Thursday, October 12, 2006

Morale & Morality

As I said below, the last few shifts, things have been completely hectic. And I mean hectic. A few highlights of some of the things my lot have had to deal with:
- Burst water mains (like need to close a 3 lane trunk road burst water main)
- Child kidnap
- Sexual assault
- Missing children
- Deceased people
- several ABH's
- several robberies and thefts
- drink drivers
- burglaries
- firearms incidents
- several domestics, some of which involving one or more of the above
About the only thing we haven't had is a serious RTA. It was particularly busy on night shift. Usually, calls start tailing off in the early hours, 3-4am or so. Not the last few shifts. Calls kept on coming right through till 6am.

Things are made worse because of the lack of numbers on response team. Across the whole division we had perhaps fifteen cars on. The problem is, as nearly every police blogger says, we can't just turn up at a call and deal with it in 15 minutes and move onto the next one. Oh no. If someone has been assaulted, then people need to be arrested, crime reports created, witness statements taken. As per posts below this takes hours, especially if someone has been arrested.

I can't really comment on why my team is persistently running at minimum strength. Here's the paradox. Neighbourhood Policing Teams have been introduced in my area. Now whilst they can focus on things that 999 teams usually don't, that is offset by the fact they are invariably staffed by officers abstracted from 999 teams- or officers who were supposed to go to 999 teams. Which means the 999 teams are left short. Has my service's ability to respond to 999 calls been diminished by safer neighbourhood teams?

One thing for certain is the boys and girls on my team at the end of these shifts, are shattered. This is where the concept of police morale comes in.

Police officers by and large want to do their job. Even when they're griefy and time consuming, as usually jobs like this don't come along too often, and most days you can finish on time or thereabouts. But recently this has become the exception, not the norm. Numbers are few enough so that most days its likely you'll be late off.

Now for the non-police readers you may say so what. But remember that we have families too, and we have lives outside this job that are invariably affected enough with the shift patterns we have.

The end result is these calls that come out towards the end of the shift- the ones which you know will take ages to sort out and are likely to result in arrest (you can always bank on a minimum of 4hrs work when someone is arrested) then you can see the faces fall. They don't want to go. This is a bad sign. That is what low police morale is.

So when morale goes, the officers morality tends to go too. What I mean by this is their sense of pride and wanting to do the job goes. They start not caring about what calls come in. On one of the last shifts, one of my lads came in to the nick with about an hour to go, dumped his bag and logbook to the floor and said in no uncertain terms whether he was going back out again. He still had a load of paperwork to do from the missing child (who had gone missing from a location way out of our sector, at the opposite end of the ground- but there was no one left down there) and had been late off twice in the last 4 days, with one of them being a really unpleasant sudden death.

Now if a call came out, I should tell him that he will be dealing with it. But would I? Not bleeding likely.