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.
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