Knife Crime – A Faux-Academic’s View

I confess, I have never been an ‘academic’, I left school with two A Levels and a Jamboree Bag. In truth, I’m never likely to be an academic either. I have had three jobs since leaving school, and every one of them involved being a practitioner of one kind or another. I’m not intimidated by ‘maffs’ and ‘riffmatic’ though. A set of numbers is just another challenge.

As most of you will know I have a ‘thing’ about Knife Crime and somehow seem to be at odds with some of the more established academics about Knife Crime and its prevention.

So, I wrote to all 43 Forces in an attempt to get a true picture of the scale of the problem across England and Wales. Then I thought, I can draw some pretty graphs and charts too. I won’t feel so left out.

It has to be said I got a colourful variety of responses, some Forces even went overboard and gave me far more data than I had requested. Some gave their results in Calendar Years, and some in Financial years, but at least they gave me something I could work with. One Force that shall remain nameless suggested that I contact the Coroner as they couldn’t tell me how many persons had been killed by knife or bladed object. A small number haven’t yet replied, so where you see value of zero on a graph, they are almost certainly one of those.  In the case of the Met I am still waiting for the figures for the second half of 2017.

With 5 Forces still to provide me with ANYTHING the total number of people killed by knives or other pointed objects in England and Wales was

2015 – 158

2016 – 177

2017 – 173

The total number of people injured by Knives etc (e.g. non-fatal stabbings etc) was

2015 – 9272

2016 – 9922

2017 – 8719

I expect all of these figures to rise, especially the 2017 totals, once I finally get the outstanding data.

Where did all these attacks happen?  Are there any unexpected hotspots?

As a faux-academic I think it’s quite clear that there are only maybe half a dozen or so Forces that have a real problem with Deaths and Injuries by knife etc. However any death is one too many, whoever the victim is, whatever his/her background is and whichever Force it is.  The killing simply has to stop.

One point that I feel I need to expand upon, I have heard figures quoted that are massively bigger than those above.  In the main they refer to knife-enabled crime such as robbery, aggravated burglary, any offence where a knife is produced but not used to cause injury.  We must definitely not forget those crimes but here I am concentrating on deaths and injuries.

What can we do about it?  I have written about Knife Crime many times before, and unless anyone comes up with another, better, suggestion, I still see the two ways forward as a) Education and b) Stop and Search, preferbaly in conjunction with each other.  I have read ‘proper’ academics papers that suggest that Stop and Search has no effect on Knife Crime.  I don’t have anywhere near enough pieces of paper to argue with that effectively, but I simply don’t agree.  Any weapon used in the commission of an offence is carried through the streets at some point.  During that time it, and its carrier, are always vulnerable to a Stop and Search if sufficient grounds exist.  I have always maintained that to retain its credibility Stop and Search should be used, but used lawfully and ethically.  I have previously written about the reduction of Stop and Search instigated by Theresa May, and the main post can be found here.

Finally, I have heard it said that ethnic minorities are unfairly targeted by Stop and Search.  I have always maintained that if you test the ‘available population’ that is no longer true.  Last night I happened upon this post in The Spectator which not only appears to support my view, but states that government knew this but had it spun differently.

Policing In The 21st Century

Ten years ago there were 141,859 Police Officers (all ranks) in the 43 Forces that traditionally make up England and Wales, 108,884 of that total were Constables. By 2010, when David Cameron and Theresa May came to power, there was a total of 143,734 officers in total. 109,669 were Constables. By 31st March 2017 after nearly 7 years of attrition we were reduced to 123,142 in total, of which only 95,840 were Constables. Seven years of Tory/Coalition rule had reduced the Police Service of England and Wales by almost 20,600, nearly 14.5%. Constables, the rank most members of the public will encounter, or interact with most frequently, were reduced by 13,044 or 12%.

It’s all well and good me being flippant, but what does this really look like in the real world?

A stark visualisation would be this.

All the areas coloured pink add up to equal the 20,600 officers that no longer exist. It is the equivalent of almost all of Wales and a large chunk of England not having a single Police Officer available, at any time of the day or night.

Personally I see no outrage from National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) about the cuts. The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) do not appear to have been able to persuade the government to halt, or reverse, the cuts. In fact more have taken place in the last 12 months and more are planned. The most recent published, September 2017, shows that the total strength is down to 121,929 officers.

It must also be remembered that Police Officers are not the only casualty. Police Staff (civilian support workers) have been slashed by a similar amount. Police and Community Officers slashed, Special Constables, relied upon to take up some of the duties when there are insufficient Regulars, their numbers initially rose, but know they are falling too. The total Police Workforce has been culled from 244,497 in 2010 to 198,388 in September 2017. That is more than 46,000 fewer in the workforce. How are they possibly expected to maintain standards at the same level, or improve?

All you get for less is less.

The Police Service as a whole cannot possibly sustain losses of this magnitude and continue to protect the public.

Each Operational Command Unit (OCU) should have a safe minimum set, below which they should not drop without risking public safety. I have attempted to identify what that number is for England and Wales in total. Unsurprisingly nobody wants to reveal what that number is.

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that this government will not listen to Police Officers or their Federation. NPCC seems unwilling, or unable, to speak out. A few individual Chief Constables speak out, but we need to hear the combined voices of ALL NPCC members telling government of the crisis that Police across England and Wales faces. Interestingly Police Scotland and Police Service of Northern Ireland have not suffered the same problems.

The time has come for the public, or at least the majority that quietly support the Police, should write to, or email, their local MP demanding that the cuts are halted and reversed. I truly believe that nothing will happen until the public get involved. The Police are the Public, and the Public are the Police, and now the Police desperately need the help of the Public.

You can find the contact details, including email address and phone number, here.

If that doesn’t work the future is grim.

Stop & Search – A (Not An) Academic’s Opinion

I am not an academic, never been one and hardly likely to become one now. I have, however, considerable experience in Research and Analysis. In the past few days I have been involved in a, sometimes, acrimonious exchange on Twitter with an ex Think Tank academic, on the thorny subject of Stop and Search.

It all started off when I received this Tweet

and then

Rightly or wrongly I just had to challenge them

Gavin then confirmed his assertions with

This exchange continued backwards and forwards over 2 or 3 days, with neither of us conceding that the other might be right. Gavin came up with an extract from some unidentified document that he had found.

Cheekily followed up with

A further refusal to concede that “we expect…..” may just have a different meaning. The mood of this ‘instruction’ is possibly revealed here

In the midst of it all I asked Gavin if he had ever spent a week with a Front Line Response Team, his response was

The argument continued backwards and forwards for a couple of days, I won’t bore you you with the actual tweets they are on our timelines if you want them. At some point it included “numbers versus percentages”. Academics love things in percentages, I prefer numbers. A good example of this is Stop and Search in the Met. The number of people stopped and searched has dropped off a cliff face. The percentage of those arrested has increased dramatically. Some Academics claim that as a success. The reality is that a larger percentage of a much smaller number means that about 15,000 fewer people are being arrested in the Met as a result of Stop and Search. Not exactly a huge success.

In an attempt to get a more balanced opinion than my own I posed the subject of the 20% Arrest Rate to 2 Facebook Groups for the Metropolitan Police. Most of the replies I received denied that there was such a policy, a small number remembered the policy but claimed that it was ignored as unethical, some claimed that it was misinterpreted and only ever implemented by a small number of Inspectors at Appraisal time. There was one response however that was quite illuminating and I brought it to Gavin’s attention (anonymised obviously)

Gavin’s response?

My final words

I have nothing against Gavin as a person, I have never met him, but in this particular exchange he seems to have formed an opinion regarding Stop and Search in the Met and was particularly unreceptive to any differing view. This is not intended as an anti-Gavin post, just expressing a different interpretation of the same document.

However, not all Academics are so insistent that Stop/Search is bad. I have always taken the view that Stop and Search conducted lawfully is a valuable tool and legitimate tactic in the war against Street Crime. Police Officers are fully aware of the requirements for lawfully conducting a Stop/Search under s1 of PACE, and attempting to fulfil an SMT-defined quota is not one of them. I wonder if all Academics are familiar with them.

Finally, I was reminded of the work of another Academic, Dr Marian FitzGerald, basically her recommendations and conclusions can be summed up thus:

Contribution of saearches [sic] to tackling crime:

▪ Searches contribute to the detection and prevention of crime through arrests, and through the intelligence they produce.

▪ The arrest rates tend to be higher for ‘low discretion’ searches, where officers have received information from a third party.

▪ The report claimed that the power has a general impact on crime prevention, demonstrated by independent statistical analysis. However, this important finding was disputed by the independent analyst contracted to carry out the investigation.

Patterns of searches:

▪ Officers target certain individuals who they perceive to be involved in crime locally.

▪ Officers may use the power of stop and search to disrupt groups of young people.

▪ The use of the power is still perceived as a measure of productivity although searches have not been used as a Performance Indicator since 1997.

▪ Most searches were carried out on young men, around half of which did not live in the local area.

Dr FitzGerald’s research was conducted quite some time ago, and is specific to London, but that in itself does not necessarily render it invalid. The two main factors that have changed since then are;

a) Crime Levels have increased

b) Police numbers have increased since the date of the report but are steadily reducing again.

In conclusion it appears that Academics do not all agree with each other, and some are not willing to listen to opposing views to their own, even when presented with supporting ‘evidence’. However I am still perfectly happy to support Stop and Search as a valid tactic, with the strict proviso that it is conducted lawfully. With the recent explosion of knife-related assaults and murders, robberies etc, it has to be remembered that every one of those knives is carried through the streets at some point. How else do we deter this epidemic without Stop and Search? It’s a serious question, I’m open to all suggestions, I just want the killings to end.

Any item of Academia that appears on my Timeline that reduces the opportunities to prevent the killings is not best received.

ADDENDUM

Whilst I was writing this the following response popped up in one of the Facebook Groups;

Considering S.1 PACE refers to reasonable suspicion I’m surprised that the arrest ratio to “lawful stops” is not higher. How can any organization legislate a specific quota of arrests to stops? So they don’t. In fact with all of the adverse criticism over the years stop and search has been reduced to a trickle……………

It IS All About The Numbers

I never thought I would be writing a post about the snow. However it has served to highlight the effect on Policing of factors outside of Crime. For the second time in a few months it is snowing. Some parts of the country are getting it bad.

The thing that has attracted my attention and focused my thinking was a message from a serving Police Officer re the weather.

Basically his Division has 5 times as many I (Immediate) calls on their system than they have officers to deal them. Most of the calls relate to collisions in the snow with persons being injured.

Another perfect example of the total absence of resilience in the modern day Police Service, courtesy of Theresa May. “It isn’t all about the numbers” “It is all about crime”. Yet today we see a situation, no doubt repeated across the country, where numbers WOULD make a difference and it’s absolutely nothing to do with snow.

This is totally down to May and Cameron, with a bit of help from Winsor and total acquiescence from ACPO/NPCC.

I have been asking for literally years, but now Insee senior Police Officers asking the same question

Just how low CAN we go?

It’s pretty much like shrinking the Army, crossing your fingers, and hoping we never have to go to war.

You have been caught out Mrs May. Admit you were wrong, stop this ridiculous vendetta, and get back to protecting and serving our population. Reverse your damaging, vindictive cuts as a matter of total priority. Acknowledge the #CrisisInPolicing and put everything right before it is too late and the system becomes irretrievable.

The Streets Are Lost – Will We EVER Get Them Back?

The Police have lost control of the streets. There, I’ve said it.

Not everywhere, of course, but cities mainly, London definitely, but it could apply literally anywhere.

It has been obvious for a while now but the government have just sat quietly and said nothing. Only that isn’t quite true is it? The government have said something. In 2014, i think it was, the then Home Secretary Theresa May instructed the Police to cut down on Stop and Search. Instructed. That must rank as the biggest political interference in Policing in modern times.

Various pretty graphs have been drawn over the years to try and make it look like the policy was working, but in reality Stop and Search fell off the cliff after 2014. Fewer people were getting stopped (all reasons) and fewer people were getting arrested as a result of those Stops. Mayor Khan’s office tried to make it look like the policy was working and that more people were being arrested, but they were just playing with percentages.

 

Knife crime up 21%

Robbery up 29%

Vehicle theft up 18%

With figures like these how can you pretend that we have control of our streets.? Are these are NATIONAL figures, not just London.

BBC News ran an item on Knife Crime in Tuesday’s evening News


I would go so far as to say that the government in general, and Theresa May in particular, are directly responsible for this state of affairs.

in 2010, under the direction of Theresa May, the Home Office embarked upon a systematic culling of the Police Service in the name of ‘Austerity’. I don’t think that anybody outside of the Palace of Westminster believes that one any more.

Theresa May cannot claim to be unaware of the effects of her vicious cuts, she has been told, often. However in 2015 she responded to this enlightenment like this

you warned that the police – and the public – were being put in danger in 2001, 2004 and 2007. The truth is that crime fell in each of those years, it’s fallen further since – and our country is safer than it has ever been…………

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

The country is safer than it has ever been? Try telling that to the parents of our dead children Mrs May. And many of them were just that, children. Crying Wolf? Safer? 4 young people in London lost their lives to knives on New Years Eve/Day alone.

How can you say such things? How can you now remain quiet?

Stop and Search in London 2008 to 2016

A 12 Month Snapshot of Knife Crime in London

 

 

 

Before I leave Knives and Stop & Search, a senior officer at Scotland Yard received a Knighthood this year on the back of a 70% reduction in Stop & Search. How is that justified in the light of the slaughter around us?

Moped Crime and Pursuits – before I make any comment all, I fully realise that pursuits in particular are a highly contentious, and current, topic. Any collision where an innocent member of the public is injured or, worse, killed is highly regrettable, and preferably avoided. However, the Police still have a job to do and sometimes that will involve pursuing vehicles. More often than not the officers will be unclear on why the driver has decided to make off from Police until it is stopped. Sometimes a collision will occur. Some times the driver of the car being pursued will exceed his/her capabilities and crash. Hopefully no innocent parties will be injured. HOWEVER, the driver of the car/moped etc being pursued ALWAYS has the option to STOP. This would result in him/her being arrested in a dignified manner with full recognition of the driver’s rights. Surely this outcome is preferable to risking death or injury? Many seem to think not.

Moped crime in London has absolutely rocketed although it is not an offence restricted to London alone. Once again, how can we claim to have control of the streets with crimes at these levels? I’m sure that somebody will let me know what the latest instructions are, but I’m absolutely certain that the Police Drivers dread being faced with the dilemma of stopping a moped.

 

 

 

 

Gun Crime – up 20%. Wether it be for an Armed Robbery, a Terrorist Attack or a simple Murder all of those firearms are carried through the streets at some point. Once again, how can we claim to be controlling the streets with a 20% increase in Gun Crime nationally?

Acid Attack – these also appear to be on the rise with a further 300 (approx) being reported in the first 6 months of 2017. Like firearms, these acid attacks are either committed in the street, or the acid is carried through the streets, once again casting doubt on our ability to claim control.

County Lines – A brief and basic description of how County Lines work is contained within the very short video below.  Violence between gang members can be extreme, a recent dispute saw one male have his hand chopped off with a machete and both legs broken.  Young children are used as Mules or Dealers including one young chap who operated in the vicinity of a school miles from his home but was wearing the school uniform of the school where he was operating.

Racism – an easy claim for observers and community ‘leaders’ such as Lee Jasper is that the Police are Racist.  Maybe some are.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find that out of 122,000 officers a few bad apples were Racist, but I am absolutely certain that the number is not large.  According to Sir Robert Peel “The people are the Police and the Police are the people” (see below).  This almost guarantees that in any given Police Force you will have some of everything, because the Police are drawn from the public, and the public consists of all types.

Peelian Principles

The seventh Peelian Principle is the one I refer to above, it simply states

7 – To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

So, no different to anybody else then.

The first Peelian Principle is the one we were all given to remember and repeat ‘parrot fashion’ during Initial Training.  Paraphrased it says “The primary objective of an efficient Police is the prevention of crime………”, or as Peel had it

1 To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

Which brings me to the end of this tome, which I hope you have found useful and not too dry.  Number One – “To prevent Crime and Disorder”.  With crime, or least certain types of crime undisputably rising, and Police Numbers undisputably falling, and the population constantly growing;

How do the Police Prevent Crime and Protect the Public?

Answers on a postcard please.  There is a #CrisisInPolicing but there is NOT a #BottomlessBobbyBox.  I heard tell recently of a Sergeant, in a large urban Force, who paraded 4 Constables (yes 4) and had 3 pages of Incidents to assign.  What should he have done?

25th January 2018 and The Great Police Reform Lie

It was a day like any other. Not much happened. Well not much of any importance anyway. Except that two official reports were published on exactly the same date. The 25th January 2018.

Maybe we were never supposed to read them. Maybe our elected government thought that we couldn’t read them, or maybe they just thought that we wouldn’t understand some of the big words.

But we can read, and we did read them, and we even understood what some of the words meant.

In 2010 the Conservatives were elected to power (sort of) in the form of a coalition. That gave David Camoron just the platform he needed to instigate some major ‘reforms’ of the public sector. The ‘reform’ that peeves me the most is, unsurprisingly given my background, that of the Police Service, once regarded as the best in the world.

One of Camoron’s first acts as Prime Minister was to appoint Theresa May as Home Secretary. and set her loose. I have no doubt that she was tasked by her leader to set about ‘reforming’ the Police Service, a task she carried out with indecent zeal.

To help her, she enlisted the help of the ex Railway Regulator, Tom Winsor, a solicitor with a big London firm but no experience of Policing whatsoever. With the help of an academic and a former Chief Constable, he carried out his now famous ‘Independent Reviews’ of many aspects of the Police Service. We must never forget that he decided, for reasons best known to himself, not to claim his fee for this piece of work. Must unusual compared with most solicitors I know.

Whilst there is absolutely no connection whatsoever he was subsequently appointed Chief Inspector of Constabulary at HMIC (a post normally occupied by former Chief Constables). Oh, and he received a Knighthood too.

Again, there is no connection but Winsor’s Reviews bore a remarkable resemblance to the bullet points of a Camoron speech some years previously.

Since the day they were published a government mantra was born

Crime Is Down, Police Reform Is Working

Which brings us back to the 25th January.

Firstly the Office National Statistics released the latest batch of official Crime Statistics.

Figures based on the Crime Survey of England and Wales (more of that later) broadly showed that crime in general was continuing to fall.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) shows that many of the high-volume crimes, such as lower harm violent crime, criminal damage and most types of theft, were either estimated to be at levels similar to the previous year or to have fallen. It also shows that crime is not a common experience for most people, with 8 in 10 adults surveyed by the CSEW not being a victim of any of the crimes asked about in the survey.

As somewhat of an afterthought they conceded that Police Recorded Crime indicated that many categories of crime had in fact risen. Police crime stats quite rightly came in for some flak a few years ago when the manipulation of those figures, to make the picture look brighter than it was, was made public.

The SEW figures, when it comes to the more violent types of crime, are downplayed somewhat and the true significance of the figures is very much obscured.

“While overall levels of violent crime were not increasing, there is evidence of rises having occurred in some of the low incidence but more harmful categories such as knife and gun crime”.

Hidden away and not immediately obvious are the following stats relating to some of the more worrying crime trends, revealed by Police Recorded Crime.

Gun crime up 20%

Knife crime up 21%

Robbery up 29%

Vehicle theft up 18%

Domestic burglary up 32%

Stalking up 36%

Overall crime up 14%

The significance of these figures is explained away as though it didn’t matter;

Police recorded crime statistics must be interpreted with caution. The police can only record crimes that are brought to their attention and for many types of offence these data cannot provide a reliable measure of levels or trends.

Which brings me neatly back to the CSEW figures.

The sample size for the Crime Survey is 34,400 households out of the, approximately, 24 million households in England and Wales. With such a small sample size (0.15%) it is hardly surprising that the people conducting the survey don’t meet many people who have been the victim of gun or knife crime etc. No wonder their figures are so low.

Whereas the Office for National Statistics show the problem more like this

So that’s the first part of the lie. Is crime really down? I suspect that it is not. Ask any serving officer and I am confident they will tell you it is up. Seriously increased.

Published on the same date was the latest report from the Home Office outlining Police Strength in England and Wales (we mustn’t say Manpower any more).

Police Officers down a further 0.8%, but what is also shocking is PCSOs down nearly 5% and Specials down a massive 15%. A small increase in Police Staff is a minor compensation, and, as we shall see, is temporary.

Almost 1,000 more officers GONE. Who would think that was a good idea at a time of rising crime and Terrorist Threat Levels, not to mention actual Terrorist Attacks. But ‘Police Reform is Working’, the government are constantly telling us. So, a little while ago now, I looked up the word ‘Reform’ in the dictionary.

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

So where exactly are the improvements? A few Efficiency Savings I agree, but what exactly has improved in leaps and bounds?

With crime up, and increasing at an alarming rate surely now is the time to reverse the cuts? The problem with that is that more than 600 Police Stations have been sold off to help offset the cuts, plus to recruit and train 20,000+ officers would take an eternity. It could possibly take decades to put right the damage.

Police Reform? Is it working? Has it improved anything? Is the Police Service staffed at an appropriate level for the challenges of the coming years? Is that the second part of the Great Lie?

Then, just when I thought it was safe to put my quill down, that man Winsor reared his ugly head again.

i made the mistake of looking at the PEEL Inspection Report for the Metropolitan Police, and I wish I hadn’t. Even MORE cuts are planned up to 2021.

Just over 5,000 Police Staff by 2021? Really? That few?

A look at 3 other, not quite random, Forces shows the following

Dyfed Powys

Greater Manchester

and West Midlands

It seems that further cuts to Police Officers over the next four years is not inevitable for all Forces, but certainly for some, and Police Staff are at risk of becoming an Endangered Species in some, or possibly even all.

Finally, and just for the giggles, the Met has come up with something called the One Met Model.  The Met have produced a lovely 44 page booklet, and you don’t have to go very far into it before the Buzzword Bingo begins

The Met is committed to ensuring all of our people have the information technology
they need to do their jobs. Citizens will be able to use a variety of digital channels to
communicate with us, report crime and carry out routine transactions.

But rest asssured

In all of this, the technology will be intuitive, easy to use and user focused. When buying
new systems, the user will be at the heart of everything.

With that I’ll call it a day.  I for one don’t believe that Crime is Down, I don’t believe that Police Reform is working and for certain Forces, at least, the road ahead remains rocky.  There is a #CrisisInPolicing and Police reform is an unmitigated disaster.  You are of course allowed to think differently, but my mind is made up.  Camoron, May and Winsor have done a hatchet job on the finest Police Service in the world.

Why Theresa May’s Cuts To Policing Are Far WORSE Than They Appear

Since 2010 when the Cameron-led coalition came to power Theresa May has overseen the draconian emasculation of the Police Service.

Formerly as Home Secretary, and latterly as Prime Minister Mrs May has presided over the culling of thousands of Police Officers from England and Wales. From about 143,734 in 2010 she has systematically reduced that number to 123,142 FTE officers according to a 2017 Government Briefing Paper.

A mind boggling reduction of 20,592, and even more have gone since. The figures for September 2017 are not yet available.

Remarkably the Police Services in Scotland and Northern Ireland remained more or less untouched. I can’t begin to think why that might have been. Was it the haranguing Mrs May received at the hands of the Police Federation of England and Wales at Conference, or did it go back further to the arrest of Damian Green and the search of his office and home?

I don’t know the answer to that, but both events could have been influential. Either way, it is concentrated solely on England and Wales.

Much has been made about the Front Line. “We will always protect the Front Line”. In March 2017 there were 105,571 Police Officers in Front Line roles. In March 2010 there were about 125,000 in Front Line roles. The government admits that the total figure had fallen by 14.4%.

So much for Protecting the Front Line eh.

The Home Office and HMIC both like to include in their fancy reports the number of Police Officers per 100,000 head of population. That figure varies wildly between 382 in the Metropolitan Police and in 140 Wiltshire with the average being 186. If this number is important enough to be published, it made me wonder. For each Police Force, how low can that number go before the level becomes unsafe? Somebody must have done that Risk Assessment surely? So I asked the question, of Police and Home Office. Nobody answered me. So I cannot reassure anybody that your coverage is adequate for your safety.

So, if those are cuts that we know about, where are the hidden ones?

Firstly, major incidents such as the Terrorist attacks in London and Manchester create a large number of re-rostered Rest Days that have to be taken off further down the line, or vast amounts of normal overtime created by extended tours of duty. The already depleted Front Line is further thinned out by officers taking the Rest Day that is owed them or their time off in lieu. End result, even fewer officers on the Front Line for X number of days.

Sickness. The severity of the cuts combined with a demonstrably increased workload has increased the stress suffered by officers trying to cope with their allocated workload. Junior Detectives seem particularly vulnerable, but not exclusively. The increasing number of knife-related murders (amongst others) also means that the Major Incident Teams are being stretched to their limits.

Injury. The reduced numbers on the Front Line have led to a truly alarming increase in really violent assaults. Some of them have suffered some really nasty injuries that have resulted in them being off sick for extended periods, again reducing the resilience of the Front Line.

Whilst not directly attributable, I am hearing some horror stories about Fleet sizes being reduced. I fully agree that fewer officers need fewer vehicles but reductions should be in proportion. A reduced fleet means fewer ‘spare’ vehicles for when vehicles break down (and they do) or are damaged by the ‘bad guys’ (and they are). Fewer vehicles on patrol means increased response times when an officer requires assistance and increased risk of injury and subsequent absence from duty. Even time spent in A&E or waiting to be seen by a Police doctor is time that the officer is not fulfilling his/her duties. A problem made worse by the cuts.

Police Stations. Over 600 Police Stations have been closed and sold off. Custody Suites have been ‘rationalised’ (reduced) and officers now spend more time driving to Custody Suites that may no longer be in their own local Policing area. Is that efficiency? Really?

Police Staff. Whilst their role is not even remotely identical to the officers, it is just as vital. They too have suffered cuts resulting in some of the associated problems listed above.

Crime is down (no it isn’t). Police Reform is working (really? It is? I have yet to see proof of that).

Now we find ourselves at a stage where some Forces are recruiting unpaid, unqualified ‘volunteers’ to conduct some rôles. Direct Entry Detectives are being used in some places, bypassing the traditional route involving Probation after Initial Training until 2 years service. Now one can enter the CID immediately following basic training in some Forces. A good idea? Hmmmm.

Police Officers were #CryingWolf. No they weren’t, the problems are here, and visible to anybody who knows where to look. They have even been noticed by a few Conservative MPs who forgot what the script was and complained about lack of access to ‘the Police’ when they felt they needed it.

In short, there is a #CrisisInPolicing and collectively these cuts and ‘reforms’ will take generations to put right. Work harder, work smarter is no longer applicable. It has been worn out. There are only so many opportunities to work smarter.

The time is long overdue for all members of the National Police Chiefs Council to speak out with one voice, and make it abundantly clear what can no longer be done under the cuts.

Project Athena – Nearly There

Apologies to those of you that aren’t affected by Athena, but I do think it’s important for the nine participating Forces and their Council Tax payers.  Apart from naughty Kent all Forces have now answered my questions, so we’ll see what I can make of it.

I asked all 9 Forces the same questions

1) Could you please tell me the total cost to date to xxxxxx Police of joining Project Athena?

2) Could you please tell me the cost for this Financial Year (alternatively the total number of hours) of overtime incurred by Police Officers in relation to file preparation etc for Project Athena?

Some were more successful than others.

In no particular order;

For West Mercia and Warwickshire Combo the response was

The implementation of Athena has resulted in West Mercia Police and
Warwickshire Police force Alliance investment costs to date of £4.423m.
This represents the one-off costs from both capital and revenue.

The overtime cost to date for this financial year 2017/18 is £127,205.

The initial cost for the original 7 Forces was £32 Million over a period of 10 years.  I’m no expert but the best part of £4 and a half Million so far for West Mercia and Warwickshire seems a little steep and possibly indicares a bit of creep ahead, but we’ll have to see.  £127,205 is surely a scandalous figure for overtime costs on a system designed to be more efficient and save money.  It does tend to corroborate all those stories I’ve been hearing about officers in West Mercia taking an absolute age to complete a simpe file on Athena.  But who knows, seven more Forces to look at yet.

Next comes Bedfordshire, their response was

1) The total spent by Bedfordshire Police on Project Athena is £1,279,000.

2) We do not hold any information relating to overtime for Project Athena.

One and a quarter Million £ doesn’t seem too bad at first glance, quite reasonable probably, but not knowing how much it has cost them in Overtime Costs?  The Auditors won’t like that.  How can anything be fully costed?

Next comes the Norfolk/Suffolk combo, their response was

1) Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies Athena capital costs, excluding forecast capital costs, are
currently £4,116,086.

The Constabularies Athena revenue costs, excluding forecast revenue costs, are currently
£2,427,245.

2) The Constabularies do not maintain records concerning overtime incurred specifically in
relation to Project Athena. Such costs will be embedded within overall overtime budgets, which
cannot be broken down to identify individual costings

Six and a half £Million on Athena so far.  Reasonable?  I’ve long since lost track of the cost oif IT but it sounds like it’s getting expensive to me.  Two more Forces that don’t cost their Overtime costs for Project Athena.  That can’t be right surely?  It certainly isn’t efficient, and again, I’m sure the Auditors would want to know.

Then we get to Cambridgeshire, their response was

1) Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s cost to date is £1,619,616.

2) The cost of Police Officers overtime is £473.73.

Just over 1 and a half £Million is probably about right for a small county like Cambridgeshire, and they have been hugely fortunate with Overtime costs of only £473.73.

Next one along is a large County Force, Hertfordshire.  Their response was

1) The total spend by Hertfordshire Constabulary on Project Athena is £5,276,000.

2) We do not hold any information relating to overtime for Project Athena.

5 and a quarter Million £ does seem quite high, but Hertfordshire is a large Force.  Who knows?

Finally (Apart from errant Kent) was Essex.  With a little bit of prodding they have provided me with the most comprehensive figures relating to Project Athena, but the least clarity.  HOWEVER, their documentation did include a very illuminating paragraph on the background of Project Athena.

As for costing it, over the past few years, they usefully provided a breakdown of costs and how much the each Forece’s share of it is alleged to be.  I must say their figures, at first glance, don’t seem to match up with those provided by individual Forces.

Cost of Project Athena 2013-14

Cost of Project Athena 2014-15

Cost of Project Athena 2015-16

Cost of Project Athena 2015-16

Cost of Project Athena 2016-17

Cost of Project Athena 2016-17

Looking on the bright side, Essex has only incurred 6 hours, £146, of Overtime costs relating to Project Athena.

The AMO referred to above is the Athena Management Organisation, the cost of which is not included in the quoted £32 Million over 10 years.

Sadly, for all of us, it seems like we will have to wait until 2023 to see whether it comes in on budget or not, and whether it ends up being ‘national’, as was envisaged.

In the meantime here’s a little reminder of what the users think of it.

And here’s some comments on Athena from a previous post:-

  • Safe to say I’d heard bad things about Athena before West Mercia decided they would implement this excellent **its not excellent, it’s awful** bit of kit.
  • We don’t actually have it yet because of all the bugs etc that have been ongoing throughout fits inception. We were trained 2 years ago in a 3 day session involving forcing other teams to work 12 hour shifts to cover our time off. This will happen again in the new year when we have to be trained again due to how long ago the training was with no usage time.
  • Athena doesn’t interlink with notification systems for social services, DV units or child services etc so whereas the old CRIMES system West Mercia used for years would send automatic messages to relevant departments to make them aware of incidents in their remit, Athena won’t. It falls to the individual officer (who by the way has to input the whole crime report themselves rather than calling a crime desk full of knowledgeable data inputters) and then manually send messages or emails to the other departments .. of course officers will not always know what needs to go to whom .. especially at 3am in the morning because previously it was done automatically … You can see the opportunity for major disaster when something gets forgotten
  • Suffolk have had Athena for a while now. In the first few weeks it was plagued with issues. People physically cried after losing lots of work repeatedly. I have to say though, a year and a half on, I am so pleased we have switched to Athena.
  • Custody practically ground to a halt, it took so long. Weekly ‘Gold’ meetings because of all the problems. Officers just bursting into tears of frustration. Everything taking much much longer than the old way.

Good, Bad or Indifferent?  Value For Money? The Way Forward? Suitable for National Roll Out? You decide.

 

Ambulance Waiting Times

A change of subject today, but another topic very close to my heart.

Did you know that hospitals can be fined £200 for every patient that is kept waiting in an Ambulance at A&E for between 30 minutes and 1 hour?

It gets worse, if kept waiting for over an hour that fine can increase to £1,000.

Why are patients left waiting in an Ambulance once they have arrived at A&E? There is only one answer, government cuts.

I am not bashing the NHS, A&E or the Ambulance/Paramedic Service, I am laying the blame squarely at the door of Central Government, and it has been going on for several years.

Government cuts have led to fewer doctors, fewer nurses, bed-blocking (Local Authorities cannot accept patients being discharged from hospital to a Care Home etc due to their budgets being cut by government and this has a knock-on effect).

Hospitals are struggling financially because of the government cuts, and their situation is being made many times worse by being fined for failing to perform at the required level because of government cuts. The hospitals have less money, then they get fined and ‘robbed’ of some of the little money they did have.

In 2013, collectively, hospitals were fined £44 Million for patients kept waiting in Ambulances. In 2017 one hospital alone was fined £300,000 over a nine month period. Just think what these monies could achieve if spent on patients, instead of being lost in arbitrary ‘fines’.

Doctors, Nurses, Ambulance Drivers, Paramedics, virtually ALL Healthcare Professionals, exist to provide a world class service to their patients. They are hampered in doing this by the government cuts and then have even more money taken away from them because they have failed to meet their targets.

Well done Mr Hunt, I hope that you can sleep at night.

#CutsHaveConsequences in the NHS also.

Senior Met Police Officer Awarded Knighthood For Successfully Arresting Fewer People

Like many of you I noticed that Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey had been awarded a Knighthood in the New Years Honours List. Like a few of you I actually thought “what the **** did he get that for?”

Now I know the answer. This morning I stumbled upon this

Met Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey has been made a knight for services to policing.

In a citation he is commended for reducing stop and search by 70 per cent while doubling the arrest rate and overseeing a dramatic improvement in the recruitment of officers from ethnic minority backgrounds.

To say that I was shocked is an understatement.

Back in May 2017 I wrote a piece entitled

A Scoop For George Osborne – R.I.P. Stop And Search

The reason I wrote it, at the time, had naff all to do with (Sir) Craig Mackey, but more to do with a set of Stop and Search statistics issued by the Mayor of London’s office. Nobody is going to offer me a Knighthood so I can’t be arsed to bring the stats up to date but I don’t suppose the current stats are very different to those forming the basis of a Knighthood.

If you look at the above graph, the arrest rate has more than doubled from 8.3% to 19%. Brilliant? No?

Well actually no.

At the beginning of his graph 8.3% of 533,427 people stopped were getting arrested.  This means that 44,274 people stopped were getting arrested.  Fast Forward to 19% of 160,694 people arrested as a result of “better”, “more intelligence led” application of Stop and Search.  It seems like we’re doing SOOOOOOO much better. In reality those figures show that the Met arrested only 30,532 people, almost 33% FEWER

I won’t challenge the 70%, I’ll give him that, but I do think the stats above represent a reduction in Stop and Search of about 70% over the rolling 12 month period. However, a doubling of the arrest rate? No, I’m not having that. 33% fewer people were arrested over the identical period. To state that the arrest rate was doubled is just a cynical manipulation of the stats. Surely the Public at Large would rather have more prisoners in the Custody Suite than juggle with percentages. Smoke and Mirrors.

Stop and Search is Dead, RIP Stop and Search .  Theresa May should hang her head in shame, she is personally responsible for this latest trend.  Amber Rudd has done nothing, I think literally nothing. I can’t remember her most significant contribution, and NPCC have done little or nothing to challenge Mrs May or her successor on it.

So, ultimately, the Deputy Commissioner was actually awarded a Knighthood for producing an outcome desired by Mrs May, reducing Stop and Search by 70% and reducing clutter in the Custody Suites at the same time, but do not pretend to have doubled the arrest rates.