Hollow promises in NYP Blues!

North Yorkshire Police
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North Yorkshire Police (NYP) have announced a major restructure of the force in their quest to save millions of pounds…

Although current spending cuts have come about because of government austerity measures, it wouldn’t harm the credibility of many senior police officers to acknowledge; a large proportion of today’s financial constraints are born out of their previous management incompetence and waste of public funds.

This point was also highlighted today by an old colleague in a letter to the North Yorkshire Police Authority

On the BBC website today, Monday 21st March, there is a feature about “major restructuring” of the force as it looks to save millions of pounds in spending cuts. This includes a new shift system that is being introduced across the County at this very moment. Less than a year ago, after a long review and “consultation” period, both control rooms had a new shift system imposed on them, despite much opposition from those who would have to work it. Management said it had been carefully thought out and that it would put more staff in the room/s to match demands. Arguably, it never worked as intended, and staffing levels have been regularly below the minimum originally set by management. Someone should be asking how much time, money and effort was wasted on the exercise, when it is to be replaced within twelve months of its introduction.

Today’s regional press (and national media) has been awash with coverage on the issues however, much of their reporting has been little more than a verbatim repetition of police press release material. PR spin and rhetoric produced by police corporate communications departments, designed solely to placate and appease the public (and police staff) without giving too much information away. The only report that I found today, giving a reasonably broad picture and free from too much corporate spin, was that produced by the Yorkshire Post

UNDER-PRESSURE: Yorkshire police chiefs are asking officers to work up to 30 more days a year as they battle with budget black holes running into tens of millions of pounds… (Read more)

Most of the regional media sites covering North Yorkshire, especially if they included comments and quotes from local commanders, tended to tow the corporate line and mostly echoed the statements already made by the Chief Constable… It’s hardly likely that anyone, who aspires to higher ranks in the organisation, would realistically want to rock the boat, now is it? Indeed, it came to my attention that; a fairly senior officer in one area attempted to step outside of the corporate box recently on the cuts. Apparently they were seriously rebuffed for their efforts! Perhaps, as many have suspected for a long time, the issues of ‘operational’ policing matters and impacts on communities aren’t really that important to the politics of Senior Management Teams?

Faced with a combined budget shortfall of almost £200m by 2015, the [Yorkshire] forces must reorganise as they prepare to shed more than 2,000 posts between them next year alone… (yorkshirepost.co.uk)

For several years now North Yorkshire, like other police forces, have spent considerable time and resources on public relations efforts. Often the outpourings from these corporate communications departments are little more than hot air, designed to blow sunshine up the backside’s of people living in the communities they police. A constant stream of ‘feel-good’ stories (see here) often designed solely to hit previous government led targets for reducing the fear of crime.

Most of those old targets have now thankfully been rescinded since 2nd March 2011, when the Home Secretary set out the government’s new approach to tackling crime. However, many police chiefs are still adhering to them. A factor regularly illustrated and well evidenced within the pages of the Thin Blue Line Blog but back to the issues currently impacting on the police and the population of North Yorkshire. 

My suspicions, from my thirty years of policing the county are, the ultimate effects on our county are likely to be far greater than the Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell would have us all belive. The management of NYP would still appear to be ‘guilding the lily’ somewhat. A factor that appears not to have escaped the attention of many who have added their comments to the various news items on different websites today.

North Yorkshire Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell said; “This is the shift system that best meets the needs of the public, but it also allows us to plan ahead for the next three or four years,” (yorkshirepost.co.uk)

Mr Maxwell may have a great deal of self-confidence about still being able to “provide a quality service with reduced resources” however, it would appear his public don’t support his vision? It’s also likely that his ‘vision’ will be the unwelcome inheritance of a new incumbant for his post in the not too distant future…

On the previous subject of control room closure, NYP are also quoted as saying; it would announce at a later date whether one of its control rooms which handles 999 calls would be cut as part of the cost-cutting measures. Does this mean that all their previous assurances about it just being ‘an option’ and still ‘subject to staff consultation’ or, ‘not a done deal’ is actually correct? Is there a chance the force SMT could be back pedaling on that ‘vision’, one which many always found very difficult to comprehend or understand the logic of from the outset?

Although Chief Constables up and down the country are starting to implement their ‘visions’ of future policing, there is still a fight to preserve all that is good in British Policing, as Paul McKeever the Chairman of the Police Federation points out. It’s a fight that is not over by a long chalk…

5 thoughts on “Hollow promises in NYP Blues!

  1. Dave, The situation you describe in NYP is very similar to that which is now taking place in Warwickshire. Changing shift patterns, a further restructuring of the control room which was only retructured two years ago. A marvellous new policing plan – which (since publication) hidden in which they have only recently discovered 140 surplus police officers who will now take up police staff posts in the control room etc made available through police staff redundancies. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-12773121.

    But its ok because front line policing will not be affected!


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