Is Mutual Aid Propping Up The Police Service?

I feel that I must begin by acknowledging that I have been retired from Policing 16 years this month. I am out of touch. Things have changed, oh how they have changed. However that does not automatically invalidate my thoughts and concerns.

For a variety of reasons I have turned my attention recently to Mutual Aid. For those that are not familiar with it, basically, when a major event, such as the recent Wedding of Prince Harry, takes place and the local Force has insufficient resources they can draw in Police Officers from a nearby Force to bolster their numbers. The deployment of officers from Force A to assist, and be under the operational control of, Force B is known as Mutual Aid. Historically it has been used to send reinforcements for events such as The Miners’ Strike, Greenham Common and latterly ‘Fracking’ demonstrations, the visit of the Trump and the Royal Wedding. All large-scale, but relatively uncommon, events.  The turning point for me was 2011 when the Metropolitan Police called for Mutual Aid to help quell the rioting that had broken out.  Unthinkable and possibly without precedent.  I can’t state categorically that the Met had never needed Mutual Aid before, but I can’t recall it happening before.  The Met has always been big enough, with sufficient resilience, to handle almost everything ‘in house’.

After the recent visit of The Trump I set about finding out how much Mutual Aid had been involved.  Who better to ask than the National Police Co-Ordination Centre?

So I sent them this request under the Freedom of Information Act

For the 2018 Calendar Year to date (16 July 2018) could you please give me the following information

  • How many Mutual Aid deployments have there been in England and Wales?

For each deployment;

  1. Which Force received the Mutual Aid?
  2. How many officers were sent on Mutual Aid

I specifically DO NOT REQUIRE any details concerning the nature of the deployment

The response I got to this was

The NPCC does not hold information captured by your request. NPoCC coordinates national assistance only. They do not record all mutual aid, for example, if forces within a region send resources to each other.
A consideration may be to make a request with individual forces. On this occasion, I am unable to assist you.

So the national Police Co-Ordination Centre don’t have the information, it seems Mutual Aid is mainly Regional.

Not to be beaten, and with a large portion of tongue-in-cheek, I replied with another, simpler request.

What is the purpose of the National Police Co-Ordination Centre and please supply me with a copy of their Terms of Reference How many times have the NPoCC been used in 2018?

For each occasion above please provide the reason for the Mutual Aid, e.g. Royal Event, Civil Disorder etc, the identity of the Force requiring Mutual Aid, the Forces that supplied that Mutual Aid and the number of PSUs sent. Thank you

The response to this was, as predicted, a further refusal to answer the basic question;

The NPCC can refuse to handle an FOI request for information under Section 12 of the
Act if it reasonably estimates that it would take more than 18 hours of work to carry out the above
four activities in relation to that request. If the limit is exceeded, there is no requirement for the
NPCC to conduct work up to that limit – the limit applies to the whole request and there is not a
requirement to answer other parts of a request even if only one area of the request on its own
engages the limit.

Outside of the Act, I can advise that there have been 829 events since January 2018. To determine
the event, the host force and donor force for the specific resource type would require accessing
four separate indices for each event.
A conservative estimate of five minutes per event would take approximately 69 hours. This would
by far exceed the cost limit.

 

After reading it a couple of times a few things about their answer intrigued me.

  1. They cannot answer within the cost restraints of the request because there have been 829 Mutual Aid deployments up to July this year, and at 5 minutes per deployment it would take them too long to collect the information I requested.  Fair enough you might think, but in their first refusal they claimed they did not have the information.
  2. 829 Mutual Aid deployments in 6-7 months is a HUGE number, approx 4-5 per day on average.  The NPoCC response actually says 829 EVENTS.  Can this be right, or is it 829 deployments?  Being charitable I’ll go with deployments, there can and will be more than one deployment per event.  If it truly is EVENTS that’s 4-5 per day on average, a totally staggering statisitic.
  3. At the end of the NPoCC response is this paragraph

In wishing to assist you, there is information on the NPCC website which describes the purpose of
NPoCC which details their role in coordinating the deployment of police officers and staff from
across UK policing to support forces during large scale events, operations and in times of national
crisis.

So, what are these large-scale events/operations, all 829 of them, or are we in a time of “National Crisis”?  Some of the large-scale operations we know about, or can guess, but certainly not 829 of them.

Sorry NPoCC/NPCC but I’m not buying it, I think you are hiding behind the Act and covering things up.  I haven’t asked for any ‘senstive’ information, but I have asked for information which, if supplied, would assist us lesser mortals in quantifying the size of the #CrisisInPolicing that many of us believe exists in England and Wales.  For roo long ACPO and now NPCC have been totally silent and declining to criticise Theresa May as Home Secretary or Prime Minister, or her subsequent Home Secretaries.  One or two have put their heads above the parapets and spoken out, but nowhere near enough.  The destruction of Policing should be highlighted and oppsed by all members of ACPO/NPCC not just a few, it weakens their arguments totally if the majority of their peers do not openly support them.

The public are beginning to realise that there is a crisis, a few opposition MPs are being vocal in their challenges, but still woefully too few.  An even smaller number of Tory MPs get it and ask questions but then withdraw back into their shells, presumably chased there by the Whips.

Despite government assertions that Police reform is working (it isn’t reform and it isn’t working) the reality looks like this

The change in Number of Constables per 100,000 head of population since 2010Showing how the Front Line of Policing has NOT been ProtectedShowing How Recorded Crime has increased as Policing WorkForce is reducedCentral Government Funding For Policing

The first chart shows why the public are seeing fewer and fewer Police Officers on their streets.

The second shows how the Front Line has definitively NOT being ‘Protected’ as the Tories would have you believe.

The third one shows how Recorded Crime has steadily risen as Police Officer numbers come down.

The fourth shows how the Central Government Funding for Policing was increased between 2010-2016, only it wasn’t was it, despite government assurances this government document shows that it fell steadily.

Where does all of this leave us?

Firstly, and it is only my personal opinion, Mutual Aid is definitely being used to prop up a failing Police Service, moving resources around the country where needed, but at what cost? Routine abstractions such of these have a knock-on cost to the Force sending the Mutual Aid.  They either create a shortage in the donor Force or result in cancelled Leave Days which have their own knock-on effects later in the year when officers want to take their re-rostered Rest Days. Sadly, we have already seen a, mercifully small, number of officers take their own lives as they can no longer cope with the stresses and ‘burn out’.  Yes, Mrs May, I do blame you.

The population is rising, Police numberrs are falling, and will continue to do so until someone stops this madness.  Therefore it is blindingly obvious WHY 86% of the public surveyed felt that the Police don’t have sufficient resources to protect them etc.

The Front Line and Front Line Support functions have fallen steadily since 2010, so where is all this “the Front Line has been protected”?  How exactly has it been protected.  Bizarrely, and perversely ‘Business Support’ (whatever that may be) has increased in the last 12 months.  Why?

Recorded Crime has increased as Police Numbers dwindled, surely there must be some connection there.

Crime is Down, Police Reform is Working.

Crime is NOT down.

Reform?  Reform is defined thuus in the dictionary “to make an improvement, especially by changing a person’s behaviour or the structure of something”  I know where the structure of Policing has changed.  Where is the improvement?  I think we all know that Policing is no better now than it was before the #Cuts began, so no Reform is categorically NOT working, it is an unmitigated disaster.

So really this government under Theresa May is failing drastically.  It is failing in its First Duty to protect its citizens, and whilst they would no doubt call it’spin’ I call it LIES.  Theresa May’s savage cuts are NOT working, not by anybody’s undertstanding of ‘working’.  At the very best the NPCC are acquiescing by their overwhelming silence.  Surely it is their DUTY to highlight the problems and air them publicly so that the people who pay fopr Policing (you and me) know what’s going on. Stop telling us thatg Police Reform is working, it is not Reform it is Destruction, and whatever you call it has not improved the situation for the General Public.

 

The Changing Face of the Police Service

We all know it.  The Police Service is changing.  I won’t bore you by repeating the various crises that Policing faces, but what do these changes LOOK LIKE?  I thought I might highlight a few areas that some Academics may not choose to, so I got my crayons out again.

Diversity.

Over many years, even before Cruella’s Crusade began, the Police Forces of England and Wales were tackling the issue of diversity within their ranks, and, long term, this is how they have done.

The graph goes relentlessly upwards, showing, I feel, that t he Police Service ARE trying to improve their BAME representation.  However, I am far from confident that the soon-to-be-implimented policy of recruitment being either 100% Graduate or Degree Apprenticeship will improve this.  Universities are already declaring that BAME students are falling short of appropriate representation and I do not see how this can help a 100% Degee recruitment process to increase BAME ratios within the service.

So, where are all these BAME officers?

Quite clear don’t you think?  I for one will not be taking any lectures from NPCC or Cruella about BAME representation within the Police Service until the National Police Chiefs Counci sort their act out.  But enough of percentages for a moment, they can get confusing.  What does this table look like in numbers?

Well, that doesn’t look very good does it?

Gender

How has the ratio of Male to Female Officers fared over the years?

Slow, but sure I think has to be the answer, going in the right direction but slowly.

Manpower

I was interested in how the reducing size of the Police Service was reflected compared to the population.  The counter that the Home Office favours is the number of Constables per 100,000 head of population, so here it is.

Well, I’m no expert but that does not look healthy to me.

I wanted to look at how Experience and Length of Service had shifted over the last few years but the Home Office have only been publishing that data for the last 3 years.

It seems quite clear to me that for the last 3 years the majority of our cops are in the 10-15 years bracket, but all of them have reduced alarmingly, demonsrating, does it not, that we are haemhorraging experience.

Whilst it isn’t exacftly the same, I found that the Home Office had been publishing data on officers’ age brackets, so here it is

To me, this shows quite categorically that the majority of our officers are in the 26-40 bracket, but that group is shrinking more than any other, and, worryingly, the next group (41-56) is not getting bigger as officers grow older.  So where are they going?  Out must be the answer surely.  Yet more evidence of the Crisis in Policing brought about by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, and continuining still.

Finally, just for shits and giggles, here’s a reminder of how the Police Service shapes up now compared to 1979.

No doubt there are ‘Academics’ out there who will criticise what I have done here, but every single number quoted above comes from an ‘offical’ Home Office statistic somewhere.  All dates quoted related to 31st March of the relevant year.  Policing definitely looks like it’s in crisis to me.

The Crucifixion Cycle (As Amended)

The Crucifixion Cycle

Stage 1

Slash Resources

Government slashes the resources of the public body in question.  Be it NHS, Armed Forces, Police, Education, Coastguard, Fire Service, Probation, Barristers, Junior Doctors……the list just goes on and on.  They have all had their resources slashed to the bone (and possibly deeper) by this failing government in the name of Austerity. Be under NO illusions, more cuts are coming, Gideon said so.

Stage 2

Highlight The Failings

Next Step is to commission a report highlighting the failings of said public body. Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are widely available) are normally good at issuing reports that seem to support government’s plan of action.

Stage 3

Get the Press to Crucify the Public Body for Their Failings

Certain sectors of the British Press seem only too willing to publish articles, splashed across their front pages, or 1st item on the 10 o’clock news etc, crucifying the public body for their failings. They never seem to mention slashed resources at this stage, just how serious and awful the failings have been, whip up some public backlash, and launch a “heads should roll” theme to move it forward.

Police and NHS are currently suffering at the hands of Stage 3.  Whose turn next?

Stage 4

Privatisation.

These public bodies can’t be trusted to organise a beer-drinking event in a brewery.  Just look at the headlines at Stage 3. I know how to sort this out, we’ll privatise them.  We’ve got some Lords with interests in suitable private companies, let’s give them a shot at sorting it all out, perfect solution.

Stage 5

Ignore the findings of Review Body.

Continue to undermine public body by not even awarding miserly pay review body amount

Stage 6

Rob Peter To Pay Paul

Use money stolen from cops pay to pay off your incompetent chums in private sector

Am I wrong?

Is this NOT how it happens?

Where are you on the Wheel of Fortune?

Have you been crucified yet?

With thanks to for his contribution of Stages 5 and 6, thus bringing the Cycle up to date.

Crime Is Down, Police Reform Is Working

Does that sound familiar? How long have we been hearing that particular mantra? By my reckoning we’ve been subjected to it since 2014.

Is Crime down? I leave it to others to decide if Police Reform is working, but my personal opinion is that it has been an unmitigated, ill thought-out, vengeful policy that has far from worked. The words “unmitigated” and “disaster” spring readily to my mind.

To return to crime, for the last four years whilst the government have been trotting out that tired old mantra crime (as per the statistics published by the Home Office) looks like this

From 2014, the year Mike Penning uttered those immortal words, crime has inexorably risen. In 2017/18 it was substantially higher than 2010 when Cruella’s Crusade first began, yet we currently have 21,000 fewer officers to contend with rising crime, not to mention the other demands upon Police resources that are nothing to do with crime.

Whilst I was immersed in the Home Office crime stats I thought I would have a look and see what the scale was, nationally, of officers being assaulted and injured in the course of their duties. I was shocked to find that those figures were not available until 2017/18. This is actually a shortcoming of ALL governments, but it was rectified last year. However, whilst I was rummaging I came across a set of stats that might make you smile. For years and years, governments of all hues have totally ignored Assaults on Police Occasioning Injury. But they did regularly retain, and publish, the number of Unnatural Sexual Offences coming to the attention of Police. To be more important than injured officers the numbers must be huge, surely. Well, no actually.

It seems to have peaked at about 40 offences in 2016/17, whereas the first year of publishing Assaults on Police Causing Injury there were over 8,000 offences recorded in England and Wales.

It makes my heart flutter to know that keeping an eye on the rise of Unnatural Sexual Offences has been far more important to successive governments than injured Police Officers.

The serious point is, why have successive governments totally ignored Assaults on Police causing injuries, yet they have collected and published stats relating to significantly less prevalent and less serious offences? In an era when government openly criticise Police for ‘fudging’ Recorded Crime stats, why have successive governments constantly changed which, and how, crimes are counted? Total Crime should be exactly that.

The government definitely prefers stats from the Crime Survey of England and Wales because that survey frequently shows that overall crime is falling. What they don’t tell you is that not every category of crime is included in the survey, plus the resulting crime levels may be falling, but are considerably higher (by a few million) than Police Recorded Crime. Cake and Eat It comes to mind.

It seems that it is the government that needs reforming rather than the Police Service (and those deviant sexual offenders 😱😱)

Crime is Down (in an upwardly sort of way), Police Reform is actually a vendetta

Who Co-Ordinates The Co-Ordinators?

Mustn’t swear, honestly, but yesterday provided me with a  true WTF moment.

Following the recent visit of that nice Mr Trump to the UK, it became obvious via news and Social Media, plus personal observations on the M40, that many Police Officers had been deployed on Mutual Aid to assist with the Policing and Security for the visit.  Nosey old me wondered just how many cops had been disrupted by Mutual Aid.  It allegedly cost Police Sotland £5 Million for Mr Trump to enjoy a round of golf.  Even my local Golf Club isn’t that expensive.

Who co-ordinates Mutual Aid in England and Wales. Answer:- The National Police Co-Ordination Centre, part of the National Police Chiefs Council.

So, I fired them off a Freedom of Information request thus;

1. How many Mutual Aid deployments have there been in England and Wales?
2. For each deployment, which force received the Mutual Aid?
3. How many officers were sent on Mutual Aid?

To be helpful I even added the foillowing rider;

“I specifically DO NOT REQUIRE any details concerning the nature of the deployment”

To be fair I never expected an actual answer, I always anticipated a Refusal.  Over the cost limit is normally a good one, or we don’t comment on operational matters for security reasons.  Either of those would have done.  However, they broke new ground.  Yesterday I got my eagerly awaited response

NPCC Response:
The NPCC does not hold information captured by your request. NPoCC coordinates national assistance only. They do not record all mutual aid, for example, if forces within a region send resources to each other.
A consideration may be to make a request with individual forces. On this occasion, I am unable to assist you.

That was it, in its entirety.  Not a single word have I omitted.

So, for the biggest Policing operation for quite a while the NPoCC knew NOTHING about the Mutual Aid.  A whoie world of stink was being kicked up about some of the sleeping accommodation.  Leaves were cancelled in many Forces.  Mutual Aid was certainly provided froom somewhere.

So I ask you, readers of mine, did your Force send Mutual Aid to the Met for Trumpy’s visit? Are you outside of the ‘Region’?  Who the hell does monitor Mutual Aid and co-ordinate it if not the National Police Co-Ordination Centre?

To the National Police Chiefs Council I say this, many, many people think that you are nothing more than servants of this government.  Certainly not enough opposition has been voiced to the stringent cuts to Policing Levels and Budgets, just “we must work harder or smarter within our new budgets”.  We all KNOW that the loss of approx 21,000 Police Officers, and many of them are from the Front Line, can only impact adversley on Law and Order.  I suspect that many areas are being Policed at dangerously low levels, particulary in Ruralshire and at night.  The first duty of the government is to protect its citizens.  They are failing in their duty if their cuts and policies are seeing rises in murders, assaults, Knife Crime etc etc.

“The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed. The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity, and the absence of crime, will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained.”

Please, NPCC, please tell me how the Police Service of 2018 is fullfilling its Primary Objective?

I may well challenge your response to my FOI request, but far more important than that, PLEASE answer my question above.

The State of Policing 2018

Fortuitously there has just been a release of Police Manpower (sorry, I still call it that, no offence intended) and the latest Crime Data for England and Wales.

Much has been made of these latest figures both in the Press and on Social Media.  This Crime has gone up by this percentage and all that sort of stuff.  Very useful, it really is, but if you want to look at more than just the big, bold headlines your head will soon be spinning.

Well, I still have some crayons left, none of the real academics have tried to disable my abacus or nick my pencil box, so I thought I’d try and make sense of the bigger picture and how it affects both Policing and the Populus in 2018.

Firstly, how many Police Officers are there in England and Wales since the disastrous election of 2010?

Not including the British Transport Police (for no particular reason other than they are shown separetely in the stats) it looks like this

It’s all well and good producing a pretty chart I hear you cry, what does that actually LOOK like?  It’s a tad worse after this week’s figures release but basically it looks like all the areas coloured pink having NO Police Officers whatsoever, not a single one.

It doesn’t look very good does it,  but we keep hearing that Crime is Down and Police Reform is working, so how are the much-reduced Police Officers coping with crime and stuff?

My word, it looks to me like a few years after Theresa May’s cuts started to bite, Overall Crime started to increase.

Violent Crime, we’ve heard a lot about that recently, how does that look?

The reason for the bizarre drop in the middle of the graph of that the Home OPffice keep changing exactly which crimes they want to list, and a lot of the lesser asssaults, whilst recorded by the Police, did not feature in the Home Office stats, but now they do again.  And they complain about the Police fudging stats eh?

So, we have had 8 years now of #Austerity and #PoliceReform.  What does that look like? How do the numbers stack up after 8 years?

Apologies if you find the chart above a bit ‘busy’ but basically Police Numbers down, Stop and Search down has resulted in Total Crime and Violent Crime going up.  Where will it all end?  Theresa May and her colleagues must be really proud of themselves. There you have it encapsulated in one chart, the state of (Crime and) Policing in 2018.

How Safe Are Our Streets Exactly?

As you are all aware, I am not an Academic, and I do not possess a degree in anything.  However, spurred on by  this warm weather and an increasing foreboding of doom, I dusted down my crayons, and with a little help from my 4 year old grand-daughter, I managed to produce some nice pretty pictures, based on the premise that the first duty of any government is to protect its citizens.This doesn’t often happen, but I will shut up for a while and let the music and the pictures fill in the story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hmm, it seems as if most of the violent crimes were on their way down prior to about 2011/12 and then started to go up again. I wonder what happened to cause that? I’d better get my crayons out again and see if the whole of England and Wales looks the same.

Before I do there’s a few things about these piccies that you might think I’ve forgotten.  Despite slating the Police for the manner in which they record crime, the Home Office, amazingly, have never published data for Possession of Knives or Firearms prior to 2008, at least not publicly.  They do not publish figures for Assault on a Police Officer causing Injury.  They did not publish data for ANY Assault causing Injury prior to 2012  Why would that be?  Not just the Tories, Labour didn’t do it either.  The stats for 2017/2018 are not yet publicly available.

Anyway, back to my crayons, the pictures for the whole of England and Wales.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at all of these pretty, colourful pictures it does indeed seem that most, if not all, of the columns start to rise 2012/2013   What on earth could be causing that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about England and Wales, does that look any different?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, we can see that the MEt has (to now) been sheltered from the worst of the cuts, but more are coming in the next two years.  They have still ended up with a net loss however.  England and Wales as a whole has seen quite a sharp falling off of officer numbers since 2010.  Could anything else be a factor?

 

 

 

 

 

 

For whatever reason, Stop and Search in London has fallen sharply since 2008, in 2017 the lowest for a decade by far.  How does the rest of the country fare?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more for luck, how does Total Crime look like against Total Stop/Search?

So, there you have it ladies and gents, girls and boys.  Are the government protecting its citizens?  Are they complying with their ‘First Duty’?  More importantly, how safe are our streets.  Just a wild thought I know, but getting those 21,000 Police Officers back might help, but the only problem there is that there is no Magic Bobby Tree,  Even if the government did the most massive u-turn in their history, they cannot replace the lost skills and experience.  No wonderful Graduate Entry schemes, no Direct Entry Insp.Superintendent/Detective schemes can fix this.  The Police Service is broken.  Can we fix it?  I don’t know.  I hope so, and I will carry on writing posts such as this til  I either stop breathing or the government u-turns.  I can’t change their minds, but YOU can.  Every one of you joined together can lobby your MP.  Send him/her a copy of this post if you haven’t got time to write.  I don’t care how you do it, but the swell of public opinion and support is our best chance (in my humble opinion)

I shall now put my crayons away until at least next week, thank you for your patience.

 

We Were NOT Crying Wolf Prime Minister

I’m sure you can all remember back in 2015 when the then Home Secretary told the Police Federation to “stop crying wolf”.

She said nearly every year the Federation warned that the public was at risk or that the force would be destroyed but it had not happened.

She told officers: “This kind of scare-mongering does no one any good.” And she added: “This crying wolf has to stop.”

Mrs May gave them an ultimatum, telling them: “You can choose protest and continue to shout from the sidelines for the next five years or choose partnership.”

Fast Forward 3 years and where are we?  I think almost everyone apart from the most hardened lunatic Tories will admit that crimes of all types have risen by various degrees.  More importantly though, Murders in the capital, and beyond, are rocketing.  Knife Attacks, Acid Attacks, they are all getting out of control.

Even the Tories’ favourite newspaper is carrying unprecedented headlines

Shire towns face unprecedented 140 per cent surge in robberies and violent crime with rise blamed on police cuts and ‘county lines’ drug gangs

Since Theresa May first came to ‘power’ in 2010 she has stedfastly refused to listen to us old codgers, the Police Lobbyists, she has ignored Academics, Pracademics, the Federation and that species the NPCC officer who dares to speak out.  She very recently managed to stick in a leopard-print boot to the majority of Public Services by promising the NHS £20 billiom.  Yes, they do deserve it, but they are not alone in that.   She has chosen the NHS to be the sole beneficiary.  The #MagicMoneyTree only bore a few fruits obviously. Wait a moment, maybe this was just a cynical vote-winner.  What other Public Service is likely to provide as many votes as rescuing a floundering NHS?

Well Mrs May, let me tell yo now that the #MagicBobbyTree is dead, killed off by some over-zealous pruning by a ‘lady’ gardener.

Sadly though, it doesn’t even end there.  The skills and experience that have been lost over the past 10 years, frivolously discarded in some arrogant crusade, will take decades to replace, EVEN IF, the cuts were reversed tomorrow.  The damage has been done.  It can NOT be simply reversed, not even by some fancy-pants Graduate Entrry Folly dreamt up by the College.  That scheme, flawed as it is, does not touch the problem of dwindling PCSOs and Specials, alongsisde the Regulars.

Mrs May you have broken the morale, fibre and being of the Police Service.  You personally are responsible with your flawed policies and abject refusal to listen to reasoned argument.  This is YOUR legacy, young kids’ blood on your hands.  Oh no, you must stop that wicked Stop and Search immediately, it does no good and it is racist.  Really?  Ask the families oif the dead children (yes, children) that you pretend to care about.  What have YOU actually DONE to stem the tide of knife-related murders, attmpted murders and assaults on our streets in broad daylight?

NOTHING

We were NOT crying Wolf (and at the end of that fable there was actually a wolf)

#DegreeGate

Much has been said already about degree-level entry into the Police Service, and I’m pretty sure that much more will be said in the months and years to come.

I had a ‘conversation’ yesterday with some faceless, nameless Rupert from the College of Policing as I wanted to be clear in my mind exactly what was being introduced.

I’m still a tad unclear as to exactly when the three prescribed routes into the Police Service (at Constable level) will come into play but essentially, taken from the College’s own documentation, they will be:-

  • Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA): you will be a police constable on a three-year degree apprenticeship programme, therefore you will be paid a salary from your start date. We anticipate that some forces will start the PCDA programme from April 2018, while others will phase it in during 2018/19.
  • Professionally focused undergraduate degree in policing: you will be on a university programme to achieve a pre-join undergraduate degree in policing, therefore this will be at your own expense. We anticipate that universities will start to offer the pre-join undergraduate degree in policing from September 2018.
  • Degree Holder Entry Programme: you will already have a degree (it doesn’t have to be police-related) and you will join as a police officer on a learning programme, therefore you will be paid a salary from your start date. We anticipate forces will start the Degree Holder Entry Programme from September 2018.

In fairness to the College they have stated that they intend to publish something soon that will clarify any misunderstandings about the above scheme.

So, unless I’ve misunderstood something, somewhere, serving officers can, BUT DO NOT HAVE TO, further their career and promotion prospects by studying for a degree.  ALL new recruits into the Police Service of England and Wales will either have to possess a degree already, or join the Degree Apprenticeship scheme and obtain one whilst serving (at no cost to themselves)

As has been stated by the College in their 3rd Tweet above all new recruits, regardless of how they entered, will have obtained a degree (or already possessed one) by the time they have finished their training.

Fast Forward a few years, all the old thickos like me without a degree will either have retired or left in disgust, and the Police Service will be comprised of 100% Graduates.  We know the College want this, we know that Sir Tom Winsor wants this, I suspect that the government are behind it and they want it, so once again political influence wil be insidiously shaping the face and body of the Police Service.

At the moment I have three main concerns about this scheme, but I’m sure I’ll think of more over the next year or so.

  1. I have asked myself several times “Could I have done my job any better than I did over 30 years if I had a degree?” and the honest answer was NO.  I have no problem with Graduates in the Police whatosever, but I do not understand why it is suddenly compulsory for new recruits.  Somebody with a degree will no doubt be able to tell me how long it will take to replace the dinosaurs with graduates, my abacus isn’t up to it.  Just so long as Quentin can come along with his 2nd Class Degree in Classical Greek from Huddersfield (sorry Huddersfield) University, wave it at the Recruitment Officers and get accepted for the Police that’s OK.  That is EXACTLY what is wanted for the future.
  2. Secondly, it has long been a thorn in the side of the government, and others, that ethnic minorities are under-rerepresented within the Police Service.  Universities across the land are currently admitting that their own students do not fully represent the ethnic makeup oif the population.  Ethnic minority students are under-represented within Universities. So how exactly is this scheme going to help address the balance within the Police Service?  Maybe ethnic minority students will all join via the Degree Apprenticeship route then.  Yes?  Possibly not.
  3. Finally, and one that I’m convinced that the College haven’t taken into account, is CORRUPTION.  Joining via the Degree Apprenticeship Scheme means that the recruit is paid a salary during training, not a great one, but a salary nevertheless.  If a recruit joins via Professionally Focused Undergraduate Degree in Policing, or Degree Holder Entry Programme their degrees are obtained at their own expense.  According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies in 2017, the average student in England will graduate with debts of over £50,000 – those from poorer backgrounds will incur more, with more loans available to them.  So, Rookie Constable John Smith joins the Police Service with a Student Loan Debt of £50,000 (or possibly more), he goes out onto the streets of London, or anywhere else really, and is somehow miraculously immune from temptation.  We all know that those tempations are there, fortunately very few succumb to them.  Over the last few years Married Quarters and Section House accommodation have disappeared, Housing Allowance is in its Death Throes if it hasn’t gone completely.  The Met, amazingly, will only take recruits who live in London.  Who can afford to live there on circa £23,000 or less?  But somehow temptation and corruption will not be a problem with these Graduate Entry officers up to £50,000 in debt, not including mortgage if they have one.

I genuinely do look forward to the College’s clarification of this scheme, because I can’t see ANY benefits for the General Public.  I can certainly see the benefits of having a degree if one wants to climb the greasy pole of promotion and career advancement, but sorting out a pub fight on a Saturday night, or telling Mrs Smith that her son/daughter/husband won’t be coming home because they’ve been in an RTC?  I don’t think so.  Please, anybody, add a comment to this post and inform me, how will Front Line Officers (or the Public) benefit from everyone having a degree? I really do want to know.

Sir Tom Winsor

Who is Sir Tom Winsor? Well, most people know by now that he was the lead author of the infamous Independent Review of Police Officers’ & Staff Remuneration and Conditions, first published in 2011.

The ‘highlights’ include

  • Tom Winsor provided the government with recommendations as to how a modern police pay structure could be achieved. Changes to pay that would lower police officer starting salaries but allow officers to progress more quickly to higher pay.
  • A stronger link between pay and skills – in the short term, a £600 allowance for officers who use certain skills (those required for neighbourhood policing, public order, investigation and firearms), and in the longer term, for the highest pays to be limited to those officers who develop, maintain and use professional skills, and who are carrying out roles that require the powers or expertise of a police officer.
  • A stronger link between pay and performance, with annual pay increase limited to those who have performed satisfactorily or better, and those identified as poor performers receiving no rise.
  • Proposals on fitness testing to ensure that all officers are fit enough to be deployed to the front line, with continued support for those injured on duty.
  • A requirement for applicants to have a policing qualification, A-levels, or relevant experience before becoming a police officer. {This recommendation has now been extended and requires a degree, or equivalent, for new recruits as of 2019 I believe}
  • A direct entry scheme to enable individuals of considerable achievement and capacity to join at the rank of superintendent, with appropriately rigorous training and development.
  • The introduction of a system of compulsory severance for police officers, as is currently the case for other public sector workers.
  • An increase in the pension age to 60 (compared to a pension age of 65 rising to 68 in line with state pension age for most other public service workers).
  • Tom Winsor has recommended that an annual fitness test should be implemented in September 2013 based on the entry standard for new recruits. In total, officers would be expected to run 540 metres in 3 minutes 29 seconds. The level of fitness required to be able to complete this test is not an unreasonable expectation for police officers, and someone of only average fitness should be able to pass the test well into their 60s.

I’m sure there are others, but the above seem to be the main features coming out of the Independent Reviews. Controversial, many of them, unsympathetic some would day, and others would claim that they very closely resembled David Cameron’s speech on Police Reform in 2006. I don’t know if Sir Tom even read that article, but he might have done..

The bizarre thing to me is that Sir Tom did not claim his fee (£300 per day) for the Reviews from the Home Office. I know that’s true because the Home Office told me.

Sir Tom has been a controversial character ever since. In no particular order, as they say,

Apart from his outspoken views on unfit cops, he has not been shy about upsetting the fine men and women of our Police Service.

He stated that the Police Service was currently “unfairly perceived” as a blue-collar occupation with a “clock-in and clock-out” mentality, whereas it should be regarded as one of the professions. I know many former and serving officers, and not one of them has ever displayed a “clock in, clock out mentality’ so I have no idea where he got that one from. I have never even heard or read that description from anybody other than Sir Tom Winsor, so I have no idea where it originated.

He was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary despite never having served a single day as a Police Officer, totally unprecedented. If that wasn’t bad enough he pitched up at a National Police Memorial Day service in what purported to be a Police Uniform, many took that as a sleight on their profession.

Last year he upset and offended serving and former officers alike by claiming that Response Officers “take nothing home with them” implying that Response Officers left the stresses and experiences in their locker at the end of the day, and that tecs took their work home with them and worried about it at home. This was blatantly wrong, in my opinion, and showed Response Officers no respect or understanding at all.

Sir Tom apologised the very next day. Sir Tom said: “Yesterday, on Sky News, I made a mistake, for which I apologise.

I said that, in contrast to detectives, response officers “take nothing home” at the end of their shifts. That is plainly wrong, it is not what I meant, and I realise it has caused anger and offence. I am sorry about this.”

He added: “Response and neighbourhood policing are undoubtedly stressful.

“Police officers and staff who deal with the many dreadful things which people do to others, or which happen to them, most certainly do not leave them behind; they take them home, and in many cases they stay with them forever. This was illustrated by some of the harrowing examples on Twitter yesterday.”

Most recently he has displayed, again, in my opinion, a total lack of understanding how the Police Service works. He said the “shortcomings” of police chiefs who did not plan or use resources effectively were masked by the “get the job done” attitude of front-line officers. If he had ever been a Police Officer he would know full well that the default attitude of Police Officers is exactly that, get the job done. It is not done that way out of loyalty to the bosses, nor to cover up for the shortcomings of the bosses, but because your average Police Officer just wants to get the job done and achieve the desired outcome, frequently in unorthodox ways.

I am firmly of the opinion that Sir Tom Winsor is being a bit naughty in his criticisms of certain aspects of Policing. The way I understand it, he was the lead author of the ‘Winsor Reviews’ that directly led to Theresa May’s Police Reforms. He knows full well the troubles and problems that have been forced upon the Police Service of England and Wales. He absolutely understands the consequences of losing 21,000 officers and the budgetary restraints imposed upon them. He has been at the very core of the cuts prior to his appointment to HMIC (as was). Now he is the Chief Inspector he really should understand what the problems are before criticising how the modern Police Service is operating. I’m pretty certain that most Forces could operate better at 2010 staffing levels, PLUS, some features of Policing, like serious Public Disorder, most definitely requires numbers. Maybe he should be making that argument back up the chain. There are only so many ‘Efficiency Savings’ that can be made. Increased use of technology is not always the answer. As somebody said a few years ago you can’t solve all those problems by chucking a few iPads at them.

So, there you have it, a potted history of Sir Tom Winsor for the benefit of anyone who may have missed him.