When Spy Blog looked at the "Preparing Britain for the future" - Government's Draft Legislative Programme 2008/09 (.pdf) document yesterday, there was not the time, nor the energy to comment on the Policing and Crime Reduction Bill announcement.
Yesterday we wrote:
Gordon Brown has, either for genuine transparency in Government reasons, or, more likely, for cynical short term "Must be Seen To Be Doing Something" reasons just before the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, pre-announced a list of forthcoming Bills, which would traditionally have been first revealed in the Queen's Speech in November.
The inept Harriet Harman, presumably with the blessing of Gordon Brown, has now sneakily published an Amendment to Preparing Britain for the Future - The Government's Draft Legislative Programme 2008-09 Cm 7372 (.pdf)
Do not be tempted to believe the claims on page 76of the original Draft Legislative Programme 2008-09 which claims:
The language of legislation
18. The Government is committed wherever possible to using plain
language in the legislative process to ensure that non-lawyers can
better understand what is being proposed.
You can see that this promise has already been broken with the deliberately obscure wording used in the Amendment document:
Due to an administrative error some detail in the Draft Legislative Programme Green Paper Cm 7372 published on 14 May 2008 was incorrect and is being amended as follows:
p 39: delete 'maing' and insert 'making' in 2nd line of 1st bullet under 'The main elements of the Bill are:'
p 47: delete 2nd main bullet under 'The main elements of the Bill are:'
p 48: delete 2nd bullet at top of page starting 'A new...'
p 48: delete 2nd sentence in para under Consultation and amend 3rd sentence to read 'Details will be available at www.homeoffice.gov.uk'
p 56: last sentence of last bullet point to end '...to read out any family impact statements in court.'
There was once a time, when a spelling error such as that on page 39, in the Government announcement regarding the "Education and skills bill" would have led to mainstream media articles criticising falling educational standards.
Why are the titles of the Bills not fully capitalised in this document ?
Why is the word "future" not capitalised in the original document title (which employs fake handwriting graphics), but it is capitalised ("Future") in the amendment document title ?
Presumably this typographical error on page 39 is due to the erroneous addition of a spelling mistake into a departmental or personal spell check dictionary, probably in Microsoft Word software.
Similarly the page 56 error substituted the word "and" for the correct word "any".
Note that, given the quoted fragments of text, it is fairly obvious that the page 39 and page 56 corrections refer to spelling errors, something which can be gleaned without actually having to refer to the original document. Surely both of these errors should have been picked up by proper, independent proof reading by people other than the original document author ?
However the amendment on page 47 and the three amendments on page 48 are much sneakier. You do need to refer to the original document, to decipher the major changes to the content of original description of the Policing and Crime Reduction Bill
p 47: delete 2nd main bullet under 'The main elements of the Bill are:' deletes
- Implement recommendations from Sir Clive Booth's report, Determining Pay in the Police Service;
p 48: delete 2nd bullet at top of page starting 'A new...' deletes:
- A new arrangement for agreeing police pay, with the opportunity for all parties to give evidence before recommendations are made to Ministers, considering morale and motivation, recruitment and retention, as well as affordability and the wider economic context;
p 48: delete 2nd sentence in para under Consultation deletes:
The Government will also consult on implementing the recommendations of Sir Clive Booth's review.
See Sir Clive Booth's report Determining Pay in the Police Service (.pdf) (October 2007).
Has Sir Clive Booth's review been scuppered at the last minute, i.e. since Wednesday 14th May 2008, or was it torpedoed back when the Home Office reneged on Police Pay promises, which led to the large protest march in London in January ? (see The Times: Thousands of police officers march over pay)
These major changes to the description of the content of the Police and Crime Reduction Bill, and the lack of proof reading before publication imply that either there has been last minute changes in policy at the Home Office regarding this Bill, or that the entire Draft Legislative Program was not originally due to be published this week, and it has been rushed through without even proper clerical checks.
Can any Spy Blog reader confirm that these spelling errors and the inclusion of the references to the Police pay review are also present in the printed copies of this document (priced at an astonishingly poor value for money £18.55) ?
The two of details announced in this Yet Another Police Bill which caught our attention were regarding Police Bureaucracy and Extradition
Incredibly, through some sort of legislative magic, this proposed "Policing and crime reduction bill" is somehow meant to reduce wasteful bureaucracy
"- reducing bureaucracy in the police service."
*Reducing bureaucracy by repealing legislation that is no longer required.*
Will there be criminal penalties for any politician or senior civil servant or police manager who inflicts too may Forms and Statistics and Reports on the front line Police officers ?
Or will the few actual safeguards for innocent members of the public simply be ditched e.g. regarding Stop and Search etc., or tamperproof evidence audit trails ?
Remember that the Home Office's attempt to reduce Police Bureaucracy, under the notorious disgraced former Home Secretary David Blunkett, and his then Minister for Policing, Crime Reduction and Counter-terrorism Hazel Blears, only seemed to produce the so called Policing Bureaucracy Gateway. This abuses the word "gateway" to mean Yet Another Bureaucratic Review Process, involving Yet Another Load of Form Filling e.g. this Policing Bureaucracy Gateway checklist form (.pdf)
"Bureaucracy Tests Completed?"
"The bureaucratic impact of this proposal has been considered and I am satisfied that the proposal is necessary and that the benefits justify the costs."
Fighting bureaucracy by means of even more bureaucratic form filling, has been a spectacular, and entirely foreseeable failure.
Attempting to do so through an Act of Parliament must surely also fail, unless there are actual penalties for politicians and senior officials who inflict the burden of bureaucracy on society.
There is worryingly little detail about Extradition, just:
"Streamlined extradition processes;"
"Improve the arrangements for judicial co-operation in relation to extradition;"
What does this actually mean in practice, and how can it possibly be achieved through even more complicated legislation ?
The Government should start by (temporarily) removing Spain from Schedule 1 of the Extradition Act 2003, so that the so called "fast track" European Arrest Warrant process no longer applies.
This could be done immediately by Order.
They should only restore this status when the Spanish authorities honour the Judgment of the highest Court in the United Kingdom, the Law Lords sitting in the House of Lords in the case of Farid Hilali.
The Spanish authorities have insulted our whole system of British Justice by flouting the ruling as to which charges Hilali could be extradited to Spain on.