Blandshire Welcomes Professional Judgment
The Chief Constable of Blandshire Constabulary is happy to welcome PJ to our streets and urges all front-line officers to use it.
PJ can be used to determine that a crime has not happened, to avoid recording of snowball-throwing. This is excellent, because whereby at the moment it is Blandshire Constabulary's recording procedures that can be held accountable for petty arrests and unsatisfied victims, from now on it will be individual officers, because the latest force guidance confirms that it is entirely the officer's decision what crime gets recorded. If the officer feels the crime didn't happen, they can now feel free to say so.
Of course, if the non-existent crime is solvable, ie someone has named an offender who did not commit the said non-happened crime, and the officer fails to record it because it didn't happen, then the guilty officer should soon expect an email from the Senior Management Team urging them to use their PJ to record and solve the afore-mentioned non-occurred unactioned non-crime.
This is because PJ functions within strict boundaries, as prescribed by the SMT:
- If you apply PJ properly to a domestic crime, you will likely come to the conclusion the crime HAS happened and that someone SHOULD be arrested.
- Likewise for race hate crime, or violent crime, or any other kind of crime that is currently being measured by the government under their new non-measurement of crime scheme.
- PJ does not apply on the evening of the week's detection tally, or the night before the monthly Performance Group.
The truth of Professional Judgment is that it does create accountability: in fact, it shifts the accountability squarely on the shoulders of front-line police officers and away from their second and third line managers. Because while the edicts from the top level are urging discretion and personal judgment, mid-management are still floundering in a sea of crime statistics and performance measures. Mid-management are still sending emails about trivial crimes that should have been solved and serious investigations that should have achieved convictions without the slightest scrap of evidence. Mid-management haven't got the message about Professional Judgement, or if they have, they're too scared to use it.
Who, in the Twenty-First Century, is really going to send their sergeants and PCs an email saying, "If you felt that walking away from the situation was the right course of action, I'll stand by you", or "Let's not waste custody space and court time with these piles of garbage"?
On paper, Professional Judgment is a way of holding officers accountable for their decisions. A way of impressing on them the ethics and principles by which they police. A way of encouraging thoughtfulness and compassion. In practice, it's a smoke-screen. It's a way of pretending that decisions out on the streets are those of the officers and the officers alone.
They aren't. The emails are still coming. The performance culture persists.
Don't believe what you read.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.