June 11th, 2009

Another busy week

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

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 that  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 between  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 off  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 break  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.

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  1. constableconfused.com says:

    Imagine how big the bat is when when you call up and say you are available. Respect because you have actually done the job and understand, no hope for us with purely civilian dispatchers who follow the guidelines to the letter and can’t understand why arresting someone for burglary takes over 20 minutes including the subsequent PACE 18′s etc.

    I am response and due to knowing the guidelines and targets frequently ignore scrotes in dodgey cars etc. in order to ensure that I am available to be available for the calls for service. Dereliction of duty? If every bobby acted on their instinct and stopped every person/car they thought was necesssary there, would be no-one available. The great exception would be the non-deployable units who make up the vast majority of (excluding the armed) police who probably haven’t even got their radios on never mind thinking about calling up for a job.


    The oath seems to have been forgotten unless you are tied to the radio, ie. response.


    June 12th, 2009 at 00:41

  2. R/T says:

    Great post! Where are you, though? Moss Side?!!! Sounds ever-so busy. My partner used to work in a control centre so I have some idea of what it’s like. Hats off to you!

    June 12th, 2009 at 09:16

  3. Civ_In_The_City says:

    I suspect 200 works in any averagely sized police force in the U.K.

    I was going to go through the many simple reasons for his frantic workload and demoralising working conditions, but I won`t.

    For any members of the public out there who want to know why it`s like this just pick up the books or read some of the other popular police blogs. You probably won`t believe what you read, but it`s all true.

    And it gets worse. And you`re paying for it.

    June 12th, 2009 at 16:52

  4. retired (northern) sgt says:

    Its strange how you appreciate the acknowledgement of your peers, I got more satisfaction from a e mail from a control room operator or supervisor for my team shouting up they were free for a job on a manic late shift than a well done for a Supt for a shifts good work over a week (you only get that because its SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO obvious)
    When your team get acknowledgment from control room staff they’ve done everything they can and more you know your team have put in a good shift. To some degree it makes it all worth while

    June 12th, 2009 at 20:31

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