person or vehicle in the exercise—
(a) of the power conferred by section 1 above; or
(b) of any other power—
(i) to search a person without first arresting him; or
(ii) to search a vehicle without making an arrest,
need not conduct a search if it appears to him subsequently—
(i) that no search is required; or
(ii) that a search is impracticable.
3 Duty to make records concerning searches.
(1) Where a constable has carried out a search in the exercise of any such power as is mentioned in section 2(1) above, other than a search—
(a) under section 6 below; or
(b)under section 27(2) of the M1Aviation Security Act 1982, he shall make a record of it in writing unless it is not practicable to do so.
(a) a constable is required by subsection (1) above to make a record of a search; but
(b )it is not practicable to make the record on the spot,
he shall make it as soon as practicable after the completion of the search.
(3) The record of a search of a person shall include a note of his name, if the constable knows it, but a constable may not detain a person to find out his name.
(4) If a constable does not know the name of a person whom he has searched, the record of the search shall include a note otherwise describing that person.
(5) The record of a search of a vehicle shall include a note describing the vehicle.
(6) The record of a search of a person or a vehicle—
(a) shall state—
(i) the object of the search;
(ii) the grounds for making it;
(iii) the date and time when it was made;
(iv) the place where it was made;
(v) whether anything, and if so what, was found;
(vi) whether any, and if so what, injury to a person or damage to property appears to the constable to have resulted from the search; and
(b) shall identify the constable making it.
(7) If a constable who conducted a search of a person made a record of it, the person who was searched shall be entitled to a copy of the record if he asks for one before the end of the period specified in subsection (9) below.
(a) the owner of a vehicle which has been searched or the person who was in charge of the vehicle at the time when it was searched asked for a copy of the record of the search before the end of the period specified in subsection (9) below; and
(b) the constable who conducted the search made a record of it,
the person who made the request shall be entitled to a copy.
There’s a whole load more to PACE than that, but in my submission, that is our first Undeniable Truth, Stop and Search under s1 PACE is already regulated sufficiently by statute and if the perception is that this power is being abused then this is surely a Supervision or Training issue, not something for Politicians to meddle in.
My second concern, to the best of my knowledge, only concerns the Met, but if the same practice has happened in the County Forces please let me know, as we would all need t know.
When I last worked on a Borough, I worked in an Intelligence Unit, and it was an important part of my job to produce briefings 5 days out of 7 for the 3 main shifts, Early, Lates and Nights. These briefings would contain details of recent crimes of note, any Crime Patterns that had been identified by the Analyst, names and/or descriptions of any suspects for those crimes including photos if applicable, and recommendations for where any ‘spare’ officers could be posted to Prevent or Detect Crime (I know there aren’t any Spare officers any more). It was on the basis of these briefings that many s1 Stop and Searches may have been conducted in ‘Hotspot’ areas.
Word has now reached my ears that these Intelligence Units at Divisional and Borough level have gone, been Winsor’d, labelled as Back Office functions and dissolved. There is a Service Intelligence Unit staffed by some faceless warriors in Central London, but how effective can they be at preparing meaningful and timely briefings for troops in Croydon, or Barnet?
Time spent chatting with the old ‘Collator’ was seldom wasted for a good Thief-Taker, chats in a cosy over office over a brew were often productive, and, within limits, to be encouraged. Even the next generation following on from Collators had crowds of enthusiastic young bucks picking brains in the quest for their next ‘body’. I don’t see anything wrong with that, as long as the privilege isn’t abused, but again, Post May/Winsor there probably isn’t the time left for such luxuries.
So, in the era of Smaller, Smarter Policing, how exactly are we supposed to function more Smartly when May and Winsor have taken away our Intelligence Units. If this is not true PLEASE let me know, it’s important to me to know.
Intelligence-Led Policing With No Intelligence Unit – that would work every time. Bloody good job Crime Is Down is all I can say.
Our Second Undeniable Truth? The absence of Intelligence Units at a local level adversely impacts upon our ability to fight crime in an efficient and timely manner?
As we have seen above before a Stop/Search be conducted there has to be Suspicion and Grounds. I’ve scoured PACE thoroughly but I can’t find performance Indicators listed as suitable grounds to conduct a Stop/Search.
Stop/Search is clearly a very emotive subject and if there are abuses of the powers then these need to be addressed, but NOT by watering down the powers, of course Turkeys are not going to vote for Christmas but I truly believe that if Mr or Mrs Average is subjected to a Stop/Search by an officer who was polite, explained their actions and complied with the provisions above, then they would neither Complain nor Need to Complain. Do we need to pay undue heed to the Turkeys complaining that Christmas is coming and they don’t want to be slaughtered?
My 3rd and last Undeniable Truth is that Numerical targets have no place in Stop/Search in particular, and quite possibly Front Line Policing in general, it breeds bad habits. Any Stop/Search conducted in pursuit of such Targets is, at best, Unethical, and at most, arguably Unlawful.
There can’t be a single person in the land that has not heard the monumental news that the Met will be investigated over (I think) 14 allegations relating to the alleged covering up of Child Abuse enquiries in the 70s. In particular, much has been made of allegations relating to Cyril Smith.
As an officer in London in the 70s I welcome such an investigation, but I’m far from confident about what the outcome will be.
On a personal level my conscience is clear. I don’t remember having any involvement with any Child Abuse allegations whatsoever, not even as the initial Reporting Officer. My corporate conscience is far less clear though.
Am I aware of any such enquiries being binned? Most definitely NO.
Could such enquiries get binned?
I have read allegations that officers were threatened with the Official Secrets Act and at least one allegation that an Investigating Officer was threatened by a Special Branch officer with a firearm. Allegations like those fill me with dread and shame. I have never heard the like of that before, but as for the general principle of binning certain enquiries, that DID happen.
It didn’t take very long before the edict was watered down but the end result was the same. Instead of being told to desist and stop all operations and enquiries the instruction quickly morphed into “if you want to conduct an operation against ‘cottagers’ etc you must display notices at the venues and inform the local press”. Guess what happened? Nobody was caught and other areas experienced an increase in complaints from the public as the problem was merely displaced. I am in no doubt whatsoever as to the reason for this ban – solely to do with WHO WE MIGHT CATCH, nothing else at all.
If any of you are members of a certain group on Facebook you can see examples of this happening all over the Met, and for basically the same reasons.
I have already seen one well-established tweeter comment this morning that if he were told to halt an enquiry he most definitely would not follow that instruction. I can’t argue with that because it’s absolutely the right approach, but London in the 70s was a much different place. The Police Force of the 70s was vastly different to the Police Service of 2015. As a Constable with maybe 5 years service, to be told by a faceless boss from Scotland Yard to discontinue an operation, that’s exactly what happened. None of us liked it, it’s just how it was, and I suppose you never really understand unless you lived through it. Much like the corruption of the 60s, I’ve only ever heard the anecdotes of that, and they make me shiver.
So, for all those reasons I welcome this investigation, but I fear, like many others, it is destined never to achieve its full potential. Many times the officers on the Front Line never knew the names of those at NSY issuing their edicts, just informed by local management that Scotland Yard has blocked it.
40 something years later I doubt there’s any paper records left. If they didn’t disappear without trace in the 70s, they may well have been disposed of by now under the Met’s own Retention Policy. Back-Record Conversion onto computer would be highly unlikely.
If there is anything left, I suspect that grinding sort of noise that I can hear may well be the hopper-fed cross-cut shredders being fired up, and ready for action.
Can CoP really be that naive or are they merely flexing their muscles with an opening kick in the nads for the troops on the (shrinking) Front Line?
Where do I begin? Sophie Khan? Why on earth would any right-minded person or organisation include Sophie Khan on any scrutiny panel into such a vital part of modern day Policing? She is prone to gross over-generalisations and exaggerations, on an almost daily basis.
I fully accept that I’m talking about a couple of years ago but her historical Twitter T/L does not make comfortable reading for CoP surely;
She seems very anti-police, one of her old tweets was “Good Night all. I’m off to bed. Will be dreaming about suing the police as always. Sweet dreams to you all. I love my job so much ”
On the 7th of April 2012 she posted the following comment on Twatter: “Met Police aren’t just racist while on duty, they are racist off duty. They’re members of BNP scum. Well done on being the most hated.“
This is a suitable person to be engaged by CoP for such an important piece of work? Many of us who have dared to disagree with her and challenge her extreme views merely get ‘blocked’ as she seems unwilling to engage with her critics. This has directly led to the Twitter #hashtag #BlockedBySophieKhan. CoP really believe that this is a suitable person for their panel?
That leads me to Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset Police.
In May 2014, Avon and Somerset’s Chief Constable Nick Gargan was suspended over allegations he made inappropriate advances to female staff.
The Police and Crime Panel found Sue Mountstevens breached her own code of conduct by telling Mr Gargan who had made the allegations.
Engaging Ms Mountstevens on such a high-profile panel as this, so soon after her gross faux pas sends a terrible message to Police ‘Whistleblowers’ and the like. Not only are they treated appallingly but those that betray them are seemingly only guilty of an error of judgement, and then deemed worthy to sit on a panel passing scrutiny on Undercover Policing.
Exactly what kind of vetting has/is being conducted on these people? Does anybody at CoP even care?
Fortunately I got out before the inception of CoP, but many of my friends remain and I can only despair, as far as I’m concerned this is the end of the road for any slight credibility that CoP had. For me that has died completely after this charade.
Then we have the nonsense that is Bernie Hogan-Who claiming to be a Can Do Leader and that London will be a safer place with a smaller, reduced Met.
Sir Bernard said: “If you had any doubt, if my officers had any doubt, then let’s be clear – the Met is a ‘can-do’ organisation, and I am a ‘can-do’ leader. A smaller Met can make London safer.”
“But we need to spell out, like the military has, that we can’t promise to tackle everything the world throws up within a shrinking budget. If we try to fight on all fronts, we’ll fail on some. If we’re not clear what’s beyond our reach, how can others take responsibility?”
I can only agree with a lot of what he said, but make London safer with a smaller Met? Really? I guess we’ll all have our views on that, but I don’t see how that’s doable with the scale of further cuts still to come. His reference to the Armed Forces is valid, they also have been slashed to the point where I fail to see how they could be effective if the wheel truly came off. Not because they are incompetent, I have the highest respect and regard for them, there just aren’t enough of them. The outbreak of war would not be the finest hour to recommence recruiting.
#CutsHaveConsequences is a hashtag that’s been used a lot in the past few weeks, and rightly so. It got me to thinking.
Every single Force in the land has suffered cuts since 2010, all in the name of Austerity. Their respective PCC and Chief a Constable have formed plans to cope with the savagely slashed budgets.
In London Boris seems to have made selling off the family silver one his priorities.
The big one that hit all the headlines was the selling off of New Scotland Yard. Bought for £123.5 million in 2008, it sold last year for £350, a nice little earner. I suspect there will be some Tax to pay on the profit. I suspect there will be costs associated with the move out of NSY to Curtis Green Building and I believe that the Met proposes spending between £30 and $50 million pounds to refurb Curtis Green and make it fit for purpose.
The profit margins are receding.
Then there is the fact that the Met has sold off about 35 of its major buildings including nearly 30 Police Stations for about £125 million.and Boris apparently plans to sell off up to 200 properties across London, although admittedly that figure will include Married Quarters and Section Houses. Ultimately he proposes reducing the number of residential properties from 862 to a mere 200.
Now the thing that gets me about all this frenzied selling off is “where do the people go?” Has the Met suddenly taken up Hot Desking? The people displaced from NSY will not all fit into Curtis Green Building. Other ‘support’ buildings are also threatened with closure.
In any or all of these buildings there will be (not an exhaustive list by any means);
People answering telephones
People operating computers
Desks for people to work at
Lockers for the Operational Officers (and hopefully some changing facilities)
Rooms set aside for specific Teams/Squads
Filing Cabinets (the Met still has a mountain of paper not yet shredded)
Garage facilities for the car
Car Parking facilities if you’re lucky and a member of the SMT
Am I being thick here, but if you reduce the number of buildings, the people who worked there either have to be displaced elsewhere or ‘got rid of’.
If they’re displaced elsewhere those elsewheres become overcrowded do they not?
If they’re ‘got rid of and join the ‘disappeared’ somebody else has to take up their work and increase their own workload. I do not believe that there was a mound of spare capacity just waiting for extra work to land.
This here Austerity is due to be with us until at least 2019 allegedly. Boris’s £125 million won’t last him very long and where will he get the next bundle of cash from once it has run out? Why should he care? He won’t be Mayor for much longer.
Do not think for one moment that this is anywhere near the End Game, it isn’t, and if Austerity can knock the Met sideways like this, just think what it’s doing for your local Force.
So, when the music stops, grab a chair, grab a locker or grab an office. They may not be with us much longer, Tesco et al could become the norm.
No, these officers are not taking a sneaky break, they’re there officially to ‘meet the public’ rather than have a Front Counter remain open. The police officers had no desk, no private area where they could speak to members of the public in confidence, no means of logging on to the police national computer etc, and they appear not to have official forms.
Contact Points, Coffee With A Cop, Chat With A Cop, call them what you may, they’re a pretty poor substitute for going to the local nick, with all the necessary forms and computers at hand, to report whatever is on your mind. AND NOT BEING OVERHEARD BY THE LOUT WAITING FOR A LATTE.
It’s only Tuesday, and my quill is already getting blunt.
Yesterday I discussed the (yet again) vindictive reports coming out of HMIC and IPCC, you can find that here if you haven’t already read it.
Today I’m occupied by the proposed cuts looming for the Met. I know that the Met is not the only Force facing cuts, merely one of 43, but what staggers me is the size of those cuts and what that means for the future of, what is undoubtedly, the largest Force in the land.
With 31,500 warranted officers it is far and away the largest force, and by comparison the second largest is West Midlands Police with 7,155 warranted officers, all the way down to Warwickshire with a mere 788.
I’ve learned a lot about the Met since I retired and I’m no longer certain that I would describe it as the Best Force, but nobody can argue that it’s the largest and probably best-resourced. In retirement I have spent some wonderful hours sharing many cups of coffee with colleagues still serving in Constabulary Forces and been made aware of the ‘Bleeding Obvious’ The Met do it differently.
In all the time I was serving I was blissfully unaware of just how lucky I was. We used to moan that we didn’t have a widget for so and so, or a gizzmo for this and that, but basically we were incredibly well off compared to our County Cousins.
I don’t know if it is still the case but the Met used to survive on that dirty word ‘Overtime’. Entire Public Order events were policed by officers on overtime sometimes, almost inevitably a third to half of a PSU would be on overtime. Rest days being cancelled, with, or without, notice was a frequent occurrence.
In August 2012 I asked the Met how many Rest Days were still outstanding, waiting to be re-rostered and taken, the reply I got was this
“There are 165,624 rest days (as of 5th July 2012) that are currently shown
as either cancelled, outstanding or waiting for officers to re-roster
However please note there are 43,355 rest days that have been re-rostered
to the future.”
I have read elsewhere that this figure is now closer to half a million.
I remember fondly that when overtime restrictions were first brought in (for welfare reasons allegedly) we were not allowed to incur more than 100 hours overtime a month without a supervisor submitting a report supporting it. The Met truly did run on overtime even though they had even more than 31,500 officers in those days, and considerably less demand.
Which brings me to the point of today’s post. In the last round of budgetary cuts in the name of Austerity, the Met lost £600 million from its budget. Even a behemoth like the Met must have felt the pain. In fact I’m sure they did. In an attempt to ease the pain Police Stations were sold off, Front Counters closed, manpower lost, back office officers moved back onto the Front Line, even Peel Centre hasn’t escaped untouched.
No, they’re not carrying out improvements, that bit’s been sold orft. Training Centres, Feeding Centres – gone.
Now we hear that the Met has to suffer a further £800 million of cuts and my honest question is simply HOW?
I can’t sit here and pretend that cuts are not necessary, I’m not convinced that they’re being applied fairly and evenly (why ring-fence the Overseas Aid budget for example?) but how on earth can the Met survive? And what hope is there for the rest of the country if the biggest (by far) Force is suffering?
My loyalty (if I have any left) is obviously to the Met, but I am capable of seeing the bigger picture and I’m convinced that it’s not a good one. I’ve said before that even if we elected a new Government this Thursday, the changes brought about by May, Camoron and Winsor will take decades to reverse, if ever, and now it’s set to get to worse.
Home Office Stats for Policing Strength are already listed under 10 Regions plus BTP so maybe that’s what’s in store for us. Or maybe a National Force under a new Chief
Commissioner, who knows.
I have previously writ that I’ve heard a rumour that the inner sanctum of the Home Office contains a document predicting a total National Policing Strength of 80,000, may your god help us if we’re ever reduced to those levels, but it would solve the budgetary problems which is the only priority the ConDems seem to have on their list. They don’t seem to care about the strength of the Armed Forces or any of the Emergency Services, who knows what they’re agenda is?
BHH has apparently predicted that the Met can do something better than any other public sector organisation has managed to do to date.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has predicted the force’s deployment of mobile technology will buck the trend of failing public sector IT projects and deliver benefits both to victims of crime and officers.
All frontline officers are supposedly to be issued with data-connected tablets on which they’ll be able to record details of crimes, photograph evidence and issue crime reference numbers without needing to return to base.
Now don’t laugh, but he has combined ‘the best Police leaders’ with ‘the best IT leaders to oversee the project. No danger of anything going wrong there then. BHH says that he “is confident that our investment will pay off”.
At the same time he sought to reassure that an increase in dependence on IT will not be used as an excuse to reduce officer numbers, despite the recently announced further budget cuts.
All I can say is that they’d better be buying TonkaPads because if something can be broken, Met cops will break it, lose it, run it over or drop it down the toilet.
I can see the need to do something with IT because all the Police Buildings in London seem to be pubs or very expensive flats/apartments. now. I dread to think where locker space is provided, and I’m pretty certain the Snooker Rooms went years ago along with the Plan Drawer’s Office. No space for writing Crime Reports up, maybe this is all part of a Master Plan to reduce crime, make it more difficult to record. Of course the IT on these tablets will be faultless with 100% reliability meaning no down time.
It’s a common sight in DeadBadgerShire to Police Vehicles parked up in a layby with the single-crewed officer tapping away at a keyboard within. Saves on fuel and wear n tear as well reducing trips back to the Station.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, gadgets (not Gadget) but gadgets and gizzmos have to be part of the solution in an area like Policing, not the whole solution. Is it only me that thinks that chatting to a crusty PC (are there any left?) or a sweaty DS when you go back to record the crime can sometimes have a positive outcome in relation to the crime you’re recording. Not always but sometimes. Gods knows, clues are few and far between, anything helps. Hitting SEND at the end of keying it in and giving the victim the corresponding crime number seems a little bit clinical and unsatisfactory to me, but I’m also aware that with dwindling numbers, and far worse to come, extravagances like chatting to the Crime Desk DS are on the way out, or probably already gone in some Forces.
Anyway it’s all going tom paid out of the proceeds of New Scotland Yard being sold off, so it can’t be all bad, can it?
The first is obviously Neil Rhodes’ voiced opinion that his Force will go out of business if the current unsustainable funding arrangements continue.
The second is Bernie Hogan-Who’s belated entrance into the fray, in which he claims that “The police and other emergency services are looking at years of austerity. We must slash the number of forces and make a host of other radical changes if public safety is to be maintained”
My initial reaction was “About bloody time too, why have they taken nearly 5 years to speak out, we all know that already?”
And then I got to thinking……a dangerous pasttime I know
In July this the Uncle Tom’s organisation released a report updating us on how our 43 Forces were meeting the challenges posed by Austerity. Three Forces were highlighted as needing to do much more to catch up and survive, these were Bedfordshire, Nottinghamshire and Gwent.
The Met, for example, was graded GOOD on the grounds that
HMIC is assured that the MPS is using a range of methods to understand the demand placed on its services and the consequences of that demand, for example the numbers of staff required for prosecution file preparation and for crime investigation.
Through the use of a ‘star chamber’, the MPS has an efficient way to align human resources to emerging threats and retain staff in critical posts.
The force has maintained its drive on crime reduction and victim satisfaction throughout the spending review period.
Within this effort, it is recognised that securing the satisfaction of victims of crime in the capital is challenging.
The MPS is introducing ever more innovative means of interacting with the public ranging from greater use of social media to replacing traditional police station front counters with more flexible drop-in centres.
Well that’s all fine and dandy then. Or is it? This HMIC report is now yesterday’s chip wrapper. Nobody remembers it. It was news for about one day in July and then……..nothing.
We had headlines from the Fed such as
More than a third of forces could struggle to provide the same service to the public if cuts continue, says HMIC
So what if the public proclamations of Bernie and Neil Rhodes are nothing more than Cruella May leaking her vision for the future through the ‘trusted’ media of the Police in order to soften us up. In the main we trust what the Police tell us more than we trust our politicians.
Is it vaguely conceivable that a couple of highly-placed cops could become government mouthpieces? Surely not? No place for politics in policing, wouldn’t happen would it? Would we be more receptive to the Home Secretary’s (and Camoron’s) Reform Agenda if it came out of the mouths of our Police Leaders who were seeming to be on ‘our side’ for once.
Or have ACPO finally grown a pair. You decide.
Personally I have been predicting a National Police Force, Fire Brigade policing and a higher level of front-line involvement for PCSOs and Specials for over a year now. Is this what Bernie is suggesting? At least the uniforms and vehicles will be cheaper if they’re all the same.