Category Archives: Public Safety

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?

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Ambulance Delays, the Police and the Chaos Theory

I wrote recently about Ambulance delays and how they are potentially affecting every one of us.

The problem has now moved on, certainly not got much better, and most probably worse.

Last Friday the Daily Express reported the concerns of the Police Federation that Police Officers are increasingly being deployed to incidents that could and should have been more appropriately responded to by an Ambulance crew.

Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales Steve Williams said officers are increasingly having to cover when an ambulance is required after an accident or crime.

He said: “We are noticing that the need for police to respond to emergency ambulance calls is no longer an isolated one. This is concerning in a time where resources for the police are stretched to near capacity.

“Let me be clear – the police will continue to respond to those who need us as soon as possible, and if this means responding when the ambulance service is unable to do so, then we will support our partners and the public eagerly.

“However, there remains a wider point here for Government and the emergency services in terms of the risk in not addressing the resourcing issue and wider public safety concerns. We would welcome Government’s view as to how they will help us to address the problem.”

Chairman of Essex Police Federation Mark Smith said his officers have to take patients to hospital nearly every day. He said: “We are having to convey to hospital almost daily in Essex at the moment. We are not pointing the finger at paramedics and ambulance crews, they are going through cuts as the police are going through cuts. The paramedics and ambulance staff join to do a job and I feel they, like us, are not able to do the job in the best way they can to serve the public.”

One member told him about a case where a pregnant woman who had been assaulted was told she would have to wait four hours for an ambulance. She was taken to hospital in a police car which had to keep stopping so she could vomit because she was in pain.

The problems associated with this practice are many and obvious.

Police Officers, while perfectly well-meaning, are not fully trained Paramedics.

While Police Officers are dealing with incidents such as these they are doing nothing towards “Reducing Crime and nothing else”

The Ambulance crews are only not attending because they are being held up at hospitals all over the place (see my previous blogs on this subject).

What would happen if, Heaven forbid, some tragedy ensued while officers were bravely trying to deal with an incident they were not trained to deal with?  Would they end up getting sued for trying to do their best?

What would happen if the Police vehicle was involved in a collision en route to hospital?  Would the CPS be suitably sympathetic to the Police driver?

Maybe, just maybe, this government needs to recognise the Chaos Theory and if they tinker with too much, things WILL go wrong.  If David Cameron flaps his wings in Westminster, things WILL go wrong on the streets of Great Britain, and they have done, and that can be demonstrated.

The Shrinking Service aka Her Majesty’s Coastguard

For the benefit of those of you who are not Coastguards, you’ll be relieved to know that this is quite possibly the last blog that I shall write on the subject unless something new comes to light, it’s an ‘old friend’ but I’m not sure I have anything more to contribute.

You find my previous blogs on the subject here, here and here.

You will probably have noticed from my ranty tweets this week that in the last week of 2012 and the first week of 2013 HM Coastguard and RNLI have been incredibly busy with people in the sea, yet the government seem completely immune to this and seem intent on progressing with their programme of Coastguard Station closures which has already been well-documented.

In the BBC news today was a touching reminder of a tragedy 30 years ago in Blackpool when 3 police officers and a civilian lost their lives in the sea.  I was immensely pleased to see that there will soon be a permanent memorial top these officers, and others, the brainchild of someone in the CPS of all places.

Now I’m not naive enough to believe that more Coastguards might have changed the way things turned out that awful day, but LESS Coastguards might have made things an awful lot worse.  More officers, or members of the public, might have been tempted to go into the water in an attempt to rescue the dog-walker and the 3 officers.

I have been sent an e-mail from someone who is clearly, exceptionally passionate about the events of that day and I will reproduce it more or less verbatim, just altered enough to mask the identity of the sender.  If he/she wishes to make themselves known I’m sure that they will.

I mentioned the Police Officers that drowned in 1983 and my ReTweet of the plans to commemorate the 30 years since.
http://www.blackpoolcitizen.co.uk/news/1942550.service_planned_to_remember_rescue_police_officers/?ref=twtrec

The article by the free-sheet The Citizen is incorrect as it states 25years!

The tragedy of losing 3 Police officers and a member of the Public resulted in Blackpool Council forming a ‘Public Protection Committee’ who over the years have completely lost sight of their original purpose and are basically not fit for purpose anymore.

Both the Council & the PPC cannot tell anyone how many deaths there have been over any period. They only record deaths/incidents when local Beach Patrol in operation (hours now restricted) but not a full picture (ie out of hours not their responsibility).

Without any statistics, how can they measure the effectiveness of efforts or resources?

I have received NO help or interest from Council or PPC over the matter of local safety or HMCG cuts.

I have had to resort to Freedom of Information requests which have been a complete waste of time & proves how inept they are at Public Safety.

The subject of open access to the sea in the new areas of the Promenade was one of my concerns; older sections have gates in most places, new areas have a simple chain across which dogs & kids can step over or dodge under.

The council reply to this specific concern was that they all have warning signs when the tide is in.

I truly despair that the Council want to see visitor numbers increase Six fold from 10Million to over 60Million but cannot get the basics in safety sorted and have a very hostile attitude to anyone with concerns.

It seems that local Councils, as well as the government are paying little heed to public safety where the sea is concerned.

It’s not that I have anything against the Coastguards, if anything the opposite is true, I think they are wonderful people, who provide a first class service and are getting shafted by the government in the same was as teachers, firemen (forgive the gender biased use of firemen please) police officers, Armed Forces and our very own NHS.  If I have omitted any please don’t take that as a slight on your service, I’m getting old.

First a little bit about HM Coastguard Service courtesy of the Marine and Coastguard Agency website;

Her Majesty’s Coastguard coordinate maritime search and rescue within the UK Search and Rescue region, and have a variety of resources they can task to emergency situations – either people in distress at sea, or emergencies on the coast or shoreline. HM Coastguard also has their own volunteer service, the Coastguard Rescue Service, who are teams of volunteers who can respond to land based emergencies such as cliff and mud rescues or searches for missing people.

19 Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) form a network of command and control centres for responding to reports of maritime and coastal distress. Watch keeping staff in these centres provide a 24 hour service to mariners and coastal users by receiving incoming distress calls and sending resources to their rescue. These calls could come in via the monitoring of emergency radio frequencies, or by 999 calls, as the Coastguard are a recognised 999 emergency service.

I do believe this figure is already out of date.

HM Coastguard can call upon a wide variety of resources  when coordinating Search and Rescue.

Search and Rescue facilities we They? can call on includes:

  • Our own Coastguard Rescue Teams who form a volunteer service of 3500 members in 362 teams strategically placed around the coast.
  • Search and Rescue helicopters under contract to the MCA.
  • Lifeboats operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), along with other nominated inshore rescue services.
  • Search and Rescue helicopters operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
  • Chemical incident response for vessels at sea
  • Nominated beach lifeguard units
  • Police, Fire and Ambulance Services
  • Mountain and Cave Rescue Teams

History of the Coastguard

In 1809 the Preventative Water Guard was established and can be regarded as the immediate ancestor of HM Coastguard. Its primary objective was to prevent smuggling, but it was also responsible for giving assistance to shipwrecks.

Each Water Guard station was issued with Manby’s Mortar, which was invented by Captain George William Manby. The mortar fired a shot with a line attached from the shore to the wrecked ship and was used for many years.

In 1821 a committee of enquiry recommended that responsibility for the Preventative Water Guard be transferred to the Board of Customs. The Treasury agreed, and in a Minute dated 15 January 1822, directed that the preventative services, which consisted of the Preventative Water Guard, cruisers, and Riding Officers should be placed under the authority of the Board of Customs and in future should be named the Coast Guard.

In 1829 the first Coast Guard instructions were published and dealt with discipline and directions for carrying out preventative duties. They also stipulated that when a wreck took place, the Coast Guard was responsible for taking all possible action to save lives, to take charge of the vessel and to protect property.

Efficiency drives in the 1990s made Her Majesty’s Coastguard a government executive agency, and then in 1998 the Marine Safety Agency and the Coastguard Agency were joined to become the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

So, in the 1990’s HM Government made the Coastguard a government executive agency and, probably, the rot began there, they now come under the Department of Transport and are ‘just’ another government department.

I use the sea, I make no bones about it, I AM biased.

The sea can be beautiful and tranquil, and it can be ugly and hostile.

I have been on a boat on a lovely sunny day when the sea has been calm and I have been on a boat in a Force 10 storm.  I know which I prefer, and on the latter occasion I would have paid ANYTHING to make sure that there were the appropriate and maximum number of Coastguards and Lifeboat crews on duty.  In the end I didn’t need rescuing, just more sickbags over here please, but I will never forget that day and how I felt.

Like every other public service that is being run down and/or privatised, once it’s gone it’s too late to put it back the way it was, it will have changed forever, no-matter what decisions may follow.

So please Dave, I’m asking you to reconsider this lunacy.  The sea is a dangerous place, it can be a hostile environment.  I will quite happily more on my taxes to cover the cost of keeping the Coastguard Stations open, I believe it is about 15 pence per year per UK Taxpayer.  Modernise by all means, but please do not decimate.  Please do not play politics with peoples’ lives.

Clyde Coastguard closed early – the government just couldn’t wait

Clyde Coastguard closed “to all intents and purposes” last Friday evening.

After 20:00 GMT, emergency calls were handled from Belfast or Stornoway. Routine calls will now all go to Belfast.

It was originally scheduled to close on 18th December this year but apparently work to transfer certain aspects to Stornoway and Belfast was completed earlier than expected so the decision was taken to close Clyde early and to hell with everyone.

Dennis O’Connor of the campaign said last week: “This effectively means that Clyde will cease to exist operationally from tonight.

“This move by the MCA is a further direct challenge to the Transport Select Committee who recently voiced serious concerns that the closure programme had already begun in September with the closure of Forth Coastguard despite assurances that the replacement system of operation would be fully tested before any closures took place.

“This further development shows that there is an apparent desire by some to rush through the closure plan and we urge Members of Parliament to ask the Secretary of State for Transport to investigate the tactics that are being employed by his departments.”

RANK and file members of West Dorset’s police, fire, ambulance, coastguard and lifeboat emergency services have voted 100 per cent against the closure of the Portland rescue helicopter – predicting that people will die if it is lost.

Campaigners interviewed 58 police officers in West Dorset and all were against the closure.

Ambulance personnel voted 37-0 against the closure, fire service personnel voted 67-0 against, RNLI lifeboatmen 15-0 against and coastguards 20-0 against.

“These officers are the experts in emergencies, they have the experience to know what they are talking about and the Government should heed their informed fears,” said Mr Mac McNamee, spokesperson for the campaign

Mr Oliver  Letwin, MP for West Dorset, and Mr Hugo Swire, MP for East Devon, face the prospect of a local backlash at the next election unless the Government’s stand on closing down the rescue helicopter is u-turned.  Although both of the Tory MPs have lobbied against the closure, they are tied to their Party line and that could cost them their seats as public opposition to the Government-led closure is swelling by the day.

More than 64,000 Jurassic Coast voters are now petitioning against the closure – around 50 per cent of the region’s electorate.

This compares to just 16 per cent who voted in the recent police commissioner elections.

MP for South Dorset, Tory Richard Drax, has accused his own party of foolishness in closing the Portland search and rescue – predicting that it will leave the Government with blood on its hands.

Also Coastguard campaigners have reacted angrily to confirmation that the closure of Great Yarmouth’s control centre will go ahead in May next year.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has announced that operations at Yarmouth will be taken over from May 1 by the Humber and Thames Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCCs), which will monitor the coast from Gayton Le Marsh in Lincolnshire to Southwold in Suffolk.

Meanwhile, Thames MRCC, based at Walton-on-the-Naze, in Essex, remains on the list of other stations due to close as part of the Government’s proposed modernisation of the coastguard service.

I sort of apologise for hitting you with Coastguards again, but I do use the sea, as do you all in one form another, unless, of course, you are a Gremlin and mustn’t get wet.  I have asked my local MP what his views are on Coastguard station closures but despite the indecent haste by his secretary getting back to me, he hasn’t actually replied.

BBC News – Clyde coastguard station ‘closes early’.

Honestly people, just look at the big picture, does ANY of it make sense???

The coastline of the United Kingdom showing the proposed Coastguard Closures