This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. 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 (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Good old "front-line" services

In the run-up to Thursday's election, parties are falling over each other to promise that they will not cut "front-line" public services, whilst falling even faster to give various plans to reduce The Deficit.

David Cameron said this morning to Andrew Marr that if one of his ministers came to him with an idea for cuts that involved reducing front-line services, they would be sent away to think again. In almost the same breath, he said that the Conservatives would freeze public sector pay for a year. Other parties have suggested they might go further and cut public sector pay.

There seems to be a delusion that somehow public sector pay is unrelated to the service the public sector can offer. A not-dissimilar delusion to that held by Blandshire's Senior Management Team that performance is unrelated to workload, complaints not connected to motivation, and mistakes nothing to do with exhaustion.

Make no mistake, if you cut public sector pay, front-line services will be the first thing that suffer. And THAT'S an Election promise.

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


Anonymous shijuro said...

Well one week after the promise 'we won't cut education front line services' wifys school made 6-people including 2 teachers and a dep head redundant...

Politicians - you gotta love 'em.

Bloggsy, we already have these cuts NOW... Devon and Corn not recruiting, West Mercia, West Mids etc... Natural wastage will soon deplete us faster than most can believe...

02 May, 2010 18:44

Blogger Bill Sticker said...

But you can bet your dainty size fives the powers that be won't get rid of Managers or all those wonderful 'diversity coordinator' roles.

02 May, 2010 19:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those of us actually in the public sector ain't in it for the money, but if it gets to be more lucrative working in McDonald's... yeah, that's not going to affect front-line services.

First target should be the management consultants. But what are the odds of that?

02 May, 2010 20:32

Blogger Andy said...

That's great; tell me what you think about the fact that the private sector (such as I work in) has suffered average 10% pay cuts, removal of benefits, and imposition of reduced working hours?

We are supposed to carry on working at our original full capacity, and if we don't we must assume that our jobs are at risk.

I don't wish pay cuts on any of you front-line types. However, what you seem to be saying is that half the population should suffer all the pain of a recession. That doesn't seem very fair. There really is no money left -- what other options do you think there are?

02 May, 2010 20:35

Blogger blueknight said...

That's the problem. No doubt some cuts could be made that would not affect the front line, but whenever there are cuts it is always the foot soldiers that lose out.
Without giving away my current public sector employment details a large number of front line colleagues and I have been promised a pay cut because the books are in the red.
As they say, Sh*t rolls down hill and the front line live in the valley....

02 May, 2010 20:37

Blogger Nick said...

God I want to send a copy of your third paragraph around my force, and twice to my local senior managers!

02 May, 2010 21:20

Anonymous A Polis Man said...

HR are safe they never a waste of resources :)

You'd never get me to say that without the large dollop of irony!

02 May, 2010 22:57

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Actually Andy I have not made the point that there should not be public sector pay cuts. My point is that for politicians to argue that public sector pay cuts are inevitable, yet claim this will not impact on front-line services, is disingenuous and they should be called on it.

02 May, 2010 23:33

Blogger emily said...

Due to Labour's profligacy, front line services will have to be cut. The phrase "front line" doesn't even make any sense - it depends what service you're using how you'd define it.

But public sector workers are already paid more than private sector workers in addition to having better pensions, so salaries doesn't seem an unreasonable place to start. Everyone will have to make sacrifices in terms of paying more taxes and enduring sluggish economic growth.

Where I agree with you though is that the politicians should be honest about this: It's going to suck.


03 May, 2010 01:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with Andy.

If you do vote in a Labour government for 3 terms, don't complain when you find out they've bankrupted us...

I took a pay cut this year. My public sector partner doing the same job as me got a rise, and their union is currently lobbying for increased fuel and allowances.

Yes, they should be more honest, yes they should definitely cut consultants etc, but so too should they reduce the wage bill.

I don't think police have too much to worry about - a pay freeze wouldn't last too long before it becomes politically unacceptable.

03 May, 2010 01:50

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All points are valid. We're broke - there have to be drastic cuts in the public sector.

The only way cuts can be applied with a minimum effect on the front line is by good leadership. And that's the bit that's missing - all the way up to the gormless ministers and rosette wearing goons who got us into this mess.

We won't get it, but if we had a genuinely fresh bunch of politicos coming in, they might have the motivation and belief to change things for the better. It won't happen though. Still, Ms Bloggs, the private security sector will be looking for good people with open arms. You should be fine.

Has anybody looked at ? Interesting to compare actual policies instead of pretty boy contests on the TV.


03 May, 2010 08:51

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Save some lives on the street and then get back to us Emergency Service workers. Get head butted when you are trying to seperate two drunken chav families and get back to us. Get threatened with a knife, baseball bat nearly every weekend simply for doing your job, and get back to us. I've worked both private industry and emergency services.

03 May, 2010 08:53

Blogger Andy said...

In that case, you and I are in complete agreement.

My apologies for misunderstanding.

03 May, 2010 09:10

Anonymous Anonymous said...

PC Bloggs,

I suspect that a pay freeze would not affect front line services at all. Where I work I took a 40% pay cut last year, as did everyone else. It was that or the company would go bust and we knew it. We worked harder than before, because it was obvious that if we didn't we'd be out. There are far more applicants than places for jobs in the police and fire brigades, less so for teachers, nurses and soldiers. I suspect that means that there is room for pay freezes and cuts in some but not others.

03 May, 2010 13:46

Blogger Andy said...


"Save some lives on the street and then get back to us Emergency Service workers."

As usual, any criticism of any emergency workers is instantly brushed off with, effectively "my job is more worthwhile than your job". It's a ridiculous response. Firstly: I did not say your job was not important. Secondly, if we follow your logic then all emergency workers should be paid infinite amounts of money. It's just not a viable argument.

We have to judge all jobs with emotional detachment. The question should always be, for all jobs, "how much would it cost to replace this person". That then is the value of that job.

We are in the situation that this country has run out of money. No amount of balling "see if you like getting headbutted" at me is going to change that.

03 May, 2010 18:30

Anonymous Mac said...

I agree that it is inevitable that we will have to suck up our part of the pain that others in the private sector are suffering. I have a couple of mates who have lost well paid jobs and at our age I can see first hand the devastation that has caused them and their families.

We have been cushioned by the 3 year pay deal that Jaqui Smith stitched us up with but let's not forget that it was designed to shaft us and it was only the unforeseen cock up with the economy that made it a good deal.

Ellie is right though. To suggest that it won't effect services is lying. Also, all the numerous public sector blogs out there highlight all the huge amounts of waste that goes on, but sorting that out is too difficult so it's easier just to implement a blanket pay cut.

To the commenter who mentioned the waiting lists to join, there are a lot of 'wannabes'for jobs like Fire and Police. Just because they are applying doesn't mean they are suitable. Likewise both jobs build up an awful lot of training and experience over time that cannot be immediately 'programmed' into a new recruit. If there were sudden changes to, say, the pension that made it cost effective for everyone with 25yrs service to leave now on current terms, it would take a long time to bring numbers back up due to training capacity and 25 years to replace the experience. I accept the same applies to most jobs, but service levels probably drop there too. The difference is that the customer can go elsewhere.

Lastly, I don't remember anyone in the private sector complaining when the public sector was lower paid and less attractive than the private. That was why the pension was so good, to reward a career of working for less pay. That got turned on it's head due to Labour policy, but one day it will cycle back. I've known the aforementioned friends a long time and for most of that time they were doing far better than me, but I had the job security and the pension. Am I supposed to feel guilty for taking the long view?

03 May, 2010 23:36

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been noted here a couple of times that pay is now higher in the public sector than in the private sector.

Is that comparison on a like for like basis or is it simply total payroll dvided by total number of bodies? If the latter the comparison will be distorted by the (low paid) public sector jobs which have been privatised in recent years.

04 May, 2010 09:24

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

A huge % of spending is virtually pissed up against the wall by the public sector 'support' functions:

The public sector could happily cover several years of pay rises without effort if most of the quangos, management consultants and crap was cut out. It must be well into double digit % wastage in the sector as a whole just based on planned 'efficiency savings' all parties are advocating, let alone the harsh realities.

While I completely sympathise with the frontline services it's time to face facts; no political party thats stands a chance of sinning the election will give you pay parity or rises for the next few years. It's not popular, but it's the truth.

04 May, 2010 23:29

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The harsh reality is that the Police/Nurses/Teachers et al are not the problem, the politicians are. with every new initiative comes another raft of red tape. The red tape creates even more bureaucratic positions leaching from the 'front line' supporting the government control. The only way this can be reduced is by the politicians saying that they will relinquish control.

Cameron says he intends to do this but look at the policies and you can see they intend to stay in control so that they are able to say to the press that they are 'doing something about it' (it being the press drama of the day).

Unless the press suddenly stop reporting like goldfish we have no chance.

05 May, 2010 13:15

Anonymous mac said...

Binary Surfer,

I completely agree. I would accept a pay freeze, but I want to see a parallel cut in the wastage you describe.

Example. My brother works as a self employed contractor, one of his customers is the private facilities company responsible for a London hospital, He regularly gets called out to service a bit of plant that is on every ward. He put forward an idea that would replace all of them with one larger item. It would cost about £80,000 but would save about £15,000 a year. He spoke to a member of the trust who said it was a fantastic idea but he wasn't allowed to speak to him direct but to put it through the facilities manager. He did so but was told 'keep it to yourself. Every time you get called out we add a bit extra to the bill' At the very least maintenance in the public sector should be taken back 'in house', employing their own tradesmen who are salaried, not charging per callout. I bought my police house. When the police still owned it, I used the same workmen to do extra work as and when. The price I paid was two thirds what they were charging the police. Whenever I asked for a quote the first question was 'who's paying'.

05 May, 2010 14:44

Blogger News from Monday Books said...

I always liked Copperfield's take on front line workers (and he wasn't talking about you, him, Gadget or others like you, obviously), Bloggsy. These are the wise words of Dave (taken from Wasting Police Time):

The thing is, I don’t feel like a key worker. Which parts of my ‘work’ are ‘key’, anyway? Is it the taking of staples out of reports and the stapling together of other reports, in the correct order, for filing? Is it the administrative ‘solving’ of crime? Is it hours on the phone to banks asking about credit card frauds? Or maybe waiting for a solicitor is the highest expression of a civil society?
No, key workers, as far as I’m concerned, are the people who deliver biros, printer ink and photocopier toner to my nick and thousands like it. If martial law is ever declared, who’s going to guarantee the supply of forms, or keep fax lines between different departments of a single police force open? If they can’t struggle out of their subsidised housing and brave the superbugs or meteorites or alien invaders, I’ll effectively be redundant.
Not that too many people would notice, which is the funny thing about ‘key workers’. For such vital cogs in the engine of the country, they do seem to take an awful lot of time off sick each year. And yet, to my constant amazement, society seems to tick along nicely without them!

06 May, 2010 12:10

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

I agree with you re the 'my job is more important...' thing. It's a tough one, it's not easy to stomach people being paid a fortune for a safe 9-5 office job when you face abuse, assault, malicious complaints etc just for doing a different job. Then again, I don't think many of us are in it for the money, it just happens that the wheel has turned and we find ourselves with a comfortable and secure salary, while those who enjoyed the private sector while the going was good are now under pressure.
The point has already been made that there will be cuts in pretty much all employment - the question is where.
Cops can't be sacked. PCSOs can. Civilian Police Staff can. But it's a fair bet that there will be Unison flags flying outside the HQ of any Force who tries to cut these sorts of jobs. There are plenty of civvy office staff who perform important, relevant and helpful roles. I'm also convinced there is a considerable amount of dead wood, unnecessary posts and busywork for cops' wives - these are the posts that should go. At least in the private sector you wouldn't be afraid to sack them.

07 May, 2010 16:52

Anonymous Shijuro said...

Well sir... I have to say I agree will andy on this one. You have a point about our dangerous job - but is it any more dangerous than working down a mine? Or on the roads?

Let's face it comrades we are ALL in the meatgrinder...

09 May, 2010 09:19

Blogger foxymonkeys said...

I'm the armed forces and have just had nearly £100 a month taken off my wages. A travel allowence I received for my home being miles from my base has been slashed. This allowance was a compensation for the milage I clock up every month because the forces move me to one of three Countys every couple of years. This wasn't even announced. We only found out when people started asking the admin staff. Pay cuts are here already. I would love to move close to base every time I'm posted but know I wouldn't have a family if I put them through that.

09 May, 2010 14:34

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every organization has a sizable mob of skivers, they are usually found with dollops of rolls of white paper ready to protect their leaders from a sneak attack on the high chairs, just like a bunch of wildebeest with bird cleaners, thus their positions are secure.
Humans are the only animal that destroys the producers of worth to save the non producing locust destroyers of foods.

When the country fails to produce food then *****.

As in the military, it takes so many to provide ammo and food to the man that must incapacitate the foe, the problem has been, the front line fails to receive the material as it usually disappears into ether, the front line man always gets the blame for failing to receive the needed supplies to be effective in his work.
For Every Policeman trying to uphold the Law, there are too many suckers available using up needed supplies.
The layers of management and support that are required to apprehend one thief, the cost of making a thief of one loaf pay for his error of his ways is horrendous.

There is so much waffle and featherbedding that it has to collapse first like any third world country before meaningful reforms happen.

09 May, 2010 19:45

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly the only "real policing" is response".Unfortunatly too much emphasis is placed on neighbourhood policing.My officers are run ragged,exhausted while neighbourhood officers are drinking coffee and laughing and joking in the nick (watched by their sergeants!!).I don't know how they sleep at night..Sounds awfull, but it is true, despite what politicians/police top brass say...can no one see the obvious truth??

11 May, 2010 22:13


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