Police cuts: yesterday’s news?
Posted by Dave Hasney
In his previous force (South Yorkshire Police) he introduced a new ‘performance framework’, ‘restructured’ policing in Sheffield, assisted in introducing Neighbourhood Policing force-wide and was instrumental in driving the Force’s overall change programme.
On his appointment to North Yorkshire Police in May 2007, many of the rank and file saw him simply as the Police Authority’s ‘hatchet man’, someone who would save money in any way he could and as fast as possible. Staff have commented on his apparent quoted intention; ‘to fully implement all the budget cuts required (by government over a four-year period) within six to twelve months’???
The methodology would appear to fit with his CV thus far however, wouldn’t it? These thoughts now appear to have come true.. In reality, Mr Maxwell has been doing little else other than ‘restructuring’ during recent years, apart from getting in hot water whilst manning the NYP recruitment line that is…
York Press: NORTH Yorkshire’s chief constable is to face a charge of gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing following claims he rigged a force recruitment drive to benefit his own relatives…(Read more)
During the recent years of his career, Mr Maxwell has done little to endear himself to the workforce locally, or indeed the frontline of the service nationally. As the head of the ACPO Finance and Resources business area since 2009 this is hardly surprising. Especially when you consider, how heavily involved in the future shape and funding of the police service he has been. I and many others are wondering; if there’s supposedly a four-year window for many of the cuts, why is Maxwell in such a rush to make those savings?
Is there some personal driver other than one of efficient business management? Could there be some desire to quickly obtain further ‘evidence’ of capability for impending job applications? Whatever the driver, let’s return to the actual and important issues affecting North Yorkshire…
At the back-end of last month the local media was full of reports about police cutbacks and the possibility of redundancies. Everyone appeared to be interested in how the government austerity measures were going to impact upon local services. However, it appears the ‘red hot’ journalistic scoops must have dried up. Given the importance of the issues to our communities you should be asking, why is this?
Recently I posted about the redundancy plans at North Yorkshire Police, in so much more than just job losses, I also commented on the managers speaking with forked tongues. For some time now I’ve held a suspicion that the force management have been, economical with the truth, whilst ‘consulting’ their staff and just engineering ‘positive spin’ when talking to the media.
The management of the force has consistently informed staff, “we’re just considering the options” when asked about restructuring and job losses. Despite the fact many saw the writing on the wall early in 2010, the management speak has actually proved to be totally dishonest. They have known exactly what their decision was, long before any open addmition to media or staff. It was therefore unsurprising that Mystic Ethel’s predictions during the middle of last year have actually come to fruition!
Around about the same time the Chief Constable‘s intentions were starting to leak out, and the possibility of redundancy was worrying many members of police staff, the HMIC Roger Baker QPM addressed a large audience of UNISON Officials at their National Police and Justice Conference in October 2010 where he said…
“North Yorkshire Police force is the only force in England and Wales who do not have to make any compulsory redundancies to find the required financial savings the government require” (HMI Roger Baker)
It is now two weeks since the staff at the Police HQ Control Room in Newby Wiske were told their jobs had been identified for redundancy and the control room would be closed. Since that date there appears to have been a sudden media blackout. Indeed, the previous force policy of ‘openness and honesty’ when dealing with the media appears to have been constrained somewhat. There was a time when any member of staff could talk to the press, so long as it was factual, honest and within the bounds of relevent legislation, not so now.
I understand from my various sources that recently, a ‘gagging order’ instruction has been issued to all staff in the force. It basically prevents any communication with the press about the current situation, unless it has been passed by the ‘Corporate Communications’ Department. For the past six months or so now, the staff at both control rooms (HQ & York) have had their job descriptions and posts interpreted and defined in different ways by senior officers (in true politician style); usually dependant upon the format of any question raised by the staff or the media.
- Its a single department based at two sites.
- Its a ‘virtual’ operation and location is unimportant.
- The staff at the two separate locations perform the same role.
- The staff at the separate control rooms have different roles.
What are they trying to hide all of a sudden and more importantly, why? Lets look at a timeline of some of the media output…
BBC (13th Oct 2010) : Looming government spending cuts will lead to fewer police on the streets of North Yorkshire, the county’s chief constable has warned. – Back office services, including personnel, finance and IT, would have to be run on a regional basis in collaboration with colleagues in the West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside forces.
“You cannot make a 25% reduction in your budget without affecting front-line service delivery.” (Grahame Maxwell)
“The public will see reduced levels of policing.” (Grahame Maxwell)
“It is going to be a very different service and we are going to have to think differently about how we are going to deliver it.” (Grahame Maxwell)
Unsurprisingly this initial piece ticked all the boxes of the ACPO corporate message. It’s the standard message that was tripping off the tongues of senior officers up and down the country since the austerity measures were first announced. It continued, despite a comment from the HMIC in October. The BBC (21st Oct 2010) reported that…
Up to 300 posts could be lost at North Yorkshire Police as a result of the cuts outlined in the governments Spending Review, the forces chief constable has said.
Mr Maxwell (and many other ACPO officers) continued to blame the government for cutbacks to frontline services. The senior officers of the nation refused to accept that; many of today’s failures in policing delivery actually sit with them, not the government. They are the captains who have been steering the ships! Their denial has however waned slightly of late, especially since they noticed the government and media led public backlash about the possible effects to frontline services.
BBC (13th Jan 2011): North Yorkshire Police has started a consultation process about staff redundancies. Talks will take place with unions during the 90-day consultation and then staff will be informed of changes.
“I can give my assurance that the redundancy process and restructure will be handled sensitively and professionally.” (Grahame Maxwell)
BBC (26th Jan 2011) : One of the control rooms which handles 999 calls at North Yorkshire Police could be closed as part of cost-cutting measures, it has been confirmed. The force said it was reviewing its control room provision, with a view to either retaining the existing sites at Newby Wiske and York or closing one. The force said any decision would be based on “maximising efficiency” while continuing “a high-level of service”.
“The options that are being explored include retaining the current two control room sites at Newby Wiske and York, or removing one of the two sites.” (ACC Tim Madgwick)
“While the consultation process is ongoing it would not be appropriate to go into any more detail at this stage, other than to say that any decision will be based on maximising efficiency while continuing to provide a high-level of service to the public.” (ACC Tim Madgwick)
Still no admission of their long-standing intention, despite the fact staff already knew and, when confirmation did actually surface, many of them found out from social media sites such as Facebook and/or the more mainstream media. The word ‘disgusting’ doesn’t even start to address the way they have been treated.
On the 31st January 2011, UNISON voiced their concearnes about the enforced redundancy proposals in a letter to both the Chief Constable and Chair of the Police Authority. A copy of the letter, which I have seen, was circulated to all staff last week…
We believe the force will be making its staff and Officers vulnerable when performing their jobs due to the lack of support and an untried centralised control room that we believe, will be under staffed, under greater pressure and vulnerable to technical failures which have occurred in the past. (John Mackfall, Branch Secretary)
Obviously UNISON represent all of the police staff, not just those who work in the control rooms. Despite their previous lacklustre performance in fully representing the issues affecting their 24/7 members or those who are required to work shifts, it is refreshing they have finally woken up to smell the coffee and realise the dire consequences of the senior management teams methodology.
The police branch of Unison believe policing across North Yorkshire will be seriously hit by the cuts, which would also include about 310 staff redundancies in the first half of 2011. (York Press)
I would suggest the North Yorkshire Police redundancy debacle is simply further evidence to support the widely held theory that; ACPO members have more self-interest than concern for the future of the service, or the staff they are responsible for leading!
- Control from Z-Victor1? (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- Managers speaking with forked tongues! (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- You: Police chief faces nepotism charge (guardian.co.uk)
- Time for discipline investigations to defy the laws of gravity? (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
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About Dave HasneyNational Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.
Posted on 21-02-2011, in Leadership & Management, Police, Public Service Babble and tagged Association of Chief Police Officers, Austerity, BBC, Chief Constable, Control room, Newby Wiske, North Yorkshire, North Yorkshire Police, Police, Police authority, York. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.