Monday, March 24, 2008

Show me the.....

Well, a couple of days a long way from the grey walls of Suburbiaville, where by some terrible mistake of planning I forgot to take the phone, and I'm feeling a bit better about actually going to work.

It's surprising (read: not at all) to find that after a bank holiday weekend the email inbox barely registering anything new at all. As crime doesn't happen on bank holidays, not least in offices within police stations, there has been nobody in to send force wide emails on minute (but god help you if you don't implement it) changes in policy, or the unneccessarily detailed breakdown of the last so many hours crime patterns. I shall wait for the deluge upon my next non-bank holiday login.

Before I get criticised for criticising people not working the bank holiday- I know, I wasn't there for all of it either, but it was only my second weekend off this year that just so happened to be a bank holiday weekend. I did get calls to ask me to work various days within it but I balanced it up and thought the ire of the duties office was a better bet than the wrath of the wife.

Anyhoo one thing has caught my eye. Ever eager to clamp down on expenditure on every public sector (excepting, of course, within their own unaudited, mileage-claiming, second home owning, self-pay-rising, family employing walls) the government has put forward the suggestion that PC's and Sergeants should have overtime payments abolished in favour of a higher basic salary.
The details are in the most recent Police Review, for those who are able to log in.

I can hear Inspector Gadget's hollow laughter already. Inspectors and above forfeited their right to overtime back in 1996 for a higher basic salary.

Now, this higher basic wage would be a fantastic idea for anyone office based. An extra 3 grand a year for doing precisely nothing more. For muppets like me still flogging out rotating shift patterns and the unpredictability that response policing inevitably generates, we'll probably lose out. There's been at least two or three occasions this year already where circumstances have dictated I have had to stay at work long enough to work into a rest day. Things like this aren't planned, and are generally actually an inconvenience, but at least the following month when you've forgotten all about the extra tiredness and rapidly rearranged childcare stuff there's an extra couple hundred quid to play with.

I don't want to see overtime scrapped in favour of a higher basic rate. I'm no overtime bandit unlike some other safeguard-aholics I work with, but I still wouldn't want it on principle. However, it worries me that if it went to a vote, there's a lot of Pc's and skippers working in office based units, with no intention of being in a situation where they could end up being late home, who would vote yes if it came to it.

I think policing would suffer, too. Don't pay the overtime and there's a real risk that an hour before the shift end, every car is going to be parked up in the back yard with the log books shelved. At least now, if you're late off, there's extra money to be had off it. Be late off with no recompense at all, and especially if your finishing on time colleagues will get exactly the same cash, then there will be a real motivational issue. Coppers generally are decent people who want to help the people who call 999, but we're not complete fools and we all have bills to pay- and if we get the same money for whenever you finish what's the point in taking the last minute shoplifter that'll make you 4hrs late home.

But of course, McNumpty et al don't care about this, they only see the pound signs, and if they think they'll go down, then it'll be worth it whatever the price, if you catch the irony.