Blue is the colour !

How is your retirement looking today ?

David Cameron gets endorsed, but I can’t help thinking the country is being playful ……..

As we digest the latest news of a Conservative run country until 2020, with no vision – I set about a task of contemplation. There should be reflective references by me from the past five years – but then do we really need them ? It all seems pointless, because in the words of a once famous actress ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’

I have already referred to the salary losses of officers new and old in January 2014, some officers losing in excess of £60,000 at the most important rank, that of constable. I felt somewhat angry as we saw our salary eroded by a clever tactical use of the media by our Tory friends, and even more angrier as officers when given an opportunity to ‘vote for the right to vote’ for strike action or action of some sort, they failed in their thousands to do so. The reasons for me are obvious, the officers expected to vote did not do so due to a complete lack of interest in anything they did, could do or had a view on regards policing local matters. Now, I know this to be true as I lead and manage, investigate alongside and work with many officers of all ranks, both uniform and non uniform. The majority are what is described by a variety of ministers as ‘frontline’ officers couldn’t give a toss about voting, politics or local PCC ( Police Crime Commissioner ) issues. It is all that most can do to get through their tiring shift, or indeed to stay out of bother from over zealous managers wanting promotion on the back of good police work. Or indeed by managing what they perceive as bad police work – then writing it up as a positive in their own favour when they ‘managed’ the situation. Yes, there are some clever bastards in our midst.

Either way the fighting ranks will suffer. And yes, that’s how the majority see it. My shift, colleagues and some managers are currently working way above what would be expected as a safe and carefully planned environment. The work they do, sometimes 28 hour shifts, returning to work for court within 5 hours for remands etc. …goes completely unchecked. I too find myself having to do the same hours, but in the same breath tell my colleagues that what they are doing is wrong. It’s a no win situation that if we didn’t do these things the public, safety and investigations would suffer.

Then of course disciplinarys would would increase even further. I am currently witnessing officers earning low wages ( average Constable take home country wide is £404.60 a week ) suffering from mental health issues, over tired and making basic mistakes on a daily basis. And yes, some do carry tazers. I do what I can to protect them, but only what I can, which is basically supporting them utilising my 28 years police service experience. A carefully written note on a situation protecting the officer – if needs be – is sometimes all that is needed, it also helps build a protective picture when that so called friendly manager ‘writes up’ that same officer as evidence of their ability to manage. Trust me they won’t care if PC Smith gets the boot if it means they get another pip. I still care that’s why I do it. And of course where an officer under performs or purposely causes an issue I deal with that too. You would expect that wouldnt you ?

It’s a horrible situation brought about by the last five years of government, excessively intrusive management locally, and very poor management skills. Something will give I assure you. I see it coming.

As more measures are introduced by todays endorsed ministers across the UK and public service is hacked to pieces again, I ask you this. At what point will the police service of England & Wales break down completely ? It is already in pieces, littered with poorly motivated officers, increasing sick records and mental health issues, then surely the only way is down. Some would say we can’t take any more cuts, but there’s nothing like being tested is there ? As crime figures wonderously fall the government will continue to cut back and enlist their friends at the BBC to assist. Whenever I see an overweight police officer in glorious colour on the BBC website I do know some bad news is coming. First off the public see the picture and a mindset is prompted of lazy, fat officers that need to ‘ Do Their jobs properly’ Within days new measures are cleverly introduced, cutting back on pay or services and public sympathy is non existent. It’s a clever tactic often used against all public services by the government of the day. The way they did it with the NHS using a hospital in the midlands as a catalyst was nothing short of disgusting. How low will they stop ? There are of course many more examples and options that would even make the deceptive minds of ‘Yes Minister’ run for cover.

Of course that same public still needs your help as an officer of the law, and expects it every time they call. You would have thought they would care a bit more that the officer attending is more concerned that he or she can’t pay the mortgage than investigate the wrongdoing you are reporting. It’s only natural, we all worry about finances when they are slashed. Be that your own or your local Govt war chest. If a force is happy to half pay an officer suffering from terminal cancer after six months sick then trust me the ‘heartless’ I see every day from our government and so called leaders becomes the ‘heartless’ that I see from within our service every day as well.

As the next two years race by we will see further cuts to police budgets, but of course that doesn’t affect an officers ability. We will also see cuts to pay, or reductions in pay rises, this of course does cause an issue because an unhappy cop is not a happy investigator. I know. It’s now all about how much they can take from public service or deny you as the public and still justify away from themselves. And this goes for all public offices. Teachers, NHS, social care and Emergency services will all get the Tory ‘treatment’ as the months cruise by in to 2016 – and more money is removed from agencies that need it so badly.

This Govt will give you ‘buy lines’ like Baby P, and talk about Paedophiles in Rotherham, appealing to the less educated and currying favour with all. Because of course sexual abuse is the trigger, we all hate that, it’s an easy way to get us all on side. And when it’s time we can blame someone, not just anyone, but someone. We need a name, a person to vilify, a hate figure who needs sacking, a picture to point at, without any knowledge of how they worked, or who they saved or what value they give, we just need them destroyed. Trust me the Govt will give you that person, on a plate with plenty of seasoning.

The Govt of the day endorse it, they disolve their responsibility to PCC’s the same way they did years ago to banks when they handed over interest rate changes. Many didn’t see thatwhen the Govt made the changes they lost votes. Clever and easy, pass on the responsibility, be that banks, PCC’s or the next divolved fall guy.

When the public services need slating, reducing or down paying you can always trust your local friendly Govt to show the general public the way. Pointing furiously away from Parliament, that sacred building where offences are committed, frauds are carried out and money is stolen. We all know it but do nothing about it. So I suppose with MP’s being endorsed to steal funds via expenses and many not being criminalised then there is nothing to be concerned about. Why bother ? How can any of us expect to have the will to fight when the law makers and politicians go unchecked as they run away with suitcases full of cash. Quite literally.

I joined the police service to serve, to save lives and to help others. I have done so many times, but not in every way. I would like nothing more than to walk in to my local MP’s office and arrest her for fiddling her expenses, but I am not allowed to, even when they did. When I stated we should do so I was told to pipe down. We need to make an appointment apparently if we want to execute a surprise warrant (think about it) I cannot trust a person who has committed criminal offences to run my area and in turn my country. But we all do, and no more so than an MP. Endorsed to steal and not give back, allowed to serve prison terms and return to office and never challenged when they reduce public services, undermine those meant to protect and then turn against the very people there to protect them.

Its a terrible state of affairs, but then I suppose in a terrible state of affairs that’s all we can expect, a terrible state run by terrible people voted in by an electorate that has lost the will to even care.

To say I am worried about our police service is an understatement, to say that people like this are trusted to run it and make legislation to protect you after all they have done is terrifying.

Today signals some serious thought. And it turns to reirement, I feel like all my fighting has been done, completely melted down and lost, eroded by years of Govt mischief that has stripped us down to the bone, in pursuit of their own goals. Yes, the higher you go the more you will do to go higher, and for me to do that the more sorrow you most certainly will create.

The police service is not even close to the career I joined back in 1987, it doesn’t contain the same principles of investigation nor the people to do so. Many officers cannot be bothered for all the reasons I have discussed. And who can blame them, they look to Parliament and see more criminals within those walls than they saw in the custody suite last night.

So why should they care ? You don’t, I don’t, they don’t, we all don’t.

But of course we do. And that’s why today, VE Day is so important, because we cannot lose that spirit, not just yet, something has to give, and it will, from within I have no doubt. So for now I take comfort from the fact that the majority voted against this whitewash, our constitutional system is the first thing that needs to go.

So can we really rely on the Houses of Parliament to address that issue, I mean after all, what’s in it for them ?

We continue to serve and we continue to protect our country, as cheap as we can without fear or favour, and without the keys for the Ford Capri as well. I mean what would Gene Hunt say ? I feel for once he may well be completely speechless.

Till next time ….. G’day from the office.

The harsh reality : Not a complaint

The police officers lot, happy or not ?

All of us in determined public service have had salary caps, reductions in pay and additional pension contributions added to our monthly deductions. Regardless of our feelings as to why, and ‘why’ is a good starting point, it is what it is. However, there are huge ramifications for you and me as a members of the public seeking and requiring immediate help from the police. Since these Govt inspired cost saving changes many police officers, as a result, have left the service. Others still attend for work but mentally leave the service every day ( more about this in a moment ) and others have joined the ever growing army of officers who are demoralised and fed up. This is no different in the NHS, fire service, military or any public sector role you care to refer to. And many of you who are self employed, or not in public service will have no sympathy whatsoever, and to an extent this has never and doesn’t now surprise me. We all look after our own little pile, no matter where that pile is, and the majority of us will fight the family corner to exist at all times. This is natural. The issues of others especially coppers, we either don’t care about or dislike as a group of people will bother us not. I’m the same as well.

In fact I am no different to you at all, I also despise certain groups of people, just like you, and at times I voice my opinions. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you at all. As a cop, I particularly dislike criminals and wrong doers, and as a member of the public I detest the misuse and despicable greed of those who over indulge our benefits system.

So what is the point ?

Its a good question, what is the point ? Many officers turn up for work every day asking themselves the same question. I have blogged very recently about members of my team in financial difficulty, and as a caring colleague have had dialogue with officers as to why ? And of course I have been pretty disturbed as to why this has happened. The link between the reduction in police pay in England & Wales and increased financial problems should not come as a surprise. But it causes certain problems. First of all lets look at the real figures.

Starting pay for a police officer in 2014 : £19,000 – £23,000 a year.
My force fixes their starting pay at around £21,500.
This means after deductions, and an early start pension ( rising to 15% contribution over two years ) and everything else taken off
a police officer on the street will take home £1,200 a month tops, some less. This equates to about £300 a week. The take home pay for a shift bobby learning their trade up to the age of say 50 years ( the oldest new officer I have ever met ) is £300 a week. This isn’t added to, boosted up or a myth. I have also factored in the new shift allowance ( it isn’t a shift allowance, I work shifts but don’t get the payment ) which after tax is about £1.20 an hour, but remember it is only an allowance for officers who work between 8pm and 7am every day / night. I am in my 28th year as a professional investigator and apparently being at work at 7.15am on a Sunday morning isn’t unsociable. Well, I am not complaining, there has to be a cut off point. I agree totally that officers who work ‘unsocial hours’ should indeed be compensated for the loss of family time and a normal life.

After ten years moving up the pay scales to a 10 year officer you can now expect to be earning about £27,000 – £28,400 a year. Of course this officer has to pay 15% of their salary in to the ( reportedly free ) police pension scheme, this will be in the region of £325 a month. I pay £510. And of course, there is the tax and NI we all pay. – and in certain cases an optional police federation contribution which if insurances are applied can be as much as £45 a month. This will mean an exceptionally experienced officer with 10 years service will take home about £410 a week on average. I have seen some on £390 with far more years service. There are no perks added to any police salary, no free dental or private health, no clothing exceptions or expenses added. This is what you get, and for some it is a manageable salary, they knew what they signed up for when they joined, but for many this is not what was expected and were offered when they signed up.

Detectives get no more money than a uniform colleague, and rightly so. At one time there was a professional payment for more experienced officers like detectives, firearms, search trained, forensics etc …. This has been taken away. There was also a monthly competency pay figure added to officers pay, this has also been taken away.

So lets look at what the average officer has lost.

The competency pay was £105 a month, this is being reduced and will not feature in any pay from April 2015.
It is currently £75 a month, from April it will be £40 and next year it will be removed. This competency pay was agreed by the Govt and police federation in lieu of no pay rises for some years at the turn of the century. So, it was a pay rise initially. You can imagine now why some officers are a bit perturbed that this pay rise award has been removed. Some would say it was a divisive move by the Govt as half of the police service didn’t receive this payment, so therefore wouldn’t care if it was removed. Many officers not receiving it forgetting that had it been retained it would have boosted their earnings by £1,200 a year when they qualified for the payment, and over 25 years some £30,000 plus would be earned – which was pensionable. A huge loss.

The professional payment award was a yearly award for those officers who worked dual roles, or were on units that disrupted their lives but added quality to their public service ( for you ) detectives, search officers, forensics, night officers all had a piece of this award over six years or so. This equated to about £1,200. It has been removed by the Govt. The loss in pay is no different to the competency pay award, the difference being this was not pensionabe. But another £30,000 has been lost to an officers pay, the running total for this seemingly small reduction for one officer after 25 years is now £60,000.

The increase in pension contributions from 11% to 15% means an average increase in contribution of around £135 a month, some will see a reduction of around £95 – others £160. I am the average. Well, why wouldn’t I be ! Over 12 months this increase means a reduction in pay of around £1,500 a year. Add this to the two other losses of £1,200 x 2 above and you now see the average officer of constable rank losing £3,900 a year, and over 25 years around £100,000. And lets remember, the average working officers life is now 35 years, only about 25% of the police service remain on 30 year contracts. Contracts you may well now see as pretty pointless. These regulated contracts refer to all sorts of conditions, pay and increases. All of them have been taken away by the Govt.

These figures I have reproduced here are representative of todays serving police officer at what i believe overall is the hardest working rank – constable or SGT.

If you work in the public sector, try reviewing what you have lost and total it like I have, you may need a week off on the sick !

Seriously though, it is this huge reduction in pay for constable and SGT officers that has seen a huge migration away from the service, which suits the Govt fine. They have put such pressure on officers financially that by leaving these officer numbers reduce in any event, their work is done. And of course, there is no legal redress for the police federation to fight. The Govt just change legislation to suit. Those officers who have stayed in post out of dedication in most cases, in others maybe because they cant get employment elsewhere have had to cut their cloth to suit. An officer of 10 years as we discussed is on around £28,000 a year. They should be on £35,000 a year today. However other reductions like, no pay rise for three years, increased NI contributions, a freeze on pay scale rises between 2 and 8 years service means more losses for the average officer which were not envisaged, expected or agreed to on joining the police. This adds to the already steep loss for officers we have already reported, and in some cases as I have illustrated means over the past three years and over the next three years between £5,000 and £7,000 a year has been lost. Add that up over 25 years and reach for the brandy.

Its around another £100,000.

Our running total is now out of control, and unmanageable.

And the officers on the end of these increased reductions in pay have few choices. In the main they struggle on, they seek out overtime opportunities where they can, but many after an average 65 hour week are too tired to do so. And they have families to meet and greet after so many days and nights in working limbo. What I have also seen is officers looking run down and tired, more are getting assaulted, getting angry quicker and in work situations they are far slower off the mark. I saw one DC the other day in nodding mode as she tried to get in a remand in custody file at 4am in the morning. Tackling the extreme and specific demands of the police paperwork role has never been so difficult. And don’t be kidded its better, it is far worse than ever. Officers now are doing massive admin tasks for court and and the CPS, and the reason why is simple. The thousands of police staff made redundant over the past three years are not there to assist in photocopying and routine work. The officer themselves now do this, often after a 12 hour shift, and often on overtime or carded time off. In most forces the file work and investigative work is done by constables and SGT’s. In my 28 years service I have never seen an inspector or above carry out a suspect interview, witness interview, compile a file for court or arrest any person for any offence. The police service runs on its constables alone at times. This is not a dig, it is a fact. But the key roles of a police officer are suspect interviewing, witness care, crime reduction and physicals effects on communities. And this is visible, and this is done by constables and SGTS. All ranks above this will manage, supervise and support, and yes they do support at times. But most are gone by 5pm and don’t feature on a weekend at all.

So what will you now see in your force ?

Officers are now coming in to work worrying about paying the bills because they take home £400 or so a week. This is not what I want working alongside me. And trust me you don’t want this demotivated person worrying about their own home life turning up at your house and trying to sort your troubles out. It cant work. Long calls to mortgage lenders and card companies to try and work out their financial future will detract from the working day and in the long term drastically affect the service we offer. Many officers are heading towards a complex financial future which will fly in the face of certain antiquated police regulations like discharging debts. Most will discharge their debts in time, I know of a number of officers on repayment plans and interest removed repayments to banks and loan companies. Companies now offer free advice and plans to people in financial distress, and yes, a number of officers are on these plans. The police service insists that you do not take on additional work as a constable and where you do you must seek permission to do so. Not many extra jobs are authorised because of the restrictions on an officers private life. The service controls many areas of an officers private life, be that who they befriend, where they go or just what they say and what thoughts they have regards many issues. Maybe rightly so in certain cases, but if you want that type of officer, a controlled spirit that works tirelessly for the crown, then reward them as they were promised.

Can you imagine being interviewed under caution at your place of work by a fellow officer from an internal investigations unit for having a friend from school who has a criminal conviction for shoplifting, and you see them once a month for a pint ? It happens, and as I said maybe this police officer should be tightly regulated and moderated by the force they serve and the people the represent ? But at what cost ? If you genuinely believe that being killed in the street by criminals is worth £400 a week after ten years service and around £300 a week initially then its the job for you. And it remains today the choice of career for many, but these new officers know exactly what they are signing up for, well, for now, that is unless it changes too for them like it has for many already.

I am struggling now though to see even this Govt justify a drop in the lowest pay scale of £19,000 in the future, In fact an officer on lower money with a family and children will certainly qualify for certain benefits, is this right ?

Trust is a big word in my life, and I cant trust anyone who has taken away so much of my pay because they have mismanaged the countries finances so badly.

Nobody said public service was going to be easy, nobody ever told me it would get this hard, but it does remain a job I love. The Govt rely on this attitude so I get my job done and the public don’t see a dramatic affect on crime figures. The police service has thousands of loyal officers, many PCSO’s now doing an officers role, and thousands of special officers working for free. This Govt relies on them all, and continues to thrust changes on us all. I am not complaining, many are not complaining, but you cant ignore the facts and the facts are your currently being protected by a motivated but inwardly demotivated police service. This is getting worse, and sickness is rising like never before. It’s hard to live on £300 or £400 a week, and hold down such an important role in society. However, we all make our beds, and we all have a choice. But now, after reading this you now have an informed choice as well. I am not asking for any sympathy whatsoever, I know what I do, and mostly I do it well. Yes, I have saved lives and yes, I have made life changing decisions. But then again I am different, I’ve been hospitalised four times and now suffer daily from injuries on duty, but as I said I am different. I mean, I earn £545 a week, I’m lucky, I still get an extra £270 a month that the Govt couldn’t take away. Its called a living allowance ( rent allowance ) its the only allowance I get, and I feel really bad about being entitled to it. I was awarded it when i married in 1990 as a uniform officer, I was told it would rise with inflation, it is the same today as it was in 1990, another anomaly.
But a welcome one.

The Govt will advise you about all public sector situations in the press by manipulating the BBC and media when they see fit. All good Govt’s do. As soon as the police are going to be attacked by the Govt they will wheel out the back catalogue pictures of fat coppers and sell you a few bent bobby stories. But you don’t buy these sell lines we know, and we also know like you when you are being sold a political ball – it’s so obvious. Certain people don’t like the police, I am not trying to change that, many don’t care as they have their own lives to touch, i don’t blame you. All I want to get over in this blog is the simple fact that officers are on low pay, and the pay I have cited here is accurate and true. In time this low pay will surface in more and more officers being put on repayment plans and consolidated loans to address their financial futures. This will directly affect you as a member of the public in turn. Other officers of course, encouraged by the mythical tv programmes on a police officers life will soon seek more money from other quarters when they see how the tv never matches the promise. How they obtain that money and who they mix with to do so, and indeed what they trade to make ends meet concerns me the most.

The Govt may well be patting themselves on the back for all the money they have taken out of many public services and indeed from individual police officers. But are they really aware of the standard of service they are now getting in return ? and indeed how these reductions will impact on officers susceptible to corruption ?

Its a long road we travel I keep hearing from the well kept and expensive Govt corridors of Parliament and number ten. And I agree that it certainly is. But many officers are already so far down this road they have been lost, and its those officers, still in office and struggling to stay afloat on £300 or so a week that should concern you and me the most. Because these are the thin blue line we all rely upon, and we all will need at least twice in our lives if stats are to be believed. If any member of my family is sexually assaulted, raped, badly beaten or worse I want a motivated and passionate officer walking up my path to deal with it.

Not an officer whose mobile is still hot in their hands because they have missed another mortgage payment, and the other half is packing to leave or the kids are hungry. Because that type of officer is of no use at all to you or me. I want value, and to have value, that officer needs to feel valued.

It’s obvious.

Pleb Gate Confusion

The confusion of a thousand media outlets – delivered.

I was greeted this morning by the sight and sound of many a confused member of the public after two days of goverment interference regards the incident now called pleb gate The media love a title, they genuinely love to attribute news stories to titles such as this. Three federation reps are the cause of further confusion. The actual incident as we now know centred around a couple of Downing Street cops being called ‘plebs’ by a pretty insignificant bloke from Parliament. This happenned, and the constant abuse of officers by all strands of society is not unusual, it happens and is dealt with. As police officers we receive abuse a lot, this minister is no different. But he thinks he is …..

I get the impression though that this political event is just that – a political event

The characters involved don’t matter that much either. The Govt of any day love an event they can manage to their own advantage. And this one has been managed well, and clouded extremely well over the last few days. What the media now report is the lies of the police service, but of course not the lies of the officers abused at the Downing Street gates. This cannot be proven, the lies of govt minister against the lies of two serving police officers ? Depends who you follow I suppose ….

It is a two way street apparently.

Now the whole thing centres around the Police Federation.

These police fed guys were tape recorded without their knowledge at an interview (staged for further political gain) to discuss the original pleb gate incident. Both the fed reps and those they met with felt they were on top of their game. Today we know the real purpose of that meeting, it was a cleverly planned event whereby recording equipment was used without any lawful authorities in place, the legality of which is open to debate. I also question the motive of the Police Fed here too. Were they in dialogue with Mitchell ? And if so did they discus the offence he is alleged to have committed ? The answr is yes as we now know, so why did Mitchell not have the same rights of every suspect ? I am sure you get my point. He was discussing his criminal involvement in an interview and for me, it was unlawful.

But it is as ever – when it suits.

How the Police Federation allowed themselves to be staged in this interview in such a way, and why they genuinely believed they held the cards is beyond me, and beyond the majority of right thinking and hard working cops. The original incident at those Downing Street gates will never be proven or indeed disproved by the Govt press gang. But what they have managed to do is stage three federation cops, record it without knowledge and then produce the evidence of what was said. Very clever work sirs, very clever indeed. Don’t forget they needed to put spin on that meeting too. Oh yes, they did that well. They can now point at these three feds and shout liars The police lied again ! The public buy it, in fact my neighbour thinks the three feds involved are the cops abused at the gates of Downing Street ! Mislead, lied, and lied to again. An easily lead public on the end of the governments leash.

Now lets watch them dance.

All of a sudden the original row is forgotten, the latest news is reported, and the service again loses a few marks on the publics score chart. For me all it displays is a govt so desperate to control, so desperate to bully and even more desperate to malign our service they will stoop to any level. But of course they are up against certain individuals within our service who will do likewise given the chance. Thing is these federation guys just don’t seem clever enough to think as severely as the Tory central press office. Maybe that is to their credit. They didn’t see it coming. Neither the Police Federation nor this govt represent you and me really that well, well not me in any event. Both collude together and remove our officers rights too often for my liking. And that is how the rank and file see it. Both have just made our job so much harder today, no thought for the hard working cop at all. No matter your thoughts on what has happenned, and to be honest the original pleb abuse row is now completely forgotten. What we do have now is a political storm being fought by past masters of political storms ( the govt ) and a few members of the police federation who have been thrown to the lions as tasty pieces of meat. I have no doubt that certain senior management figures in the police service are also licking their lips.

My final thoughts though are certain. The tape recording of this meeting, for me, displays a premeditated strategy by the govt to confuse and feed the media and public whatever spin they want – because certain untruths are there for all to see. But for me, to tape record and then use it as evidence ( regardless of the forum) is interesting, I take it the govt followed all the guidelines for recording conversations ? That the legality of doing this is in clear policy ? I mean, invasions of private conversations have lead to the abolishing of certain newspapers have they not ? Conversely if it was the police federation recording that conversation for their own political gain and political agenda I am sure there would be uproar in Parliament. Then of course if the feds then released it to the public through the media, I would fear this morning that all of them would be out of work. All of them would certainly be ex police officers.

But of course, it depends who you are as to who gets the bullet, and indeed, who gets promoted.

But that’s where the upper echelons of the police service is as far away from this current government as it is close ………