This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Police Privatisation 999 (Unite video)

Great video from (my union) Unite - explaining the threat (and possible reality) of police privatisation


More information about the Unite campaign here

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Bit of Fry and Laurie - Privatisation of the Police

If you have not seen this you tube clip of this 20 year old sketch - I highly recommend it!


This video was shown today at the Police Federation Conference in Bournemouth with Theresa "April" May in attendance. She did not find it funny - but then nor did Paul McKeever the Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales - who said it was funny once but now it is becoming true.


A comment from the floor:


And I tweeted:




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yvette Cooper impresses the Police Federation

The Police Federation of England & Wales gave a warm welcome to our Shadow Home Secretary today when she spoke to them at their conference in Bournemouth.

Her full speech can be found here: http://www.labour.org.uk/speech-to-police-federation-conference-2012,2012-05-15

I won't reprint it all naturally but here are some choice quotes:
The public need to be confident decisions are being taken in the interests of public safety, the community or justice, not distorted by contract or profit. We don’t want private companies on the beat on our public streets, we want crown servants, public servants, police officers doing the job to keep us safe. 
... 
Chaotic, fragmented, contradictory changes. Cuts and confusion putting at risk the very best of British policing. With no vision in its place. That’s not reform. It is destructive chaos. This Government is giving reform a bad name. 
... 
Over 30,000 police officers gathered on the streets of London last Thursday. Constables, sergeants, inspectors, superintendents and chief constables. Police officers on their rest day, taking annual leave, slipping in before the night shift... Officers from across the country who know that their forces are facing a cliff edge, worried that the service to the public is falling, and afraid that crime and public safety are being put at risk. Because the Government is cutting too far and too fast. Hitting jobs and the economy. But also putting public safety at risk.
... 
I believe we can work together again – the police and communities, forces, councils, voluntary sector, businesses and government all pulling in the same direction to do more not less to keep people safe. But it needs the Government, the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to change course before it is too late.
...

It was received very well by officers tweeting from the conference floor, for example







>> Makes mental note: must get Yvette down to a public meeting in Thames Valley when the public campaign begins! <<

Friday, May 11, 2012

Victim Support Petition: please sign

Javed Khan - CEO of Victim Support is very worried about current government proposals to dismantle the national structure in favour of devolving power to Police & Crime Commissioners to organise. This is very worrying as we could end up with a postcode lottery of support for people in great distress.

This is the text of Javed's e-petition - I urge you to sign it here

Don’t abandon victims of crime – a national backbone of support is essential to help those in need

We the people petition the Government to reconsider proposals in its consultation document 'Getting it right for victims and witnesses', to purchase help for victims and witnesses through the new police and crime commissioners.

Dismantling the current system will lead to patchy and inconsistent help for those most in need of support.

Victims of crime deserve effective, quality support in their time of need, wherever they live. A national service delivered locally is the only way to secure this.

Don’t let victims suffer twice.

10 May 2012: Big Day Out

Today I joined at least 35,000* off-duty police officers and staff on a walk around London. I went support of their massive concerns about what I call the triple threat of

  • Cuts to core services (as the badges said: Cutting police by 20% is criminal)
  • Privatisation and the introduction of the profit motive to policing
  • Draconian changes to their working conditions 

It takes a rare Government and Home Secretary to rouse such anger, concern and dismay amongst so many police workers. I spoke to many and their stories were all broadly similar: they want to do the very best for the communities they serve... but Government action is really getting in the way.

As the placards said they believe that policing is vocation not an opportunity to make a fast buck. They feel stretched to near breaking point and feel desperately sad about the people they can't help quite as much as they want to. They are stoic but feel gloomy about a future where private security guards will patrol our streets while core policing is cut still further. And they are perplexed: they thought this Government would be on their side and now they feel betrayed.

If selected and then elected as PCC for Thames Valley, I will make this promiseI will use every smidgeon of my powers and every drop of my leadership influence to ensure that Thames Police officers and staff are honoured, respected, supported, resourced, empowered and liberated to serve the communities and people of Thames Valley so that there is less crime, less fear of crime and more community safety for all.

And a day out would not be complete without souvenir photos. You can see mine here.


*some reliable sources from the Met put the figure nearer 70,000

Friday, May 4, 2012

3 May 2012: Day Out in the Rain

On election day, I helped Milton Keynes Labour Party get out the vote. It poured with rain most of the time which is usually means low turnout and fewer good results Labour. But that did not happen! MK Labour managed to win all their target seats and are now the second biggest party in the council - a really very positive result.

Indeed across the country Labour has done exceptionally well. More and more of the voters are recognising that they can trust us to run government well - fairly and economically - in the interests of the many not the few.

This bodes well for the election in November when I am hopeful that people around the country and here in Thames Valley will be electing Labour Police & Crime Commissioners.

Meanwhile a couple of pics - first the team in MK North who welcomed me - together we helped get Paul Williams elected as the councillor for Campbell Park. Well done Paul! (He is the one with the glasses.)


And here is my rosette that fell off my coat when the cardboard got too soggy!



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Campaign video: A Labour PCC in Thames Valley

I have just created this video to talk about why Labour will be campaigning to win in all 41 areas where Police & Crime Commissioners will be elected - including, of course, here in Thames Valley.

This video will also give you a sense of where I am coming from and my deep commitment to becoming the Labour Candidate for the Thames Valley PCC election in November.

There is much more about me and my ideas below including:
  • About me and what I bring to the campaign - in a P.O.L.I.C.E. nutshell - here
  • Version number one of our Community S.A.F.E.T.Y. manifesto (to be developed) - here
  • Links to articles I have published in the Guardian, LabourList and Left Foot Forward - here
  • Reasons to select me as your Labour Party candidate - here
  • My answers to my own 'Guardian 10 Questions for PCC candidates' (which many people have addressed on their campaigns sites including independents and Tories) - here
  • Broader policy ideas that we need to be discussing to shape our campaign - here
video

Manifesto: version 1 (to be discussed)

There is an idea embedded in my list of ideas to be discussed and developed below: I am reluctant to say what my 'pledges' or 'promises' will be were I to be selected as the Labour candidate. My caution arises from my deep belief that we in the Labour Party should be creating our manifesto after much more listening to the people of Thames Valley and a good few debates amongst ourselves - locally and nationally.

However, I recognise that many people want to know where I stand on a range of issues before casting their selection vote and, in particular, what thoughts about priorities I bring with me. I hope that much of this blog, with links to the many other articles I have written, show where I stand on a wide range of topics. (But do email me if you want to know more as several people already have.)

In terms of priorities: here are six in the shape of S.A.F.E.T.Y. (to match my nutshell P.O.L.I.C.E. things to know about me below).

  • Making sure that Scarce police resources are deployed fairly to the places where there is highest risk of harm so that the service is tough on crime where it needs to be toughest
  • Helping victims and communities regain and build more Ambitious lives through sensitive and just policing, and through good partnership working
  • Proud support for human rights and our historic British commitment to freedom and Fairness
  • Enacting real community Engagement not sham consultations or dusty committees that do not represent the diversity and dynamism of our Thames Valley communities
  • Fighting the Triple threat of severe cuts, extremely worrying privatisation plans and a ‘morale busting’ attack on police officer and staff pay, pensions and conditions
  • Encouraging policing practice that is effective, innovative, preventative and restorative – unYoked from policing that does not work

Tackling harm and hate: domestic violence and more

The figures on domestic violence are truly shocking: at least 1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Domestic violence accounts for 18% of all violent incidents. 73% of incidents of domestic violence were experienced by repeat victims. An indicative figure for the minimum and overlapping cost of violence against women and girls is £36.7 billion annually. (Source http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/violence-against-women-girls/strategic-vision/ 100 actions to tackle violence against women)

As PCC I will do all in my power to ensure that policing resources are deployed proportionate to this level of harm.

But this matter is not only about women and domestic violence. It is about all hate crime and how prejudice can distort what is seen as important and worthy of attention. Young people, for example, are often dismissed as perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and crime but more often they are the victims of crime and violence. 

As PCC, I will see it as my job to challenge, question and do what I can through priority setting to ensure that harm and risk of harm are tackled fairly and proportionately through out Thames Valley.

Hustings: issues emerging

Several more hustings to go - but here are some of the questions emerging from discussions so far:

  • What should be done about the rise of gangs in certain parts of TV?
  • Should policing be politicised?
  • What would you do in the first 100 days?
  • What leadership & management experience do you bring?
  • What would you do about Stop & Search disproportionality?
  • How do we need to structure the campaign?
  • How will you tackle corruption if you find any?
  • Do we need a new political structure to work with a Labour PCC?
  • What do you think about Police Community Support Officers?
  • How will you handle the centralising nature of this new position?
  • What is your policy on drugs and alcohol?
  • What will you do about making sure that vulnerable communities are sufficiently protected?
  • What links should be make to other key campaigns such as NHS privatisation?
  • How will you make change stick?
  • When and how shall we start the campaign?

The meetings have been interesting! I look forward to the others coming up including Oxford this Friday.

The Police face a triple threat

On 9 May, I issued this press release to the news media of Thames Valley:
_______________________________________

“Tackling crime and keeping people safe is what we all want our police to be doing here in Thames Valley” said Jon Harvey (shortlisted Labour candidate for the Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner) today.

“But instead, our police officers and staff are facing a triple threat that is distracting them from this task. Not only are they having to deal with savage 20% cuts in funding but they are now faced with being privatised and outsourced to the lowest bidder. And on top of this, the Government looks set to impose huge ‘morale busting’ changes to their pay and conditions” he went on to say.

“As the Labour Party we are standing up for safe communities and with the police service. We are saying that the Government should be cutting crime not the police” said Jon Harvey, who is also a Buckingham Town Councillor.

On Thursday 10 May, thousands of police officers, staff, their families and supporters are marching through London to protest and seek, even at this late stage, a change of heart from the Home Secretary and the Government. Jon Harvey will be marching with them to show his support.

“I am worried that one day I will see profit driven security guards patrolling my town rather than someone I know I can trust because they are a public servant. I am already seeing the damage the Government is having on our local police services – just as with the broader economy – they are cutting too deep and too fast. The blue line is getting thinner and thinner. And the proposed changes to pay and conditions of officers and staff (who regularly risk their health to keep us safe) will mean that morale will drop through the floor.”

“I fear that communities will be permanently damaged by these three threats and the only people who will benefit will be those on the wrong side of the law! I worry that British policing will no longer be the best in the world if these threats are followed through”

“As one of two people hoping to be selected at the Labour Candidate for the election in November for the new Police & Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley – I know how important policing is. Indeed we all know how good policing helps communities work together – and how much safer everyone feels. If I am selected, I will be campaigning tirelessly for Great British Policing that is public, properly financed and proud of how police officers and staff are treated.”