Archive for March, 2006

March 31st, 2006

Crossing the Picket Line

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200
Police Officers aren’t allowed to srike. I guess there are good reasons for this. I reckon if we had the right to strike it would be my fourth favourite shift; after rest days, annual leave and sick.
Unison, the union, went on strike this week taking with it quite a few Police Support Staff.
 
A few years ago I was given a course enabling me to work the command and control system. This is great for when there is rest day working going at HQ or in one of the Control Rooms but not so good when the civilian controllers go on strike.

The presence of my company was requested this week to work at 12 hour shift in the control room. They keep a stock of police officers in the control room but it is mainly staffed by civilians who seem to like shouting at people, either on the phone or down the radio. So when it was announced that some of them were going on strike, one of them trawlled through the resource screen looking for police officers who could work in the control room. My name came up as well as several others who haven’t been in a control room for years.

I turned up duly at 6.45am t be met with some rather jolly and cheering pickets at the front gates of the nick where the control room is based. They handed me a form and aksed how I was, much more pleasant than the  last group of strikers I came across (miners, firefighters, ambulance staff).
I then spent 12 hours pretending to be a controller. The great thing was that because they now have a ‘call centre’ I didn’t have to talk to any members of the public calling in and interupting the latest issue of Amateur Photographer. I spent the day sitting on my arse and telling people what to do, much like a senior officer.
Towards the latter half of the shift it became apparent to those who run these things that the night shift, coming on at 7pm probably wouldn’t have enough staff to cope. Now given that they knew about the strike several weeks in advance and they had plenty of opportunity to get sufficient police cover, it came as no surprise when I was asked to stay on until 10pm because they had completely  cocked up their ‘resource allocation model’.

I managed to get out of there at 8pm having had a thoroughly busy time, as did many others of us in there. The one thing which struck me was that when I paused to look around the room to be met with a sea of white uniform shirts, and not the usual polyglot of jeans & t-shirts that the support staff wear, I was struck by the air of calm. Usually the room is filled with screaming women shouting “caller…Caller…CALLER” down the phone, there was none of that.

Perhaps there is something to be said with keeping police officers in control rooms rather than civilianising the whole thing.

March 26th, 2006

We are the Champions

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

If you want any proof at all that the management of the police service has lost it’s way, you need look no further than a brief scan of any documents which eminate from Police HQ. 

When senior officers stopped being police officers and became ‘managers’ it was inevitable that they fell into the same ways as industry managers; talking bullshit, or management speak to give it a more polite name. Thus we no longer have ‘shift systems’ we have ‘Resource Allocation Models‘ in which there is a ‘desired level to deliver core & non-core business‘. Thjese are, of course, ‘demand modelled VSAs (variable shift arrangements). They should be investigated using a ‘balanced scorecard approach‘ and there must be a ‘supply-demand match’ having taken into account the ‘Health & Safety Fatigue Index‘.. You’d have thought with all the courses they must have been on to learn those big words they’d be able to come up with a shift system that was any good. But it’s good to know that we now have a ‘tidal shift pattern‘.

Apparently, rather than telling someone they’ve either done well or need to pull up their boots we now need to ‘quality assure the PDR activity, inform the Succession Management process & identify development needs’. I always found a good kick up the arse did more good.

We don’t have probationers any more, we have ‘student officers‘. We don’t advise the local council what we’re doing, we consult our ‘stakeholder partnerships’. And whatever the hell we do with an ‘integrated competency framework’ I have not the faintest clue.

Another one which cropped up recently was ‘market plussage‘. No I don’t know either but I’m led to believe it has something to do with overtime.

We have whole departments whose job it is to come up with new policies and procedures. The people who lead the way on whatever new waste of time they come up with is not a project leader but is the ‘force champion‘. That always strikes me as strange since I don’t think they’ve actually won anything, unless it’s the inter-divisional talking bollocks championships.

I’d prefer to see more impetus on catching criminals but sadly I don’t know what they call it these days. 

 

 

March 19th, 2006

Next?

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

As a rule, I like to think I have a fair amount of patience with most people.

One group who don’t fit into that category is made up of people who seem to think they are far more important than the rest of the population.

Their urgency that we drop everything & attend to their specific problem is usually in inverse proportion to the actual seriousness of their job.

The clue to how important the job is considered is that if we attend straight away, it’s an immediate response & we have left others waiting in order to deal. If we aren’t attending straight away you can take it as read that we don’t think it’s imperative that we do so therefore you’ll have to wait like all the other 30 or so people currently on our jobs list.

Ringing us 10 minutes after you reported the incident demanding to know why we’re not round your house will do little to advance your cause; it’ll just wind up the person who has to listen to your self-important drivel & raise your stress levels when told you’ll still have to wait just like everyone else.

The funny thing is that it’s amazing how many times people like this turn out to be local councillors, solicitors who know the chief or members of the police consultative committee.  It happens so often that I wonder whether, on being appointed to such a committee, there is a course on how to demand extra attention from the police because you’re a very important person.

You always know when you are dealing with such a person because they usually introduce their membership of such a group fairly early on in the call thinking that you actually give a f*** what role they have and will apply such importance to resourcing their every need.

We probably won’t speed up the response when they threaten, (which they invariably do)  to take the matter to the papers either. I’m sure if the News of the World based the content of their rag on the police response to Mrs Miggins, local councillor, being called a slag by the grunts down the road, they wouldn’t be selling many papers. Though I could be wrong.

March 16th, 2006

Hurrah for the Met

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

So the Met have eventually charged the sum total of three people over the infamous ‘Muslim Cartoon Demo’ in central London on February 3rd.

In a triumph for police investigative skills they’ve managed to identfy and charge 3 people. Bravo and three cheers for the boys in blue. Now all the people complaining that the Met sat back on their politically correct arses and declined to take positive action during the demonstration can eat their words, or something.

Currently forces up and down the land have been told to get their detection rates up, something to do with making the government look better. So coppers are working rest days and getting up at the crack of dawn to arrest all the people who fail to appear at court or who are wanted on warrant (i.e. detections where you don’t have to do any actual police work) so the figures can get a much needed injection. But the Met’s answer is to swap a few dozen detections via an arrest on the day of the demo for a couple of detections 6 weeks later – if you’ll forgive the phrase – top bombing!

March 15th, 2006

Billy No-mates

Posted in Blogging by 200

As I scan all the regular Police-Blogs I’m beginning to notice that every other bugger who writes a police-blog has been contacted by the BBC asking to appear on Radio Five discussing the Met’s email to its staff warning of the perils of blogging.

So what have I done that nobody’s contacted me?

I’ve just realised that apart from the ‘Comment‘ facility there is no email contact, not that if there had been one the BBC would have bothered with me anyway, but there you go.

So in a desperate bid for future fame & fortune I’ve put an email address up in the About section.

If you want to email me you can use:

200weeks Email Address

March 14th, 2006

The Baby’s Still Asleep

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

It’s bloody typical. You wait ages for a muppet leaving their baby unattended in a car and then two turn up in the same week.

This one was even more of a muppet than the last. He parks outside the local supermarket and ‘pops’ in for a quick something. Isn’t it always amazing that the only people who get caught out have left their vehicles for ‘one minute’. You’d have thought that there being 1,440 minutes in a day, the chances of driving along in your police car during the precise minute they’re breaking the law would be pretty damn small. But we seem to manage it with grim regularity.

Anyway, during this magical ‘minute’ you’ve got time to check that the baby is OK, check all the doors to see if they are actually locked, have a look up and down the road, get back in the police car and sort a clouple of items of paperwork, do a full PNC check on the car and get the result back, have a sandwich or two (‘cos you won’t be getting a grub break – again) and go on a short weekend break to Centreparks.

The driver comes back, you explain a little bit of commonsense which is like talking to the shovel in your boot and do a check on him too.

Now any sensible driver at this point would retrieve the baby from the car and pretend to go off for a little shopping elsewhere until you leave, but not Muppet.

He gets back into his car and drives off, whereupon you follow him, pull him over up the road and reveal that whilst you were waiting the ‘minute’ for him to return, you’ve discovered his vehicle is uninsured, has no MOT and he only has a provisional licence. To top his day off you advise him you’re siezing the vehicle and point him in the direction of the footpath.

What a muppet.

March 13th, 2006

Sir Ian does it again

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

I see Sir Ian Blair is in hot water again. No surprise there, then.

It seems Sir foot-in-mouth has been forced to apologise for secretly recording a telephone conversation between him and the Attorney General, and a few more with the IPCC.

I’m not usually one to particularly support senior police officers but is it just me who wonders what all the fuss is about?

I mean, the thing that strikes me is that it’s a wonder that anyone thinks these phone calls aren’t recorded. Everything is recorded these days. You can’t call NTL Customer Support a useless bunch of no-good tossers without it being recorded. You can’t order a new cheque book from your bank without it being recorded. You can’t even get a bloody inflated insurance quote for your 1982 Ford Escort without it being recorded and you’re constantly reminded just in case you’ve been on planet zog for the last 10 years; “this call may be recorded for training purposes” or whatever it is they say. Everything is recorded.

All calls coming into the police are recorded whether it’s a 999 or someone wanting to ask about their lost cat. The only difference between the police service and any other organisation is that we don’t tell anyone. The only time people get to know their call is being recorded is if they start shouting and swearing and threatening staff then the operator says “This call is being recorded so everything you say is on tape” in an effort to get them to stop shouting. I’m no expert but as every other organisation announces they’re recording the calls there must be some rules or guidelines. I’ve always wondered if we’re breaking any rules.

So every time you speak to any organisation on the phone anywhere, they record the conversation and someone thinks it’s strange that the Met’s ‘top cop’ records a call of potential national significance with the country’s top lawyer?

I mean, come on! When people are trying to stitch each other up from every level up the police ranks and across to the government you’d be mad not to record a telephone conversation. Blair probably has more reason than most to want to protect his back.

I didn’t realise people were that naïve.

March 13th, 2006

Big Brother – Update

Posted in Blogging by 200

With reference to the story below I see the BBC News website has taken up the story in their New Met blogging rules spark anger article.

They have some relevant quotes from the World Weary Detective blog amongst others.

March 13th, 2006

Free Crime Prevention Advice

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I guess nearly 30 years of mixing with scum makes you pretty aware of the potential for crime around you; I never let the Mrs walk around Tescos with the opening of her shoulder-bag facing outwards and I never leave the car unattended with the stereo still attached.
In fact, I wouldn’t leave an empty sweet wrapper on the back seat lest some thieving toe-rag thinks there might be the chance of a free Murraymint in the offing.

Why is it that people leave several hundred and even thousands quids’ worth of electrical goodies in their cars?

Sat Navs are the latest. We’ve dealt with the theft of 3 this weekend alone.

You may be insured & it may be a company car but unless you want to spend the next 3 months picking glass splinters out of your arse, don’t leave it in the vehicle!

It’s portable, shiny & has lots of buttons to press and is therefore instant bait for Master Single-Braincell. He (yes, it’ll be a he) may not know how to turn on the bloody thing much less actually operate it but he does know how to smash windows.

March 12th, 2006

More Monkey Business – Update

Posted in The Job - General by 200

With regard to my earlier story here, word reaches me that the chief of Cheshire police may not have put a blanket ban on police officers having a registered business interest and that it may just be one particular group of officers having their business interest blocked.

Does anyone know what the current situation in Cheshire actually is? Are all officers banned from second jobs or is it just ******?

March 11th, 2006

Big Brother

Posted in Blogging, The Job - Comment by 200

The ‘Management’ hate it when the minions speak out. I guess this is true of any industry but is especially true of the police. Anything which gives a lie to the carefully channelled ‘press release speak’ is to be discouraged lest the public discover not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Individuals not towing the party line are actively discouraged at best and stamped upon at worst.

It is, therefore, no surprise that the shiny trouser brigade at police HQs up and down the land are becoming somewhat disgruntled with the popularity of blogging & more specifically police bloggers.

The Met sent round an email to every member of staff advising of its disquiet at the practice of police officers publishing their personal thoughts on websites such as this and warning of the consequences for police bloggers should they stray fro the narrowly defined guidance within the said HQ missive.

As a result several police bloggers have announced that they are either ceasing their blogs or are no longer posting articles of a police nature.

The Met have been careful to say that they cannot stop bloggers in their employ, only that people should be mindful that they risk getting stuck on if they post anything the Met considers inappropriate.

The catch-all discipline offence they will use is ‘bringing the police service into disrepute’. This basically means saying anything the management don’t want you to say. There will be no requirement that your blog actually did bring the force into disrepute, they don’t even have to produce any evidence that a single person thought any less of the service because of what they read.

The thing I find really strange, well actually I don’t because with 200 weeks to go I’m well used to the hypocrisy of the police discipline machinations, is that senior officers telling blatant lies to the media & public isn’t bringing the force into disrepute while PCs telling it like it is, er, is.

The World Weary Detective is just one such police-blogger to hang up his quill. Having succumbed to the veiled threats fired off by the Met he has decided not to risk the ire of his employers and has quit his blog. Another ex job blog can be found at Brian’s Brief Encounters. He no longer blogs about police work and has removed all previous police-related posts.

One blogger has removed all references to the town and force he works, several others haven’t posted for a month or more.

Stephen Newton, MCIPR, whatever that is, on his blog over at his Public relations consultant blog talks about the demise of the World Weary Detective on his blog. It seems Stephen is a PR Consultant and thus by default well versed in the art of getting paid for talking bullshit. He starts his entry thus “Anonymous work blogger, World Weary Detective, has quit in a fit of hyperbole after his employer, the Metropolitan Police, issued guidance for bloggers.” He then goes on to say WWD is probably right to retire of he can’t blog responsibly citing such risks as “Anonymous bloggers may not be who they claim to be. Genuine work bloggers may have access to confidential information, that concerns not just their employer but individuals who deserve a right to privacy. The shield of anonymity can enable cowardly acts of betrayal.”

One could be forgiven for thinking Mr Newton is acting in his capacity as PR Consultant for the Met such is his apparent brown-nosing to the ethos of corporate censorship. He, among others,  has spectacularly missed the point. The reason the Met and other forces don’t want their officers blogging has nothing to do with protecting the public. It is about gagging those who actually know the truth about how a modern police service runs, and how the government and ACPO use smoke and mirrors to make the bed rosier than it is.

They don’t want you to know the truth.

March 8th, 2006

The Walls Have Eyes (2)

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Further to my report below on the latest & greatest way to report misdoings in the workplace it transpires that Safecall has been advertised to staff members in several other police forces also.

The job must be really keen for its staff to use the service; not only have they advertised the facility via display posters, an announcement on Force Orders and even an individual email to every member of staff, police & civilian, but they followed it up a few days later with a personal letter containing a glossy full-colour leaflet via Royal mail to the home address of every employee.

Enquiries reveal that this mailshot has also been sent in the other forces and runs at several thousand pounds per force. Further, the mailshot isn’t funded by the company running the service but by the individual police force, or in other words, the tax-payer.

Meanwhile, frontline services continue to get axed due to budget restraints amounting to cuts of several millions of pounds in many police forces.

My personal copy went straight in the recycling bin ready to be collected by the council next Tuesday. I suspect many thousands of others have as well. So that’s nice.

March 6th, 2006

Sshhh…the Baby’s Asleep!

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

Sometimes, no matter what service you have, you still find moments of amazement at the stupidity of some people.

I know parenting doesn’t come with a manual but there truly are some people who took the day off when brain cells were being handed out.

Today we met the parents of an 18 month old child who had taken her to a busy out-of-town shopping centre. It’s one of those places like Lakeside or that centre in Newcastle, or the Blue Cross centre (or is that a dog’s home) that are dotted around the nation. It’s exactly the sort of place where you wouldn’t want to leave your Tom-Tom Sat Nav or your mobile phone on the dashboard, and you wouldn’t consider leaving your laptop on the back seat.

Anyway, Mr & Mrs Brain-of-Britain thought it quite acceptable and sensible to leave the baby unattended in a locked vehicle while they went off looking for a bargain because they didn’t want to wake it up.

I wonder what the insurance claim would have looked like had the child been ‘stolen’.

March 3rd, 2006

More Dross (2)

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

Another classics from this week:

Male calls up to report a theft, nothing unusual in that.

The theft occurred in June 2005, there might, I suppose, be some reason why a theft which occurred 9 or 10 months ago isn’t reported until this week; Polar Scientist been away for a few months, IP* been in a coma, or something, but a theft is a theft.
The details of the crime are that the offender, who works in the same office as the IP has, on said date in June, gone to the office fridge and used milk from the IP’s milk bottle without permission to make their tea.

You couldn’t make it up.

* IP – Injured Party/Victim