Thursday, February 22, 2007

Normal Service

Shall hopefully soon be resumed. Went back to my old parade site the other day and saw the vehicle fleet has been more than halved: an accident, a mechanical failure, a cockup by the workshop (petrol? diesel? uurrrrr). I couldn't be bothered reading what was wrong with the rest of them.

Everything has changed on my old team. Apparently my governor has got himself into hot water with senior management (I like to think he told them how it was) and is looking for an escape route out of team. I'll miss him. He was a Gadget-esque governor, and policed more by common sense rather than unflexible rigid adherence to SOP's.

I was away for a fortnight or so and came back to just short of 140 emails, of which I managed to delete roughly 125 without taking any further action whatsoever. I hate emails. They're a cheap way of telling everybody what the latest standard operating procedure (SOP) for reporting stolen toothbrushes is, or Suburbiatown Police Department is trialling a new pet come to notice reporting scheme which everyone must adhere to. Everyone can very quickly be told about the latest change in legislation or practice or procedure, and for when you forget about the latest hot sliced bread idea because of email tracking you can't get away with claiming you weren't told about it.

Problem is, when you have 140 emails after 2 weeks off you glaze over by roughly email number 9 and a very rough email triage system develops:
- delete immediately and forget;
- think that this ought to be kept / actioned, and then delete later having done nothing
- actually file it or action it.

The only good thing is that most people who aren't office based and use computers as assistants rather than the-universe-revolves-around-me work essentials, make sure they actually tell you stuff. (and then send an email!)

Changing subject: apparently, and I have it from powers higher than I, I shall be returning to response team imminently. Hum. Deja Vu. I think I might have said that somewhere before. Still waiting. I suppose with the vehicle situation as it is at the moment I won't have a car available anyway. But it's coming up to PDR (performance development review) time! Aagh. For the uninitiated, this is a great paperwork exercise that sounds fantastic on paper but in reality takes forever to do, uses a great deal of artistic licence in evidencing Integrated Competency Framework "behaviours" (as determined by a committee of policy makers who have probably never seen the inside of a police car yet decide precisely what a patrol constable must do in order to demonstrate competence in his job). PDR's would be great if I had a third the number of constables to report on, a third less commitments (you know, the little things that can happen on a 999 response team) and three times the hours in the day.

Maybe I could cope with another month on the Probationer Development wing after all.

Actually, no I couldn't.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Knee Jerk

Again I don't have the greatest amount of time, and am only skimming over the whole issue. But am I the only one who thinks that the government's response to the media furore over gun crime- i.e. reducing age where you recieve a mandatory 5 year sentence to 17- is little better than a knee jerk reaction, designed to please the crowd and completely fails to address the source of the problem?

You see, taking time to examine and address social deprivation, the lack of suitable role models, the lack of suitable diversion activity etc etc would take time and results wouldn't be seen until well after the next election, so no point in that says Mr Politician.

So lets just do something that seems "tough on crime", keeps the Daily Mail happy but in reality is likely to have little to no positive effect? It's not as though possessing a gun isn't already illegal, with a possible 10yr sentence available to judges. Going back to the whole prisons debate, how really is sending a 17 year old down for a minimum of 5 years (meaning likely: further education- nil. Job prospects- nil. Angriness at authority- maximum) going to help in the long term? The only argument in favour of reducing the minumum age for mandatory sentencing is "deterrent". What a pile of politico-turd. If anything, that's only going to increase the kudos of having a gun, and increase the likelihood of using it against police in order to escape.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Apologies.... haven't been able to post much last couple of weeks, been very busy. Will be so for a little while yet. None of the busyness is really that interesting, mostly stuff that I've put off for ages and ages because it is tedious, and I've had to plan this time in advance as dedicated to sorting it out.

In the meantime, of course, keeping an ear to the newswire,The IPCC have been in the news. The IPCC have a little bit of a reputation amongst rank and file of being over-zealous in their approach to investigations and their recommendations for disciplining officers. However, reading through the just published Forest Gate report it seems quite fair and reasonable. I think their conclusions are quite fair, particularly the bit about planning for the eventuality that the intelligence is wrong. (I would love to know more about this case, as I could be sure there's a whole load more beneath the surface about this Forest Gate incident than the simplified innocents targeted and terrorised ethos I get from the guardian's report at least).

Addenum 6 hours later: it seems I spoke (posted?) too soon! My opinion is the polar opposite to the families concerned, who deride the report as a whitewash...... Should I be surprised? Or concerned?

Will be back to posting in a more normal fashion shortly..... meanwhile, I can recommend TUPC's blog for somewhat eye opening eyewitness accounts of the rough end of the job that don't get the media into a frenzy.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Franky & Noddy Show

(Post post update: confused as to the title? see the comments....)

Well all this snow, so many people having days off.... well we in the police have got to go to work whatever the weather.

Unless you're on a rostered day off heheheheheheheh!!!!

I'm off outside to play. :-)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The First Whinge

Led to this link by Bloggs and SouthWest, and probably some others too, but once I read it I had to say something about it.

Its some chap at "The First Post" saying how we, the police, are lazy, scared and no good at stopping crime and are a whiney, inefficient, self-important bunch of dysfunctionals. All words taken from his text, believe me.

Personally, I think it would be much more accurate if you replaced the word "police" with "journalists"..........

But I feel I ought to add something in reply to Mr Foreman, who has quite clearly never actually gone out with a response team, (or done any kind of research at all for his article, it would seem- he is quite clearly unaware of David Copperfields writing for the same site) and realised that the front line police, who are the visible presence 90% of people see and deal with 90% of the time, are under-resourced, over-stretched and deemed an embarrasment to their senior officers for doing their jobs.

Just a subtle change in the wording to his article and I would pretty much agree with it in its entirety. Change the word "police" for "Senior Officers at the whim of Interfering Government Ministers", and it would ring true.

But by his use of the word police, he implies that myself and my colleagues actually want this absurd situation where we are perpetually deskbound, or dealing with extended enquiries. For example. One of my probationers is dealing with a shoplifting to the value of approx £30. So far, he has been working at a reasonable pace. He has so far spent approximately 14hrs dedicated to this single incident: arrest (including waiting for several hours for his legal aid solicitor), statements, collection of cctv, transferring cctv onto VHS format, interview, re-interview (we didn't have the cctv first time round. Not strictly necessary to reinterview, but it is good practice), crime report, CPS consultation. Upon his return from bail, should he return, he will be charged, necessitating full case papers. Should he not plead, then we will have a day at court. Should he be found guilty, he will probably be fined £50. Which he will steal to pay for. And so, for probably 20hrs work, or at least time during which he can't do anything else, i.e. waiting at court or for solicitors, we will have no result whatsoever.

Replicate that for every incident of assault, criminal damage and everything else that blights society and is it any wonder why there are either no police available to deal with these things, or the ones that turn up can barely disguise their dread at having to take it on.

The government in its infinite wisdom realised there was something up with police spending so much time at their desks. So instead of adopting an American system (here, I agree most wholeheartedly with Foreman) where civilian investigators deal with all the investigative side of matters, leaving police's role to identify the offences and arrest, and then leave it all in the hands of the investigators, (NB see comments here!) and so the cop gets back out on the street where he belongs; the government instead employs several thousand people who are specificially designated not to investigate anything! And the response police officer is now in an even worse situation as several officers are abstracted from response team to supervise and populate the newly created Neighbourhood Policing Teams. You know, the ones who aren't supposed to do any investigating.

So Mr Foreman, don't imply that I'm lazy and inefficient. I'm hacked off and bogged down.

Go take one of few bits of decent advice the government does have, even if it does have a fairly toe curling tagline, "Respect": Stop moaning. Get involved. Become a special (except I think you'd be too scared and lazy...?) or get involved in your local action groups. Blaming everything on us and absolving all responsibility from yourself is guess what.....? Lazy and No Good.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Temper, temper

Most of the time I can deal with people professionally and keep a modicum of politeness. However, should I have been the lucky man who had the joy of charging this woman, I doubt I would've kept my temper. Well, temper perhaps (not worth losing job for) but politeness? No.
I'm sure there's a sad history as to why this woman was addicted to drugs, but the degree of selfishness in taking her own two daughters with her on this joyride (ha! what a contradiction in terms) is simply beyond my vocabularly range

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Food for thought

Corny title, I know (you'll see why)

Before I go on about an article I stumbled across- just to say thanks to the comment contributors to the 'Prisons' post below. I will come back to that, I just need some time to sit and think about just exactly what it is I feel about the whole thing.

On a different note: I've been stirred into action by this article.

Its about the two ambulancemen (diversity alert! I know I said ambulancemen, but in this case it's accurate, they are both men, before I incur the wrath of Pc Bloggs) who dared eat whilst on duty.

Well, thats a touch inaccurate I know, in the sense they weren't sacked for eating on duty. They were sacked for having a meal break at the expense of a 999 call. Having looked into this, I have found somewhat to my surprise that ambulance staff aren't paid for their meal breaks. Therefore they are not on duty for the time they have their meal breaks. Therefore they don't answer calls.

According to the BBC, however, North Yorkshire get paid an allowance to cover this eventuality.

Personally, I think sacking them is a response way beyond proportional. There have been many occasions, especially on night shifts, where I haven't had a meal break for the whole shift, especially when younger in service (on a crime scene all night with no relief), its one of those things you expect in the job. At the same time, when I do have something in, I am very reluctant to leave it. It probably doesn't help that over a third of calls to the ambulance service are a waste of their time anyway.

What would I do if I had one of my crews refusing to leave a meal break? No hard and fast rule, really. Depends on the circumstances of the call and what they have been dealing with beforehand. But if they had no good reason for refusing other than they had just ordered their hot food, I would certainly look in to discipline and neglect of duty. But not sack them (not that I could anyway, just hypothetically speaking)

I've tried looking at their website, but the ambulance services underwent another restructure last July and still haven't managed to sort their websites out other than saying "we don't exist any more". What is the point in all this restructuring exactly?

I'm hoping some of the growing band of paramedic bloggers might have a gander here. I'm a great fan of the ambulance service, even though I do think most of them are completely certifiable for doing a job that invariably has as much danger as ours with less kit (where I am, they haven't even got individual radios. I had one call where a paramedic had to call 999 for police from his mobile whilst fighting for his skin in a house. His colleague was GBH'd on that call, he just about survived by using a choke hold to pretty much put the lowlife into a hypoxia coma as opposed to the drug induced one he'd just been revived from)

So I hope the Yorkshire Ambulance chaps are successful in their appeal.