February 28th, 2010

Another day in the office

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

So here I am on another busy late shift. I have one double-crewed car which should be there for the immediate jobs that come in, the 999 people being beaten up (usually domestic-related), crimes in progress (druggies who have stolen another pack of meat from Asda), & 4 single-crewed cars.

There are 25 ‘jobs on the box’ meaning these are jobs which we either haven’t managed to attend yet or the caller has reported something & wants to see police but then isn’t available to actually see the police.

I go through the jobs to try & work out a kind of importance level to see which to send someone to first.

The first phone call of the day is from an officer saying they and one of the other cars won’t be available as they have to do reports from one of the jobs they attended yesterday because, if they don’t get their report in, they’ll get in trouble with the department which checks reports are in on time.

So we’re down to 1 double-crewed unit & 2 single-crewed.

The early shift still have several officers at a cannabis factory in a rented semi, they’ve been there a few hours & aren’t anywhere near finished their search. The liklihood is that the early turn inspector will be after late turn resources to take over, so that’ll be good.

The first immediate of the day comes in & involves a ‘violent’ shoplifter who is playing security staff up at the local shopping precinct. He gets nicked & his accomplice makes off. Units are sent out to search for the ‘getaway’ car while my only double-crewed unit make their way back to the nick with ‘one on board’.

Great, down to 2 single crewed units & still none of the jobs on the box sorted.

Trouble is, while the immediate is being dealt with the 2 single-crewed units are teeing up arrest enquiries. These are usually attempts to show someone in an office that we are trying to fulfill arrest quotas by endlessly knocking on people’s doors to arrest them for failing to appear at court. Hang on sarge, we’ve got 25 jobs on the box, including 2 dwelling burglaries (high priority) who have been waiting several hours already, plus a couple of domestics one of which looks quite nasty (high priority), you say to the late turn patrol sergeant, and you’re organising arrest enquiries?

Ah, he says back, we’ll get our nuts chewed off by divisional management if we don’t meet our arrest quotas. The fact that I’ll get my nuts chewed off by providing a piss-poor service to the public falls on deaf ears.

So we’re down to no units, 25 jobs on the box, make that 29 ‘cos 4 more came in in the last 30 mins. The neighbourhood officers all seem to be on rest day, courses or invisible apart from PC Evans, who takes a couple of jobs off you that are not on his patch but he’s in the area (he’s like that, bless him), and a hand ful of PCSOs who are mostly keen as mustard but can only deal with a limited amount of jobs. Thankfully, if any anti-social youth or parking problems come in, you know you’ll have that covered.

The 2 units on arrest enquiries tee up their enquiry but don’t actually go to it for ages. If you tell them to go to a job in the meantime they’re always ‘just about to carry out an arrest enquiry’. Eventually, after about 90 minutes and another 6 jobs which have come in, they leave the nick & head off for the arrest enquiry.

The double-crewed car is still in custody, they’ve only just got their prisoner booked in because other prisoners have being queueing ahead of them, so you know they’re out of the game for a while.

Mr Nobby calls in, he’s disgusted about the way police are treating him, he’s been waiting 2 hours for someone to sort out his bloody neighbours, if someone doesn’t arrive in 30 minutes he’s going to the national papers. I envisage myself on the front of the Sun “Police Controller fails to send officer to stop neighbour calling man a twat, nobody dies“. He demands to speak to the Chief Constable, we offer the local sergeant & pass the call on to the local sergeant. Whether the local sergeant calls him back I have no idea but the job is still on the box when I finish work.

The cannabis farm is still being dealt with & although a couple of hours into the shift the early turn inspector hasn’t asked the late turn to take over, not that we have anyone to take over.

We’re still on the phone to several of the people still waiting for attendence from the morning. CSI have managed to cover both the burglaries, so although they haven’t had a police officer yet, at least they’ve had some kind of response, so perhaps we can put them behind the woman who is expecting her violent ex to turn up at any time, even though if he does we’ll probably have to send a dog vehicle from the other side of the county or persuade traffic that they are police officers first & traffic officers second & can they take a domestic, please?

The diversity unit inspector from HQ rings & asks us what we’re doing about the Jewish man who has had grafitti on his garage wall. We’re not doing anything at the moment because all our officers are tied up. But it’s a racist incident & force policy says we should get someone there within the hour & it’s been 5 hours already. Force policy also says I should get someone to my burglary victims within an hour not to mention my vulnerable domestic victims so who trumps whom? The diversity inspector harrumphs & says to get someone there ASAP. I guess he has little boxes he needs to tick as well.

Another double-crewed unit books on, good news. They are tasked for specific patrols under an operation to reduce community fear of burglary & increase detection rates. This means they have to drive round the estates not catching burglars. They give it an operational name which means an inspector in charge of local operations can tick some boxes for his PDR & show he is doing something to increase community satisfaction, it also means that unless someone is being murdered, we can’t use those two officers, even to go & see our burglary victims, bad news.

We’re now over 3 hours into the shift. The 2 single-crewed units doing urgent reports are ‘just about to finish’ when a missing person from another police area is located & an immediate domestic comes in. They get turfed out of the office to the domesic & end up arresting a bloke for smacking his wife in the face & pushing her over.

We have to send PC Evans from neighbourhood to babysit the ‘misper’. Between the three of us – 2 controllers & him, we spend about 2 hours on the phone over the course of the evening trying to get someone from the care home in another police area to come & collect him, failing that – it does fail – we try to arrange to meet the other force on the county border to hand him over to them so they can return him, that also fails, in the end we stick him in a police car & PC Evans drives 50 miles to the care home, but that isn’t until much later.

So, where are we, oh yeah, 34 jobs on the box, 1 double-crewed car in custody with a violent shoplifter, 2 single-crewed cars in custody with a  violent wife-beater, 2 single-crewed cars just come free from 2 arrest enquiries (they snuck another one in) both of which were negative (they weren’t at home, like they’re not at home at 90% of arrest enquiries). They are now free so I task one to go to a burglary that came in about 6 or 7 hours previously, and the other to go & reassure the woman who has pushed her kitchen table against her door in case her ex actually carries out his text threats to firebomb her house.

The call-takers keep sending messages from the other force  & the care home who still haven’t sorted out the misper yet, this just interrupts our flow of work & is unproductive for us as we keep having to stop what we’re doing (sending PCSOs to everything) & you sometimes just want to tell them to go & bother someone else.

The late turn inspector, who is now at the cannabis factory, decides to close it up & finish off the search/siezures in daylight hours the next day, this will require 2 officers to scene-guard. We suggest the double-crewed spec ops unit, but we need the inspector’s authority because they are on ‘protected’ duties, driving round estates. It’s fine so we send them. In the mean time & unbeknown to us the two units who are on their way to our burglary victims & domestic victims are scarfed off by the sergeant to do the scene guard & the burglary patrol is told to resume their patrols.

Twenty minutes later one of our single-crewed units arrives at the crack house & reveals the new plan to us. Great. We then have to ring up the lady with the table against her door, who we have spoken to 3 times already, the last to say an officer would be arriving soon, & tell her back to plan B – we have no idea when an officer will get to her, the most we can realistically do, is tell her to stick a couple of sacks of coal on top of the table (we don’t, but it feels like that sometimes).

It’s 2 hours until the end of the shift, amazingly, largely due to PCSOs we have reduced the jobs on the box down to around 24 but we have a new missing person report & an allegation of a sexual assault. We consult with the sexual assault department who advise us to send a unit we haven’t got to take the initial report & pass it on to them later. It’s a historical assault i.e. it didn’t happen today so it’s not quite as bad as it sounds but will be another job to pass on to the night shift.

Another burglary comes in. We persuade the burglary patrol to take it but on the way they stop a car & breath test the driver. Another successful burglary patrol have a prisoner & another victim to pass on to night turn. We have had a couple of immediates in the mix but fortunately, a firearms unit was in the next town & took one of them & a traffic unit took another; they didn’t result in any arrests.

It’s getting towards night shift so we need to go through the jobs to determine which ones we think night shift should go to & which ones can be put off until tomorrow. We make 13 phone calls advising people (some for the second or third day running) that we won’t attend tonight & will put them on the list for tomorrow. We ask 5 people how long they are prepared to wait up & end up keeping 2 of those jobs open & pushing 3 back to tomorrow. We leave 6 other jobs open for night shift.

When I go off duty PC Evans is still on his way back from another force having taken little Jonny back to his care home. Our double-crewed emergency response car is still dealing with their shoplifter. The burglary car is doing reports on their drink-driver who blew 85 (limit 35). Two single-crewed units will wait another 90 minutes before being relieved by night shift. The other two are still dealing with their domestic assault.

I wonder how many of the jobs from today will still be ‘on the box’ when I come in tomorrow.

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