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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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Invisible Reserve Army

Richard Garside, author of the latest enthralling report from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, has pointed out that police overtime has doubled in a decade, whilst police strength has also apparently gone up. He seems to feel this is indicative of a "reserve army" being paid large sums to be trained just in case something happens.

I have no idea who Richard Garside is, but he seems to have a different definition of "reserve army" to me. Overtime gets paid when demand outstrips resources, and officers have to be asked to stay on for extra hours or work on rest days to cover commitments. If we had a reserve army, standing by to cover large-scale emergencies and one-off operations, why would we need to pay overtime? We would just use the people standing by in reserve, who would be paid their flat rate salary.

A few years ago I challenged a senior officer on why response teams were being stripped down to their bare minimum, so that a busy town was being staffed with a third the number of officers it was when I joined. He said to me, "The point, PC Bloggs, is not to have a standing army."

He meant that it was a waste of money to have officers driving around without a job to go to. That we all had to be 100% busy 100% of the time.

Unfortunately, he forgot that just driving around without a job to go to IS part of our job. In fact, it's the part of our job the public want us most to do.

If you strip response teams down to the bare minimum, your only hope if and when major incidents occur is to call in officers on overtime and rest days. This puts strain on your front-line, which means they call in sick, meaning you have to make other shifts stay late and come in early.

If I can grasp this, why can't Richard Garside?

I think the question we should all be asking ourselves is who on earth donates money to this Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, and how soon can the money be redirected somewhere useful?

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


Blogger MPS Probbie said...

He (and they) appear to be another left-of-centre pressure group who don't want to lock up the little darlings.

A quick glance at their 'visions and values' page gives you a taste of their agenda.

14 May, 2010 00:15

Blogger Mark said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

14 May, 2010 02:27

Anonymous Cabbage said...

Probbie - of course, it's difficult to disagree with anything on that page. The issue is the lack of balance; the things that are NOT said, rather than the things that are.

14 May, 2010 02:28

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Driving round without a job to go to? Sounds a bit like proactive patrol to me. Sorry Ellie, as there is no way of measuring the amount of crime you may have prevented, this activity will cease forthwith and you'll have to find something else to do that will provide statistical data.

Also, Christmas is cancelled this year as it's a Bank Holiday and we'd have to pay everyone double...

14 May, 2010 11:09

Blogger MPS Probbie said...

Cabbage - quite!

14 May, 2010 11:21

Anonymous Chris said...

"Reserve army"? Classic Marxian dog whistle phrase, usually used in the context of the (un-/under-)employed.

If I can grasp this, why can't Richard Garside?

Because his living as a quangocrat and Guardian guest writer depends on his swallowing the camels of progressive left orthodoxy, while straining at the gnats of common sense.

14 May, 2010 13:18

Blogger Ex-RUC said...

I was going to comment but NottsSarge beat me to my point. Strange how some things never seem to change - I always used to grumble about the Form A Squad mentality of senior officers who stripped local response patrols to below a minimum.

14 May, 2010 17:03

Anonymous StillAnon said...

I suspect that the ever increasing amount of administration required of officers has a huge impact on this as well. I'm pretty certain that most of what we do was dreamed up in a series of "this will only take them 5 mins" additions to the procedures. Now it means an officer making an arrest towards the end of their tour of duty will not be off for at least 2 hours and then only if they manage to hand it over to someone else.

15 May, 2010 00:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Garside is former head of communications at NACRO.

Enough said.

15 May, 2010 07:00

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nacro reduces crime by changing lives. We work with disadvantaged people, offenders and those at risk of offending, to help them find positive alternatives ...
Work for us - Contact us - Ex-offenders - Employment
their statement.

Always follow the money trail,
'uman erectus live off other humans period, Gnu luv to be conned, smile and the loot will flow, 'tis why ads and credit cards work, instant gratification.

15 May, 2010 19:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You "grasped it" Bloggsy because you are a woman with a brain!
Men like to over complicate matters to justify their own sense of feeling necessary and important.

Not that I wish to start a riot or anything on your blog, but just stating the glaringly obvious. ;-)

16 May, 2010 01:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Men like to over complicate matters"

Like Hazel Blears and Jaqui Smith you mean? Or perhaps Harriet Harman? Or Cheri Blair?

Besides; what's complicated about milk and two sugars?


16 May, 2010 07:58

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

There was nothing complicated about any of those women! Although putting Cherie Blair in the same bag is a bit unfair.

16 May, 2010 12:10

Blogger Raindog said...

I have always found patrol to be the most valuable form of policing. It allows an officer to know the neighborhoods, the streets, and the people. He can concentrate on concerns before they become crimes.

In the past, some of command has seen available officers as a waste of man power. Their theory is there should be only the amount of officers to handle any current call and nothing more. They staff for slightly under the average amount of calls resulting in a average call load always covered and calls always waiting. An serious call, a call that absorbs all man power, a shooting, a pursuit and perimeter, always throws this theory into disrepute as there are never enough officers to handle other hot calls.

16 May, 2010 18:59

Blogger Aimee said...

We have been told there is no such thing as minimum staffing now that the response team staffing is below minimum. The new word is OPTIMUM staffing.
Great, less staff, even less chance of using your leave.

17 May, 2010 17:43

Blogger Raindog said...



For awhile, our "minimum" went away and we had "optimal staffing." When the minimum went from 19 to 17 to 13 to 11, they still could not fill shifts without hiring overtime. Somedays we had 9 officers working the streets. I was 3 hours behind on most calls. I would be interrupted from one priority call to take another, and then another.

Finally our union stepped in. We are back to minimums as a matter of safety

17 May, 2010 19:56

Anonymous Dave said...

Here in big city Canada, very few things are measured, at least on an individual basis. However, one of the few things that is measured (via the in-car computer) is the amount of time that you spend on proactive patrol.

You should aim to spend about 20% of your time on patrol and return to the station only when you arrest someone AND THEN want to either fingerprint them or remand them* or when you have a particularly involved report to write. All other business should be conducted via the in-car computer and using the forms you take with you.

* Simply charging someone done from the car so long as you get verbal authority from a sgt first.

21 May, 2010 18:17


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