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.