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, November 18, 2009

What's in a grade

A few years ago Blandshire Constabulary got pretty fed up of front-line officers not attending incidents like they were supposed to. It got pretty fed up of the complaints from the public which made its victim satisfaction figures look bad. So measures were introduced to curb this front-line neglect.

We already had a grading system of 1, 2, 3, where 1 is "we're on our way", 2 is "someone will be with you in good time" and 3 is "er... we'll get back to you". A few tweaks were therefore made as to what constituted a Grade 1, 2 or 3 and bingo, now we attend almost everything in line with our target times.

An example: it used to be that if you had just had a villain in your shop stealing stuff, we would attend with blue lights blazing to scour the town for him. Now, the job is graded 3 - suitable for slow-time investigation (as the crook has left) - and if you're lucky a civilian investigator might come and take a statement the day after you've deleted the CCTV.

Another way of meeting our Home-Office-set victim-satisfaction targets is by ensuring that all gradings are adhered to rigidly and no commonsense is applied at any point. So if you've been assaulted in town the night before, just got home from hospital and want to give a statement, the job will go over to the slow-time appointment terminal EVEN IF there's someone available to attend now. Whereas if you've had a couple of 12-year-olds call you a racist name and you're not that bothered, we'll be straight round.

As a response sergeant, it is my job to produce front-line officers for Grade 1 and 2 jobs whenever they are required. I am not supposed to have any input into the grading of jobs, and am incentivised in this way by the mere fact that should I upgrade a job from 3 to 2, I will then be held responsible if I don't have any police officers to send to it.

Of course, front-line officers have their part to play, mainly by ensuring that they don't waste time having cups of tea with victims of domestic violence when they could be hauling their husbands off to custody and getting back out meeting Blandshire Constabulary's attendance targets.

We've got this non-existent target-meeting down to an art.

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14 Comments:

Anonymous Civvie Despatcher said...

It's a shame things work that way in your farce as the Grade 3 idea can work if applied well.

We have much the same system, but G3s are appointments. It relieves a lot of the pressure on us to get officers out on blues, as a lot of jobs can be dealt with later, or the following day. Yes, we have to attend a hate incident, but if (for example) the complainant is calling from work in his lunch break, there's no reason not to see him later after he's got home. It also allows us to make appointments at police stations for those tricky times when you don't want a jam sandwich parked outside your house.

The doctrine in our farce is that the calltaker makes a contract with the informant and therefore decides the grade, but we cheerfully ignore this in the ops room - if something comes up that I think requires urgent attention I'll get the Sergeant's OK and despatch anyway. Or if it's LOB, or if we don't have any officers free, I'll happily call the informant and try to persuade them to make an appointment rather than making them wait around for an officer than I know is non-existent.

We still have a mountain of Grade 2 jobs, which means we invariably miss those targets, but the G3 appointment system has made huge inroads into it - and the public like it, too. Everyone's a winner as far as I can see.

18 November, 2009 12:35

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work with the above system and agree that the diary system does mostly work where you parade on with around 12 cops. Less and you are really struggling to even get to the diary appointments unless you take 1 cop on each shift off response and give them the diary car. This means you get to the diary jobs ok but the highs are neglected and officer numbers a depleated further.

The real problem is that the grade 2 response time is not really appropriate in that we have 1 hour to get there. So as the majority of emergancy calls are now graded as high 2 (even some none high risk domestics) we will almost always meet the target. (another good accountancy statistics fudge). But most often long after the offender has made off / the IP has recieved a REALLY good kicking rather than just a few bumpss etc.

It also works better for ACPO as the officer on the ground has to decide for themselves if blues/twos are nessecary in a high 2 situation. Thereby being able to blame the officer wholey if an accident happens and the job did not really warrant a fast response.

examples are:-

Racist abuse now (even if only verbal) / PPU alarm / high risk domestic / large fight now = High 1 response in 10 mins max.

Missing person (even if its a regular who always is missing from the kids home as they are out drinking, shagging or stealing)/ vehicle broken in to (as it is an area command priority offence, even if it happened overnight) / burglary / most other mon serious category crime offences that have just occurred even if offender still at scene. = High 2 response time in 1 hour.

Harrasment by text message / ex partner / facebook abuse / youth disorder (sometimes even if ongoing and is a big problem in the area) / Horse looks cold (genuine job I've been to) any other such dross = Low 3 grade response time either by diary appointment or when ever 24/7 gets free (usualy to attend 12 hours later and say "area search, no trace").

However if a caller is "upset or distressed" now due to the policing pledge a low 3 can be upgraded to a high 2. So as nearly everybody who phones the police is not exactly tickity boo then now 90% of jobs are high 2 making a mockery of an already barmy system.

PC A HUNN

18 November, 2009 14:43

 
OpenID inspectorgadget said...

As a skipper, I was always re-grading calls over the radio, usually upwards. I used to get sneaky mobile phone calls from the controller to say 'thanks - I didn't agree with that one either'. Don't worry about being held accountable either; the SMT haven't a clue what goes on out there because once they know, it's their responsibility!
Bonkers.

18 November, 2009 17:15

 
Blogger Joe90 said...

'having cups of tea with victims of domestic violence when they could be hauling their husbands off to custody'

Or wives, or partners, not all victims of domestic violence are women you know.

18 November, 2009 18:45

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe90. Police Officers are all aware of that. We see DV from all angles and by all sexes colours and creeds in our working lives. I believe it was mend as a sarcastic geralisation to make a point regarding Senior Police priorities.

We are all well aware of such politcally correct bollocks. So next time you need to state the bleeding obvious please write to the guardian. We all get enough of that patronising shite from our bosses thanks.

PC A HUNN

18 November, 2009 19:20

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Joe90

if that is the only thing you think justifies comment within this blog then a)you just don't get it and b)why bother? This is about policing targets, not DA?

18 November, 2009 20:27

 
Blogger The said...

In the ‘good old days’, each county had lots of little local police stations, each with a control room, staffed by an experienced, knowledgeable police officer. The officer knew the territory, he knew his small teams and he absolutely relied on the girl on the telephone to ensure not too much work came in at any one time. He knew as well, if a couple of treble nines came in, then the telephone ladies were so busy, they did not have time to answer the local calls for the police. The situation suited him as he had only so many cars and officers on the beat.


Mobile telephones have created an explosion of demand for Police attention. Calls now come in their hundreds where once, a caller had to walk to a telephone kiosk, TK, or visit a pub to call the police, now they can do it wherever they are and whatever they are doing.

The old way meant quite some calls were lost because you were all busy, but that sorted it self out. If it was really urgent, you would always call back again.


Now, having so many inefficient local call takers bumbling their way through calls, expressing their own homophobic revulsion, or expressing their interpreted opinion, or seemingly grading calls based upon how busy the radio room is, is exceptionally inefficient. It is also not consistent, joined up with other police activities in the county or cost effective. It’s all a matter of duplication.


Now we have huge call centres, staffed with well trained telephone people, they know the system and they know how it all works as a single county. We have very qualified senior officers allocating degrees of urgency to incoming calls using a simple target led system, ensuring every call gets taken, recorded and acted upon. The teams know how to grade calls to meet management demands. If a local sergeant tries to re-grade a call it places an extra burden on the system as the work they should have been doing needs to be covered by some one else, and the extra work created by re-grading the call needs more officers to rectify the work load balance by the time the shift ends. No, we don’t need local coppers who think they know best, messing about with a finely tuned, well organised, extremely well practiced response team methodology. We pay senior officers with a great deal of experience a great deal of money to ensure the call centres, radio systems, and targets are met to enable the customers to gain the best possible experience when interfacing with our public facing response professionals.

19 November, 2009 07:11

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The"

I presume that your last paragraph is a parody. I spilt coffee over my keyboard reading it.
I especially liked "No, we don’t need local coppers who think they know best, messing about with a finely tuned, well organised, extremely well practiced response team methodology."

I look forward to your next post :-))

19 November, 2009 12:31

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Farce has 8 levels of Priority all decided by set criteria. Unfortunately the list of criteria omits common sense.

We also have a single central controlroom now under-staffed by almost entirely non-police officers devoid of local knowledge and an understanding of how the job works. These poor sods are also so pushed due to the under-staffing that they their sickness rate is the highest in the Farce and they soon resign- and so the downward spiral goes on.

19 November, 2009 16:58

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soon all the above will get a reduction in monies to run these highly efficient grading systems, invented by the same grading system experts that give "A" level students their grades [Churchill failed the English test]. Now the money is in short supply, when will the PHD's be using the standard business model for grading calls and reporting a fraud.
The grandMa system was a better HAL than the latest Artificial Intelligence business program, so glad that the calls be free I could not afford all those minutes waiting to get a correct response.
Dungbeetle

20 November, 2009 01:31

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Here we have a similar grading system - red is immediate, pink is urgent and blue is...err...as and when. Fortunately we operate a diary system, staffed by Response cops who take a plain car out and clear the decks. It works, unfortunately though it's easier to use this resource for utter crap rather than to say at the outset 'This is not a Police matter, if you're so bothered about what someone is saying about you on Facebook, delete your account and you won't need to read it'. Of course, that leaves the Panda-pushers one short, but that doesn't matter, because we keep the appointents we have made (which is only polite) even though we can't staff the immediates now.

Also the Policing pledge (has anyone else knowingly signed up to this? I know I haven't) seems to make things Police matters and possibly even pink jobs. Mrs Miggins is distressed because she is elderly and has received mail for someone who has never lived at her address. Away we go. Can we stick the lights and noise on? She might be REALLY distressed!

And yes, hate crime... We respect diversity in the Police. We've been on courses and everything. We will tailor our approach to the problem to suit your individual needs, without treating you 'differently'. Until we come to incident grading, when we will make it an Urgent, regardless of what it is, ring the Duty Insp, Duty Sgt and anyone else we can pass the buck to in case there is a complaint that we haven't dealt with a hate crime fast enough. We respect diversity by treating you differently, in other words.

For me, grade it how you want, I'll decide if you get my cops for it. And if they want to go on blues and twos, that's up to them. Just don't bend the car, please...

21 November, 2009 11:59

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah - solving the problem by changing how it's measured... bonkers indeed, but audit obsessed bureaucrats never seem to learn. Wonderful writing!

26 November, 2009 18:26

 
Blogger Franklin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

07 December, 2009 11:15

 
Blogger Pooja said...

Yes to become a police officer one needs to have varied knowledge about the daily events. Then only the police officer can concentrate on each and every things and he can tackle the situation according to it.

To have the thorough knowledge there are several police courses offering to the police officer to learn more from each and every instance. By attending the course the police officers will get immense knowledge and they can tackle any of the situation.

16 December, 2009 11:00

 

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