Category Archives: Policing

The Crucifixion Cycle

And so it has started.

In truth it probably started a year or two ago, but various distractions have kept our blinkers in place.

The Crucifixion Cycle

Stage 1

Slash Resources

Government slashes the resources of the public body in question.  Be it NHS, Armed Forces, Police, Education, Coastguard, Fire Service, Probation…..the list just goes on and on.  They have all had their resources slashed to the bone (and possibly deeper) by this failing coalition government in the name of Austerity. Be under NO illusions, more cuts are coming, Gideon says so.

Stage 2

Highlight The Failings

Next Step is to commission a report highlighting the failings of said public body. Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are widely available) are normally good at issuing reports that seem to support government’s plan of action.

Stage 3

Get the Press to Crucify the Public Body for Their Failings

Certain sectors of the British Press seem only too willing to publish articles, splashed across their front pages, or 1st item on the 10 o’clock news etc, crucifying the public body for their failings. They never seem to mention slashed resources at this stage, just how serious and awful the failings have been, whip up some public backlash, and launch a “heads should roll” theme to move it forward.

Police and NHS are currently suffering at the hands of Stage 3.  Whose turn next?

Stage 4

Privatisation.

These public bodies can’t be trusted to organise a beer-drinking event in a brewery.  Just look at the headlines at Stage 3. I know how to sort this out, we’ll privatise them.  We’ve got some Lords with interests in suitable private companies, let’s give them a shot at sorting it all out, perfect solution.

Am I wrong?

Is this NOT how it happens?

Where are you on the Wheel of Fortune?

Have you been crucified yet?

2015

“What’s so special about 2015?”  you may ask. It’s just a number, just another year, a bit like 1984 maybe.

2015 is the proposed date for the next General Election, but 2015 is so much more than that.  The next election is almost an irrelevance, no-one knows who to vote for any more any way.

In April 2015 the Civil Service Pension Scheme will change;

For those civil servants who move to the new 2015 scheme, the main features are:

  • A move to a ‘career average’ scheme, rather than ‘final salary’ for those currently in classicclassic plus and premium schemes. This means your benefits earned after April 2015 will be calculated in a different way. They will be based on an average of your earnings for each year you work until you leave or retire rather than the last salary you are on. nuvos is already a career average scheme.
  • A new ‘accrual rate’ of 2.32%. An ‘accrual rate’ is the percentage of your salary that the scheme puts aside each year towards your pension. The current rate for nuvos is 2.3%.
  • A new ‘Scheme Pension Age’ in line with your ‘State Pension Age’ (due to increase to 68 over time). This is the age at which you can draw your new scheme benefits in full. You would be able to retire earlier but your Civil Service pension would be reduced to reflect that it would be paid out for longer. The current Scheme Pension Age for nuvos is 65.

The current final salary police pension schemes will close from April 2015, with future accrual based on the new CARE model.

In a final salary scheme, your pension is typically worked out as a fraction of your final salary for each year of service. The ‘final salary’ used is generally the highest paid level of your last few years. For instance:

  • if you are in the Police Pension Scheme 1987, you receive a pension calculated as ((1/60th x the number of years up to 20) + (2/60 x the number of years served between 20 and 30 years)) x final pensionable pay
  • if you are in the New Police Pension Scheme 2006, you receive a pension calculated as 1/70th x final pensionable pay x years (up to a maximum of 35 years)

In a career average scheme, each year you build up a ‘slice’ of pension based on your salary in that year. At the end of each year, the slice is increased in line with the revaluation rate used for that scheme – typically either prices or earnings increases – to maintain the value of the pension earned. When a member finally retires, their total pension is calculated by adding up the slices of pension they have built up each year throughout their career.

April 2015 was also scheduled to be the date for implementing the new State Pension Scheme, of a Flat Rate Pension of £140 per week.  Reforms were expected to be introduced in 2015, however Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the reforms to be re-examined, according to the Financial Times, calling the expected deadline into question.

The Teachers’ Pension Scheme is also scheduled to change (not for the better perhaps) on 1st April 2015.

April 2015 also sees changes to the Firefighters Pension Scheme; another Career Average Scheme, much along the same lines as other Public Service Pensions.

David Cameron originally assured us that Coastguard Stations would begin to close in 2015, but now seems to have forgotten that promise and the closures have already begun. Rest assured though, I’m sure all scheduled closures will have happened by 2015.

The existing 35 local probation trusts are to be scrapped and replaced by a single, smaller, national probation service. They will also be replaced by 21 “government-owned companies” covering England and Wales that will invite bids from the private and voluntary sectors, including G4S and Serco, to take over existing probation work as well as the new rehabilitation programme for released short-sentenced prisoners. The plans are to be in place by the next general election in 2015.

From 2015 GCSE’s will be graded eight to one, instead of A* to G, and the pass mark will be higher.

There’ll be a move towards essay-based exams at the end of two years, instead of coursework and assessments during the course.

The content will be harder too – for example, English will require studying a 19th-Century novel and a whole Shakespeare play.

The armed forces budget is not safe from cuts after 2015, David Cameron has publicly admitted for the first time.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, is preparing a Spending Review for 2015/16 that has raised the prospect of more cuts in the Ministry of Defence budget, on top of those made by the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010.

Mr Cameron has previously insisted that “defence can’t be exempt all together from difficult decisions”.

Citizens Advice Bureaux may be forced to close if plans to change the system of civil legal aid go ahead. The Government’s proposals are intended to cut the legal aid bill by £350 million a year by 2015. Funding for a wide range of disputes – including some divorce, clinical negligence, and immigration where the person is not detained – would be axed.

Independent Living Fund

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) – which provides money to help people with disabilities live an independent life in the community – is to close in 2015.

Funding will be incorporated into local social care arrangements – through local councils in England and the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales.

People who already have ILF care packages will have to transfer to new local arrangements.

October 2015, Personal Independence Payment, Claimants aged 16-64 still receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will start to be contacted to claim Personal Independence Payment instead.

NHS Reform, to be completed by 2015, the reforms are partly designed to encourage greater involvement from the private sector and charities. In total, £1 of every £20 spent in the NHS goes to a non-NHS provider. The cost of the reform programme is £1.4bn.

Most of that will come in the next two years as more than 20,000 management and administration staff are made redundant from health authorities, PCTs and the Department of Health.

It could cost as much as £1bn to make redundancies. Another £400m will be spent on things such as IT and property in setting up the new consortia.

But the government claims the cost will be more than offset by savings.

The reduction in staff alone will save £5bn by 2015, according to the government’s own costings.

So, do you still think that 2015 is just a number like any other, or could it be that our wonderful ConDem Coalition government have completely lost sight of ethics and principles, and are in an indecent haste to reform everything in sight prior to the next election in 2015.  Bring on the Monster Raving Loony Party I say.

Cynical? Me?

Now I’m a cynical, sceptical old soul, but there are things going on (some may say many) in the world of government that I don’t understand.

Police Service – As much as possible seems to be in the process of being identified by privatising, probably to G4S. Budgets slashed by 20% and thousands of Police posts have to go across England and Wales.

Armed Forces – Too many Strategic Defence Reviews, servicemen being laid off, Armed Forces now at their lowest strength for decades.

NHS – Again, ripe for privatisation. Just look to see who the directors are of the companies in line to benefit.

Who is destroying our NHS

Who is destroying our NHS

And I don’t understand why, at a time when demand on Accident and Emergency Units has never been greater, A&Es across the country are being closed down. Does that make any kind of sense?

Target time to be seen in A&E is apparently now 4 hours. Nobody should have to wait 4 hours to be seen in A&E.

Probation Services – Being Privatised, again to G4S amongst others, and a Social Media Gagging Order imposed upon Probation Officers by Chris Grayling just in case they’re upset by what’s going and might want to Tweet about it, so I’ll do it for them, he hasn’t managed to gag me.

Coastguard Service – Coastguard Stations being closed down, service streamlined, Search and Rescue operations Privatised to an American Company.

Fire and Rescue Service – Fire Stations closed down, Fire Engines sold off or mothballed, jobs at risk or been lost.

Education – Schools turned into Academies, judged by complex League Tables. We nearly had to ditch GCSEs and create an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC), but Gove backed down on that one.  The National Union of Teachers has also warned that 2015 will bring an “unmanageable level of change which could lead to a collapse of the system.”

G4S are now teaching and looking after our children. Are we all mad?  A Blog by Tom Pride, read the full article Here

Banks – Apparently responsible for a lot of the mess this country now finds itself in, making huge losses still, some of them, but still manage to pay out millions in bonuses. How does it work that you get paid a bonus for making a loss?  And still they are not lending enough to ordinary folk to kick-start the economy and get the housing market moving again.

My first question is ‘Are they changing too much, all at the same time?’ This is a government that seems hell-bent on reforming everything in sight before the next election and its inevitable result. Naive? Arrogant? Greedy? Self-Serving? All of the above?

My second question is this; Why, in times of austerity when ‘We’re All In This Together’ are we laying folk off, privatising public services that have served us well for generations, closing down public buildings, letting foreign companies come in and run certain aspects of the service, all because the country cannot afford to maintain these services at their existing levels, why then do the government then reduce Income Tax for the richest people. Those who earn the most now pay less Income Tax, 45p in the pound instead of 50p.

This might not sound much, but is it going to provide an incentive for the richest folk to spend more? I don’t think so. Is it going to give you and I the incentive to go out and spend more? I don’t think so.

Why not consider having a two tier VAT system like certain European countries do; 20% for most things, but 5.5% for Restaurants, Bars, Home Improvements etc etc, giving folk the incentive to eat out more, employ builders more because the VAT bill is nothing like so big, and that’s just the beginning.

Raising Taxes is never going to be a Vote Winner, never has been, but we’re seldom in the pickle we are now.  Once these services are Privatised they are very unlikely to be unpicked and put back into National ownership again.  As long as it was fair I think I personally would prefer to pay a modest sum more each year in taxes and keep British Public Services in Public, British, ownership. There is nothing wrong with making these services as efficient as they can possibly be, but Police, Fire, NHS, Teachers, Armed Forces etc etc are NOT BUSINESSES. They cannot be run like businesses, they should not be treated like businesses. They are not for profit, but if G4S, amongst others, come in, make no mistake their first priority will be to make a profit for their shareholders, anything else will be secondary, less important.

Lobby your MP, sign all the petitions you can find, demonstrate peacefully when the opportunity arises, make your voice heard. The government are getting away with this massacre because not enough people are standing up to them. they are behaving like playground bullies, and we don’t like bullies do we?

If we don’t these services will be irrevocably changed and some may disappear forever.

Let’s All Pull Together

I am indebted to @Cate_a_Moore of Twitter fame for raising this issue today.  Thank you Cate.

There have been several marches, demonstrations, petitions and arguements at various conferences over the future of so many public services.  Police, NHS, Teachers, Coastguards, Armed Forces, Probation Officers, Lawyers, Firemen, Ambulance they are all under attack by this coalition government in the name of Reform.

Only today my old friends Policy Exchange seem to be promoting further privatisation of public services, although I must admit that I haven’t yet summoned up the enthusiasm to read beyond the synopsis.

What is needed, in my humble opinion, is ONE Campaign, similar to the #DoItRight campaign promoted by the Police Federation in tandem with one, co-ordinated campaign to raise public awareness of the threat to public services and the British way of life.  Once they are gone it would take a miracle to restore them.

Make no mistake this government doesn’t give one hoot what happens beyond 2015 because they will no longer be around, they are making themselves unelectable and they don’t care.  All of their (and Policy Exchange’s) ideas for Reform are being rushed through before 2015 with scant disregard for the consequences and long -term catastrophes.

Short term profits for shareholders is all they seem to be interested in together with feathering their own nests for their retirements.

I don’t really have an opinion on who heads up such a campaign and takes the ‘Lead’, but please Britain, why can’t we try it?  Can anyone think of something better? This arrogant ConDem coalition HAVE to be stopped before they disassemble Great Britain plc forever.

At the Big Picture we have blogged before on the various disasters that are being perpetrated by this government in the name of Reform, and it really is time to see The Big Picture. The future is out there and it really isn’t very bright.

Join in, do your bit, Retweet this blog far and wide, make suggestions as to how we can move forward, but above all Stop This Government before they destroy everything that we have worked hard for and can still be proud of.

Updating The Big Picture

Most of the blogs I read are Police-related.  The main reason for that is because that’s my background.

Earlier this year Steve and I decided that we’d give The Big Picture a try in an attempt to get some information out there about what else is going on in Public Sector Land.  We’ve featured articles on the NHS, Fire Service, Prison Service, Criminal Justice Sector, Interpreters, and I believe even HM Coastguard might have got a mention.

We have also included items on the con that is known as Privatisation and the effect that Think Tanks can have,

Most recently we have concentrated on a short series of articles on Government Wastage.  We have tried not to be party political, although this current ConDem coalition does just keep on giving (when they’re not taking away from us that is).  Waste by ANY Government on the scale that we have highlighted is extravagant, hypocritical, incompetent and bordering on the criminal.  The worst example that we have featured is the NHS IT debacle at £12 Billion.  I don’t need to point out that these wastages are cumulative and that their effects continue on and have made the cutbacks that we are suffering proportionately worse.

I am fully aware of the role that the global banking industry has played in the recession and austerity, but I do hold successive governments partly and directly responsible.  The Metropolitan Police for example are struggling to make £500 million of savings.  I’m quite sure that there will be job losses and overtime restrictions involved to a greater or lesser extent.  The last 2 governments have wasted 24 times that amount on the NHS IT farce alone.  Aircraft Carriers (avoidable) and Chinook Helicopters (avoidable) added together exceed the Met’s target savings.

To take things forward and evolve we’d like to involve you, our reader.  We’re quite happy to carry on doing what we’re doing.  What we’d like you to do is simply RT the blogs as much as you can, not because we like big numbers, but we want to spread the message as far as possible

Feel free to use the comments section at the bottom of this blog to give us any kind of feedback you think we deserve.  We’re both too old to need smoke blowing, but if you like it, let us know.  If you think we could do things a bit differently you can let us know that too.

If you have any suggestions for subject matters that you think we might like to look at by all means include those.  I’m not promising that we’ll feature them but I will promise that we’ll look into them.

Finally, much like the manyvoices blog that I’m sure you’re all aware of, if any of you wish to contribute an article anonymously that fits in with our ethos then let us have that too.

Nearly Took My Eye Off The Ball There

PCCs are nearly upon us. 15th November is the date, got your Polling Cards yet? Know where your Polling Station is? Know who you’re going to vote for? I know the answers to the 1st two, haven’t a clue about the third, although I strongly suspect it will be the Independent Candidate, I might get struck down by a thunderbolt if I vote Blue or Red.

But let us not forget that Police and Crime Commissioners are the invention of a Think Tank. Almost inevitably they were thought up by Policy Exchange and suggested to the government, that bunch of imbeciles who live near Westminster Bridge opposite the Tube Station, who immediately adopted them as government policy, and here we are, less than a month away from having them.

And then yesterday another Think Tank, Reform this time, got in on the act and added their 6 penn’orth into the mix in a report by Andrew Haldenby[1], Tara Majumdar and Will Tanner from the think tank Reform. The new report Doing it Justice is available at www.reform.co.uk

Reform claim that they are “An independent, charitable, non-party think tank whose mission is to set out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity.”

There’s those two buzz words that I hate so much again; charitable and non-party. Do they really think that I will fall for that?

Getting back to the report, Police and Crime Commissioners will be elected with responsibility and budgetary control over just policing, only one of many agencies involved in the local fight against crime, and yet be accountable for crime outcomes as a whole. A separate Press article by Tara Majumdar says that Police and Crime Commissioners will be responsible for £13bn of funds annually and have democratic control over areas that are in some cases, three or four times bigger than the constituencies of local MPs. They will decide how much council tax will be spent on policing, how big the police budget should be, hire and fire chief constables and determine local strategies for reducing crime.

This is where my problems begin to creep in under the door. Chief Constables MUST NOT become the Football Managers of Justice. This is where politicisation has the potential to creep in. Chief Constables become nothing more than the puppet-master’s toy. Football club owners have a Board and Shareholders to keep happy, they need to show a profit. Policing is a Not For profit business. You can’t go round firing Chief Constables just because they didn’t make the finals or put enough silverware in a cabinet.

Then we come across the other bit that Reform are not-so-quietly whispering in the collective ear of the ConDem government. Police and Crime Commissioners cannot just react to crime when it happens. They need the power to prevent crime from happening and stop people from reoffending once they have served their sentences. To do this effectively commissioners need to be given responsibility for the whole justice system – including prisons, probation, courts and fire and ambulance services.

My immediate response is that the clue is in the title – Police and Crime Commissioners – Police and Crime, get it? Does it say Police, Crime, Prison, Probation, Fire and Ambulance Commissioner? No it does not. Nor should it. The only thing they’ve left out is the CPS, or is that next week’s bright idea?

Can you imagine it, one person with all that power and responsibility? Privatisation is on the agenda, what fool thinks that it’s a good idea to combine all of these functions under one roof? Communication and Partnership are the keys. Not partnership as in privatisation, but partnership as in organisations working together, but there must be limits. Is is a good idea for Police and Probation to work together? Is it a good idea for Police and Prison Services to work together? I’m old-fashioned and don’t subscribe to a lot of this modern ideology, but I don’t think so, such a liaison would be vulnerable to all sorts of suggestions and malpractices surely? Can you imagine, one person who thinks that privatisation is the way to go, all those services at one shop, brilliant.

Reform point out that in Gloucestershire Police and Fire share a common Control Centre. I don’t think I see a problem with that, it might even make sense, but that does not mean that the two services have to be under the sole command of one person, one service with the Right to Strike, and the other without. How would that work?

Integrating criminal justice budgets would provide Police and Crime Commissioners with a single, meaningful budget to bring down levels of crime. In London, the Mayor’s Office would have a budget of £4bn on a per capita basis if it was able to assume responsibility for the full range of services. It would also encourage a sharper focus on achieving value for money. Justice and police services have had their budgets reduced by nearly a quarter in this Spending Review and should expect further cuts in the next Parliament. With greater powers, Commissioners would be able to pass on savings directly to local communities through reductions in council tax. This would encourage local service leaders to consider how budgets are managed and how productively they are operating. Local autonomy would encourage smarter spending on preventative activity and drive down demand for expensive criminal justice services, such as the courts and prison. Is this all not jargon paving the way for more insidious privatisation? Is it too extreme to envisage a bout of megalomania at the helm?

[1] Andrew Haldenby is co-founder of REFORM together with Nick Herbert MP. Need I say more?