Category Archives: Police & Crime

Youth PCC, right idea… but what about their background?

The online world has been full of quips over the Youth PCC who was given a £15,000 a year job out of over 150 applicants and it turned out she tweeted dumb things.

There have been calls that someone so young shouldn’t be in this position, well this is a role to engage with Youth problems. So quite frankly the age aspect is not relevant. This is a really good idea to look at ways in which to engage with younger people, after all in York one of the big issues is Antisocial Behavior. Youth crime is a problem throughout the country and having someone on a similar level is a great way to look at tackling the problem. After all the usual people who come up with policies have absolutely no idea what it is like for modern younger people, which can be sown in the dramatic failure of most policies.

The other side has been saying there shouldn’t be such a racist, homophobic drug taker standing in the role. However we are dealing in a whole different world with the online tweets there for all to see and often forgotten. Her tweets were stupid, she knows that, every single media outlet has been saying it and the online communities have been sneering at her. These weren’t recent tweets, these were form when she was 13/14/15, 2 years prior. This may not be a long time for older people but it is a significant change in peoples lives from 15 to 17.

There have been people out there saying she should resign over her past comments, yet I don’t recall many people calling for Ed Balls to resign over his past when he dressed up as a Nazi.

Ed Balls as a Nazi

So should a persons comments when a young teenager set out the future of our lives? Absolutely not, I don’t think there will be a single person who could claim they hadn’t said dumb things as a teenager. They’re teenagers, that’s what they do!

Should the PCC have vetted her properly, absolutely.  Inn a modern world where things can come and bite you in the bum it is good to know what is ahead. However I would be more worried if the person hired was someone who had never done anything wrong, never said something stupid and was a perfect citizen. They will be as useful as a 60 year old lecturer in the role, as there has to be a relationship between ordinary younger people and themselves.

So before everyone else starts to dig at Paris Brown, did what you say when you were a 13/14/15 years old represent who you are in your current life? I think not.

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Low Voter Turnout, But Don’t Be Fooled Into Thinking The PCC Isn’t Needed

The election turnout for the Police and Crime Commissioners throughout the country has been abysmal. The whole election has been doomed from the start with masses of negative press from every media outlet; doing their best to ‘spread’ the message with an added twist of highlighting that no one will turn out. The blame does not lie with them for the low voter turnout though. The blame lays squarely with the Government.

It was always going to be a doomed process when the very first election was to be held in November, historically a November election has a significantly lower turnout than any other time of year and significantly lower than May. Let’s be honest who wants to haul their ass down to the polling station on a cold, damp and dreary November day. Then you have the fact it is dark by 4.30pm.

We now have a situation where there is a distinct lack of trust in politicians throughout the country. After the expenses scandal and the very backward attitudes held by the Houses of Parliament on how their expenses should remain. Many who are being brought forward for massive scandal show no remorse and seem to think this as a minor error. I must remember that when I try to swindle a company out of thousands of pounds that the best defence should be that I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to claim for an organisation that didn’t exist. It was only a bit of fraud after all.

The combined effect of the timing and the lack of trust in politicians can be shown by the by-election turnout yesterday in Manchester Central with only 18% of people voting for their new MP.

This isn’t the only reason for the low turnout though. The fact is no one seems to know what the Police and Crime Commissioner is meant to be doing, the only role that is discussed is that of holding the Chief Constable to account. There hasn’t been much announced about what the Commissioner can and will be doing, there should have been an education campaign starting last year, rather than the pathetic leaflet from the Electoral Commission, that also didn’t tell you a great deal. Even some of the candidates didn’t know some of the roles they would have. The core role though was to replace the Police Authority.

For the past almost 50 years the Police Authorities have sat around a talking shop to make the decisions that the PCC will face. North Yorkshire was one of the worst. They have been blasted by the IPCC on several occasions and still they remained. Then again several of the members had such a low attendance record that they shouldn’t have been entrusted with the role. The Police Authority was made up of primarily councillors, so this ‘new’ aspect that has been discussed by the media of politicising the police has already been in place for the past 50 years. Many councillors have seen the police Authority as a nice little extra earner. At the very least this politico is elected and more importantly accountable. There will be a large number of spoilt ballots with most people stating that they do not want the Police Force being politicised, a message that is being pushed by those who like the status quo.

The comments of this being an extra layer of bureaucracy are not actually that correct. If you look at the bigger picture this is just a single person being elected to replace the appointed members of the Police Authority. They will have additional controls, the sensible option would have been to give the Police Authority the same powers as the Police & Crime Commissioner and then building up to an election ion 2015. When a majority of the country is voting.

The Lib Dems will be happy that they have managed to reduce this election to such a small minority of people turning out. It is a real shame that their has been a lack of information coming out from Government about the elections. Many voters annoyed that they have not been informed of the candidates, not realising that the local associations are having to foot the bill of this extra election. Let me tell you trying to campaign in an area the size of North Yorkshire is expensive.

I hope their will be a much greater turnout for the next election of the Police & Crime Commissioner in the future as this is an important role that needs more time for the message of the PCC and the roles they will play to sink in to people.

Accountability of the Police and Crime Commissioner is the key aspect

The ethos behind the Police and Crime Commissioner is to have a single person who is both elected and accountable. They will come forward with a plan for their time in office, in the form of a manifesto. This will be formalised when put to a panel that will oversee the PCC. They can then be held to their plan and scrutinised using the panels.

The whole point of this is to have a single elected person who comes forward with their police and crime plan and then held to it. However the act states that the police and crime commissioner can appoint a deputy who can hold the exact same power that the commissioner will have.

Imagine an MP being elected and appointing a deputy to go to parliament, attend gatherings and discuss important policy implementation. All the while taking their hefty salary for what? For winning an election and then putting their feet up. This is a role that will take home a £70k a year salary and they don’t even have to turn up for a single event.

It is a shameful part of the act and is a loophole to get failed MP candidates into a high power, high paying job that is secure for a 5 year term after a high profile person wins an election for them. I do hope Lord Prescott won’t be doing this to his failure of a political son as rumors have implied . He is vying to be elected to a very high profile with very high responsibility job and it would be a disgrace to use an existing character to get someone else a shoe in.

Honesty and Integrity from North Yorkshire Police Chiefs…

North Yorkshire Police has been burdened with dodgy policemen at the very top. In the form of Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs and Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell they have shown a blatent disregard for their roles in running the police force and should have been treated with the same disgust as any criminal.

Briggs was allowed an allowance of initially £10,000 per annum to cover the cost of private medical insurance and personal development training You and I would expect that he would use this system to pay for a 24 month contract by ‘Enabling Devlopment’ for £11,750 including VAT but he did not. He just put another claim in from the Police Authority and they paid it willingly.

Not only does this show the dishonesty of Briggs in claiming for expenses, but also the incompetance of the North Yorkshire Police Authority in paying for it.

Maxwell decided that even though a recruitment campaign received between 300,000 – 500,000 calls during the period that he fast tracked two applicants direct to HR through his assitant, rather than going through the proper procedure in a fair manner. The Police Authority were informed of Briggs fastraking a relative and an investigation was started, not once di Maxwell come forward with information that he had also done the same with one of his relatives.

Maxwell in this sense admitted his error at the last minute, however even after his own admission it was Gross Misconduct it was deemed that he did not breach the SPB in respect of ‘honesty and integrity’. The police force must have a different dictionary definition of both honesty and integrity. This resulted in a lesser penalty of a final written warning.

Neither Maxwell or Briggs showed any respect for the uniform they wear and with it as the figurehead of North Yorkshire Police it shows how little they respect their roles. Both men acted dishonestly and with a lack of integrity, rather shameful for the positions they held.

The policemen involved did not help with investigations and as such the costs rose to over £300,000. What respect do they have for the uniform they wore if they are not willing to help with investigations? What respect do they think the public should have when it comes to helping investigations?

The worst part is that the North Yorkshire Police Authority allowed it to happen and still show no remorse. So if North Yorkshire Police Authority is there to hold North Yorkshire Police to account, who is there to keep the Police Authority in check? If they had fully inspect all aspects of the police spending there wouldn’t have been a problem with Briggs and his unaccountability. They should have treated the men with the same respect they showed the force, none. Why would they though? They are equally on the gravy train with North Yorkshire Police Authority and their huge expenses. All I can say is bring on the Police and Crime Commisioner just to get rid of the blatent disregard shown by the Authority over their actions.

The golden handshake is required by law as Maxwell was unable to fulfil his 30 years service, even though the reason he is retiring is because no other person would want a Chief Constable who admitted gross misconduct. It is a stupid system that the police authorties signed up to and urgently needs looking it. It makes a mockery of the criminal justice system if those who are in charge of policing can’t help themselves dipping in the till and fudging recruitment drives; after all that not owning up to their actions.

Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) too much in one go?

This November sees the election of the 41 Police & Crime Commissioners (PCC) across England & Wales and a new method for accountability of the police, abolishing the Police Authority. There will be a single elected person who has their own team working for them, rather than the current situation of councillors and ‘members of the public’.

Policing & Crime Plan

This is the biggest part of what the PCC will be acting on and sets out their 5 year plan for what the policing priorities will be for the area they cover. This task involves hundreds of voluntary organisations that depend on grants and access to keep going as well as the full time paid staff of various community safety organisations. This doesn’t mean we should be focusing on the financial side of the PCC, that comes in when they have to set the precept, but instead on the sheer volume of community organisations that are involved on a day to day basis with the PCC plan.

I am quite biased and therefore think the currently unfunded Neighbourhood Watch should oversee all community safety aspects of the police force. Realistically though each individual organisation that relies on a relationship with the police has to get their point across to the elected PCC and be put into the plan. Clinks have arranged for many of the organisations that need to be involved in this to get together under the umbrella of ‘Safer Future Communities’ which each policing area having a forum that will represent all groups. So if that includes you then please do get in touch with your area coordinator. As it is vital that your point gets across and into the business plan. This can also be done directly through the existing Police Authority staff who will be remaining on to oversee the handling of the general business. Putting yourself forward doesn’t guarantee that your organisation will have a continue relationship.

This all should be done prior to anything, as each PCC should be producing their literature beforehand. How can you know who to elect if they have not already liaised with the various organisations involved? Their campaign has to be focussed on what they know they can do and what they have to work with. With this being such a new concept for the UK then it will be interesting to see how this pans out in the run up to the election day in November. I want to see all those who think they would like to be PCC to come forward and get involved in all the organisations so that you know what you are working with, rather than reading a statement either financial or mission on what the group achieve. It needs to be done now.

Justice

The aspect that has been brushed over by all of those who discuss the PCC is the CRIME aspect, this covers their role in the criminal justice system. There doesn’t seem to be too much out there over how this will work other than they will be cooperating with the criminal justice system in their area and also the Drug Interventions Programme funding will be received to the PCC. Different areas will want to focus on different priorities and as such there will be some organisations that are replaced by others and some organisations may have a larger part to play in the police and crime plan.

I hope the mix of policing and justice will work well together, and the more controversial organisations that may well not be popular in the eyes of the public do still get the attention that is needed to keep them operating. The PCC also needs to focus on all of their area, North Yorkshire especially has such a wide mix of locations from the urban areas of York, Harrogate, Selby and Scarborough which is where most of the crime does occur, but also the rural areas which make up the majority of North Yorkshire.

It seems a mammoth task for any one person to take on and so I see very little change coming in for the first year or two of the PCC as it is too many people to coordinate with and not being able to see where the successes are and what is failing. Also comparing with other PCCs across the country. There needs to be kept a lot of the working ties with other Police forces and sharing of resources.

Only time will tell what will happen with the coming elections, but one thing I do know is I hope all the candidates are ready to be grilled by me. Others should be doing the same, it is vital that the PCC that is elected is competent. Feel free for any PCC potential candidate to get in touch as I am sure us at North Yorkshire Neighbourhood Watch or York Neighbourhood watch would enjoy having them come to a meeting and discuss their priorities with us.

Why Cyber Crime Will Get Worse In The UK

While I was at the Conservative Conference this year the most interesting Fringe event was on ‘Informing The Public On Cyber Crime‘. It had members from Raytheon, Met Police and Sophos.

It is interesting to note how backward we have become with regard to computer skills in schools. Which is odd as ‘IT’ classes are almost a given in every school and now with many people sitting a GCSE in ICT. This would lead you to believe that surely we must be educating more and teaching advanced skills. Instead the ICT GCSE course is primarily in how to use office and how to turn a PC on. It is clear why the stats show a decline over the past 12 months with people sitting the ICT exam. The reason is not because it is too complex or demanding, it is because most pupils could sit the exam age 10 and pass.

When I was at school our science lessons included using a BBC computer to learn programming, this was at Primary School. Ever since those days it seemed we are teaching pupils less about programming and the workings of a computer than we are the basics of how to use it.  The rest of the world seems to be trying to push computer science on their children as this is the future. We seem to be losing generations from this, which is odd as we are the third largest in the world for the computer games industry. The only way people seem to have the skills are to be self taught. The self confessed geek.

If we need to move this countries technology sectors we can’t rely on a multitude of self taught IT geeks on being able to fill the void. The rest of the world has realised that computers are required in everything and realise how vital it is to push forward the younger generations skills.

Cyber crime utilises the skills of the hacker [sic] to usually try to extract something from a PC, with most of the UK dumbing down not only do people not have the skills to advance the industries but the general population will not have the basic skills to be able to protect their own PC and especially small business networks from cyber crime.

Another issue brought up by the Met Police at the conference was the big hurdle into try to get people to open up about attacks on their networks. Big businesses do not report an attack instantly and usually wait until they have aimed to sort things themselves. This leaves other similar businesses open for attack, as attackers are not going to target just one company. Unfortunately due to the fact that the information is not shared then others can not prepare their systems to defend.

We are leaving the UK wide open not only for advances in the technologies industry but also on a personal level as a way to adapt our own working systems to protect our PCs. It is time schools brought back teaching advanced computer skills from primary school level, as you can be sure other countries are doing it.