People join “the job” for a number of reasons, from interviewing the bad guys, protecting the good guys, driving really fast and everything in between.
From the very first day of our Policing career, we lace up our shiny new boots and tackle the day ahead. Be it during our 15 weeks of initial training when we are having law and policy rammed down our throats, or during the next 30 years of our career wherever that may take us, the reality is that our trusty pair of boots are really the only thing that understand exactly what we have been through. The stories they could tell…
Our families, our friends and the public all see and hear about investigations that the Police are carrying out, people that the Police need to speak to, and generally ludicrous sentences that are given out at Court. The problem is, our families, our friends and the public all see what the press want them to see, in the way that the press want them to see it, and often conveniently leaving out key bits of information which, although factually correct, perhaps doesn’t make such a good headline.
I work a 9 day shift pattern. 3 earlies, 3 lates, 3 rest days. As far as shift patterns go, it really isn’t that bad. I don’t currently work night shifts which means I don’t feel and look like I’ve been hit by a nine tonne truck, and having three days off feels like a proper break at the end of our working week to re-charge our batteries and have a bit of a life!
During my six working days, I am often off late at least 50% of the time, sometimes by only an hour, sometimes by more than four. The best way to avoid disappointment is to not make plans after earlies. Having to cancel on people is worse than not having the arrangement in the first place.
In theory I am duty for 50% of my working week, and the remaining 50% I get to progress the 24 other investigations I own currently. In reality, I am duty for closer to 70% as there aren’t enough of us (shock) to deal with the volume of prisoners coming through, with the number of stabbings being called in, and the number of violent disorders occurring on a more than weekly basis.
So the reality is that the other 24 investigations that I own get ignored, pushed to one side and have to wait. That’s 24 victims being failed, 24 victims with updates far later than deserved, and 24 victims left disappointed in the lack of service the Police have provided.
If you imagine a puppy running in circles chasing its tail, that’s a fairly good representation. Although I expect I look less cute and more haggard than a playful pup. After three very needed rest days, the drive to work on the first early back generally consists of me making a mental to do list, dreading the amount of emails that have landed (especially if I’ve had mid-week rest days, as CPS have been at work…) and constructing some kind of game plan for the week ahead.
Sometimes, it’s really bloody knackering. It’s really hard. It can feel impossible and leave you questioning how on earth you’re meant to do this job.
But other times, I get a fantastic result, a decent sentence at Court, and it reminds me why I do what I do, why I love this job, and why it really is the job like no other.