• What You Measure is What You Get.

    Einstein : Not everything that can be counted counts. And not everything that counts can be counted.
  • About me.

    I know enough to know that at 04.00am it gets dark out on the streets. It has done this for the last twenty odd years, to my knowledge and will probably continue for the forseeable future. At some stage in this ‘future’ I shall retire and probably won’t give a damn if it still gets dark at 04.00am. Until then I shall be out there, somewhere, lurking in the shadows because someone, somewhere will be doing stuff they shouldn’t and then, well then I will introduce myself. In the meanwhile I shall try to remain sane and remember why I joined in the first place and try to ignore all the people who piss me off by making the job more complicated than it should be.
  • Opinions

    Any opinions contained in posts are mine and mine alone. Many of them will not be those of any Police Force, Police Organisation or Police Service around this country. The opinions are based on many years of working within the field of practical operational Police work and reflect the desire to do things with the minimum of interference by way of duplication for the benefit of others who themselves do not do the same job. I recognise that we all perform a wide range of roles and this is essential to make the system work. If you don’t like what you see remember you are only one click on the mouse away from leaving. I accept no responsibility for the comments left by others.
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  • C.T.C. Constabulary.

    A Strategic Community Diversity Partnership. We are cutting bureaucracy and reducing the recording of target and monitoring related statistics. Our senior leaders will drive small, economical cars from our fleet surplus to save money to invest in better equipment for our frontline response officers. We are investing money to reinstate station canteens for the benefits of those 24/7 response officers. We have a pursuit policy. The message is that if you commit an offence and use a vehicle, we will follow you and stop you if necessary. It is your duty to stop when the lights and sirens are on. We take account of the findings of the Force questionnaire and are reducing the administration and management levels and returning these officers to frontline response duties. We insist on a work-life balance. We have no political masters. We are implimenting selection processes that take account of an individuals skills and proven abilities for the job. Our senior leaders will have one foot in reality and still possess the operational Policing skills they have long forgotton about and seldom used. All ranks are Police Officers first and specialists second. We will impliment career development and performance evaluation monitoring of our leaders by those officers who operate under that leadership. The most important role is that of Constable. All other roles are there to positively support the role and the responsibility of Constable and the duties performed.
  • Whichendbites

    “We trained very hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising. It can be a wonderful method of creating the illusion of progress while creating confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation.”......Petronius
  • Just so.

    Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces.
  • Reality.

    Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.
  • Rank V’s Responsibility

    Don't confuse your idea of how important you are with the responsibility of your role.
  • Meetings.

    If you had to identify, in one word, why we will never achieve our full potential, Meetings would be that word.
  • There is always a bigger picture.

    When there is no answer to your problem, there is always deflection from the need to justify giving an answer.

Who am I ?

Since I joined the Police, way, way back then, I have learned much and performed many, many roles. Some of them easy and some of them not so easy.

I have been:

a marriage guidance counselor

an  acting veterinary nurse,

a teacher,

a babysitter,

I’ve listened to advice from knowledgeable and experienced people,

I’ve also listened to advice from idiots and people who do not have a clue what they are talking about,

I’ve been an odd job man,

a translator,

a wrestler,

a boxer,

a fight referee,

a vehicle repair engineer,

a traffic controller,

a dog catcher,

a nightclub doorman,

a member of the sprint detention team,

a person who delivers unfortunate and unwanted bad news,

a person who sometimes delivers good news,

I have entered with a key, without a key through an open door and sometimes kicked or forced that door that prevents entry, 

a writer of fact,

a listener of fiction,

I have been a cook,

an arbitrary decision maker,

a companion,

I have not told lies to cover someone else’s arse,

I have been a friend,

a plan or map drawer,

a walking encyclopedia,

I have seen over-promotion for strategic credibility instead of policing credibility,

I have seen countless guidelines and recommendations ignored because it suits someone else’s agenda,

I have been a good Samaritan,

a walking street-map,

a local information centre,

a medic,

an emergency plumber,

I have been spat at, punched, kicked, head butted, verbally abused, had things thrown at me or been threatened with a bladed instrument ( formerly a knife), 

I have seen many fine officers frustrated by those who appear to have forgotten that they were once a 24/7 police officer.

I have been a taxi-driver,

an unwanted guest,

a welcome guest,

a listening ear,

a mind reader,

I have walked many a whole night shift in the freezing night air, in the pouring rain or in the humid, sweltering muggy heat dressed in a uniform that was not suited to allow me to do some of the things I expected to come across, I have still met my supervisor when and where I was expected despite having jobs on the go, I wore a cape regularly until I spent more time in cars,

I have been a surrogate and temporary parent,

I have been someone’s worst nightmare,

I have been someone’s saviour,

I have seen someone take their first breath as well as their last breath,

I have been a one man cordon,

I have experienced only a handful of very good senior officers,

I have been one of a small group against a far larger group,

I have been very, very, very patient, tolerant & understanding,

I have been considerate, restrained and hidden my true feelings,

I have been accused of being a liar,

I have failed to save a life,

I have seen and smelt death,

I have comforted and reassured,

I have always learnt from what I have done,

I have been an emergency fireman,

I have been the last person someone wanted to see as well as the first,

I have been told I am a Police officer first and a dog handler second  (yes being bitten hurts),

I have been loved, hated, admired and despised in varying amounts.

I have always tried my best,

I understand that those who police and those who manage/lead are fundamentally different because of the roles they do,

I have gone home at the end of my shift because my dog (s), have been there with me,

I have been scared for my own safety,

I have acted without fear for my own safety but to protect others who are in fear themselves,

I have always been judged by those who do not do the same job, take the same risks or work under the same accountability as I,

I have listened to countless politicians talk about how they want to improve my role, how they need to show how I am accountable and how they want to make my job easier,

I have protected life and property,

I have the respect of my peers,

I have listened to countless senior management talk about how they are improving my role only for them to move on and the next in line change things to support their own career aims and not to support or complement the work done by their predecessor,

I have wasted far too much of my time and effort completing statistical information for other people to justify their own position or to show how well they are managing what I do, yet none of these people know me,

I have listened to countless senior management talk about how they are improving my role only for them to move on and the next in line change things to support their own career aims and not to support or complement the work done by their predecessor,

I have wasted far too much of my time and effort completing statistical information for other people to justify their own position or to show how well they are managing what I do, yet none of these people know me,

I have repeated the last two things because they have  probably had the most negative effect on me during my service.

I have learned about tolerance, compassion, that there are a lot of nice people out there but still some people who have no social conscience and will burgle your house or even kill someone and not care one bit about doing so,

I have seen the victim not see justice all too often,

I have seen colleagues fail to get the recognition they deserve,

I have seen repeat offenders not get custodial sentences,

I have seen Policing become a brand to be promoted at every available opportunity, some of them totally inappropriate.

I have experienced poor vehicles because they are cheaper,

I have been subject to mileage restrictions because of targets,

I have been advised because I have not reported enough people or submitted enough admin for people to measure,

I have experienced death in many forms, from violent, unexpected and unpleasant to peaceful, calm and dignified,

I have led a varied and rewarding career.

I am a police officer.

But I am a dog handler first. I did not join to become a sergeant, Inspector or above. I joined because I wanted to become a dog handler.

It is not a game or a fair weather trend…………..It’s for keeps.

How many can say that ?

Goodbye.

Promoting the brand.

Perusing the interweb I found this at Gadget’s blog.

I checked, I read, in total disbelief.

Hayley Adamson, 16,  was killed when a speeding patrol car with no blue light or sirens on smashed into her in May 2008. The driver  was jailed for three years after being convicted of driving at  94 mph moments before the late-night tragedy.  Northumbria Police put itself forward for a public relations honour for its handling of the media following the tragedy.

Hayley’s mother Yvonne Adamson, branded the move as ‘sick’.  Mrs Adamson said:  “It’s a complete joke. I can’t believe they have nominated themselves for the award.  ‘What about all the complaints that were put in against them when it happened?  ‘Life is truly hell. This is an insult to her memory. Tomorrow would have been Hayley’s 18th birthday. ‘It’s just a massive shock. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for the family.”

Sue Sim, Deputy Chief Constable of the force, apologised to the family: “This award was not intended in any way to minimise the impact of Hayley’s death on family and friends and we are truly sorry if it has been perceived as such. Our deepest sympathies remain with them.”

There must surely be some  truth in the reporting and not just the glorification of another sensational headline. Even this must make many officers with a hint of conscience feel very uncomfortable that some form of positive spin to promote the brand comes at the expense of such a tragic set of circumstances.

This beggars belief that someone, somewhere, could consider such a choice. 

Undermining public confidence…………..Gadget was spot on.

Lets face the music.

The latest round of budgetary and finance meetings at the CTCC appear to have generated more fervour over the need to slash all district and department budgets as well the really big budget with nothing being too radical for the bean counters to ensure that they hit their targets of cutting costs…………………making efficiency savings……………….making Policing affordable…………………ensuring greater value for money………………….or any other of the trendy buzz words or phrases that mean that severe savings will be made during the next few years.

As is the trend, when we show that we can operate within the new, tighter fiscal constraints it will be accepted that this will be the norm and the relevant mouth-pieces will claim how much more efficient and affordable Policing has become under their watch. Target achieving bonuses could be the order of the day.

The CTCC will start by stopping recruitment to give an early boost to the projected efficiency figures. Reduction in fleet and fleet maintenance could help offer more to the coffers and consideration to the removal of the PCSO scheme provides a huge savings. With less PCSO’s out there there will be less need for Police officers to sort out the mess and deal with whatever can’t be dealt with straight away. In the long run this will be cheaper than all that extra training and just think about what could be done with those extra vehicles.

As many skilled, dedicated  and experienced officers retire from CID, traffic, specialist support units, dogs sections, etc etc etc and are not replaced or continue with lesser numbers to limit the damage done to response teams, the real issues over how we deal with core response and specialist support response business will raise their heads and the political statements will be made to claim how much better everything is.

Every facet of the service delivery has been measured by the CTCC and its leadership legions, converted into whatever is the current in-vogue of business case comparisons that allow the time and motion multipliers or the business models to evaluate performance figures and show what is worthy of selection to score the most short-term political gain and the most positive headlines.

All this against the latest list of crackdowns that are promoted at every short-term headline generated problem. All this against the constant illusion the is portrayed that everything is somehow alright. All this against the never-ending workload that continues 24/7 to overpower the reducing numbers of officers available to keep the ship afloat. All this against the backdrop of layers of accountability and micro-management by people who really should know better and have long since forgotten how difficult the job can be on occasions.  

Add all this and multiply into the public sector pot of education, medication, incarceration and local council services and there will be trouble ahead.  The layers of corporate accountability will continue to make positive noises as if nothing has happened and everything is under control.  No dancing,  no moonlight or time for romance.  Just who will face the music will probably be those at the bottom of the food chain because they are the ones who get put firmly in the limelight by those who manage and administrate.

On a wider point, for all this financial mess that no-one appears to have become accountable for (despite government claims of transparency and accountability) yet almost everyone will suffer by. The road network which appears to be totally under maintained in far too many places despite the amounts of money collected by car tax and tax on petrol. Where has  all our money gone ?  I suppose that something must support those non-contributers and scroungers who are supported care of the benefits  system. 

Come to think of it, just about everything is taxed, including motoring and fuel. What is not will soon be under the keen telescopic sight of whichever colour claims to have the electoral mandate.

Police force under fire over ‘dog blog’

A taxpayers’ campaign group criticised police recently for “wasting” time and money creating internet blogs “written” by police dogs, a newspaper report stated recently.

 Cambridgeshire is the latest force to launch a “dog blog” on its website – others have been produced by Tayside and Avon and Somerset.  Staff say the diary is popular and promotes the work of police dogs.  But the TaxPayers’ Alliance says the blogs are “PR exercises” with no public benefit.

 “All the time we hear that police forces overstretched and officers have too much paperwork,” said a spokesman. “Yet someone seems to have enough time to write hundreds of words about the life of a dog?”  Chief executive Matthew Elliott added: “This might be a well-intentioned idea but it is a waste of money. “Either the dog’s handler or a press officer are evidently devoting their time to writing this blog at taxpayers’ expense and to no real benefit for public safety.  “People pay their taxes for the police to go out and catch criminals, not for cutesy PR exercises.”

Cambridgeshire police said the blog gave the public an “insight” into the work of police dogs.  “The dog’s blog has proved to be extremely popular with the public and received more than 700 visitors in its first week,” said a spokeswoman.  “We have also had several emails from the public asking Lukas questions about his role and saying how much they like the blog.  “Police dogs play a vital role in protecting the public and officers and the purpose of the blog is to give people an insight into that work.  “The blog costs nothing to produce and is written by the corporate communications team, whose role it is to promote the work of the force.”

In the blog German Shepherd puppy Lukas “tells” readers: “I’m … lucky enough to have my two big brothers Yeoman and George in their kennels either side of me. They’re police dogs at the moment, and they’re always telling me about what they get up to, so I can’t wait to see if I’m lucky enough to be able to become a proper police dog.”

At the CTCC we are fortunate enough to have this, but this has been shelved to save money, help make our communities safer and to bring offenders to justice.

Age old trick

Even I am impressed.

Council Tax.

Old Holborn has come with an interesting slant on the latest council tax ‘demand’ which could catch on.

My Council Tax demand for 2010 has just dropped on the mat. £1769.90. Payable in advance.

Now, as regular readers will know, I am a Freeman on the Land. Which means I don’t pay demands. I pay for contracted services I am happy to receive. So let’s break down my bill and see what I agree to pay as a Libertarian.

Essex County Council £1328.25
Essex Police £161.48
Essex Fire Authority £81.18
Braintree District Council £198.99

Fire Service? Yup, happy to pay that amount. I’ll sign up for that
Police? No one else offers the same service for that price. I’ll sign

Now it gets to be fun.

Essex County Council. Total Revenue £2.1 Billion, of which I am forced to pay £1328.25

How do they spend that money?

Well, we have:

Education £994M (47%)
Putting the customer first £55M (2%)
Improving Transport £106M (5%)
Supporting Vulnerable People £696M (33%)
Waste and Recycling £52M (2%)
Making Communities Safer £49M (2%)
Operating costs £228M (11%)

Braintree District Council. Budget £19.4M. My contribution?£198.99

Waste and Recycling 22% (£4.3M)
Street Cleaning 6% (£1.2M)
Leisure & Culture 25% (£4.9M)
Safety 11% (£2.2M)
Planning 5% (£1.2M)
Housing Benefits 8% (£1.6M)
Parking 4% (£o.8M)
Democracy 9% (£1.7M)
Parish Grants 4% (£0.7M)
Other 4% (£0.8M)

Dear Town Clerk (no, you are not a CEO)

I refer to your offer to provide services to me for £1769.90. After a quick look through, I’m happy to pay for education, the Police, the Fire service. I’ll look after the rest thanks.

Could you please recalculate my bill to reflect this? I reckon it should be around £624 for education, plus the old Bill and the Fireman rounds it up to £866.82. Not £1769.90. As you are aware, unsolicited demands against unwanted services are unlawful. The plumber’s not allowed to do it, nor is Sky TV. Send me the contract (as required by law) and I’ll sign it.

Cheers

Old Holborn

A long way down.

Securely strapped to his handler and with a muzzle to stop him damaging his mouth on landing he plunged 10,000ft from a transporter plane.

“It’s something he does a lot and he’s very comfortable with. He has a much cooler head then most recruits,” said one operation trooper.

Far from panicking at the experience of hurling themselves out of a plane at 10,000ft, the Austrians’ Belgian Shepherd dogs appear to be perfectly calm both before and during the jump.

The explosives sniffing pooch – a member of Austria’s version of the SAS – took part in Operation Cold Response in Norway along with British special forces and Royal Marines assault teams.

You can run……………..

You can run.

You can try to hide.

You can try to evade capture by climbing.

But you’d better climb high.

 

Time for a crackdown.

With budget cuts still underway at the CTCC for the current financial review period, the dribbles of funds left are to be spent in a last crazy effort to show that every last nickle has gone into making our communities safer and to bring offenders to justice. The last 65p went on something or other so the cupboard is bare before the end of the cut off date and the bartering over next years budget (very much reduced) begins.

The news of yet another crackdown, all highly publicised, to show the world how much we care and the efforts we are going to try to make the world a safer place begins in earnest.

We have gone from abandoned vehicles, anti-social driving, vehicle defects like lighting etc, anti-social behaviour, drink related disorder, illegal street trading, counterfeit CDs and DVDs, possession and supply of controlled drugs, domestic violence, food vendors outside of pubs and clubs, unregistered taxi cabs and drivers, drink driving, exploitation of women as sex workers, illegal immigration workers, drivers with no licence or insurance, underage drinking, cars contravening the bus lane regulations and illegal parking, child internet porn and internet grooming of vulnerable young people, domestic burglaries, commercial burglaries, vehicle crime, shop theft, damage to motor vehicles close to licences premises, dangerous dogs etc etc etc.

All these crackdowns seem to necessitate shift changes, officer deployments from other commitments including those who would normally find themselves in the hostile environment of an office and are unable to delegate the chance to hit the streets to someone else. There is, occasionally, a small amount of overtime to allow for dealing with arrests or sometimes immediate follow ups to ongoing matters if deemed urgent enough and the Inspector in charge is either sufficiently astute enough to get the job done or reckless enough to incur the wrath of the senior ranking managers when their hindsight decision making processes do not fall in line with the duty Inspector of the hour.

Do we need yet another publicised crackdown to do the stuff we should really be doing anyway ?

The politicos will tell us yes.

Darkness at last.

About 2 years ago I responded to something on the Gadget blog in relation to the Flannigan report. .   Many bloggers said their piece, but even now we are still awaiting the full consequences of Ronnie’s review. 

One of the things he reported was, in my view,  the move towards a glorified Force wide charging unit. This is not new and will be coming in via the back door. It happens on certain major events, football duty and large pre-planned events or operations. There will all sorts of ‘radical’ reforms aimed at increasing efficiency (saving money) and making the Police more organizationally efficient (saving money) to ensure that all Forces are fit for purpose and affordable (perhaps saving money again). The next few years will find ever increasing pressures to hit targets, set by political masters, to senior Police officers who hit the right political notes to get their chosen place in the system. All this with less resources and greater financial pressure against the expectation of producing more and more measurable productivity.

The Police officer comes across an incident and generates the need for an arrest, investigates an offence,  attends a call or is called to a scene where an arrest needs to be made or deal with the arrest (s) if necessary. After transport to custody and justifying the arrest to custody officer a statement of evidence and/or note book is completed whilst other Police staff deal with getting witness details, losers/aggrieved person statements and any other statements needed at the time, preserving scenes, obtaining evidence left at scene, requests for CSI and property disposal/seizure etc etc. The custody based team of Police staff then take over to process the detainee, fingerprint, photograph, take DNA, and complete relevant admin/records. The trained interview team liaise with handover information completed by Police staff, including witness/loser statements and if necessary can speak to witnesses depending on time constraints. After this interview team begin interview(s) of suspect and follow up with liaison with Police staff file assembly officers.

The Police Staff will probably not be recruited from retiring or retired officers who have a wealth of experience and the relevant abilities to do the parts of the job needed within the full mechanism of what is needed. They will be recruited from people who will have to be trained to do the component parts because the system of recruiting this type of support will have to be compliant with the latest politically and non-discriminatory guidelines and will tick relevant boxes selected by people who do not understand the component parts of the processes involved. This will be open and transparent and will get people who are not really suited for the role into a post they do not understand and will take an age to learn how to do poorly and then after some time adequately.

Just think of how CID has been decimated in recent times and the loss of people with excellent interview techniques, excellent prosecution file assembly skills, excellent skills when speaking to witnesses and obtaining detailed and accurate statements that reflect what has been seen. This is a loss and a waste of a great resource that has the necessary training already and the experience level to take this in their stride. The right system would allow the good body takers more time on the streets where they are best suited and needed without the countless hours bogged down under the administrative legal processes. They would be required to complete note book and/or statement and then back out onto the streets again, unless there is a pressing continuity problem eg. serious offence, The remainder of the machine does the job for which it is intended: Prisoner handling and processing. Offence investigation, evidence handling & property retention. Witness/loser statement taking. Prisoner interviewing. Charging decision & relevant matters, bail, ID procedures etc etc. Quite often one person does all this and he/she can say goodbye to a whole shift most of the time, even with enquiries left to following shift and other statements to take. Arresting officer then is back out on the streets after note book completion.

Sadly we have moved away from the most important asset we have being the operational constable on the street. Every other department were there to support these officers. Most have now been removed and replaced with uniform response because beat officers on foot are deemed a waste of resources. After all, why leave an officer on foot, in the community, the same community, for each hour of their shift, walking around when the same officer can be put in a car, cover umpteen more square miles of area and answer more calls because of this mobility ?

Simple answer and it must be better, so say the number crunchers and statisticians who see a failing brand. The real problem is that it removes Police Officers from the community and also takes away the time they would interact with the community on a one to one basis during their shift. This is all about time and the perception of time from people who cannot find ways to measure what a community beat officer does during their shift. It cannot be measured accurately so it must be bad because there is no way of measuring anything that is perceived to be good. The conversations with members of the public, the intelligence gained, the crimes investigated in an area, the bond that is made over time with some areas of the community cannot be measured in real and beneficial ways by someone who doesn’t understand the basic principles of Policing in the community. Uniformed Police Officers should be at the hub of what we do. Everything else is there to support this.  Uniformed special constables and uniformed police community support officers are only part on the answer but not the answer to everything as the promotion of the pcso brand was when rolled out.  It appears that the police and the public have learnt to cope with the necessary adjustments.

Ask yourself this question. Why there has been such a decline in career beat officers ? Those who have spent their entire careers or almost all of their careers as beat officers, on the same beat, in the same community. The ones where a CID officer or an officer investigating a spate of crimes would visit this officer as a first port of call because they were almost certain to come up with a name or have put a name into the intelligence system. We have lost this because it is deemed wasteful and inefficient to have this type of officer in the service. The accountants cannot measure what he or she has done so its time for goodbye. Every crime that is reported, no matter how serious, a uniformed Police officer attends in the first instance. From there he or she decides the next step in the process of investigation. This may be delegated to a supervisor but it is uniform who are the first line. The learning from this type of experience is not complete after 1 year, 2 years or even 10 years. It is continual over the length of service. It is vital to learn what to do and what not to do, even at very minor crimes. Too many officers come into the job and either leave to go to a perceived more popular group or department, leave the job altogether or seek positions away from what we should be doing far too early in their careers to have learnt and understood the wide appreciation and experience of how we do this thing called Policing. Policing has changed because of the political interference and constant financial measuring of ever-changing performance targets. The sceptics amongst the ranks claim for best practice, for giving value for money as a deflection from the responsibility of giving a practical answer because promoting the brand is a win at all costs venture. The cascade of promoting short-term winners appear far more important than a constant and consistent approach. The need to change or to be seem to have changed things for the better provide the short-term justification of those in position of rank but not necessarily expertise. The skill of Policing has not really changed that much. It does not benefit from such constant changes. We have become reactive and response led because we have lost our finger on the pulse of the community. Everyone wants to change things when their chance comes. To make brave statements of intent, to show they know what they are talking about and to be seen to make it different and perhaps a little better, but for who exactly ?

A Police officer is one for the duration of their service. A constable can be a constable for all of their service. An officer away from the rank of constable  may possess the responsibility and status of rank for only a short-term in comparison. Over 30 or more years an officer can do a lot of good if they choose to stay where they joined. Some of the best and most rewarding work cannot be measured and put onto a spreadsheet or included within a business scorecard matrix. Away from the real art of Policing, within the management and leadership mechanics, in the space of a few years, no matter how much they try to justify what they do, they can cause an awful lot of damage until the next one comes along to fill their shoes and change things again even more to try to justify their own position. Change can be good, on the occasions that something effective and beneficial comes out of it. A more practical uniform for example. Change can also be un-necessary and damaging, like targets, like leaders who instigate their own personal brand of direction simply because they have a pet hate or they are responding to the need to increase a perception of positive performance in a given area.

I must go and find a darkened room now.

The thought of all these different teams, all these different empires being built, all these different targets that will come into place, all these different areas of targets and statistics that will  compete to see who is doing best and not want to finish last. Itis clear that this utopia of a well oiled machine working together in unison is a complete work of fiction or the perception of a deranged mind.

Add to all this the endless mission statements, values and other quirky catch-phrases that are somehow expected to identify how we have changed, become more customer focussed and endlessly better. Dire consequences come to anyone who foolishly fails to promote the brand.

Click………………darkness at last.

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