#AllInItTogether or Once Upon A Time

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

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

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

Anyway, the point of my tale is this.

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

Once upon a time he said this on his website;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was followed by a challenge from one of our number

To which, the reply was;

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

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

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

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

It’s Been A Funny Old Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADDENDUM

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

Oh Dear, Have I Upset Someone?

I was minding my own business a couple of days ago, enjoying the sunbed at Angry Towers prior to going to the gym for a workout when the phone rang. It was Blodwyn, one of the canteen ladies at Dyfed Powys Police HQ. She had overheard part of a conversation in the Senior Officers’ Dining Complex and thought I ought to know.

If Blodwyn is correct, seems their PCC  might have been just a little bit miffed by my recent #FOI requests.  Well it was never my intention to miff anyone,  but as Mr Salmon is a Tory PCC and stands accused by others of politicising the police I thought it was reasonable to probe the veracity of his claims.

Since I received the replies to my requests, Mr Salmon’s office have published 3 out of 4 of the requests and responses on their Twitter account. No sign of the one on Targets at the time of writing but I’m sure it will follow soon.

Then I had a cynical moment. I get them every now and again, I just have to learn to live with them.

Are the responses published by the Office of the PCC the same as the responses sent to me? They SHOULD be, so I took a look.

Well I’m happy to report that they were the same, except my details had, quite rightly, been redacted, although I stand by my original opinion that the responses have shown that Mr Salmon himself has politicised his Police Force by virtue of the claims he has made and the blogs he has written, and also the people he swaps Tweets with (see below)

But, in checking, I noticed something that WAS always included but I had not noticed as I concentrated on the headline figures of the cost of running the PCC’s Office versus the old Police Authority.

The bottom of the response included these paragraphs;

” (i) For further information on this decision, please view the Decision Log.

(ii) A decision was made to support the early retirement of the Director of Finance and Resources in the interests of efficiency. Following a review of business support undertaken on behalf of the Commissioner earlier this year, consideration was given to senior management structures and current distribution of Chief Officer Portfolios. A decision was made to advertise for a Director of Resources. For further information on this decision, please view the Decision Log.

(iii) A decision was made to support the early retirement of the Chief Executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in the interests of efficiency. A new post of Chief of Staff was established. This post is an amalgamation of both the Chief Executive and Assistant Chief Executive posts. For further information on this decision, please view the Decision Log.”

Being a curious bunny I followed the link, and found not a Decision Log but a report to the Police and Crime Panel about the appointment of the new Chief Constable and invitation for them to endorse the appointment of Mr Simon Prince.

So, being a generous soul, I assume that someone, somewhere linked to the wrong document, that report does not resemble any Decision Log that I have ever seen.

And then I discovered that Irony exists within the office of the Dyfed Powys PCC.  Looking at the timeline of their official Twitter Account. I saw 4 Tweets that took my attention;

1) OPCC for Dyfed-Powys@DPOPCC 5:25 PM 8 Nov Online now: #FoI response on OPCC transparency bit.ly/HtuBRk  (I’m guessing that this is the #FOI Request of Bernard Rix  )

2) John Davies@JohnDavies8951 10:30 PM 7 Nov @gdprice28 @ChrisTRSalmon @DPOPCC But how much did the Support for the early retirements cost in pay-offs? #goldenhandshake

3) OPCC for Dyfed-Powys@DPOPCC 4:26 PM 8 Nov @JohnDavies8951 Our legal team advise us that that information is confidential.

4) John Davies@JohnDavies8951 4:32 PM 8 Nov @DPOPCC @gdprice28 No surprise there then – in other words #hushmoney as well as #goldenhandshake

So much for Transparency then

Then just as I was rinsing the ink out of my quill, Blodwyn rang me back and said she’d heard somewhere that PSD were looking at folks’ Twitter accounts. Whether there is any connection between this (if indeed it is happening, I’ve only got Blodwyn’s word for this) and my rather irksome requests of the PCC I don’t know, but as I don’t have any connection with his Force whatsoever that would, indeed, be unfortunate and unfair. Maybe Blodwyn’s wrong, who knows?

Also, whilst rummaging around the various timelines I discovered a healthy interaction between Christopher Salmon and Policy Exchange, they seem to be members of a Mutual Admiration Society, Tweeting and Re-Tweeting each other’s views. Policy Exchange seem to be of the opinion that 1 year later Police and Crime Commissioners have been a huge success.  Well they would say that wouldn’t they? PCCs were their idea!!   Do they think that we’re daft?

Enjoy your weekend.

What do you call a Police Authority without a Chief Exec?

Well, apparently the answer is a Police and Crime Commissioner.

I have to admit that I got caught napping a little bit by this one.  I have been scratching my poor old swede and pulling the sad remains of my hair out for weeks trying to work out how on earth a PCC was going to take on all the responsibilities of a fully fledged Police Authority.

I presume that the staff who do all the work have been retained and will be TUPE’d across to the PCC’s office.  That leaves the Members of the Police Authority.  Would I be right in thinking that they and the Chief Exec are all gone?  Replaced by the solitary PCC?

PCC’s salary?  I’ve heard various estimates of salary for elected PCCs but this document here shows the proposed salary for PCCs by area, between £65,000 and £100,000 per annum.  That certainly seems to be a financial saving on what some of the Chief Execs were being paid, but not very much in the greater scheme of things.

Now these futile elections have cost the country between £75 and £100 million, to organise a shambles.  £75 million would have paid the salaries of nearly 2,150 constables for a year.  £100 million would have paid for closer to 3,000 constables for a year.

I have been reliably informed that these PCCs will have a team and a crime panel behind them, so they will be a bit like a Police Authority really.

So this very much begs the question “Why?”

Possible answers include

  • To make policing more localised and accountable
  • To save money
  • To identify a scapegoat rather than central government when it all goes belly up, and it might
  • Any other reason you can think of.

So, as I see it we have spent between £75 and £100 million pounds to swap an unelected Chief Executive for an elected Police and Crime Commissioner.

Will it really make a tangible difference?  Probably not.

Did the great British public understand what was happening?  Definitely not.

Has it all been worth it?  Almost certainly not.

I genuinely hope that something good and positive arises from the ashes of local Police Authorities, but I won’t be lying awake at night waiting for it.