The Elusive Form
There are basically two kinds of form available to the modern police officer:
- The personal details form - just containing spaces for name, address, etc
- The arse-covering form - a form that contains justification for why the personal details form needed to be filled in
But there are some forms so powerful, so legendary, that their role is arcane and mysterious. These Elusive Forms pepper police files, crime investigations, and court documents, and yet if asked, no one is actually able to pinpoint a time when they have been used at any time other than when they were first filled in. One such example is the Bad Kid Form (the BKF).
A BKF is filled out whenever a child under eighteen is arrested. If the child is bailed and later charged, a VBKF follows (Very Bad Kid). The form is submitted to four places via the twenty-first century medium of carbon-copy, and three of those places are the Youth Offending Team (YOT). The government says that Blandshire is not a Strategic Force unless it has a YOT,* because a large part of crime is committed nowadays by youths, and this is unacceptable. Children are our future, plus the little bastards make our figures look bad.
As you can imagine, the BKF is therefore a potent piece of paper. Its very existence prevents a child somewhere from falling into a cycle of crime and violence. It will contain the child's name and address - as copied from the custody record; the parent's name and address - copied from the custody record; the offence arrested - copied from the, uh, custody record; the final decision - copied... Basically it is vital, because without it the officers working in the YOT would have to log onto the custody system to view the record, or the crime management system to look at the crime report, and that just won't do.
Once filed, the BKF has played its part and will never be seen again. I have never yet witnessed the need for the BKF to be exhibited at court, referred to in a future investigation, or indeed ever produced from the file into which it is shoved on its inception.
About 10% of my time is spent filling out elusive forms such as the BKF. And I think you will agree, quite right too.
* In case you can't make out the relevance of the links, if you're not considered a "Strategic Force", you get a smaller budget.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.