A story reported by Wink News today highlights the need to manage confidential informants’ expectations and maintain communication. According the report, an informant for Lee County Sheriff’s Office found that his name was disclosed in court records much earlier than he and his family were expecting. The disclosure came early on in a trial that the informant provided evidence for.
In Florida the law allows the identity of confidential informants to be revealed if it is important in the trial. It seems that in this case the informant and his family were not given sufficient warning of the impending release of his identity. Police forces should take their responsibility seriously to maintain good communication with informants.
It is interesting that the second phase of the UK Government’s consultation process around 21st Century Policing moves on to the subject of procurement. Following Phillip Green’s articles in the paper this morning reporting the significant waste in public sector spending resulting from a lack of intelligent bulk buying, you end up agreeing that local buying is not the way to gain financial benefit as you would in a large multinational. However, those on the other side of the argument will state that “one size does not fit all” and that centralisation of buying tends to discriminate against small local companies that often provide a better quality product at cheaper cost.
So where is the happy medium in this? The recent consultation paper around police buying seems to try and find the middle position, with the introduction of “Procurement Frameworks” utilising the current OGC frameworks. This approach seems fine in principal, but again there are downsides. Firstly, these current large scale frameworks are notoriously difficult to get on to, with most dominated by the larger System Integrator companies, leaving many current suppliers off the radar. Secondly, if you are a small sized company, you can operate through a framework company to provide your products and services, but there is an administrative mark up by the Framework company, which necessarily reduces value for money for the buyer. It is also apparent that due to the value of some of the contracts that go through Frameworks, some of those Framework suppliers find that they do not make enough mark up (which is capped) to make it worth their while.
So what is the solution? Well, Frameworks are a good way of tackling the issue, but at the same time they need to be more open to the types of products and services which the police need and use. There also needs to be a better education programme for Procurement Departments across the country about what options they have on their procurement menu. So many times have we seen that procurement departments have no idea what is available from the Frameworks that are currently in place.
So in principle, Frameworks are the answer, but not in their current form……
Ottowa Police Service officer, Constable William Barlow, has been found guilty of neglect of duty after meeting a confidential informant alone and off-duty, contravening the police service’s policy, as well as providing the informant with confidential information. The argue now raging around Ottowa, is whether the insubordinate officer should be fired or not. Whilst the Ottowa Police want him to be dismissed for his obvious contravention of policy, the Ottowa Police Association would prefer that lessons were learned and for the police service to move on without firing the officer.
It seems to me that such flagrant failure to follow the rules really hsould lead to instant dismissal, particularly in this high risk, sensitive area of policing. Failure to take strong decisive action would surely set a bad precedent…
The Chief Inspector of Constabulary this morning has published a report detailing what everyone else has been thinking these past weeks. The fact of the matter is that anything over a 12% cut in police funding cannot be achieved without re-engineering the way in which UK police is organised and functions. The reality is that over the last 10 years we have created a police service which has been dogged by bureaucracy, red tape and, at times, a risk averse approach. All of this, as in any organisation that suffers the same level of hand tying, results in increased costs and increased inefficiency.
Sir Dennis O’Connor is therefore right that we should now look at the whole picture in terms of UK policing structure and service and go back to basics in terms of delivering core services. One solution to the problem may well be an acceleration of merging territorial based policing within regions and moving more specialised services to the centre. Do I dare to say a return of the Regional Crime Squad in disguise..? At least under this model, the public get their territorial and local based service whilst major crime investigation and other specialised services are concentrated where it counts. The biggest hurdle to cross now is that of investment. The merger process and setting up of central service incurs significant investment against long term savings. The question is will there be political commitment to spend now and save later? The plot thickens and it may well not come to any conclusion until after the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in October where the real devastation by cuts may eventually be revealed.
It’s not surprising that the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) are encouraging retailers to review their security strategies following an increase in shop thefts by a third between 2008 and 2009. If retailers continue to cut security budgets this increase in retail crime could escalate in 2010. Although budgets are tight in the current economic climate retailers need to look at all available options for preventing, detecting and taking action against crime.
The effective management of information security has never been more important to organisations; preventing the theft, loss and leakage of information is a constant challenge. A report released by Computer Security and Forensics consulting firm 7Safe and the University of Bedfordshire has provided an insight into the nature of security breaches in the UK. The UK Security Breach Investigations Report analysed data from over 60 computer forensic investigations into data compromise, the majority of these investigations were in relation to the retail sector but included many others such as finance, hospitality and hoteliers. The report can be downloaded free of charge at www.7Safe.com/breach_report.
The national media are today reporting on the National Fraud Authority’s (NFA) estimation of the cost of fraud in the UK. The NFA’s report found that fraud costs the UK £30bn a year, equating to £621 per adult. £17bn (58%) of the losses are attributed to the public sector. This figure highlights the growing need for investigation departments to work more efficiently in identifying and invetsigating cases of fraud. With the budgets of Local Authorities set to come under sever pressure over the next few years, it is imperative that they adopt better procedures and new technology to prevent the level of fraud from increasing.
John Ambrose, a former deputy US marshal, has been sentenced to 4 years in prison for leaking information about a confidential informant who was cooperating with Chicago Police. The leak represented the first major security breach of the US’s federal witness protection programme. See the full story at http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/04/us-marshal-john-ambrose-verdict-chicago-outfit-nicholas-calabrese.html