You’ve not got to spend much time around the police blogs to see how target-driven policing is ruining a) policing & b) the service to the public & society.
There can be not better example than the one I had today when I was speaking to an officer I bumped into up at HQ. You tend so see some very old faces up at the HQ, either because they work on one of the myriad of offices up there or they are visiting for one course or another.
I’d not seen Greg for a while. Inevitably the conversation revolved around the job & what we were both doing. He’s working on one of the Divisions currently pressing to up their detections with extra operations I mentioned a few days ago. He’s currently on what we used to call ‘section’ or ‘shift’ or ‘relief’, which basically means if you dial 999 & need a police officer, he goes.
Only he doesn’t, not if he can get away with it.
He has targets for arrest, crimes detected & tickets issued. He has a favourite place where you can issue tickets like shelling peas. We all know places like that, if we fancy some easy ‘process’ (police-speak for knocking someone off for minor non-arrestable offences) we can go to one of a number of places where you can guarantee to catch someone out. It might be a particular junction where poelpe are always jumping lights or a section of road where everybody speeds.
Greg’s favourite place is a little junction with a no right turn. If you sit up on the side road you can watch people making no right turns and pull out behind them for an easy stop. You issue a ticket & get to up your quota for the month for little work.
Greg said he might be sitting round the corner from a dwelling burglary which gets reported, (not an "intruders on" because everyone will go to those) but one where the family comes home after a day out to find the door kicked in & the family jewels missing. Greg said that there was no way he was volunteering for the burglary if the call came out for someone to attend "Look, I can get my quota in by dishing out no right turn tickets, that keeps the sergeant off my back, keeps the inspector off his back & the chief inspector off his back. I ain’t gonna volunteer for a burglary when I’m not gonna get an arrest, I’m not gonna get a detection & I’m just gonna pick up a load of paperwork & enquiries which will lead nowhere, not when I’m behind on my tickets."
My initial reaction was ‘that’s appalling’, I mean the nuts & bolts about this job when all’s said & done is helping people. But then I realised that when you’re sitting in briefing getting a bollocking from the local chief inspector because the shift hasn’t made enough arrests or issued enough tickets it’s not easy saying you’d rather be out there serving the public.
Perhaps more of us should do just that. Easier said than done though, I think.