October 25th, 2008

Dizzy, My Head is Spinning

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

Another late turn another mental breakdown.

Bugger me but this week has been busy! late turn in chav-central. I sat down at the start of the shift & checked out the number of Jobs on the box. It was pretty high, much higher than the average the week before.

It started about 20 minutes after I sat down. Non bloody stop. Jobs coming in what seemed like every two minutes, the constant chatter on the radio trying to give jobs out, getting updates in plus all the general requests for this that & the other that I have to do while the broom is well & truly wedged up the rear end.

It was OK though, as I was (unusually) double-crewed. Except for the first 3 hours my partner was  answering 999 calls every few minutes. – Answering 999s is measured in the control room, working on the radio & providing a good service to the officers isn’t, so guess where the communal efforts of the room are channeled?

I had more jobs than I had officers & the first three jobs I sent a unit to ended up being quite complicated. Two of them took up the whole shift so that was a large wedge of my resources gone right at the start. Another one for some reason required the officer to take 5 witness statements, so that was another unit out the game.

The computer system send automatic messages when nothing has happened on a job for a particular time. So if absolutely nothing happened all shift & you had 30 jobs, you’d get a message every 2 minutes reminding you that you’ve not typed any info on the log. Those messages have to be accepted, the log opened & glanced at to remind you what it was, then you have to type on the log the reason nothing has happened, such as “no unit available yet” & then the log gets closed down again. It can take 30 seconds or more just to deal with an automated message. So that’s 25% of every free 2 minutes.

When your’re busy, you also have to pick up all the messages sent by the call takers on every log they update, you have to type on information from the officers on everything they do on each job, all their decisions they make, all their requests.

So when it’s busy, it’s really busy. You are literally non-stop from start to finish. It must be like working in an Air Traffic Control centre.

And two hours into the shift I get told I’m not getting a break for 8 hours! 8 Hours? thanks a bunch! I think I got told sometime that working at a computer screen entitled you to health & safety breaks, I can’t remember what the law says but I think you’re supposed to take a ‘screen break’ of a couple of minutes every so often & a break of 5 minutes from your station every so often. I’m not sure of the legalities of it because I think my force has adopted the one screen break every month & a station break once a year, if they’re not short. Whatever, the only break you get is when you go to the loo (after you’ve put your hand up).

You close logs off with Home Office-approved result codes, this is so they can create their stats. Sometimes you might tick the wrong box in error usually because you’re in a hurry. So it winds the fuck out of me when the supervisors send the bloody logs back for some poxy stupid little amendment which they could have done in 3 seconds just by ticking the right box. Instead, they have to cancel your closing of the log, type a message on it about what’s wrong with it then send it back to my PC, when I’m just trying to stay afloat in a  sea of shit & derision.

I’m thinking about taking my computer & shoving it piece by piece up some bloody supervisors arse on my last day.

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  1. Tony F says:

    Ahh, Supervisors, Supervising. Unfortunately not helping, just supervising.

    October 26th, 2008 at 10:15

  2. Civ_In_The_City says:

    Don`r air traffic controllers do 45 minutes on then a 30 minute break (or something) due to the risk of concentration lapses.

    October 26th, 2008 at 11:33

  3. 200 says:


    that’s a good point I hadn’t considered. It’s no wonder that I make mistakes after several hours of solid & often stressful work. And probably the reason why I don’t instantly know the answer to officers many questions on every one of the 35 jobs I’m currently dealing with. (most of the questions are usually to do with information I’ve already given them or told them I’m unable to give them)

    The trouble is the armchair quarterbacks who sit in the supervisor seats couldn’t give a rat’s arse about that and definitely the ones who analyse the jobs the next day looking for all the errors asking why you didn’t do this, that and the other.

    October 26th, 2008 at 11:51

  4. MarkUK says:

    The Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 is the particular piece of legialation that covers you. It mentions breaks (Regulation 4) but does not specify them. However, there is plenty of guidance:

    “First, work at a display screen varies enormously in intensity, visual and mental load and postural strain. Some display screen work is so demanding that breaks are required after 30 minutes eg air traffic control. Other work is little different from any other office type activity.”

    “…there is considerable research evidence that it is not only the total time that is important but also the pattern of work. Thus short, frequent, breaks taken before the onset of fatigue may allow users to work without problems for a normal working day. For example, a 5 to 10 minute break after 50 to 60 minutes intensive display screen work is likely to be more effective than a 15 minute break after 2 hours. Indeed, even a 1 to 2 minute break, taken at the workstation can be recuperative and avoid the build-up of fatigue.”

    “Regulation 4 requires employers to plan breaks or changes of activity into the work routine, these being part of working time. These can be taken at the keyboard, or preferably by performing other tasks away from the keyboard or by stopping work. Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, occasional ones. Continuous keyboarding should not take place for more than 2 hours and preferably for no more than 1 hour, with a break of 5-10 minutes or more. The timing of breaks should be at the discretion of the worker rather than the computer. Safety representatives should seek negotiations or consultations on the planning of work routines to enable breaks to be taken; this should include training and information.”

    You can see the Regulations themselves here: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1992/Uksi_19922792_en_1.htm

    October 26th, 2008 at 15:26

  5. whichendbites says:

    Einstein : Not everything that can be counted counts. And not everything that counts can be counted.

    The world will turn, the bean counters will identify something else that needs counting and guess what ? …………..They will count that. The wheel and the world will continue to turn.

    thanks for the link.

    October 26th, 2008 at 19:27

  6. Plodnomore says:

    During my banishment to the Control Room it was a mixed environment with Police officers and Police staff. Despite a constant shortage of operators the Police staff always took their ’5 minutes every hour’ break from the computer PLUS simply getting up and walking out saying they were having a fag break due to the stress. They also insisted on their 45 minutes meal break as per Unison regulations. As a non smoking PC I found myself not only doing my job but covering for them as well, oten for the whole 8 or 10 hour shift. Complaints to Supervisors did little to end it until I also started getting up and walking out saying I was having a Mars Bar break due to the stress. Funnily enough, when THEY complained to the Supervisors, something was done about it. Just in time really as I put on a stone with all those Mars Bars! It just shows that very little has changed. It was only when the one PC in the shift of 4 (it should have been 6) complained of chest pains and phoned for an ambulance that the SMT decided to do something about it (high blood pressure and heart palpitations caused by a prolonged period of stressful employment – oh how the bums twitched when the Fed threatened to call in H&S).

    October 29th, 2008 at 00:45

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