Political Whiplash

Not five minutes ago were Politicians and the media stating that Stop & Search incites racism, and shouldn’t be used.

Fast forward five minutes, and Politicians and the Media are telling Police to use Stop & Search to help tackle knife crime.

I stand by the fact that I believe Stop & Search to be one of the most effective tools we have.  Yes it may be a bit embarrassing, and yes people will stop and stare because apparently that’s what we do these days…. but if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to lose.

If you don’t want to be searched, if you kick up a stink, the chances are you’re probably in possession of something you shouldn’t be.  Don’t forget, we actually need grounds to conduct a Stop & Search, we can’t just pick on people. (Contrary to what the media would let you believe.)

It’s effective.

It prevents crime.

Every knife off the street is another life likely saved.

Every bit of intelligence obtained helps us build the bigger picture.

But do you know what would really help?

If we could actually do our job.  Stop & Search is part of our job.  If you are a businessman we don’t take away your computer keyboard.  If you’re a Doctor we don’t take away your defibrillator. If you’re a fireman we don’t take away your hose.  If you’re a taxi driver we don’t take away your steering wheel.

So why should we have Stop & Search taken away from us?  Stop using it to make fake and juicy headlines and to aid Political agendas and start letting us do our job, do what we are trained to do, and try to tackle the surge in violent crime.

To the year June 2018, ONS stated there has been:

  1. A continued rise in the number of Police recorded offences involving knives or sharp instruments (up 12% excluding Greater Manchester Police)
  2. The number of admissions to Hospital in England and Wales for assaults involving a sharp instrument has increased.
  3. The number of homicides increased following a long-term decline (up 14% excluding terror attacks)
  4. A 22% increase in Police recorded offences of Robbery

Stop & Search ultimately helps saves lives. So let us use it.

Treading Water…

There are more Cops to help with the rise in violent crime. Are there bollocks! Loosely translated, that means there’s more Cops who have had their shifts extended, rest days cancelled, and annual leave refused, in order to try and cope with demand. There aren’t more Cops. Let’s not forget that all too recent comment that there’s no direct trend between the rise in violent crime and the reduction in Police numbers…

There’s not enough of us to do our normal shifts, let alone cover all the added extras like festivals, political leader visits, football matches and Christmas demand. If I work one of those duties it means I’m taken off my usual duties. Which means someone has a rest day cancelled to back fill. It’s not sustainable like this, it really, really isn’t.

I have an £80,000 fraud to investigate. It’s taken a total back seat because I’ve also got six Section 18 Wounding with Intent’s to investigate, one of which is already going to Court & the CPS are being needy. It’s rubbish. That poor fraud victim hasn’t had any contact from me in a few weeks, I have no updates, I’ve not interviewed the suspect, it would actually be totally fair to say I’m failing them.

We have to prioritise. We priotise based on risk, threat & harm. Jobs lower down that list have to wait. Which is good in theory but it would appear we keep getting high risk jobs, so the list keeps growing, and the low risk ones never get a look in.

Prioritisation is right, but it shouldn’t be to the extreme that it is. It shouldn’t mean we fail victims to the extent that we do, and it shouldn’t mean we forget about jobs until they turn red on our task list and we have an “oh shit” moment.

I have over 15 separate investigations, plus those that I acquire after I’ve interviewed people in custody, plus those that get linked to a job I already have. There quite literally aren’t enough hours in the day. I believe there’s over 100 crimes in our team inbox that haven’t even been allocated out for investigation because we all have so many already.

But it’s ok, because there’s more Cops coming….! Negative press. Untruthful press. Misleading headlines. All far too familiar.

We know our job has challenges. We knew that when we joined. But we shouldn’t be pushed to breaking point. We shouldn’t be working late more often than not in order to just about keep on top of it.

We get very good at treading water that’s for sure. Our head’s are just above drowning level. Just.

Heroes

This is slightly different to my usual posts about not enough resources, being knackered, and not knowing quite how we are going to carry on doing our job with the lack of support, resources and funding we currently have.

This post is about us as heroes.  Never have I come away from a fireworks display feeling overwhelmed.  Well, never until last night.  I’m a cop, my husband is ex-military and a paramedic, and we both came away super impressed.

The theme was heroes.  The Armed Forces, Emergency Services, Teachers, Grandparents, Sports heroes, Superheroes, brothers & sisters. I guess in some way, everybody has a hero, and that hero can be anybody.

I won’t lie, it was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to hear Emergency Services being branded as heroes, rather than the usual Daily Fail headlines. The display was opened by the Royal British Legion, and the Last Post played.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 100 years since the end of the War.  It really was incredible throughout.

To try and be a little positive on a Sunday, I guess it is important to realise the good we do, the way we help, and the fact that in the view of some, we are a kind of hero.

We help save lives.

We find your missing children.

We lock up the people who have hurt you most.

We stay with you at your time of need.

We hold your hand if you’re scared.

We run towards the danger when everybody else runs away.

Even though sometimes we’re frightened, we try not to let it show, we do our job anyway.

We learn to expect the unexpected.

We get hurt along the way.

No matter just how crap our day has been, if you’re the next person to need us, we will be there.

In the words of Coldplay – “Hercules and his gifts, Spiderman’s control, And Batman with his fists, And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list”.

Firework

There’s a lot of tired faces…

As I walk around at work, I see a lot of tired faces.

In the office.

In custody.

In the changing room.

In the corridors.

In the toilets.

In the kitchen.

The faces of “I’m going to be late off again”.

The faces of “CPS still haven’t phoned me back”.

The faces of “My to do list isn’t getting any smaller”.

The faces of “Another one on constants”.

We know that it doesn’t matter which role we have or what department we work in, we are knackered, it’s just a shame others don’t see that.

In the toilets last week someone was splashing their face with water in a hope it’ll freshen them up.

Yesterday I got shouted out down the phone for passing an update on an investigation I have nothing to do with. Never met the person at the end of the phone. Never assisted on the investigation. Never read the crime report before. But it was my fault that I didn’t give them the update they wanted.

I also took a 3 hour long statement for a GBH.

I have 7 IPs for the same job.

I have no confirmed suspects.

I have another GBH in Court today.

I have crime reports I haven’t read yet because I just don’t have enough hours in the day.

I’ll have more work by the end of tonight as I’ll have dealt with another prisoner.

Its relentless.

Those on response, they’ll go job to job tonight without a break. They won’t have dinner at dinner time. They’ll put their lives on the frontline for everybody else’s safety.

Those in custody, they’ll probably have 40 in the cells tonight where I work, that is 40 people to look after, risk assess, document, charge or NFA.

Those in the control room will be inundated. They’ll prioritise the calls, and no doubt get told they’re wrong when we don’t get somewhere fast enough. They’ll hear abuse, trauma and crisis on those calls.

And after all that, we will all go home, at some point tonight, knackered. There will be a lot of tired faces. Tired from the shift, tired because we’ve been run off our feet, tired because we can’t catch a break.

But that’s just a day in the life of a Cop.

Could you do it?

I get asked it frequently.

“What made you want to do this job?”

“Do you ACTUALLY enjoy night shifts then?”

“Don’t you mind working weekends?”

“Aren’t you scared?”

It’s sad really, that the majority of questions asked of us are negative. The way we are portrayed in the media, the risks to our safety both nationally and locally, the abuse we suffer both verbally and physically, really why would we enjoy what we do?!

But I love it. And ask yourself, could you do our job? If the answer is yes, then I guess you have more right to judge then those who answered no.

Yes we work weekends, yes we work nights. Guess what, we also work public holidays and Christmas. We have to apply for summer leave about 12 months in advance to make sure we can get it. We miss birthdays. We miss those family events that are always “on Saturday when everyone’s off” and we miss those evenings when you get to have dinner with your loved ones and ask them about their day.

But flip it on its head. We get to arrest the worst people in society. We get to help send people to prison for doing wrong. We get to protect the most vulnerable. We get to eat cake at 10am because we’ve been at work 3 hours already so technically it’s acceptable. We get to drive fast, to share stories at 3am in the back of the van on Saturday nights. We get to predict who’s so drunk they’ll fall over, and then go and help them up. We get to be nosey because “I wonder what’s up this road?” We get a second family, because we genuinely do spend more time at work than at home.

It’s an amazing job. It’s so damned hard sometimes; but it is so worth it.

I’ve recently come off response and gone onto investigations. No night shifts for me – result! However in the past two weeks I’ve worked 30 hours on top of what I was meant to – less of a result, more of feeling hungover from lack of sleep!

It doesn’t matter what department or role you have.

We are all knackered.

We are all chasing our tail because demand is overwhelming.

We are all struggling.

We are all letting people down.

We are all working overtime to try and finish the jobs.

We all get assaulted.

We all get labelled by the media.

We all get blamed.

We all get shouted at for not doing a good enough job.

Despite that, we do our best. We can’t do more than that. Could you?

Here we go again, on our own…

Firstly, credit to Whitesnake for having lyrics good enough to inspire my post’s title!

It feels like I’m having a bad case of de ja vu.  I feel as though I’ve read these headlines before.  I feel as though these allegations have been made before. Guess what? They have.

If you Google “Police stop and search”, it doesn’t show you the law, the definition, the explanation and the powers.  The top search results are these:

 

“Racial bias in Police stop and search getting worse, report reveals”

“Stop and search: Black people ‘nine times more likely’ to be targeted by police than white people”

“David Lammy says police stop and search is ‘unjust’ and ‘entertains a racist fantasy’”

“Stop and search is inherently unfair, unjust and ineffectual”

 

If you look hard enough, and you REALLY want to see it, there’s actually some Google results that are worth reading.  The trouble is, they don’t make swanky headlines. They don’t fit an agenda.  They don’t get written by the people who want to mislead the public and skew the facts.

An example –

“A police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:

  • illegal drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen property
  • something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar

You can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if it is suspected that:

  • serious violence could take place
  • you’re carrying a weapon or have used one
  • you’re in a specific location or area”

 

It does not matter if you are white, black, mixed race, a Teletubby or the next Inspector Morse, if we have the grounds, we can, and we will, search you.  That said, if we don’t have the grounds, we can’t, and we won’t.

This new version of groundhog day, these same skewed headlines, come at a time when the Police are already struggling.  Struggling to maintain public confidence, struggling to attend priority calls within the allocated response time, struggling to resource public events, struggling to catch the serious offenders, struggling to safeguard the most vulnerable.  We are struggling because of the cuts and the change in demand in our job. We know the public don’t always trust us, don’t think we are good enough, and don’t do a good enough job.  We really could do without these headlines, these inaccurate comments, at a time where we need the public to have confidence in us, because we can’t do our job without your help.

 

 

The Priorities of Policing

When did filing a GBH as undetected become acceptable?

Never. It’s totally unacceptable. It’s just become something we do.

I watched the episode of Dispatches this week about the Police. About how many crimes are filed, about how many crimes are screened out, and about how much the Police aren’t doing a good job.

Arguably, they’re correct. We aren’t doing that good a job anymore. Not as good as we would like anyway. But it isn’t for the hell of it.

It’s the cuts since 2010 that have left the Police nationwide on the bones of their arses.

It’s the change in types of crime, with the explosion of the internet, there are ‘new’ crimes that didn’t exist before.

It’s the changes in boundaries, so no we aren’t just round the corner, our patch is now huge.

It’s the changes in crime standards and how we have to record things. Gone are the days of one job being recorded as one crime. Often now, we have to record multiple. We’re getting better at that, which in turn means the stats have changed.

Yes, there’s a rise in crime. There’s also the fact that our better crime recording is showing a “rise” which is steeper than it is.

Our workload is massive. Our demand is massive. Our shifts are long. Our victim satisfaction is poor.

Public say we don’t do enough. Public don’t report to Police. This makes it look like a crime decrease. This leads to the Government deeming there to be no need for extra funding and resourcing. So the next year, it gets harder. You see the pattern.

We need the public to report crime. It’s the only way we get a true picture of what’s going on. We also need the public to have lower expectations of what we will and won’t, can and can’t do. And yes, that doesn’t seem fair, because it’s not really. If you report a crime you expect a good service and a good outcome, none of us blame you for that.

We have to prioritise, we have no choice. Purse thefts and shoplifts don’t get the same response as armed robberies and GBH offences, and that is just how it is. If we could, we would solve all crime. But we are not superhuman, and we can’t. So we have to focus on the violence and the serious offences. We can just try our best.

“You can’t help everybody, but everybody, with their skills, can help somebody.”