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.

Being assaulted isn’t just part of the job!

It’s not an if, it’s a when. Being assaulted isn’t, and shouldn’t be “just part of the job”, however we all know it will happen.

Whether it is a bruise, scratch, bump or broken bone, I don’t think any police officer can say they’ve seen out an entire career without coming to harm.

I got assaulted at a domestic. I spoke about it in my “A Copper’s Confidence” post. I got concussion when my head got smacked against a mirror during a fight with a man twice my size. My colleague got a sprained wrist. It’s still weak now. It still crunches now and then. It’ll never properly heal.

My husband was away with the military when I got assaulted. I didn’t tell him all the details, I didn’t tell him I had concussion until after I left hospital. We don’t want to worry our families. We don’t want them to not want us to go to work. We don’t want them to feel useless when we don’t want to talk about what happened. We try to protect them from the shit side of our job.

It’s part of our job, but it shouldn’t be.

Within a matter of weeks, my colleague got spat at, and punched in the face.

I asked him if he was okay after both of these.

“Oh I’m fine they didn’t spit in my face”

“Yeah I’m okay it’s just a bruise”

It’s not okay. Why should we get spat at for doing our job? Why should we get punched because somebody is getting arrested?

We put on a brave face (excuse the pun) at work and at home. Saying “I’m okay” is easier. Doesn’t stop you doubting yourself though.

Should I have done something differently?

Should I have called for back up sooner?

Should I have cuffed them faster?

Hindsight can be our worst enemy. We do things as quickly, safely and practically as we can, and sometimes it bites us on the arse.

We expect to get battered and bruised. We should not expect people to deliberately try to hurt us. It’s not okay.

We really need your help…

The other day I was asked what five ways I think the public can help support the Police. Thought provoking.

1. Trust us – we really are trying to help you. We will always do our best.

2. Help us – if you have information, please tell us. Especially with the dwindling resources, you are our source of information. You will see what we won’t, and that can be invaluable.

3. Support us – the media slate us on a daily basis. So do some of the public. We aren’t good enough, we took too long, we let you down. Our job is hard, and believe it or not, we know we took too long, we know we didn’t get the answer you wanted, and we know we let you down.

4. Understand us – there aren’t enough of us, and we aren’t quick enough. We do our best with what we have, and we know that isn’t always good enough. It’s not always the level of service we want to provide, but it is all we can do.

5. Respect us – if we ask you to do or not do something, there’s a reason. Please don’t argue, don’t swear at us, we are just doing our job. At my first fatal (see previous blog post) I asked somebody to move off the field so the Air Ambulance could land. Their reply? “I can f***ing walk where I want.” Brilliant.

We are in a difficult place. We struggle as an organisation, as a force, as a shift, and as an individual.

Jobs affect some of us more than others.

Being late off every night affects our family life.

Having rest days cancelled or shifts extended means we have to change our plans.

I’m not just a Police Officer.

I’m a wife, sister & daughter.

I’m a medic and a traffic controller at accidents.

I’m a counsellor at domestics.

I’m your shoulder to cry on after I’ve told you a loved one has died.

I’m your hand to hold when you’re frightened.

I’m good cop when you need my help.

I’m bad cop when you break the law.

I’ll fight to protect you, whilst trying also to protect myself.

I have feelings and emotions just like you.

Under my uniform I’m human too.

When you see us, don’t run away, say hey. If you don’t understand, ask us. Remember my five points above, but most of all, remember that we really can’t do our job without you.

Cautious about change

Nobody likes change, not really. We are creatures of habit, we like to know what we are doing, why and who with. When somebody mutters the word “change” it is met by everybody feeling uneasy.

Why? Change for the better? Will it actually work? Will we go full circle and land back where we are now?

A new boss, a new crew mate, a new setup in our office, for me – a new Police Force.

Never have I been so anxious. I loved my shift. I loved where I worked. I loved what I did. And it was all about to change.

Recently, I have moved 150 miles away from where I worked, lived and grew up. It was all done for the right reasons – recently married, my partner’s job, the cost of living, the shitty commute every week off the back of nights.

But actually doing it terrified me. Don’t get me wrong, now it’s done I couldn’t be happier, but the thought of it was somewhat daunting.

I was leaving everybody and everything I knew. I had no idea what I would walk in to, what my boss would be like, what my shift would be like, I knew nothing. I was the newbie all over again.

Thankfully, my worries were proven wrong within about 4 seconds and my new team and boss are just fab!

I always thought, I would rather move departments than move forces. However, I have been talking to an old colleague over the last few days and it made me think.

He’s just moved location, but within the same force. His worries and concerns were exactly the same as mine. I think, no matter how big or small a move may seem, to that person, it’s massive, and it’s change, and we are cautious about that.