Learning from implementation?

The implementation of Patten reforms has contributed to the the local crime clearance rate falling from the second best in the UK to the worst. However, for some it remains Patten and nothing but despite the real problems crime is causing and communities wanting more not less policing (Windows Media Player or Realplayer required 1m35sec in). So is it more of the same or time to re-assess?

  • slug

    FD presumably reportage of crime has gone up, which is in some ways a sign that people are more willing to use the police?

  • Nevin

    fd, can you provide a connection between the Patten reforms and local crime clearance rates? There may be alternative explanations.

  • fair_deal

    Nevin

    Its based on the Times piece which is the first link with on and off the record quotes from police officers. Its impact has been twofold – problems with maintaining staff levels and the type of staff loss are among the most experienced.

  • Fraggle

    “It is estimated that £360 million has already been spent on generous early retirement packages for serving officers as part of efforts to reach an even mix of Protestants and Roman Catholics.

    But an unforeseen consequence, as thousands take up the offer, has been the disappearance of swaths of policing experience in the middle and senior echelons of the PSNI.”

    The pay-offs were too generous it seems.

  • There is another problem with the report: it’s comparing apples and oranges.

    As I understand, Patten was part of a series of reforms which also meant that the way crime is recorded was substantially changed. Therefore there was almost certainly previous (and substantial) under-reporting.

  • Nevin

    fd, are you blurring two issues: Patten reforms and their implementation?

    Anecdotal reports from Moyle DC suggest that PSNI officers are implementing the law differently in mainly Protestant and mainly Catholic districts. Presumably that would be a consequence of political rather than policing direction? For example, I’d expect a motorist who was guilty of speeding to face the same consequences in each area.

  • fair_deal

    Nevin

    “are you blurring two issues: Patten reforms and their implementation?”

    I though it was pretty clear that it was discussing the implementation of Patten. It is in the title and the first line and then ask do we stick rigidly to recommendations in the process of implementation or with flexibility.

    Also on this issue you may be trying to create a false wall, as between the report and implementation as the reduction generous packages were explicit recommendations of Patten.
    105 Provided the peace process does not collapse and the security situation does not deteriorate
    significantly from the situation pertaining at present, the approximate size of the police service over the next ten years should be 7,500 full time officers. [para. 13.9]
    106 The early retirement or severance package offered to regular officers and full time reservists aged 50 or above should include a generous lump sum payment according to length of service, pension
    enhancement of up to five years, early payment of pension commutation entitlement and
    payment in lieu of pension until pensionable age is reached. Full time reservists should be treated as far as possible in the same way as regular officers. [para. 13.12]
    107 Regular officers with more than five years’ service and all full time reservists, leaving the police service before the age of 50, should receive a substantial lump sum payment. [para. 13.13]

  • Nevin

    fd, thanks for the Patten quote. Did Patten make any recommendation about the numbers of experienced officers who could or ought to be released? Even if he didn’t, did the Policing Board have a say?

  • The falling standards within policing should be blamed fairly and squarely on Patten. It was his recommendations that led to the dramatic loss of senior, experienced detectives and their replacement by rookies. Deciding to remove “the Merit Principle” in recruitment is another Patten measure which has led to us having the worst performing police service in the U.K..

  • K man

    Insider:
    “The falling standards within policing should be blamed fairly and squarely on Patten.”

    I’m afraid that patten has little to do with the sudden drop in clearance rates. Yes senior and “experienced” officers are being lost, but they are being replaced by hungry, enthusiastic officers from a broader cross section of society than ever before.

    The home office recently changed the goal posts for Police, frequently changing what does and does not constitute a “clearance”.

    To say the Police are not doing their job, are inexperienced or incapable or even that standards are slipping is a total misrepresentation of the truth.

  • K man, from the quoted article;

    “In an attempt to redress the crime detection deficiency, the force has embarked on a two-month recruitment drive across Britain to find 90 detectives.

    Sir Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable, reported to the Northern Ireland Policing Board this month that while crime has fallen, the PSNI was failing to meet its targets for clearance rates, an indication that not enough crimes are being solved. And he admitted that the detective shortage was about to become worse.

    “It’s a concern for me because we’re set to lose more under Patten severance,” he said.

    Peter Sheridan, the Assistant Chief Constable for Crime Operations, said policing had “undergone considerable change” as a result of Patten. “The key factor in these posts is experience. We cannot get this skills base from an initial recruitment campaign so we have decided to look elsewhere,” he said. ”

    Going by your post both the CC and one of his ACC’s are wrong then?

    Also the Home Office changing “the goal posts” was a measure taken in order to make clearance rates look better than they had done previously so using the old methods to measure performance would make the PSNI look even worse!

  • K man

    There has been a considerable exodus of skilled workers from the service however the comments made by the ACC and CC are out of context. The current drop in clearance rates cannot be contributed solely to Patten.

    The PSNI is currently implementing a new software system, an implementation not without its problems. No crime figures were produced for several months due to the change over from the old system to the more complex new one which is being gradually phased in. Even certain forms not being submitted were flagging up “unsolved” crimes which in fact were solved and so were “uncleared”.

    The new clearance codes used by the service are far more stringent than those used by the RUC. Previously a complainant who subsequently declined to prosecute constituted a clearance. Currently little but a successful conviction at court is considered a clearance. A significant number of people who report crime are not prepared to give evidence in court.

    Once again the crux of the matter boils down to the methods of recording and subsequent interpretation of that data. The Home office obsession with figures (subject of David Copperfields book “Wasting Police time”) and “clearances” which are in fact useless information is the root cause. The problem has effectively created itself.

    ACC Sheridan is seeking new experienced detectives due to the Patten induced vacuum, caused by officers taking early severance deals faster than the current Police college (disgracefully overstretched)can replace them. Secondly new recruits must perform an average of three years in uniform patrolling roles before being able to move up to fill the now vacant roles.

    Since the vast majority of crime is dealt with by uniformed officers and is not overly complex, the correlation between Patten and clearance rates is minor at best.

  • fair_deal

    K man

    “Since the vast majority of crime is dealt with by uniformed officers and is not overly complex, the correlation between Patten and clearance rates is minor at best.”

    The Criminal Justice Inspectorate doesn’t particularly rate the ability of uniformed officers trained to Patten standards to deal with it.
    http://www.u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=78708&pt=n

  • K man

    FD, what exactly is “Patten standard” investigating?

    Officers with poor investigation knowledge is a training issue, not a Patten one. Perhaps if crime scene investigators were still Police officers instead of, ahem, cheaper civilian subcontractors we would get retained knowledge and value for money.

  • fair_deal

    K man

    “Officers with poor investigation knowledge is a training issue, not a Patten one.”

    The training programme is based on the 129th patten recommendation.
    “129 A training, education and development strategy should be put in place, both for recruit training
    and for in-service training, which is linked to the aims of this report and to the objectives and
    priorities set out in the policing plans. These plans should incorporate training and development
    requirements.”

  • K man, you said;

    “The new clearance codes used by the service are far more stringent than those used by the RUC. Previously a complainant who subsequently declined to prosecute constituted a clearance. Currently little but a successful conviction at court is considered a clearance. A significant number of people who report crime are not prepared to give evidence in court. ”

    I think you will find that in cases like you have mentioned these crimes are recorded as “Non sanction clearances” and are still part of the overall clearance rates quoted.

    A 23.6% clearance rate is frankly unacceptable, I think it has only ever been lower on 2 occasions, the first was the year after Patten redundancies commenced (20%)and the second the year after the name change from Royal Ulster Constabulary (George Cross){23%}. These 2 consecutive years, 2001/2002 and 2002/2003, would have been when the greatest number of RUC redundancies occurred and when the first PSNI officers started to appear.

    Compare and contrast those figures with the RUC average of 42% and try and tell me Patten reforms have no correlation with falling levels of crime clearance! We once had a police force here that was the envy of the world, we now have a police force that make the Keystone Cops look smart.

  • K man

    FD: Were getting into semantics. Patten simply made the recommendations, its up to training staff to implement them, thus poor training is a training issue, not directly a Patten one.

    Insider: while I concede that there is perhaps a stronger link than I would first have admitted, I go back to my previous point. Even the definition of the “non sanctioned clearance” has changed no less than three times this year! The new definition implemented in April led to ridiculous measures being implemented to achieve a clearance, measures that were time consuming and highly inefficient. Eventually they had to be scrapped as they were unobtainable.

    The levels of staff leaving has been carefully controlled via a points system, the criteria for which is changed each year to ensure an even number or of losses.

    Im not disputing the drop in clearances, sanctioned or otherwise, however exclusively blaming the patten redundancies is simply not taking in all the information.

  • fair_deal

    “Were getting into semantics. Patten simply made the recommendations, its up to training staff to implement them, thus poor training is a training issue, not directly a Patten one.”

    No semantics involved. Patten defined the training programme. Patten is the report which has moulded the PSNI, to try and absolve it of any resposnibility for present problems and failings is mistaken.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FD,

    I think it’s simplistic to blame Patten. The PSNI still has the highest headcount of officers relative to population size in the UK. Other forces appear to do more with less.

    I would also suggest that the rising rate of “ordinary decent” crime is not being accounted for here. I think the PSNI are having trouble transitioning to policing a (relatively) peaceful society.

    I support the police but in my recent dealings with them I’ve not been bowled over by their enthusiasm or dedication. The officers certainly talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk; to get them to actually do stuff you have to escalate the issue by raising it with the local DPP.