This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but all the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't pay my salary.


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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Going Off Half-Copped

I have read in the papers this week that officers in the Met can earn up to £52,000 in overtime (on top of their basic salary). Just two questions:

  1. Do Met officers actually have lives?
  2. How do I transfer?
In truth, this isn't just the case in the Met, as discovered by the Daily Mail. Leaving aside officers on special assignments, such as Family Liaison Officers or undercover agents, most of my colleagues take home a few hundred quid in overtime every month. For the single ones living in police housing, they're saving a packet and will be able to afford a deposit on a house soon. For the ones with families, they're able to pay the mortgage, but have forgotten the names of their kids.

Overtime is a double-edged sword. As soon as you state the amounts officers are earning, they are labelled money-grabbing whingers. But if they say they want to go home on time, they're considered to "lack dedication". It is written into police regulations that officers MUST obey an order to stay on duty, return to work or abandon leave if there is an operational requirement for it. It used to be the case that "operational requirement" meant one of two things: either a resource-intensive incident has occurred spontaneously, or a high number of officers on another shift have called in sick and cover is needed.

But in the Twenty-First Century world of shoe-string policing, overtime is now being worked forcibly for any of the following reasons:
  • An event is coming up that has been known about for months, such as a football match or royal visit, and there is no resilience in police numbers so officers are "offered" rest day working.
  • There's a shoplifter at Boots and no one to arrest him.
  • The next shift has an officer in court.
  • It's quite a busy day in Blandmore.
All teams are working at minimum levels, so if even one officer calls in sick or has a court case overrun, the team before and after will have to cover the shortfall. Likewise if officers are committed at a lengthy job there is never any hope of being relieved at shift changeover because the shift coming on duty is immediately committed with all the jobs the earlier shift never got to.

At this point you might be thinking "well that's the job of a police officer". In actual fact there is no shortage of volunteers most days when the inspector tells us someone has to stay late to cover the next shift. There is also no shortage of officers working two out of three rest days to cover other teams, and thereby ending up doing 100-hour weeks. By extension, no shortage exists of officers attending jobs tired, driving around in breach of all kinds of safe-driving policies and making elementary mistakes or showing lapses of attitude/professionalism.

To the untrained eye, the numbers might not be adding up. There are more police than ever before, so why is all this overtime needed? The trouble is that all resources have been stripped from the front-line to meet with the government's vision of "Neighbourhood" and "Strategic" policing. No longer is it acceptable to have shift officers just going spare in case of emergency, they must all be assigned to squads and units. There is a glut of officers in special teams who do all kinds of good work when they're on duty. But they don't work 24/7 shifts and so they can't be called on so easily to cover shortfall. It is the front-line shift officers who work overtime, and we are now each doing the job of two police officers. Which is how police forces are routinely disguising just how unmanned the front-line really is. It also effectively means Blandshire Constabulary is paying time-and-a-third to an officer instead of employing another one at flat time.

In the wacky world of 21st Century Policing, this is how we save money.



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'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.

32 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naughty bloggsie! under Officer-ed! ;-p

20 May, 2009 23:41

 
Anonymous MP9000 said...

Metro-City relief teams are streched to buggery. As you say, a whacking great chunk got syphoned off to neighbourhoods never to be replaced, and every so often another specialised quango starts up requiring x-amount. Recently we paraded THREE units to cover a sizeable chunk of Metro-land. Despite all of this we NEVER see the o/t. The top earners u read abt are all 'squad' based. In order to blag two hours it would need the authority of two inspectors then be scrutinised by a ChIns. Don't even start me on uniform allowances..........

21 May, 2009 00:35

 
Blogger Stressed Out Cop said...

PC Overtime is never sick and usually produces a return (if he/she)wants to keep being selected.

It does impact on family life - it's payed my maintainence for 14 years.

21 May, 2009 00:48

 
Blogger Stressed Out Cop said...

Forgive that spelling of paid - you're right it does make you do funny things. Another 17 hour day today, but only 7 hrs OT as they've put in longer shifts to save money.

Who wants to do OT after 12 hours at work - not me. Rest day working is where it's at.

21 May, 2009 00:53

 
Anonymous Virtua Supply said...

Simple solution.

1) Stop the second jobbers in toto. This would ensure all officers are bright eyed and bushy tailed after thier 16 hours off duty.

2) Compensate all police officers by introducng a fixed Salary.

3) Reduce the number of officers occupying roles that require no use of their warrant or charge.

4) Re-employ uniformed officers in the roles that depend upon the officer having police powers.

5) Employ much lower paid civilians in the tasks previously done by the police that had been miss-employed at a cost to the public purse.

The armed forces do not get 'overtime', why should the Police?

21 May, 2009 07:19

 
Blogger Stressed Out Cop said...

Virtua

1. You assume we all work an 8 hours shift - we don't

2. Would be abused by management. Insps are on salary and take home less than many PC's for working same hours.

3.4. Possible in some roles but some like intelligence or Ops planning need that police head.

5. PCSO's ?? who have 10% of powers at 90% of the same cost

Army are on an hourly rate - and should get paid more whilst on OPs.

21 May, 2009 08:00

 
Blogger uniform said...

Do not provide your labour for anything other than money.

Time off? When? When you're dead? That's a long time, I want it now.

MAKE them pay every time. No one can force you to accept time off, nor suggest it's wrong to accept payment. It’s latent bullying.

The budget is controlled by those on more than you, they arranged the shifts/squads, it is there doing.

Do not fall into the charitable -misty eyed-vocation argument.

The rules of the game of changed, that bargain ended with what they now want in return.

ALWAYS claim double time @ 4 hours for an off-duty arrest, again see regs.

NEVER be shy about claiming the rates of pay attributable to your role. You are the professional, not some hired hand with a sweeping brush.

Claim every allowance truly and honestly owed to you.

Only work at a rate proportionate to all other walks of UK working life, you owe your families the chance for you to be healthy.

Never shirked front line 24/7 never will, always be thorough and always spend your time thrashing the crap out of recidivist criminals, there is lots of overtime there no one will complain about.

Fill your boots in your spare time and earn what you want, despite the best efforts of some you are entitled to it and no one can stop a properly authorized, compatible second job.

No one can tell you what to do in your spare time; it's against my uman rights, innit?

But remember, most of all remember this. It’s like it is because THEY caused it not you, its’ akin to suggesting that a sexual abuse victim contributed to their fate.

Do not carry the can for piss poor management of resources, why the hell should you in your one and only life?

Making them pay may focus a few feather brained minds.

21 May, 2009 08:00

 
Anonymous Dispatcher said...

On the area I was working yesterday half the jobs that patrols were dealing with were "scheduled" ones that under the Policing Pledge (hee hee hee) are meant to be dealt with within 48 hours. A month later people are still waiting and therefore the DV victim is forced to wait longer while we deal with dole scroungers texting death threats to each other. The neighbourhood teams are woefully understaffed, they are all allocated to specific beats and WOE BETIDE anyone who asks them to stray a bit (people like me looking at 20 free people, 15 outstanding jobs and still being unable to get them done) to deal with something off beat.

When you get 10 coppers on early turn, 2 end up on constants, 2 on these "scheduled calls" 2 on arrest requests, normally the 4 left are doing paperwork from the jobs they were the only ones free to do the day before. Its literally rearranging the deckchairs.

Had 2 999 calls one hour into early turn yesterday and couldn't get them resourced. And that was the story of the entire day.

I wonder why any of us bother sometimes....

21 May, 2009 08:45

 
Anonymous Dr Melvin T Gray said...

The problem is one of quality and not quantity. Since pay determines recruit standards, nobody should have any qualms at decent basic salaries.

Decades ago, green students knowing little of policing, could foresee officers of a much higher standard were required if future problems of ineffective policing were to be avoided. We now suffer the results of apathy, poor planning and abysmal management.

It can surprise only fools that police have successfully exploited what they could whilst finding scapegoats for their own failures. Dishonest excuse found in typical police PR and the daily scoffing on many police blogs, are substituted for good service.

21 May, 2009 09:42

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had this is journalism (regional evening newspapers) years ago. As numbers were reduced through mostly natural wastage, pressure was put on people to work longer (for no overtime - we didn't have it) in return for days in lieu. Then, when people had 20 or more (literally) days in lieu in the book, a new rule came in - you can't carry days in lieu over to the following month.
result - a crap newspaper, much the same as is happening to the police - very obviously you don't feel you provide ordinary law abiding citizens with a decent service, just like we tried to sell our reasders a pile of rubbish.
Keep your chin up, though.

21 May, 2009 10:25

 
Anonymous R/T said...

I reckon that I've taken home more than my Insp on 4 or 5 occasions this fiscal year. It's only not 8 or 9 because I didn't fancy the less than 5's all the time. Although I am on top whack, this doesn't seem to be fair. Mind - I'll keep taking it, as would most of you guys. We're still advertising for "experienced" officers, though. Come on down! :o)

21 May, 2009 17:36

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

between jan and april I worked an additional 6.5 weeks worth of overtime, of which only 10 days were cancelled rest days, the rest was either voluntary or compulsary such as sudden deaths of prisoners. I had to take a couple of weeks off and in 15 days I had to turn down SEVEN days of additional overtime after being called by duties every other day, all would have been 12 hours each at double time. Money is good but you bloody well work for it and sometimes you need a break otherwise you'll crash, either physically or literally, like into a tree.

well paid? yes. Knackered? most definitely.

21 May, 2009 20:52

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bloody hell, I meant sudden deaths OR prisoners...

21 May, 2009 20:58

 
Blogger blueknight said...

I can remember working a 5pm-3am public order duty on a rest day, when there had been two murders, one involving an asylum seeker. there were extra patrols, scene guards all sorts.
I got to bed at 4 am but by 5 am the phone was ringing asking if I wanted to work a rest day on earlies. I explained that I had just got to bed having worked a late and I was due to work another rest day that evening. 'Sorry', came the reply, 'the wheel's come off and we are asking anyone who is shown on rest day'

21 May, 2009 21:31

 
Anonymous MarkUK said...

The police now come under the Health & Safety at Work Etc Act 1974.

IMHO, anyone regularly working more than 12 hours per day/60 hours per week is going to be unsafe if there is a job that requires judgement, such as driving.

OK, there are some unusual individuals that thrive on 80+ hours a week, but they're few & far between. Some can manage it when in their 20s, but it eventually catches up with you.

Long hours are a recipe for stress; if not due directly to the hours, due to the failure of relationships.

We need officers who are alert and show good judgement. Would you send a drunken officer to a confrontational situation? Of course not. Sending a greatly overtired officer amounts to the same thing.

We need more Response officers. Whether that's achieved by re-assigning people away from other duties or by increasing the establishment (again) is up for debate.

Occaisional long shifts are to be expected, but they should never be the norm.

21 May, 2009 21:45

 
Blogger Constable Confused.com said...

In Notgreatside we start each year with a list of rest days that have already been cancelled. These events such as Halloween, bonfire night and various sporting events. That way (and with full consultation of the "Fed") it doesn't cost the job a carrot. Of course you are granted an RDL but you can't even get leave these days never mind an RDL. We are on 10 hour shifts normally and get screwed left right and centre. It is intensely demoralising to see a neighbourhood officer come on duty at 08:00 and leave at 16:00 after we have been put on 12 hour shifts to cover whatever crisis has suddenly arisen. We are all in the f'in police but why is it only response/patrol that get shafted? Oh that will be because we are one of the few sections these days that work 24 hours and are still the face of the police for probably 90% of the population.

Solution, review all the squads and decide who is actually doing anything worthwhile. If not beltkit on, new airwaves, they have GPS now so the control room knows where you are, get out and do real policework instead of looking with scorn at the depleted blocks who parade on looking shattered on a permanent shift cycle.

Regards.

21 May, 2009 22:58

 
Blogger Inspector Leviathan Hobbes said...

I wish I still got overtime. I still do extra hours. I still am skint.

22 May, 2009 02:03

 
Anonymous R/T said...

In addition - MP9000 is right. We are stretched, believe it or not. I sometimes wonder where the 35,000 get to! I guess that being on top whack means that I don't have to take all that's offered, which is nice. We normally put out 12-14 for a shift with an occasional 16 for L/T. This means 1 R/T car, 2 vans and 4 IRVs (Incident Response Vehicles). All double-crewed. If there's any left over then they'll be the single-crewed "crap" car - sorting out the team's crime workload, taking MG11s and such. Not forgetting 305, of course.

How does this stack up against C, D, E, G & H? And also how does it compare to all you county buddies?

22 May, 2009 17:55

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

R/T, what you can put out is what we now have to class as a very good day. We're supposed to have FIFTY on team with a capability to put out 35-40 for a nice area known as "The west end". For the last year 15 is more like it with occasionally going as low as 6 people which is a van and a couple of IRV's if we're lucky.

Yes, I did say the West End, and yes, I did say as low as 6 on response teams.

For those unfamiliar with what that ground consists of, that includes Soho, Mayfair, Leicester Square, Piccadilly, Covent Garden, Baker St, Shaftesbury Ave, Regent St, Bond St, Marylebone and Oxford Street.

And yes, I still mean SIX PC's to answer calls. We'll occasionally have some heavily remitted teams on but again you're talking in the single figures, and they won't be jumping in an IRV to help out when we're getting into 40 I grades and 80 - 100 S grades over a night duty.

I'd love to know what the utter fuck the other 25,000 non response officers actually do in london sometimes, because not a lot of them are devoted to Policing, and if we're so mullered in the centre it must be havoc in the outer boroughs sometimes!!

22 May, 2009 22:15

 
Anonymous R/T said...

Bloody hell, anonymous! 40 "I" grades. I believe you, though. I was up at CX not so long ago and C1 was sat in the yard all night as there wasn't a Level 1 to drive it! In the whole of CX? I'll stick to an outer borough, thank you!

Keep taking the pills!

23 May, 2009 15:55

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Melv T Gray, your comment provides such a rare gem of insight into my own rather unique situation. You say that "It can surprise only fools that police have successfully exploited what they could whilst finding scapegoats for their own failures.
Dishonest excuse found in typical police PR and the daily scoffing on many police blogs, are substituted for good service."

As a young tender hearted and "green" officer, thrown in at the deep end, many years ago, on an undercover operation, I knew that selfish and rather greedy males were planning to exploit me. I didn't like that one bit, and although one in particular individual may think that he is calling all the shots, he is not, which may surprise him. He is no fool, but some people can be so sharp in their practices, that they end up cutting themselves. It is neither honourable, wise, nor good karma, to blatantly exploit others, making them the scapegoats for police failures. That is the sure and certain road to the abyss.

At the end of the Op, as one of the essential "key players" in it, having been "sold" on the fact, that without my input the Op would FAIL, and that I would be paid a substantial sum for my troubles and hard slog against adversity; I EXPECTED the Home Office to honour their word and the contract, and actually pay me! It is now over 4 YEARS and I am still waiting for my pay to be handed over by govt.
Perhaps the taxman and/or others nabbed it and are still "skimming" off the cream? Nothing would surprise me anymore, but I still hope that the wrong will be put right by those with the power to do so. The "wrong" has occurred because of jealousy and greed.


The fact that the H.O. and other "team members", have chosen to ignore all my communications on the subject of "Where is my payment for job done, please"; is suspicious and more a matter of DISGUST rather than surprise.

One would expect the police "service" to look after the one "key player", without whom the Op would NOT have been a success.
I suspect that male ego has a hard time acknowledging that fact, and in doing the honourable thing, by keeping their word.

Is this the measure of the police "service" now? Scapegoating those who did the hardest slog over many years and shafting them of their dues?
Not forgetting failing to deal with the rotten high ranking rogues who remain in situ.
Is THIS really what the "service" has sunk to? A dishonourable farce controlled by a dishonourable govt?

Whistleblower

24 May, 2009 04:00

 
Anonymous Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Dear Whistleblower,

Have faith that the people's ship of justice is coming in. An individual burden is easier to bear knowing grievances will be addressed in wholesale changes to relieve us all.

24 May, 2009 08:25

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

"The Peoples ship of Justice"
Can I be at the helm please?

24 May, 2009 15:27

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Gray
"The problem is one of quality and not quantity. Since pay determines recruit standards, nobody should have any qualms at decent basic salaries.

Decades ago, green students knowing little of policing, could foresee officers of a much higher standard were required if future problems of ineffective policing were to be avoided."
Dr Gray decades ago they started filling the ranks of the police with highly educated graduates in preference to individuals who had some experience of life and a measure of common sense. I think that in many ways that decision was a major mistake along with the Police becoming a 'service' rather than a 'force'

24 May, 2009 18:35

 
Anonymous Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Dear Anonymous @ 18:35,

Graduates abound who are impressive on paper and prove to be less than capable in practice. The past week supplied embarrassing evidence of the same which was an additional disappointment for those advocating extensive appointments of female CC's.

My reference to 'a much higher standard' did not refer to education alone. The qualities commanding respect are intelligence harnessed to aptitude, morality and an iron self discipline. Outstanding candidates are required for front line policing and long overdue are radical changes for the selection process itself.

24 May, 2009 22:24

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Melvin T Gray..... O.K, I will have faith. I can shoulder the weight of the world for a few more days.....before I SCREAM out loud!

Whistleblower

25 May, 2009 02:39

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Melv T Gray.....As an after thought regarding your comment, I began to ponder, about when in fact the Royal ship of Justice just may come in, to save the people of this country from EU and UK Stasi madness.

Whistleblower

25 May, 2009 23:27

 
Anonymous VS said...

Ship of Justice, Hmm, wonders which MP will ber driving THAT one home....

27 May, 2009 07:17

 
Blogger blueknight said...

VS
Provided the MP can claim £5000 expenses for a sailor's hat and parrot, there could be a long queue....

29 May, 2009 01:16

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well the "People's Ship of Justice" appears to be enjoying raining flack down on those MP's who have been abusing the expenses system in Westminster. This saga is just dominating most of the news day after day.

It makes me wonder what sort of "biggy" the two colluder leaders of Labour and the Tories are hiding behind this distraction. It's only small fry MP's so far who have taken all the heat. Also makes me wonder what sneaky laws they might be slipping through, whilst this distraction is the main focus of the media.

What came to light earlier is the sneaky gold plated payoffs of over £1 million the MP's have given themselves, IF they hang on in there for another year. What a scam!

Also wondering when the "People's Ship of Justice" is going to home in on and land on the EU gravy train, which is far worse than Westminster. Far, far worse. Big mistake for the UK to have got politically tied to the EU. And it is costing British taxpayers approx £40 MILLION PER DAY. Yes, per bloody day! How many front line cops, and a decent payrise is that?

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee didn't half screw up. What DID we, as a country, ever do, to have Gordon Brown etc inflicted upon us? Ah yes, I remember, we got sick of Tory sleaze, and believed the Blair spin, and voted the idiots in. Won't do that again, will we!

29 May, 2009 01:19

 
Blogger staghounds said...

Your lack of dedication disturbs me...

"Do not carry the can for piss poor management of resources, why the hell should you in your one and only life?"

Better advice was never given. No matter what the task is, if you do it twice, it's now part of your job.

"£5000 expenses for a sailor's hat and parrot". Just too funnily accurate.

I'm more dedicated than most, but I know that no one's last words were

"I wish I had spent more time at work".

02 June, 2009 18:02

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm more dedicated than most, but I know that no one's last words were

"I wish I had spent more time at work".

I wonder if a few porn 'actors' would disagree?

08 June, 2009 19:50

 

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