This week I worked on one of the many ‘operations’ our force runs. They all have operational names like ‘Operation Protect’, Operation Guardian,’ ‘Operation Centurian’, all names which suggest strength & forthright policing. In fact all these operations are exactly the same. A group of police officers choose an area & spend the day stopping hundreds of cars in a lottery to see if they can come up with some figures at the end of it to justify stopping hundreds of cars.
Usually they get a couple of no insurance siezures, where the driver’s car is taken off him on threat of being crushed & he gets to walk home,Ã‚Â a couple of hundred quid’s worth of seat belt or mobile phone tickets get handed out & we arrest 1 lad who should have been in court 3 weeks ago. We don’t arrest many burglars or rapists which is what the majority of the people we do stop think we should be doing.
It can be quite soul destroying working one of these ops as a controller because basically you sit there for 8 hours doing meaningless PNC checks. You can do a few hundred, one after the other. None of the officers give you time to record the information on the log from the last check before blurting out the next check despite the fact that you ask them constantly to give you a few seconds between each check & because you’re on your own you can wait 3 hours for a pee. At least those doing the stop checks can go behind a bush.
The people who create these operations have to document everything. The operational order usually runs into several pages, it includes the officers working, where they will stand, sit or wait, what time they have their breaks, what vehicles they have & what roles they will perform. Soemtimes we do it in company ofÃ‚Â ‘partner agencies‘ like VOSA who check HGVs for safety, or the Immigration Service, or Trading Standards.
Our powers & procedures are documented & we have to evidence that we will run the op in line with human rights law. The bit that always makes me laugh is the section where we have to document the reasons for the operation. One of them is always to increase public confidence.
Increase public confidence, in the police? You’re having a laugh. Stopping motorists going about their lawful business, noting down all their details & running checks on them incase they are Jack the Ripper or Lord LucanÃ‚Â just pisses most of them off as they usually have to be somewhere.