Update re Police and Crime Commissioners elections.

I initiated a number of twitter conversations following my previous blog about the PCC elections with people I follow who are either standing as PCC’s, have stood as candidates or who may otherwise be interested in this particular subject.

I am only going to summarise those conversations here highlighting what I thought were the key points.

One PCC candidate Christopher E Wrightchris4gwentpcc has added a comment setting out his views and the other individuals I spoke too and anyone else are of course welcome to do so if they wish.

Overall individuals were concerned about the prospect of a low turnout and the estimates given at this stage ranged from about 20 – 35% with an acknowledgement that areas with By-elections & the Bristol Mayoral election may raise their % accordingly.

One clear message that came through was that however low the turnout the results must stand otherwise the message sent to those individuals who had voted would be that their vote did not count.

My view was that a low turnout was an indicator that the role of PCC was not wanted by the public and that the system should be scraped if the turnout was below an acceptable level. Although I still believe that a low turn out does indicate that the role is unwanted this is not a referendum on PCC’s and abstaining will not result in the elections being scrapped.

There was some concern about the fact that a low turnout might undermine the new PCC and some comment on the lack of organised publicity and the lack of funding being provided to candidates to raise the profile of the elections.

Some candidates stated that they were working hard to raise the profile of the elections in an effort to achieve an acceptable turnout.

Since my original post the Olympics have finished and there has been a notable increase in media activity and articles about PCC’s including the issue of turnout. I dont think this particular issue will go away and already one article in the Independent has suggested that a very low turnout may be used as a catalyst to change the structure of policing in England and Wales to a National force.

A growing repository of articles that I curate can be found at Police and Crime Commissioners scoop. Russell Walker curates a similar scoop and this can be found at Police & Crime Commissioners.

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A Blair Gibbs tweet suggests that the Police and Crime Commissioner elections need a boost?

On Monday Blair Gibbs posted the message below on Twitter:

Blair Gibbs ‏@Blair_Gibbs

With by-elections & Bristol mayor poll also set for 15 Nov, turnout for police elections just got an extra boost #superduperthursday #PCCs

Retweeted by Nick King

This message followed the resignation of Louise Mensch and the announcement that the by election in her constituency would take place on November the 15th the same day as the elections for PCC’s.

Blair Gibb’s message together with the fact that the Government is about to launch a 3 million pound advertising campaign to raise the profile of the elections indicate that they do indeed need a boost.

Overall it appears that many commentators expect a low turnout for these elections & there does not seem at this point in time to be much enthusiasm for this new role. A role that will have a significant impact upon policing in England and Wales.

In view of these concerns I wonder what the Government, the candidates and the people will see as an acceptable level of voter turnout? What percentage of the vote and turnout gives a mandate to the one person who will become PCC in each of the 43 police areas in England and Wales.

What percentage of the vote and perhaps more importantly what level of turnout gives that person the right to develop and deliver a policing plan on behalf of all the people who live in that area.

According to this Guardian article only 1/3 of eligible voters voted in the last local elections, and the turnout at the last general election was 65%? Interestingly this table shows that the lowest turnout since 1942 has been just under 60%

So what is an acceptable turnout for the PCC elections?

Although we are not likely to see a turnout approaching that of a general election, a turn out as low as the recent local elections would in my opinion be a complete rejection of the new role and so I believe we need to see a turnout of at least 50% to legitimise the role of Police and Crime Commissioner.

What do you think is an acceptable level?

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Policing numbers in Warwickshire

Alan Wright posted some up to date information  on police force numbers the other day and asked “How does this affect your force?” in an accompanying Tweet.

I have been thinking about this in relation to Warwickshire constabulary – the force that is responsible for policing the area where I live and believe that the current and future reductions in police officer numbers will have a negative impact on crime in Warwickshire and that the short term savings will result in a long term increase in crime.

In the last 12 months Warwickshire has lost 75 officer and now has a total of 844 police officers. That is it there are no more just 844 in total from Constable to Chief Constable and all ranks in between uniform and detective.

According to Alan Plaskitt a prospective PCC for Warwickshire the HMIC report predicts that frontline officers will fall from 810 to 670 by 2015.

The Warwickshire specific briefing from the HMIC makes sobering reading.

“The force is planning to cut its total workforce number (i.e. police officers, police staff and police community support officers) by 350 between March 2010 and March 2015.

170 of these will be police officer posts; this means there will be 17% fewer
officers in Warwickshire (compared with a 10% average officer reduction
across England and Wales).

By 2015 70% of its workforce will be on the front line. This is a lower
proportion than in most other forces.”

My conclusion is that 20% cuts across the board are having a disproportionate impact upon  Warwickshire. Larger forces are more able to absorb the cuts than smaller ones and as Warwickshire is one of the smallest the cuts are have a larger impact.

Assuming that Warwickshire maintains its current 5 shift pattern and retains its 5 geographic policing areas there will be a maximum of 132 frontline officers on duty on any one day across the county and 22 per geographical area.

It remains to be seen whether the reduction in frontline officers will lead to an increase in crime however that reduction will result in a decrease in police on the streets of Warwickshire. This will make it easier for criminals to operate because there is less chance that they will encounter a police officer and so the deterrent effect of policing is lost.

A good example of what I mean is provided by a BBC news item where a stop in Scotland for using a mobile phone while driving led to the seizure of Cocaine worth around £614000.  It could be argued that if the cocaine had not been found then no crime would have been recorded – however the knock on effect of that would have been more drugs on the street resulting in more addiction and therefore more crime to buy the drugs to feed the habit.

Quite simply less Police on patrol results in more opportunity for criminals, more crime, more victims and less justice.

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It’s a hitch!

Amazing to see Jeremy Hunt describing the G4S failure to provide sufficient security as a hitch and stating that its ok to fail on a contract.

It is not a hitch for G4S themselves who have seen their share price drop over 9% with the news of their failure spreading around the world.

I don’t think the CEO Nick Buckles see’s it as a hitch either considering his job and reputation are on the line.

I don’t think the Armed Forces see it as a hitch – having to deploy an additional 3500 to Olympics means calling up another 3500 into reserves & more importantly it means that officers who are serving in Afghanistan may have their tours extended or their leave cut short on return to fill the gaps.

I don’t think it is a hitch to the 9 police forces that have had to find additional resources to provide security cover at a range of venues around the UK.

G4S anticipate being able to replace the police officers in the next few days and have stated that they will cover the additional costs incurred.

What we do not know at present is whether they will be able to deliver the security cover they have contracted to or whether the hitch will continue throughout the Games?

If it does then the police and the Armed forces will be there to fill the gaps as they are at the moment making sure that the Games are safe and secure.

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Five Years

This has long been planned – the systematic destruction of public services in the UK was decided by think tanks like Policy Exchange before the election in 2010. The Conservatives links to big business, the banking industry & the Financial sector combined with their natural leaning towards de regulation & profit lie behind their plan to sell off or privatise as much of the public sector as they can in Five years.

Why Five years – because that is the length of this Government and the destruction needs to be complete before the next election. They know that if they lose; the incoming Government will not have the money to undo the harm they have done.

Why would you want to privatise aspects of Policing, the NHS,  & the Probation Service, to name a few?  The answer is simply because someone will make a profit meaning that the tax income the Government spends on our behalf to provide these services will eventually end up back in their pockets through share dividends & their ties with the companies making the profits through  directorships etc.

I accept that the Public sector can increase its efficiency but I do not accept that means that it needs to be sold off to the private sector so that someone can make a nice fat profit.

G4S has recently won a ten year £20o million contract to provide policing services to Lincolnshire. They will make some profit, that profit will assist their share price, shareholders will receive a dividend. Apparently the Prudential is a major shareholder of G4S shares and the current Home Secretary has shares in the Prudential – all a coincidence I am sure. Already they are discussing job cuts amongst the former police staff who were transferred across to G4S.

The recent new NHS legislation provides an even more damming example. Over 200 MP’s and Lords have an interest in private healthcare provision – no wonder they voted this into law they stand to make a profit from it.

None of these changes were stated in their pre-election manifesto & it is obvious why – they would not have been voted into a position where they could form a coalition and a Government if people knew what was planned for them.

Of course all this has been introduced using the smokescreen that is Austerity and that is how they are still getting away with it because people are naturally and rightly scared for their future prosperity and are falling for the Governments line. A line that not everyone agrees with.

What so many do not seem to realise in both the private and public sector is that it is this government that is stealing their futures from right under their noses. The safety net provided by the public services that protects our society is being slowly and steadily withdrawn – yes it is being replaced but by organisations that have a primary responsibility to their shareholders and not the public.

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Tom Winsor is right? The Blue collar clock in clock out attitude must change.

Its not often that I agree with Tom Winsor but on this occasion I do! The blue collar, clock in clock out attitude that he spoke of the other day must change.

What he said: “I believe that too many police officers regard themselves, quite wrongly, as blue collar workers and actually when they think harder about it, they are actually members of a profession which is on a far higher plane than that,” he added.

What he was thinking: I believe that police officers are blue collar workers, they are fat and lazy and clock in and clock out and so deserve to be paid a pittance and to have their terms of employment re-written.

What he should have been  thinking & saying:  I  regard police officers, quite wrongly, as blue collar workers and actually when I think harder about it, they are actually members of a profession which is on a far higher plane than that.

As such they deserve the remuneration they get and in fact it is my job as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary  in waiting  to change the Governments perception particularly Theresa May & Nick Herbert’s to make amends to the reports I wrote which I now realise were incorrect and do not do justice to the police service.

I believe that if Tom Winsor had spent his 40 days researching the police properly instead of trying to find evidence to support  David Cameron’s 2006 speech and the rehash of Sheehy then I think he would have written different reports to those he has now produced.

This is truly going to be a disaster for the public and the police but sadly I think we are too far down the road now to change direction.

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Austerity – beating the life out of the economy.

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago now but cannot see anything that has changed Greece slips further down the slippery slope to complete destruction, Spain’s banks have had a bsailout and rumour has it that Italy or Cyprus may be next. The IMF and some European politicians are beginning to suggest that Austerity is not working but here no change.

I have to say that I sincerely wish that the politicians would recognise that Austerity on its own is a crock of shit and that unless they do something to stimulate growth whole countries will go down the toilet. I cannot imagine what that would look like but it will not be pretty and it will have disastrous consequences for everyone else.

I cannot see any examples where Austerity is working – it certainly is not working here in the UK or Spain, Portugal, Italy or Greece to name a few. On this evenings news 14/6/2012 there were pictures of desperate Greek people running to get free bread because they were starving.

From what I can see we (the 99%) are being beaten to within an inch of our economic lives and in fact some people have taken their lives for something that we had absolutely no say in or control over.

Did we the 99% make up some bizarre financial instrument which allowed us to bet against ourselves and win whatever the outcome by creating another financial instrument and another and another? No, we did not but we are paying a very high price for bailing out those banks and other financial organisations that did.

They keep saying it would have been worse if we had not bailed out the banks! Really?

We cannot know that because we did not go down that path! Would it really have been worse or is it just another myth?  A lie sold to us to legitimise the trillions of pounds, dollars, euro’s et al that have disappeared into the great big deficit hole that none of us have seen even a sniff of.

The Bank of England has added 325 billion in quantative easing pounds – where have they all gone That is a staggering amount of money but it does not seem to have found its way into the economy in any visible way. We have nearly 3million people unemployed, nearly 1 million of those are young people. That’s ONE million young people who have not been given the opportunity to work. The public sector is being downsized as never before and private companies are still going into administration in large numbers and making people redundant.

The quantative easing billions do not seem to have made any real difference but they must have gone somewhere folks? Someone somewhere is stashing the cash against a rainy day and I doubt if its any of the 99%.

I’m not clever enough to know what the answer is but it sure as shit isn’t Austerity.

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