I’m not the only one who says they’ve got it all wrong!

North Yorkshire Police

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For some time I have been vociferous in my condemnation of the way in which policing is managed. Some have suggested that I may have some particular axe to grind, or I hold some hatred of senior police officers however, nothing could be further from the truth.

My sole desire has always and will always be; the drive for effective policing for the communities being served. It is what we all deserve, it’s the reason I joined the service and, it should be what we all demand.

And, to prove I hold no general disdain of, or malice towards, those of senior rank, past or present, it was interesting to read a piece on Facebook today by a past Deputy Chief Constable of mine.

Peter Walker, a previous Deputy Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police appears to agree with many of the points I have raised previously. The main difference being, he generally views the things that anger me from a more strategic viewpoint. That said, he also appears to hold a desire to see the correct delivery of policing across our county. A service that should be delivered for the benefit of the county and it’s communities, not for the enhancement of some senior officers’ CV or to promote a few local politicians.

Peter Walker says: IT’S TIME PEOPLE REMEMBERED WHAT THE IDEA WAS…

The front page of the Darlington & Stockton Times this week (Richmondshire & Hambleton) describes North Yorkshire Police as “hitting back” at claims from the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) concerning the lack of police response to metal thefts.

The CLA describes the Police response as “usually non-existent”. In turn a “North Yorkshire Police spokesman” says how seriously the force regards the problem. I tend to lose count of how many times such responses are given by the force – whatever the problem, it is being taken “seriously”. That’s OK then. Perceived criticism has been answered, we all move on.

Those of us who keep an eye on policing issues locally can, however, detect a trend.

There are about 150 fewer Police Officers in North Yorkshire and the City of York than a couple of years ago and the North Yorkshire Police Authority‘s financial plan envisages this reduction continuing over the next few years to the point where only 1270 Police Officer posts will exist. The last time the force was made up of 1270 officers was the mid 1970’s.

At that time, North Yorkshire didn’t just have three television channels and transistor radios playing the Bay City Rollers – the population was far fewer, roads were less congested, pubs closed at ten thirty during the week.

The culture was different in society – people didn’t see a life on benefits as acceptable, courts sent Burglars to jail, a sense of personal responsibility balanced the rights of individuals more effectively than today.

These (and other) societal issues reduced the demands on the police in themselves, but the massive increase in bureaucracy, the “target culture” of the last Government and the proliferation of “back office” jobs in policing hadn’t happened either.

It follows that to try and deal with 21st century policing without a critical mass of police officers in the force will lead to depletion of the patrol and detective workforce – to the extent that significant parts of both the city and county will suffer a severe reduction in the delivery of visible, interventionist policing that is necessary to prevent public order offences in the street and in the present context, opportunist crime – particularly in rural areas.

Given the North Yorkshire Police Authority has increased its own budget by some half a million pounds over the past few years whilst police officer reductions have been taking place, one has to wonder whether it has the maintenance of the number of officers at heart. It needs to be clearly understood that in this period of austerity, whilst budgets have been reduced, decisions about the numbers of police are not being taken by Government – these are local decisions, the allocation of the budget for policing North Yorkshire and the City of York is not set in Whitehall, but at the Police Authority office in Melmerby.

Locally, the reductions in police officers are not being matched proportionally in terms of the support staff who maintain the bureaucratic machine. At the same time, I understand that little or no effort is being made to reduce the time spent filling in forms – indeed, new ones have been introduced!

Whilst the CLA’s campaign is to support changes in the law relating to Scrap Metal Dealers, that is a matter for Parliament and the Government are on the case.

In the meantime, opportunist crime in both urban and rural areas is best interdicted by visible policing – Police Officers, with effective powers of arrest, operating with the confidence that when they stop people, reinforcements are nearby. Well trained, properly equipped, intolerant of criminality at any level – and benefiting from the enormous support and intelligence this community will give them willingly, if they only have time away from the police station to find out!

It is essential that the right issues are given priority when spending is being allocated by the Police Authority. The easiest way to do this may be to remember the idea is to deliver effective and efficient policing in North Yorkshire and the City of York – not the best Project Management or being renowned for great HR Policies. Police Officers are the number one priority.

Cut the bureaucrats – not the cops!

Succinct and to the point Peter… Being one of those who has watched and commented on the performance, or lack of it, and the sunshine PR rhetoric of the force, I have to agree with Peter. The strategic direction of policing, particularly (but not exclusively) in North Yorkshire, has lost direction. They appear to have lost sight of what policing is all about. But, it is the leadership and budget management that is failing the process, not the workforce failing the community they serve.

Decisions, of a strategic nature, can only be made effectively when those making them are supplied with accurate and factual information.

The problem often lies within middle management failing to explain to senior management how things actually are. In addition, many have no stomach to admit to their failings, especially to those in positions they aspire to…”All’s OK Sir, I’ve got it under control” when clearly too often they haven’t.

Many priorities in the police service have been skewed (and lost) by the self-important methods of those who actually manage the service. They have little or no real interest in policing per se, only their own career advancement!

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About Dave Hasney

National 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 31-12-2011, in Police and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Dave,

    Great post mate. Indeed you are NOT the only one who says they’ve got it all wrong.

    The police involvement in the phone hacking scandal has seriously damaged the overall reputation of the police and public confidence. HMRC, IPCC and ACPO need to be totally and completely open and honest (dream on eh?) if we are ever to clean the slate and start again. Until the service at every level from Chief downward is prepared to be totally open about the failings that exist, there will never be a genuine hope of reform. You can’t reform individuals or organisations that arrogantly refuse to accept that they might have got it wrong.

    Two reports well worth a read are linked below. The first is the HMRC report on integrity within the service, prepared in 1999. We would have hoped that 12 years on there would have been significant improvement. However, remember who was in power and the corruptive influence of their performance targeting through those years.

    http://www.hmic.gov.uk/media/police-integrity-19990601.pdf
    http://www.hmic.gov.uk/media/a-review-of-police-relationships-20111213.pdf

    The second report was only released this month. It seems to me that police integrity has rapidly worsened with the passing of years and I doubt this report will achieve a great deal, despite the honourable efforts Sir Denis and his Inspectorate.

    In my view, the integrity issue lies at the heart of the majority of issues that challenge the service today. Until this is addressed fully, police reform will be hopeless. Protestations to the contrary from the hierarchy and those who benefit from working relationships with the service will undoubtedly spew forth in defence. Anyone whose livelihood may be affected by adverse observations will put forth all sorts of clever arguments about how the service IS reforming. Well, they would say that wouldn’t they? Last I heard, turkeys still don’t vote for Christmas.

    As you know, my particular soap box is inscribed “Crime Statistics and Detections” – which remains the continuing source of mistrust and diminishing confidence in the service. Some will say “They’re only numbers” but this is a naive perspective. I resist targets like anyone else, however there has to be a transparent level of probity applied to any measurement of performance that remains, otherwise we are no further forward. Excessive measuring lead to the performance targeting nonsense that created the bureaucratic problem that pervades to this day, yet there are essential measurements that must remain. How else will we ever know if the service/force is effective?

    Whilst TIC’s are fiddled astronomically and forces rely excessively on out-of-court disposal methods (that are wide open to abuse) we remain on a downward spiral in this area. And these, as you know are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how Chiefs and SMT’s manipulate the picture for their own political and financial ends.

    The regulatory bodies are no better.

    *HMIC discovered multiple instances across the forces of scurrilous practices, including thousands of offences “detected” during prison visits.
    *Thousands of instances of data protection breaches were identified as a result of these visits (victims not advised of offender “admissions” and offenders not provided copies of offences they had been induced to “admit”)
    *ACPO were advised of the breaches, who were then obligated to inform the IOC – Information Commissioner responsible for data protection in the UK.
    *Aghast at the revelations, the IOC initially expressed the desire to meet his obligations and bring the transgressions into the public arena.
    *Repeated assurances from ACPO in many written exchanges, that tighter controls would be introduced resulted in the IOC agreeing to keep the problem “in-house”.
    *Apparently, it was felt that the exposure of such damaging information would seriously weaken public confidence in the service.

    Years later, the books are still being cooked and no high ranking officer has ever been held to account for implementing/condoning/turning a blind eye to these activities.
    (All of the above was confirmed following FOI requests for copies of exchanges. I suspect that these were released before someone with an eye for the consequences could prevent it).

    If the regulatory bodies don’t have the integrity or stomach to face up to the truth and reveal the picture honestly, hope of reform seems misplaced.

    Keith Vaz is the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee of cross party MP’s responsible for tabling criminal justice issues. Even that I suspect may be no more than a talking shop. Corruption (and that’s what we’re talking about here) is something that no political party, police association, police authority or regulatory body wants to even consider. We only have to look at the police involvement in the phone hacking scandal for evidence of how far the hierarchy will go to hide the enormity of the problem. The AC in charge of the fiasco of an investigation Andy Hayman admitted that whilst there were hundreds of officers suspected of taking cash from the media. only one sacrificial lamb was slaughtered. On his departure AC Yeates admitted the investigation was bungled.

    Mr Hayman has since left the met and is on £200,000 a year as a media correspondent.

    The whole lot stinks to high heaven. Integrity? They can’t even spell the bloody word.

    Like

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