Project Athena – The Good, The Bad Or The Ugly?

But what is Project Athena I hear you ask.  I must confess that it had quietly passed me by till very recently, but now I’ve found out about it I’m not convinced that it’s a good thing, but I am open to be educated and converted if you, the Practitioners, convince me otherwise.

“Project Athena is a Web Based Single Solution Product that can be described as taking a case from “Report to Court”, comprising of four main modules

  • Crime Management,
  • Intelligence,
  • Custody and
  • Case Preparation.

As this is an integrated system they are delivered simultaneously.”

It is the brainchild of a company called Northgate, who again, I had not previously heard of, but maybe I should have done.  They have large, similar, contracts in place with Central and Local Government, Justice,  NHS, Housing and Transport sectors.  Very much “Project Outsourcing” so beloved of the Conservatives and Police “Reform”.  How could I possibly have missed it.

Northgate’s own website describes Project Athena thus

The Athena programme brings forces together to connect information, align processes and share costs.

Led by the Athena Management Organisation (AMO) and now covering nine forces, the programme is the largest investment in police technology in a decade.

Through a shared investment in the CONNECT platform and infrastructure, Athena helps forces to shift resources from the back office to the front line.

Officers can search once, input once, and re-use data many times – not just within one force, but across all forces signed up to Athena.

The software seamlessly merges intelligence, investigation management, case preparation and custody data along with property, digital data and a host of other supporting services.

By stripping out time-consuming manual processes and connecting easily with police, court service and Crown Prosecution Service systems, it means forces can work faster and achieve more.

Originally Athena began with the “Magnificent Seven” Forces, Essex, Bedfordshire,  Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk .   It was stated that these seven forces will be paying a total of £32million during the lifetime of the agreement (10 years) but the costs to each force will drop as and when more forces come on board.

Two more Forces have subsequently come on board, West Mercia and Warwickshire.

What Can Project Athena Help With?

 

What Are The Benefits Of Project Athena?

 

In the middle of this year there was passed a Deed of Variation, the exact details of which are “Commercially Confidential” but I would assume that this involves a change in cost to the 9 Forces.

I think it’s reasonable to assume that Project Athena will cost the 9 Forces at least £32 Million over the 10 year life of the Project, but does it work? Does it save the 9 Forces any money in the long term?  How much is each Force going to pay?  Well the latest info I have is that the £32 Million, or whatever it is now, will be divvied out like this, with each member Force paying the percentage shown

This is where you come in dear reader.

I am asking for your help, your experiences, your anecdotes, but don’t worry I don’t need your names etc.

I have heard anecdotes relating to my local Force that Project Athena is actually bogging them down and costing them a fortune. I have even heard tales that they are working 12 hour shifts to cover abstractions for Athena Training. I have submitted an FOI request to the PCC asking for details of the Deed of Variation but I’m not holding my breath, more crossing my fingers.  I have also submitted 2 FOIs to West Mercia Police asking for a) the total cost to the Force of Project Athena and b) how much overtime has been incurred this Financial Year in respect of Project Athena.

How can you help?

I would very much like to hear all or any of your experiences with Project Athena, Good, Bad or Ugly.  I am quite happy for them to be anonymous, as I would quite like to update this post with some real-life stories.  If you don’t want to give a name or use a nom-de-plume that’s fine by me.

What do you do next?

Either add a comment with your story at the bottom of this post or you can email me in confidence me at retiredandangry AT yahoo DOT com, replacing AT with @ and DOT with . obviously, or message me on RetiredAndAngry’s Facebook page.  Obviously, if you have any concerns, contact me first, any way you choose and I’ll listen to your concerns and see where we might be able to compromise to protect your identity.

Politically Affiliated PCCs – A Great Idea (Or Not)

Much has been said about PCCs in general, and by a certain section of the population, about politically affiliated PCCs.  Opinion is divided about PCCs, do we need them? Are they Value For Money? Well something has to take the place of the now-defunct Police Authorities but the fact that many PCCs are firmly affiliated to Political Parties causes me, and many others, grave concerns.  My last post concerned one such PCC, and so will this one.

The latest PCC story to come across my desk at Angry Towers, involves the North Yorkshire PCC,  Julia Mulligan, and her Deputy, Mr Will Naylor. Mrs Mulligan was re-elected last year, and Mr Naylor was previously her Chief of Staff. Prior to becoming PCC Mrs Mulligan has stood for Parliament, been a District Councillor and now represents the Conservative party as PCC.  It may be fair to call her a Politician.

Personally I firmly believe that Party Politics has no rôle in any aspect of Policing but we are saddled with the system that Theresa May, as Home Secretary, has blessed us with.

In 2016 North Yorkshire District Council decided to approve the practice commonly known as ‘Fracking’ in Ryedale.  Many people were opposed to this for a variety of reasons, not least for the impact this may have on North Yorkshire Police’s budget.  In response Mrs Mulligan had this to say to calm the fears of the tax-payers of North Yorkshire:-

“There is a positive duty on North Yorkshire Police to facilitate lawful and peaceful protests, with fracking being absolutely no different, and I do not expect any resourcing issues as a result of the County Council’s decision. North Yorkshire Police has the necessary contingencies and budgets in place to ensure the force is well able to deal with such events in the calm and professional manner you would expect, ensuring any impact on local residents is kept to a minimum.

“Above and beyond our usual budgeting there are also reserves earmarked for any unplanned Major Incidents, as well as a general reserve which is there for any eventuality. I firmly believe however that any lawful and peaceful protest will be facilitated by the police as usual, keeping costs to a minimum. In the worst case, there is the option to apply to the Home Office for financial support should the costs exceed 1.0% of North Yorkshire Police’s budget, or about £1.5m, but I believe that is highly unlikely to happen.”

Pretty confident speaking there then. No worries about resources or budgets then:- “North Yorkshire Police has the necessary contingencies and budgets in place to ensure the force is well able to deal with such events” No ambiguity there then.

Nearly 18 months later I asked North Yorkshire Police, under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, what is the total cost to North Yorkshire this Financial Year of the Fracking activities in Ryedale (Operation Kingfisher) – REFUSED.

I also asked how many Police Rest Days had bern cancelled in respect of Operation Kingfisher – REFUSED.

I asked what level (if any) of Mutual Aid was being ceployed to assist Operation Kingfisher – REFUSED.

Other seekers-of-truth who have made similar requests have received similar responses.  This leads me to think “Do North Yorkshire really have sufficient resources to cope with the anti-Fracking demonstrations?”  “Why are North Yorkshire Police so reluctant to be transparent?”

Even North Yorkshire Police must have to publish some accounts eventually, but the public, presumably, want to know some headline figures before then.  Why should they have to wait? Why is North Yorkshire Police refusing to release the information?

Anti-Fracking demonstrations have the potential to become Theresa May’s Miners’ Strike, and I rather fancy that she relishes that prospect.  Police Forces need to be open and transparent about such large-scale Public Order commitments, and the budgetary implications.  Every Police Officer involved in Operation Kingfisher is a Police Officer not protecting his/her public, regardless of which Force they are from.

Finally, before I move on to Mrs Mulligan’s Deputy it might be worth noting that during her first term as PCC  the Police and  rime Panel received 16 complaints about the conduct of Mrs Mulligan.  All 16 were either resolved informally or deemed worthy of No Further Action.  In her 2nd (current) term in office the Police and Crime Panel have received 3 complaints about the conduct of Mrs Mulligan.  All 3 have been resolved informally or deemed worthy of  No Further Action.

Moving on to Will Naylor, one of his responsibilities as Mrs Mulligan’s Deputy is

  • Delivering her manifesto, in particular reforming the police complaints system in line with the opportunities set out in the new policing and crime bill and overseeing improvements to non-emergency contact with the police (the ‘101’ contact system)

In a 9 month period last year over 30,000 calls to North Yorkshire Police’s 101 system were abandoned, unanswered.  That is not a good statistic for anyone to have, hence Will Naylor was tasked to sort it out.

Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said every effort was being made to improve the 101 service with more staff and IT improvements.  That sounds like more expenditure to me. As if the Force doesn’t have enough to pay out for at the moment.

In July of this year NYP’s 101 system was described as “shoddy and unreliable” after callers were left hanging on for 30 minutes or more.

By August this year the situation had “improved” so much that the Force found it necessary to ask the public not to contact them via the 101 system due to “technical issues”.

Eventually, just this week, the Vice Chair of the Police and Crime Panel had this to say to the PCC

“Having been vice chair of the Police and Crime Panel for over two years I have been dismayed not to see any tangible improvement in the 101 service – and in fact an apparent decline in the service residents are receiving. Despite the hard work of dedicated staff, which I saw first-hand on my recent visit to the Control Room in York, we still hear reports of long delays to report crime and anti-social behaviour via the 101 numbe

The lack of police visibility on the streets and the difficult in getting a response via telephone is a real concern for residents. To take one of many recent examples I was astonished to learn that the clerk of Haxby Town Council has not had a reply to his email of September 11, where he outlines his own problems using the 101 number.”

A Freedom of Information request by another truth-seeker reveals that, despite Mr Naylor having been tasked to sort it out, the 101 Service for North Yorkshire Police was actually getting  WORSE. The response reveals that up to 7,000 calls to 101 per month were being abandoned unanswered.

So, returning to the beginning, what on earth is going on in North Yorkshire?  It seems to me, and it is only my personal opinion, that we have a PCC who assured the public that North Yorkshire Police had ample resources to deal with thevanti-Fracking demonstrations and not to worry. 18 months later it is proving impossible to get any information out of NYP about costs and resources relating to Operation Kingfisher. WHY?  What, if anything, do they have to hide? The info must be published eventually, what are they hoping to achieve by refusing to disclose it? Is the Tory PCC metely pandering to her paymaster?  Would a truly Independent PCC have allowed these refusals?

I have no idea what the substance of the 19 complaints recorded against the PCC are, but I would have thought that 19 is a larger-than-average  umber.  The Police and Crime Panel seem to have published no reports into any of them.

There are NO complaints recorded against the Deputy PCC.

As for 101, the system is truly in a shambles and the Deputy PCC tasked to sort it out seems to have achieved little more than preside over an increase in abandoned, unanswered, calls. A salary of £45,000 p.a. and he has achieved what exactly? Not much that I can see.

We may be saddled with Police and Crime Commissioners but I can’t help thinking that we’d all be better off if they were free from political influences.  There is no place in Policing for Party Politics, and that includes the PCC.

The Curious Case Of Police Car AB1

Well, strictly speaking, not the car but the Registration Mark.  At various times the actual car has looked like this:-

And now, in 2017, after all this history, it has gone.  Having been in the ownership of West Mercia Constabulary for over a Hundred Years, the Registration Mark has been sold.

At least it must have sold for a fortune, a mark like that with its history, must be really valuable. Right?

It was placed for a sale with a well-respected auction house who put a guide price of £175,000 on it.  Independent valuations suggested a sale value of £500,000, or possibly more.  Index number AG1, which is similar but does not have the same history and associations, is currently valued at £500,000. Predictions are that the value would only increase, possibly to as much as £700,000. Other sources suggest that the Guide Price may have been as high as £250,000.

So, apart from the actual issue of selling the family jewels which I am never in favour of, all is looking good. Right?  What could possibly go wrong?

Having lodged the mark with said Auction House for sale by auction it could reasonably be expected that it would sell in the region, or in excess, of the Guide Price.  One assumes that a suitable Fixed Reserve was set to protect the asset.

When news of the sale hit the press it sparked off a rash of Freedom of Information Act requests (not just me then).  One of the first things I noticed was the PCC’s decision regarding the sale of the mark.  Firstly he had completely skipped the decision-making process for the actual sale (so I have submitted a further request asking for just that).  Secondly the Decision Notice seems to be contradictory.  As it has been referred to in a Freedom of Information Act response it is in the Public Domain, so I have no issue with showing the document here:-


The assertions re Value For Money in the Executive Summary do not appear to be in accord with the recommendation on Page 2 of the same document. 

In response to an appeal against the outcome of one of the FOI requests the PCC’s Chief Executive says this 

The number plate was not sold to a private individual at a significant discount, but at the highest offer made within a reasonable time frame.

This document is also in the Public Domain, and here it is

However, it is alleged, that the direct offer was accepted and the mark withdrawn from the auction.  Who is to say how much it might have sold for on the open market?

In a different request, part 18 of the request asked this question

The response given was this


You can see from Decision Notice 8 (above) that the information requested is simply not included. Smoke and Mirrors? Human Error? Misunderstanding?

I wish to make it absolutely clear that I have no criticism whatsoever of the Auction House, Brightwells, in all of this. They have done nothing wrong.

The PCC and his Chief Executive consistently refuse to confirm the Guide Price placed on the Registration Mark by Brightwells, claiming an exemption that it would breach the Commercial Interests of Brightwells and the PCC.  I don’t see that personally.  Brightwells would presumably have published the Guide Price in their catalogue, the alleged Guide Price has been widely reported in the local and national Press, and it’s history, it’s been sold now, so what exactly is the issue?  Why hide the information?

The original decision to sell allegedly originates in a discussion between the PCC and previous Chief Constable in 2016, but no record of this has yet been produced.

To tidy up what I see as some loose ends I have submitted my own FOIA Request seeking the following information:-

Copies of Minutes of any Meeting where the sale of AB1 was proposed or discussed (redacted if appropriate) including the very first proposal to sell it. I have yet to locate in the Disclosure Log any document containing the original proposal to sell it and ensuing discussion. Decision Notice 8 only records the decision to accept the offer of £160,000, specifically NOT the Decision to sell the VRM.

Copies of any documents including, but not limited to, any correspondence concerning the monetary value of the VRM, any letters or emails between OPCC/PCC/HEO and the successful purchaser

Copies of any other documents or emails, not specifically requested previously, that contain reference to the sale of AB1 and have not been previously included in a Disclosure Log

I understand that the Independent Police Complaints Commission have been asked to investigate this matter but, to date, I have not seen any confirmation or update.

My personal opinion is that it would have been better to leave it with the auction house and it would probably have sold for more, although nothing is guaranteed.  Instead it was pulled from sale before the auction date and sold to a previous Chief Constable for a figure less than the reported Guide Price.

Once the decision to sell had been taken surely the Force were obliged to achieve the best price possible for it.  Several people have come forward to claim that it was worth much more, or that they offered to pay more but were declined. One businessman, Tim Brookes, alleges that he offered £305,000 for the mark some two weeks before it was sold for £160,000. Mr Brookes has since allegedly complained to the IPCC.

Value For Money?  You decide.  Or maybe the IPCC will.

The PCC’s own Press Release on the sale of AB1 can be found here

Do We Want The Best Police Or The ‘Best’ Police?

Yesterday I stumbled across a conversation on Twatter featuring a well-known Chief Constable.  He was stating that ‘we’ need to do more to attract more senior BME leaders in the Police Service.  There is no “elephant in the room” here, there’s a whole herd of elephants.

I have interpreted the Chief Constable’s statement as meaning that the Police Service should promote more officers from BME origins into senior leadership positions. Personally I feel that this is the wrong approach.  Policing is in a big enough crisis as it is at the moment, it does not need to be further hampered by promoting the wrong people, we have seen way too much of that in the past.  Officers clearly unsuitable for promotion to the higher ranks got promoted simply to ‘get rid of them and make them someone else’s problem’.

When selecting officers for promotion, to any rank, we should simply be promoting the officers with the best skillsets. This does not exclude anybody of BME origins, nor does it exclude anybody on the basis of their gender, faith or sexuality.  We simply need the best available, regardless of all other arbitrary factors.

In my 30 years of service I have worked with almost all BME origins, faiths, genders and sexualities.  I have no problem with any of them. I do, however, have a problem with any of these officers who are simply not match fit.  I have worked with, and for, some fantastic female officers who I would be quite happy to see promoted.  I have also worked alongside some really bad officers who were only retained at all because of their ethnic origins.  I can recall vividly one (W) PC of BME origins who was so bad that every call she was sent to, the Duty Inspector stated that another unit had to be sent as well, regardless of the seriousness of the call, just to ensure that she dealt with the call properly.  What happened to her?  She was transferred to a much sought-after job at Scotland Yard that any officer would have given his/her eye teeth for.

I had the absolute privilege (and I mean that) of working with Norwell “Noz” Roberts, the Met’s first black PC I believe.  He retired as a DS but was truly worthy of higher rank.
We simply need to promote the best available, and not pander to artificial targets or quotas.  Cream rises to the top regardless.

Another factor to be considered is that some officers simply don’t want to be promoted.  My bosses regarded me with some suspicion because in 30 years I never once sat the promotion exam.  I never failed it, I simply didn’t take it.  I didn’t want to be promoted, almost all of the best jobs (for me) were at the bottom of the ladder not the top.  I’m pretty certain that I am not alone in that, and many others will feel similar.

Would any Chief Constable advocate conscription into the Police to raise the BME quotas?  Many simply don’t want to join so how do you raise levels?  Should the BME officers be compulsorily promoted to raise their presence in the senior ranks?  Or should we simply recruit and promote the best candidates regardless of their origins, faith, gender, sexuality etc?  If they are sufficiently well-skilled any officer who desires promotion should be eligible for promotion, but do we want officers, from any sector, to be promoted just to fill a quota and nothing more?  

It has been stated or implied that these officers bring their own unique views and experiences to the role, and this is true.  I accept that it’s true, but is it enough?

For the avoidance of doubt I will repeat that I have no problem with senior officers from any background and would happily have worked with, or for, any of them, with just one proviso, that they had been promoted purely on the basis of their skillsets and abilities to lead/command.  Is that too much to ask?  Always promote on merit but consider everyone who is eligible fairly and equally.  Similarly, if I needed the services of a brain surgeon, I would want the best one available.  I wouldn’t care one iota what the ethnicity, gender, faith or sexual orientation of the surgeon was as long as he/she was the best surgeon available.

Simply, I would prefer the best Police and not the ‘best” Police.

60% Of The Public Support Me (Honest, They Do)

That is the bold claim of the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr John-Paul Campion, who just happens to be a Conservative.

What is he referring to?

He is talking about his bid to incorporate Fire and Rescue Services in his portfolio.

For 3 months he hosted a poll on his website asking the public if they supported him taking over responsibilty for Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire Fire Authorities under his PCC Umbrella, claiming that he could save £4 Million

MORE than 60 per cent of people are in favour of the region’s police and crime commissioner taking over the fire service, a consultation has revealed.

Let’s examine this claim.

The population of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire is a tad more than 1 million people.  If this claim has any credibility it must mean that >600,000 people have taken part in the survey and support the proposal. Yes?

Well, erm, NO actually.

Just over 1,300 people took part in the survey and 61% of them supported the idea. If my abacus is working correctly that would be about 870 people then.  The vast majority of the people did not even support the poll, never mind the proposal.

Acuurate and truthful facts are all I want to hear from my PCC, not spin reminiscent of the kind coming out of the Conservative Party much of the time.  By my reckoning less than 0.1% of the relevant population have actively supported the proposal, not 60%.

Smoke And Mirrors Par Excellence

Ladies and gentlemen you have been treated to a display of Smoke and Mirrors the likes of which is seldom seen in civilised society. The Aurora Borealis  is a poor second cousin, it is an illusion that David Copperfield or Penn and Teller would be immensely proud of, and rightly so.

We have lived through a week when the illusions were so polished you might even think some people were actually lying, perish the thought.

First under the floodlights in the ring at Cruella’s Grand Illusion was the government announcement that the Public Sector Pay Cap was being lifted for Police and Prison Officers. Hardly divisive at all..  A variey of Sorceror’s Apprentices queued up or were wheeled out to try out the latest mantra.

We have accepted the recommendations of the Police Remuneration Review Body in full.

To me, this says that the PRRB have made some recommendations and that the govt have accepted and will be implementing them.

The government pay offer to the Police was this

  • a 1% increase to base pay for all ranks
  • an additional one-off non-consolidated payment to officers at federated and superintending ranks
  • a 1% increase to the London Weighting payment
  • a 1% increase to the Dog Handlers’ Allowance

So that must have been what the PRRB recommended right? Well, let’s take a look


Well that’s not exactly what the government offered was it?  What were the other recommendations?


That’s DOUBLE what the government are offering.



Time will tell what happens with 3 & 4 but you can see from 1 & 2 that the Smoke and Mirrors has already begun.

The additional (1%) non-consolidated ‘bonus’ has proved to be quite controversial. Government has decreed that it must be paid from existing (reduced, stretched, unsustainable)!Police Budgets.  Many Chief Constables and PCCs have already warned that this could mean the loss of even more Police Officers in order to pay for it.

We didn’t realise it at the time but this was just the beginning of a cynical subterfuge by government. It was about to get worse. 

Enter into the ring the grand illusionist, Cruella the Magnificent.

At Prime Minister’s Questions Theresa May had the absolute affrontery to claim that in the 7 years since 2010 Police pay had increased by 32%.

Despite seven years of pay rises at 1% or less, she claimed a new police officer in 2010 would have actually gained £9,000 once progression pay and the rise in the income tax personal allowance was factored in.  So even once inflation, now at 2.9%, was factored in, the rise in real-terms take-home pay was still worth 32%, she boldly claimed. 

Unfortunately if a Prime Minister says something many will accept it as a fact, after all politicians don’t lie do they?  The Police Federation went so far as to accuse her of telling an outright lie.

Mrs May’s ludicrous, and highly selective, claim only just holds true for a hypothetical Constable joining in 2010 and making normal progression with increased seniority, nothing to do with pay rises in the traditional sense. A full explanation can be read here.

Just when things were beginning to settle down, the smoke was thinning and drifting away, we suffered our 5th terrorist attack of 2017.  Fortunately nobody was killed or very seriously injured but it could easily have been very much worse.

In a period of rising crime, increasing terrorist activity and who-knows-what other, increasing, demands on the Police Service Prime Minister, Theresa May, is recklessly continuing with her agenda of Police Reform and slashing the numbers that do not matter. 20,000 fewer Police Officers than there were in 2010. What does that really look like?  

I’ve used this graphic before, but I like it. I think it shows the loss of 20,000 Police Officers brilliantly. If you imagine the areas of England and Wales shaded pink, that’s what 20,000 fewer officers looks like.  Not one single Police Officer in any of the pink areas, not one.  Does anybody outside Conservative HQ really think that is a good idea, or sustainable in the face of the threats we now encounter?

So, as we now have 20,000 fewer, like it not, it’s the reality, we were told after Friday’s latest terrorist attack that “extra”armed Police would be patrolling the streets, the Threat Level has been raised to Critical, and extra officers generally would be on duty, assisted by armed soldiers where appropriate.

Let us be very clear.  There are NO extra Armed Police Officers.  There are NO extra Police Officers available of any kind.  We cannot just open another box of Police Officers and deploy them. Mrs May and her policies have emptied all the boxes. So where are all these “extra” officers coming from then?

The answer is incredibly simple.  They are the very same officers that have always been there.  They will be working longer shifts, they will be working on what should be their Rest Days, but have been cancelled. They may even be working on what should have been their Annual Leave but it may have been cancelled in extreme circumstances.

The only officers that could conceivably be described as ‘extra’ are those from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Ministry of Defence Police.  They are not really extra, they’re always there, they’re just not counted in the 43 Constabularies, and their numbers are really quite small.  Mrs May’s 20,000 will, inevitably, have included some Armed officers.  I don’t know the exact numbers but there are fewer armed officers now than 7 years.  Surely there should be more?

Oh well that’s alright then, everything is covered.

No it isn’t.  The consequences of the 20,000 shortfall and May’s policies doesn’t stop here.

Those officers will rapidly suffer ‘burn out’.  They cannot be expected to work 12-16 hour shifts, work their days off and still be as bright as a button, it doesn’t work like that.  They will be tired, possibly grumpy, their reactions and judgement will not be at their optimum.  I have already seen officers claiming that all Rest Days have been cancelled in London this weekend.  This could have been avoided if not for May’s policies.

The officers will be incurring overtime.  They have the option of taking Time Off in Lieu or being paid for it.  Time Off in Lieu just creates a problem further down the line, either there will be a shortage of officers available on some date in the future as officers begin to take the time they are owed, or they will find themselves unable to take Time Off that they are rightfully owed, further adding to their stress and fatigue.  Or they could opt to be paid for their overtime, only we are constantly being told that there is no money.  Police Stations are being closed and sold off, numbers of Poli e Dogs and Horses are being reduced in an attempt to save money. 20,000 officers have disappeared. Yet we still think officers can be paid for their overtime.

I can only assume that Theresa May must be incredibly proud of her achievements as she shows no sign of admitting that she was wrong or attempting to rectify the situation. I have never before heard a Prime Minister sound quite so insincere when she speaks. 

Mrs May and a small number of collaborators will soon have completed the destruction of Policing as we know it in this country.   All behind a display of Smoke and Mirrors, the like of which we very seldom see.

Finally, whilst this post has concentrated on the Police, I wish to make it crystal clear that I support ALL of our Public Sector and that they should ALL get a fair deal from the government, although I am not holding my breath on that one.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Tories, Masters of Illusion.

How Long Before The Government Destruction Of The British Police Service Is Complete?

Wow, that is some headline. Do I really mean it? On reflection I believe that I do. Isn’t it a bit OTT?  No, I don’t think it is. I actually believe that this government, driven by Cameron and May initially, and now May and Rudd have systematically plotted the destruction of the British Police Service as we know it.

Why?

I really have no idea. There have been numerous suggestions why put forward over the past seven years and I’m really not sure which ones I favour.

Winsor’s Independent Reviews of the Police Service. Nothing much ‘Independent’ about them. Not one single Risk or Impact Assessment carried out to produce two volumes closely mimicking David Cameron’s speech of 2006.  Does anybody really think they were ‘Independent’? Are we really expected to swallow that the author (Winsor) never claimed his fee? Yeah right.

Why else do I think it’s a deliberate strategy by government?

Since 2010 approx 21,000 Police Officer posts have been shed from England and Wales alone.

Include reductions to PCSOs, Police Staff, Specials etc and the picture looks like this for England and Wales


I only currently have the data for Police Officers but including Scotland and Northern Ireland doesn’t really improve the picture much, they have, broadly speaking, stood still, neither gaining nor losing significant numbers

Surely it is not possible to manipulate the loss of Police Officers and their various support staff on such a scale without it being a deliberate act, and #Austerity is pretty much discredited now.  So what is the reason?

One of the Tory lies is that they have protected the Front Line, well would dispute that promise most vehemently, the government’s own data disproves that one

So, what makes me certain that it’s a deliberate act by government?  Firstly, losses on this scale can hardly be an accident or a mistake.  Even Tory MPs have occasionally gone off-script and complained that there were insufficient officers to deal with incidents that had arisen in their constituencies.  Having been reminded that their party had caused it they mysteriously went quiet. Head Office had presumably reminded them of the script.

Police Forces across the land have been forced to sell “the family silver” in order to reduce the worst effects of the cuts. Real Estate that will never be replaced. Over 600 Police Stations or Front  Counters closed, over 100 more earmarked for closure. Housing stock, training facilities and Feeding Centres etc sold off. How and when will they be replaced? Simple, they won’t be.

Traditionally Mutual Aid has been used by Forces in need of urgent, short-term assistance with a serious Policing problem.  Move a few dozen officers on loan to anotherForce  for a day or two. Only with constantly shrinking numbers that isn’t as simple as it used to be, as there are no longer an adequate number left behind.

Current losses of Officers alone are the equivalent of the areas shaded in pink having NOT ONE SINGLE POLICE OFFICER OF ANY RANK ON THE FORCE.


How can that possibly be anything other than deliberate?

Slowly, Some Chief Officers are waking up and complaining that their officer strength is not sustainable. Too little, too late and by many, no action whatsoever. Even recently some Chief Officers have claimed to have sufficient resources to Police their communities. How can that possibly be true?  Are they really saying that they have been over-staffed for years?  I don’t want to believe it but are ACPO/NPCC in cahoots with government, quietly standing by whilst their Police Forces are dismantled?

Modern recruitment regimes also affect the makeup of Police Forces.  Schemes that recruit ‘top graduates’ are guaranteed to change the face of the Force. Regarding it as a job for about 5 years instead of a dedicated devotion for 30 years or more will quickly make a difference. Adopting the MOD regime of dispensing withtheir expensive, experienced workforce and replacing thhem with cheap recruits also has an inevitable impact. Again, I can only believe that it’s part of a deliberate plan. 

The final thing to convince me was reading GrahamWettone’s excellent blogpost The Policing Crisis express has left the station.  It made me realise that I’m not the only person thinking this way.   

I can but agree with Graham.  This #CrisisInPolicing has been going on long enough that David Cameron  (before he stood down) or Theresa May, maybe even Amber Rudd could actually acknowledge this crisis and set plans in motion to save the Police Service.  They have done no such  thing.

Why?

You can call me a Conspiracy Theorist, I really don’t care. What I am is passionate about my former career and the ‘colleagues’ still ‘on duty’. Pay frozen, Pension increased, pay more for longer, receive less. This Mrs May just does not care.

Meanwhile the shrinkage just goes on.

If you are not already aware another former officer Peter Kirkham (@PeterKirkham) is doing a fine job highlighting the #CrisisInPolicing. Find out more here

Police Resignations Double In 4 Years – The Truth

Such was the headline in The Times recently.  It got me thinking.  Have they? Have they really?

For some reason that I cannot quite guess The Times relied on the Freedom of Information Act for their figures.  Police Forces are well known for avoiding and refusing FOI requests, or simply not responding.  Why not use the twice-yearly publications from the Home Office covering the whole of England and Wales? Not only are ALL 43 Forces included, they contain much more detailed information.  Maybe that’s the problem, detail gets in the way of the story?

The article in The Times included claims such as

Resignations at the Metropolitan Police, the country’s biggest force, jumped from 337 in 2011-12 to 626 in 2015-16, according to figures obtained through a freedom of information (FoI) request.

and

During the same period resignations more than doubled at both Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Northumbria police

and

At Thames Valley resignations rose from 56 in 2011-12 to 100 in 2015-16. In Kent they rose from 50 to 94. Greater Manchester police had 48 resignations in 2011-12 and 77 in 2015-16. West Midlands police saw resignations rise by nearly 70 per cent over the period.

I normally like a numbers challenge so I decided to check it out.  Was this a real story or just a bit of lazy headline-grabbing? Initially I thought that the examples such as Avon & Somerset were not really that dramatic as the actual numbers were small. Time to take a closer look.

The first thing I noticed was that the Thunderer correctly pointed out that their figures for resignations were additional to Resignations, but there are other reasons/methods for leaving the Service.

The first thing to look at was how many had left in total, for any reason.

The first three years were high, as expected, as the Home Secretary’s wishes began to bite, but then we see a spike in 2015/16. What does that represent?  Let’s take a look at the reasons for leaving the Police Service.  I totally ignored Transferees as they leave one Force and join another, so the net effect on Policing England and Wales is nil.

The one thing that immediately becomes apparent is that more officers are definitely leaving the Police Service in the last two years.  After the initial purge by Theresa May, it calmed down a bit in 2013-2015, but between 2015 and 2017 the rate has crept back up again and is almost as high as it was in 2011/12.

But what about Voluntary Resignations?  At first glance it seems that they are indeed close to being double in 2015/16 as they were in 2011/12 as claimed by The Times.  Close but no cigar.  However I did note that Voluntary Resignations have increased year on year every single year, without exception, since 2011.

Then I had a clever (sneaky) thought.  Don’t count numbers, count percentages.  Counting numbers tells you MOST of the story.  If you want the full story count the numbers as a percentage of (a diminishing) Establishment.

So I looked at Voluintary Resignations and Total Leavers as a percentage of the relevant Establishment for the year in question. Lo and Behold a slightly different picture emerged. Across the whole of England and Wales (NOT including BTP) Voluntary Resignations in 2015/2016 were indeed double the figure for 2011/2012.  And what is more that percentage continued for 2016/2017.  Not only was The Times right, but it is actually worse than they thought because that rate has not yet diminished.

I also noted that, although the numbers are small, Dismissals have risen by over 60% between 2011 and 2017.  Is this a coincidence or part of a darker plan?

The Police Service is not only shrinking, it is shrinking at a much faster rate than previously. I have to admit that The Times were not only right, but the reality is actually slightly worse than they claimed.

The good news is that this is not a problem.  The College of Policing tells us that this is not a problem.

People enter and move around external industries all of the time – there is a healthy churn of experience and skill.

So it’s healthy, a Healthy Churn. Thank God for that, I was beginning to think that there was a #CrisisInPolicing.

The Home Office Version Longer Term

NHS Reforms Are Working, Waiting Times Are Down

I am NOT having a go at the NHS.  I am a staunch supporter of the NHS, half of my family have, or do, work for the NHS.

Back in February of this year I was finally referred by my GP to see a Hospital Consultant.  End of March I saw the Consultant Surgeon. Having ordered fresh X-Rays he decided that there was no option he could offer me apart from surgery, and that it was urgent.  So he put me on his Urgent List, surgery within 6 weeks.  Nothing Life-Threatening, but seriously affecting my quality of life.

Within days I was given dates for a 5 hour pre-op assessment and my operation, end of May.  No complaints there because he was taking my pre-booked holiday into account.

The day before my op I was contacted by the hospital enquiring about my general well-being and any factors that might affect my suitability for surgery the next day. During the waiting period I had contracted a chest infection, seen my GP and been presribed antibiotics (and taken them).  Sharp intake of breath and the anaesthetist decided that I could not have my op for a minimum of 4 weeks after the completion of my course of antibiotics.  A pain in the derrière, but at least I could understand that part.

Simple, naive me thought that I would simply be sent a new date >4 weeks hence. Silly me.

The very next day I somehow received a letter from the bureaucrats that, as I was “unfit for surgery” I would be removed from the list until my GP declared me fit, which would be a minimum of 4 weeks. Taken off the list, the ‘clock’ effectively reset.

4 weeks on my GP bemusedly certified me fit for surgery and a quick phone call, with letter to follow, got me back on the list. Less than a week later I got a letter informing me of new date for surgery, 12th August.  So my course of antibiotics had effectively delayed my surgery by 10 weeks, not just 4.

A new 5 hour pre-op assessment was called for as the revised date for surgery was >3 months after the previous assessment.  Annoying but fair enough, I understood the need.

Fast Forward to 10th August when I received a phone call from the hospital.  “Bad news I’m afraid, we have to cancel your op as we have no Anaesthetist that day” They hoped to be able to give me a new date later that day or the next. They haven’t managed that yet.

My gripe with this cancellation is that, unlike the previous one, there is no clinical reason for it. Jeremy Hunt has ‘Reformed’ and ‘Improved’ the NHS so that they are now required to provide a  7 day routine service and not just for Emergencies.  So there will be increased resources for that then? No. A 5 day a week service now has to cover 7 days a week with no extra staff.

As I sit here and wait for new appointment when I should have been waking up after my operation it occurs to me that the Surgeon, his Registrar(s) and the Theatre Nurses were rostered to work today but can’t because there are no spare Anaeshetists to cover for the one who has presumably gone Sick. What are those highly skilled professionals doing today now?  Checking paper clips and stitches ready for Monday? Who knows?

So Hunt’s ‘Reforms’ of the NHS have, totally precictably, led to a situation where when one member of the team goes down the whole thing grinds to a halt.  Refusing to increase the resources means that I COULD have had surgery on a Saturday,  only I can’t as the hospital has been robbed of all resilience by the ‘Reforms’.

I have said this before in relation to Police Reforms, but Reform is defined as

make changes in something, (especially an institution or practice) in order to improve it.

So where exactly are the improvements above Mr Hunt?

I know I’m biased, this is my personal experience of your Reformed NHS.  Working well isn’t it?

Surgery within 6 weeks is approaching “surgery within 6 months”  and as I write I still don’t have a new date but it sure as hell won’t be Monday will it?

Wherever you look in the Public Sector, the Emergency Services, the Armed Forces, they have been DESTROYED by the Conservative Party.

I hope you are proud of yourselves.

Have I Been ‘Hunted’ Down?

I thought I would leave the usual suspects in peace today.  This post is for my friends and followers in the NHS.

Before I write a single word I want to make it abundantly clear that I have the greatest respect and  admiration for the practitioners of the NHS, my ire and frustration are reserved for our politicians and any NHS Jobsworths there might be out there.

I believe that I have been a real, human victim of NHS Stats Fudging, and this is how it was done.

Some of you may know that I’m waiting for a hip replacement. My GP, in Welsh Wales, was particularly tardy in referring me to a specialist, and the reality is that he did nothing after my first X-Ray (over a period of years) until I began badgering him for a follow-up X-Ray to see how much the joint had deteriorated. Nothing.

Eventually he caved in and sent me for an X-Ray.  No complaints here, phoned the hospital to make an appointment “can you come this afternoon?”. What’s to complain about?

The results are in, the GP says “yes it has got worse, some time within the next 10 years you will need a new hip”.

My (NHS) physio saw the same X-Ray and report and decided that I needed to see a specialist, so she badgered the GP to refer me. The new  E-Referral system kicked in and worked like a dream, within a short period of time I had an appointment with a Consultant Surgeon. Another X-Ray and he decided that my cause was urgent, the joint is at risk of collapsing, a total Hip Replacement was my only option, he put me on his Urgent List, and informed me that I should get a date for surgery within about 6 weeks.

I soon received a letter informing me of a date for surgery at the end of May.  Whilst I was waiting I was asked to complete a questionnaire for the “Outcomes” Department.

Unfortunately for me it all started to go wrong when I suffered a chest infection duringmy waiting   period.  In my naievety I saw my GP, got a script for some Penicillin and got rid of said chest infection before my surgery date.  

24 hours before surgery I was contacted by a nurse enquiring about my general well-being. I thought nothing about telling her of the chest infection “but it’s all cleared up now, I had a course of anti-biotics which I’ve finished”. At that point an Anaesthetist chipped in and said I would have to wait 4 weeks from the end of my course of antibiotics before I could have surgery.  Disappointed, but I accepted it, he’s an Aneasthetist, I’m not.

The very next day I received a letter from an Admin Wallah informing me that I had been removed from the list for a minimum of 4 weeks.  After that time my GP could certify me ‘Fit for Surgery’ and I could go back on the list.  Which is precisely what happened, and that was followed by guess what?  Another date for surgery in 6 weeks time.

While I have been waiting I have been asked to fill in another questionnaire for the Outcomes Department.  My previous Outcome was presumably “Removed from the list after 6 weeks”.

If the surgery now goes ahead as planned I will be recorded as having been dealt with well within the NHS Waiting Times. The reality is that outcome is misleading.  I COULD have been offered a new date for surgery 6 weeks after the course of antibiotics, that would have taken care of the Anaesthetist’s 4 weeks and I could have accepted it. However, through no fault of my own I was removed from the list for 4 weeks then went back on it at the bottom again.  So much for an Urgent need.

I have been told that if hospitals fail to reach rheir Target Times their funding is cut. They have had to devise methods of presenting their figures to make it appear that they are not failing to hit their targets.  This is government-inspired. Thank you Mr Hunt.

The surgeon says my need is urgent, but the Jobsworths know better, and it’s OK for me to wait, just so their figures look better.  After all, a chest infection is not the fault of me or the hospital. S**t Happens as they say.

If the operation now goes ahead as planned I will have been waiting for about 5 months since I saw the surgeon, but the record wil show that I only waited about 6 weeks.

I actually blame the government (there’s a surprise) for this. 

 “Fail to hit your targets and we will reduce your funding” sounds very similar to “Do more with less” born out of another government department’s policies.