This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Code of Ethics consultation

Just clocked that the College of Policing Code of Ethics consultation closes today. I meant to have responded sooner. Still I managed to squeak in these comments:
  • I challenged the idea that the code places greater expectations on those in senior positions. In my view ethical standards are for all and by stratifying the code in this way, this suggests otherwise. Everyone working in the police service is a leader.
  • With regard to "I will act with self-control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy" I think this sentence is the wrong way around. This wording suggests that only through self-control and tolerance can people be treated with respect and courtesy. I would reverse the sentence and put a full stop between the two parts: I will treat members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy. I will act with self-control and tolerance.
  • The overall summary needs more mention of outcomes: the aims of the police service e.g. "I will work towards building communities that are safe, just and secure for all who live in them" (or something like)
  • The summary also needs to include the phrase "Human Rights", not just rights
  • There is also no mention of evidence based practice: the cornerstone of the College of Policing and progressive policing practice. This needs to be rectified in my view. I would place a statement under working diligently perhaps so that police officers and staff are encouraged to do only that which works.
  • The police service deals with very vulnerable, often damaged and frequently very scared people in situations where power is a significant factor. I am concerned that the statement beginning "do not use your professional position to establish or pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship..." does not go far enough. Clinicians can be 'struck off' for having a relationship with their patients. I think something similar should apply in the police service as well.
I probably could have said more. But time ran out on me. It would have been helpful if the pdf file had been saved to allow for copying and pasting too! That was poor consultation practice in my opinion. 

Meanwhile, when was the last time you had a training/development session on ethical practice? Often staff get their annual briefing on health & safety and other such matters. Does ethics ever figure? 

Should it?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What the Romans ever done for us?

I am just about to zoom off to Aylesbury Vale's annual business consultation meeting at a hotel on the edge of Buckingham. I am optimistic that this won't be like last year when we were talked at for over 80 minutes. Having met with the Deputy Chief Executive the other day, it sounds like it will be much more two way. (I will let you know...)

Meanwhile I have pondering on what AVDC (and perhaps other local councils) can do to help local businesses thrive. This is in all our interests! Here is the list that I have got to so far:
  • Buy from us! In other words where the council is purchasing materials or services, go local first!
  • Set up your procurement so that it is SME friendly (there is plenty of guidance on that available from the Cabinet Office which, as it happens, I have had a small hand in creating)
  • Make business rates transparent: let everyone know what money is collected and how much of it ends up in local council hands
  • Use some of the Neighbourhood Homes Bonus and Community Infrastructure Levy to support local economic development
  • Make the council 'business friendly' which includes paying great attention to infrastructure development, supporting safe practices at work and promoting the eating establishments that are top notch when it comes to hygiene (see what is happening in Wales) among many other measures
  • Make it easy for businesses to hire apprentices and offer work training through connecting people together
  • Don't try to compete with local businesses: let your income generation innovation have only a benign impact on the local economy!
  • Use local business innovative and entrepreneurial spirit & insights to support the transformation of the council to a leaner, fitter and more effective local public service: we can help!
What else is on your list?

Boris, IQ, the media and statistics

Last night, Boris Johnson (Mayor and PCC for London) gave the second annual Margaret Thatcher lecture to people assembled by the Centre for Policy Studies. At the time of writing, the transcript / video does not appear to be uploaded yet, so I only have some words from the Guardian to use. They report: 
In highly provocative remarks, Johnson mocked the 16% "of our species" with an IQ below 85 as he called for more to be done to help the 2% of the population who have an IQ above 130. "Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85 while about 2% …" he said as he departed from the text of his speech to ask whether anyone in his City audience had a low IQ. To muted laughter he asked: "Over 16% anyone? Put up your hands." He then resumed his speech to talk about the 2% who have an IQ above 130
This has been picked up by several other media outlets as well, including the Daily Mirror who report:
It echoed Education Secretary Michael Gove’s advisor Dominic Cummings who recently claimed that youngsters’ performance at school is determined by genetics.
Let's deal with that issue first: to conflate IQ with genetics is dangerously simplistic. As far as I am aware, the scientific consensus now (after dispatching the discredited research which linked race and IQ etc) is that whilst genes are part of the equation, so is social environment in which a child is raised and (critically) the interaction between the two (whereby some genes can be switched on or off). I would criticise the Mirror for making this link although the use of the word 'species' by Mr Johnson is worrying.

But for me, what is far more worrying is the way in which Boris bandied about the stats on IQs. In essence he is stating the bloomin' obvious: that is how IQ scores work! Take this quote for example from "What Is the Average IQ?" from
This means that 68 percent of scores fall within one standard deviation of the mean (that is, between 85 and 115), and 95 percent of scores fall within two standard deviations (between 70 and 130)
In other words (100-68)/2 = 16%

Wow.... Boris is clearly being advised by a superior statistician. And, guess what!?... (100-95)/2=2.5% have an IQ above 130...

What was Boris trying to say? Was it this...?
  • There are many stupid people about: a whacking 16% of our species in fact
  • Bright people (the 2% with IQs of more than 130) are very clever at exploiting and manipulating this 16% and make lots of money out of them
  • Hurrah!
  • These clever people also pay lots of taxes (even after they have squirreled away as much as possible in offshore trusts) 
  • This makes them good people and we should not 'bash' these good people
  • Because there are huge inequalities in people's IQs, we should be relaxed, if not gleeful, about the rising inequalities in wealth between the rich and poor in our society
  • The trickle down theory really, really does work, doesn't it!
  • And who is Katniss Everdeen anyway?

Or have I misjudged and misinterpreted this heir to the Margaret Thatcher throne?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Time for another kind of oath

Many of the comments left on the various blogs / threads / videos relating to the Plebgate affair, tell a similar story now: how did this event become so politically important that thousands of taxpayers have been spent on it (and with more yet to come)? It would appear that Joe and Jo Public are losing their collective patience.

And so, I am not going to pass any more comment on this story as I have a) better things to do with my time and b) the CPS have very clearly warned people to not do so given that the matter is now in due legal process. Their statement says:
Journalists and users of social media are urged to exercise care and restraint in any additional reporting or commenting on the following statement. This is because they may risk committing a contempt of court as strict liability contempt rules apply.
and one constable...
now stands accused of a criminal offence and is entitled to a fair trial. Care should be taken that nothing is reported which may prejudice his trial.
I am unsure how, given these very clear warnings, that David Davis and Andrew Mitchell gave their press briefing yesterday. I am not even going to post a link to their words. But hey ho...

Anyway, I will be rather glad when these matters are examined in a court case and people can be on oath.

I hope that we may then finally get at the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth... 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The magic of Brasso (Secret diary of a PCC)

Well, here we are, just over a year in post and I am still here! I think that is some achievement.

Some of my close friends said I wouldn’t make it. In various ways they suggested that my straight talking and no nonsense approach to governance would get me into hot water. Well – hah! to them!

OK, I have gone through a couple more chief constables than I expected and the irritating Police & Crime Panel are becoming even more damn irritating and increasing my intake of aspirin… But they haven’t got rid of me yet (in fact they can’t unless I break the law). I think my chain of office is beginning to work its magic. People are respecting me more, especially when I get the Brasso out before a big meeting or press briefing.

And yes, there were some others who thought that my congenital ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome (inherited from my dear departed Brigadier Father) would get me into trouble with the local and national media. Well I have shown them too! I have been more than able to say stupid things and… get away with it! I do think the chain of office is helping there as well.

So what is the real secret (beyond the Brasso)? Well, I think I have been fortunate to stay mostly invisible. Even if I say daft things, I can be fairly sure that nobody really cares. Looking around the country, I can see I am in good company with some other PCCs still doing pretty silly things themselves and getting away with it. The fact is, most people still don’t know that we really exist, and even if they do know, they have no idea what we actually do…

If you try not to make too much of it and keep your head below the parapet (unlike those idiot PCCs who are organising blethering summits, earnest ‘listening’ public engagement events and other new public management paraphenalia), it is rather a peachy job. There are lots of jollies up in London, the Home Secretary has a rather good stock of fancy biscuits and then there’s the occasional chance to stroke a police horse’s head.

And on top of this, of course, I have the government protecting my back: PCCs can do no ill. We are officially immune. The Home Sec is never going to admit that a fair few of the elected PCCs would probably be no better at running a bank than the erstwhile chairman of the Coop. We are, quite simply, the apples of her eye. Indeed, I fully expect a future Tory government to give me even more responsibility. I cannot wait: there will be even more meetings in London to go to where I can consume good biscuits and take in a show at the end of the day (on expenses of course).

So time for a glass of wine to toast my first year of office… May there be many more!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Big questions over new PCC resource formula

A few months ago, the Thames Valley PCC announced that he was changing the way that the funds for local Community Safety Partnerships under his control would be allocated. His original proposal was that the formula for deciding on the allocation should broadly reflect the resource allocation formula used by the constabulary to allocate police resources. His proposals were not met with, shall we say, much enthusiasm...

His original formula was this:

Population (2011 census) - 30%
All recorded crime - 35%
All incidents (excluding admin & crime) - 35%

I have criticised this formula before (see link here) for being essentially self reinforcing.

Anyway, the proposal would have meant some serious reductions in funding for the major (and higher crime) cities of Thames Valley with the 'winners' being the more rural (and lower crime) areas. (Although everyone is about to lose because the funding had gone down.)

Now to be fair, Mr Stansfeld did consult on this formula and it would appear did listen. As a new formula has been proposed in a paper produced by the PCC for the recent PCP meeting.

Population (2011 census) - 20%
Recorded crime (per 1000 population) - 20%
Number of ASB incidents - 20%
Home location of offenders and suspects - 20%
Number of opiat* & crack cocaine users per 1000 population - 20%

(*I thought it was opiate by the way)

So what are the implications of this? Here is a table which summarises:


Bucks CC
Milton Keynes
Oxon CC
West Berkshire
Windsor & Maidenhead



So the three biggest losers are Reading, Slough & Oxon. While the areas least affected are Wokingham, Windsor & Maidenhead and (the area where Mr Stansfeld lives and is still a local councillor) West Berkshire.

So the areas which include some of the highest crime areas and most deprived wards are losing the most. Is this what Mr Stansfeld meant by prioritising rural crime?

But I will hold back from suggesting that this formula is an extraordinarily biased one designed to benefit the areas where Mr Stansfeld has his main political support. However, I do think there are some big problems with it:
  • Firstly it assumes that all this data is accessible and reliable. Apart from the census data, the other four (to greater and lesser degrees) may have large fictional elements
  • After all the brouhaha about the reliability of recorded crime data in this last week, should this really feature at all? 
  • While drug use undoubtedly is a major factor in crime & community safety, what about alcohol? My suspicion is that alcohol use is a much bigger factor. Why does this not feature in the same way?
  • And why home location? Surely what matters is where the crimes etc are committed?
  • And what model of crime prevention is this formula based upon? I would like to know - it seems a million miles away from (say) the work of Ekblom (links here and here) or Problem Solving Policing or even Problem Orientated Policing... 
  • Could there be some perverse incentives to report more ASB (for example)?
I know the amounts of money are not mega bucks but any resource allocation needs to be done carefully and strategically. For me there are very many unanswered questions concerning this new formula.

What do you think?

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Norfolk PCC & Expenses

It now emerges that Stephen Bett has paid back the £3k he had taken in expenses for travelling from his home work base to (what most people would regard as his real) work base in Wymondham. BBC Stories are here and then here (a few hours later). I was interviewed to be part of the story and appeared as part of the story on the BBC East's version of the Sunday Politics Show.

I know I have posted these links already, but what many people do not know is the full text of what I initially wrote up for the BBC. I reprint this below, as I sent it on Wednesday evening (i.e. before it was revealed that Mr Bett was paying back the money):

Frankly I am very surprised to be talking about this issue. I have worked with Stephen Bett: I know him to be a very experienced politician (a former senior Conservative Norfolk County Councillor and Chairman of the Police Authority) and he is very committed to getting good value for the money for the tax payer. I also assumed that the story about my PCC, Thames Valley’s Anthony Stansfeld and his interesting past travel expenses arrangements would have reached the ears of the Norfolk PCC. But it would appear not. Surprising, as I say.

This new case of, shall we call it ‘flexible working’, raises several issues for me:
  • Perhaps the Home Secretary, or even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, might feel moved to write to all PCCs to remind them of their responsibilities towards the tax paying public? 
  • The Norfolk Police & Crime Panel might wish to reflect upon their scrutiny role: how did things get to this stage on their watch? (Indeed I wonder whether other panels around the country might now be looking a little more closely at the expenses claims of their PCCs & Deputy PCCs in the future)
  • The Norfolk Office for the Police & Crime Commissioner is currently advertising for a new Treasurer. Perhaps it might be helpful to accelerate that appointment?
  • And PCCs, perhaps some more than most, might find it valuable to spend a little more time comparing their practice with other PCCs around the country: learning about good practice to focus upon and what practices to avoid…

I set this down for the record.

Also for the record,  I would add:
  • I hope the Police & Crime Panel is now going to investigate this matter fully and will also be inquiring into the Deputy PCC's expenses as well (it is unclear from public records as to whether she has been doing similar things to the PCC or not).
  • Paying back the money is not the end of the matter, as far as I am concerned. An independent audit at the very least is required if not an IPCC investigation.
  • I remain curious about the advice that Mr Bett says he received and I have submitted an FoI inquiry to uncover this documented advice.
But I repeat again, I am genuinely surprised that a politician of Mr Bett's calibre should have got into this state of affairs. 

PCCs: A year is a long time in politics

As we approach the anniversary of the first (and last?) election of Police & Crime Commissioners, many people have felt moved to do some kind of one year on review.

For example (at least two regional versions - maybe more) of the Sunday politics show featured pieces on PCCs. I am featured on the East of England one at about 42 minutes in, talking about the Norfolk PCC and his expenses.

And then of course, we have the excellent work that my colleague Bernard Rix has been doing on auditing transparency across the 41 PCCs & London Mayor. You can access his report (first of several) here.

The irrepressible Bob Jones, the West Midlands PCC has produced his 'school report' and gives the PCC model of governance an overall 4 out of 10. You can read the original report here and BBC story of it here.

And then I must add, the Home Secretary gave her 'warts and all' review a few days ago. Here is the link to her speech.

In about half an hour's time, I am going to be contributing my thoughts to Radio Northampton on the ups and downs of having PCCs over the last year. So here are my glads and sads about the introduction of PCCs a year ago.

I am glad that: the governance of policing is now explicitly political since it always has been and always will be: this vital arm of the state needs to be properly considered in wide public discourse. However (and you may not believe me when I say this...) I am sad that: this has become overly party political and dare I say tribal. I take my share of responsibility in this, but I am not the only one! But was this inevitable?

I am glad that: there are now powerful elected figureheads who can challenge the government and particularly the Home & Justice Secretaries on the impact of some of the Government's policies (e.g. the privatisation of probation services) on crime and community safety. I am sad that: the Government still refuses to listen to these considered opinions and favours its own ideology over evidence & professional advice.

I am glad that: a good number of independent PCCs were elected since they are offering a body of pluralist thought and challenge outside the party structures. I did not expect any to be elected at all though in hindsight I can see why they were. I am sad that: this has resulted in sniping and less supportive partnership/scrutiny from some of the Police & Crime Panels who are dominated by the political party that expected to win in those areas.

I am glad that: PCCs are currently grappling with the challenges of developing their first real independent budget & plan for 2014/15 (since they mostly inherited the one in place at the moment). This will test their ability to translate their manifesto promises into real policies and investments in new kinds of policing. I am sad that: many PCCs will default to 'off the shelf' budgets or worse install budgetary mechanisms that favour their political allies rather than what is needed to tackle the underlying causes of crime and anti-social behaviour.

I am glad that: many PCCs are experimenting with novel approaches to community listening, service innovation and bold public service leadership. I am sad that: some PCCs are still failing to put their heads above the parapet and take some risks.

I am glad that: some PCCs 'get' evidence based practice and are prepared to invest in research to bolster even more effectiveness in policing. I am sad that: some, perhaps even most, PCCs have yet to really grasp what evidence based policing is all about and are relying too much upon rhetoric, 'received wisdom' and 'approved' practices (with some having no solid research base).

I am glad that: many PCCs have made a point of going out to listen to their publics and communities, and are listening (really listening) to them. I am sad that: many PCCs waited far too long to start doing this and some, even now, are hardly out of the blocks when it comes to real community engagement.

I am glad that: most PCCs are conducted their affairs with due probity and good governance. I am sad that: several PCCs have achieved a high profile not for making a difference to policing but for practicing some, shall we say, 'less that wise' approaches to expenses, travel and staff appointments. Indeed I am angry that some PCCs have tarnished the reputation of politicians yet again, following the MP expenses scandals of a few years back. (But then again, some MPs are still doing this too!)

I am glad that: many Police and Crime Panels have begun to recognise the range of powers that they have, both hard (statutory) and soft (just asking some rather fine questions etc) powers. I am sad that: some other PCPs seem to have been caught napping and have done little to hold their PCC to account beyond the bare minimum.

I am glad that: the debate is growing about how to reform this governance model post the next general election. I am sad that: there are some who appear so invested in the model that they cannot see that it requires some significant tweaking.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kamikaze politics

The story has broke this morning of the expenses being claimed by Stephen Bett, Norfolk PCC for his travel between his home and the place where all his staff & Chief Constable are. You can read the story here.

As you might expect given that I am quoted in the piece, I have known about this story for a couple of days. Indeed Sally Chidzoy interviewed me on camera yesterday. Some of this footage will appear on Sunday in the BBC's 'Politics Show East'. (I have not seen the piece yet).

Since the story is still in the making, I will hold back from saying much about it on this blog.

However, I would just note that here we are, almost a year since PCCs were first elected and this is one of the breaking news stories... Another breaking story will soon be emerging from my colleague Bernard Rix who has been conducting a transparency audit of PCCs over the last few weeks. I have not seen the results, but I predict the news is unlikely to be 'peachy'!

Meanwhile the Home Secretary felt moved to report 'warts and all' on the progress of PCCs to a conference organised by Policy Exchange. You can read her speech here. Perhaps I should not be surprised, but I think this speech was peppered with partisan comments. And as for the warts, I think they were more mere pimples. (But hey, since when did Government ministers give full and unexpurgated accounts of what has happened..?)

But in many ways Ms May is correct, the new governance structure is work in progress and I suspect that a second term Conservative (single or coalition) Government would institute some reforms of the current arrangements. (Interestingly, I have been told that it was the Lib Dems who inserted the role of the Police & Crime Panels. Had it a pure Tory Government, we would have PCCs without any check or balance other than the ballot box every four years... I leave you to ponder on that.)

But I quote the Home Secretary here:
"Overall, police and crime commissioners are driving significant changes in policing – they are better known and more easily approached than the police authorities they replaced they are delivering innovative reforms, and many are making use of their powers to hold their forces to account. To be frank, this is not the case across the board, and in some cases, police and crime commissioners have been responsible for mistakes and errors of judgement – some possibly serious." (my added bold)
We learnt about some of these in Thames Valley a few months ago. The people of Norfolk are waking up this morning to some more, it would appear...

UPDATE (1749 08113): BBC News has just released this story: Norfolk PCC Stephen Bett pays back more than £3,000 in expenses.
Stephen Bett, PCC for Norfolk, claimed for 70 trips from his home to the offices in Wymondham. He said he had done nothing wrong but would return the money so that the controversy would not "tarnish the reputation of policing in Norfolk". He said he would no longer claim mileage for those journeys.
I will write more on this next week. For me the question now is: will the controversy end here, as I assume Mr Bett hopes it will?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A solid honest copper

I know Chief Constable Andy Parker. He is a measured, serious and deeply committed police officer with many years of experience. I highly recommend that you read his letter (dated 4 November) to Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz.

You can access it here, on page 241.

He ends his letter with these words:
I would ask that you publicly correct the misleading statements that have been made, which I consider damaging to my reputation and that of the force. 
Throughout this matter I have endeavoured to act with integrity and transparency - I will continue to do so and look forward to your response.
You need to read the letter to understand the power of these words.

For myself, I worry that the whole #Plebgate saga is now turning into an endlessly intricate and baroque maze of 'he said, she said, they said' etc. I used to get angry with journalists, politicians and tweeters offering up opinions that were well short of the facts. Now I am more sanguine. Unless you are wearing three anoraks, you cannot hope to follow the weaving and dancing around this issue.

In the meantime good police officers like Andy are having to spend their time writing letters like the one referenced above. He had to write it of course. But I suspect he would agree there are better uses of his time.

So where do we go from here?

  • We await due process of the CPS while it considers the fate of the police officers who were involved in the original incident.
  • The fresh IPCC investigation (of questionable legality) into the three Federation Reps who met with Mr Mitchell will roll on 
  • And police officers and staff up and down the country will talk on camera with even more circumspection than hitherto

Monday, November 4, 2013

The 90 Minute Towel Rule

I have just come back from a delightful 10 days in Agadir, Morrocco. I highly recommend the RIU Tikida Beach Hotel (although if you are vegetarian: beware! Some of the dishes that you would think were veggie are not! I eventually had the Chef de Cusine giving me a tour of the buffet each evening to point out which dishes I could eat and which I should not!) But overall, lovely staff & great service. Thank you!


There always seems to be a problem with people 'booking' the beds and sun loungers. (Yes: they had real waterproof beds by the pool too...) It seems as if, despite Hotel 'rules' about not booking spaces, people still do with a variety of towels, magazines, footwear and even cuddly toys. And usually this happens from 6am (I am told).

I would not mind quite as much (though I would still mind) if people then actually used the space during the day. But on several occasions I saw 'booked' beds lie empty for whole days aside from the lonely towel 'occupying' them. This is either (at best) absent minded or (at worst) very selfish behaviour by the people concerned. I raised this issue with the Hotel who declared there was little they could do (Why have the rule then?!?!)

However, I have a solution which I am calling the 90 Minute Towel Rule. Here is how it works:

  • You spot a desired lounger/bed 'booked' with a towel (or whatever) 
  • You photograph it on your mobile / camera (with a date time recorded)
  • You wait 90 minutes (in the bar, on another less desirable lounger etc) and, if the item 'securing the booking' has not been disturbed, you photograph it again to prove 90 minutes of absence.
  • You then carefully remove said item, place it nearby in safety.
  • You then occupy the bed / lounger
  • If the owner of said item returns, you say they broke the 90 minute rule and therefore you have made a new claim. 

What do you reckon? Could this work? Should hotels be told? 

And (as often) I am indebted to @SimonJGuilfoyle for his excellent blog about Holiday systems matters which highlighted a similar problem with tables in cafeterias. His blog prompted me to write this one.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Where angels fear to tread...

And so late last night we had some breaking news about the plebgate saga: the Home Affairs Select Committee released a report reviewing their perspective on the Andrew Mitchell / Police Federation meeting and subsequent investigation of the officers for misconduct. Based on recommendations made by the HASC, the IPCC announced that they will conducting a new independent inquiry (or to use the precise wording: redetermine the investigation). Accompanying this is a video broadcast by IPCC Deputy, Deborah Glass.

It probably goes without saying that this matter is getting now eye-poppingly procedural and complex. Like other observers and interested parties, I welcome this fresh look at the evidence and the conduct of the Federation officers involved in the meeting. For example, you can access Bob Jones' (West Mids PCC) statement on the matter here. I do not see this second look as a 'retrial' but an opportunity to quieten the cacophony or ill informed comment and try to get to the bottom of things.

After all this news broke late last night (I was en route back from a wonderful evening at the Albert Hall with the massed Male Voice Choirs of Cornwall), I followed and tweeted on the matter. It did not help that many of automated tweets from the IPCC had broken links...

One tweet that stood out was this one from @NathanConstable with my reply below:

As regular readers know, I have tweeted and blogged on this whole subject recently (a blog that has risen rapidly into the top three most read posts on my blog). And I am mindful of what Nathan advised. And so I am not going to do any analysis (I have not read the HASC report in detail etc.) and I am going to wait for fresh IPCC investigation to report, for the reasons stated above. I have been told that the 4 hour HASC hearing from a couple of weeks ago is riveting, but right now I do not have the time. (Surprisingly, I do have other things to do than blog!)

But.... here are some questions that I would dearly love to have answers to:

1) When are we going to see substantive progress on original investigation into that fateful night? It is my understanding that there is a report sitting in a drawer somewhere in New Scotland Yard. Is this ever going to see the light of (public) day? And if we are waiting (as I think we are) for the misconduct proceedings against the officers to conclude... what timescales are we talking about here?

2) If I were in Andrew Mitchell's shoes (lost a well paid job that I loved and had my reputation tarnished by police officers putting words in my mouth - as I think he would see things) I would be making a complaint! In fact, I would be jumping up and down somewhere outside New Scotland Yard demanding that my complaint is pursued speedily! I have read the reasons Mr Mitchell gave in the meeting with Federations reps as to why he was not making a complaint then. But that was before he felt he had to resign. So my question is: why hasn't Andrew Mitchell made a formal complaint about the officers on the Downing Street gate? 

3) Has sound recording equipment ever been present near the gates or added to the CCTV cameras at the end of Downing Street? If I was PM, I would ensure this functionality was present because you never known when it might come in useful... (I am investigating this matter)

4) Has Mr Mitchell ever documented his full account of what he recalls was said by all parties on that night? We know a lot about what he says he did not say (see the transcript of the meeting with the Fed reps) and something about one of the sentences he did say... but is that all? It may well be, of course. There again, it may not.

5) To refer to the Home Secretary as 'this/that woman' has been deemed to be offensive it would appear. Although I am not entirely sure from my quick read of the HASC report. My question is: if the Home Secretary were a man, would it have been as offensive to say 'that man'? 

6) I think that we now know that the meeting between Mr Mitchell and the three Federation reps was secretly recorded by a Conservative Party press official. Should people meeting with members of the Government (or even merely members of Parliament) now just assume that their words may well be secretly recorded & transcribed? 

7) What is an independent inquiry? 

8) There has been much talk about how this whole episode has damaged the reputation of the police service. Has this much cited shift in public opinion been independently and statistically validly measured and verified? (I have read many tweets from people who say there are much bigger things to be concerned about...)

9) Will the Police Federation be offering more 'media & politician handling' courses for its reps in the future?

And so, I would be most grateful for any answers you have to these questions - there is plenty of space below. And if you wish, do add more questions...

PS: Just spotted this excellent blog post (thanks @DorsetRachel for highlighting) by @anyapalmer - well worth reading, in my opinion.