Sorry about the picture but I thought it was a timely reminder when talking about cuts that some of our colleagues are facing real cuts on the front line.
Like many Forces, Utopia is reviewing itself and all sorts of projects are underway to cut police officer and police staff numbers. We are also bracing ourselves for further cuts when the public spending axe will undoubtedly start swinging next year.
I don’t know about your Force, but in Utopia police officer numbers are reducing steadily while police staff are increasing quite dramatically. We keep being told that police staff are better value and we can get more of them for less. We all seem to have been brainwashed now to accept this view.
I decided to look at the numbers and I would urge you to do the same in your Force. Over the last ten years we have lost 235 police officer posts but we have gained over 1500 police staff posts. Now I only got a C in Maths at ‘O’ Level, but even I can tell that for 1500 police staff I can get about 1000 police officers. So are police staff really good value for money?
Whilst reflecting on where we are spending money and where we might make savings I started to think about some of the beasts that have been created to oversee and manage the police service. If further money needs to be saved in future, is there scope to make it among the quango monsters that seem to be the tail wagging the dog? I have excluded the Home Office, for now, but this is where the big bucks are spent and where we should perhaps be focusing most of our scrutiny.
The National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) was created in 2007. It employs 2327 staff and costs the taxpayer £700 million a year, enough to run two medium sized police forces. What do they actually deliver? They oversee some national products such as Airwave. (An expensive dogs mess!) In general it seems to be an expensive gravy train for lots of overpaid senior officers to provide advice, recommendations, support etc to Police forces that really takes us nowhere.
Look at some of the roles: Peter Neyroud, Chief Constable and Chief Executive £195 K p.a. plus perks. Angela O’Connor, Chief People Officer £145K p.a. plus perks Richard Earland Chief Information Officer £160 K plus perks Nice work if you can get it.
And some of the roles tell a tale about the pointless task that they perform: Planning Dependency Manager £32-39 K p.a. Transformation Change Analyst £43-53 K p.a.
I could go on but you get the picture. Would we miss it if it disappeared into the ether?
Next is Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary. Compared to the NPIA it is small fry. Home Office funded and only £12.34 million. But what do we actually get from the HMIC? They simply provide work for the bureaucratic machinery within each force, demanding statistics, reports, teams of officers preparing for inspections etc. Bugger off and leave us alone then we can save millions in bureaucracy and concentrate on the basics of policing and spend some money on filling the obvious gaps you so cleverly identify.
Next, the Independent Police Complaints Commission. £32 million at the last count. Is this value for money?
Finally, I wanted to mention ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers. Most people are under the impression that this is a staff association. It is not! There is a Chief Police Officer’s Staff Association. ACPO is a limited company funded by the Home Office to the tune of £15m last year and also by the Association of Police Authorities. Far from being an independent voice for the police service, it is a money making business funded to advise and influence but also to promulgate the views of the purse holders and masters. In bed with the NPIA; a very cosy nepotistic relationship providing lots of jobs for the boys and girls.
There is too much fat and too much overlap within all these organisations. When the public spending axe starts swinging next year I hope it cuts a swathe through these quangos and not within the Forces. As I first stated in this missive, left to the forces, they will cut front line staff rather than backroom police staff functions. God help us!
The opinions and views expressed here are mine, and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the policies and views of the Utopian Police Force nor the City of Utopia.
The stories I tell here are all true but my purpose is not technical accuracy. My purpose is to illustrate the nature of policing in an educational and entertaining way.
I have tried to respect the privacy of the citizens of the city and to relate specific facts without identifying individuals. I believe I succeed in this but if you do recognize yourself and believe others will too, please contact me and I shall rectify it.