Victim vs Customer
The problem is that whenever frontline police officers moan about Victim Focus, it sounds like we hate victims and want them to die.
The truth is, we moan because the language of the government and Senior Management team assumes that the majority of our 'customers' are the same thing as 'victims'. They aren't. Victims of 'volume' crime* are generally bog standard, middle/low income, hardworking taxpayers. For these people, being burgled, having their car broken into, God forbid being mugged or having their kids being beaten up at school, are jaw-aching, heart-crushing blows in their already precarious uphill struggle of life. The chances of getting satisfaction over their burglar/thief/mugger/bully are virtually nil.
So instead, we concentrate on our 'customers'. To identify whether you are a customer of Blandshire Police, please fill out the following questionnaire:
1. A night out clubbing should involve:
A. Beer, kebabs, dancing, and late into work the next day.
B. Beer, kebabs, dancing, being put in a taxi by friends and carried into bed.
C. Beer, kebabs, dancing, begging the police for a ride home whilst vomiting on their boots, then putting in a complaint when they arrest you for punching the guy who looked at your girlfriend funny.
2. Complete the following sentence: "I know where my kids are..."
A. "All the time"
B. "Most of the time"
C. "Never, but the police will find them for me when I want"
3. If you saw a terrible crime that scared and worried you, so that you called the police, would you then:
A. Watch and wait until the police arrive, then tell them what happened.
B. Agree to be seen at a later date to give a statement.
C. Phone fifteen times demanding why the police haven't turned up yet, then just as they're on their way vacate your house to go out drinking and in the morning tell them you really can't be bothered to give a statement as what's the point.
4. What are the key ingredients of a good relationship?
A. Compromise, love, trust.
B. Loud fights and make-up sex.
C. Waking the neighbours; screaming and crying; strings of obscene text messages; 999 calls over who let the dog out; stabbing, punching and throttling each other; and ultimately, the ability to unite together physically against the police officer that both of you asked round to sort the whole thing out.
5. If your child was arrested, and you had to attend the police station for their interview, how would you conduct yourself?
A. Politely but furiously attend and tell your wayward child to cooperate in every possible way, apologise to the police and ground said child for a month.
B. Resign yourself to a long night and quietly get on with it.
C. Down two bottles of wine as soon as you hear the news, then turn up demanding to see your little angel immediately. You'll have a family friend in tow who's just embarking on a law course and expect them to act as your child's solicitor. Every police officer involved in the case will have a complaint made against them, and when you are told firmly that because you have turned up drunk your child will have to be bailed and interviewed another time, you tell the police they are pathetic and throw a brick through the front window on your way out.
6. If you went into the police station to ask whether your lost handbag had been handed in, how would you expect the enquiry to go?
A. You leave your name and address at the counter just in case, and thank the clerk.
B. You receive your lost bag, intact with all its contents.
C. You discover it's not there and demand to see someone more senior, then start shouting and swearing in the foyer, insisting that you will make a complaint. When some police arrive, you take off your stilletoes and batter the officers round the face until you are carted off to the cells in leg restraints.
Real victims will answer mainly A. Blandshire Constabulary customers will find themselves answering mainly C. Who do you think takes up more of our time?
Victim Focus, for all it's dressed up to be, is about trying to stop our customers ruining our crime figures without getting their stories printed in the Mail.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.