Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Carrying on from post below there is a linked article to do with discipline, where once again skippers get lambasted for not, well, disciplining enough.

McNulty says he is doing lots to ensure police sergeants are getting more training and support. Really?

If he means this "leadership" course I had to go on some time back, then that spectacularly failed to address any of the issues mentioned in the Wail report- i.e. discipline and dealing with incidents. Of the three weeks, one day was spent how to deal with a major incident. Most of the rest of it was spent in group discussions and role plays about resolving staff conflicts.

At least a day was spent debating whether we were "leaders" or "managers". The difference may seem petty at face value but despite being told we were leaders the course was very much geared towards us managing staff, and working around rules, not applying them. I think the job even offered to pay for us all to join the Chartered Institute of Management. That might explain the frequent mailshots I get from them.

The general gist I got was that the job is trying desperately to align itself with business models, with talk of customers, clients, partners et al, improving management. All well and good, but at the end of the day policing simply is not a business. If someone messes up or has a bad day, it doesn't mean a late delivery or a refund, it can mean deep, irrevocable personal consequences.

Talking of discipline. I had cause to discipline someone about them not submitting paperwork- not routine stuff, but something that was actually essential, in fact a legal requirement for them to do. Simple discipline issue, you'd have thought? But no, before I could formally do anything I had write a veritable essay of the circumstances- why this form needed submitting, when I told the Pc it must be submitted (despite their knowing in theory it must be submitted), and what further opportunities, assistance and reminders I gave the Pc to help him submit it!

Its no surprise that minor things like rudeness and not wearing a tie are ignored, when it is simply so much hassle to do something about it. Sort that out Mr McNulty, don't send me on another pink and fluffy management course.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Time well spent?

Well, of the things to get me posting again, I'm surprised its a Daily Mail article. I'm even more surprised I find myself agreeing with it.

But an article dedicated to police sergeants? I couldn't resist.

(Graphic courtesy Daily Mail website.) According to their report, I spend roughly 10% of my time on patrol. And you know what? I think thats a tad optimistic. Lets look at a recent four shift spell:

Day 1: Entire shift in custody. Ridiculously busy. Leave suite with my head swimming. A hell hole of a shift with extremely violent schizophrenic prisoners (deemed to be quite sane by a mental health assessment team??!?), people unconscious after genuine fits; and spitting, clawing drunk females.

Day 2: Entire shift in custody. After previous day, not in the mood for doing anything other than bare minimum.

Day 3: I'm allowed out! However, I have a considerable amount of paperwork relating to a Pc who has "performance issues", a load of stuff to get signed to justify my own existence, plus a mountain of emails I've ignored the last two days in custody. The time I spend out and about is almost solely to give myself a break from the computer screen.

Day 4: First half of shift first aid training. Second half- a meeting relating to my own performance, targets and evidence.

So from the last four days- 32 hrs at work- about 3 hours out of the station? Yep, about right. But only just.

I don't know what sergeants spend only 8% of their time in custody, (are you one? what force are you in? Tell me!) but it's much nearer 50% for me.

The police unsatisfactory performance process is such a long, drawn out and tedious affair. The PC with "performance issues" is currently midway through this, and demands a completely disproportionate amount of my time. I have had to apologise to the other officers I report on as I really haven't spent a lot of time with them at all in 6 months (although I'm not sure they're complaining that much!!). I have my suspicions that this one is going to go all the way, so I have to make a note of every single conversation and instruction I give out, to prevent accusations down the line of "But I was never told that".

I'll spend roughly half an hour a week going through the outstanding crime reports the rest of the team have. I hate it, but I have to deal with them by a series of memos and emails, as I only rarely get a chance to actually sit down and speak to them about it.
If I want to spend time out doing proper police patrol, as in being out of the nick, being free to take calls and go directly to jobs with the PC's (and not just be on the other end of the phone or radio), I have to plan in advance. I generally try and work it so that I do all my paperwork on early or late shifts, so I can actually get out when we're on nights, when the thin blue line is at its thinnest, and I don't spend half my time patrolling a traffic jam.
Sometimes I actually get a bit jealous of the PC's, who each day (well, a lot of them) are free to actually get out and do stuff, while I wave at them out of the window from my computer.