Archive for February, 2012
From time to time I comment on the quality of information taken by calltakers and passed on to me to deal with by way of assigning officers to deal with the call. As in all jobs, there are some very good call takers and some very bad ones.
In the old days, you would just sack someone who was no good at their job. Today, nobody wants to take that responsibility, the litigation culture has meant that in order to sack someone, the job has to have a case that is absolutely water tight. This means they have to jump through hoops that most supervisors don’t want to jump through. Nobody wants to make a decision which may come back to bite them on the bum at an employment tribunal. It’s part of the overall culture within the police now that encourages nobody to take responsibility and makes people want to pass the buck further up the line.
I often get logs passed back to me because I take decisions based on my experience. Sometimes this means closing off logs because I don’t believe a police officer should be attending. It’s hit or miss as to whether the log remains closed because in order to get it through the system at least one and sometimes two supervisors have to agree with my decision, this means they’re also going to cop it if it goes pear shaped. Most won’t take the risk.
A typical example is Mr Adams. He threatens suicide so frequently that few people take himÂ seriously. Sometimes he rings several times a day. We have over 400 calls to his address in the last 3 years. He does it so often that the ambulance service have a policy that they will only go to his address once per 24 hour shift. That’s once more than I will send an officer. If he ever does top himself and I don’t send someone, it will be my fault.
This is, of course, different from jobs where a simple cock-up has been made. When people are panicking, it can be very difficult to understand what they are saying. With large sections of the community being fromÂ foreignÂ climes, accents can be very difficult to understand. It is reasonably frequent that we get logs where the address is wrong, sometimes due to the call taker’s inability to fathom out what is actually being said, sometimes due to picking the wrong address from a drop down box. When an address is entered into the log, the system offers you a number of choices, either similar sounding road names or the same road name but in different towns. It saves valuable time entering the house number, street, town and postcode, you just enter the start of the address and select from the menu that appears. You might be offered 13 or 14 High Streets within the force area and if you pick the wrong one without noticing it, police are racing to an address the other side of the county.
This isn’t an issue for someone reporting a theft of milk off their doorstep, but it can lead to loss of life when minutes or even seconds count.
Working in a police control room is not like working at directory enquiries, or at the customer service unit Â for Virgin Media. Someone should tell the force managers this because they continue to adopt the same working practices as those places. If call takers are told to make each call last an average of 5 minutes so they can reach the targets for answering calls and someone can get a pat on the back, there will be occasions when they cock up because they are under pressure to wrap the call up and get on to the next one.
Few people give a shit about the quality of the call taking, not when you can say you answered 90% of 999 calls within 9 seconds.
I would like to place on record that in 30 years in the job I have never taken any cash for information. To be totally frank, I’ve never been offered any money for information. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever had any information that someone else might be interested in paying for, certainly judging by the lack of book offers I’ve had as the most prolific police blogger out there. (or should that be ‘out here’?).
We used to have a rule that any journalist wanting information had to be told to speak to the Press & PR Department. To be fair the most usual enquiry that journalists spoke to me about was how many plant pots Mrs Davies had stolen off her patio, or whether I thought the disappearance of Mr Newbegin’s cat had any sinister connotations. We weren’t trusted with anything much more serious.
Then one day someone at the Wendy House had a bright idea, Â why not let the officers speak to the papers about cases they are investigating. So then we didn’t have to direct enquiries to the Press & PR Department, we could speak to the press direct. Sadly, instead of them ringing me asking about the levels of plant pot thefts. I was now allowed to ring them and tell them about patio-related thefts. It was fantastic.
Still nobody offered me any money. Nothing changed. They’ve probably taken that perk away from officers these days.
At the moment, in the control room, we are doing one day about on controlling positions. This means that one day you are the controller which means you take all the stress and the next day you assist. When you assist, you tend to spend most time updating logs, making and taking calls, while the controller has responsibility for picking up andÂ dealingÂ with all the logs.
Previous posts will show just how busy and stressful it can be.
I had one of those days as controller this week. We had firearms incidents, a stabbing, a high risk misper (which usually means everyone available wasting hours of times looking for people who threaten suicide but never go through with it). All in all it meant, high intensity policing with nobody available for all the other run-of-the-mill incidents.
My ‘assistant’ spent the entire night taking the piss about how busy we were.
So the next night, when I was assisting, he was the controller. Fair is fair so I expected, nay, prayed, for as busy a night as I’d had. After 5 minutes we hadn;t had a job with was pretty gutting given that I;d had at least 2Â immediatesÂ in my first 5 mins. So I started doing what is all but banned in the control room; I started saying how ‘quiet’ it was. You’re not allowed to mention the word ‘quiet’. In fact, much like the ‘Scottish play’, it can only ever be referred to as the ‘Q’ word.
An hour of “it’s too QUIET in here”, “it’s bloody QUIET, isn’t it?” and as many variations as possible later, and it was still bloody quiet. We didn’t get a single knife job, no firearms incidents, not one robbery. Even the fights were over and done with before we arrived. Our potentially high risk missing person turned up 15 minutes later at a mate’s house. No heads in a bag, no dismembered torsos of a man in his late fifties, nothing, nada, bugger all.
So for the next few shifts I’m still on a mission to get my own back. If it comes to it, I’m gonna walk out of the control room for a few minutes, go into the lobby, and make a few 999 calls myself.
There’s a series of these ‘memes’ doing the rounds at the moment.
Thanks to one of my regular contributors, who pointed out that the link to comments wasn’t working.
I recently tried to paste the WordPress software which stalled half way through. When I tried to sort it out I found the blog was knacked. I then had to delete the lot and re-load it.
Having done that I forgot to change a couple of settings. It should be working Ok, but if you notice anything amiss, please let me know.
I received the below email this week regarding a competition around non-fiction crime blogging. I’m posting it as it might be of interest to someone. I have no idea what’s involved.
This is a quick reminder that the quarterly magazine Creative Nonfiction (www.creativenonfiction.org) is seeking narrative blog posts to reprint in our upcoming True Crime issue. We’re looking to get input from bloggers, like you, who are plugged in to the online true crime writing community, and we hope you’ll send us your suggestions and encourage your readers to nominate submissions.
Weâ€™re looking for: Posts that can stand alone, 2000 words max, from 2011. Something from your own blog, from a friendâ€™s blog, from a strangerâ€™s blog.
Please note that the deadline for nominations has been extended to Monday, February 27, 2012.
The complete call is available here:
I liked this one.
Having tried to get Siri to help me, I don’t think it’s just the Scots who have a problem…
Lincolnshire Police have come up with an innovative way to cut some of their proportion of the 20% that British Police forces have to knock off their budget due to the massive financial mismanagement the country has suffered.
They’re going to pay a private company to build and run a police station and send 540 employees to the private sector.
G4S will take over human resources, finance and IT for the force, which reckons that paying them ÂŁ200million over ten years will save the force ÂŁ20million. The civilian support staff will leave the police service and be re-employed by G4S.
In G4S’s bid for global domination, they are currently speaking to ten other forces about taking over some of their services.
Apparently, a man has been shot in London. Apparently he threatened police officers with a large bladed weapon (some reports are calling it a sword).
Apparently they did what most police officers in this country have to do because they can’t save themselves or anyone else for that matter, from a man who isĂ‚Â threateningĂ‚Â people with a knife; they retreated and called for someone who did have the right tools for the job.
Apparently the man came at them again with the knife.
Apparently he was Tasered and then shot and is now in a critical condition.
Doubtless people will beĂ‚Â callingĂ‚Â for protest, civil disobedience and/or revenge.
Nobody, including the people tasked with investigating the incident, will be calling for the police to have the ability to deal with such people off the bat, nor will they be advertising that it was lucky it happened in London, where the highest proportion of armed officers can be found, because if it happened round these parts it might have been an hour or more before an officer suitably equipped to protect anyone on the scene actually arrived.
In America, police chiefs would beĂ‚Â queuingĂ‚Â up to tell the public that if you try to attack one of their officers with a knife, you can rightly expect to be shot. Over here, police chiefs will say nothing.
There are some things in life you just know are wrong, but you love them anyway…
News today that the GMP will be recruiting 50 new officers a year for the next three years.
I really feel sorry for youngsters these days, particularly ones like me who grow up wanting to do nothing more than stick on a blue suit and help society sort itself out. With so few forces recruiting over the last few years, and for theĂ‚Â foreseeableĂ‚Â future, they have absolutely no chance of realising their dream job, even though I would not follow the same path had I known then what I know now.
Policing has never been about the money, in most cases it has never been about power, nor the desire to tread on the rights of the working masses, beat up a few protestors and black people, or the need to feel superior over quivering motorists. It’s been about wanting to put something back into society, despite what the daily fail tells you.
It’s such a shame that Ă‚Â thousands and thousands of Ă‚Â
idiots willing and able candidates will never get the chance to fulfill their dream, just because a few greedy people fucked up the country’s money and a few other people didn’t have the skill or willingness to sort it out.
When the GMP announce the vacancies, what are the best on number of applications per space available?
I’ve not an inductee into the ‘200Weeks Scum of the Week Hall of Fame‘, and I don’t have one today. Instead, I’m going announcing the first entry into the ‘200 Weeks Hero of the Week Award’.
Step forward oneĂ‚Â Arron Large, a street cleaner from essex who handed in a gold Rolex watch he found when he was cleaning drains. The watch turned out to be worth some Ă‚ÂŁ21,000.
The very next day Arron found 3 more watches, including another Rolex, in other drains just up the road from the first. He also handed these in.
Police think the watches are probably part of a haul of stolen property and may have been dumped or hidden by the thief who may have forgotten which drains he put them down – how sweet would that be if it were the case?
There is no truth in the rumour that the entire population of Chalkwell in Essex have been seen dangling magnets on bits of strings down every drain in the town.
The best news I’ve had all year, and it doesn’t take much given all the news at work these days. Ali Dizaei is a corrupt cop who fits up innocent people.
For the second time, he has been found guilty by twelve of his fellow peers, despite the vile dribble that spurts from his mouth. He has been sentenced to three years imprisonment but is likely to serve just another three months, having already served 13 months the first time the truth came out.Ă‚Â If ever there was an argument that criminals should serve their full sentence, Dizaei is it.
He was of courseĂ‚Â acquittedĂ‚Â from the first finding of guilt after he successfully managed to persuade the High Court that the chief witness had lied about something completely unrelated to the case being tried (the victim’s welfare benefit status), presumably on the grounds that if he lied about what benefits he was on, he must be lying about being fitted up by the mostĂ‚Â disgracefulĂ‚Â cop to wear the uniform in the last 50 years.
Naturally Dizaei is not finished yet; he intends to appeal, again. What really made me laugh though, was his quote to the Independent:Ă‚Â “The journey has only just begun, we will go to the Court of Appeal and, if needs be, to Europe. It is a sad day that a convicted fraudster who is a bogus asylum seeker and under investigation for rape and assault is believed over a police officer.“
Given that the police officer was Ali Dizaei, I don’t think it’s sad at all, I think its quiteĂ‚Â joyous.
Apparently another multi-millionaire died last night.
I’m a regular viewer of the late night BBC News channel. I have to say after about 15 minutes of gushing drivel about one of society’s richest most privileged people croaking, probably due in no small part to her inability to control her own life, I had to turn the TV off.
With so much money and access to almost anything they might ever want, it’s funny how they so often turn to drink and drugs.
These people are of noĂ‚Â importance.
Important people dying do so in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq, earn less than Ă‚ÂŁ35,000 and are only known to their mates, colleagues and families. You’ll read a few paragraphs about them if you read anything at all.
Meanwhile the papers and TV reports are full of gushing shite.
Gotta love the response from this guy towards his daughter’s Facebook posting.
Can you imagine what would have happened in the UK had someone done this. About 2 hours later he’d have been surrounded by both firearms units while the rest of the officers were hid behind some buildings 4 streets away.