Cambridgeshire Police Authority Meeting September 2010

Thursday, October 21st, 2010. 3:08pm

Cambridgeshire Police HQ Sign

I attended the meeting of the Cambridgeshire Police Authority held on the 30th of September 2010. It was held at police headquarters in Huntington; I had to show my passport before I was allowed in.

After a briefly welcoming the new Chief Constable, Simon Parr, to his first police authority meeting the first item taken was the public questions slot. There were six public questions, three from me and three from those campaigning for fairer pensions for police officers who have been injured on duty.

In order to speed things up, to try an ensure all questions could be properly considered I offered to precis my questions in a sentence or two. This prevents the chief executive of the authority painstakingly slowly reading out the full question, and answer, and taking up all the time allocated for the questioner and authority members to seek clarification. I was the only public questioner present in person.

Question One – Using ASB Powers to Deal With Speeding and Careless Driving

My question:

I would like to draw the authority’s attention to what I consider misuse by Cambridgeshire Police of Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002.

This, poorly drafted, New Labour, legislation was I believe intended to give the police powers to deal with “anti-social behaviour” involving vehicles. I do not believe it was intended to be used to provide an alternative route for the police to deal with offences such as speeding and careless driving; which is how it is being used in Cambridgeshire.

A major problem with the application of this law in relation to speeding and careless driving is that it gives excessive summary justice powers to individual police officers and PCSOs. The use of these powers appears to be an attempt by the police to deal with a criminal act in a non-criminal manner; presumably to avoid court cases where the police would be required to provide evidence and defend their actions and where those accused of wrong doing would have an opportunity to defend themselves.

A further concern I have is the degree of localisation of these powers; they have been specifically applied, via a priority, to one road in North Cambridge. I am concerned that quite literally in this case this has amounted to there being one law for some, and another for others.

Are authority members satisfied the police’s use of S.59 orders is appropriate and that robust safeguards and appeals processes are in place in relation to their use? If an assurance cannot be provided, will the authority commit to investigate and monitor the use of these powers?

The authority’s answer has not been posted online with the meeting papers (as the authority’s procedures require) despite at the time of writing it now being three weeks after the meeting. The written response from the authority was short:

You have expressed concern regarding how front line police officers and PCSOs are using their powers under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002, in a specific street in Cambridge. As this is an operational issue I have asked the Constabulary to respond.

Clearly I disagree that this is an operational matter otherwise I would not have brought it to the police authority.

It appeared however that the response had been written by the authority’s secretariat and a number of members of the authority disagreed. The authority did commit, as I asked, to investigate and monitor the use of the powers.

The Deputy Chief Constable also commented; he defended the force’s use of the powers saying they were a legitimate route for enforcing elements of the Road Traffic Acts.

Later on the day of the 30th of September I attended Cambridge City Council’s North Area Committee, some of whom despite being Liberal Democrats, support the use of these powers, and reported my response from the police authority to them. (Video)

At the North Area committee Cllr Pitt promised to ask the city’s MP to follow up the lack of an appeals process. Julian Huppert MP has now done so and the relevant Government minister has confirmed there is no appeals process and also announced there are no plans to introduce one.

The minister’s suggestion of a “an action in the county court for trespass to goods” as a route of redress is no good for those wishing to appeal their first S.59 notice. A complaint against a police officer or PCSO would be inappropriate if that officer was acting fully in line with the law, and the force’s policies.

Question Two – Stop and Encounter – PACE

My question:

I would like to draw the full authority’s attention to the “Review of All Stops” presented to the authority’s Scrutiny Committee, in the name of the Chief Constable, on the 16th of September 2010.

Section 7 of the report, titled “Stop and Encounter”, states:

From 1st January 2009 in England and Wales, there was no longer a requirement to complete a lengthy form when requiring a person to account for their presence somewhere

Police officers are only required to record the ethnicity of a person who is subject to this tactic.

The requirement under Section 4.12 of PACE code A to provide a receipt to the person stopped is not mentioned.

As the authority are aware, and have been monitoring, Cambridgeshire police do not consider they have to abide by the requirements of Section 4.12 of PACE code A. I suspect this is why it has been omitted from the report.

After raising Cambridgeshire’s police’s stance on this at a previous authority meeting the authority’s Chief Executive said she would seek an assurance from the police that this is the only area in which the Cambridgeshire Police have decided it is permissible not to follow the PACE codes. Has that assurance been provided? Is the failure to comply with Section 4.12 still justified.

The authority’s response:

In September 2009 the Police Authority received a demonstration of a mobile printer to enable the Constabulary to provide a receipt when a person is stopped, with a plan to roll this out across the Constabulary. We are aware that from January 2011 the requirement to record stop and account encounters will be removed from PACE Code A. The Police Authority has therefore not requested an update on the roll out of these devices.

On your second issue regarding PACE in general, the Constabulary have provided reassurance they comply with PACE

I told the authority I was very happy to finally get the assurance I had been seeking for some time that the Cambridgeshire Police comply with the PACE codes. The force had previously stated that the PACE codes are merely guidance which they can choose to ignore. They may well still hold that view, but as long as they’re providing an assurance they’re complying with them that’s rather academic.

Question Three – TASER

In response to my question on TASER deployment I was told the force has scrapped its plans to issue TASER to non-firearms officers. I have written a full article on that Q and A at:

Other Questions

I was shocked that when after dealing with my questions in less than five minutes the authority did not consider at all the remaining three questions on police injury pensions.

I asked authority member Mr Wilkins about this afterwards, he suggested the questions may have been glossed over as they referred to a long running dispute which is before the courts. But the questions had been submitted, accepted, answered on paper; the authority’s attention was not drawn to them and members were not invited to seek clarification.

As there were lots of copies of the written responses left in a pile I’m not even convinced the authority members all had a copy in front of them,

Interesting Points from the Rest of the Meeting

  • Responding to expected government cuts to policing was the main matter discussed. The authority was told it was impossible to get rid of police officers due to their terms of employment; it was even impossible to freeze or cut their pay. The authority was told that therefore cuts would have to be to civilian staff, potentially including PCSOs. (Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless is bringing in a Bill in Parliament seeking to remove this protection and give police authorities freedom to decide where cuts should fall).
  • The Chief Constable was asked what he would would cut first. His first answer was responding to Freedom of Information requests; and second was providing performance statistics to central government. (the following day it was reported the Metropolitan Police are also considering “restricting” FOI requests.)
  • The Chief Constable defended lobbying central government, in secret, via ACPO, saying that was a very effective channel and claimed secrecy was essential when negotiating with government.

Further Meeting Notes

The authority was warned that pay awards, including police officer promotions, made to staff in September (that month) were now unfunded.

The force treasurer explained there would be a need to draw on reserves, and pointed out that reserves should really be spent on investments, and not on revenue items like paying staff, as that was unsustainable. The treasurer said one off payments to achieve re-organisations would be an appropriate use of reserves.

Cllr Victor Lucas (who was once chief of staff to the UK’s submarine flotilla) asked how much more the authority was getting via council tax as a result of new homes being built in the county. He was told that a 1% increase was being budgeted for, and told the figure was in the papers under “Tax base increases”.

An authority member asked how much direction was expected to come with the cuts; for was the government expected to require forces to keep a certain number of officers or PCSOs. The Chief Constable responded to say the government was giving the strong message that priorities are to be set locally; but if there are any strings attached to the cuts was yet to be seen. The Chief Constable then clarified what he meant by “to be set locally”; sharing his interpretation that where the cuts fell would be “for Chief Officers to decide”.

Cllr Wilkins asked for a confirmation that the budget cuts of £30m by 2012/13 and £7.5m by March 2011, coupled with the protection given to police officers would mean the money “would have to come off police staff”. He was told yes.

The spending review was discussed, with the Deputy Chief Constable saying that as yet there was no detail and lots of uncertainty. He said that despite that “the scale is clear” and “we need to plan for what is coming on the horizon”.

The Deputy Chief Constable appeared to me to be giving a different impression from the Chief Constable when he warned that it would be impossible to make promises on things like “maintaing police numbers” and “maintaining the front line”. Mr Parr’s press release on appointment stated: ” Frontline service delivery will be our primary focus at all times.” I suppose it could still be a “priority” but not “maintained”?

The Deputy Chief Constable promised a “force review” in progress would complete and result in a final balanced budget by the 16th of December 2010. The DCC stated that he expected whatever the Home Office settlement in the spending review was to be reflected in the police budges as policing was 2/3 of Home Office spending. (Home office cuts are 23% by 2015, but it is being reported that policing will only be cut by 14%).

Police officer numbers can be reduced, but only by offices being lost through “wastage” and on medical grounds.

Cllr Wilkins ased if pay cuts for staff or police officers could be considered. He was told that police officer pay was set nationally and the authority could not change that; the authority were told that while they follow national pay scales for their civilian staff they are not compelled by law to do so and it was up to them how they “cut between grades”.

Conservative Councillor for Girton John Renyolds spoke about greater co-operation with local government and other public sector bodies; saying the public would expect more working together.

The Chief Constable said that all bodies were often dealing with the same families who needed a lot of support and attention; he agreed the approach was “not as conjoined as it could be”.

The Deputy Chief Constable said his cost cutting plans had two stages:

  1. Cutting within the existing structure
  2. “Redesigning the business going forwards”

Authority members asked what the Chief Constable’s message would be to Government, along the lines of “if you stop that we’ll save some money”.

The Chief Constable rejected the premise of the question which suggested he would get into lobbying Government in public. He said he supported the role of ACPO which he told the authority was to “be more productive behind closed doors” and said there were many benefits to taking a position in private.

The Chief Constable said the complexity of the “performance monitoring machine” was too great and suggested he would like to see the number of staff and amount of data required to be collected both reduce by half. He the creation of police statistics as a “huge industry”. He also highlighted compliance with “Freedom of Information” law as an area where the force could stop doing things, save money, without an effect on the front line. He suggested he was considering he was contemplating “what-ifs” such as what would happen if the force simply didn’t provide the Home Office with all the monitoring data it demanded.

The Chief Constable did accept there was “some tension with accountability”, but said there were real problems with some parts of policing being monitored in five or six different ways.

Pushed to identify other areas he would cut, the Chief Constable stuck to the line that a public hit list would be a bad idea. One thing he did say was that the government (and I’ve seen it more locally to from Cllrs) idea that shared services provided an opportunity to save lots of money wasn’t true and he only expected to see savings of about 0.2% of the total budget from that activity.

A member of the Police Authority suggested a clear message should be sent to the public when cuts were announced saying “we are still here”.

Police Authority Allowances

In recognition of the strains on public services they decided not to award themselves any “cost of living uplift” for the forthcoming year. This will save the taxpayer £5,000. The authority chair stated this would “demonstrate solidarity”, and pointed out the Police Authority would be aiming to reduce its costs by 10%. The Chief Executive of the Police Authority is paid around £100K, for a role which amounts to managing the servicing of a committee. Those members of the authority who are councillors, or who have other paid political roles can obtain quite significant sums from when the allowances from all the various bodies they sit on are added up. I think the authority significantly over-egged the contribution they’re making by foregoing their “cost of living uplift”.

Elected Police Commissioners

There was a brief discussion of the effect of police commissioners; it was suggested that Police Authorities will be disbanded and a new “Crime and Policing Panel” might take their place.

Authority members asked to discuss the transition more in the future.

I would like to see Police Authorities remain; and hope any re-organisation will allow more tailored authorities for particular areas; eg. in Cambridgeshire I think members of the district and Cambridge City Councils ought be represented. If an MP or two could be persuaded to take part that might also help both the MP and the authority. My main worry with elected police commissioners is that there isn’t enough appetite for electing public servants at all levels in the UK; I think the democratic legitimacy and accountability would be more resiliently achieved by bringing existing elected representatives together on a new police authority. I don’t think direct election is necessary or desirable; I think strengthening existing elected representatives and giving them routes to influence and set the strategic direction of the police is the best way to go.

Chief Constable’s Car

The Chief Constable’s official car, a large black Audi was on show under the force flag outside Police Headquarters when I attended the meeting. The day afterwards the Chief Constable announced he would be ditching the expensive perk and driving his own car to work. More junior officers in the force still drive luxury cars provided by the taxpayer though.

4 comments/updates on “Cambridgeshire Police Authority Meeting September 2010

  1. Gordon W Smith

    Dear Richard,

    I am very grateful to you for drawing to my attention the way my question and others were dealt with by the Police Authority at their meeting. As you know my question related to the way I and others, who were injured in the line of duty, have been disgracefully treated by Cambridgeshire Constabulary since January 2008.

    In my case I have lost 20 years of my working life. I have a chronic illness, am severely disabled and have a very poor quality of life all because of my absolute loyalty and dedication to the people I served in Cambridgeshire and to Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

    To be fair to him, I am giving the new Chief Constable, Simon Parr, a little breathing space while I write a full report for the Pensions Ombudsman. I wrote to Mr. Parr and received a pleasant and straight forward reply. He informed me that he will absolutely comply with the law and new Home Office Guidance whenever it comes out some time in the future.

    I replied asking him to bring honesty and fairness to the forefront also.

    I can tell you that the Constabulary have made it quite clear since January 2008 that they intend to take my injury award away from me now that I have reached 65, contrary to the conditions of my retirement.

    In 1999/2000 the Constabulary informed the Pensions Ombudsman that they had changed their policy with regard to injury awards but I and others were not informed until January 2008, some 9+ years later.

    In that time I made financial arrangements that I would never have made had I known of their change in policy.

    If the Constabulary succeed in taking away half of my total pension, I will be unable to pay my mortgage and will probably lose my home through absolutely no fault of my own next July (2011).

    My case could easily be resolved with the flick of a finger as circumstances like mine have already been dealt with, and a precedent set by the Pensions Ombudsman, the Police Medical Appeals Board and the High Court.

    The way I have been disgracefully dealt with by Cambridgeshire Constabulary since January 2008 demeans everything I have given up in my life. I do not feel valued or trusted by the Constabulary. I feel as though I am a financial burden to them.

    As you know, I have been honorable so far and have not been to the news media. I regret that if the Constabulary continue to subject me to the same treatment I have received since January 2008, I will soon have no choice.

    What I would like to know is, if you or I act unlawfully we could find ourselves in a court of law, so if the police act unlawfully who do they answer to?

    My kind regards


  2. Paul Styles

    I submitted one of the questions concerning the maladministration of police injury pensions. I expected to have it read out and answered in public session of the meeting of the Police Authority on the 30th September. That is how previous questions from other members of the public have been handled.

    Now I learn, my thanks to Richard Taylor, that my question was not read out and publicly answered. It even seems that members of the Police Authority may have been prevented from reading the question, and others. This defeats the whole point of having the facility for the public to raise issues.

    The question I asked had been put to Dr. Gregson, the CEO of the Police Authority some time earlier, and she had replied. Her reply was unsatisfactory, hence my request that the question be heard by all the members of the Authority at the meeting. I have set out the question and the response below. The reply that the Authority provided to the question was identical to the one provided earlier by Dr. Gregson.

    My question was: ‘At its meeting held on the 16th of April 2007, the Police Authority voted to endorse the reintroduction of regular reviews of injury awards, as noted at 3.5 of the Chief Constable’s report that was supplied to the meeting. The Chief Constable’s report proposed at item 3.5 that, ‘Reviews will be scheduled according to the guidelines in Home Office Circular 46/2004 which states that injury awards should be reviewed at the following regular intervals:’ Immediately following is then listed a schedule that was purported to be present in Home Office circular 46/2004. The circular contains no such schedule for regular reviews. Will the Chairman please explain why the Police Authority voted for something that was not ‘stated’ in the Home Office guidance as claimed by the then Chief Constable?’

    The response was: ‘You point out that section 3.5 of the report to the April 2007 Police Authority meeting sets out details of the review process which are not present in the Home Office Circular. We acknowledge that these details are not in the Circular. However this does not change the Police Authority’s direction to the Constabulary to:

    implement the Home Office Circular, and
    develop policies and procedures in line with the Circular.’

    So, it appears that the Police Authority is content to have voted to implement a schedule for reviews that it was led to believe was advised by the Home Office, when it was merely an invention of the former Chief Constable. She misled the Police Authority, yet they are apparently unperturbed and have made no move to correct the error.

    It is not a slight matter. The Force recently released some figures. They show that to date 123 reviews have taken place under this schedule.

    The results of the reviews were:

    99 reviews resulted in no change
    22 reviews have resulted in a reduction of the individual’s banding
    2 reviews have resulted in an increased banding.

    May I suggest that there is more than one way of looking at this? From the viewpoint of the Force/PA there will be a feeling of satisfaction that they have complied with their version of the Home Office guidance – as amended by the former Chief Constable. From the viewpoint of the nearly one hundred disabled former officers who have been compelled to undergo stressful, intrusive and unnecessary reviews (their pensions remained the same) the figures show that the Force/PA values their administrative systems more than they value their former officers.

    From the viewpoint of the ratepayers of Cambridgeshire the exercise might be seen as a waste of public money. I am advised that each review costs approximately £500 to arrange. Thus around £49,000 of public money has been spent needlessly.

    The former Chief Constable told the PA that the Home Office insisted that every injury pensioner should be reviewed, according to a schedule. The Home Office said nothing of the sort. In fact it advised that, concerning when reviews might be held, ‘Each case will have to be considered on the basis of its individual circumstances.’

    This was not the first time that the former CC misled the PA. She reported to them that the Home Guidance was mandatory. In other words, the PA had to follow what it said. I have a copy of a document identified by Cambridgeshire Constabulary Information Access Office as, ‘Date unknown – but following Police Authority meeting on 16 April 2007, Legal Advice: Review of Injury Award Pensions for Over 65s – Counsel’s Advice.’

    This document states, ‘In February 2007, the Police Authority accepted the Chief Constable’s recommendation, presented by the interim Director of HR to reinstate the programme of Injury Award Reviews. The review of these awards is a statutory requirement, and is the subject of Home Office guidance which is mandatory on Police Authorities.’

    The former Chief Constable misled the PA over the nature of the Home Office guidance, and thus the PA was persuaded to accept what it advised without question – event to the point of missing the fact that the former Chief Constable went on to refer to an a schedule for reviews that was not part of the guidance.

    Makes me wonder if any members of the PA actually read the Home Office guidance or took the trouble to evaluate it for themselves? How could they so readily accept the claim by Julie Spence that the Home Office guidance is mandatory? Members need not have a law degree (as does Mrs. Spence) to see that there is a thundering great clue in the name – it is ‘Home Office GUIDANCE for Forces on the Review of Injury Awards.’

    In other words, Cambridgeshire PA could ignore the guidance – as did the majority of the 43 forces in England and Wales. The Home Office has made it very clear that its guidance could be ignored. In a letter dated June 2009 to a former officer, Sarah Alderman of the Police Finance and Pensions Unit at the Home Office stated, ‘However, the guidance is clear that police authorities can use their discretion not to review. Similarly police authorities can use their discretion not to apply what is suggested in the guidance.

    The PA seems to exist in a sort of Alice in Wonderland world where nothing is as it seems. They not only casually vote to implement a schedule that existed only in the imagination of Julie Spence, but they tell us that they will continue to implement the Home Office guidance. The PA knows that the Home Office has recently advised all forces to suspend all reviews whilst they issue new guidance.

    The guidance, even unaltered by Julie Spence, advised unlawful actions. As amended by the former Chief Constable it is doubly dubious.

    Mr. Wilkins tried to brush off Richard Taylor’s concern that my question and others had not been read out and answered publicly by saying that it, ‘ . . . referred to a long running dispute which is before the courts.’ Mr. Wilkins failed to mention that, so far, the disabled former Cambridgeshire officers have not resorted to the courts to resolve the injustice that is being served out to them. Thus there is no restriction on my question, and the others, being aired – they are not sub judice.

    The questions are, however, an embarrassment to the PA for they shed light on the appalling way that the PA was hoodwinked by the former Chief Constable, and on the complete failure of the PA to do anything to put matters right.

    So that readers of Richard Taylor’s excellent web site can judge for themselves, I present below the schedule that the former Chief Constable told the PA was ‘stated’ in the Home Office guidance, followed by the complete text of the Home Office guidance:

    Reviews will be scheduled according to the guidelines in Home Office Circular 46/2004 which states that injury awards should be reviewed at the following intervals.

    Annually following retirement and until the FMA considers the medical condition to be stable.

    Two years after the medical condition is considered by the FMA to be stable.

    After the two year review, every five years subject to the recommendations of the FMA.

    At the request of the recipient of a police injury award where evidence of a change in medical circumstances relating to the injury on duty is supplied, and

    Additionally reviews will be conducted when officers reach what would have been the Compulsory Retirement Age for their rank on leaving and when they reach 65 years.’




    This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached – others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.

    It is clear that a more standardised approach is needed to safeguard the rights of the Officer and ensure fair treatment across Forces. After consultation, the following Guidance has been agreed:

    Forces have the duty to keep all current injury pensions under review at such intervals as they consider appropriate, including where the former officers concerned are now above the compulsory retirement age.

    Review of Injury Pensions once Officers reach Compulsory Retirement Age

    Once a former officer receiving an injury pension reaches what would have been his compulsory retirement age under the Police Pensions Regulations (55, 57, 60 or 65 depending on the person’s force and rank at the point of leaving the police service) the force should consider a review of the award payable, since it is no longer appropriate to use the former officer’s police pay scale as the basis for his or her pre-injury earning capacity.

    In the absence of a cogent reason for a higher or lower outside earnings level, it is suggested that the new basis for the person’s earning capacity, had there been no injury, should be the National Average Earnings (NAE)* at the time of the review. The NAE figure taken should be the average for the population overall. Separate figures for males and females, and regional fluctuations should not be considered. The loss of earning capacity for the purpose of establishing Degree of Disablement should therefore be assessed by reference to the % proportion the person’s actual earning capacity bears to NAE.

    This procedure should help to ensure that former officers are treated in a consistent way across forces. They will be placed on an equal financial footing with others in the employment market at a time when they could not have been assumed to be earning a police salary.

    After a review at compulsory retirement age a force should determine the need and date for the next review. In some cases there may be particular circumstances which make it undesirable to conduct a further review.

    Review of Injury Pensions once Officers reach Age 65

    Once a former officer receiving an injury pension reaches the age of 65 they will have reached their State Pension Age irrespective of whether they are male or female. The force then has the discretion, in the absence of a cogent reason otherwise, to advise the SMP to place the former officer in the lowest band of Degree of Disablement. At such a point the former officer would normally no longer be expected to be earning a salary in the employment market.

    A review at age 65 will normally be the last unless there are exceptional circumstances which require there to be a further review.

    Suitable Intervals for Review

    It seems to us that whereas it is reasonable for most cases to be reviewed at the compulsory retirement age stage, not all such cases need to be reviewed again at age 65. A police authority would, after concluding the review at compulsory retirement age, be entitled to judge it reasonable not to review a case further where the injury award is already small. This will normally be the case with former officers who were retired injured early in their career. We do not think we can create a specific “minimum” minimum income guarantee under the Police Pensions Regulations in their present form. Each case will have to be considered on the basis of its individual circumstances.

    New Cases

    Applications received for injury awards from former officers over 65 should not normally be referred to the SMP for consideration.

    *National Average Earnings figures available from National Office of Statistics ( Look under Labour Market and NES (New Earnings Survey) Streamlined Analyses. Relevant figure is Average Gross Annual Earnings.

    The NAE figure uses should be the one in the most recent New Earnings Survey Streamlined Analysis. This is an annual pounds and pence figure calculated by using National Insurance contributions. It is validated and produced in October of each year and is, in our opinion, the most robust method.

    Note 1. In the case of an officer who is under retirement age but has already left the service for reasons other than ill health retirement, it is suggested that the comparator used should still be equivalent police salary. This is because, even if the officer had been dismissed, forces would still have discretion to re employ and he or she could therefore still be deemed capable of earning that salary.

    Note 2. It is clear that NAE will not be a suitable benchmark in all cases especially on occasion with higher ranking officers who may claim to be capable of earning substantially more than this figure. It was suggested that this guidance should contain some kind of formulae to proportionately enhance NAE to the level of the higher ranked salary. We would advise Forces to use their discretion as to whether they would like to adopt this approach

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