I Can’t Quite Work It Out

The people have voted, and it seems like they’ve got Camoron for another full term.

I don’t agree with them, but I can see why the Jocks have voted SNP, at least that makes some kind of sense.

The rest of the UK have voted for some strange things

They have voted for a much reduced Police Service with a much hampered ability to respond to our various problems.

They have voted for a much reduced Armed Forces, they are at their lowest strength for decades and getting smaller.

They have voted for an NHS in danger of being dismantled and privatised.  Starved of funding, forced to fail, cue private companies riding in to pick up the pieces and rescue them.

They have voted for a shackled Justice system.

They have voted for a slimline Coastguard Service.

They have voted for Probation, Education and Prison Services to be neutered or privatised.

What do all of the above have in common?  None of them sell anything.  Traditionally they have all been sectors that soak up money without the ability to make a profit. How could they?  Until very recently consecutive governments have accepted that fact and whilst there have been minor cuts and Efficiency Drives along the way, it was always accepted that they were sectors that had to have money pumped into them to make them work with no option of getting a profit out at the end. It has always been that way, and I don’t see how it could be any different to that.  Oh, hang on,……..Privatisation might help.

They have voted for Bankers Bonuses.

They have voted for Outsourcing

I truly hope that the the great British Public do not find the need for the NHS, do not ever need a Police Officer, I hope their kids are properly educated, I hope they never need a Coastguard etc etc, because the shape of this country has changed irrevocably, and it’s what the country has voted for.

I didn’t, my conscience is clear, but very many did. I have heard it described as selfish voting. Who knows?

I leave you with one last thought, Be very careful what you wish for because you might get it.

PENETRATION – Fact, Fiction or Theory.

Now that I’ve got your attention I have to confess that word should have been INFILTRATION.

I’m not very experienced at a Fiction writing, hardly any at all compared to some others in much higher office and their Expenses Claims.  The utter drivel I am about to reveal to the world might be fact, it might be fiction or maybe just a plausible theory. I’ll leave you, my reader, to decide which it is.

I retired from the Met in 2002 so, quite rightly, I’m completely out of touch with the current goings-on and shenanigans, but before I left there was at least one successful infiltration (I say successful because it was more than a mere attempt) by a criminal enterprise. A member of said enterprise, who had no convictions, had applied, been accepted, undergone training, and been posted to a Police Station in uniform.  That person was nothing less than a ‘Sleeper’ waiting to be activated and presumably pass on information to his/her associates outside of the Force.

That is shocking.

Fortunately, it was rumbled before any damage was done but I HOPE that it served as a Wake-Up call to the organisation and alerted them to what is possible.

Then a chance Tweet got me thinking.

My old mate Obbsie may have been joking when he tweeted but what if he is right?   What if…… What if our government has been infiltrated?  Depletion of our Armed Forces, that’s certainly happening.  Would it benefit a foreign power?  Putin and ISIS are the two that come easiest to mind, but yes it would/could.

Depletion of the Police Service – that’s most definitely happening.  Would that benefit a malevolent foreign power?  In certain aspects yes. Our ability to contain Civil Disorder is almost certainly already impaired.  If Police numbers are reduced too far it cannot help but impact upon the Police’s Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism responsibilities.

The Fire and Rescue Service has been watered down by this coalition? Is this a benefit to a foreign power? In the modern era I’m not actually certain, but their attendance at a major Terrorist Incident would most certainly impact upon others elsewhere with appliances and crews being out of place with less cover available.

The National Health Service has suffered really badly at the hands of this government, even though the Tories lie through their teeth and try to deny it.  Would this be a benefit to a foreign power? Quite possibly in at least two ways.  Firstly our response capabilities (Ambulance, Paramedics, A&E Doctors & Nurses) have been diluted so we would possibly deal less well with the results of a major Terrorist Incident, their would also be knock-on consequences further down the chain.  Secondly the ever-present spectre of Privatisation would be an attractive proposition to a foreign government to pick up contracts in the UK Health sector.

Other Public Sector areas have also been affected; Courts, Probation, Education, Coastguards etc etc.  to be perfectly honest I have no idea if or how these would be of benefit to a foreign government, but the Public Sector as a whole has been CONSIDERABLY weakened by this coalition.

It may well be considered ludicrous to suggest that there could be infiltration at the very top of government but the incontrovertible fact is that our nations enemies, be they ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Argentina or Putin (maybe even the SNP???) , will have viewed the havoc wreaked upon our police, fire and ambulance services, the NHS and indeed our armed forces with a mixture of incredulity and delight.

I implore you, do not be complacent.  Unlikely and fanciful as you might find it, Infiltration can happen, it has happened and COULD happen again, either in Government, Police or the Civil Service.  Will it happen again?  I have absolutely no idea, but I wouldn’t rule it out.  If I was a foreign power I would certainly have considered it years ago.  Look at some of the recent defectors to Syria; Humanitarian or Infiltrator/Sympathiser?  Again, I have no idea, but we should be open to all possibilities.

Infiltration – Fact, Fiction or (Conspiracy) Theory?  All I will say is that I truly hope it is not Fact.

I’ll let Chris have the last word

We’re Not Gonna Take It

A rare treat for you, a musical blog.

David Camoron, we’ve had enough, WE’RE not gonna take it any more, and if you don’t do something about it you may find the results at the ballot box next May.

I know you’ve been busy, I saw you on my telly box at Stonhenge the other day. Have you become a Druid? When you’re not busy being busy I invite you to take a look around you;

On Tuesday we had the announcement that PCSOs and Police Staff ACROSS THE COUNTRY had voted to take strike action.

In the not too distant past we have had lawyers on strike bringing chaos to the Courts, do you remember that?

Teachers have been striking.

Local Councils have been striking.

Fire Brigades across the country have been striking, and indeed (I believe) some of them have lost their jobs over it.

Health Service workers have been striking.

Probation Officers have been striking.

Prison Officers have been threatening strike action.

Public sector workers from courts, museums, driving test centres, Job Centres, airports and other facilities have all been striking.

Do you want to know why all these, normally loyal and law-abiding people have been striking? Well, I’ll tell you anyway.  It’s all to do with your Pay Restrictions, messing with people’s pensions and your dangerous privatisation plans.

If you add up all of those people either striking, threatening or contemplating strike action it would come to a very big number indeed.  What on earth would you do if they all chose to strike on the same day? Once you’d summoned COBRA or RATTLESNAKE or whatever it’s called you’d panic because you would then be told that there weren’t enough Police Officers left to deal with the problem.  Plan B, call in the Army. Ooips, can’t do that either, same reason, got rid of too many already.  Maybe the French could let you have some CRS Troops on Mutual Aid, after all, the Mayor of Calais is asking for British Police to go and sort out the carnage with illegal immigrants there.  Oh how I laughed at that one.

Police and Armed Forces aren’t allowed to go on strike, so you’re reasonably safe there. Although I am informed that we are the only country in the EU that does not give our Police Officers Employment Rights.

Maybe you could explain to us exactly why it is that you politicians are reluctantly accepting your generous pay and pension awards?  If the problem is that the law doesn’t a;;ow you to decline them, then maybe you’ve got enough time left in the government to change the law, to make it lawful. After all, you managed to do that with so many public sector pensions, why not your own? #JustAsking.

While you’re at it, in the week that another 5 years of Austerity has been announced, more cuts, 5 more years of no, or inconsequential, pay rises, how is that we have money to spare to drive a road tunnel underneath Stonehenge? Could that money not have been better spent elsewhere? #JustAsking

Does none of this bother you? Are you even aware of the carnage you’re causing? Silly question, you must be.

In 2010 we were fooled, many of us voted Tory but got lumbered with a toxic coalition that nobody had voted for.  Many of us will not make that mistake again, we won’t be fooled by your insincere rhetoric.  Maybe you don’t get it, but many of us have seen through what you’re doing. We may be small in number but your own actions and those of your ridiculous collection of ministers is doing our work for us. You are spreading the word yourselves. More and more people are realising what you’re doing.

WE Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

RIP Keef & The Ox

Band On The Run

Nothing whatsoever to do with a rather mediocre album of the same name.

More to do with serving prisoners on the run.

A recent spate of prisoners deciding not to return to their prisons after weekends out in the community inspired me to treat HM Prison Service to one of my #FOI requests.

I was curious to find out just how many serving prisoners are actually Unlawfully At Large.

Their response was to refuse my request, on the grounds that it would cost more than £600 to answer it.

Once I got over the initial shock and disappointment I continued reading and discovered that whilst they couldn’t actually give me an up-to-date figure they had sent me lots of historical information up to and  including 2013, so almost as good, and in far more depth than I had originally requested.

I’m certainly not an expert on the Prison Service but I know someone who is, so if I make any fundamental errors I’m sure that person will steer me in the right direction.

Very helpfully they have included separate information for Public and Private prisons enabling an old cynic like me to make certain comparisons.  How will the Private Sector compare?

The first little gem was ‘Mandatory Drug Tests’ (see, I told you they’d given more info than I asked for).  Most years the percentage failing these tests was approx 1-2% higher in the Private Prisons, mot an astounding difference.  In 2012-13 the percentage was 6.7% in Public Sector prisons and 8.9% in the Private Sector yielding a service total of 7.0%, so not really any great difference, but in the bad old days, well.

In 1998/99 the failure rate was 17.4% in the public sector and 27.6% in the private sector with a Service Total of 18.3%  So well done to the Prison Service and their Contracted Out partners (who knew there were contracted out prisons in 1998?).  Massive reductions achieved by both sectors which seems to have been relatively constant for a number of years now.

The prison population; has risen from 49,570 (Public) and 2,043 (Private) in 95/96 to 73,247 (Public) and 12,483 (Private) or from 51,613 to 85,895 in total since 95/96.  That seems like quite a lot to me.

Overcrowding – now that’s a subject that frequently makes the news.  The percentage of prisoners regarded as being in ‘overcrowded accommodation’ has unsurprisingly risen steadily since 1998/99. The number of overcrowded prisoners in the Public Sector has risen from 19.4% to 21.8% in 2012/13 and just fluctuated a little bit in the years between.  In the Private Sector overcrowding has risen from 27.9% to 29.3%. Quite a bit different to State Prisons, does this tell us anything??

Prisoners ‘Doubled Up’ in a cell – I must confess I thought that was the norm, but the figures show that in 95/96 16.7% of prisoners in public prisons and 11.3% in the private sector were ‘Doubled Up’.  By 2012/13 this had changed to 21.3% (Public) and 28.2% (Private), quite a change over the years, public sector coming down and private sector going up.  Does this tell us anything?

Prison Escort Escapes – these were really quite high in 95/96 with 35 (Public and 1 (Private) but by 2010/11 these figures had come down to between 0 and 2, a really good improvement, well done.

Escapes From Prison – these are the figures that everybody dreads and it’s fair to say tha the public sector did not do very well in the past, with 52,33,23, 28 and 30 respectively in the years 95/96 – 99/2000, set against the Private Sector’s 0-4 over the same period. Since 2008 both sectors have been reporting Prison Escapes between 0-2 per year.  Much, much better.

The good news is that only 5 Category A escapes have been reported between 95 and 2013.

The Really bad news for the Public Sector seems to be with Absconders – between 19995 and 1999 the Public Sector saw approx. 1,000 Absconders per year against a total of 4 in the Private Sector.  This has sort of settled at 175-250 in the Public Sector and 1 in the Private Sector.  Does this tell us anything?

The Private Sector seems to have NO Absconders still at large (not that they lost many) but the Public Sector cannot claim the same, most years seeing double figures of Absconders who successfully remain at large.

Apart from an absolutely awful year in 1995/96 when the Private Sector only had 18% of its inmates released on Temporary Licence actually come back, both sectors have reported a minimum of 94% since then, well done both.

I’m not quite sure what the difference is but the last piece of bad news for the Public Sector is Temporary Release Failures To Return. Anyone tell me the difference between this and the previous category?  Anyway the Private Sector have consistently performed well in this area, reducing a peak of 10 in 1995/96 gradually down to 2 in 2012/13.  The Public Sector, however, has figures that have increased from 356 in 1995/96 to 429 in 2012/13, although, to be fair, they did go down to 248 in 2007/08, before creeping back up again.  Does this tell us anything?

So, there we have it, much more information than I expected to receive and absolutely not the results I expected to see.  The Private Sector seems to out-perform the Public in certain areas, but by no means all.

Olympic fiasco firm G4S loses contract to run Yorkshire prison

THE firm at the centre of the Olympics security shambles recently lost its contract to run a jail in Yorkshire and failed to win any further prison contracts it was bidding for, the Ministry of Justice has said.

G4S, which failed to provide enough guards for the London 2012 games, will stop running the Wolds prison in East Yorkshire and it will return to the public sector from next year.

The Wolds prison, a category C training prison holding up to 395 men, has been run by G4S since it opened in 1992.

But it will return to the public sector at the end of the current contract in July 2013, the MoJ said.

G4S shares were down 5% after the announcement.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the Government’s decision to hand over prisons to the private sector was “a mistake of Olympic proportions”.

She also called for details of how the bidding process is being decided to be made public.

“The Government will seek to deflect criticism of its prison privatisation programme by excluding G4S from the next stage of the bidding process, but the principle of awarding lucrative contracts to private companies running prisons on the cheap remains unchallenged,” Ms Crook said.

Something as important as taking away someone’s freedom should only be done by the state, answerable to taxpayers, rather than by international private security firms, answerable only to their shareholders.”

She went on: “Running prisons for profit also means these multinationals cash in on others’ misery, making more money out of increased levels of crime and a greater number of people being held in overcrowded cells.

Private firms are often much better at winning contracts than delivering the goods, but the criteria for these decisions have not been made public.

“This is concerning, as the Department for Transport’s bungling of the West Coast Main Line contract only came to light after Virgin Trains took legal action.”

Ms Crook added: “I am writing to the chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (Noms) to request the details of how the bidding process is being decided.”

Any further prison sell-offs should be stopped and an independent review is urgently required, the Public and Commercial Services union said.

Mark Serwotka, its general secretary, said: “The privatisation of our prison service ought to be a national scandal and that this has happened without any public debate is shameful.

It is morally reprehensible that companies are profiting from locking people up and we urgently need an independent review to look at the impact on our communities, staff and prisoners.”

 

I had never considered this angle before, and whilst I fully accept and understand that G4S (other private companies are also available) are not responsible for the decision-making process as to whether an individual is incarcerated or not, the moral question as to whether it is right to make huge profits out of peoples’ deprivation of liberty is, I think, a valid one.  I was rather sad to note that their profits had fallen by 5% as a result of losing this contract though, not.

Olympic fiasco firm G4S loses contract to run Yorkshire prison – Main Section – Yorkshire Post.