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.