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.”

Shift Work….The ups and downs

I love shift work, I feel like I get more time off where I can do stuff then when I used to work Monday-Friday.  That said, sometimes I hate it, I feel like I miss a lot of things as a result of it.

Why I love it:

  1. Every 9 days, only 3 of them require getting up to an alarm
  2. I can go to the bank, and the post office, when they’re open! (how exciting)
  3. I get quite a lot of mornings to myself, where I can catch up on tv I missed the night before, go to the gym, and have some me time.
  4. It’s a brilliant excuse to get out of things – “sorry I’m working lates….!”
  5. I really value those rest days that fall on a whole weekend.
  6. I don’t need to justify answering the door in my pyjamas when everyone else is up & ready for the day.
  7. When you’re sat in the office on the hottest day of the year, I’m sat in the garden getting a tan.

Why I hate it:

  1. I miss a lot of family events, I’m either working a whole weekend or at least half of it.
  2. Planning is an actual pain in the arse. “I am off for a whole Saturday in 11 weeks time”
  3. My husband works shifts, we have just realised throughout the whole of December, we only have two rest days together. And no, it doesn’t fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  4. There’s a high chance I’m off late. If I get “one of those jobs” 1500hrs is no longer home time.
  5. Somehow, as I’m going to bed, it’s dustbin day, relaying the road day and time to cut the garden hedge!
  6. My efficient pre-late shift plans never happen.
  7. “What are your bank holiday weekend plans?”  Yep I’m working…

Don’t get me wrong, I love it more than I hate it, and I knew when I joined that shift work comes with it’s difficulties. I’ve had some of the biggest laughs with my shift family, I’ve also suffered some of my biggest lows with them.  But there’s a famous saying, “it’s all just part of the job”, and at 0500hrs tomorrow morning, I’ll be up ready to go again!

 

Those jobs you can’t forget about…

We go to countless jobs everyday, and we go home without thinking twice.

But sometimes we go home and the job comes with us.

Sometimes we keep thinking about it and can’t switch off. And before we know it, we are back at work again.

Maybe it was our first death message, ruining somebody’s world with a few short words.

Maybe it was our first fatal, trying and failing to save somebody’s life.

Maybe it was our first hanging, having no idea how to get them down.

Or maybe it was a rewarding and memorable moment in our career.

Maybe it was our first arrest, our first job that got to Court, reuniting a missing child with their parents, catching a prolific offender, safeguarding somebody from a domestic incident. It’s not all bad, and it’s important we remember that.

In the last two days, I have worked three shifts. I was six and a half hours late off my day shift, and an hour late off my late shift, but we got to the bottom of one of the most horrendous assaults I’ve seen.

When I wasn’t at work, I was thinking about the job at home. A job hasn’t bothered me as much as this one for a long time.

But last night, on the phone to CPS, hearing that they authorised all 3 suspects to be charged with false imprisonment & S18 wounding with intent, I could have hugged them!

Sometimes, those jobs you can’t forget about, those jobs you bring home after work, are worth working your butt off for.

We started work two days ago with no evidence, no suspects and no lines of enquiry. We finished last night with 3 suspects arrested and charged. I call that a result!

We are always there, somewhere.

It’s no big fat juicy secret that there aren’t enough cops.

The media is negative because we were “too late” or “Didn’t to enough”.

The public are negative because we “let them down” or “Didn’t catch the baddie”.

I’ve said it before. We know we are late sometimes and we know we have let you down.

But really, what else can we do. When we haven’t got the resources to deal with the stabbings, shootings and robberies, there’s no way we have the resources for the shoplifts and attempt burglaries.

We try to manage expectation all the time, but it’s so hard. I was dealing with an attempt burglary recently. Nothing stolen, no forensics, no witnesses. The owner provided me with 4 cd’s worth of CCTV. 12 cameras. A piece of paper for each camera with a minute by minute summary of the footage.

It showed nothing. Well, it showed the side of a car 4 hours before the incident, and it showed two men walking down the road half an hour afterwards. So what? It proves nothing. It shows nothing. Another disappointed member of the public.

We have to prioritise. Some things take priority. If everything is a priority, then nothing is.

Knife crime is on the up. Violent crime is on the up. Surprised? No. Shocked? No. Stating the obvious? Yes.

During my last set, 5 juveniles were in for knifepoint car jackings. Children. I don’t really know how we got to this point, and no it’s not just down to a lack of Police numbers, but it doesn’t help!

If you don’t see us walking the street, we are somewhere, dealing with something. Sadly, the days of seeing cops everywhere are long gone.

But just remember, when you’re making the comments below, we are thinking these replies…

1. Have a good weekend!

AKA – I’ll try to enjoy my early shifts

2. Can’t wait to go out tonight!

AKA – Please don’t be stupid, we will have to pick up the pieces

3. I have ten days leave over Christmas

AKA – I could probably squeeze a roast in between night shifts and sleep

4. I got my summer holiday booked.

AKA – We have just had to submit our leave for 18 months time. As if we know what the hell we are doing then.

Just because you don’t see us doesn’t mean we aren’t there. We are always out there, somewhere, 24/7, 365 days a year.