There are some shifts when you walk out of the control room thinking “Thank God that set of shifts is over” knowing that you are now set for two days of recovery at home.
Today was just one such day. What a bloody week. It’s not thatĂ‚Â things went mad on the streets, they just went mad in the control room. They do when you get calls coming in but can’t get anyone to do them. It’s a bit like a pressure cooker filling up & gradually letting off the steam until you just can’t get enough steam through the spout & think blows up.
What happens at the start of each shift is you take over & analyse the jobs you need to get done. Most of these will involve assigning a police officer or PCSO to deal with them. While they are doing that you get a steady stream of new jobs coming in. The ideal being that you deal with more jobs than come in and decrease the total amount of stuff left to do for the next shift (you hope they’ll do the same, so will the shift that follows them so that when you come in tomorrow, you have less jobs on the screen than you had today)
You get an instant downer when you find that there are 50% more jobs today than there were yesterday.
You check your resources, what cars you have, what neighbourhood officers & PCSOs then you look to see who can do what.
You get another downer when you find that 3 of the 6 patrol units you have have been written off for the first half of the shift to do arrest enquiries or missing person enquiries. A lot of controllers then start their shift wound up because half their staff are not available to them. Personally, I don’t let it bother me; I’ve long believed that I can onyl do what I can do & there is no point in worrying about things beyond my control. I don;t really care about the targets I’ve been set within the room, as long as I can provide a decent service to my officers & do what I can to get the public serviced decently then the fact that I can’t assign a job within 30 minutes doesn’t stress me.
Then the first 2 cars on route to their first jobs of the day go & stop a vehicle & arrest someone while the other goes off on an unannounced arrest enquiry & actually finds someone at home so they are both off the road.
The only car left has gone to a female whose ex-partner keeps sending text messages threatening to burn the house down, so they’re going to be taking statements & then trying arrest enquiries.
So the whole day jobs keep coming into the pressure cooker & not going out the steam vent. Then suddenly you have 100% more jobs than you had yesterday, and because they’re not assigned the system sends you a message every hour to remind you what you know that you’ve not assigned it, only if you have 30 jobs that’s a message every two minutes & it takes between 10 seconds & 45 seconds to deal with each message depending on whether you just dismiss it or write the reasons why you haven’t sent anyone on the log, so that could be betweenĂ‚Â 5 mins & 22 minutes just dealing with meaningless computer messages EVERY hour & you might go up to 40 jobs which means even more time spent dealing with meaningless messages every hour.
But just because your units are all tied up doesn’t mean the radio is quiet because they have questions to ask & then there’s all the units which aren’t under your direct control but who still use your radio channel for all their pointless vehicle checks 95% of which never result in them stopping the vehicle they do a check on & 30% of which have gone past them & they can’t even see the vehicle by the time they do the bloody check, much less be in a position to stop it if it does come back as stolen or of other interest.
And then the sergeant is ringing up wanting to know when you’re going to assign the vulnerable misper who actually is just an unruly 15-year-old who doesn’t want to adhere to the house rules & fucks offĂ‚Â from the home or foster-carer) at the drop of a hat, & you have to explain in a ‘deeerrr’ moment that the reason you can’t assign it is because she told 2 units to do other misper enquiries & let another do an arrest enquiry despite having just written off 33% of the available staff & not 2 of the 3 left are in custody and have to accept that somehow that is now my problem to find someone to go & chase Leah Slapper round the town.
And you sit down at the start of the shift & are on the go from the moment you put your headset on until you stand up for your breakĂ‚Â 7 1/2 hours later, but who gives a fuck about your rights to reasonable breaks from your computer terminal.
And you come in the next day & there are 50% more jobs than there were yesterday and the sergeant wants to know about one of the jobs on page 3 of your list but because you’re spending 20 minutes an hour picking up & dealing with computer auto-messages & every time you try to read the 25 page log you get to page 7 & someone wants details of a job you’ve goven them or a vehicle check so you have to go into a different screen & come back to read that log again later by which time you’ve forgotten what job it was, much less what details it contained, and your partner is scarffed off from assisting you to answer 999 calls because quite a lot are coming in and they don’t employ enough people for busy periods so the radio operators, if they’re double crewed (which some aren’t) have to go down to 50% activity so one of them can speak to numpties reporting their mate has taken their dog & won’t return it or sent them a text message calling them a slag.
And when it eventually comes to the end of that set of shifts you realise that you’ve not had a decent job all week, haven’t been involved in a chase or an intruders on where you’ve directed resources to the escape rouet just in time to catch the baddies running away with their bags of swag, or any of the other jobs which actually make it all worthwhile.
I love my job sometimes.