Will The Last One Out Please Turn Off The Lights – UK PLC Is Heading For The Badlands

As a devout cynic I shuddered mightily when the announcement, followed by the reality, that we were going to (and have done) lose 17,500 Police Officers under Dave Camoron’s ‘Reforms’.

That was bad enough and I don’t need to go over old ground, we have all seen the reality, the constant ‘Crying Wolf’, Cuts do indeed have Consequences and we are seeing them.  It was brought home to me JUST how bad things are this weekend, the Notting Hill Carnival.  As an established veteran of that event dating back to the most awful events of 1976 I always take an interest in how it’s going.

6,000 officers on Sunday (traditionally Children’s Day) and 7,000 officers on Monday.  Over 300 arrests across the 2 days, 44 arrests for Knife-related offences, and at least one if not two Police Officers stabbed.  I heard a rumour (unsubstantiated I agree, but neither has it been denied) that the Met ran out of Custody space at 10.30 on Monday night.  That is a disgraceful situation,. there must be dozens of redundant Custody Suites dotted around the Met in Stations that have not yet been sold off or closed down, but, oh yes, you need experienced officers to staff them.

Then, to compound my angst, I caught up with the predictions that we are set to lose anything up to 22,000 jobs, and this based on the lowest estimate of a 25% budget cut, it could be as much as 40%.

Several Chief Officers are now coming out of the woodwork to complain about the cuts, with few exceptions, we should have heard from them so much sooner.

In the midst of it all we have whiny, negative Sara Thornton, who I always thought was better than that, banging on about how we can’t cope, we’ll have to stop visiting burglary scenes, etc etc, instead of using her privileged position to properly fight back.  Give them some stick Sara, what have you got to lose?

I should be used to negativity from senior officers by now, but it still doesn’t sit well, how can anybody follow a Chief Constable who is hell-bent on apologising and making excuses for problems caused by government?

 

It’s a good job I’m not a cynical man or I might think that the current furore in the press about Police Cars without sirens being used in a Response mode was designed to deflect public attention away from the bigger problem.  That is a separate, and valid, argument/discussion in its own right, but basically caused solely by Camoron’s savage desire to ‘Reform’ the Police Service.

More and more people are beginning to notice that their politicians are lying to them (allegedly) and it is no duty of a politician of any colour to tell outright porkies.

Camoron, Cruella, Milky Bar – You are NOT Reforming the Police Service, you are ANNIHILATING it.  Stick THAT in your Manifesto’

Surely it is time for ALL Chief Constables, NPCC, PCCs, Federations and PFEW to join forces and totally condemn these evil practices and show a united front for once.  Is that so unreasonable?

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Policy Exchange – The Sequel (Other Think Tanks Are Available)

There I was, Saturday night, trying to find something to take my mind off the travesty that is Eurovision, when I came upon this tweet from Clive Chamberlain

BLOCKED? By Policy Exchange for asking a perfectly valid question? That’s just not cricket. It reminded me that I had previously written a post about Policy Exchange which I knew included where SOME of its funds come from, so I sent him the link. That inspired a series of tweets with various people joining in, and some quite useful information coming out of them. It also made me realise that it was in 2012 that I last had a prod at them. Time for an update methinks. It also got me very wound up about the ethics of Policy Exchange, and those who associate with them, but going back to who funds them; I took another, up to date, look at their website, who funds them, and what do they do? “Policy Exchange is the UK’s leading think tank. As an educational charity our mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy. The authority and credibility of our research is our greatest asset. Our research is independent and evidence-based and we share our ideas with policy makers from all sides of the political spectrum. Our research is strictly empirical and we do not take commissions. This allows us to be completely independent and make workable policy recommendations. There are numerous examples of where our policy ideas have been taken forward by government. Below are just a few examples

Directly elected police commissioners [I shall be returning to this later in my post]
The pupil premium
Free Schools

Our research predominantly falls under three main themes
Jobs and Growth
Poverty and Social Mobility
Public Services”

So, not much has changed from their website 2 years ago; Charity, Independent, Don’t Take Commissions, blah blah blah. Another part of their website allows access to their official accounts, the most recent posted being 2012-2013. Under income it identifies three types of income; Unrestricted Income, Designated Income and Restricted Income.

Unrestricted Funds – these are available for use at the discretion of the Trustees in the furtherance of the charitable objectives of the Charity.

Designated Funds. – If part of an Unrestricted Fund is earmarked for a particular project it may be designated as a separate fund …….blah blah blah

Restricted Funds – are funds subject to specific restricted conditions imposed by donors of those funds, such as donations given to the charity for specific research programmes and/or projects.

Am I being thick here, or does the definition of Restricted Funds mean the same as Taking A Commission, which they state they don’t do? Any explanations gratefully received. Much has been said about their charitable status, I for one don’t think it’s apropriate, and I’m by no means alone in that.

And their declared income for the year 2012-13?

Unrestricted Funds – £367,982

Designated Funds – £126,000

Restricted Funds – £1,490,473

So unless I’m very much mistaken the vast majority of their income is in the form of Restricted Funds, but they don’t do Commissions. How does that work? Am I wrong? Please correct me if I am.

Peter Kirkham played a blinder recently with this one.

@Alanw47@cate_a_moore@stivevans “a charity cannot exist for…securing/opposing change in law/policy/decisions” https://t.co/i34Dr0RYcF — Peter Kirkham (@Peter_Kirkham) May 24, 2015

The full quotation is “However, a charity cannot exist for a political purpose, which is any purpose directed at furthering the interests of any political party, or securing or opposing a change in the law, policy or decisions either in this country or abroad

What the hell else does Policy Exchange exist for except to influence government policy? Even if you call that ‘advice’ it’s still a political purpose, is it not? So why on earth is it allowed the benefits of Charitable Status’?  Their accounts contain the following stated ‘Object Of The Charity’ “The non-partisan advancement of education in the economic, social and political sciences and their effect on public policy and the policy making process in the UK and the promotion and publication of objective research

The next thing to irk me came out of that. With Charitable Status comes immunity to Freedom of Information Act requests. If Think Takes like Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are available sadly) have immunity from FOI (a piece of legislation that Cameron doesn’t really like any way, and the Home Office’s attitude towards it is dire, woeful) why oh why is Mrs May pushing for it to be extended to cover the Police Federation. Us mortals have had to come to terms with the FOI over the last 15 years, and as a piece of legislation it’s not too bad, it’s the way it’s implemented by various authorities that stinks.

Lest we forget Inspector Raymond Fowler reminded us all of this

Finally, you’ll be pleased to hear, I got to scrutinising the Met’s Hospitality Registers. You must bear in mind that I did only look at the Met’s registers, it would take me a week to look at them all, but the entries I found will no doubt be repeated in a Constabulary near you.

In January 2014 Inspector Cranmer, bless him, head of the Taser Unit, turned down the offer of a lunch with a Cruise company, but did declare that he had accepted a cup of coffee and ONE biscuit.

In March 2014 Sir Bernie Hogan-Who declared a working lunch with Sir John Major

In June 2014 BHH declared that he had accepted a dinner invitation with Wiliam Hague as a Networking opportunity to end sexual violence in conflict zones.

In June 2014 Betsy Stanko, Assistant Director Corporate Development, declared that she had accepted a dinner invitation from Policy Exchange, in order to meet some visitors from USA and Nick Herbert.

In July 2014 BHH declared that he had accepted a dinner invitation from Lord Wasserman [I shall return to this in a minute]

In October 2014 BHH declined a dinner invitation from the Centre For social Justice due to previous diary commitments.

In November 2014 BHH declared that he accepted a Working Lunch with Lord Mandelson.

In November 2014 BHH declined an invitation from Policy Exchange to the Colin Crampton Memorial Awards Event due to Diary Commitments.

In November 2014 AC was invited by Dean Godson, Director, Policy Exchange, to attend the Colin Crampton Memorial Awards Event. He declined the invitation to the event but accepted the invitation to dinner.

In December 2014 AC Rowley declared that he had declined an invitation from Dean Godson, Policy Exchange as he was ‘Unable to Attend’.

In January 2015 BHH declined an invitation from Reform to attend the International Crime and Policing Conference, reason not shown.

I also noted that at least one senior member of Police Staff is declining ALL invitations from the Chemistry Club, no idea what the story is there but good on him.
Reform Think Tank continue to show just how independent they can be with these two tweets last week

 

Returning to Police and Crime Commissioners and Lord Wasserman as I promised to, Policy Exchange claim to have come up with the idea of them. The BBC gives Lord Wasserman the credit for being the mastermind. They can’t both be right. Was Lord Wasserman connected with Policy Exchange in some way at some time? If so what is Bernard Hogan-Who doing having dinner with him? I was always told that politics and Policing should not mix, but BHH seems to manage it.

Finally, a quick look at the some of the Trustees of this Charity;

Additionally Edward Heathcoat Amory is/was a journalist for the Daily Mail, and at least one if not more is a non-executive director at Dept of Education.

Charitable Status? And all that means. It’s about time someone with enough resources challenged that status, it gives charities a bad name.

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Is Theresa May Completely Out Of Touch With Everybody?

Have her advisers and researchers let her down? Is she poorly briefed?

Maybe she just knows better than everybody else and we have yet to realise that.

Maybe she is rigidly toeing the Party Line and doing & saying just what Mr Camoron tells her to do and say.

One thing that is for certain is that she is hell-bent on taking no notice whatsoever of what the Front Line are telling her.  Apparently we are all just “Scaremongering”. I’m sure you all heard her speech at the PFEW Conference or have read the headlines.  Crime is down and those that say otherwise are just Scaremongering.

So please – for your sake and for the thousands of police officers who work so hard every day – this crying wolf has to stop

 

Today, you’ve said that neighbourhood police officers are an “endangered species”. I have to tell you that this kind of scaremongering does nobody any good – it doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t serve the officers you represent, and it doesn’t serve the public.

 

So that is my offer to you: more reform to make your lives better, to save police time, and to give you more discretion so that you can get on with the jobs you are trained to do.

You can choose to work with me. Or you can choose to shout from the sidelines. What I offer is a positive vision for policing, one in which it is an exciting time to be a police officer, where you have the freedom to get on with your job, where you are rewarded for your skills and hard work, and where policing is fit for the future.

 

So, we’ve established that she’s out of touch with the Police.

IMG_0387.JPG

She said the next phase of her police reform programme would include technological changes such as transforming police cars into police stations and the wider adoption of body-worn video cameras. But it would also include moves to reduce demand on policing at a time when crime is falling.

She accused the Police Federation of scaremongering and repeatedly “crying wolf” over the impact of the previous round of cuts in police funding as part of the government’s austerity programme – and rejected their claims that further cuts would force them to adopt “paramilitary styles of policing” in Britain.

 

The home secretary said that a new policing bill in next week’s Queen’s speech would “allow us to go further and faster with reform freeing up police time and putting policing back in the hands of professionals”.

 

Is that really what is necessary or wanted?  Not wanted by the Police, not considered necessary by the Police and I’m reasonably sure that huge chunks of the Public don’t want it or believe that such swingeing cuts are necessary or good for the Country.

So there you have it, I already think that the Home Secretary has lost touch with the reality of what the people on the ground, the practitioners, are saying.   The only organisation she takes notice of is HMIC apparently, need I say more on that subject?

Is she ignoring everybody or is she being worked by a Puppetmaster?

But Mrs May is an elected Member of Parliament and has Constituency matters to occupy her time as well as being Home Secretary.  Surely she would have her ear to the ground and know what was going on in leafy Maidenhead, wouldn’t she?

The town of Maidenhead has a population of about 80,000 and Wiki describes it thus;

Maidenhead is a large affluent town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, in Berkshire,

Not too shabby.  There are approx 75,000 voters in the constituency.

A few, short days ago I wrote a post challenging the idea that Crime is Down.  I haven’t heard anything from the Home Secretary so I presume she hasn’t read it yet, but I’m sure she will.  So, we’ve now established that she’s out of touch with the various bodies that publish Crime Stats.

So how is crime doing in leafy Maidenhead? Down or Up?

Surely Mrs May would know what was happening with Crime in her constituency wouldn’t she? After all, Crime Is Falling.

http://www.ukcrimestats.com/Subdivisions/WMC/65901/ tells us what the crime situation is in the parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead.

Crime in the Parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead
Crime in the Parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead

It gets slightly easier to read if you click on it.

Sadly I can’t extract the whole data table from the website but it it’s clear from the data above that overall, after a dip last year, total crime is now on the increase in Maidenhead.

Graphs of Crime, both with and without Anti-Social Behaviour over the last 12 months show that crime is once again on the increase in Maidenhead, not significantly I grant you, and it peaks and troughs throughout the year, but I see NOTHING in the crime data for Mrs May’s constituency to convince me that CRIME IS DOWN.  You would think that she would know what was going on in her own constituency wouldn’t you?

Crime without ASB Maidenhead

 

Crime including ASB Maidenhead
Crime including ASB Maidenhead

So maybe she’s out of touch with her public as well.

Just to rub salt into her wounds I suppose I should remind us all that she remains only the second serving Home Secretary to have a conviction for Contempt of Court, so I guess she’s out of touch with the judicial system as well.  On the first occasion, in 1991, Kenneth Baker ignored an instruction from a judge in an asylum case and the ruling against him was backed up by five law lords in a landmark judgement.

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Don’t Let Apathy And Despondency Win

Those of you who know me in my real life will know that I have never backed away from a fight with Management, even when it was blindingly obvious that I was destined to lose.  When I have seen injustice and unfairness or something else that wasn’t quite right, particularly in my latter years, I challenged it.  Mainly I lost, they were the bosses and I was not, but at least they knew that I had noticed it and challenged it.

Now that I’m retired I can challenge things as much as I like, although the Management have absolutely no reason to listen to me at all any more, but I would feel like I had given in if I didn’t pop up and challenge things that simply aren’t right.

Earlier I promoted Chris Hobbs’ letter to Theresa May, which whilst I accept she’s very unlike to read, let alone take any notice of, I thought it was a powerful letter, and completely fell in line with my ethos of not leaving things unchallenged.

In response I received comments such as;

This letter is a waste of time, she will not even read this let alone take any of the issue mentioned in it on board. We know exactly where we stand with her, what really hacks me off is the fact that yet again she is even attending the conference. How many time do the Fed JEC need to get kicked in the teeth by this women to realise that letters, meetings, and marches around London dont mean squat. We need a massive change at the top of the Fed as those that are there now have shown that they don’t have what it takes to fight this fight. Maybe not everyone’s view but its mine.

and

I dont think that sending letters is the way to fight as she has shown utter contempt for the Fed and its member and a letter, no matter how well written will have no effect whatsoever. The Fed Jec need to regain the trust of it members in order to be able to fight…a trust which I think has been lost.

and

A good letter but I am afraid that the present government have no interest in the police other than a source of saving public money and the being able to criticise when things go wrong. Expect more areas to be privatised, more cuts, more demoralised staff, increased sickness for which we will also be criticised, greater pressure on management to deliver more with less, and greater pressure on the front line staff. I wish every serving police officer and member of support staff the bet, you continue to do a great job in incredibly difficult circumstances. I am glad that I cannow look in from the outside.

and

The present government are committed to dissolution of the police service. Their main strategy is to render the service unfit for purpose and make it desirable that it be fully replaced. The tactics are to cut funding, damage its efficiency, cause poor performance and thereby reduce professional credibility. Why? Well to take it out of the public sector and put it on a paying basis. Follow the money.

Whilst I couldn’t honestly disagree with the sentiments of any of those responses, is the answer then to just roll over and have our bellies rubbed, or maybe slit wide open?  Just because The Home Secretary is Cruella and we are just mere plebs, does that mean that we can’t challenge her edicts and diktats?  If we don’t who will?  The Press aren’t about to jump on any bandwagon against her policies just at the moment.

Make no mistake, the changes she and Camoron and Milky have brought about in the name of Austerity and Reform cannot be reversed.  I’ve lost track of the number of Police Stations across the UK that have been closed and sold off, I seem to remember reading a figure of 63 for London alone.  If she suddenly had a change of heart and changed her mind tomorrow, those Police Stations are GONE, they cannot be re-iopened and there is no money left to buy or build new ones.  As I said, can’t be reversed.

This evening sees the latest doom and gloom proposals, from the Met, in the Standard.

Scotland Yard is planning to sell off more police stations and buildings in London as the force faces a further £800 million in budget cuts.

Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe warned the Met faces a “serious challenge” to find further savings in the next round of Government cuts, which he said would inevitably mean fewer officers and buildings.

He raised the prospect of a slimmed-down police force operating from as few as 100 buildings in the capital.

Is this what we want?

Is this what the Tory Voters really had in mind and supported?

If so, be very careful what you wish for because you might just get it, and it’s looking ever more likely.

As for me, I’ll just keep banging my head against the proverbial brick wall until I knock myself out because I can’t just sit back and say nothing, but don’t have the connections to get my views well known.  So if you suddenly stop hearing from me I’ve probably been carted off somewhere and shut in a darkened room.

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If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It–What The Country Voted For

In Camoron’s first incarnation as the Nation’s Prime Minister he set about reforming the Legal System system, amongst others.  In doing so he aimed to save about £450 Million from Legal Aid bills.  This led to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO coming into force.

This Act, which personally I had never heard of before, seems to only apply to Civil cases, but some of those Civil cases might affect us at some point in our lives.  It has removed countless cases from the scope of the Legal Aid scheme.

LASPO reverses the position whereby legal aid is accessible for all civil cases other than those excluded by the Access to Justice Act 1999. Whole categories of law have been taken out of scope for legal aid; others only qualify if they meet certain criteria. The categories now out of scope include:

  1. Family cases where there is no proof of domestic violence, forced marriage or child abduction. There has been a 60% fall in family cases granted funding and two thirds of cases in the family court now feature somebody representing themselves.
  2. Immigration cases that do not involve asylum or detention
  3. Housing and debt matters unless they constitute an immediate risk to the home
  4. Welfare benefit cases; except appeals to the upper tribunal or high court
  5. Almost all clinical negligence cases
  6. Employment cases that do not involve human trafficking or a contravention of the Equality Act 2010

The 4 out of 6 that I have highlighted are the ones that are most likely to affect us at some time. Don’t think that Criminal Law has escaped either, as from last April the government has cut the Criminal Legal Aid budget by £215 Million as well.

To clarify, this is what I wrote about the (then) forthcoming changes on another site;

“Changes to legal aid

Welfare benefit appeals

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you make an appeal against a decision on welfare benefits unless you’re making an appeal to the Upper Tribunal or higher courts.  So, once again our caring sharing government has excelled, not only do they slash benefits, ATOS assessments abound, everyone being forced off the rock and roll, but we’ve taken away the only way an unemployed/ill person can use to challenge that decision.  Without a sudden increase in charitable funding, how are these folk going to pay their legal fees to challenge what they undoubtedly see as an unfair assessment etc etc?  Surely this is akin to the school bully nicking your dinner money and then tying you up so you can’t tell anyone?  Or is it just me that thinks that?

Debt

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with your debts unless a creditor is making you bankrupt or taking court action to evict you from your home

Housing

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with housing problems unless:

  • there’s serious disrepair in your home
  • you’re homeless
  • you’re being evicted from your home
  • the council is taking action against you because of anti-social behaviour.

Employment

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an employment dispute or go to an employment tribunal unless it’s a discrimination case.

Private family law

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with private family law problems unless you’re a victim or are at risk of domestic violence or there has been or is a risk of child abuse These include:

  • divorce
  • dissolution of civil partnership
  • financial disputes
  • property disputes
  • disputes over children.

Asylum support

If you’re an asylum seeker, you won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with asylum support unless you have applied for both housing and financial support.

Non-asylum immigration

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an immigration application unless you:

  • have been detained
  • make an application under the domestic violence rules
  • make an application because you’re a victim of human trafficking.

Education

You won’t get legal aid to help with education problems unless the child or young adult has Special Educational Needs.

Consumer and general contract law

You won’t get legal aid for any action you want to take for consumer problems or problems you have with general contracts.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cases

You won’t get legal aid to help with the costs of trying to get compensation because you’ve suffered a criminal injury.

Clinical negligence cases

You won’t get legal aid for most clinical negligence problems.

What will you still be able to get legal aid for

You’ll still be able to get legal aid for the following problems:

  • care proceedings
  • family mediation
  • asylum applications
  • mental health proceedings
  • community care cases
  • discrimination. “

I seem to recall reading somewhere previously that we can no longer get Legal Aid to challenge Government Decisions but as I write I can’t quite lay my hands on that gem, or I might just be getting old.  I did however find this which might mean that I’m NOT going senile.

“In a judgment handed down on 3rd March 2015, the High Court ruled that regulations brought in by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, in April 2014 to cut legal aid funding for judicial review are unlawful.

The case hinged on the MoJ’s decision to restrict legal aid for Judicial Review challenges of decisions made by public bodies

Now we’ve had our General Election and the country voted.  They voted Tory and brought in a (small) majority government with Camoron at the helm.

One of his avowed policies is to scrap the Human Rights Act.  By doing so he will be removing the following collection of Rights from the Statute Book

  • The right to life
  • The right not to be tortured
  • The right not to be a slave
  • The right to a fair trial
  • The right NOT to be punished if you haven’t broken the law
  • The right to private family life
  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
  • The right to freedom of expression
  • The right to marry and start a family
  • The right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions
  • The right to education
  • The right to free elections
  • The right NOT to be given to death penalty

Some are clearly more important than others, and I’m certainly not saying that these rights and this Act won’t be replaced by something else, but what guarantees do we have?  Do we trust a Tory government not to weaken our basic Human Rights? Will there be a replacement Act?  Why replace the one we have?

People of Britain this is what you got when you voted.  Personally I’d rather not replace something unless it’s broke. In terms of Public Protection we seem to be considerably worse off than we were.

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Come On Cruella – Explain It To Us

Ii have heard many eloquent people highlighting the problems faced by Police and Public alike caused by the government’s reckless policy of repeatedly cutting the Police Budget.

I know that this problem applies to other PublicSectors also, but today I am concentrating solely on the Police.

It is frequently stated within the Police Service that if the reasons for doing something (for example Stop/Search, Kettling, Tasering) are explained to the public in a calm and reasonable manner then they will probably understand and possibly even support the action, or at the very least become less vociferous in their opposition. A calm explanation as to why I was Stop/Searching an apparently innocent person, the grounds and reason behind it, was frequently all that was required to defuse a tense situation and the person quite frequently went off perfectly happy.

So, Theresa May, David Cameron, why don’t you tell us, the Police and Public, just exactly why the cuts that you have already enacted, and the cuts that you have cued up for the next five years are actually ALL NECESSARY.

I have pointed out previously, on more than one occasion, that many of the 43 Forces have already shed more officers than they needed to to attain their 2015 Austerity Target set by HMIC.  Please explain to us calmly, in a language that we can all understand, why this was necessary.

Please explain to us why, when other public services find their budgets ring-fenced, the Police Budget is not.

Why is the Foreign Aid Budget ring-fenced and the Police Budget not?

Please explain to us why we keep hearing the mantra “Crime Is Down” to justify the cuts when overall demand on the Police Service is UP.

So would you please explain to us all quite calmly all of your reasons for decimating what used to be the finest Police Service in the world.  If you try and explain in a non-confrontational manner we might just understand and agree with you, possibly not, but go on try it, what do you have to lose?

The impression amongst the Police Service is that you are on a mission to destroy the Police Service, well you need to remember that the vast majority of the British Public have no connections with the Police Service whatsoever, but they still need for a Police Service to exist to report their crimes, deal with their Anti-Social Behaviour, maintain their public tranquility ( The Queen’s Peace) etc etc.

Demand UP, Establishment DOWN please explain to us why, JUSTIFY IT.


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Take No Notice It’s Just Me Sounding Off

It’s one of those days today, you know, one of those days when you just want to shout out loud and get ‘stuff’ off your chest. Well today is one of those days, so if you can’t be arsed to stay and read it that’s fine be me, hopefully I’ll see you another day soon.

Today’s issue is nothing new, it’s ‘The Cuts’.  I have written extensively on another site about Government Wastage and tried to put together in one place many of the instances where this government, and the previous one, has wasted BILLIONS of pounds. Enough money has been wasted to bolster many of our Public Services for quite some time.  I won’t waste your time going over them again you can read them elsewhere if you really want to.

I earned my Spurs in a Police FORCE that did not want for funding.  I have no problem whatsoever with ‘Efficiency Drives’, in current times it is more important than ever to be as ‘efficient’ as we can be. However, the simple formula is this; it costs £xxxxxxxxx per annum to Police London, Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire, DeadBadgerShire etc. that is a fact. If you reduce their funding, in its simplest terms, that means that SOMETHING WONT GET DONE.

I’ll talk about Policing because that’s the world I know, but the comments apply equally to the NHS, Armed Forces, Education etc etc.

Policing is not a retail industry, they don’t sell anything to make money, there are no shares to sell to generate extra income.  It always used to be, before the wonderful days of ‘Devolved Budgeting’, that the Home Office (or Police Authority) allocated an amount of money each year to Police the area. In London, if that pot of money ran out the Commissioner could ask for more from the Home Office (don’t laugh, it’s true).

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Is The College Of Policing Selective With Its Communications?

I guess we’re all coming to terms with the College of Policing, and frankly I’m glad that I don’t have to concern myself with it unduly.

We recently (12th March)  heard about their National Scrutiny of Undercover Policing, but in reality that panel had their first meeting in July 2014. Had anybody heard about this controversial panel before March 2015?  Not exactly timely communication from the College.

On 20th March the College published their Interim Review of Leadership which contained a recommendation that Specials could be promoted to Sergeant ( or above) if they met the National Criteria and give Operational Directions to Regular officers. This was not reported by Police Oracle until 10th April, and I for one haven’t seen it reported in the Traditional national Press at all.  Officers who have given up many hours of their own time to study for promotion to Sergeant are understandably not best pleased.

Is this a case of the College not pushing some of the more controversial parts of their Review, or is it the National Media choosing not to report it?

On 31st March they published information that as of April(!) PCSOs would be given new powers.

Changes to the powers of police community support officers (PCSOs) have been outlined in a new booklet going out to forces across England and Wales in April.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 created additional powers for PCSOs and chief officers should decide which they will grant to PCSOs in their force areas.

These include
• seizing property
• to confirm the identity of a charity collector
• issuing fixed penalty notices for parking in a restricted area outside schools; causing unnecessary noise; cycling without lights and carrying a passenger on a cycle.

The same Act has created a number of offences relating specifically to PCSOs, namely;
• assaulting a PCSO in the execution of their duty;
• resisting or wilfully obstructing a PCSO in the execution of their duty
• impersonating, or falsely claiming to be, a PCSO with intent to deceive
• being a PCSO and making a false suggestion that one possesses powers that exceed those designated by the chief officer.

Local Policing lead at the College of Policing, Chief Superintendent Paul Phillips, said:

“Police community support officers help to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. They make people feel safer in their communities and are closing the gap between crime and the fear of crime.

This is obviously not a College Initiative, it most likely forms part of #MaysMayhem, but the College did choose to publicise it right at the very last minute.  I hadn’t previously heard of this, and if I hadn’t been rummaging around the College website I would probably still be unaware.

So I dare say the government should take a share of the blame for this one, but has anybody seen the ‘booklet’ yet? Had anybody heard of this decision before 31st March?  Once they’d taken the decision to publish, should the College have publicised it sooner?

All I know is that things are pretty rotten in the world of Policing at the moment and I don’t see the College doing a single thing to improve conditions on the Front Line or improve that all-important element MORALE.

Glad I’m out.

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It Has Never Been A Better Time To Be A Volunteer

It’s Official.

Be a Volunteer.

Loads of opportunities.  Never be Bored and Fed Up again.  Let’s take a look and see some of the opportunities Volunteering has to offer.

Territorial Army – OK I know it’s not Voluntary Work in the accepted sense, but I’m sure you get my drift.  “They have sometimes been dismissed as “weekend warriors” who lack the fitness, discipline and commitment of regular soldiers.

But the Territorial Army (TA) – in the process of being rebranded the Army Reserve – already makes up a sizeable part of the British Army’s manpower and will soon be playing an even greater role.”

Under the government’s Army 2020 review, the size of the regular army is being reduced by a fifth and reservists will have to help meet the shortfall.

The intention of the MOD is that by 2020, the British Army will have 120,000 soldiers, of which 84,000 will be Regulars and 35,000 Reservists (a ratio of 70/30).

I am most definitely knocking the TA, they do a fine job, but what kind of half-arsed mentality would have 30%  of our Army as Reservists?  Or is it just me?  Maybe I’m the half-arsed one and everybody in government and MOD is normal.  And that’s just the Army, not taking into account the fine chaps of the RAF and Navy.

It is intended that by 2020 10% (1,800 personnel) of the RAF will be High Readiness Reserves.

It is intended that by 2020 the trained strength of the Maritime Reserves will be 3,100 sailors and marines

So there you are, plenty of opportunity, go Volunteer.

Policing – Theresa May has got that one sussed;

The number of the voluntary officers would increase more than fourfold – from the current 15,000 to the peak levels of 67,000 last seen more than 50 years ago, said Theresa May, the Home Secretary [in 2010]

She also outlined plans for a volunteer “police reserve force” to bolster the country’s 141,000 (Ha!!!) front-line police officers, whose numbers are said to be under threat because of public sector spending cuts.

Mrs May disclosed the volunteer plans as she outlined a wide range of police reforms, described as the most radical for half a century.

The trouble is that her plan has gone a little wobbly and Specials numbers have actually REDUCED.

There were 17,789 special constables in the 43 police forces on 31 March 2014, a decrease of 1,222 or 6.4 per cent compared with a year earlier  By 30th September 2014 this number had gone down even further to 16,792, or a further 5.6%.

With the College of Policing’s plans for the Special Constabulary it has seldom been a better time to Volunteer.

Especially when you take into account the College of Policing’s marvellous tome, Leadership Review.

You don’t need to read all 37 Pages, the bits that refer to the benefits of Volunteering are here;

5.4.17
“As well as having access to leadership development, police staff and members of the special constabulary should have the opportunity to be considered for police officer positions, via direct entry routes.Developing leadership opportunities for police staff is discussed further in recommendation 7.”

5.6.4
“Specials cannot currently progress beyond constable, and the ranks they have are administrative grades. They should be entitled to seek promotion to different ranks, provided they meet national standards and pass the selection process. If they attain a rank and are deemed proficient they could be considered for direct selection to full-time roles. In doing this, it is important to ensure that the essence of volunteering is retained, and a two-tier culture is not created within the special constabulary.”

Specials do a fine job, of that I have absolutely no doubt, but I do feel that they are being used as a Tactical Option in the war on the Police Service being waged by Imelda and the Milky Bar Kid..

 

milkybar

…………….and every other Police Force you can mention

CHARITY SHOPS – one of the traditional locations for anybody wanting to give up some of their time and help the less fortunate.  Well, actually, don’t bother.  Charity Shops have now become de rigeur for anybody on Job Seekers Allowance, to maintain their benefits they are being sent to work (unpaid I believe) in the nation’s Charity Shops.  Mrs Angry is less than impressed.  Her sanctuary at the local Charity Shop has been invaded by a veritable army of Job Seekers sent their by the Job Centre, who don’t want to be there and just clutter the place being sulky like Kevin the Teenager, and generally spoiling the atmosphere to the extent that quite a few of the Blue Rinse Brigade (duck!!!) have left because they felt so uncomfortable.

But if you still feel lie a bit of Voluntary Work, fret not, Sir Dave has come to the rescue with his Election Pledge

15 million workers to get three days’ paid volunteering leave each year

Every public sector worker and anyone working in a company with at least 250 employees – more than 15 million people in total – would be entitled to the volunteering leave.

Who is going to pay for this three days extra leave?  The Employer? – That will just be added on to the end cost and prices and inflation will ultimately rise accordingly, it will not come out of profits you can rest assured on that.  The Government?  Well if they can afford to fund that, they’ve got more money in the kitty than they’re letting on and they should put into one of the struggling Public Services instead.

Finally I thought that the whole concept of Volunteering was based on the principle of giving up some of your own time for the benefit of others.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Policing Under Theresa May – Some Undeniable Truths

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.

Back in 2011 she promised to cut Red Tape, whilst at the same time blaming Police Chiefs for that very same Red Tape

Just two months ago, she stated in the House that she had “cut red tape and freed the Police from Central Government control”  Is that what she calls it?

But, getting down to the Nitty Gritty, one of the most profound statements that she has made on practical policing was in relation to Stop and Search.

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.

(2) If—

(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.

(8) If—

(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?

Lastly, I need to go back to Stop and Search again.  I often hear rumours that Sergeants and Inspectors in the Met (not necessarily only the Met) set their troops numerical targets as a Performance Indicator for their Appraisals.  How can this be right?

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.

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