Monday, December 31, 2007

Final grim statistic of the year

No sooner had I finished writing that I noticed this on the news!

Some scumbag has shot a Pc in Lancashire. Not going to be a good new year for Pc Katie Johnson, I hope she gets better soon.

I sincerely hope the office dwellers and armchair supervisors don't start going on about breaches of policy for turning up to a firearms incident whilst not a firearms response officer. Unfortunately, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if someone did.

Bit of a slip by the Acting Assistant Chief Constable too:

"It troubles me greatly that at a close confrontation level, someone is shooting not only a police officer but a female one who was clearly identified"

Its the "not only a police officer, but a female one" that caught my eye. Does that mean that it wouldn't have been as serious if it was a male officer shot? Or does he think that as she's a woman she shouldn't have to face such dangerous and naughty people, and it's doubly as tragic when she does?

What will Pc Bloggs think.

In all seriousness though, I hope Pc Johnson recovers without ill effect and the toilet-dweller responsible shoots himself in the groin.

Note- I feel suitably honoured to have been visited by Cuddles, the eponymous idiot commenter with a somewhat limited vocabulary. Normally I'd leave the comments there to allow everyone to see the irony of him adding to my hit counter (thank you, by the way), but at the moment I can't be bothered with it and so am deleting them.

Final post of the year... almost

As most are aware Pc Roberts died from a heart attack, but would he have experienced it if Mr Savage hadn't been such a violent person? We will never know. We salute him for willingly going to a situation which was fraught with danger in the first place.

I'm going to leave the expected charming comment there. If anything, I think it helps show the rest of the world the type of people we have to deal with.

I know I haven't exactly been a shining example of blogging effort the last couple of weeks, but a combination of applying 15 months in advance and being lucky in the pool system meant I have for the first time since the millenium got both christmas and new year off. So I've actually had a "normal" christmas, which has generally involved eating far too much and driving half the length of the country every other day seeing various relatives.

Tonight, I'm off to celebrate new year from somewhere other than the inside of a police car. I have been told that already no more leave will be authorised for the 2008 Christmas period! I'm off tonight with friends who don't feel the need to assault each other or their spouses or feel it is a good thing to become drunken heap on the pavement.

I hope all have a good celebration tonight in whatever form it takes, and I hope you don't have need to call 999 as you haven't got a great chance of getting through, and even less chance of someone turning up.

More cheery posts in 2008! Hopefully.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


My sympathies, sadness and anger are with the Met officers, but most of all with the family of the officer killed. (link)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Just a quick one

Just to say very briefly, and politically incorrectly, happy christmas all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Moving on

I'll let the pay business slide for the moment. It seems for once the fed are actually being half-organised and might actually give us an opportunity to do something to show our displeasure beyond yet another email proforma telling us to write to an MP. We'll see what happens. The much vaunted power of the internet seems to have failed for me.

For as of course life goes on. I've been anchored to the custody desk, so for once with this freezing weather I'm not so fed up of the same 4 walls as usual. My sergeanting colleague wandered in the other day. He has now adopted a permanent expression of.... I can't quite describe it, but resigned acceptance about sums it up. He told me we're now down to 4 Pc's covering Suburbiaville, whose population and problems have not been reduced by a third to match the loss of the PC's. The governor won't be happy, as his statistics will have reduced by a third too. Never mind eh.

Which brings me on. Things I am likely not to see in a custody suite:

1) A PCSO. They're not allowed to arrest anyone.
2) A safer neighbourhood constable, unless they were really unlucky and were in the wrong place at the right time.
3) A safer neighbourhood sergeant. They're not even custody trained round my way.
4) Anyone under 16 who actually demonstrates some kind of regret or sorrow for being arrested.
5) Anyone in a suit before 0930am.
6) Anyone from SMT, unless someone has died.

Feel free to continue the list.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Well, the last post didn't cause that much controversy.... never mind.

A couple of things had arisen though- I had completely forgotten that our glorious government had made protesting within a mile of Parliament Square illegal. I didn't really think much about it before but now it has become something I was actually seriously contemplating doing it really winds me up! If the government don't like being told by their electing public that they're not popular, they'll just make it illegal for the public to tell them about it. They don't want to run the risk of actually being confronted by one of their constituents. Its much easier to dismiss a protest when it's something your secretary can deal with via the postbox. I would love to see what the Met would do though if a several hundred old bill turned up outside the Houses of Parliament. Probably bus in all their PCSO's to give everyone a PND.

Anyhoo I did note that one of the things the Fed is now advocating is a mass protest rally. I'll take the credit for that ;-)

Now that this situation is getting a fair bit of news coverage the comments pages on some of the rags are getting letters sent in. I can't remember which one (and I can't be bothered searching) but someone was saying how pathetic this all was over 0.6%. (someone commented on the last post in the same theme)

So, to clarify. For myself, and I think the most of us, this is really not about the money. We are relatively well paid, especially compared to the other emergency services. Although there are unique aspects to our job that don't apply to the others- but more on that another time, if there's the interst.

If the government had backdated the 2.5% to make it a proper 2.5%, I personally wouldn't be jumping up and down.

What is galling is the way the government have gone about this pay rise. They canned a long standing police pay rise mechanism linked into inflation, which was accepted by "us" in return for the right to strike. They then enter into "binding" arbitration which recommends a 2.5% rise. They then, having stalled the issue long enough, accept the 2.5% increase, but only implement it 4 months after it should have been so that the overall increase is 1.9%.

Underlying all this of course is the fact most of us are seriously hacked off with the target obsessions of this government which has a direct impact on the way street level officers go about their jobs. Which has been, for the most part, a negative impact. Most people have seen or heard a story about how some minor petty offence- e.g playground scraps-which in all honesty should be dealt with by words of advice was dealt with according to the letter of the law- which whilst not illegal is not exactly proportionate. But its the pressure from the senior management, under pressure from the government, to improve detection rates which causes this.

Its not about the money. Its about the government constantly interfering and imposing their will. Now I will counter this to acknowledge there is a need for a publicly elected body to be concerned with the manner in which the country is policed but the manner and the method through which this government has gone about it has been woeful, and this pay issue has just been the final straw.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Time to Listen


This pay decrease we're getting. The fed are writing "angry and frustrated" letters and suggest you do the same. They are apparently holding a meeting to discuss it. ACPO meanwhile are officially disappointed.

Is it just me, or is this mostly a lot of hot air and vigorous arm waving and jumping up and down? I'd like to be proved wrong, but I'm not confident.

I don't think the government really give two hoots about letters from the federation or the opinion of ACPO.

Parliament go onto their 3 week christmas break on the 18th December. (3 week break!) They come back on the 7th January according to here.

I'd like to stand outside at Parliament Square and meet them as they go home to whichever one of their homes they're off to. I think that if enough of us are there giving them abuse as they go off to ponder which christmas tipple to have they might just start to listen. Let them leave their decadent halls with the sounds of hundreds of angry police officers ringing in their ears.

I say hundreds. Here's something to test the "power" of the internet. Is this a good idea? How about we start something from the ground up? Lets be honest, this won't affect ACPO. Can you see them recommending any kind of protest?

So how about it? Parliament Square, 2pm, 18th December? I'm not advocating anything other than a show of numbers and perhaps some light-hearted banter with an MP. If too short notice, how about we meet them coming back on the 7th Jan?

Email me, leave a comment, tell your friends, suggest it to a fed rep! - lets see if there's anything in this. I somehow feel I don't want to trust this issue completely to those who represent us- no disrespect to the fed, they just haven't got the clout, and ACPO wouldn't dare risk their rank (come on and prove me wrong!)- I feel I need to do something myself. And this is what I came up with.

I am interested to see if this post will go with a whimper or a bang.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Two pennies

Every blog has been ranting about our pay award. 1.9%.

Now I don't think we as a rule a particularly badly paid especially when compared to some other emergency services. Can't say I particularly like a pay increase below inflation though, that's really a tad off.

I don't know the ins and outs of the whole history of police pay but as far as I can tell some time ago an agreement was reached with the incumbent government that in return for the right to strike we would be guaranteed a certain pay increase each year. Quite what the mechanisms were regarding that I have no idea but the point is this government has reneged on that agreement.

MPs have such a cushy life which is what really makes this sting. Take a look at Coppers Blog for the best comparison of MPs claiming expenses for everything left right and centre. I have to buy my own torches, batteries and belt kit as the job issue ones are invariably poor quality. MPs can even claim a cycling to work allowance! At their rate, I'll have a pound a day thank you very much. Not much, but it'll buy me and the wife a takeaway at the end of each month. Oh except we don't have a cycling allowance.

I would've accepted 2.5%. What has really wound me up is the way the Jacqui "I live in an awfully nice area" Smith has said she accepts the 2.5% recommendation but won't backdate it to when it should have been implemented, making it a reality of 1.9%. Its underhand, sneaky and frankly I'd like to..... (I've been pondering what to say, and I still can't think of anything postable)

Here's the reality for me. I parade 6 officers to cover an urban / suburban population of approx 70,000. I spent 9 hours of my last shift writing a report regarding one individual person. On night shift there are dozens of spare car park spaces but come the morning every one is filled by someone, but who I never know as they're never with me on response work. Safer Neighbourhood teams have been set up with people taken from response teams to do the work response teams don't have enough time and resources to look at. The ethos of management revolves solely around perfomance indicators (and inextricably linked- whether the Superintendents get their bonus). "Support" Squads are set up with fat overtime budgets to target specific crimes (which are always but ALWAYS linked to performance indicators and bonuses) whilst team inspectors can only authorise overtime when it is completely unavoidable (i.e. arrest). They face discipline if it is overbudget and yet if there is an underspend the money is taken away from them to feed another support squad.

I knew there was a reason I didn't initially want to post about this. It winds me up just how messed up this system is. And the blame completely lies with the Labour Government as far as I'm concerned. I've not been in quite long enough to have worked under the Tories but this lot are obsessed with target culture and imposing a financial reward and sanction scheme on a job that essentially cannot be measured effectively with any statistical means. And those aspects which can be measured cannot give an accurate reflection of what they are meant to. 4 out of 5 crimes aren't investigated? So we are expected to put out witness appeals for every car window smashed as John Random forgot to put his TomTom away? There is often a reason why crimes are not investigated beyond their initial investigation. We don't have the resources to stand there at the following day asking people if they were present yesterday, to pore over hours of CCTV on the offchance a suspect may have been captured. I've known people get furiously angry for us not checking 8 hours of CCTV when they found their car window had been smashed in a car park. No suspect description, not known if he was a he or a she or in a car of their own, utterly unrealistic proposition. But my goodness she went mad at me for not doing it.

This post has gone on long enough, apologies.

Monday, December 03, 2007

PCSO uniform revisited.

This Guardian comment is free PCSO Steve business has jolted my creaky memory.

A while ago I posted a poll about whether PCSO's uniform should be more distinct from police officers. I never got round to talking about it.

The poll result is now parked right down the bottom of the page, underneath the youtube videos. The results are clear in what I freely admit is completely unscientific research (not that that would stop any media outlet presenting it as fact)- the overwhelming majority - 75%- say that a PCSO's uniform should be changed so it is less like a police officers. 67% say it should be completely different.

It would seem most people aren't fooled by the illusion the government wanted to create. If they see a uniform walking past, they want to know it is a police officer. Not someone whose training stipulates to simply stand by and observe someone getting a hiding or drowning, as their instruction is to call a police officer down to deal with it.

I think people would rather see the police officer in the first place. I know I would.

However, I am most curious to see that the remaining 25% would like to see the line blurred further between PCSO and PC- to make it so you only know the difference when you're standing next to them asking them about it.

I am interested to hear why.

Note (4th Dec)- in an unusual turn around of the usual order of things, the only PCSO blogger I know of has been resurrected! Link removed from graveyard accordingly. Check out the view from that side of the fence here. Good to see him back

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Memories revisited

Went past that accident yesterday. The furrow marks on the grass are filling in, and the grass is already making a comeback. The trunk is still a scorched black with scars cutting deep into the wood near the base. Some sad flowers hang limply where they've been tied to the tree.

It's quite a different scene in daylight. The skidmarks have been worn away now by the traffic and rain.

I never mentioned that on the night in question the governor asked me to take a car away from response work - i.e. don't take calls- to specifically target the Dream Factories latest performance indicator.

We were "underperforming" because a while ago someone invented a new code to go on certain paperwork returns, and then made our returns on this new code a performance indicator. Because we weren't told about said new code, (well, it might have been published on the intranet site or even a forcewide email, but I don't count either of those as real communication) our return was zero. Oh dear. Someone didn't like that (probably the person who thought of the new code), sent word to Ivory Towers and so the governor got a rocket.

I did ponder the governor's request on the way to the accident, travelling in a blue light convoy behind the car who was supposed to be doing it.

Did we meet any performance indicators dealing with a fatal road accident? Nope. A bad day at the office for the governor.