Is anyone else depressed? The Budget shows our country spiralling into a cesspit of debt, everyone thinks the police are a bunch of morons, the police ARE a bunch of morons, and no matter how much bloggers harp on and on about the insidious bureaucratic ways in which the government has ruined our police force, nobody ever seems to hear us.
For example, last week I responded to a commenter referring to the lack of epaulettes worn by some officers at the G20. To quote Nick Hardwick, the general consensus is that officers must have been "expecting trouble". I cannot deny, I have come across one or two colleagues in my career who deliberately fail to put their epaulettes on, or cover them with a coat, as they are fed up of people taking down their collar number to complain about them. A tiny proportion of those colleagues are aware that they consistently behave in a bullying manner and are hoping to avoid complaints by concealing their identity. Most of them are just fed up of being the one whose number gets nabbed when they had nothing to do with it. However I have never met a colleague who will not give out his/her collar number if requested by a complaining member of the public. We all know that it's a no-brainer - you have to give your number out unless you have a VALID reason to fear terrorist reprisal.
But what the media/public/Nick Hardwick seem to fail to understand, is that I have simply dozens of colleagues who repeatedly fail to wear their collar number for one of the following reasons:
- The epaulettes are on their other jacket.
- They have just taken their body armour off and have not transferred the epaulettes onto their shirt yet (it's uncomfortable to wear both sets at once).
- Blood/urine/faeces spilled onto their coat including shoulders and they are awaiting a replacement.
- They rushed straight out to a job and forgot them.
- They threw on a coat as it started to rain and the epaulettes are on the garment underneath.
Of course the sergeants and inspectors should have lined up their serials before attending a high profile event like the G20, and checked they were all presentable with epaulettes in place. But the fact that they didn't does not reflect some sinister intention to beat up innocents and hide from justice. It just reflects the standard of the training and motivation we are given. Apart from anything, there's always someone in your team who will see you on TV up to your antics and phone the anonymous Corruption Line. Or a few dozen friends and family who will readily identify you. So just covering your shoulders is not going to prevent your prosecution.
Let's face it, the press don't care about the above. And nor, it appears, does Sir Paul Stephenson, who has jumped on the bandwagon with all four feet.
A similar recent story is that of poor little Bethney Townsend, who died after a kidney disorder was not diagnosed. In all the headlines, the GP is blamed for "failing" to do a blood test, but if you read on, the GP referred the child straight to hospital. When the hospital sent the child back, the GP tried to do the test herself but couldn't, so she referred her to a specialist, who wasn't available for a month. In that month, Bethney died. The GP's fault? Or a catchy headline?
In a side-note, this blogger freely admits failing to wear her epaulettes before blogging, in a deliberate attempt to conceal her identity and that of her force. Perhaps the offending officers at the G20 were simply trying to save their force embarassment...
And finally, it isn't all bad news. The below picture would have been unthinkable 10 or 20 years ago. So we are getting somewhere.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.