Saturday, 9 June 2012

Tom Winsor - without the ostrich plumes

Keen eyed viewers of the Jubilee carriage procession may have noticed an incongruous figure on horseback following at the very tail of the procession, just in front of the police cordon as it advanced up the Mall. With a bicorne hat sprouting a fountain of white ostrich plumes, cavalry overalls, a sword on hangers and a tunic encrusted at collar and cuffs with thick silver braid and generously draped with ropes of silver aiguillette, it was definitely Victorian and extremely decorative but what was it? In fact, it was Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, in full ceremonial fig.

Actually, I'm not having a go at Bernard. So far he's been an exemplary Commissioner - he's written no columns for the Guardian, has been absent from our TV screens and has generally been as quiet as a mouse, getting on with running the police rather than his predecessor's vulgar and obsessive self-publicity. And his full-fig is only encrusted in silver braid; the more obscure Commissioner of the City of London police gets gold (see left). And I'll bet he only got togged-up to have a dig at the egregious Hugh Orde, who loves uniforms so much he made up his own Ruritanian costume to wear as Comrade Secretary General of the Chief Constables Union, ACPO, complete with plastic cornflake-packet badges. You can bet Hugh was spitting teeth at the sight of Bernard's ostrich plumes.

I'm not sure what ceremonial uniform Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary is entitled to wear, but I'm pretty sure that riding lessons and tailor's fittings are not top of Tom Winsor's agenda right now. The predictable whining from the ranks of the police at a 'civilian' being nominated for this post ignores the reality of an HMI's work; look at any of the force reports on the HMI site and you'll find nothing but performance indicators, bar charts and all the panoply of a roomful of MBAs. What the police complaints mean, of course, is that Winsor is not 'one of the lads', that he hasn't been blooded by fighting drunks on a Saturday night or bonded with the lads in the canteen as they falsify their notebooks to get their stories straight. But this isn't really necessary, is it, to question why up to 20% of plods are 'off sick' at any one time, or that when the less than honest amongst them get close to being found out they're allowed to retire on full pensions on 'health' grounds?

Police practices and privileges have become as outdated as those of dockers in the 1960s or print workers in the 1980s. Winsor knows it and so do we. An HMI without the ostrich plumes is exactly what we need right now. 

Update 18.10
Uhm, not Ostrich, apparently, but Swan;

TUNIC—Dark blue cloth. Single-breasted. Collar and gauntlet
cuffs of velvet, silver oakleaf and acorn embroidery on
both. Embroidered back skirts ; eight buttons (seven, and
one flat) down front, two at hips. Shoulder cords, plaited
silver and black, as General's. Badges of rank in gold
BUTTONS.—Silver-plated, universal civil pattern.
OVERALLS AND PANTALOONS.—Dark blue doeskin to match colour
of tunic, with 2-inch silver oakleaf lace.
COCKED HAT.—Black silk, edged with black oakleaf lace, silver
bullion loops and tassels.
PLUME.—White swan feathers drooping outwards, 10 inches long,
with black feather under them. (Assistant Commissioners—
8 inches long.)
WAIST SASH.—2.1/2 inches wide, 2 black stripes 1/4 inch wide, the rest
silver ; round tassels of silver fringe, 9 inches long.
SWORD BELT AND SLINGS.—Black leather slings, 1 inch wide, with
silver oakleaf lace.
SWORD.—Mameluke hilt, ivory grip, scimitar blade. {Assistant
Commissioners—as for Infantry of the Line.)
SCABBARD.—Steel ridged with cross lockets and rings.
SWORD KNOT.—Black and silver cord, and acorn.
SPURS.—Steel or nickel, swan-necked.
AIGUILLETTE. {Commissioner only.)—Silver lace. Army pattern.
To be worn on the right shoulder.
CLOAK {no Cape).—Dark blue cloth; lined scarlet. Velvet stand
and fall collar, blue underneath. Short back strap, 1.1/2 inches
in centre and 2 inches at each end, with flexible buttons.
Turn-back cuffs, 6 inches deep, and long centre slit and
gusset at back. Seven buttons.   


Anonymous said...

Raedwald, are you suggesting that the Police Force is institutionallly institutionalised?

Anonymous said...

When the pigs squeal you know they are wrong.

DeeDee99 said...

My late father was a Met Officer, 'retiring' in the late 80s with 30 yrs service and a full pension. He then went on to work in the Court system for a further 14 years gaining another pension. Following 'retirement' he then did a few days a week for 3 years preparing Court Briefs for a solicitor until he finally retired.

There is no justification for the police to continue 'retiring' after 25 or 30 years. Yes, they pay into their generous pension scheme, but there is no reason why these officers shouldn't work to age 65 doing the intelligence and 'back-room' work. It would free-up their younger colleagues for the front-line role.

Anonymous said...

The police whinge like crazy because they have to put 11% of their salary into their pensions.

If you were in the private sector sector and wanted the same level of provision - you'd be putting in 67%.

They can STFU...

Anonymous said...

Good ideas DeeDee99 and well said.

David C said...

Great post Raedwald thanks

Anonymous said...

I was at a dinner party a year or so back

Another guest was a Swedish copper.

I thought he looked a bit old to be a copper and asked when he had retired/was retiring.

I was suitably amazed to know that he was in his fifties and was still on the "coal face". I can't recall whether he had to wait until 60 or 65 but it was a "regular" job retirement age.

He shook his head and said "I should have been an English cop" when I explained the situation here.

jaded said...

I know i'm a lone voice on here (up to now) but i'm afraid you are all wrong.Winsor has been employed by the govt to wreck the police and when you are being ordered about by G4S monkeys on minimum wage and in broken English,then you will have something to moan about.
The police pension is another issue.All I want is the deal I was promised on joining.I have kept my side of the bargain.
Head down for incoming.....

Anonymous said...

Me thinks, that with this type of research - you should have been doing the BBC commentary instead of the inane slebs we got landed with.

Anonymous said...

Jaded.. did you not see my comment about the comparative rates above..

Or anpother example, Brian Paddick, retires in his mid 50's and takes a £400K lump sum and still gets an £80k/yr pension for what 20/25 years?

There's no way that he's put in anywhere near enough to justify that.

And as for not changing the deal, Gordon Brown fucked my private pension. Are you asking for immunity from Government action because the government is your employer?

G. Tingey said...

Winsor has form
Look up what he did with the railways ...
As a lawyer, he stated that "the contract" was the important thing - rather than actually, you know, running the trains.
He didn't last long.

Reward for screwing-up previously - an opportunity to do it all again!

jaded said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jaded said...

It's unfair to keep quoting Paddicks pension.He was a very senior officer,probably third or fourth in charge of the Met.I don't compare Fred the Shreds pension to a cashier at RBS in a branch.
Just because Gordon Brown wrecked your pension,is it fair that Winsor steals mine?

Anonymous said...

Gordon Brown did not wreck your pension. He just removed the subsidy that the government gave you to "save" for the pension. Sobering thought: if the government removed all the subsidies (tax reliefs) that they allow on pension saving and payments then all the private pension funds would pay nothing.