GMP is looking at cutting 3,100 jobs, including maybe 1500 warranted officers. If, for the sake of argument this can be done without serious damage to frontline quality, this suggests quite massive failures in previous management -a police authority and SMT presiding over serious waste of public money. This should hardly give us much faith in the same senior people being able to come up with the right answers now.
It’s very difficult to spot any sense of ‘reform’ ideas amongst our police. Copperfield, now working in Canada, has suggested that cuts of this magnitude, along with sensible use of technology and procedural changes through what we might call business process analysis can be sustained along with improvement. I tend to believe he is right and that inept management in our CJS has been a severe problem. I say this because Britain is generally bad at productivity. The police may be an exception.
Reorganisations in the UK tend to fail. The ‘answers’ have been to bring market disciplines and shift from existing industries to others deemed more profitable, with no real sign much happens other than the loss of industry-sectors, skill bases and conditions of service. Management empires burgeon, along with Soviet-style performance management creatures, statistical lying and the removal of what little effective complaint systems were in place.
The current public sector cuts do not seem to come as part of any strategic plan (I mean a genuine one, not that Mumbo-Jumbo about mission statements clown managers qualified by a sip of patent management development medicine think is intelligent). Most organisations can be made more efficient by removing LOMBARDS, cutting people, wages, removing layers of rank and cash-limits. Property can also be sold off.
One of the keys in ‘right-sizing’ is that the people left will work harder and establish a learning curve that makes the work manageable over time. Quite brutal outside management is usually brought in to do this. I forget the figures now, but the take over of the Imperial Group was a massive success of this type. One hardly sees one of today’s Hansons trying to take over policing though.
I fear for the health and safety of front-line police officers as this crude slash and burn tactic is dealt with by managers who have so clearly failed to identify necessary changes in the past, or even been able to speak up about what was going wrong. A new Channel 4 programme, ‘Cops’, may even top Gadget on what many officers feel is going wrong, and at least some faces will not be pixilated.
I have little doubt much of our criminal justice could be more summary and fairer, and much of our street policing more decisive. What I would have expected with the announcement of the cuts is some general strategy from government. It is quite obvious that police have not been able to speak about their real problems in a constructive manner and have not been able to ‘learn lessons’ at managerial level. I fear a whirlwind and that the brunt will be borne by victims and street-officers.