At least they are according to Justice Minister Jack Straw.
Interviewed on Radio 4, in response to a point that police officers were often overworked, he said: “Some police officers, whatever they say, actually quite enjoy being in the police station in the warm. We are dealing with human beings, but we are also dealing with the kind of discipline and culture in the police service.”
In response to criticisms that officers were taking up to four hours to complete their paperwork on a case, he said: “good police officers will take an hour to fill in the same forms because they want to get out and catch criminals”.
Naturally, the Police Federation are up in arms about the comments. Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the remarks were “irresponsible and inflammatory“.
“It wasn’t police officers who brought in 3,000 new laws, it wasn’t police officers who brought in a 30-page prosecution file and it wasn’t police officers who brought in multiple forms and authorities to use a pair of binoculars,” he said.
“This was all done by politicians. Police officers are not the architects of bureaucracy, they and the public are the victims of it.”
It probably won’t go down too well with the Federation or many readers of this blog but to deny Mr Straw’s comments out of hand is to deny an uncomfortable truth that there are officers who would rather spend their time in the warmth of the police station. There are officers who have made a whole career out of it. Many of them are not front line officers, they are people who spend a few years trying to get into the uniform, done their two years’ probation on the streets & then made a career out of going from one office job to the next. I know officers in my own force who haven’t been on the streets for 27 years or more.
There are also a certain section of frontline officers who spend more time trying to avoid jobs than they do actually attending them. Mr Straw is quite correct in some respects, though I’m not sure the problem is as widespread as his comments appear to suggest. I defy any of the many, many hardworking – and yes, overworked – officers not to be able to come up with an example of someone at their nick who always seems to take so much longer doing their paperwork than the rest of the shift, or who often ‘don’t hear’ the radio when the control room is trying to send them to a job, or take the long way round in the hope that another officer will get their first & pick up all the work.
When I worked the streets, I knew officers like this & now I’m in the control room I know it even more. When you work with the same people all the time you soon get to know who are the workers & who are the shirkers.
The shame is that the loudest comments about the police are always the critical ones, the vast bulk of very hard working & dedicated officers hardly get a mention. And, thinking about it, I guess this post is just another in a long line of that type from many quarters. I’ve always said that we in the police are good at doing ourselves down & rubbish at bigging ourselves up.
Perhaps 2010 is the time to start talking more of the good news in the police service.
Happy New Year & a prosperous & safe 2010 to you all….