It was a day like any other. Not much happened. Well not much of any importance anyway. Except that two official reports were published on exactly the same date. The 25th January 2018.
Maybe we were never supposed to read them. Maybe our elected government thought that we couldnâ€™t read them, or maybe they just thought that we wouldnâ€™t understand some of the big words.
But we can read, and we did read them, and we even understood what some of the words meant.
In 2010 the Conservatives were elected to power (sort of) in the form of a coalition. That gave David Camoron just the platform he needed to instigate some major â€˜reformsâ€™ of the public sector. The â€˜reformâ€™ that peeves me the most is, unsurprisingly given my background, that of the Police Service, once regarded as the best in the world.
One of Camoronâ€™s first acts as Prime Minister was to appoint Theresa May as Home Secretary. and set her loose. I have no doubt that she was tasked by her leader to set about â€˜reformingâ€™ the Police Service, a task she carried out with indecent zeal.
To help her, she enlisted the help of the ex Railway Regulator, Tom Winsor, a solicitor with a big London firm but no experience of Policing whatsoever. With the help of an academic and a former Chief Constable, he carried out his now famous â€˜Independent Reviewsâ€™ of many aspects of the Police Service. We must never forget that he decided, for reasons best known to himself, not to claim his fee for this piece of work. Must unusual compared with most solicitors I know.
Whilst there is absolutely no connection whatsoever he was subsequently appointed Chief Inspector of Constabulary at HMIC (a post normally occupied by former Chief Constables). Oh, and he received a Knighthood too.
Again, there is no connection but Winsorâ€™s Reviews bore a remarkable resemblance to the bullet points of a Camoron speech some years previously.
Since the day they were published a government mantra was born
Crime Is Down, Police Reform Is Working
Which brings us back to the 25th January.
Firstly the Office National Statistics released the latest batch of official Crime Statistics.
Figures based on the Crime Survey of England and Wales (more of that later) broadly showed that crime in general was continuing to fall.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) shows that many of the high-volume crimes, such as lower harm violent crime, criminal damage and most types of theft, were either estimated to be at levels similar to the previous year or to have fallen. It also shows that crime is not a common experience for most people, with 8 in 10 adults surveyed by the CSEW not being a victim of any of the crimes asked about in the survey.
As somewhat of an afterthought they conceded that Police Recorded Crime indicated that many categories of crime had in fact risen. Police crime stats quite rightly came in for some flak a few years ago when the manipulation of those figures, to make the picture look brighter than it was, was made public.
The SEW figures, when it comes to the more violent types of crime, are downplayed somewhat and the true significance of the figures is very much obscured.
â€œWhile overall levels of violent crime were not increasing, there is evidence of rises having occurred in some of the low incidence but more harmful categories such as knife and gun crimeâ€.
Hidden away and not immediately obvious are the following stats relating to some of the more worrying crime trends, revealed by Police Recorded Crime.
Gun crime up 20%
Knife crime up 21%
Robbery up 29%
Vehicle theft up 18%
Domestic burglary up 32%
Stalking up 36%
Overall crime up 14%
The significance of these figures is explained away as though it didnâ€™t matter;
Police recorded crime statistics must be interpreted with caution. The police can only record crimes that are brought to their attention and for many types of offence these data cannot provide a reliable measure of levels or trends.
Which brings me neatly back to the CSEW figures.
The sample size for the Crime Survey is 34,400 households out of the, approximately, 24 million households in England and Wales. With such a small sample size (0.15%) it is hardly surprising that the people conducting the survey donâ€™t meet many people who have been the victim of gun or knife crime etc. No wonder their figures are so low.
Whereas the Office for National Statistics show the problem more like this
So thatâ€™s the first part of the lie. Is crime really down? I suspect that it is not. Ask any serving officer and I am confident they will tell you it is up. Seriously increased.
Published on the same date was the latest report from the Home Office outlining Police Strength in England and Wales (we mustnâ€™t say Manpower any more).
Police Officers down a further 0.8%, but what is also shocking is PCSOs down nearly 5% and Specials down a massive 15%. A small increase in Police Staff is a minor compensation, and, as we shall see, is temporary.
Almost 1,000 more officers GONE. Who would think that was a good idea at a time of rising crime and Terrorist Threat Levels, not to mention actual Terrorist Attacks. But â€˜Police Reform is Workingâ€™, the government are constantly telling us. So, a little while ago now, I looked up the word â€˜Reformâ€™ in the dictionary.
Reform â€“ Make changes in (something, especially an institution or practice) in order to improve it.
So where exactly are the improvements? A few Efficiency Savings I agree, but what exactly has improved in leaps and bounds?
With crime up, and increasing at an alarming rate surely now is the time to reverse the cuts? The problem with that is that more than 600 Police Stations have been sold off to help offset the cuts, plus to recruit and train 20,000+ officers would take an eternity. It could possibly take decades to put right the damage.
Police Reform? Is it working? Has it improved anything? Is the Police Service staffed at an appropriate level for the challenges of the coming years? Is that the second part of the Great Lie?
Then, just when I thought it was safe to put my quill down, that man Winsor reared his ugly head again.
i made the mistake of looking at the PEEL Inspection Report for the Metropolitan Police, and I wish I hadnâ€™t. Even MORE cuts are planned up to 2021.
Just over 5,000 Police Staff by 2021? Really? That few?
A look at 3 other, not quite random, Forces shows the following
and West Midlands
It seems that further cuts to Police Officers over the next four years is not inevitable for all Forces, but certainly for some, and Police Staff are at risk of becoming an Endangered Species in some, or possibly even all.
Finally, and just for the giggles, the Met has come up with something called the One Met Model.Â The Met have produced a lovely 44 page booklet, and you donâ€™t have to go very far into it before the Buzzword Bingo begins
The Met is committed to ensuring all of our people have the information technologythey need to do their jobs. Citizens will be able to use a variety of digital channels tocommunicate with us, report crime and carry out routine transactions.
But rest asssured
In all of this, the technology will be intuitive, easy to use and user focused. When buyingnew systems, the user will be at the heart of everything.
With that Iâ€™ll call it a day.Â I for one donâ€™t believe that Crime is Down, I donâ€™t believe that Police Reform is working and for certain Forces, at least, the road ahead remains rocky.Â There is a #CrisisInPolicing and Police reform is an unmitigated disaster.Â You are of course allowed to think differently, but my mind is made up.Â Camoron, May and Winsor have done a hatchet job on the finest Police Service in the world.