Police & The Government Funding Cuts

You may recall my posting on 30th March re funding cuts for the police. This followed a report that claimed the police would have to cut frontline services to meet the 24% funding cuts over four years.

You will recall that I was suggesting that ACPO were creaming off income that should be going to the police forces and that there were too many civilian staff employed.

Well this week, the following story appeared in several newspapers. To summarise it, a man and his wife took scrap from a rubbish dump that would otherwise have been destroyed. The police were called. Their response – to send eight police, one helicopter, two dog units and three patrol cars. Overkill perhaps? Well, sometimes police over react to situations possibly as a result of lack of information at the time of despatching the officers.

This case appears to be different. Read the statement from Superintendent Thompson which are underlined and in bold below. He seems to think it is a sensible and appropriate response.

Operation overkill: £20,000, eight police, one helicopter, two dog units and three patrol cars to trap pair who stole 47p of scrap

It claims to have been hit hard by spending cuts, but one constabulary spared no expense in tackling the pilfering of scrap… worth  47p.

Alerted to two salvagers rummaging through a recycling centre, Gloucester Police sent a helicopter, two vans, three patrol cars and two dog units.

The crack squad managed to apprehend Owen Gray and Angela Cubitt, who had helped themselves to a games console and a power drill – with a combined scrap value of 47p.

The pair said they were told the operation, which involved eight officers, had cost £20,000.

Mr Gray, 50, said: ‘I am unemployed, so cannot go out and buy this stuff. I pick up whatever catches my eye and try to fix it. All they do with the stuff at the tip is crush it and burn the plastic.

‘I go around to the tip about once a month looking for things to salvage and fix up.
‘I have recovered television monitors and computers from there before. I know they have to catch criminals and what I did was wrong – but to send eight officers seemed a very over-the-top response.

‘It’s crazy that they sent out so many resources when they’re shouting about how much they need to save. When they let us out, a copper told me it had cost £20,000 to get us nicked and that the items cost only 47p scrap.’

The out-of-work computer engineer was fined £20 while Miss Cubitt, 34, was released without charge. The pair were arrested last month walking home from their visit to the unmanned Hempsted Household Recycling Centre in Gloucester.

The helicopter spotted them first and they were picked up by an officer with dogs at around 10pm.

The were held in a cell overnight before questioning the next day. Mr Gray was allowed to pay £20 to a charity through a scheme that allows officers to deal with small crimes without using the courts.

Whatever it takes: It claims to have been hit hard by spending cuts, but Gloucester Police spared no expense – including sending out a police helicopter – in tackling the pilfering of scrap… worth a measly 47p

Superintendent Gary Thompson defended the arrests.

‘We take reports of crimes in progress very seriously, as the public would expect, and allocate resources based on how many officers are available, the quality of the information received and the area we need to cover,’ he said.

‘I make no apology, least of all to any offenders, for responding seriously to an incident like this and would urge the person responsible to think more about the impact their actions had.

‘In the past, people stealing from tips have been responsible for other burglaries or thefts that have had a great impact on the community.

‘It is important not to downgrade our response based on the location of the crime, or the value of the goods.’

In February it was reported that budget cuts could cost the force more than 350 officers and civilian staff over the next two years. Chief Constable Tony Melville said he hoped to save £8million by trimming management and support costs.

It is a shame that when your home is burgled, it takes 2 – 3 days before an officer attends if at all. Similarly, the number of times the police have no one to send to an on going disturbance or crime in progress. Well, now you know why – the whole of the shift and the force helicopter are dealing with the theft of scrap worth £0.47.

Hopefully those cuts will mean an end to such stupidity, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it. The stupidity of those in power seems to know no bounds.

Next time you hear the police complaining they can’t cut costs without cutting frontline services, just remember this type of money wasting policing.

Bits & Pieces

I’m writing this as I’m supposed to by tidying up the house.

Why?

Well its a distraction from the tidying isn’t it? No, why am I tidying the house? Well, tomorrow Michelle & Josh are coming to visit along with her parents. I can’t let them think I live in squalor – even if I normally do. So, its been a night of cleaning, scrubbing, removing the mould etc. I’ve even been cooking! Yes, preparing a meal for the weekend for my house guests.

I only have the floors to wash, my bedroom to tidy up, the rubbish to put out and another load of washing to put on before bed tonight!

Why do we procrastinate and leave everything to the last minute?

Talking of procrastinating, I realised that I have not made any plans for my trip to the US for the Police Unity Tour, so I have this evening booked my hotel for the night before the ride starts, made enquiries about car hire and emailed my friends to ensure I am still welcome there after the ride. I intend to book my flights shortly after I have finished this blog post. Yes, you’ve guessed it I am procrastinating about booking my USA trip which in turn is procrastinating about doing the housework.

Incidentally, I found this in the instructions on the Police Unity Tour

Members are required to place their luggage on the appropriate truck at the designated time each morning.

Weapons are not to be transported in your luggage! We are not responsible for weapons left in luggage. We have weapons lockers available.

Yes, there are police officers who are carrying guns whilst we are riding. That’s a little bit scary. If I offer, do you think they will let me carry a weapon? Perhaps they will give me a weapon if I ask nicely. It would be one way of making motorists think twice about cutting me up on the road wouldn’t it?

Well this week we moved into our new premises at work as I’ve already blogged about. I am not going to say that the ideas of health and safety are rather strange where we are. We are on the 4th floor of a 15 storey building.

1. We have not been told where the fire exits or stairs to evacuate the building are

2. We have not been told where the muster point outside the building is in the event of an emergency

3. We do not appear to have fire wardens

4. However, there is this sign in the gents toilets

Wash Hands

Just what we need – to be told how to wash our hands. Thanks facility management I have spent the last 40+ years wondering how to wash my hands.

5. Next to the boiling water tap for hot drinks there is a sign which  gives instructions on how to use the same and has the warning “Beware boiling water can cause scalding”. Again I do not know how I have lived the last 40+ years without knowing this.

 

I have manage to ride to/ from work each day this week so far and have done over 111 miles. I have managed to do  2 days of 25 miles each and 2 days doing 30 miles, so its a start I suppose. I have a long way to go to be able to do the Whitham Wander on 17th April at 106knm long and then in just over 4 weeks time I will be doing the 310 mile long Police unity Tour over 4 days. One day is 96 miles long! No riding this weekend though as I have company. I will have to get some miles in next week.

The weather the last 2 days has been great. in fact, today for the first time this year I have ridden wearing shorts and a short sleeved top. Indeed, today, I even had my sunglasses on. Long may the warm weather continue. I have to confess to enjoying the views in this weather. Lots of flesh on show and I’m not on about Smithfield Market.