Stakeholder Involvement in Senior Police Recruitment

Last week I was honoured to be part of the Stakeholder Panel in the recruitment process for the next Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police. Whilst not a new idea, it is still a reasonably uncommon occurrence and therefore it is perhaps worthwhile noting my experience and observations. Our panel was made up of six members of the public, representing a variety of organisations. I do think the success of such a panel has much to thank for both the mix of members and the person running the day, who may be required to keep a firm check on direction. In the event, we were a rather professional panel and needed little steering. I suspect this is not always the case.

We had representatives of a variety of groups who work with the community and link or liaise with Lincolnshire Police. We also had a representative of the National Farmers Union and me, a Policing commentator – I’ll let you` imagine the look in each of the candidates’ eyes when I introduced myself as such! Our part of the process was set up as a round table discussion with panel members leading via pre submitted questions. We each asked questions pertinent to our own areas of interest. My questions were centred around Evidence Based Policing and Staff Welfare. Other questions centred around Elder Abuse and engagement of the elderly, Neighbourhood Watch , Volunteers, Rural Crime, work with disadvantaged communities and vulnerable groups. A representative from Lincoln University Student’s Union had been invited but couldn’t make it on the day, which was a pity both for our Panel and for the person who didn’t attend. I think we could have done with a younger perspective and the experience for them would have been valuable.

Whilst three of the four candidates were perhaps a little uncomfortable with the situation to begin with, almost everyone relaxed into it and the discussion time with each one was enjoyable, informative and/or illuminating. We certainly got a feel for the differences in each candidate in a much deeper way than I had expected and this is most definitely one of the strengths of conducting this type of panel as a less formal ‘conversation’. After each candidate, the panel collated their individual impressions which were passed on to the main interview panel. What really surprised me is how much we all agreed on given that we came from quite differing backgrounds and I would recommend the experience to anyone who may be offered the opportunity.

An issue I found several times was that I was the only person on the panel with current (or, I think, any) Policing knowledge and whilst this was probably a good thing in many ways, it did mean that I understood some things a candidate talked about whilst some of the panel did not, or they understood it in a different way. I will go so far as to say that two candidates suggested possible solutions to one panel member’s issue with plans that I knew were impossible, but the panel member could not have known. For this reason, the presence of some kind of Police experience seems valid and even desirable on a Stakeholder Panel. Expanding this thought, are Officers and Staff not stakeholders too? Perhaps a representative from the Staff Associations might have been a useful addition and would give people a feeling that they too have had at least some say in the new Leadership of their Force.

Today, Stephen Greenhaugh of MOPAC tweeted a thought on transparency and the current process to find a new Commissioner for the Met, suggesting a Hustings. I personally think this is a terrible idea as Police Leaders are not elected Politicians (we have PCCs for that) nor are they X Factor style wannabes who need to play for popularity. The public deserve the best person for the job, not necessarily the most charismatic or the one who says what they think they want to hear. After my experience, I would highly recommend the Stakeholder Panel to Mr Greenhaugh as an excellent way to bring the community in to the process whilst not parading candidates like lots at an auction.

Sitting on the panel was exhausting and the weight of responsibility was clear to each of us. We were not asked to sign anything ensuring the privacy of the participants but I think we should have been required to. Candidates must be able to have confidence in the process if we are to see the best of them. I positively advocate the use of such panels in top level recruitment in Public Services but I do think some framework to protect candidates should be in place. My own experience was a positive one largely because of the quality and variety of panel members and the professionalism of Kieran, the recruitment specialist who ran a tight ship and kept us on track more than once.

I’ve manage to write 800 or so words without saying a single thing about any of the candidates and this is how it must remain, except to acknowledge that Lincolnshire Police attracted some good candidates and that although I did not end the day in full agreement with the rest of the panel, I couldn’t fault any of them on their ability to disseminate the information before them. I was relieved that the final decision was to be made elsewhere and I must thank Lincolnshire PCC Marc Jones for giving me and the other panel members the opportunity to be part of something I hope will shape the next few years for Lincolnshire Police in a positive way. It was a very tiring, very enjoyable day that I was very proud to be a part of. Here’s to the future and more public participation.

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Wanted: Ambitious Leader for Lincolnshire (must have own car and GSOH)

lincolnshire

Wanted: Ambitious Leader for Lincolnshire

(must have own car and GSOH)

As the closing date for applications for Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police approaches, I thought I might put my thoughts down for those of you who may be interested, be that a professional interest or purely personal. I have come to think very highly of Lincolnshire Police over the last 5 years or so and I hope they do not mind me writing this!

Lincolnshire is my adopted home County and I have found it to be both welcoming and an easy pleasure to be part of a thriving community. I quickly learned that a particular Lincolnshire trait is a kind of apologetic nature, which I find both endearing and frustrating as there is so much to shout about here in Lincolnshire. The city of Lincoln itself is a bustling urban city, steeped in history, with a thriving University and all the benefits that brings. Grantham, the next largest town is on the cusp of real regeneration, with a cosmopolitan community and one hour rail link to London. The County on a whole is one of real contrasts, with areas of significant affluence and others of high deprivation. Boston and South Holland have one of the highest immigration rates of Central and Eastern European people outside of London. Roads are a unique aspect of Lincolnshire life given the 2,500 square miles of mostly single track roads, making Policing the county a particular challenge.

Lincolnshire Police have a proud history of innovation and consistently punch well above their weight, delivering good levels of Policing at very low cost – only 42p per head a week. They were the first Force to have a fully warranted Female Police Officer and continue their forward looking approach with their annual Women in Policing conference, which these days encompasses so much more than purely ‘women’ in Policing. They are a recognised key partner in East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), one of the Country’s most successful Policing collaborations, which provides Major, Serious and Organised Crime units and Forensic Services to cover the East Midlands. Other highly successful collaborations include East Midlands Operational Support Services (EMOpSS), encompassing Dogs, Roads and Armed Policing,Tactical Armed Policing, Tactical Support and Underwater Search teams. This and East Midlands Criminal Justice Services are joint endeavours with Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire whilst EMSOU also incorporates Derbyshire. Lincolnshire Police are the lead Force for NICHE, a Police IT platform currently finding favour with an increasing number of other Forces.

It would be wrong to cover this Force without discussing the contract with G4S which brought much publicity some years ago now. At that time it was an innovative move, bringing outsourcing of the FCR, HR, Finance, Fleet, Estate, Resource Management, Learning and Development, Criminal Justice Unit, Central Ticket Office, Firearms Licensing, Admin Support and Stores all under one provider. I wrote about this contract after year one, here https://catemoore.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/g4s-and-lincolnshire-police-a-modern-romance/ . My thoughts on this contract today are mostly that times change and tightly written contracts should be revisited from time to time.

The Force recently rolled out Body Worn Video for all frontline Officers and are currently rolling out personal mobile data devices. This provision for Officers is supported by Marc Jones, the PCC, who takes an interest in the well being of all Force employees and seeks to find ways to provide them with the best tools to carry out their roles. He has made it clear that he understands the value of tackling complex societal issues and to this end is very supportive of work in and around Mental Health and Integrated Offender Management. He is looking to support Police strategic aims by facilitating collaborations and partnerships from other agencies. Personally, I find his outline Police and Crime Plan (downloadable here http://leadinglincspolice.com/why-lincolnshire-police.aspx) refreshing, not least because it leaves the Chief Constable free to set the priorities the Force sees as necessary, whilst seeking to provide support for all Police and staff.

Lincolnshire Police is a Force which has consistently impressed me over several years and continues to do so in my interactions with Officers and staff at all levels, as a victim of crime and as a Policing commentator. The dedication of the people employed by and volunteering for this Force cannot be underestimated and in a National environment of decreasing goodwill, the staff of Lincolnshire Police are to be valued for their continued dedication. It has been suggested to me that the post of Chief Constable should be for someone looking to ‘go out to pasture’ – a pre retirement post. I disagree strongly. This Force needs a committed, energetic moderniser who can see the good changes beginning to happen and the possibilities afforded them as a Leader with a supportive PCC and a keen workforce. The opportunity in Lincolnshire today is for someone with wide vision and an understanding of the future requirements on a modern and flexible Police Force.

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Race to the Bottom?

Trophy-meme-620x310This Monday, 8th August 2016, the Daily Mail published an article by a journalist on their ‘Investigations’ team, called Lucy Osborne. The article was titled, rather sloppily: ‘A law unto themselves. How YOU pay thousands for Police Chiefs’ household bills and private health care – while THEY take up to 64 days holiday’. Being an advocate of justice and a strong supporter of the public sector, I was compelled to read the article. What I found was surprising, given that the author works on some kind of ‘investigative’ brief. A raft of FOI requests had been sent out and then some of the replies had been worked into what tried very hard to be a shocking article. Unfortunately, the author did not understand what she had requested or indeed what information she had received back. I thought it might be useful if I draw together the information people need to make a fair judgement for themselves.

Firstly, lets be clear who decides what the Chief Constable is entitled to. Until PCCs, 4 years ago, it was the old Police Authority – a panel made up mostly of local Councillors, who were used to Council leaders receiving very attractive remuneration. It is true to say some of these panels offered some Chief’s rather attractive terms but this was in the past and this was never the responsibility of Forces themselves. Today, the PCC decides what they will offer to entice the best  candidates they can to their Force. There are guidelines they must stick within but these are woolly at best and the NPCC has been actively pushing for better guidelines to aid clarity in this area. Despite research, I can find no evidence of any currently serving Chief who has anything in their contract that is out of the ordinary. With that explained, lets examine the main issues the Daily Mail journalist has.

The very first bullet point suggests senior officers are claiming allowances of up to £32,000 a year, but this is never mentioned again in the article and I can find no evidence to support it.

The next bullet point says Chiefs are charging removal bills to the public. PCCs will offer a relocation package as an option if a preferred candidate has to move a long way. This is perfectly normal practise and members of my own family who worked for HMIC were offered (and took) similar assistance. There really is nothing to see here.

The next two bullet points dont even try to be facts so I will move swiftly on to the main body of the article. Here, the journalist names seemingly random Chiefs and lays accusations of greed and hypocrisy at their feet. Under a large picture of Phil Gormley, the author tells us he lives rent free in part of a castle – he has a flat in Force Headquarters, his place of work. He actually lives in the same building as his office. The picture of Steven Kavanagh beside him, tells us he claims £17,000 on top of his salary. Not the £30,000 or £32,000 mentioned elsewhere in the article, but £17,000 which will include allowances all serving officers who joined pre mid 90’s receive.

The article goes on to say that ‘incredibly, some senior officers are taking up to 64 days holiday a year’. This is patently untrue and in fact, had the author done some research or indeed even read the explanations given to her from several PCCs that I know of, she would have understood that the days off figures given to her include rest days – weekend and Bank Holiday equivalents. All Chiefs are on call 24 hours a day and they will often work very long hours or long stretches without a day off. So their allowance for time off is calculated differently with a guideline suggested by the Home Office of an amount of days they should aim to take off. Some Chiefs take significantly less than the advised number of days. Given that there are 52 weeks in a year, that ‘holiday’ of 64 days suddenly looks rather paltry doesnt it?!

Photos of Justine Curran, Suzette Davenport and Lynne Owens follow with more allegations that, when scrutinised, basically say these women took less holiday and days off than they should have and recieve the same basic housing allowance all officers of their service recieve. Of concern is the fact that Suzette Davenport is pictured three times in the article despite the only information being the repeated misunderstood holiday figures. The final photograph of her is a personal photograph that she had at some point shared via social media. I am sure Ms Davenport is strong enough to weather this, but I note there were no pictures of any of the men in, say, beach attire. I have no idea why a serious female journalist would think this an appropriate addition to her article.

Alan Pughsley, Chief Constable of Kent is next for the ‘how dare you have rest days as well as holiday’ treatment, followed by an inexplicable accusation that he got a rise in pay when he became the Chief. I’m at a loss as to why this is wrong? The article does go on to assert that he is one of the highest paid Chiefs in the Country but does not address the PCC who controls that. It is most perplexing, almost suggesting that it is Mr Pughsley’s fault he was offered this remuneration.

The rest of the article is more of the same, sometimes repeating itself, sometimes looking like it was a very late night cut and paste job. If you look at the online version (this would mean clicking on a Daily Mail link and I am purposefully not putting it here to help you avoid temptation) you will see a quote from Mark Polin of CPOSA, the Chief Police Officers Staff Association. Despite being given a statement, the Daily Mail had to be re requested to print some of it with the article. The full statement can be read here and I find it a fair and reasoned response. http://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/clearer-regulations-and-more-transparency-on-chief-police-packages-needed

I asked the journalist why she had not included any statements from PCCs and she said that they had not given any information different to Forces. This is patently untrue, not least because Forces don’t control Chief Officer’s contracts, only PCCs do. My suspicion was borne out when I noted a set of tweets from Nick Alston, the previous PCC for Essex Police.  <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>There’s rubbish in the press about <a href=”https://twitter.com/EssexPoliceUK”>@EssexPoliceUK</a&gt; Chief Constable Kavanagh’s pay. Here is what I said openly in 2013 <a href=”https://t.co/IajCeDFqK2″>https://t.co/IajCeDFqK2</a></p>&mdash; Nick Alston (@NickAlston_cm1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/NickAlston_cm1/status/763019200189399040″>August 9, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Nick asked the author of the article if she had read his report from 2013 – she did not answer him but continued to print allegations about the Essex Chief Constable despite clearly proferred evidence that they were untrue. A short scroll back in his Twitter Timeline will show you a series of tweets from his explaining the facts very clearly. He was ignored by the Daily Mail. In fact, at the time of appointing CC Kavanagh to Essex, Nick posted this to his PCC website http://www.essex.pcc.police.uk/news/some-comments-on-the-new-chief-constables-remuneration/ Fairly transparent, fairly open, certainly offering more information than the Daily Mail journalist was able to find despite ‘100’s of FOIs’. She really wasn’t looking in the right places.

In conclusion, if you have a query about a Chief’s remuneration, ask your OPCC because they are the office where the decisions were made. The Force has no control over their Chief’s contract. Similarly, if you don’t like the contract, it’s your PCC who needs to know this. Not the Chief and not the Force. When PCCs were created, the regulations were changed slightly so that they could award a salary plus or minus 10%. It is at their discretion and they must balance attracting good staff in an increasingly diminished pool whilst balancing the severe suffering under stringent cuts. This is the picture today. Much of the bad feeling is actually about the recent past, when Police Authorities were made up of local Government officers used to big salaries and excellent benefits. Those days are  very much over. We cannot change the past but we can change the future. Kicking any rank for the sins of their fathers is unproductive, negative and amounts to corporate self harm. Everyone in Policing, from PCSOs to Chief Constables, PCs, support staff – everyone deserves cohesive and positive support during these difficult times. Allowing a paper of ill repute to turn rank against rank is a mistake and I hope this blog goes some way to explaining why I think a race to the bottom benefits nobody.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lincolnshire PCC 2016

pcc elections pic

Job Advert:

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner

The people of Lincolnshire are looking for a Police and Crime Commissioner. The role is a challenging mix of governance, budgeting, commissioning services and more. The successful candidate should have experience in these or related areas and they should demonstrate an interest in Criminal Justice and the services which together work towards preventing crime. The PCC will secure an efficient and effective Police for Lincolnshire, they will appoint (and if necessary, dismiss) the Chief Constable and hold them to account for running the Force. They will set objectives for Lincolnshire in a Police and Crime plan and set the Force budget and precept. They will contribute to the national and international Policing capabilities as set out by the Home Secretary, whilst here in Lincolnshire they will bring together community safety and criminal justice partners to make sure local priorities are effectively addressed As well as this, the successful candidate will have responsibility for reducing crime, commissioning victim’s services and delivering community safety. It is the duty of the PCC to improve the value for money of Lincolnshire Police and to improve the effectiveness of the Force. The people of Lincolnshire expect their PCC to live up to the Nolan Principles at all times and will expect evidence of a clear wish to work in Public Service.

There are four candidates for the post of Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. We have no ‘independent’ candidate but one each from four Political Parties, Labour, Conservative, UKIP and The Lincolnshire Independent Party. I have made much on social media about judging the individual not the Party, as I believe this the best way to ensure we here in Lincolnshire (and indeed others across the Country) can vote for the best possible candidate to do a good job in this challenging role.

I thought it might be useful if I listed my thoughts on each candidate. You may disagree with me and that’s fine. You must question what you want from a PCC, what the job remit actually is and what you consider to be useful skills for that remit.

Victoria Ayling – UKIP

I am unable to tell you very much about Victoria that isn’t in the public eye already. This is because I have been unable to converse with her at all. I asked her a couple of questions on Twitter, received no reply and then was unceremoniously blocked. I can, from this, tell you that Victoria appears not to like difficult questions. She does not appear to support transparency or see any reason to engage with those who may not agree with her. These are important points for voters to consider. I can only offer you what is available to me regarding Victoria. So there is this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2653896/UKIP-councillor-accused-racism-send-lot-video-chosen-stand-party-target-seat-Great-Grimsby.html with the film referred to here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520012/Send-home-In-shocking-video-UKIP-councillor-key-Farage-ally-launches-astonishing-racist-rant–tells-MoS-I-stand-word.html   and this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3045289/Send-home-Ukip-candidate-s-false-claim-son-blown-Afghanistan.html. Victoria was a member of the Conservative Party and stood as Prospective MP for Grimsby in 2010, losing to Labour. Sometime after this event, she appears to have found her calling with UKIP.

Whatever anyone’s personal Politics, it is unthinkable that our Police and connected services should be run by someone displaying the qualities I have set out above.

Victoria has chosen a running partner who she says will be her Deputy PCC. He is a retired Police Inspector from the Metropolitan Police who tried to be the PCC candidate for the Conservative Party but failed to get through the first stage of their selection process. He also appears to have found a sudden calling to UKIP and has presumably left the Conservative Party, despite his very recent keenness to represent them. Again, I question his suitability in a role which demands high levels of integrity.

So I find Victoria is definitely not the PCC for me.

Daniel Simpson – Lincolnshire Independent Party

Firstly, lets deal with the Independent issue. This is a Political Party. Exactly like all the other Political Parties. It is disingenuous of the members of this Party to tell the Public that a vote for them is a vote to keep Politics out of Policing. It is simply not true. This Party has, in my opinion, behaved in a highly irresponsible way, showing that they do not care about the quality of Policing or the support services around crime in Lincolnshire. This Party was left to scrabble for a candidate at the last minute and the lack of preparation (or indeed suitability) in Daniel Simpson shows clearly. Please do watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GciQB280zDc&feature=youtu.be&a to see what I mean. They could have at least put his pre written speech behind the camera for him. Or maybe given him some time to learn what he was talking about. It has the feel of someone reading a foreign language. The words are there but the understanding is absent.

There is a jaunty hashtag, #DanIsTheMan4PCC. Fabulous. Except Dan the Man doesn’t appear to have a Twitter presence at all. I’m not sure what the use of a hashtag is if you are not going to use it on Social Media. Perhaps its another example of Dan not really having a clue what he’s just got himself in to. Daniel owns a Filling Station just outside Louth.

Daniel stood as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Louth in 2010, where he gained 1.1% of the vote in his home area, where he runs his business. If this doesn’t ring enough alarm bells, there are some supporting YouTube videos from his Party colleagues. One tells the camera her biggest concern re Policing in Lincolnshire. She talks about the withdrawal of Police Officers teaching school children cycling proficiency. I’m not sure when, if ever, Police ran the cycling proficiency scheme but it has been a council scheme for as long as I know. We are never going back to the days of yore, whether they are days from memory or reverie and I can unequivocally say that I do not think that Dan is the man for PCC.

Lucinda Preston – Labour Party

I have not had the pleasure of meeting Lucinda but I have watched her campaign and spoken to a variety of people regarding her. She is a teacher at a high performing Lincolnshire school and seems very dedicated to her pupils and we certainly appear to share some Political viewpoints. She has been campaigning about the County with a couple of hashtags: #notacareerpolitician and #cutcrimenotpolice. As a recent Labour Party member (a rather vocal one at times, but as yet inactive!) I have been continually frustrated by the Party’s seeming lack of ability to have a coherent view on Policing or indeed Criminal Justice. This does not matter when I look at the PCC candidate of course, as I judge each on their suitability for the role. And it is here where I find Lucinda falls short. If she were to become PCC, she cannot begin the job until September, despite the start date being in May. This would leave the people of Lincolnshire without any direction for their Police and set us all at a significant disadvantage on the national stage as there would be no voice to fight our corner or speak up for us. I find this entirely unacceptable and cannot fathom another instance where someone would apply for a job despite having no intention of turning up to actually do that job for 12 or more weeks.

Whilst Lucinda does work in Public Service, her role as a subject leader in a selective school does not prepare her for the harsh world of Criminal Justice and I have seen no evidence to suggest she is making efforts to educate herself in this area. Lucinda does some weekend canvassing but tends to use her Social Media presence to remind us all that she is a teacher first and foremost. A commendable profession, but not an inspiration for voters. She has turned down almost all hustings, saying she is too busy. I find this as bad, if not worse, than not being prepared to start the job on time. If a candidate does not want to make themselves available to the public during an election period, it does not suggest that they will make much effort once in post.

Lucinda appears to have been a Labour Party activist and this is her first foray into standing for a role. I suspect the Labour Party will see more of Lucinda and more Political posts will undoubtedly suit her well. Her adversarial, Party Politics based approach is certainly more suited to local Politics than a role in Policing governance where the Nolan Principles should exclude such behaviour.

Marc Jones – Conservative Party

As with the other candidates, the first thing to deal with is the Party Marc is standing for. The current Conservative Government has not been kind to Public Service. Marc is an elected Councillor for Lincolnshire County Council and will be painfully aware of how hard things are under this Government as Councils have had to make even bigger cuts than Policing and other Public Services. He certainly has up to date experience of having to make hard decisions and weather the inevitable anger from those who have to lose a service or change their expectations. This is most certainly a skill required in today’s Policing governance. It is also of note that Marc is the only Tory to be elected to LCC and this must in itself speak of his residents first approach.

Since I have been watching Marc, he has actively sought to meet with a wide variety of people working within Policing and the umbrella services a PCC should be interested in. I know he has spoken with and visited women’s groups, the National Farmers Union, done a 5am stint with P3.org.uk, PCC panels, business leaders, Council leaders, Police Federation and the Chief Constable. I suspect this list is not exhaustive. I met Marc for myself as my interest in his active, positive approach grew. I found him to be intelligent and empathic, positive and intensely interested in the role of PCC and the good that he might be able to facilitate in such a role. Over and above anything Marc said to me, it was clear that he knew what he didn’t know about Policing and was keen to learn and absorb information from anyone who wanted to discuss things with him. I immediately warmed to this trait.

Marc has put himself forward for a role which, whilst challenging, is a natural progression from his work at the Council where he manages budgets and makes decisions on a big scale. Councils have had to make such huge savings there has been little choice but to make cuts to services. Policing is at a critical point and without more money, the decisions of what not to do are literally on our doorstep. We need to be able to make hard decisions and weather the ensuing storm. Marc certainly has the skills to do this and is the only candidate in this position.

Whilst other candidates have engaged in the kind of Political name calling that turns the public off Politicians in general, Marc has not joined in at all. He is running a clean campaign and is the only candidate to stick to positive output and no smearing of his competitors. This is a quality I would seek in a PCC and is in line with the Nolan Principles.

As a member of the Labour Party, I thought I would simply vote for the Labour candidate but when I actually looked at the candidates and evaluated their worth to Policing and the wider PCC remit, it was clear that I must and will vote for Marc Jones. He is the ONLY candidate capable of doing the job and happily, I believe that he can do the job well! I am well aware of the irony of me supporting a Conservative candidate but I can cope with that, to get someone in to a position where I think they can really make a difference and after all, that’s what Public Service is all about.

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Far Right Police in the UK ?

Over the last couple of years, there has been an up swell in far Right opinion. Ideals that previously would have been frowned upon are met openly with approval and encouragement by growing numbers of people. The terms ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ are relatively new terms in UK history, only having been used here since the 20th Century and in fact the terms originate from the French Civil War, when the ultra Royalists sat on the right side of the French Parliament. We are currently under a Conservative Government in its second term, with groups like UKIP and English Democrats gaining popularity from an increasingly disenfranchised populace, while the only significant offerings on the Left are a Labour Party struggling to find a way forward and a smattering of others who still don’t garner that much support Nationally.

In this atmosphere, it has been with growing alarm that I have watched voices around Policing become increasingly right wing. Self proclaimed leaders, ex Officers who do a bit of TV here or there and the odd PCC, have begun espousing longer sentences, more prisons, even wishing violence on offenders. As little to no challenge comes, more and more disenfranchised people, public and sadly Police Officers, join in.

When you hear people discussing Thatcherism, they are discussing neoliberal right wing Politics – the support of privatisation, reduced Government spending, fiscal austerity and pushing the private sector forward. Neoliberal ideals were first used in West Germany to build back the economy after the Second World War. Let me say that again – AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR. Lets explore that for a moment. The population of West Germany had been at the epicentre of an evil we now openly condemn. In the 1920’s and ’30s, the German populace was subjected to what we would recognise as Drip Theory today. Disabled people were labelled as a drain on society, wasteful and irrelevant. They were dehumanised and it became acceptable by 1939 to have an official sterilisation programme in place. Sadly this quickly changed to killing disabled people in vast numbers in what would be the precursor for the gas chambers in concentration camps across Nazi Europe. Very few spoke out against the regime, even in the face of such wide scale murder. People we would today identify as LGBT were also killed in their thousands, along with Romany Gypsies, Priests, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who did not fit the pre determined societal norms. A brainwashed and shocked populace was left in West Germany, with a steady infill of Germans and even 2nd or 3rd generation German’s who had been expelled from other European Countries after the Allies won the war. (There is a separate discussion to be had on this alone as the wish for secure borders containing only the home race of people in each distinct Country looms large again.)

So West Germany, under much pressure from the US, a then burgeoning world economy, set about growing its assets quickly and harshly, but here is the difference – they’d killed off most of the state dependents already. People who espouse neoliberal fiscal policies seem to think they can overlay previous successes on current situations, but they really can’t because we will never be the same again. Or will we? A shocking thought, isn’t it? Of course we are not that inhumane. Are we? Last week MPs voted overwhelmingly to take £30 a week off disabled people, in order to offer a tax break to the healthy middle classes. Kit Malthouse MP has today been told to resign his position as patron for the Andover MS Society for his part in the vote. In 2009, disabled people faced a ‘legal downgrade’ in their right to life alongside terminally ill people, to allow assisted suicide to be easier for them than for non disabled. Effectively saying their lives were of a different – lesser – value to able bodied people, who would not be allowed assisted suicide. In 2012 newspapers began reporting the high numbers of suicides by disabled people fighting Government sanctions and fitness to work assessments. The sanctions, assessments and pressure on disabled people have increased since then, as have the numbers of deaths. This also covers people with Mental Health issues, vulnerable people with learning difficulties and so on.

Increasingly I read serving Police Officers agreeing with and then voicing, truly shocking opinions. They dehumanise the vulnerable, whilst soothing themselves by thinking they are protecting victims whilst they do so. They paint ‘criminals’ as ‘bad’ people whilst ‘victims’ are ‘good’ people. It is unbelievable that people employed in today’s modern Police Force can think this is an effective or suitable descriptor. How many times is a victim a victim before they become the aggressor?

http://www.theguardian.com/society/joepublic/2008/dec/03/learning-disability-prison-learning-difficultieshttp://www.theguardian.com/society/joepublic/2008/dec/03/learning-disability-prison-learning-difficulties contains quotes from a variety of prisoners with learning difficulties. Most went to Special Schools or were in care before prison.  I have always maintained that very few people are simply ‘bad’ and that most offenders do so because of circumstance. Many will sneer at this, I know, because they think they would not behave in such a way. Unless they have the learning disability and experience the lifestyle of that person, how does anyone know what they would be like? I have seen first hand what circumstance, expectation and discrimination do to behaviour.

With more Police Officers seemingly falling in with other retired Officers on Social Media, the cry for more prisons, longer sentences and a general thirst for punishment is becoming louder. Despite these same people loudly decrying privatisation, austerity and the tightening of public purse strings. In the unlikely event that any of those following the loud shouty voices actually reads this, I ask one question: Why are you helping the very regime you hate? The people within Policing who espouse these very right wing things are playing their part perfectly. They are pawns, whipping up a disenfranchised populace, until they just want someone, anyone, to suffer.

All the while, other good people are working in Integrated Offender Management, Restorative Justice, Education, Health and myriad other endeavours to actually make a difference and value each individual. Numerous groups are working with Young Offenders to redirect them at an early stage and get them supported and into gainful employment with prospects for a future. This is how to prevent reoffending and if we extend this further and look to the care homes an the special schools, we can prevent a lot of first offending too. Policing is NOT a right wing tool of the state, despite what Thatcherism did to it. It is still of the people and for the people, but only just. With the elitist degree entry qualification upon us, Policing will soon look a lot like the middle classes who are getting that tax break on the back of the disabled people’s suffering. See? Then it will be an arm of the state. Please don’t let this happen. Please think about what you are saying and who you represent. Victims mostly come from the more vulnerable parts of society. So do offenders. They are frequently one and the same at different parts of their lives. Do you want your Police to mindlessly fight crime or do you want your Police to thoughtfully prevent crime?

In reality there will always be plenty of both styles of Policing to be done. The question is, however, pertinent. If the loudest voices ignore the vulnerability of many offenders, they will become an arm of the Government they despise. Do not let this happen.-Riot-police-and-protesters-share-a-cry-to

 

 

 

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PEEL: HMIC Requires Improvement

Last week HMIC published the first PEEL reports on each Police Force in the UK. PEEL stands for Police Effectiveness Efficiency Legitimacy – a mnemonic which in itself rather stretches the realms of credibility but >https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/wp-content/uploads/2014-peel-methodology.pdf shows the thinking behind the ‘three pillars’ of Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy. The first PEEL reports concentrated on Efficiency, which leaves me wondering why they didn’t just put that E first in the mnemonic. Each Force received their own report but as they were graded between Outstanding and Inadequate, it is impossible not to view PEEL as a league table. It seems a shame that modernising Police Forces, often in pursuit of innovation, are judged in such a limiting and old fashioned way.

Efficiency is covered by three questions for the purpose of PEEL. In the link given above, in November 2014, the questions are straightforward, if more than a little unappetising. The first seems to negate any need for further questions – To what extent is the Force efficient? The following two questions are: To what extent is the Force taking steps to ensure a secure financial position for the short and long term? and To what extent has the Force got an affordable way of providing Policing? It is disappointing in the extreme that HMIC equate efficiency to value for money.  Interestingly, in the Peel overview in October 2015, https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/wp-content/uploads/peel-police-efficiency-2015.pdf the questions have changed somewhat. How well does the Force use it’s resources to meet it’s demand? How sustainable and affordable is the workforce model? and How sustainable is the Force’s financial position in the short and long term? An interesting rewording of the same value for money based questions.

Despite what must have been hours and hours of work, both for those in Forces and for HMIC, there is a simple pattern evident in the grading of each Force. ‘Outstanding’ Forces all showed significant projected savings. So far so good – until we look at the Forces rated as ‘Requires Improvement’, who each are in the process of evaluating appropriate savings or awaiting further information from Government on funding, at the time of their individual HMIC inspections. It is far easier to tell HMIC that you will save a lot of money by cutting Officer numbers than it is to be honest and say you are trying to do your very best for the public and your staff but because of this, you do not have a future monetary forecast at present.

Which brings me to the central problem with PEEL reports. They are a snapshot, a moment in time, the fabric of which is stretched across a year long frame and displayed publicly as if it were a whole picture. Allow me to show you how ridiculous this is…

EEL – HMIC Efficiency 2015

Overview: How efficient is HMIC at improving Forces?

HMIC say the following about their purpose:

“In preparing our reports, we ask the questions which citizens would ask, and publish the answers in accessible form, using our expertise to interpret the evidence. We provide authoritative information to allow the public to compare the performance of their force against others, and our evidence is used to drive improvements in the service to the public.”

It is not clear which members of the public would ask the three questions covered in the Efficiency PEEL reports. We know that all members of the public judge Police efficiency to be about answering calls, sending Officers to scenes, swift reporting, robust investigations, protection of the vulnerable. Very few members of the public ask about value for money when discussing Policing.

The efficacy of allowing the public to compare ‘performance of their Force against others’ is a further cause for concern. League tables are widely recognised now as counterproductive and leading to unintended consequences, like gaming.  There is evidence to suggest Forces who were judged Outstanding had a plethora of other problems which were not Inspected. As an example, Cheshire CC was loudly celebrating their Outstanding grade, whilst having a reduced public satisfaction level, an unhappy workforce, a target culture despite the Home Secretary telling Forces they should not use targets and the following day, a direct criticism from the Home Secretary regarding their lack of diversity as a Force. None of the above demonstrates an outstanding Force.

Information has been requested from HMIC to explain how their inspections drive improvements. Whilst some soundbite answers have been forthcoming, HMIC has been unable to answer this query satisfactorily. They have offered to email a more detailed answer to this and other questions but at the time of this Inspection, that information was not available and therefore they must be judged accordingly.

Overall Judgement

I judge HMIC to require improvement. They have been given more money whilst almost all other Criminal Justice Agencies are coping with slashed budgets yet they do not know the value for money of their inspections. They cannot give a cost analysis and they cannot measure that against the efficacy of their recommendations. They have also failed, at this date, to provide information showing improved efficiency due to PEEL reports. It may be that HMIC can provide further and more detailed information but on the day of this report, I have no choice but to judge them as requiring improvement.

Areas for Improvement

HMIC should recognise that putting Forces into league tables is fraught with difficulty and encourages poor practice in the pursuit of narrow targets. 

HMIC should review Forces over a longer period and make clear to the public in their reports that even this is only a snap shot. 

It is not HMIC’s place to judge whether Forces should comply fully with Government imposed funding cuts. HMIC is wholly independent from the Government.

HMIC needs to augment its well intentioned staff with some Inspectors who have served in Policing at middle and lower ranks. 

___________________________

In conclusion, I looked at the Q&A session on Twitter with HMIC and was not suprised to find that it was dominated by serving and ex Police Officers. Who are HMIC writing their reports for? Does the public care about the questions HMIC are asking? I really don’t think they do. In which case, can HMIC ever be value for money? I would like to see a proper study into the amount of hours each Force now spends on PEEL. The amount of time and money PEEL costs Forces seems counterproductive to the hard working, flexible Forces we are insisting on today. Having read several of the reports fully, the pattern in them was obvious: save money at any cost, be judged outstanding – even when your public satisfaction score has lowered but, be open and put the public and your staff first or engage in proper analytical work to determine demand and be penalised for it. This is not what the public would call fair scrutiny. There is no body to scrutinise HMIC, yet they appear to have a mandate to ride roughshod over caring Forces and mislead the Public with a fairly arbitrary judgement system. I would like to see modernisation of HMIC thinking and a full reconsideration of PEEL. Otherwise HMIC really need to revise their ‘About us’ page https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/about-us/ where they explain their ‘independence’.

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A rant. With no swearing.

Today I tried – not for the first time – to tell people who work in Policing and some who used to work in Policing, how things can be for a member of the public who has nothing to do with the Criminal Justice System unless they are unfortunate in some way. Unfortunate. Yes. Not just unfortunate if they become a victim. Simply unfortunate if they come into contact with our antiquated, eternally added to but never properly changed, Criminal Justice System.

After Soham, Police Forces began to keep local databases. Quite right too. Had there been such a database prior to Soham, two little girls would likely not have lost their lives and certainly not in the circumsances that unfolded there. Databases are not just for keeping record of sexual impropriety that does not warrant arrest. They keep information on all manner of things, including all out of court settlements – accepted Cautions to get a horrible experience over with, Formal Warnings and the like. They all go onto local databases. Then the person is told “Its ok, its not a CRO (even those who accepted Cautions, who do actually have a CRO) and it wont effect your future.” “It falls off the system in 6 years” “It wont ever be disclosed anyway.”

I really think most Police actually believe these things too. Thats because they are not part of the process beyond that point. Support staff and frequently Force Solicitors know the rest of the story though. All records involvoing sex/indecency or violence (a child throwing something and the Police being called – thats violence) will be brought up if a person later applies for a job and there is any level of vetting required. Today it was suggested to me that the onus should be on employers to understand the low level nature of such information. Incredible. Today’s highly competitve job market uses anything it can to cut down the number of applicants. The truth is, it never leaves you and in many ways can be more insidious than a conviction at Court because the individual has been told it will never effect them. Its simply not true.

That well intentioned processes have unintentional consequences is no suprise to anyone working in the Criminal Justice System. That so many people think what ‘they’ do doesnt contribute to those unintentional consequences constantly suprises me. That some Police officers and many vocal retired Officers will argue against the experiences of some members of the Public is both sad and incredible. If you care about processes, you have to listen to what you are being told. Today I was asked forceful questions, pushed to justify my stance, repeatedly asked for evidence. I am confident and knowledgeable. To an extent I am part of the Policing world.

Imagine yourself – unlikely if you are reading this, I realise – but try to imagine yourself a member of the public who knows nothing directly of the Criminal Justice System. Imagine you found yourself in a bad situation as a young teen. Imagine you discover the world isnt very fair and imagine you end up being dealt with by the Police. Whether you are arrested, held in a cell, ‘chatted’ to in an interview room or in your home matters far less to you when you are 14 yrs old. What matters is you have done something silly. No one seems to care about the circumstances that led to you doing something silly. You are part of a process now. Imagine.

Then fast forward. You are lucky. Life changed. You pulled yourself together and you worked hard at school. You are going to take your A levels next year and you want to go to university and eventually teach. You decide to volunteer at your local youth group and want to apply for a summer job at a kids camp. Thats when it all comes crumbling down. Actually, you cant do those things. Any of those things. Well, there are ways that you can, but none are easy, all are time consuming and unless you are lucky enough to be given good advice, how would you ever know what to do? Most people accept it as their fate, their lot in life. Those who do try to rectify it are left behind their peers whilst they go through yet another process. No work experience for you. And try not to worry while you study for A levels youre now uncertain will be enough for you to become a teacher.

Thats an unintended consequence and it happens a lot. I cant give figures as my chief inquisitor demanded today. Of course I cant. The public dont mobilise and count their injustices. They quietly go away and get on with life, feeling pretty negative about the Police. And here is my point. Some of you who have read this far have just rankled more at that last sentence than you have about all the difficulties Ive outlined above. As long as databases are there to protect Forces from criticism instead of to provide information, people will feel negative about them.

To criticise a process is not to criticise the people working with that process. Until Police can listen more than they talk, such processes will continue to have such consequences. How pompous do you have to be to refuse to accept someone’s personal experience or insist that it is rare? Even if it was rare, the fact that it happens is unacceptable.

I am heartened that there are people at all levels of Policing who do listen to the experience of others. They are the future and I celebrate each of them. What is really sad is that I know they exist because of my contacts and/or my knowledge of Policing. If I was a normal member of the public who only watched the odd episode of Interceptors, I wouldnt know such people existed. I would only hear the loud, angry, self protecting types. Thats a real shame.

Roll on change.

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