Monday 28 May 2012

With Respect, Mr Herbert, Bollocks!

Nick Herbert

The Police Federation might regret upsetting 'Kittens' at their annual Conference a couple of weeks ago. There was nothing in her speech to the Conference to suggest that there was going to be any change of tack by the Government. Little sign of listening or negotiating regarding the future of policing in this country.

The Federation heavyweights wrote a pretty acerbic e-mail to the Policing Minister, Nick Herbert and copied it to all MP's. His response is pretty blunt in political terms. It can be summarised as 'get stuffed.' He has certainly got his knickers in a twist regarding the suggestion that Tom Winsor's report was not independent.

Mr Herbert states that Tom Winsor wasn't even aware that other members of his legal firm were advising G4S with regard to their bid to take on a range of policing services. Really? A number of people claim they knew nothing about phone hacking. Does anyone believe them?

The most disingenuous part of Mr Herbert's letter is that he states Winsor is not about privatisation of policing services. This is laughable. It is true that Winsor doesn't actually mention privatisation. Why would it? That would be being honest with the public and likely to lose votes. Winsor will put in place all the building blocks necessary to privatise almost the entire service. Put this together with the European tender that all Police Forces have signed up to, except Derbyshire, to privatise most areas of policing in this country and you can see where it is going.

On another note, ACPO PLC gets almost half its funding from the Home Office and half from the Police Authorities. It does also make a fair chunk of money from selling CRB checks. Police Commissioners mean the end of Police Authorities in November and that stream of funding for ACPO is likely to go.

Head of ACPO, Sir Hugh Orde. Looking for a job in November. Police Commissioner?

In return for all that money,  ACPO provided the Government with their wisdom and advice in all policing matters. ACPO has broadly supported the Governments reform program. Their evidence to Winsor included the advice that constables could be paid less, but Chief Officers should be paid more. It appears ACPO have been following the Governments agenda like a bunch of lemmings heading for a cliff. The Government feels it can now do without ACPO's advice and get that elsewhere. From November the Home Office funding of ACPO is going to stop, effectively closing ACPO down. It appears that ACPO are not quite so keen on change now and a couple of other Chief officers are now expressing concerns with regard to the reform agenda and privatisation of policing services.

Thursday 24 May 2012

More on Our Failing Justice System

I have been banging on for some time now about our completely ineffective justice system; how sentencing policy fails to deter prolific offenders; how sentencing and rehabilitation fails completely to protect the public, who are now routinely told to protect themselves in the guise of crime prevention advice.

The riots throughout the country last August highlighted the disgraceful state of affairs, which has allowed prolific offenders to continue on their offending sprees with impunity. More than three quarters of those sentenced in relation to the riots had previous convictions. Of those with convictions, the average number of convictions was 15 offences. Only one third of those offenders, with an average 15 convictions, had ever been to prison.

New figures have been released showing that re-offending rates amongst prolific offenders are increasing rather than declining. Well I never! The average custodial sentence has increased by one month. I have been saying for some time that the complete ineffectiveness of sentencing and rehabilitation in this country means that more and more prolific offenders are walking in and out of our revolving door justice system treating the whole thing for what it is, a joke. They go on to commit more and more serious offences until they do something so serious they are being jailed for a significant time.

All this is too little too late. The average offender has seven court appearances before a custodial sentence is likely to be given. By this time they are so far down the road of criminality that the short sentence they receive is of no deterrence whatsoever and gives no time for any effective rehabilitation.

The police are the only part of the justice system which is of any effect. Falling morale and the dismantling of the police by Tom Winsor will result in a service as impotent as the rest of the justice system. Decent law abiding people should be very worried about this. The public should be harassing their MP's regarding this prospect. Criminals will be getting an almost free rein to carry on offending and victimising more and more innocent people.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Tom Winsor HMCIC?

There are unconfirmed reports that Tom Winsor has applied for the role of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary. When I read this I laughed out loud. I then realised that if this appointment comes about it will assist the Government implement the full disaster of Winsor 2 and the end of traditional policing in this country.

The public should be very concerned about Winsor. We know now that he invented information from officers in his report and some of the so called evidence is seriously flawed. Winsor has brushed this aside as irrelevant. We now know that Winsor is on the board of the law firm White and Case. This firm represented G4S in their negotiations with Lincolnshire Police who have privatised some of their services. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has assured us that Tom Winsor's independent report into policing is nonetheless independent as he carried it out as an independent individual and not as a representative of White and Case. So, that's OK then.

Winsor isn't about pay and pensions. We know we are going to take a hit on our pay and pensions like the rest of the public sector. Winsor isn't about getting better quality recruits. He wants to reduce, substantially, the starting pay of recruits. That is not going to improve the quality. Winsor isn't about getting better quality managers into the police. Direct entry at inspector level and superintendent won't work. Winsor simply puts in place the building blocks to allow managers to be brought in to manage private security staff. Winsor is about the privatisation of the police service. Winsor means private security guards patrolling the streets of Britain instead of the police. Winsor means when you dial 999 G4S security will answer your call instead of the police. Winsor means when you report a crime it will be investigated by G4S or similar.

The Government will try and convince the public that this service will be as good, or better, than that currently being provided by the police. When you have private security guards on minimum wage and shareholders trying to extract as much profit out of the company as possible, it is obvious what service the public will receive.

Winsor applying for the role of HMCIC is worrying. Worrying, because he clearly hasn't a clue about policing. Worrying, because it seems unlikely he would apply for the role without some nod from those in power. Worrying, because his appointment will help the Government bring about the aims of his report and the end of policing in this country as we know it.

Saturday 12 May 2012

We're All In This Together........Not!

When I joined the police 8% of my salary was taken as a contribution towards my pension. That went up to 11% in 1987. Those contributions will now go up to 14.2%. Combined with a four year pay freeze, the standard of living of all officers is going to be significantly eroded. With the state of the economy we have pretty well resigned ourselves to this.

The police budget is being cut by 20% and in the short term that will mean significantly increased pressures and demands on officers. The level of service we provide is deteriorating. Mistakes will be made, some of which will have serious consequences for victims and officers. Morale is already falling and will go through the floor when the Winsor proposals take effect. When officers start being made redundant and G4S security guards take over patrolling the streets and investigating all crime, the police service we know, and which is admired all over the world, will be consigned to history.

As part of the review of public sector pensions, judges are now being required to make contributions towards their pensions for the first time. Up until now they have been non contributory. They are being asked to pay just 1.8% towards their pension and are not at all happy about it. Judges earn between £103K (District Judges) and £240K (Lord Chief Justice.) They earn a 50% pension after 20 years service. The average judges pension is £54K. In addition to this, the vast majority have already  built up a huge private pension pot from their time as barristers.

The judges have two arguments against paying pension contributions. Firstly, they maintain that barristers are earning more than judges and so there is no incentive to become a judge and there is a risk that we will not be able to recruit good quality judges.

Secondly, having to pay pension contributions is effectively a pay cut. Judges are a special case and there is a constitutional need to protect their independence from the Government and they should be protected from the Government being able to cut their pay.

The judges have set up a fighting fund and are considering taking their case to the courts. I hope they can afford a barrister! There is a threat of industrial action ahead. Apparently judges have that right, which is withheld from the police.

If barristers are earning more than judges it simply confirms to me that people are paying themselves disgusting amounts of money. And the worst fact is that some of these people think they are worth it. I support capitalism but it has gone seriously awry. When the average annual salary is £29K we should not be paying people hundreds of thousands of pounds or millions in the case of company executives. There used to be a company in America. The rules of the company stated that the Chief Executive could not earn more than 10 times that of the lowest paid worker. We need to get back to some reality such as this to rein in some of our overpaid brass.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Police March 10th May

32,000 police officers marched in London today. It is unlikely it will divert the Government from their policing agenda but it was a fantastic turnout and may cause some of those in power to stop and reflect, especially in the wake of the recent elections.

There were a few single cause fruitcakes out, which provided some light entertainment. Is that you Ciaran?

It is important that people understand what the march was about. There are three main issues and I will deal with them in ascending order of priority.

Firstly, the police are cross about their pay and pensions. We understand that there is a financial crisis in the country, caused largely by the last profligate Government implementing its liberal policies. The banking crisis simply added to the problem. Police pay has been frozen for four years. With inflation running at 4% this means salaries and living standards are being cut. Additional allowances paid to some front line officers have been abolished. To add to this, pensions are being attacked. Officers currently joining the police have to work 35 years to get a half salary pension. They pay almost 10% of their salary for this. Pension contributions will be rising to 13 or 14% and officers may have to work up to 42 years before they get their pension at age 60.

I don't expect much public sympathy regarding pay and pensions but you need to understand that very few officers will be able to collect a full pension. This is part of the real plan. Tom Winsor wants any officer who isn't fully operational sacked. How many 59 year olds will be running after offenders and rolling around on the floor with drunks?

The second issue is the cuts of 20% to the police budget. We understand that the country is almost bankrupt and savings have to be made. Cutting police officer numbers when unemployment is rising and crime is increasing is simply going to add to the problems of this country. Peoples quality of life is in decline because of the austerity measures being taken. Cutting police officer numbers and allowing crime to rise is nonsensical.

The third and most important reason is the recommendations in the Winsor report. These recommendations put in place all the ingredients required to largely privatise the police service. Winsor is recommending that police officers pay is reduced even further and that police can be made redundant. He also recommends that senior officers are appointed directly into their roles rather than coming through the ranks.

What this means is that in five or ten years time police officers patrolling our streets will disappear. Patrolling will be privatised and security guards will take over that role. Police officers investigating crime will also disappear. Some forces have already largely civilianised that role. Police officers will disappear completely and investigation will also be completely privatised.

There will be a national paramilitary police force who will deal with violence, demonstrations and riots etc. Most of these officers will be short term, possibly contract employees, who will never see a proper pension. Managers from outside organisations, with no experience of policing, will be employed directly into senior roles to replace those that will no longer be coming through the ranks.

The public need to think carefully about the service they will get from the private sector. When profit is the motive of the employer, how much will patrolling and investigating security guards be paid and what will be the quality of those employees? What accountability will they have? What will the relationship be between the small paramilitary police force and the public? Will the small number of police officers left be able to deal with situations such as the riots last August?

Just 24 Metropolitan Police were tasked to police the police demonstration today. The Pakistan leader was visiting London today. Over 100 police officers were tasked to keep the Pakistani leaders pro and anti factions apart.

Hear! Hear!

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Racism or Political Correctness at its Worst?

Kabeer Hassan, One of the Offenders

You may have read today that a gang of nine Asian males were found guilty of plying young vulnerable white girls with drink and drugs and passing them around for sex. Some of the victims were as young as 13.

At the time of the arrest the police declined to state the ethnicity of the gang involved, sparking a lot of speculation in the press. Today police spokespersons have repeatedly stated that these were NOT racially motivated crimes. Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police said: "It is not a racial issue. This is about adults preying on vulnerable young children. It just happens that in this particular area and time the demographics were that these were Asian men." Mmm. If you do a bit of research you will find that 96% of offenders charged with these types of offences have been Asian. In particular, 83% are of Pakistani origin.

The Guardian is at pains to assure its readers that these are not racial crimes. They state. 'Despite the conviction of nine Asian men for child exploitation in Rochdale and worrying signs in the statistics, racial profiling won't help potential victims.' Seems to me that it might, unless they are suggesting racist police are targeting Asian offenders and ignoring black and white offenders.

Personally I don't care whether these crimes are labelled racist or not. The important issues are that we do more to safeguard victims, who invariably come from the ineffective liberal care system, and we do all we can to prosecute offenders, whatever their ethnicity.

I am concerned that in some cases the police seem almost too ready to make public assurances that offences are being treated as racist but, in other circumstances, are anxious to play down any possible racial aggravation.

Friday 4 May 2012


The Home Secretary announced last year that the last policing targets were being scrapped and the sole objective of the police is to cut crime. She also stated that red tape was going to be cut to give the police more time to focus on that task.

My force and the Police Authority recently announced its policing targets for 2012/13. These include:
1. Confidence and Satisfaction
Ensuring 85% of the public have confidence in the police.
Ensuring 82% of victims of serious incidents are satisfied with the overall service they received.
Ensuring 76% of victims of anti social behaviour are satisfied with the overall service they received

2. Reducing crime
Reducing serious acquisitive crime by 3% compared to the previous year.
Detect 20.6% of serious acquisitive crime.
Dismantle or disrupt 16 organised crime groups
Arrest and charge/caution 500 offenders for supplying Class A and B drugs

3. Value for Money
Ensure that at least 90% of all officers and staff are available to deliver and support policing in the force.

Underneath all these targets are dozens of measures that have to be recorded and analysed to try and ensure we keep on track. This includes, for example, targets around attending incidents in good time. So the Home Secretary may have directed that we focus solely on reducing crime but police forces are still ignoring this and thousands of hours are being spent on collating statistics and measuring all sorts of others.

There are two main issues regarding this target setting. Firstly, many of the functions we carry out have no impact on the reduction of crime. If we are only measured on crime reduction then either those other functions should become the responsibility of other organisations or resources will be focused away from those other functions so they are not carried out properly. In the last week, half of my teams time has been taken up with incidents that have no impact on crime reduction. For example, we have dealt with a missing teenager who was felt to be at serious risk of self harming. That took six officers the entire shift, plus dogs and helicopter for about half the shift. Five officers took almost the entire shift dealing with a fatal traffic collision and there will be dozens of hours of follow up enquiries and possibly inquest and court. I have dealt with three complaints against police. Each one has been made so that it can be stated in mitigation. The complaints are frivolous and will be withdrawn after he court case. Add to this all the 'missing' people that walk out of hospitals and children's homes. Those responsible simply ring the police and thereby pass the buck. If anything happens to their charges it becomes our responsibility. I could go on.

The second issue I have is how can we be held to account for crime levels when we only play a small part in the justice system? We arrest and report offenders and put them before the court. The Youth Offending Team and Probation are almost totally ineffective rehabilitating offenders who continue to offend. The sentencing guidelines ensure that persistent offenders are never properly sentenced by the courts. The Courts simply provide a revolving door for persistent offenders to continue with their recidivist behaviour. Deterrent sentencing disappeared until the riots last summer, when there was a wake up call. Outside of those offenders, sentencing is ineffective business as usual. Eventually some of these persistent offenders commit an offence so serious that they are incarcerated for a long time. That is why the prisons are bursting at the seams. The police cannot be doing a bad job considering how useless the rest of the system is.

The worry is that police morale is falling and when the police start giving up there is nothing left in the justice system to protect the public.