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The last Straw.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, has accused police of preferring to sit around in a “warm police station” rather than going out on the streets to fight crime. He doubts that the Police are overworked.

This, apparently, is his view  as reported.

I have yet to find a station where this piece of imaginative and free thinking takes place.

I have found plenty of stations where many officers have to spend much of their duty time gaining access to a computer to input statistical information for the recording of a whole variety of targets, to complete other documentation in this paperless office that eats away at so much of our duty time, to fill in countless forms due to the increased burden of bureaucracy that officers face.

This attack from the Justice Minister comes at a time when the Police Service is facing ever-increasing challenges, with ever-increasing demands for ever-increasing service provision with ever decreasing resources. All at a time where our political masters have made such incredible cock-up of so many things yet seem to be so totally unaccountable.

I wonder what this is going to try to deflect from or overshadow and exactly where it is going to lead to.  

How long has the current government, including mr Straw, been in a position to change things, reduce red tape, reduce targets, reduce the signals down the food chain and really increase officer time out on the streets ?

The problem also exists that when the reducing numbers of available officers have to deal with an increasing demand, this takes more and more off the streets to deal with the arrests, investigations, witness and victim support, scene preservation, evidence trail, associated transport demands, refs breaks if lucky, access to computers to begin to complete necessary paperwork, remembering to book and book off, remembering to update individual status when despatched, arriving at incident, committed time, non-available time due to essential commitments, completion and therefore available for deployment again. The list is endless. Add to this where officers carry sometimes several jobs because of the need to show them committed to attend so that one department can meet its targets at the expense of another failing to meet its own. 

The Police have become departmentalised and fragmented individualised entities that compete with each other to hit their own targets at the expense of another area or department within the organisation.   This appears to be based on business strategies without the full recognition that we provide a service and do not sell a product.

To infer, no matter how veiled and camouflaged in rhetoric, that Police officers prefer to stay in the station or hide behind red-tape shows how little some politicians understand  about the art of Policing and how little respect the role of the Police officer holds for them.

For a government in power for so long, to have done so little to improve this situation, a look in the mirror is needed.  I doubt a reflection of conscience would appear.  Another small insight as to exactly how the government regard the policing part of the public service sector.

Perhaps if all the officers who completed some of their paperwork after their duty time finished, a better understanding of how unworkable the system is would be seen but still ignored.  Also the  dedicated and committed efforts to make the imposed system work might be recognised by those with the vision to see what goes on.


11 Responses

  1. Sir Robert Mark, during his ‘reform’ of the Flying Squad et al, said that if the current system is unworkable, one should not do anything to make up for the unworkable system, but should simply work within it. Then, when the system is clearly shown to be unworkable, the system will have to be changed.
    Food for thought, methinks!

  2. When I heard this I turned to geoff and said:
    ‘MY god, he’s wrong!!’
    I know from what all of you say about the paperwork!
    You certainly don’t sit around in a warm police station!!!
    Perhaps he should read your blogs!!!

  3. Straw’s comments were quite fair. It can do the reputation of police no good by resorting to discrediting those who venture honest opinions.

    So much police misconduct of the past necessitated the present safeguards. When this is used to hold the public to ransom, or excuse radiator hugging, other means of countering bad attitudes become inevitable.

  4. Well done for writing such a calm and measured piece.

    All you need to know about Straw is that he claimed 100% of the council tax on his second home, while paying only 50% of it at the discounted rate.

    The claim was later paid back. Straw claimed “accountancy is not my strong point”.

    Actually; telling the truth is not his strong point.

    MTG – nice to see you have found a police Blog where you can escape the spam filter. Where is the law suit you promised last year, loser?

  5. Were I disposed to squander my valuable time commending virtues to the likes of Gadget, Patience would appear at the bottom of his reading list.

  6. The point being made was that the myriad of tasks connected with any incident that must be carried out inside a police station, resulting in fewer officers on patrol, is popular. That officers would prefer to remain indoors to deal with them than to come out to answer your call for help. \the reality is that most officers would far rather deal with something than write about it.

    The problem stems back to the likes of Robert Sheehy in the early 90s trying to reconcile an organisation like the Police with a business model and then put the same targets and quantification requirements on it. The problem is that you can’t do that. Nearly thirty years later the Police in the UK are still trying which is why you have fractured and overlapping units and teams fighting each other for credit in the form of figures that will justify their continued existence, rather than liaising and cooperating.

    I have seen just the same stations, reliefs and teams that WhichEnd has seen and what he says is right. As for the concept that anyone would enjoy being in those places, that has to be from someone that has never set foot in a writing room.

  7. Straw’s comments are, I suspect, are drawn on little real experience and mostly from his opinions based what he has had others do at his bidding. So many police misconduct of the past was borne out of the frustration of not being able to convict who they thought was responsible for an offence. The filling of the evidence void resulted in several miscarriages which have been well publicised. Your views are based around your own biase against whatever gripes you. No amount of words or pandering will change that. You may receive a feeling of betterment by taking the opposite view of whatever you choose to post by way of coment but get your own blog, put out your own views and bask in the personal satisfaction of similar minded individuals who have the same axe to grind as yourself. Otherwise join the Police and try to work for the changes you seek amongst all the other detrititis you will have to deal with and see how easy it is.

  8. George. Thanks for the coment. I will visit for a looksy………WEB

  9. I think you could settle your differences with pistols at dawn or over a game of tennis, best of 5 sets. You need to understand one thing. This job we do is made far more complicated and more difficult than it should be by people who should really know better but try to please everyone in every class of social background, in every group, no matter what moral standpoint they have. To constantly pander to everyone in the hope they will accept what we do is utter nonsense and a dream. In utopia perhaps we might have some better success but, officers live and operate in the real world, with real events, making real decisions that have an effect on some of the people we come into contact with. What we do not have in hindsight spectacles like those that are possessed by some of our management/leadership and people like yourself. The bottom line is the we are the Police. There are nowhere near sufficient numbers to everything we say we will do, not uphold all of the government promises or to pander to the demands of everyone with a personal grudge against us. We are the only line between a reasonably peaceful existence and total anarchy. We piss people off because we stop them doing what they want to do which often negatively affects the live of others, innocent people. Sadly some others get drawn into the net and it pisses them off as well. A small amoint of this may be avoidable but a lot of it is not. This is tough but goes with the territory. Be constructive or bugger off somewhere else. Better still get your soapbox and make your case there, as Gadget has done, with far greater success than I, I might add.

  10. Dear WEB,

    I respond to your comments, confirming my continued pleasure in exchanging views with fellow animal lovers; fair minded people and others who extend a helping hand towards the less fortunate.

    I am obliged to be similarly forthright in stating that if commenter’s submissions must be confined to support for police in all matters, I prefer the spam filtering sanction that Gadget alludes to. Having said that, I would never post intemperate, unfair or obscene language on any blog or give just cause for such unilateral action.

    I am critical of malfeasance and the frequent police abuses that come to light. However it should not be necessary for me to clarify my support for good policing where it exists or point to occasions when I have praised the same. Nevertheless, I found myself defending outrageous personal attacks, provocations and libelous tirades from Gadget. The latter sets a very poor example to young officers and I regret this topic was used to place you amidst a struggle to identify the fellow and make him accountable.

  11. Dr Gray,

    I would normally simply sit back and allow an argument such as yours pass back and forth unmolested, however I find I must take issue with your final paragraph. You speak of malfeasance and police abuses as if they are frequent, your tone directs the reader to assume that is the case. It is however the case that such incidents are the minority.

    The truth of the matter is that the police service in the UK is more transparent and more self critical now than at any time in its entire history which should give you more cause to support it and to urge those in government to enable it to be more efficient rather than to beg that it be bound in more bureaucracy.

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