Who Are West Mercia Police?

A good question.  They cover a HUGE area, 2,868 square miles, and almost 1.2 million people, but not many people could find them on a map.  Basically it consists of the counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.

Why am I bothering with a Police Force that most people know nothing about?

Well, a little birdie whispered in my ear that West Mercia Police are, or are considering, withdrawing from the Central Motorway Police Group.  This is a group consisting of officers from West Mercia, West Midlands and Staffordshire Constabularies.  Withdrawal of any one party will no doubt have a significant effect.  Their role is to patrol and Police the motorways of Central England dealing with anything between mobile phone usage whilst driving to collisions with multiple fatalities.

You may think that is not important, but Policing the motorways is important to many people in a whole variety of ways.

Why are they withdrawing from CMPG?  To save money for the Force it seems.  How much do they hope to save? £16 Million it seems.

I can find no reference to this proposed withdrawal on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website, but I assume that he was involved in the decision.  He is John Campion, a Conservative, who appears to faithfully toe the Tory Party Line.

He has some bold visions.  He wants to make West Mercia Police Officers more visible.  How is he proposing to do this?  Extra officers?  No he’s spending £4 million of the Force’s Reserves to buy new IT, Smart Phones and laptops.

He is also proposing to spend £36 million on new Police Stations for Shrewsbury and Hereford.

I am of the opinion that Mr Campion is a true follower of Theresa May and her doctrines.

His plan for West Mercia for the current Financial Year is

  • Put victims and survivors first
  • Build a more secure West Mercia
  • Reform West Mercia
  • Reassure West Mercia’s communities

Nowhere in his plan to achieve this does it mention withdrawing from CMPG.

Point 3 mentions Reform.  Theresa May is also fond of Reform.  Government mantra is all about preserving and protecting the Front Line.  Is Policing motorways not Front Line Policing then?  Withdrawing from CMPG does nothing for this particular element of the Front Line. Maybe motorways should just become lawless zones where cameras are king? Generate income for the coffers and never mind the fatal collisions or the mobile phone users or dangerously overloaded lorries and vans?

At the beginning of 2017 there was in excess of £50 Million in the Force Reserves.  Mr Campion intends to invest most of this in Policing, by buying some phones & laptops and building some new Police Stations.

Other Forces are selling off their family silver to offset “the cuts”, West Mercia seem to be able to build new family silver and still avoid the worst effects of “the cuts”, and at the same time save a further £4 million by taking over the Fire and Rescue Service also, another one of Theresa May’s ideas I believe.

Well, in my opinion (and it is only that) but I feel that I am entitled to hold and express an opinion, Fire and Rescue as well as Police and Crime is too much for one person to do justice to.  I am a resident of West Mercia and I applied for the position of Deputy to the PCC when it was advertised, but I’m clearly the wrong kind of candidate, the job went to a Conservative Councillor in the end, and me? I didn’t even warrant an interview, so yes, I will take a keen interest in what goes on in West Mercia and challenge it when I think it’s appropriate.

In other news, I have heard from Bronwen’s brother, Mihangel, who used to work in the canteen before it was closed and he was laid off, that West Mercia are really struggling, they don’t seem to have enough officers available to deal with the number of 101 and 999 calls that are coming in.

According to Mihangel officers are being pressurised to work overtime just to get the basics done and keep the good ship afloat. If I was them I wouldn’t be answering any calls from witheld numbers.

You don’t have to take my word that West Mercia is struggling at the moment, see here

It seems that Mr Campion has got a rocky road ahead of him.  Trying to keep Theresa May or Amber Rudd happy and keep his Force on track, plus plotting to take over the Fire Service can’t be easy.

Maybe, just maybe, Mr Campion has his priorities a tad wrong.  I KNOW about competing priorities, and it isñ’t always possible to keep ALL one’s balls in the air, but surely the over-arching priority has to be that West Mercia Police can do their job, Serve and Protect the people of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire. Shiny new Police Stations ARE important but more important than being able to effectively serve your communities? It’s definitely a challenge, and it’s a challenge I would have relished, but now I am merely resident, observer and commentator. The safety and public tranquility of the Public are, in my humble opinion, more important than Party loyalties. Theresa May and Amber Rudd don’t always get it right, to follow meekly is not always the appropriate option.

Another Force entirely, that is NOT the Met, is receiving approx 30,000 non-urgent calls and about 50,000 999 calls each month and can barely cope, if indeed they can.

There is a Crisis In Policing. West Mercia are struggling it would seem, through no fault of their own. Many other Forces will no doubt look the same if we study them. It isn’t difficult to spot.

Meanwhile, back at the beginning;

Why not have your own say

Should West Mercia Police leave the Central Motorway Police Group

Arm The Police, Or Not?

I am Old School, a Traditionalist, and I make no apology for that. 

In my heart we would be policed in the old-fashioned way, a truncheon, a whistle and a cape. However, in my head I know that is no longer possible.

I detest the idea of arming the Police, it’s not how things should be, not how the British Police operate, but life is not that simple any more.

My head is telling me that ALL Front Line officers should be routinely armed, and a proscribed percentage of Middle Office and Back Office offices should be trained and authorised.  The world has changed, nothing we can do about that in the short-term.  We are about 21,000 officers short on what we did have in 2010, the population is growing and terrorism has returned to the streets of Britain. Mainly England I agree but certainly not restricted to London alone.  It could strike literally anywhere.

Faced with a knife or machete wielding terrorist or a suicide bomber we must rely on “Can you hang on a minute till the ARV gets here please?”

If the government or NPCC or College of Policing, Police Federation do not want a routinely armed Police Service the only other visble option is to MASSIVELY INCREASE the number of ARVs on our streets, giving all Forces, Boroughs, OCUs sufficient armed officers to provide a meaningful response to any armed situation from hostage-taking, bank robberies through to terrorism in any form.  Not sharing resources like the NPAS fiasco, each Force MUST have its own dedicated resources.  My own Force (where I live in DeadBadgerShire) consists of 3 large counties, I wouldn’t want to dilute our meagre resources further.

The choice is simple to me, we MUST accept that the world has changed and can’t be reversed quickly, if at all. Arm the Police or increase the ARVs.  Either option would benefit hugely from reducing some, or preferably all, of the 21,000 losses incurred by the Tories.

I actually, and honestly, believe that the majority of the British public would support either of these proposals.

Is “Do Nothing” an option?

You’re Having A Laugh

On 22nd March, a brave Constable was murdered by a cowardly terrorist within the grounds of the Palace of Westminster. His name was Keith Palmer and he died protecting public and politicians alike from said terrorist.

On 3rd June 3 terrorists ran amok on London Bridge, and Borough Market.  A young nurse ran towards the casualties and was brutally murdered by the terrorists. Her name was Kirsty Boden.

On 14th June many exceedingly brave Firefighters faced overwhelming odds and entered the inferno that was Grenfell Tower in an attempt to rescue survivors.

On 28th June a group of politicians cheered when they defeated a motion to lift the cap on pay rises for Nurses, Police Officers and Firefighters.  They were led by someone called Theresa May.

That tells you everything you need to know about this current government.

To express your opinions you could write to your MP www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/

Fancy Being In A Film?

I have been approached by someone from Sandpaper Films who is working on a BBC documentary about Diana, Princess of Wales, to mark the 20th anniversary of her death. She is hoping to speak to police officers who were responsible for policing the public that day at Westminster.

BBC1 DOCUMENTARY ON DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES 

Did you police crowds in London in the week that followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales? Would you be willing to share your memories of that extraordinary week with a BBC1 documentary? To mark the 20th anniversary of The Princess’s tragic accident, the BBC has commissioned Henry Singer (director of ‘The Falling Man’ and Wootten Bassett: The Town that Remembers’) to make a landmark documentary that explores the impact she made on the nation. If you were one of the Officers responsible for policing the public, during that week, we would really like to hear from you.

Please get in contact via: dianadocumentary@sandpaperfilms.com

The Constabulary of Toothless Tigers

Theresa May and her puppet Amber Rudd finally seem to be getting their way by stealth.

Mrs May’s dislike and contempt of the Police Service is well known, but the pendulum was beginning to swing back in favour of the Police. However various organisations seem to be beavering away in the background to further emasculate the Police Service.

Since 2012 the number of Stop and Searches carried out has absolutely plummeted, and surprisingly, knife crime has rocketed. So, probably, have other types of Crime but nevertheless Mrs May (as Home Secretary) issued a diktat in 2014 to reduce Stop and Search, and boy, how the 43 Forces complied.

The chart above is not quite complete, but is within about 5% of being complete

Today I read the latest advice from the Federation regarding pursuits, I won’t bore you with all of it but the bullet points are;

The IPCC has recently directed a force to bring proceedings against an officer for Gross Misconduct for careless driving. Gross Misconduct is conduct that would justify dismissal.

In response to this the Federation advised accordingly;

  • Officers have a sworn duty and must uphold that duty.
  •  Officers should drive in a way which is lawful and does not contravene the laws odangerous or careless driving.
  • Officers are advised not to undertake any manoeuvre which may well fall outside the standard of the careful and competent non police driver

The third point is quite telling.  Are the Federation really advocating that officers drive to the standards of your average Granny or Granddad?  No disrespect to grandparents, I am one, but I would expect Police Drivers ‘on a shout’ to drive very differently to me.

The results of this advice, if followed, are that it will take officers longer to arrive at your emergency, it will take them longer to assist their own colleagues, or other Emergency Services personnel, who have encountered problems.

IPCC, DPS/PSD and CPS seem reluctant to adopt a pragmatic stance and, as seen above, the IPCC directed a Force to instigate Gross Misconduct proceedings which can, and normally do, result in dismissal.

If there is evidence that an officer has committed a Road Traffic Act offence then the CPS are perfectly able to initiate Court proceedings and seek to obtain a conviction.  The IPCC stance smacks of something far darker.

I will always expect our Police Officers to operate within the law, and the law does allow them certain exemptions, but our revered professional bodies obviously don’t think that is sufficient.

The Police Service of England and Wales is being turned into 43 Constabularies of Toothless Tigers.
Well done Mrs May, it seems like you are getting your way.

Crisis? Wot Crisis?

I am no Economist. Domestic or International, I am not your man.

However, I do like to think that  I can recognise a crisis when I  see one.

The Police Service is most definitely an organisation in crisis.  Leaves have been cancelled, and by that I mean that PC Jones has been  told that he/she cannot go on holiday with his/her family this summer.  I have heard from several sources that Cressida Dick has informed her officers in London exactly  that.  Unprecedented.

This in addition to normal Leave Days in mid-week and weekends have been cancelled.  On top of this officers are regularly working 12-16 hour shifts. Not the greatest of ideas if those officers happen to be driving  high performance cars at speed  through our streets.  The current policy of single  crewing means they don’t have the option to share the driving duties with their partner cos they don’t have a partner any more.

Do we really need physically and emotionally exhausted firearms officers on extended tours of duty.The?

I fully accept that Theresa May and her government could  not reasonably have foreseen the dire times we find ourselves in, but they should have anticipated  that something would happen in the future.  I was always told “you don’t get paid for what you do, you get paid for what you might have to do”.  Following that principle we should always maintain a Police Service that is robust and resilient enough to deal with anything such as we have seen  recently.

The reason that we are in this situation is easy to see.   THERESA MAY

It was Theresa May who went ahead with the draconian cuts and all words of warning re  the consequences were met with “stop ctying wolf” “it”s not all about the numbers” accompanied by a total refusal to listen.  Well it is all about the numbers.  Some things simply need numbers to achieve, like dealing with several  major incidents at the same time.

The NHS is also in crisis, brought about by Cameron and Hunt, and continued  by May and Hunt.

The Fire and Rescue Service are also in crisis , budgets slashed , Fire Stations closed and sold off, Fire Engines mothballed or sold off.

The Armed Forces are at their lowest levels since WW2, a level that most people are uncomfortable with I’m sure.

I have just heard that the Police Funding Formula has been scrapped. Good news for the larger Forces like the Met, but not for the smaller and rural Forces .  Don’t just scrap the Funding Formula as s knee-jerk panacea,  do a complete U Turn and restore the appropriate numbers to our Police, NHS, Fire Service and Armed Forces.

Quite simply, find the money from somewhere and reverse your draconian and disastrous cuts. Start listening to those who actually know and can advise you properly of the consequences.

You Need To Look The Other Way

Tragically there have been way too many major incidents in the UK over the past few weeks. Without exception the Emergency Services have been magnificent, all of them. People who know me, or read my posts, know where my allegiances lie, but  I’m not going to differentiate today, they have all performed brilliantly and all have suffered broadly similar cuts.

I have heard comments to the effect of “I thought we were supposed to be short of Policemen/Firemen/Ambulance crews, there’s loads of them “.

Please be assured that ALL of our Emergency Services will ALWAYS pitch up and do their very best whatever they are faced with. It’s what they do, it’s in their DNA, they are hardwired to run the ‘wrong’ way.

When they run out, ‘Mutual Aid’ kicks in and more Police Officers , Firefighters and appliances or Ambulance crews and paramedics will be drawn in from other parts of the countty. This happened at Kensington when a specialist appliance was ‘borrowed ‘ from Surrey together with some of their Firefighters . This will always be the case when it is necessary.

The real drama is where you are NOT looking. The government are very good at praising the Emergency Services who are actually dealing with the major incident.  But if you look at where   they’ve come from, there’s hardly anybody left.

Those that are there are working 12 or 16 hour shifts, have had their Leaves cancelled, have dozens of outdtanding calls queueing  up waiting to be allocated and dealt with.  This is sort of invisible, misunderstood.

With all due respect to those working their nuts off at the  Major Incident I would dare to suggest that the real story is in the opposite direction.  Police Officers,Firefighters and Nurses & Doctors are working heaven knows how many extended shifts without a day off as the draconian cuts imposed by the Tory (and coalition) government since 2010 have decimated our resilience.  Picture the  swan, all serene on the surface, peddling like **** under the surface.  That’s our Emergency  Services today, swans.

If you haven’t seen it before I prepared a graphic a few years ago showing what England and Wales might look like with 17,000 fewer Police  Officers.

I have updated it to show what  21,000 fewer might look like, the equivalent of the whole  of South  and South West  England, not a single cop for 100s of miles,

 

Now tell me that these cuts don’t  have consequences snd that there are plenty  of cops. 

Next time the government glibly tell us that Emergency Services have all the resources they need, don’t look at the  Major Incident, look the other way at your local Police Station, Fire Station  or hospital and ask yourself how are they coping.

I tried to get an interview with a  serving Police Officer but he was  too busy to  comment;

The Continuing Faux Pas Of Theresa May

I wrote some time ago about the failings of Theresa May, but she obviously didn’t get my memo. Nothing seems to have improved, and may even have got worse.  I even managed to find enough material for a sequel.

Since she won the raffle and effectively became leader of the Conservative Party, and thereby Prime Minister, unopposed, what has she achieved?

Since becoming Prime Minister she has continued her practice of not listening to practitioners, those in charge of policing, the NHS etc etc. What do they know? Crime is down, Police Reform is working still echoes along the corridors of Westminster, despite mounting evidence that both halves of her mantra are demonstrably untrue.

Since becoming PM she has made a whole host of new friends at Brussels, where she will be negotiating “HER  Brexit”

It is not HER Brexit by any means, it is OUR Brexit, the people of Great Britain.

This Strong and Stable leader of ours, not known for her love of U Turns, then commenced a series of U Turns.

  1.  Hinkley Point Power Station, despite her reservations, once she became Prime Minister, she gave the Go Ahead for Franco Chinese investment and building a new Power Station at Hinkley Point.
  2. Her promise to put workers on the boards of companies was much watered down in the Conservative Manisfesto.
  3. There isn’t going to be an early election – and then there was.
  4. Social Care – firstly payments were not going to be capped, and then they were, although she declined to elaborate at what level.

I’m sure there are several others, but you get the drift.

Throughout the recent election campaign she repeatedly uttered the mantras “Strong and Stable” and “Brexit means Brexit” until most ordinary folk were feeling quite billious.

So what have we seen since her disastrous election decision?

Failing to enter any TV debates.  I’m absolutely certain that was a faux pas, didn’t seem to do her any favours at all.

Having failed to achieve an outright majority in Parliament (her decision to have an election was such a good one that she actually lost several seats) she failed to do the honourable thing and resign, instead electing for a dubious relationship with the DUP.

Her two advisors during her election campaign have both fallen on their biros and resigned. Has Theresa May? No she has not.  She did not have to take their advice. She seemingly did not notice that their advice was flawed but followed it anyway.  Why should she deserve to remain in post?

There have been sevaeral Critical Incidents during her period as Prime Minister.  How has she reacted?  She has magnanimously thanked the Emergency Services for their skills, courage and professionalism.  Those same Emergency Services that has ruthlessly culled since 2010.  Does she think that we won’t notice?

Despite the ever-present risk of Terrorist attackes she has steadfastedly refused to deny reports that further cuts to Police Strength are planned for the next few years, maybe as many as 16,000 more cuts, including 4,000 in London alone.  Is that sensible in the current climate?  Is that Strong and Stable?

Following her ‘success’ in the recent election she has anounced that #Austerity is over.  No need for further cust then.

Her advisors who she was responsible for ‘losing’ are in line for a reported £35,000 payout, twice what they would normally be due at a time when Nurses are reportedly having to resort to using Food Banks and some Police Officers are on allegedly Benefits in an effort to feed their families.

Finally (I’m sure there are others though) she pitched up in West London at the scene of that awful, tragic fire and spoke with the Commissioner of the Fire and Rescue Service but apparently not with any survivors of the fire or local residents.  Did she visit any of the injured in hospital?  I don’t think so.

If we’re really lucky Mrs May will continue to provide me Faus Pas to write about for months to come, or maybe her days are numbered.  Who knows? “I got us into this mess I will get us out of it”

Maybe It’s All About The Numbers

When Theresa May was Home Secretary she famously said that it was not about the numbers of police but about the quality of the policing.  Despite a variety of attempts by government  I honestly believe that we still have some of the best Police Officers in the world.  I’m not sure how much longer that will  remain the case, but I honestly believe it at the moment. So quality of the officers shouldn’t really be an issue. Quality of the policing? Theoretically our finest are capable of, and willing to, perform policing of the highest order. That is actually what they want to do. Unfortunately reality does not always match up with potential, and in my view the main reason for that is SHORTAGE OF NUMBERS.

To reference one Jeremy Corbyn :-  it is not possible to police on the cheap, and I don’t only mean cheap, inferior kit, IT  and vehicles

However, after 7 years, a small number of Chief Constables are beginning to break cover and face up to the realities in their Forces.

In no particular order, in the past week or so, I have seen Shaun Sawyer, Chief Constable Devon and Cornwall, tweeting about the need for increased resources.

Despite initially claiming that she had sufficient resources, Cressida Dick, the new Commissioner of the Met, together with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is now admitting  that more resources are necessary.

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police has recently gone on record highlighting the dwindling number of officers in his Force, due to the cuts, and explaining how he actually needs more.


Merseyside Chief Constable, Andy Cooke, claims that his force is facing unprecedented challenge following the “draconian cuts

In his recent General Election campaign, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to increase Police numbers by 10,000.

Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, said police and security services were suffering from a lack of resources, rather than a lack of powers, during a BBC Question Time programme in which he was challenged over his party’s plans to roll back surveillance.

Four Chief Constables, two leading politicians and untold numbers of retired and former Police Officers telling, basically, the same story.  It most definitely IS about the numbers.  I am not naive enough to think that increased numbers are a universal panacea for all problems, but with increased numbers comes increased resilience, increased flexibilty, increased options, increased opportunities.  Corbyn was right. Policing can not be done on the cheap and it’s time that Theresa May, Amber Rudd and our brand new Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, realised that, chewed a parge portion of Humble Pie and put the situation right.  It will take years so the sooner they start the better.

Enough Is Enough

Since 2010 we have lost approx 20,000 Police Officers from our streets.





The point has  been (fairly) made that those numbers would not have prevented recent terrorist attacks.  This is true.  BUT those numbers give us hugely increased resilience and flexibility to deal with intelligence gathering, monitoring of suspects and dealing with the aftermath of an attack.  Those EXTRA officers I have heard about are not extra at all. They are officers who have had their leaves cancelled or brought in from other boroughs, leaving them depleted.

The majority of our front line officers are unarmed, traditionally so. However the world is changing. Maybe it’s time to turn our backs on tradition and arm all Response Officers? Fortunately that’s not my decision.

It’s time to end the folly known known as Single Crewing, or Single Manning.  All Response Vehicles should be Double Crewed (and Armed) in order to better deal with unexpected and fast-developing incidents such as London Bridge etc.

Chief Officers should stop trying to appease Theresa May and the Home Secretary. Policing is something that requires numbers in order to be done properly and effectively.  Making your officers work 16 hour shifts just to cover up the lack of numbers is despicable. The officers will burn out and the public are being hoodwinked. Just tell the TRUTH. I am a member of the public, and I would much rather be told the reality in my neighbourhood, or Force area, than be fobbed off with lies and illusions.

Theresa May is quite right, enough is enough. I have had enough of these savage cuts to Policing.  The problem is nowhere near as straightforward as Theresa May and her party would have us believe.  They will only ever tell us part of the story. Backfilling and Abstractions are dirty words for them.

Finally, it is appropriate to pay tribute to the Police Officers of London, the other Emergency Services, and assorted Members of the Public who all showed immense bravery last night.  Police Officers are hard-wired to run towards the danger and protect their community.  Theresa May might not like it, but Policing is NOT a job, it is still, just about, a vocation.  Like it or not, politicians cannot continue to treat them like footballs.

There IS a Crisis In Policing and it has been brought about by the policies and prejudices of David Cameron and Theresa May.  It is time for all the psycophants to stand up to her and get this crisis reversed.  It will take years to recruit and train the required number of officers, but you cannot Police on the cheap Mrs May.

Enough is Enough