Thursday, 19 July 2012

Ed Miliband; Specialist Subject? the `frigging obvious`

So the G4S debate has got some of our politico's a thinkin'. Where on earth do they get this obvious stuff from?

Anyone with a shred of understanding would know that an event the size of the Olympic Games would not function without private sector involvement in a multitude of areas, including security. Many functions that would ordinarily be carried out by professional police personnel are suitable for outsourcing to the private sector, providing the people carrying out those functions have the appropriate training and credentials.

I myself was approached by a job agency I was registered with, in February, and asked if I could take on a role as a counter terrorist search co-ordinator, because I held that qualification when I was a police officer. I retired from the police but the knowledge stayed with me. All I'd need would be a brief refresher on intel and procedure and I'd be away, providing the people I was given to co-ordinate were similarly experienced. They must have been desparate because they phoned me 3 times over 3 days, but I wasn't going to cancel my planned summer holiday for 2 weeks work at a rate that wouldn't tempt me to even think about it - in a bad dream. And that, I suspect, was a major factor for poor old G4S. To recruit, train and then retain all those people, when they would only be paid once they were actually in training or working.  You can hardly expect someone to do a few days training for £8 an hour and then give a guarantee that they'll wait months for 2 weeks work. I know there were other administrative factors that some have griped about publicly, but that is not the major issue here. And before we mention special police constables, remember, they are volunteers. In my experience their word was usually their bond, but you could not afford to allocate them too many crucial roles because the bottom line is, they don't have to turn up to work and most of them already have jobs they are committed to.

G4S have some very good people in their organisation which has absorbed many smaller companies with fingers in military as well as civilian pies. I'm not defending what has happened, I just knew, not too deep down inside, that this one would be one hell of a task for them to undertake with the actual carrying out of the functions at the sharp end being the least of their problems. I have always felt that certain support functions within the police could be greatly assisted by the involvement of non police personnel and could, in some cases, be fully outsourced but I've also felt that private sector involvement should be closely controlled and those outsourced functions and the powers that are exercised in carrying them out, be restricted.

I am uncomfortable when private security companies are directly involved in matters that, when we follow the paper trail, lead straight to the legislature, eg prison services. Custody procedures in police station cell blocks are an example where the bulk of processing, guarding and prisoner management can be conducted by non police staff, but by law there must always be a custody officer who is a police officer. To go beyond would require fresh and clearly defined legislation.

So I'm not one for beating up G4S. I'm not impressed by the bandwagon that Miliband has eagerly climbed on but of course he's a politician in opposition, so he would wouldn't he? But were he Prime Minister, sorry, couldn't stomach that one, were he to be charged with the care of the economy, where would he fasten the ropes and chains to drag us out of recession? Coming from the government that gave us PCSO's (with no disrepect intended to those doing that job - that is not my point) he should have some really useful ideas.


TonyF said...

It's so easy to point out screw ups after they have happened. The politicians that ripped Buckles a new one, were so spot on in their observations, but considering their own past behaviour, its a shame that the public cannot return the favour. As a complete outsider, and wanting nothing at all to do with any sports events, I did wonder how the hell they were going to provide security (and quite a lot of other infrastructure) personnel for just those two weeks. Obviously, there are many good quality volunteers, but as for the rest?
Ho hum, good quality military and police it is then. Again.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Agreed, Tony, esp re Buckles questioning and the lame responses. The Iraqi police were re-trained in part by private contractors. The Kosovo police and justice departments were re trained and monitored by private contractors, all ex police and ex military as well as seconded serving officers. Most of the intel operatives in Iraq and Af are private ex military and police contractors, a lot of them recruited by G4S's umberella companies. I just don't want to see our political masters running away with the idea that it is a panacea for policing. There's an awful lot of chief constables out there who got their promotions through writing papers by the dozen on privatisation. Many who then retired may well be found on the books of such companies. Nothing illigitimate in that, just saying...

CI-Roller Dude said...

Hell, I'd update my passport and do that just for the fun of it and a chance to drink fresh Guinness

Tadanori said...

Two issues that I can see:
1. G4S admin staff must be very poor in operating a spreadsheet. For a cut of the £50 million, I think I can help them out.

2. It became apparent to me way back in the 90's that UKGov wanted to model policing on the US system. A national FBI and local police who could probably read and write and paid accordingly.

SOCA has been a roaring failure so far - becoming operational before roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures, pay, pension rights were fully defined and agreed.

Meanwhile, the local police services cut way back on training and nurturing specialism and are continuing to cut back.

I foresee a time when SOCA will take on murder investigations nationally, assuming it isn't disbanded as an expensive and ineffective quango then, phoenix like is re-born as 'Country-wide Resource in Augmented Policing' (or CRAP for short).

So, it seems that the World respected UK police officer is to be a relic of the 19th and 20th Century. The low paid, poorly trained 21st Century equivalent may be all that's needed; All the UKGov needs to do is legislates everyone to have a Facebook page and required to update it with everything they've ever done or about to do. Many seem to do that voluntarily already.....

Maybe all the above are good ideas. I'm too old to know anymore and sadly beginning to care less.

Time to get out on my Triumph and play with the non working GATSO's, powerless Highway Agency, scarce RPU's and very scary fellow road users.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Tadanori: I think you have a point re SOCA. It's all about the reality ie the real capability `behind the badge`.

I saw too many of my former peers and superiors, bright young things though they were (they had the bits of paper to prove it after all), embrace and swallow the BS that is called `re-branding` as the easy way forward.

I'd go with your final paragraph. As Ogri wisely said, "Bollocks, there's always me bike" (The make of yours was the final giveaway)

Tadanori said...

Ah Yes. The sage that is Ogri.

I'm thinking about setting up a new religion based upon the wise man that he is. One day it might even rival the madness of science fiction writer come religion creator that was L. Ron Hubbard. I've read some of his novels. Most disconcerting.

Still, being chatted up a pretty young girl in the high street and going for a stress test whiled away half an afternoon. Poor thing. She never realised she was dealing with a hardened cynic of human nature. Was disappointed there were no free tea and biccies so I didn't sign up. For goodness sake, you even get that just by giving half an armful of blood! Cheapskates.

Who wants to join my Ogriology Sect?

Hogdayafternoon said...

I'm in. I have a secondhand apron and some old Buffs medals of my father?

TonyF said...

Ogriology sect? Well, his Armageddon is a damn site better than any god botherers crap. Count me in!