http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/04/chance-to-modernise-police-force – a link to the Lesser Odious Blair – this one the dork who ran the Met.
I spent some time doing organisational restructuring. It isn’t pleasant and the major “tool” is sacking people. People are usually the major business cost. If you can get rid of them you can buy more advanced machines and this usually lets you get – er – rid of more people. Terms like rationalisation, modernisation, squeezing costs and all kinds of kwality initiatives cover the basic function.
The idea is supposed to be about producing an overall economy that is high productivity, low unit cost. We all benefit because we end up in smarter jobs, earning more as UK plc vanquishes external competition. Obvious bolloxs – but most people seem suckered by this drivel – it has a compelling logic but more or less no corroborating data.
Various countries have been stacked up as being better than this than the UK. The USA, Germany, Japan have all been the lands of milk and honey in the myth. They never were. In other countries Thatcher is lauded for curing the British disease, but in fact “Thatcherism” pre-dates the Iron Lady by a couple of decades.
What smashed our working-class economy was international competition – largely a combination of cheap labour putting up with poor working conditions, huge improvements in logistics (particularly shipping), new production engineering requiring greenfield sites, the ability to embody skills in machines and greedy top managers and utterly hapless politicians.
Many sectors of our current economy are uncompetitive, but find ways to look as though they aren’t. We seem OK with notions like textile workers having to compete with South Asian sweat shops and child labour, but somehow OK with our cops being paid vast differentials over such distant counterparts – and judges, lawyers, professionals and managers. There is no evidence they are more productive than their distant counterparts.
So now the cops are putting some of their work out to tender. In any company doctoring I did, ‘modernisation’ largely involved finding out who was getting paid a lot and could be delayered. This means cuts to the overall budget – and it does not mean, as Blair glibly states, that this saving will be spent on more vital activities. It might mean this in a private company where redeploying the savings could increase productivity and sales; but it just will not mean this in the public sector where the spend is being cut. It means jobs will go through ‘natural wastage’, redundancies and potentially a big axe on promoted jobs through promotion freezes, new forms of ‘area management’ (with fewer managers) and getting management done at lower levels without extra pay. These are the rules of the game – Blair and other ACPOs hope to manage the process and keep their own fat pay. If I was doing the job the outcome would be similar, except I’d delayer the lot of them too.
The obvious and rarely addressed problem with all this efficiency is that it only makes sense in an economy with employers hungry for labour and capital hungry to invest in productive economy. In previous times it has taken the Black Death and world wars to bring this about. Sent to Japan to see their miracle first-hand, I found low unemployment but also people doing all kinds of non-jobs in banks and government that made our Post Office look like it was running on a skeleton staff (1980s). There were great conditions in key factories, but also many employed part-time (48 hours a week) on low pay. It was clear even then they had no answer to maintaining full employment other than government spending. Though their executives take more responsible pay, my liver is still recovering from expense account spending!
The essential analysis is called business process analysis. In policing this reveals that much work done is clerical and can thus be done at a cheaper rate. I would expect much of the management could also be driven down the ranks and senior jobs eliminated under a form of area management, You don’t hire extra staff, but cheaper new staff and although you want the management done, you want this to be part of the lower order jobs, not a LOMBARD class (lots of money but are right dicks).
I could knock out a spreadsheet on what changes produce what savings. As a clue, you cost the average PC with her on costs (pension, redundancy entitlements etc.), get rid of 100 and cost the new staff (say 50 clerks) and their on costs. You then cash-flow the savings to show break even points. You bring in a new rank of ‘supervising constable’ (some are currently called area beat managers) and see how many sergeants and inspectors can go. Keep doing this until you have rid the world of half of ACPO.
The upfront redundancy costs are laid off against future savings and reduced cash-flow. You might create a new management level with all current ranks from chief inspector of chief super rolled into one and put out to interview.
Alongside this you would look to reduce the number of steps and any duplication in identified business processes – say getting some bastard to court. Summons, for instance, beats arrest, custody and charge hands down in business terms.
I admit it is complex, but it always means fewer and less well paid jobs with lower pensions. No one has ever worked out how to do any of this and produce new job opportunities with comparable pay and conditions. Why would the private sector produce such when it can invest elsewhere at cheaper rates that bring it more profit? The private sector cavalry is as mythical as Custer is as a hero (basically he was a money-grubber who led his men on a cavalry charge into a volcano after an act of genocide).
Not only will the jobs that go never return, the ‘savings’ won’t help the economy either. Wages have flat-lined since 1980 and cash in the hands of our bottom 50% (most cops) has shrunk from 14% to 1 %. This is why our pubs, shops and so on have disappeared and why much small business can’t make its way – no one can spend unless they borrow and that bubble has burst, The redundant cop with any sense will pay down her mortgage debt, not go on a spending rampage. Most won’t get a sinecure in Bahrain to make sure nothing changes there!
I think most would agree our legal system needs modernisation and to be much cheaper. We would like to see our economy more productive. The way to do this is through full employment as a right and democratic-approved earnings caps in all sectors and a more equal society which retains (or improves) innovation motivation and getting the work we need done done. I’ve always wondered why we are so scared of this and why, with chronic examples like the Soviet Union, we are so tamely on the road to serfdom under banking tyranny’s unseen politburo.
Any money saved in police modernisation (I think ACPO so dire it will end up as a cost) will just be sucked into the swamp of money making money a long way from our shores. And our cops will end up demoralised, just as the communities based around mines still are. The shining economic miracle of the Rising Sun is now the dead donkey of leading government debt. If they couldn’t do the jobs business why should we think we can using the ideology that failed them? Sound, capitalist Japanese will tell you cutting government spending actually made their earlier collapse much worse.