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, March 03, 2011

Top Down Betrayal

To add to yesterday's post on pay, the point here is nothing to do with sympathy for the front-line, giving officers "what we're owed", or any other such propaganda.  It comes down to basic hard facts:
  • The thin blue line is dependent on overtime, expenses and bonus payments simply to cover emergencies.
  • Without healthy enough compensation for working conditions, people will stop doing the work.  Not overnight, but over a decade.  Which is the reason the bonuses and pay rises were introduced to start with.
After this decade, one of three things will have happened or be about to:
  1. The British police as we know it will no longer exist: we will no longer deal with mental health patients, lost children, the lonely and dying.  It will be a civilianised force, the bulk of whom will have inflexible powers that allow them to do one job and one job alone, with a few "soldiers" who can put in doors and use force.
  2. Officers will be reverting to the every-man-for-himself days of the 70s, because it isn't worth their while to abide by the regulations.
  3. Service to victims of crime and crime stats at an all-time low, the government will have to shell out a fortune as they did in the 80s, to keep people in the police and encourage them to join.
For front-line police officers, I think the most distressing part of the current political climate is the betrayal by our senior management.  We can understand and accept the epithets spouted by the Home Office - of course the government wants to save money, of course politicians think they understand the problems facing policing, that's only natural.  We all knew that our Special Priority Payments would not last, and anyone who didn't was naive.

But then we read about the fundamental role of constable being diminished and undermined, and hear not a peep out of our chief officers.  We hear about our compensations being eroded, and no one is defending us - even if they lose, you expect your bosses to fight your corner.  

Money-saving measures by our CCMTs (Chief Constable Management Teams) take no account of the welfare of their officers.  We see shift patterns introduced that suit everyone except those working them.  Officers are pulled between stations to save money.  Inspectors are given more and more line management responsibility with no extra motivation or compensation, and are still expected to implement massive increases in performance.

And suddenly our senior managers have forgotten that they too started out at the sharp end, having to stay on to guard a scene in the pouring rain when it's their kid's birthday tea, having their leave cancelled because a foreign royal decides to visit their town, being hauled over the coals for every little mistake and subjected to intense scrutiny for every lapse in judgment.  We're not asking for that to end, we're asking for our own managers to take it into account and support us.  Instead, they're asking for our pay and conditions to be cut, to make their lives easier, and in fact are already implementing nonsensical changes that protect themselves at the expense of their troops.

My Chief might want to remember: without an army, you aren't chief of anything.

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


Blogger MPS (not!) Probbie said...

Excellent post Bloggsy, and spot on.

03 March, 2011 14:37

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm surprised. One expects a Tory government to keep the bobbies onside, not alienate them to this extent. Or is this just wistful nostalgia for the 80s, when you were needed to crush the miners?

03 March, 2011 15:03

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodwill belongs to the museum now. The proposed cuts in pay and conditions are almost too much to stand.
The biggest kick in the teeth for me is the pathetic posturing of some of our 'line managers'. They must think they are World War One Generals or something. Tough leadership might have worked back then, with the prospect of shooting your own troops for cowardice, but i think the Human Rights Act prevents them from doing it to us.
Well i am not cannon fodder, and far too cynical of their motives. They will not get more for less from me until the whole of the public sector is addressed, not just us.
There should be no 'celebrity' paid more than £60,000 a year at the BBC either. If they think they are worth more then they can go elsewhere....let them consider their career a 'vocation'.
The whole legal profession should be culled, paid a state salary end of. How much did the Bloody Sunday enquiry cost and what did it achieve?
No interpreters at public cost.
There is plenty to sort out before us.

03 March, 2011 15:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Move to Scotland.

My force is required to increase police numbers in order to meet government figures, taking us to our highest number of bobbies ever.

Our federation fought for us, meaning the only perk we're losing is the special priority payment.

And they've managed to get us two days extra annual leave as we can't get a public holiday for the royal wedding due to police regulations.

It's all good north of the border.

03 March, 2011 16:27

Anonymous Twelvelegs said...

Hugh Orde, what a spineless self serving waste of oxygen. Along with Fahey they are clear examples of why we are getting so comprehensively shafted by the Govt, these people are meant to be leaders, but the only thing they are interested in leading is there fat snouts to the trough, and to Hell eith us Bobbies that actually ARE the Police. Furious at the Home secretary, but nearly as angry with all SMT, come on you spineless fuckers, stand up, shout scream and yell, defend us for once.

03 March, 2011 18:57

Anonymous Serpico said...

Very good blog, one of the best I have read for a long time :)

03 March, 2011 19:39

Anonymous Outed said...

Right on the money.

03 March, 2011 22:16

Anonymous Anonymous said...

stopping o/T is just a ridiculous idea. When it comes to the end of a shift and a call comes in, those police officers nearly about to go home will leave the job for the next shift to deal with (understandable cos if they stay and deal with it and arrest someone they end up working booking person in, waiting around for the solicitor to arrive, interview them, do all the paper work which could take hours) with NO pay for it. It would be different if all that took and hour but it doestnt and as a member of the public I dont expect my force to work 4 hours overtime with no pay after they have just worked a 10 shift!
Criminals will begin to work out when this shift change occurs too and will work out that its the best time with a higher liklehood there will be a delay in a dispatch of officers.
Its really sad this is how its going.

04 March, 2011 08:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish they would name the officer who actually earns that £50,000 in overtime and detail why he gets it.The public honestly think it's all of us getting that amount.I think he's probably a royalty/government protection officer which is ironic as if they withdrew their goodwill the ministers would have something to moan about.

04 March, 2011 15:35

Anonymous Mad Mick said...

Re the £50000 copper I had indeed heard that he was a Met prot officer for one of the ministers. And as previously stated a lot of overtime done by prot officers is not paid for.

04 March, 2011 21:59

Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

It should be a police force not a police service. The police are involved in things social services should be doing or the NSPCC or RSPCA, with police involvement only at the arrest.

Keep it simple.

05 March, 2011 08:46

Blogger MarkUK said...

If a Constable has got £50k in a year, then s/he's doing too many hours and putting his/her health at risk. Not only that, but he or she will be sooooo knackered as to be seriously useless in a dangerous situation.

Doing exceptionally long hours once in a while can be managed (with sufficient rest time afterwards). Doing the same on a regular enough basis to clock up £50k is stupid and calls the officer's supervisors' judgement into question.

I've never been a police officer, but I have worked on a 24/7 shift rota in manufacturing. We were limited to 60 hours in any week, and 12 hours in any shift. To go outside these hours required permission from a very senior manager and was only permitted where there was absolutely no alternative. This was seen as being in the interests of the company rather than simply being nice to individuals.

05 March, 2011 17:12

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

MarkUK; i'm a civvie also although with an unusual level of awareness of policing for reasons I won't bore you with.

If I think through all the frontline 'job' people i've known, not one of them used to stick to the normal shift pattern; it was week-in, week-out of extended or double shifts, with no opportunity to take the time in lieu.

I cite the example of a friend who left his force in 2006 after 6 years in including training time; he had accumulated SO MUCH holiday time that he couldn't take they ended up paying him for nearly NINE MONTHS worth of combined holiday and overtime.

PC Bloggs and others aren't exaggerating; and the key difference is that H&S in the police is ignored entirely except when it suits the senior bods. Remember, if you cut your hand off with a circular saw due to sleep deprivation at your manufacturing business your employer could be liable. In the police, if they ran over a civvie by falling asleep at the weel from sleep deprivation or similar the blame would be placed squarely at the feet of the officer at the wheel, rather than where it belongs with his bosses. Sad but true; pack of weasels as a rule once you go above Sgt.

05 March, 2011 19:35

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

Note: the above should say 'overtime, cancelled rest days, and holiday time he couldn't take'.

Not sure what happened to it!

05 March, 2011 19:36

Blogger MarkUK said...

Binary Surfer, you hit the main point well.

The company I worked for, part of Mars GB, was the most efficient in its industry. Our colleagues in Confectionery held the same position in theirs.

We were all well trained in our jobs, as are the police. We were also better paid than police officers, at least at Technician level (but most of the higher level operators would also get more than a Constable).

That we were more efficient and better paid was no coincidence, but neither did we get there by chance. We were all very well trained, and had all the support we needed.

Rather than keep the police working lots of hours, why not go for efficiency? Sure, we'll always need officers on shift(just as Mars need operators), but perhaps the higher-ups need to look how these officers are deployed.

With better management, perhaps there would not be such a need for ridiculous amounts of overtime.

05 March, 2011 22:33

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark/UK - the difference is that at Mars you are in control of your production - the demands on police officers are not so predicatable, and moreover the business rules e.g. PACE have nothing to do with the efficient use of police time.

06 March, 2011 18:32

Blogger English Pensioner said...

As an outsider, it is difficult to make any real assessment of the situation as one must rely largely on the media.
However, I would comment that in most jobs at a police officer's pay level, one would not expect any extra payment for leaving work late or taking a phone call at home, which, according to the press can attract significant overtime.
As a shift engineer I often had to do this when there was a crisis or my relief was late, but didn't get paid any extra. However, I did get paid if I had to put in an extra shift, although we were subject to certain restrictions on safety grounds. Certainly there was no way anyone could double their pay as is said to happen in the Police Service.
Indeed in my industry, the Trade Unions strongly opposed regular, routine, overtime on the basis that it was depriving people of jobs, a viewpoint with which I have some sympathy.
But it would be nice to have some genuine hard facts, not the media's take on what may be rare events.

06 March, 2011 20:16

Blogger Debbie said...

I work for my small town's Police Dept. It is never a good sign when your Admin does not stand up for you. Leaves you feeling like you are left flapping in the wind with no clothes pens. It has been "that bad" in our Dept before. The last few years have improved with a new Chief. The last one simply told the Officers that they were "Held to a higher standard". He would not tell them what that standard was. Hard to stay out of trouble if you don't know what will get you into it! I have always been pleased to be considered a civilian employee. As long as I do my job they have left me alone for the last 11 years. They could not pay me enough to be a Police Officer. Much too hard of a job!

10 March, 2011 04:05

Anonymous Anonymous said...

English pensioner "However, I would comment that in most jobs at a police officer's pay level, one would not expect any extra payment for leaving work late or taking a phone call at home, which, according to the press can attract significant overtime.
As a shift engineer I often had to do this when there was a crisis or my relief was late, but didn't get paid any extra."

Trouble is while in the private sector (where I used to work) I may have expected to work extra maybe once in a month, or an extra hour a day, in the police it would happen on a daily basis due to the demands of the job and unforeseeable work stream. With no real employment rights, the bosses could and would keep an officer on for hours.

11 March, 2011 14:46

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05 April, 2011 11:45


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