You know me and my colleagues spend more and more time these days saying to people, “Sorry about the delay”. You get met with a variety of responses.
The apologies are due to not arriving at someone’s call within the indeterminate time they deem to be ‘appropriate’. This could be an hour or several days. But delays are always due to one thing – there are not enough officers to deal with all the calls.
So we end up on the rough edge of someone’s tongue through no fault of our own. It’s like when you’ve got a complaint about the bank. You can never speak to the person who actually caused the problem so you take it out on whoever answers the fault as if it’s their personal responsibility that your last cheque got bounced. They take out their frustration on the first officer through the door.
Some complaints are more justified than other. Take a bloke tonight who phoned in to say he wasn’t happy with the response to a call he made 2 weeks ago. His cat was chased across his garden by some bull terrier or another and the person walking in was in his front garden trying to retrieve his dog. He phoned in to complain about the dog. Two weeks later he hears on the grapevine that the person who owns the dog lives in a certain street a few cul-de-sacs away so he gets straight on the phone to Old Bill demanding we get round there and deal with the dog owner. Now whilst it is an important thing in his personal sphere, in the grand scheme of everything we have to deal with it’s pretty small potatoes. (ones which haven’t even made it out of the seed warehouse on route to the farm). He gets told a community officer will get in touch in the next day or two. Within 2 minutes he’s back on the phone demanding to make a complaint as to why we are not dealing with this tonight and treating it with the seriousness it deserves.
I thought that he and others might be interested in knowing why we always have delays in responding, so here is a smattering of some of the shite we’ve been dealing with in the last 2 days;
- 16 year old girl rings 999 to complain that her 13 year old sister has hit her. Crime reported so we have to attend. Turns out they have had an argument because one borrowed some item of clothing off the other who didn’t like it. We get away without further action when it transpires nobody actually hit anybody. Time to deal with job, 15 mins travelling and 15 mins explaining that some people should grow up.
- 14 year old boy at local care home rings in saying one of the other children has hit him. Staff try to sort it out but he refuses to speak with them and demands they call the police. They call the police. Two days later we make it round there. 14 year old boy decides he doesn’t actually want to report anything to police. But, crime reported so we have to take a retraction statement, go back and crime it. 8 minutes travelling time, 20 minutes at care home, 15 mins sorting out crime report and filing of statement.
- Irate parent calls in to complain their 11 year old has been ‘assaulted’ by parents of other child outside school. Ten minutes later irate parent of other party calls in saying their child was assaulted by child of first complainant. Turns out first complainant’s son has sworn at and pushed child of second complainant. Parent of second complainant has gone round to first parent’s house to remonstrate, finding parents out remonstrates with child, returns home. Two allegations of assault/threatening behaviour. Second complainant is out by the time we get there so spend 40 minutes in travelling 3 times during evening to see them on each occasion they are out. First parents only want an apology from child of second parents but as second parents not home we can’t resolve it. Probably means two more crime reports and retraction statements. Time taken, almost 1 1/2 hours so far and still have second family to see.
- Parent rings to report her 15 year old daughter missing. We attend. Daughter is not missing she is round a mate’s house refusing to come home. Mother insists that we go round to the address and collect daughter to bring her back to her mother. Fails to accept that she has some parental repsonsibility in the matter and the police are not a free taxi service. Time wasted, 35 minutes.
This is the sort of stuff which goes on in every town and every police station throughout the land. Next time you want to know why we haven’t got round to your burglary or proper assault for several hours (if we do make it on the same day) it’s probably because we’ve been dealing with shite.