Currency furore over mystery of missing memos

Unbelievably, or predictably, depending on your political persuasion, the English British Broadcasting Corporation doesn’t even have this story anywhere on its news site… not even on the “Scotland” pages, which leads on “Drugs mule may return to Scotland”, the news that the Scottish Prison Service is considering an application from drugs mule Melissa Reid to serve her sentence in Scotland.

So, I thought I’d assist the EBBC by publishing it here, in case they’ve stopped covering anything North of the border…

THE Treasury was last night at the centre of a growing row over political bias, after admitting it had no record of when its most senior civil servant first advised the Chancellor against a currency union with an independent Scotland.

Memo from Sir Nicholas was seized on by the Unionist lobby

The inability of permanent secretary Sir Nicholas Macpherson to give a precise date is fuelling claims that Westminster’s bombshell rejection of a currency union was cooked up to help the No campaign in the referendum. The SNP said it was extraordinary that such a momentous decision had left no paper trail, and said it suggested the Treasury advice was little more than a dodgy campaign tactic.

In a formal memo dated February 11, Macpherson strongly advised George Osborne against a deal to share the pound on the basis that it would mirror the eurozone and prove unstable. The confidential advice would normally have been kept secret for 30 years, but in a move Osborne himself described as “exceptional”, it was made public just 48 hours later to help back up the Chancellor’s rejection of a currency union on February 13.

Such high-level advice would typically crystallise after weeks or months of detailed discussion and research by Whitehall officials. However, the Macpherson memo, which was seen as a huge boon to the No campaign, was later trashed by a leading independent economist as deeply flawed and based on loose assumptions.

Now, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the Treasury says it has no record of when Macpherson first warned Osborne against a currency union before the February 11 memo, raising further questions about its credibility. It was reported last week that Westminster’s refusal to let Scotland share the pound was taken on the advice of former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, the chairman of the pro-Union Better Together campaign.

Until Osborne ruled out a deal on February 13, the official Treasury position was that such an arrangement was very unlikely. Osborne’s harder line, repeated by his Labour and LibDem counterparts, was seen as a body blow to the Yes campaign and to Alex Salmond, who had promised a formal deal after a Yes vote. The First Minister claimed the Unionist parties were bluffing, but all three insisted a currency union was impossible.

However, a newspaper report quoted an unnamed Coalition minister saying a formal currency union was “of course” possible, perhaps in return for the UK keeping Trident at Faslane. “Everything would change in the negotiations if there were a Yes vote,” the minister reportedly said. The same story contained the explosive claim that Darling and Downing Street’s Scotland adviser, Andrew Dunlop, had shaped the Treasury hardline to boost Better Together’s fortunes.

The Treasury confirmed in 2012 that Macpherson and Darling “meet socially from time to time”.

UK ministers have repeatedly cited the three-page Macpherson memo as proof they are not bluffing over the currency, saying they could not go against such strong Treasury guidance. But asked when Macpherson first warned against currency union before February 11, either in writing or verbally, the Treasury didn’t know.

It said: “There is no record of the date when Sir Nicholas Macpherson, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, first set out his advice to the Chancellor or other Treasury ministers regarding the currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.” It went on: “To be helpful [we] can advise that the Permanent Secretary has for some time held the views expressed in his written advice of the 11 February. He recalls having expressed it verbally on several occasions prior to the formal written advice which was subsequently published.”

Macpherson’s memo was later dissected by Professor Leslie Young, of Cheung Kong School of Business in Beijing, who said it was flawed by loose analysis and inconsistent assumptions.

The SNP’s Kenny Gibson said: “Westminster’s currency bluff has completely crumbled. This FoI suggests the Treasury position was engineered externally, as there is no paper trail of how or when it was arrived at. Given the lack of documentation around Sir Nick’s position, it is impossible to claim that ruling out sharing the pound was ever anything more than an ill-advised campaign tactic cooked up by Alistair Darling, as has been reported. Nothing the No campaign says on currency has a shred of credibility any more.”

A Treasury spokesman dismissed the SNP’s accusations as complete nonsense.

He said: “The Permanent Secretary and the Chancellor have a very close working relationship, as you would expect, and they talk about a range of issues all the time. This is just a distraction from the main issue, which is what currency would an independent Scotland use. That’s what the Scottish Government should be spending their time and energies on, not trying to rake up a decision that has already been made.”

Sunday Herald story

Culture secretary Maria Miller apologises over mortgage expenses

Minister is expected to repay £5,800 after standards committee criticises her for not co-operating fully with investigation

Maria Miller, the culture secretary, has apologised to parliament and is expected to repay £5,800 following an inquiry into her expense claims, in which she breached the MPs’ code of conduct by failing to fully co-operate.

A report by the Commons committee for standards found she had overclaimed the money on her mortgage in 2009. But the committee reserved its strongest criticisms for Miller’s attitude towards the inquiry, saying she chose to prevaricate and use legalistic language instead of directly answering questions.

The report’s conclusions, coupled with a highly critical report from the standards commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, are expected to lead to further pressure on Miller to consider her position. It is believed to be the first time that a serving minister has been forced to apologise over their expenses.

In a short statement to the House of Commons, Miller said: “The committee has recommended that I apologise to the house for my attitude towards the commissioner’s inquiry, and I, of course, unreservedly apologise.

“I fully accept the recommendations of the committee and thank them for bringing this matter to an end.” She did not mention the money that she had been asked to repay.

David Cameron immediately moved to shore up the MP for Basingstoke’s position by issuing a statement saying that he had offered her his “warm support”.

But critics will point out that the committee’s critical report has watered down recommendations from Hudson, in an appendix to the report. Hudson suggested that Miller had overclaimed by around £44,000, in an apparent misuse of the expenses system which began in 2005 and ended in 2009, and that Miller may well have inappropriately used public money to help support her parents.

Hudson also wrote that Miller had claimed for mortgage interest against a mortgage significantly larger than one required to purchase her property; that Miller had further increased her mortgage without the knowledge or agreement of the house authorities; and that she should not have designated her London home as her second home.

The committee did not take on board many of Hudson’s conclusions.

However, it criticised Miller for giving the committee, and the commissioner for standards, incomplete documentation and fragmentary information.

“We regret that she did not also provide the commissioner with the substantive information and supporting documentation she required,” the report concludes.

Miller even challenged Hudson’s right to details of her mortgage, the report discloses.

The committee did not find evidence to back claims that she should not have housed her parents in a home for which she was claiming taxpayers’ money. It also found that a majority of her claims for mortgage payments were justified.

Miller became MP for Basingstoke in 2005 and designated the house in Wimbledon, south-west London, as her second home, saying she spent most of her time in a rented house in her constituency. Between 2005 and 2009, she made claims on the Wimbledon home, but stopped claiming after the expenses scandal.

According to documents filed in 2008, Miller had a mortgage of around £525,000 on the house purchased in 1995 for £234,000. In December 2012, the Daily Telegraph reported that Miller’s parents were living in the house.

The rules relating to MPs’ parents were clearly set out by the parliamentary watchdog in 2009, when John Lyon, the parliamentary commissioner for standards at the time, said parents should not share a property funded by the taxpayer. Tony McNulty, the former Labour MP, resigned as a minister after letting his parents live in a taxpayer-funded house.

The commissioner and the committee both concluded that Miller’s case was not directly comparable to McNulty’s.

A statement released earlier by Miller said: “I’ve accepted in full the committee’s report and I will apologise. I am pleased that the committee has dismissed the allegation against me by a Labour MP.

“Separately, I will, of course, make the required repayment, having drawn the committee’s attention to this matter. I thank the committee for bringing this matter to an end.”

John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw whose complaint sparked the standards inquiry, said that Miller should resign immediately.

“Given David Cameron’s strong statements on ‘cleaning up expenses’ in the past, he will be accused of hypocrisy if he does not sack Maria Miller today. Maria Miller’s apology, lasting only a few seconds, shows a lack of respect to parliament, the committee on standards and the public,” he said.

Figures: Crime down and arrest numbers fall

Not sure the first paragraph reads well as it seems to suggest that crime committed by officers in England and Wales have fallen!! That aside, this must be another blow to Steve Bennett et al who have made their point clear that the recorded crime stats can not be trusted and yet the Home Office seem content to trot out such comparisons as these.

The number of arrests made, crimes committed and searches carried out by officers in England and Wales have all fallen, according to the latest figures published by the Home Office.

Police officers arrested 1.1 million people for recorded crimes in 2012/13 – down 12 per cent on 2011/12.

And the number of recorded crimes has decreased by seven per cent over the same period.

Decreases in the number of arrests were seen across all nine offence groups. Violence against the person saw the biggest reduction, at 10 per cent. There have been year-on-year decreases for theft and handling of stolen goods, which have fallen from a peak of 419,900 in the year ending March 2003 to 233,471 in the year ending March 2013, and criminal damage – from 169,600 in the year ending March 2006 to 81,392 in the year ending March 2013.

The number of arrests for both sexual offences and drug offences decreased for the second consecutive year, having increased for the previous three and six years respectively.

And arrests for property crime, including burglary, theft, fraud and forgery, and criminal damage, accounted for 39 per cent of all arrests for notifiable offences, the same proportion as in the previous 12 months. The number of arrests for property crime fell by 13 per cent to 418,213, which is the seventh consecutive year a fall has been reported.

All but one of the 43 police forces recorded decreases in the number of arrests. Dyfed-Powys recorded 11,770 arrests, up slightly from the 11,756 in the previous year. The largest percentage decreases were at City of London Police, down 38 per cent, and Derbyshire, down 33 per cent.

The number of stops has also decreased with PACE searches down to a million in 2012/13 – a decrease of by 12 per cent on the previous year. Around half of these were related to suspected drug use. And the number of fixed penalty notices issued also fell by nine per cent.

The number of screening breath tests carried out on drivers has also fractionally fallen. There were 682,558 tests carried out in 2012, and the number of positive or refused tests fell by six per cent.

The statistics, Police Powers and Procedures, England and Wales 2012/13, were released by the Home Office on Thursday (April 3).

The number of people arrested has fallen for the sixth successive year and is at the lowest number since the arrests data collection began in the year ending March 2000.

However, the Home Office said “caution” is needed in using some of this data as “figures for earlier years included estimates for a few forces that were unable to supply arrests information to the Home Office.”

From Police Oracle

Direct entry, disappointment and an era of change

Take a look around you.

All the police officers you know – regardless of their rank – have one thing in common.

It’s that they have been there and done that.

It has been said many times, but one of the greatest strengths of the British Police Service is that all officers have started at the same level –on the beat, getting their hands dirty by making arrests.

You cannot put a price on that experience.

They have the respect of their peers. They have the respect of those that serve under them. They give an order, knowing that they have been there and done it themselves.

And they have many years of operational experience to call upon when they make those decisions.

This is, of course, now changing.

The College of Policing proudly pronounced this week that the move to fast-track external recruits into senior policing roles for the first time – better known as direct entry – is about to come into force in England and Wales.

A second “fast-track” scheme for some graduate recruits, enabling them to rise from constable to inspector in three years, is also being introduced.

Force recruitment websites will begin to open for both programmes on Monday (April 7).

So there you have it.

If huge attacks to pay and pensions were not enough, yet another slap in the face to hard working officers.

Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, summed up the views of many officers, stating: “Direct entry candidates will have absolutely no credibility, no experience, and no confidence of the officers they are expected to lead, in situations they have never experienced.”

You would not have a direct entry pilot to land a plane full of people. You wouldn’t have a surgeon coming in under direct entry to operate on people.

And what about fast track? With only four years of experience before promotion you are going to be left with the ridiculous situation where a graduate inspector at the scene of a major incident will be asking seasoned sergeants with years of experience what to do

For some reason these ludicrous scenarios are deemed acceptable for policing.

You have to feel for the thousands of officers who have grafted at the sharp end for years, gaining real experience and passing promotion exams. Many will now be left on the sidelines.

Perhaps forever.

PoliceOracle.com told last year how 10,444 PCs and 3,778 sergeants in England and Wales had passed both OSPRE Parts I and II, or work-based assessment equivalents, but had not been substantively promoted.

This is because there have been no jobs for them to go to.

Now, from the sounds of it, whatever small amount of roles that do become available in these times of austerity will go to these new golden children.

Interestingly, take up for these new recruitment schemes has not been universal.

Only seven forces in England and Wales – plus the British Transport Police – are applying to bring in direct entry superintendents. There are meant to be 20 spots. As for fast track, only 26 of 44 forces are involved in the 80 places on offer.

That is not exactly a glowing endorsement from forces and police and crime commissioners for these plans.

But it is happening.

On September 29 – the day after National Police Memorial Day – successful fast track entry applicants will start work in their respective forces. On November 10 direct entry superintendents will follow them into the service.

They will all be police officers in uniform. They will be Servants of the Crown and sworn constables, with all that entails.

Many, many people will find this strange. Not to mention deeply unsettling.

But they are going to have to get used to it.

So yes, take a look around you – because in six months, the English and Welsh Police Service as you know it – as we all know it – is going to change forever.

From Police Oracle’s Royston Martis

Minister: Reforms ‘have set police free’ AND Met Police has ‘culture of fear’, officers say

Firstly the Police Minister

Comprehensive reforms have “set officers free” from targets and given them “a single mission of cutting crime”, the policing minister has said.

Damian Green (pictured) reiterated that a challenging fiscal situation had required decisive action from the government and that forces had risen to the challenge of dealing with deep budget cuts.

He said the financial challenges had acted as “a catalyst” for local innovation – but maintained that policing needs to be “future proofed for the challenges of tomorrow”.

Mr Green was speaking at an event promoting the Police Innovation Fund – a government reserve available to police and crime commissioners to support force projects.

A precursor to the full project launched last year saw 115 bids with 65 receiving funding, six of which were projects involving the use of body worn video.

In other initiatives, the money was used to roll out the use of mobile data kits, aimed at enabling officers to operate more efficiently as well as bringing to together operational and support services.

But Mr Green added: “I believe that we must strive to do better – to carry on the trend of cutting crime for the public and carry on making every penny of taxpayer’s money work as hard as possible.

“We need to increasingly work across geographical and organisational boundaries to make the best use of resources and embrace new technologies to stay ahead of criminals.”

Mr Green pointed out that technology had to be a central part of the next phase of innovation, highlighting that the College of Policing had a key role to play in this area.

He said that all 43 forces in England and Wales had signed up to the organisation’s Digital Pathfinder programme – dedicated to promoting and sharing digital best practice.

Mr Green added: “I am pleased that, through this, the College has identified a set of digital capabilities to provide a clear sense of what good policing looks like and against which Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary can inspect, as we work towards the vision of digital policing.

“The College has been open in the way it has developed these capabilities. They have been co-designed with the people who know what they need best – the police themselves. This is a prime example of the innovation that we want to see.”

In addition, the minister said he wanted to see technology providing greater inter-operability across the wider criminal justice system in future as well as underpinning collaboration with other blue light services.

He also said the that the Home Office was consolidating national police IT systems as their contracts come to an end and setting open data standards – enabling systems to talk to each other.

From Police Oracle

Compare that to what Met Officers are saying

There is a “culture of fear” in the Metropolitan Police because of the “draconian” use of performance targets, a report into the force has said.

It calls some targets “meaningless” and “unrealistic” – and says others are “disguised” by senior officers.

The report was compiled by the Met Police Federation from interviews and surveys with 250 officers.

Scotland Yard denied claims of a “bullying culture” and said it made “no excuses” for valuing performance.

ohn Tully, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the report painted a “devastating” picture.

‘Rock bottom’
He told the BBC’s Today programme that officers who missed targets were put on a “hit list”, with some facing potential misconduct action.

“It’s correct that we are measured on what we do. Whether or not it’s an absolute must that there are performance-driven targets I think is questionable,” Mr Tully said.

One officer, he said, told the federation that he had to arrest at least four people a month and that he had to do 10 stop-and-searches, one of which had to have a positive outcome.

The federation chairman said some officers were “at rock bottom” and that they wanted to see some sort of change in management style.

“I think there is need for some change. We need to look at that,” Mr Tully added.

“Whether or not it’s a full root-and-branch change, I’m not sure. The Met has a long and bright history around serving the people of London and I hope that continues.”

The report, submitted to Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and other senior officers, follows a warning from Home Secretary Theresa May that police performance targets are making a “comeback”.

Mrs May – who has scrapped most centrally-imposed police targets – told a conference in September that performance measures were being reintroduced by some forces as a “security blanket”.

The report highlighted a number of stop-and-search targets:

A 20% arrest rate for stop-and-searches
20% of stop-and-searches should be for weapons
40% for neighbourhood (property) crime
40% for drugs
It also identified targets set for one policing team in 2011:

PCs to make one arrest and five stop-and-searches per shift
Metropolitan Special Constabulary officers to make one arrest per month and five stop-and-searches per shift
Police community support officers (PCSOs) to make five stop-and-accounts per shift and two criminal reports per shift
BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the report’s findings made “uncomfortable reading” given the Met was already under the spotlight following allegations of corruption and cover-up in the Stephen Lawrence case, and given claims that crime figures had been manipulated.

But Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne accused the federation of “sensationalising” the issue.

He told the Today programme that it was the Met’s job to bring down crime and since it had a “more accountable way of doing things”, rates were down by nearly 10%.

Mr Byrne said targets were often set at team level, in which supervisors set work rate targets, which he said he approved of.

“The public expects that we are out there to police the streets and keep them safe,” he said.

Mr Byrne added that the report missed the bigger point, saying there were no targets for bravery that was seen every day on the force, in which people “put themselves sin the face of danger”.

‘Constant threat’
He added that there was a small minority that do not like to be held to account because the Met was changing. “People push back a bit when we take that no-nonsense approach,” he said.

The Met Police Federation, which represents about 30,000 officers at the rank chief inspector and below, said “never before” have targets been applied with “such determination” as they currently are in the Met – the UK’s biggest force.

One officer told the report: “Every month we are named and shamed with a league table by our supervisors, which does seem very bullying/overbearing.”

Another officer refers to a “bullying-type culture”.

The report says: “There is evidence of a persistent and growing culture of fear spawned by the vigorous and often draconian application of performance targets, with many officers reporting that they feel almost constantly under threat of being blamed and subsequently punished for failing to hit targets.”

But Scotland Yard denied officers were being unfairly pressurised.

In a statement, the force said it was faced with many challenges, but insisted it did not have a bullying culture.

“We make no excuses for having a culture that values performance,” it said.

“We have pledged to reduce crime, increase confidence and cut costs. It’s a big task and we have a robust framework in place to ensure we achieve this. The public expects no less.”

From the BBC

So how can there be such a discrepancy between what the Minister believes and what officers on the ground believe to be true? The answer is simple in my humble opinion. Ignoring the fact that the Minister has no idea (along with the CHMIC) about the real world of policing, the Minister does actually state the police have been given “a single mission of cutting crime”. Lets be clear, this is aspirational, laudable even, but it is an outcome. To regard this as the end of any necessity to measure inputs and outputs demonstrates an woefully inadequate idea of understanding performance It is simply just about the worst management/leadership babble I have ever heard. Without understanding what officers are doing (I am avoiding targets here), the time and effort they put in, and the result of their efforts, how on earth could anyone suggest the police were achieving their designated mission? To make it even clearer if the police did nothing at all (impossible I know) for the next year and crime went down could the Minister claim the police had been successful. Well probably sadly. Steve Bennett must be tearing his hair out too because the government is still clinging to “reductions in crime” that Steve and his colleagues, along with many others, have shown to be fallacious. Oh what joy!

South East Regional Organised Crime Unit launches

Sorry, nearly missed this one.

Regional organised crime units across the south and south east of England come together as a single organisation from 1 April.

The South East Regional Organised Crime Unit will see officers and staff from Hampshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex transfer to Thames Valley Police.

The unit will be aligned to the South East Counter Terrorism Unit.

It aims to create a cohesive response to serious organised crime across the region.

‘Gun activity’
Unit commander, Assistant Chief Constable Brendan O’Dowda, of Thames Valley Police, said: “There are hundreds of organised crime groups operating across the region.

“Many are involved in large-scale drug distribution, gang and gun-related activity, violence, organised serious acquisitive crime, and the deliberate targeting and exploitation of the vulnerable.

“This is an exciting step forward and one that brings us so many opportunities to protect the public and put hardened criminals where they belong – on the receiving end of justice.”

Mr O’Dowda said a new regional Cyber Crime Unit and Confidential Unit would also be set up to work alongside counter terrorism officers, and that the unit was improving ways of collaborating and sharing intelligence with the National Crime Agency.

From the BBC

Crime stats whistleblower ‘undermined public confidence’

Final written warning for officer who published book criticising reform and practices.

A Metropolitan Police officer who blew the whistle on police reform and crime statistics “undermined public confidence in policing”, a misconduct hearing has found.

PC James Patrick (pictured) began a blog that was critical of aspects of police reform and crime recording, which was compiled into the book The Rest Is Silence – profits from which went to the Care of Police Survivors charity.

His subsequent evidence to Parliament triggered a whirlwind of publicity around the reliability of crime statistics.

Now he has been given a final written warning after the panel found he committed three counts of failing to follow orders or instructions and two of discreditable conduct.

The first three counts were failure to register a business interest, seek prior permission before publishing a book and comply with guidelines about officers and staff who want to write memoirs of their experiences.

The discreditable conduct related to publishing the blog and books and writing a “parody which was offensive”, the force said.

The Met added these could have “brought discredit on the Police Service and/or undermining public confidence in the Police Service”.

The hearing was chaired by a chief officer from an outside force. The Met had previously regarded the allegations as gross misconduct, until another force reviewed them and suggested they be downgraded to misconduct, where dismissal is not an option.

PC Patrick, who resigned but is still working his 11-week notice period and is on restricted duties, is taking the force to an employment tribunal that is due to take place on April 8.

He claimed he had registered a business interest even though the force’s policy specifically said this was unnecessary for voluntary activities.

Writing on his blog, he said: “I was charged with failing to register a business interest, even though Met policy was specific in not requiring a registration for voluntary activities and even though I had in fact registered the business interest on the October 8 2012 which had been authorised by my then line manager on the October 18.

“The ‘fact find’ commenced the following day, and I only discovered that a full investigation was to take place when resolving a pre-finalisation query from the Business Interest Team, sent to me on the 20th of November 2012.

“The investigating officers failed to uphold this allegation in their final report, dated February 2013. It was nevertheless included in the subsequent charges.”

PC Patrick also said the Met had made two changes to its policy relating to the writing of memoirs after the investigation into him began.

He wrote: “I made it clear that, had I been asked to comply with these obscure additions, I would have. The investigators themselves twice had to seek specialist advice and listed ‘policy issues’ in their ‘learning outcomes’.”

PC Patrick also criticised the misconduct meeting and said its chair “rushed through” the evidence provided and made a decision in just minutes.

He added: “The misconduct meeting chair concluded, in under 10 minutes, and having rushed through my 138-page submission based upon 6000 sheets of evidence – which I may as well have submitted blank – that he had ‘found’ on all charges, and that I would receive a final written warning.

“Matters are however, by no means, over and the above resume is the tip of an iceberg.”

From Police Oracle

IPCC Chair launches another attack on ‘defensive attitude’

Dame Anne Owers says refusal to answer questions can cause huge delays in inquiries.

The chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has levied more criticism at the “defensive” attitude of some officers when investigations are carried out.

Dame Anne Owers (pictured) said her organisation often encountered “a circling of the wagons” when serious probes were carried out, which led to frustrations and huge delays.

She added that when Parliament had agreed a power to compel the watchdog to require officers to attend an interview, the Police Federation had advised its members they did not need to answer questions.

Addressing the Improving Public Confidence in Policing conference, Dame Anne added: “I suggest that – given the current state of public confidence in the police – it is at best unhelpful or at worst positively self-destructive for elements in the Police Service to be, or to be perceived to be, obstructive and unwilling to take part in the processes of accountability and transparency that Parliament has set out.

“We operate policing by consent – we also need consent to proper processes of accountability.”

Dame Anne said there were other aspects in relation to IPCC investigations that the watchdog wanted to change – including stopping officers colluding after incidents.

However, she denied that the IPCC was “out to claim scalps” as national firearms lead Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman claimed on PoliceOracle.com.

Dame Anne told conference delegates: “We are out to get the truth and we will of course be of no use to the Police Service, if the public perceive that we either don’t or can’t, for then they won’t believe us when we exonerate officers or commend their actions.”

She added that the current complaints system – or the way complaints were handled – was not designed to enhance public confidence.

Dame Anne was also critical of a defensive attitude to complaints.

She said: “In a commercial organisation, complaints are gold dust. They tell you what your customers think about you even when that is a perception rather than a reality.”

From Police Oracle

Winsor: Stevens’ proposals to end PCCs ‘wrong’

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary rejects Commission’s recommendation that newly-elected officials should be axed.


Tom Winsor has blasted the suggestion by the Lord Stevens Commission that police and crime commissioners should be abolished and replaced with a new governance regime for policing.

Former Met commissioner Lord Stevens’ (pictured) independent review, which was initiated and backed by the Labour Party, recommended abolishing PCCs and replacing them with a raft of alternatives, saying having a directly-elected individual overseeing each force area was a “failed” experiment.

The Commission comprised a range of analysts and took evidence from many people in policing and criminal justice agencies, including Mr Winsor.

But HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary said it was too early to judge the effectiveness of PCCs in his annual review of policing, published this week.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com, Mr Winsor added that Lord Stevens view was “wrong”.

“A democratic institution has been established,” he said. “People need time to dissect it and decide whether the institution is fit for purpose.

“Lord Stevens’ idea would throw the democratisation of police accountability into reverse.”

In his report, Mr Winsor wrote: “The relationship between police and crime commissioners and chief constables is still in its infancy. It cannot fairly be assessed by Parliament and the electorate without more experience of it.

“A significant number of these relationships are already demonstrating substantial and welcome improvements over the police authority model, with greater focus on the needs of the community and far less bureaucracy and its attendant uncertainties and delays.”

In his review published in November 2013, Lord Stevens called PCCs a “failed experiment in democratic policing”.

He said the alternatives could include giving lower tier councils a say in setting policing priorities in their areas and appointing local commanders. It also suggested creating directly-elected local policing boards.

Lord Stevens wrote: “The principle of democratic accountability that underpins the PCC experiment is sound and needs protecting – evening extending.

“But serious thought needs to be given to finding better ways of giving practical effect to that principle.”

As previously reported, the Labour Party is consulting on the Commission’s recommendations and which it should include in its manifesto for the 2015 general election.

From Police Oracle

Met police have not learned from racism report, officer tells tribunal

PC Carol Howard, who is claiming discrimination, felt she was ‘used as a token’ by Met to improve its image

PC Carol Howard arrives to give evidence at the employment tribunal. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA

A black female firearms officer has said the Metropolitan police have failed to learn the lessons of the Macpherson report, which branded the force “institutionally racist” in its investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

PC Carol Howard, 34, one of only two black women out of 700 officers in the diplomatic protection group (DPG), told an employment tribunal that in the wake of the police shooting of Mark Duggan in 2011 she felt she was used to improve the image of the Met police.

Howard is claiming direct discrimination on the grounds of race and/or sex and/or marital status and is also claiming harassment and victimisation.

The first investigation of her complaint was “a complete whitewash or attempt to sweep my complaints under the carpet,” she said, and so she appealed against it. “There has been a blatant cover-up by the Met. The police have not learned any lessons from the Macpherson report and they still continue to discriminate.”

Howard told the hearing in central London that in 2012 she was asked to take part in a photoshoot for the London Evening Standard, and agreed because she was led to believe it was to highlight the Olympics.

But she later believed she had been asked because of her colour in the wake of the shooting of Duggan. “I felt that I had been singled out and chosen, as a black officer, to represent diversity and to change the public image of white police shooting black youth,” she said.

She said this was later confirmed to her by another officer. “I was uncomfortable and upset when I was advised by him that I had been specifically asked as a result of me being a BME (black and minority ethnicity) female,” Howard said.

She said she felt betrayed and “used as a token”. “I thought I was being selected for this role for being a good role model and being good at my job, when in fact I had been selected based on my colour/race.”

Howard said the photograph had since been used against her by various media outlets, which was “humiliating” and had attracted “deeply unpleasant (racist) and salacious” online comments.

She believed that details about her case had been leaked to the media and that police were wrong to give her full name. “In employment tribunals, they don’t normally name the officer,” she said.

She said she had also been used to promote diversity in the Met by driving Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen, from Brixton to Kensington in 2005. “I felt I had been called upon to demonstrate to Ms Lawrence that the organisation had come a long way as here I stood as a successful black female officer.”

Howard told the tribunal that her career as an authorised firearms officer (AFO) was disrupted when acting Insp Dave Kelly was posted to DPG in December 2011. “From then on I was targeted, subjected to detrimental treatment and harassed by Acting Inspector Kelly’s actions in comparison to male and/or non-black colleagues,” she said.

She claimed Kelly’s actions had robbed her of her career aspirations and had gone unchallenged by the DGP and the Met. She said she had been told by another officer that Kelly was looking into her personal Facebook account.

She told the hearing it was not professional for officers who were supposed to be protecting the prime minister on the streets of London to be accessing people’s Facebook accounts. “It’s intrusive supervision, and he didn’t do it to anyone else in my team. It’s clear differential treatment.”

She told the hearing: “I believe the reasons for my malicious, unethical treatment at the hands of Sgt/Acting Inspector Kelly is a direct result of discrimination based on my race, sex and my looks, Acting Inspector Kelly’s attraction toward me and my disinterest.”

The Met has said it will “robustly” defend itself against the claim. The hearing continues.

Scotland to switch to driving on the right if independence given green light

Road names will change to reflect independence, with M (motorway) becoming S (Scotland) and A roads becoming N roads (nationalist). Photograph: Stephen Finn/Alamy

Current road signage system would also be scrapped under scheme nationalists say helps show country is ‘part of Europe’

Scottish nationalist leaders will attempt this week to give the trailing yes campaign a boost by revealing a series of measures aimed at showing what an independent country would look like.

Seeking to capitalise on the arguments this week about “bullying” England and keeping the pound, they will unveil an ambitious scheme to scrap the current – English inspired – road signage system. M for motorway will be replaced with a new S – for Scotland and the A trunk roads will become N roads – for Nationalist in honour of the new country. Blue will be the predominant backing colour.

The scale of the scheme is enormous: Scotland has 2,174 miles of road, including the 273-mile long A9 stretching from Edinburgh to John O’Groats – known as the “spine of Scotland”.

It is estimated that 58,000 signs will have to be replaced – scrapping the famous road sign font known as “Transport” with a new Celtic-tinged typeface, Proclaimer. And it could be that they may take the opportunity to renumber all of Scotland’s roads, beginning at one.

Independence strategists are believed to have sought advice on the plan from the Stirling University professor of transport semiotics, Lana Gocaireachd. “It’s exciting, it gives us a clear difference from the English and is a tangible manifestation of a new, vibrant and independent national,” said one official close to the scheme. “A more conscious uncoupling, perhaps.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he revealed that if the proposals were seen to swing the needle towards the yes camp then the next stage would be revealed: switch driving on the left of the road to the right – from the first day of independence in 2017.

To ease the transition, Scottish transport planners, under strict conditions of secrecy, have begun drawing up plans for a series of spiral interchanges at the major border transport nodes. These will transition drivers to the correct side of the road – whether travelling south–north or north-south – and avoid cross-border crashes – “a PR disaster worse than horsemeat in haggis”, according to one planner.

The campaigners take their inspiration from what Sweden – a much larger country than Scotland – was able to do in a single weekend in September 1967. Adopting the Swedish model, Scotland would need all signs ready, an intensive information campaign, and temporary speed restrictions. Backers say it would be more than symbolic – it would let Paris, Berlin and Brussels know that Scotland was serious about an EU role.

“It sends out an explicit signal: we are part of Europe,” said one of the brains behind the scheme. “The little Englanders who want out of Europe are the only ones driving on the left-hand side. We’ve been the smaller relative dominated and having to copy their ridiculous ways for too long. No more. Just think, this will be an indignity for little England – isolated in Europe and pootling along in the slow lane on the left,” he added.

They are concerned, however, that opponents of the move to the right might mobilise under the emotive slogan: “Proud to be left.” Some fear that when the plans go public, the charismatic MP George Galloway would not be prepared to stand on the sidelines but would launch his own appeal: “Stay left, hard left.”

It is understood that another proposal involving traffic light sequencing has been rejected. Instead of red, amber, green, it would have become red, amber, blue. But there was a fear that this would be adopted south of the border by the Conservatives and so lose any distinctiveness.

From the Guardianon the 1st April 2014!

Direct entry supers restricted to constable’s legislation

College of Policing proposes legislative change to allow chiefs to remove direct entry supers within 18-month probation period.

Chief officers will be able to easily dispense with direct entry superintendents within their 18-month probation period if they do not meet strict standards under proposed changes to the Police Regulations.

The College of Policing is proposing to extend Regulations 12 and 13 – which set out the probation terms for constables when they first join the service – to direct entrants at senior level.

The provision stipulates that during their probation period, a chief officer can dispense with the officer’s service if they are not “fitted, physically or mentally, to perform the duties of his office, or that they are not likely to become an efficient or well conducted constable”.

It is expected that proposals to extend the legislation will be put before the Police Arbitration Tribunal in May.

Unlike constables, direct entry superintendents’ probation period will last for 18 months, during which time they will be subject to condensed “on the job” experience of every rank up to superintendent.

During this time they will be subject to various work-based and knowledge-based assessments. If they do not fulfil certain requirements, chief officers can use provisions within the Regulations to remove them from the training package and entry to the service.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com, Superintendent Nicola Dale, part of the team responsible for devising the training programme, said that the success of the scheme will be based on the calibre of candidates going through the process.

She said: “This is a blank sheet of paper to work on. It is an exciting opportunity to do something completely different. This is 21st century thinking.

“Traditionally people have come through the Police Service and gone up through the ranks.

“We can bring some whole new ways of thinking and innovation.”

Initially, candidates will complete basic training in the powers and requirements of a PC before being placed on a rota schedule with experienced PCs. They will then complete a raft of assessments and exams.

This training pattern will be replicated for the rank of sergeant and inspector up to superintendent level.

Eight forces have signed up to the programme and will take the first cohort of 20 candidates following a selection process based on two separate assessments.

Recruitment opens on April 7 and when it closes, candidates will need to attend a two-day assessment in July.

This will evaluate their potential to perform competently in the rank of superintendent following the training programme, the potential and motivation to reach the chief officer ranks during service and their ability to bring new ways of thinking to the service.

They will complete job simulation exercises, a competency-based interview, a presentation and tests of their cognitive ability.

Those who are selected to join the training programme will start within their respective forces on November 10. They will be provided with mentors, personal development plans, leadership coaching and media training.

Supt Dale believes that established officers could enhance their chances for promotion if they embrace and learn from the diverse skillset that each direct entry candidate brings.

She added: “We are mindful that there are people who see this as a threat but there is plenty of room for the direct entry superintendents without impacting on promotions internally.

“The problems with promotions have always been there and none of the forces want to close the door for their internal cohort.

“If anything it will make more competition. If officers embrace it and can see it as an opportunity to learn from outside ideas it can also benefit them too.

“The perception is very clear – we are closed and insular. We need to be more transparent and get new innovation in. I believe this is a sea change in how police officers will be recruited in the future.

“It will be the norm soon – as an alternative avenue to the other traditional routes.

“Superintendents have worked hard to get to this rank but these people will also have worked hard in a different working sphere. This is not an opportunity for graduates who have just got out of university.”

In addition, the College has also launched its graduate-fast track programme, which will promote up to 82 candidates from the rank of constable to inspector in three years.

The new approach was endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron. He said: “It is vital that police forces reflect the hard-working communities which they serve. Schemes like these will enable talented and experienced people from a range of backgrounds to bring new ideas and a fresh approach to policing.

“We have already slashed red tape and cut bureaucratic targets, this is about opening up policing culture by making the workforce more diverse. I want to see all forces in England and Wales rolling out these schemes.”

For more information about the direct entry scheme, click here
For information on the fast track programme click here

Pension hikes and pay cuts ‘a perverse joke’

Police officers are facing up to a “perverse joke” today (April 1) as many suffer further cuts to their pay and increases to their monthly pension contributions.

As usual, on April 1 a host of changes to police officer pay and conditions are implemented by the government.

Thousands of experienced officers will lose a further 25 per cent of their Competency Related Threshold Payments. Officers of all ranks and stages of their careers will also see their pension contributions rise.

The majority of English and Welsh officers on the 30-year Police Pension Scheme will now be paying 14.25 per cent of their salaries into their pensions.

It was meant to be to 14.20 per cent – as stated when the three-year increases were originally outlined in 2011 – but the government tacked on an extra 0.05 per cent this year. Police officers have no negotiation rights over their pensions.

Officers on the 35-year New Police Pension Scheme (NPPS) face a jump from 11.5 per cent in 2013 to 12.05 per cent.

Nick Smart, West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman, said officers were, once again, suffering cuts to their standards of living at the hands of the government. He described it as a “perverse April fool’s joke.”

He said: “We are extremely angered that the government have singled out the Police Service with an extra pensions rise to what was agreed over a three-year term.

“Every pound matters for officers at the moment as the cost of living continues to rise.”

Pension hikes

Graham Smith, Chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation, said: “I am disappointed the Home Secretary has increased police officer contributions above what she said originally.”

And Neil Bowles, Chairman of South Yorkshire Police Federation, added: “The government have ignored the Police Federation of England and Wales… and the contributions are going up more than they suggested three years ago. It is another cut to officers’ standards of living taking inflation into account.”

Turning to Competency Related Threshold Payments, Mr Smart added: “We have had pay and increment freezes and some of our longer serving colleagues are now going to see their Competency Related Threshold Payments become 50 per cent less than what they used to be. They will be phased out altogether in two years’ time.

“How is this fair?”

Mr Smart said the “one bonus” to the changes to police officer pay and conditions on April 1 was that officers at the start of their careers, and some sergeants, will once again be eligible for increment payments.

After a two-year wait, constables across England and Wales in the first decade of their careers will see their pay rise on the anniversary of joining the job. The Winsor I report froze police officer increments at the end of March 2012. Officers will now start again where they left off two years ago.

This is to a maximum salary of £36,885, the top of the constables’ pay scale – currently 11 points.

Over the next three years the old 11-point constables’ pay scale will be reduced to eight points during an “assimilation process”.

“It seems to be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” summed up Mr Smart.

Police Minister Damian Green stated: “Public employees across the spectrum are undergoing reform of their pensions and pay restraint; there is no justification to exempt police officers from this. I know that police officers, like others, are concerned about the prospect of increased pension contributions.

“While I recognise that officers pay high pension contribution rates compared to other public service workers, it is also true that contributions are paid over a shorter period than others and that police pension schemes provide very valuable benefits.

“Police officers will continue to retire earlier than many public sector employees and to draw upon their police pension for a longer period.”

“Police Minister Damian Green stated: “Public employees across the spectrum are undergoing reform of their pensions and pay restraint; there is no justification to exempt police officers from this. I know that police officers, like others, are concerned about the prospect of increased pension contributions.”

Err except for MP’s Damien, except for MP’s

Winsor: Police tech still not good enough

Walt says police should make ‘enlightened’ technology investment.

An “enlightened” investment in technology should be the main change the Police Service instigates over the next year, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor has said.

In his first annual review of the state of policing since taking office in October 2012, Mr Winsor (pictured) said the service was “damaged but not broken” following a barrage of negative press attention over misconduct allegations.

And when asked by PoliceOracle.com where he wanted to a significant improvement, he said he hoped to see “an enlightened and eager investment in technology” in the coming months.

“The state of information and communications technology in too many police forces remains quite inadequate and, in some cases, primitive,” Mr Winsor wrote in the report.

“It is essential that the advances of the forces with the best technology – such as Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and South Wales – are adopted and then improved upon by all, working more than ever as one Police Service rather than 43.

“In this respect, for too long the Police Service has lagged far behind the private sector, to the advantage of offenders and the hazard of the public.”

Speaking to this website, Mr Winsor said the College of Policing’s ambition that all frontline officers should be equipped with a hand-held device to give them comprehensive information about where the area in which they are patrolling by 2016 was both “realistic and necessary”.

He said: “For example, if there’s a reported victim of domestic abuse, they will be able to knock on the door to check how the person is doing. That’s something that police officers should do, if there’s the opportunity.”

But he said the Police Service was not reforming quickly enough to save money and improve how it tackled offending.

He added: “I think, in too many respects, this has slowed down. The Police Service has responded well to the demands of austerity. But it’s becoming a lot harder to make the necessary savings.”

Mr Winsor said HMIC’s report on domestic abuse, published last week, found some forces had “hardly moved at all” in terms of progress since the last Inspectorate report on the subject a decade ago.

Mr Winsor said: “This can damage the safety of victims but also the morale of the dedicated, hard-working officer who does a good job (in dealing with domestic abuse).”

Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said that chief constables were working with police and crime commissioners to find further savings and increase efficiencies.

He added: “Huge effort is going into collaboration and there are many different models emerging.

“However, the 43-force model creates boundaries and against a need to find further savings, a re-think of the current number of forces may be required, to ensure we can continue to adapt to a changing picture of crime and serve the public to the best of our ability.”

From Police Oracle

“Mr Winsor (pictured) said the service was “damaged but not broken” following a barrage of negative press attention over misconduct allegations.” Not to mention the crippling cuts, pay reductions and pension debacle

I am sure Robin can assist here but every time we head down the road of an integrated IT system we seem to see the Police (substitute any Public Service) getting ripped off, paying too much for less than adequate results, contracts negotiated by Civil Servants who can’t negotiate anything, and saddled with IT that just does not deliver OR is there if they pay more and more whilst budgets get slashed even further.

Sounds like a great Plan Walt?

See also Winsor: Police tech still not good enough

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