Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Rotherham: rinse and repeat

I said I wasn't going to get sucked into the Rotherham scandal debate but it is relevant to this blog. The reason for my lack of enthusiasm is that all we see is the same white noise and extruded verbal material from our media, which is nothing that couldn't have been written about any shithole Northern town, every year, for the last twenty years. It still goes on, the plod know who's responsible, and the establishment goes out of its way to marginalise anyone who complains. Sound familiar?

This latest scandal largely has nothing at all to do with Islam and, like the epidemic of bailiff fraud, has everything to do with a bloated, anti-democratic system of local government which has a culture of denial where complaints are concerned. My experience with South Gloucestershire Council taught me everything I need to know. It's the same dynamic behind the NHS Staffordshire massacres.

Hugh Muir is the closest I've seen to sense on this, writing about a similar scandal in Rochdale, while carefully avoiding the cultural aspects. Apart from that, all we'll get is a stream of pontification from London hacks who couldn't find Rotherham on a map and have panic attacks if they go North of Watford. You'll get an adequate but superficial analysis from Spiked Online, but The Harrogate Agenda has it right, and coincidentally, The Harrogate Agenda is what we need to stop this from happening. Anything else is is just the same bland waffle we have heard many times before, where we are assured that "lessons will be learned".

As to South Gloucestershire, there exists the same arrogance of office. Sooner or later all of their skeletons will start falling out of the closet, and readers of this blog won't be in the least bit surprised if Amanda Deeks, Sue Mountstevens and her merry band of thuggish enforcers are also peadophile enablers and rape deniers.

1 comment:

  1. What comes as no surprise, according to the policing watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is that officers in the Yorkshire police force spend a “great deal of time” trying to “disprove” the word of victims. But what its findings also reveal (The Yorkshire Post), is that "it found no evidence of performance pressures leading to failures in crime recording...", which takes some believing that performance monitoring and the existence of league tables has not impacted negatively on victims seeking redress.

    Where performance indicators are in place to monitor a public body – which in this case, relate to failures in crime recording – it is reasonable to assume that the person responsible for managing the data would be perversely incentivised to falsely represent it. With this in mind it can be appreciated how officers may be pressured into palming-off victim's claims as unfounded. This, along with there always being a need to have an individual take responsibility for performance data that shows the department in a bad light seems a likely cause for those victims affected to be caused injustice.

    It is of course in nobody's interest, least of all the person suffering injustice to have a system whereby recorded performance is directly proportional to the level of expertise a public body has in manipulating it. The victims of crime pay ultimately, because of this destructive system (fuelled by the existence of league tables) where recognising and addressing crime is given over to concealing and denying it to make figures look good. When the degree to how well an individual police force functions is judged on performance and target data, it is to be expected that the person responsible will be perversely motivated to exploit the system by covering up incidents and consider it their role (and a challenge) to do so.

    Officers seeking to improve league table positions, have it seems, been cautious not to jeopardise this by excessively recording reported incidents which are only registered correctly as "crimes" apparently if every avenue has been exhausted to disprove a victims allegation. A system so obviously susceptible to abuse is fated to be exploited this way; rendering statistics meaningless and serving only to distort the true picture of how well or badly that police force functions. This doesn't come only at the expense of those whose injustices are ignored, but also to the public purse. The taxpayer is funding a non-functioning system, reliant upon self-reporting of data for which officers will not have resisted manipulating, hence false economy expecting value from gauging performance by a self monitoring system.

    Unless radical changes are made to a system relying on meaningless target and performance data, it is foreseeable that the cover-up culture it created will continue in the same vein indefinitely.