Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Who to Choose

For my last post below I've been having a debate with a commenter about how we should prioritise incidents we are called to.

Firstly, my thanks to Michael. I am quite aware that other people have different opinions to things to me and with regard to policing, everyone who pays taxes has, or should have, an opinion on how we go about our work. I do like a bit of good debate- and I don't mean in the Jeremy Clarkson style of "My opinion is worth more than yours, so I'll shout louder until you shut up".

The theme of the debate was deployment of resources to a self harming mental health patient, whom by the nature of his violence required a significant number of police officers, which inevitably meant a number of calls would have gone unanswered. (Note- I don't know if there exactly were any serious or non-serious calls which were unanswered / delayed responding as a result of this job, but the point is if there could have been)

So should we give a lesser priority to those whose needs for the police are self generated as opposed to others who are more genuine victims?

As much as sometimes I might like to think one way or the other yes or no, I don't think we as a police service have the right to prioritise our calls dependent on the social background, mental state or any other factor involved in the personal background of the caller.

This is why I also disagree with the concept of police performance targets. Targets by their very nature mean the paymasters want certain incidents to be dealt with in a certain way in order that this target is achieved.

I myself a firm believer in dealing with incidents on an individual basis on its own merits. You shouldn't have a system where people are criticised for dealing with incidents where the outcome was the most appropriate, but as it was not in accordance with a target the officer is seen to have failed by his superiors.

Back to the original point, if we do start giving higher priority to people who are arguably more deserving of police time then it sets a dangerous precedent. Take this example. Should the boy's family have any less of a service compared to the driver of the car as you could argue it was the boys fault? Of course not.

In summary, police deployment should be prioritised by at its most basic level threat to life, then property, and then all else below that. It shouldn't matter whose life or property is at risk, and if we start changing priorities within that in accordance to who is more likely to satisfy a target, or who is deemed more deserving, then it is a sad day.

On a completely different note- please see the "Police Short Stories" link either here or from the sidebar. The man behind that blog is compiling a book of just that- short police stories- and would love to hear from you.