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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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PC Bloggs Investigates... Wibble

Sir Denis O'Connor is a worthy and laudable man. An ex-Chief Constable of Surrey Police, now knighted and the Acting Chief Inspector of Constabulary, you might expect he has a firm grasp on the real issues facing the police today.

Which is why, when Sir Denis' HMIC report states that some officers work as few as 171 days in a year, the best results being 208 days, you can't blame well-respected broadsheet newspapers for jumping at the news. From much of the report, it is clear that Sir Denis has kept his finger on the pulse of police blogging for the last five years: he names risk-aversion and performance culture as two of the biggest causes of unnecessary expenditure in the police.

But let's dig a little deeper. The average civilian in an average job works approximately a 40-hour week, broken down into 5 days of 8 hours. Over the course of a year, this equates to 260 days spent
at work. After 25 days' annual leave and 5 days' sickness, that's 230 days, barely more than half of the year themselves.

Police officers generally work a variation on a 24/7 shift pattern that takes into account the need for
overlapping shifts on weekends. This means the shifts are usually 9-12 hours long, let's say an average of 10 hours. It won't be broken down this way, but this means to reach their average 40-hour week, police officers are effectively working a 4-day week (some weeks will be 6-7 days, others 3-4). They have less home and social time on days they work, but more days off. Therefore their total working days a year equals 208. Taking into account sickness and annual leave, that comes out at 178 days. Not including overtime.

The media don't care about the above, why would they? Their job is merely to regurgitate supposed facts that add to the weight of suspicion and mistrust of the police: that we don't work hard, we don't do long hours, we are basically milking overtime and skiving at the same time. Hence this Channel 4 report stating that Sir Denis identifies 30 officers involved in a burglary case from start to finish. The "7" officers identified in the custody process - if you read the report properly - actually includes gaolers and the police doctor: for a start they are not "officers" and secondly, they multi-task dealing with dozens of prisoners each day. The call-takers, crime-recorders and file-builders involved (none police officers) all juggle a caseload that no front-line police officer could possibly manage, hence it is a reasonably efficient way of structuring a force.

I am all for improvements t
o the police, and if the clamp down on our budgets means that we are now forced to abandon much of the performance-related and risk-averse bureaucracy that has built up under the last government, I'm all for that too.

But I'm all against the twisting of meaningless statistics to point out non-existent failings. I'm against the blind reporting of these facts with no interrogation. And I'm against the further villainisation of a group of public sector workers who share none of the rights of a normal employee, and take greater physical risks.

Who is going to call Sir Denis on the distorted and misleading data in this report?

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


Anonymous ParkiePlod1980 said...

Once again bobbies on the frontline are being questioned and under scrutiny never the gucci departments who seem to swan around not doing an awful lot. There is nothing to keep people on response team / relief policing any more, we are treated as five years olds by senior management made to go into dangerous situations with no backup as single patrol has been implemented (what a great idea that is for those who don't have to work it!!!!! ), I notice everyone else still seems to be swanning around in pairs and we are spoken to / treated like dirt by everyone else in the job even if they only have five minutes in just because they have jumped ship at the first opportunity. I am increasingly wondering why I bother I always wanted to stay on the front line and have done for all of my 11 yrs service so far. My days off are all cancelled, the shift pattern means I don t get that many days off compared to a 12 hr one and still people who don't have to suffer earlies lates and nights with quick changeovers, and cancelled rest days such as Denis O'Conor still openly criticise and question.

Every change senior management bring in seems designed to make my particular role more difficult and dangerous. The answer is simple there are a large number of office dwellers in my force in such areas as the diversity directorate and single point of contact for phone enquiries can someone explain why the hell these departments require police officers it flummoxes me, how about kicking them out of their cosy 9-5 Monday to Friday existance?? I would love to tell the senior management in the job how it is but I don't think that they would listen or maybe they would tell me how they know more about operational policing than I do :-( Most officers on my shift feel the same as me, its time that the other departments in the job REMEMBERED that they are there to support Response / Relief and we are not there to run around for them.

21 July, 2010 21:58

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost interest after I realised he has spent time in Surrey, sadly the source of more than one foolish experiment including such hits as CSO's, National Intelligence Model, Workforce Modernisation, SPP etc.

Mind you, never let facts get in the way of a good story which is why I no longer buy newspapers.

21 July, 2010 22:05

Blogger blueknight said...

Last time he did the job,the burglars wore striped tops and carried a bag of swag, and replied, 'It's a fair cop guv' when cautioned.
It's a bit worrying that he holds the position he does and does not know what is going on.

21 July, 2010 22:08

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all about softening up the public for the eventual removal of our employment rights and pensions.

Police readers had better buckle up for a bumpy ride tomorrow when the CPS announce any Tomlinson G20 Charges against police or not, as the case may be.

Once again, if officers are charged it proves brutality and if they are not it's a cover-up!

21 July, 2010 22:39

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

Originally posted by Inspector Gadget:
This is all about softening up the public for the eventual removal of our employment rights and pensions.

I disagree that it is about that in totality. I still firmly believe that it's the precursor to a (at least partially) end-end privatised CJS (including the police).

You just wait; the first trial scheme where a force is privatised (to be run by Serco or similar) will be announced within a few months i'd guess as a potential 'cost-saving' measure.

Unfortunately, they are likely to get someone like that tool O'Connor in to champion that too!

22 July, 2010 08:54

Anonymous A MOP said...

Blogsy said "when Sir Denis' HMIC report states that some officers work as few as 171 days in a year, the best results being 208 days, you can't blame well-respected broadsheet newspapers for jumping at the news"

But are they? Not that I buy newspapers, but a google search for media raction to this report shows the following:

Channel4: "Frontline police cuts should be 'last in queue'", "Policing in England and Wales needs a massive revamp to ensure front-line services can be maintained in the face of savings of £1bn", "poor organisation of shift patterns" appears to tie with your explanation of the 'days worked' statistics, the table you show is from here and in fact is in the context of these shift patterns, not showing that too many officers are needed for a case, but that poor organisation of when they are available, has costs involved.

Guardian: "Only one in 10 police officers on frontline, watchdog warns", "Just 10% of officers free to tackle crime because majority are off or tied up on other duties" -surely this is something that you and Gadget complain of all the time? "In some forces only six in every 100 officers were on a duty visible to the public during peak Friday night hours" - well compare that with Gadgets "A summary for UK police readers: if we need to find 40% savings in every nick, simply attend the car park and cut all those who have a designated private space. This way, you can save £ tens of thousands without ever touching anyone who actually does the work out on the ground."
Seems pretty much along the same lines to me!

Reuters: "Redesign police to deal with cuts, reports urge", "Increased bureaucracy, central government targets and greater specialism had drawn officers away from front-line duties" sounds very like what you were describing in 'Our own worts enemy' and "HMIC warned that just one in five forces were prepared for the level of cuts they were predicting and almost one in three had taken insufficient steps to manage the gap" sounds (again) very much in agreement with Gadget's "Chief Constables Ignore Theresa May – SHOCK!"

BBC: "Big cuts to police budgets could harm the ability of forces in England and Wales to combat crime, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary has said", "a "total redesign" of how officers work - such as shift patterns - could save 12%." but "further cuts would hit police availability "unless it was prioritised over everything else"." - again, not a lot different from what you, gadget and other police blogs and forums are saying.

So that's the top four reports according to google. But this reality doesn't fit the "media are against us" tome of your and Gadgets blogs, does it?

"Who is going to call Sir Denis on the distorted and misleading data in this report? " I don't know, but I'm calling you on your false reporting of the reports of the report!

22 July, 2010 14:16

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Please don't ask me to comment on other people's blogs, if you have comments related to MY blog this is the place for them...

My point was that all the articles you quote are based on a report that is misleading, and none of them think to question the content of what they are reporting.

22 July, 2010 15:29

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

"one again I control..."
"writting skills"

Those made me laugh.
Thanks Pete.

22 July, 2010 19:40

Blogger English Pensioner said...

As a retired engineer who worked 12 hour shifts for quite a few years, I find it astounding that people can't do simple maths. As I outlined in my own blog a couple of days ago, if one is working a 40 hour week, it requires 5 people to cover the post 24/7 without allowing for holidays and sick leave, which makes the "only one in ten policeman on the beat" look quite reasonable.
I did an average of three 12 hour shifts a week, which with handover, etc totalled my 40 hours. Allowing for leave, and assuming that I was never off sick, that would be a maximum of only 140 shifts a year, although to make it look better, if you count the days, a night shift is of course two days!
At 171 or more shifts, the police don't seem to be doing to badly!

22 July, 2010 23:38

Anonymous Anonymous said...


22 July, 2010 23:57

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey... I don't remember saying 'the media are against us'

23 July, 2010 00:15

Anonymous MarkUK said...

I worked for a company that worked 24/7, although we had a shutdown over Christmas.

Everyone, shifts or days, was required to work 1724 hours per year. (Essentially 37.5 hours per week, less holidays.) Long service reduced this, as you got a few extra days holiday.

If you worked more than these hours, you were entitled to overtime or time off in lieu (TOIL).

This is a multinational company that employs thousands of people throughout the UK and the rest of the world. It is USA based.

Why can't the public services use something like this system?

I won't name the company, except to say that they are noted for something that helps you work, rest and play!

23 July, 2010 20:29

Anonymous DBRG said...

Pete - you are a truly, truly sad man. Is trolling on websites really the best thing in your life? I pity you.

In other news, the pity is that the public is now getting something of a taste for blood and, in the wake of the abuse of position by the Parliamentarians of both houses, it looks like it's ours they're after.

Feeding them is the usual rabble-rousing cretins of the house of Northcliffe. What a bunch of tw@s. As the guv says - it's only going to get worse, innit?

23 July, 2010 22:20

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

As ever - it's not how many cops we have, it's how we deploy them. I'm with ParkiePlod on this, how many office jobs currently filled by warranted cops could be done by civvies? Our Racial Incidents office is staffed by a couple of cops who I think have left the nick twice in all my time in the job, probably to meet 'Community Leaders' or go on an essential course. What exactly do they contribute to the workload of Response and other genuine front-line departments?
You can bet diamonds that they are at the top of their pay scale, probably of the rent/housing allowance generation and doing bugger all for it, compared to young-in-service cops who increasingly do more for less. Maybe we could do better than 1 in 10 if these wasters were either punted out of their offices or binned as part of efficiency savings.

Also, if PSD pulled their finger out, maybe we'd have fewer cops suspended on full pay and either returned to full duties or replaced. We are an easy media target because we make ourselves exactly that at times...

24 July, 2010 00:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...


24 July, 2010 05:08

Anonymous Anonymous said...


24 July, 2010 13:11

Anonymous Anonymous said...


25 July, 2010 07:52

Anonymous Martin said...

How does the saying go,

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.

I do know what you are on about, I work on a 12 hour shift system.

I work both days and nights, also 2weekends in the month, and when you work it out I only work for 6 months of the year.

With time off for holidays, barring overtime, I think I work less than you.

I would like to know how many hours the chief constables etc work, and I'm not on about all those receptions they go to either?

25 July, 2010 09:25

Anonymous Dan said...

Off topic Bloggsy, but our old friend PC Copperfield appears in the Sunday Telegraph today

25 July, 2010 09:57

Blogger Carl Eve said...

After a quick discussion with a few officers and local police press office, my version of that story poo-pooed the "one in ten" line my news editor wanted.
I explained: "Let's say your force is ten officers. There's three shifts a day, so 6.66 officers are at home BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT EVEN MEANT TO BE AT WORK. Of the 3.33 remaining, one will be in custody or in child protection or sexual offences team, or MCIT or CID or somewhere else. The other one's off sick so that's why you've got one. Otherwise it's as churlish as complaining about 200 soldiers (say, 29 Commando) being at base and not fighting in Afghanistan, four months after they come back from a tour of duty. It's because they're not meant to be working that day..."
I think he saw my point and we just did the "cutbacks" angle of the HMIC report...

No, that's okay, you can pick your chips up off the floor and thank me later.

25 July, 2010 18:59

Blogger Big Fella said...

I love those figures, so over the top. Hes so removed from real policing and real life just like our magistrates!!!!
Had HMIC visit recently SMT made sure they were all on duty and that there were a couple of officers present in the station to be interviewed - thats realistic. Theres usually no one in the nick except PCSOs who now run our neighbourhood teams and they are filling out paperwork, databases etc etc.
Still at least thats something I dont have to do anymore.

25 July, 2010 20:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most personnal and property crime I doth think is committed during the hours that are easy to commit crime,and darkness also makes it easier to get found , also form of crime that requires more brain power to detect and prosecute , the other crimes like shoplifting and passing radar traps, are easier to detect, catch and tick boxes, they be during working hours thus easier to justify more man hours as reward rate is higher number boxes ticked off , while the nighttime stuff is not ticked off so easily but the great silent majority are ticked off, as they cannot sleep well due to obnoxious Yobs and silent 2nd story men are on the roam.

just a thought/

25 July, 2010 21:02

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

MarkUK, police officers work 2080 hours a year which is split down to rotational shift patterns averaging 40 hours a week. 40 hours a week is the minimum, the first half hour of overtime at the end of every shift is 'free' as in we can't claim it. Most forces at the moment are doing overtime as time in lieu and refusing to pay, the only problem with it is you are hardly ever allowed to actually claim your time back because there aren't enough people on duty. When I left my old force I had nearly 90 days worth of time in lieu built up, at the moment I've got nearly 30 days and most of my annual leave still to take One of the drivers on my old team could take 6 months off straight with annual leave and days in lieu.

26 July, 2010 09:38

Anonymous ParkiePlod1980 said...

I've just seen the latest shift patterns for the Met the 8 hr shift pattern includes officers finishing at 3 am so they can't use public transport and 1 whole weekend off in 5 gee thanks what a great shift pattern, I'm hoping to god this one doesn't get chosen but maybe thats the idea to make the job so difficult to do that officers resign and savings are made or maybe I'm just a cynic :-(

26 July, 2010 23:18

Anonymous ParkiePlod1980 said...

They are not allowed not to pay for overtime worked, it the officer's choice whether they take pay or time not the forces and this is something the federation will take forces to task over one of the few things. Someone at my work threatened to take the job to court unless they paid him and has now been paid the money he was owed

27 July, 2010 15:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless you Dungbeetle......
For your thoughts....

29 July, 2010 03:03


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