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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Monday, March 12, 2012

The Truth About Privatisation

Blandshire Constabulary currently pays a private company to pay a person to travel between custody suites totting up how many on a spreadsheet of about 100 performance indicators have been met on a random selection of 15 custody records.  The indicators include, among other things, whether or not the sergeant has correctly entered the postcode for the place of arrest, whether they were offered the "diversity box", and whether their rights were given and carried out.  

Our performance against these indicators is collated and submitted to Headquarters, where it finds its way into the books of the HMIC.  Since introducing the role of custody auditor (among others), Blandshire has shot up the ranks of police forces and stands to do pretty well in the next ranking lists.

This is a world where the entering of a postcode is given the same weight and importance as allowing a detained person access to a solicitor.  On the shifts I have done in custody, I have borne the wrath of the custody auditor more than once, as I repeatedly refuse to comply with five or six of the most pointless indicators.  I don't do this to be difficult (although the fact that it is seen as difficult is a source of constant pleasure).  No, I do it because there is a queue of officers with prisoners waiting to book them in and get back on the streets, and by skipping some of the more unnecessary steps I can book them into custody in half the time it takes a more procedurally-compliant sergeant.

Both myself and the custody auditor are, indirectly, paid and supplied for the benefit of Blandshire Constabulary.  So why is it that I can at a whim discard something that is the auditor's sole purpose to enforce, without any fear of more than a severe frown from my inspector?

The fact is, the auditor exists to enforce these indicators, to ensure Blandshire Constabulary is rated for the highly professional conduct of our custody suites.  (And believe me, compared to years gone by, they are highly, highly professional.) If one indicator is missed off one record, the private company employing the auditor is in breach of contract.  The breach carries a fine, and either the company will have to pay the fine, or the custody auditor will.

As a police sergeant, when it comes to any showdown between me and the establishment, my priority is to show I have adhered to the law, to the Codes of Practice, but above all to what was morally right and made sense at the time. 

There are some motivated and sensible civilians working for companies that have contracts with the police.  But when the proverbial shove encounters push, the private company employee may not fall back on his or her morality or commonsense.  He has no scope to wiggle around the Home Office Counting Rules, or to duck that week's assault detection target.  He can only comply, and comply.

Which answers the question, really, why some Chief Constables are so keen to promote the idea of privatised police services, including some elements of patrol.  After all, if it wasn't for those pesky police officers, Blandmore's local top dog might have a chance of meeting some of his targets this month.

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the 5 or 6 indicators you ignore are what?

13 March, 2012 04:40

Anonymous A Polis Man said...

That would be things like

Do you want to speak a drug counsellor?
Do you want to speak to an alcohol counsellor?
Would you like something to read?
Here have a leaflet on how your TIC's make us look better.
Here's a leaflet on how to grass on your mates (Crimestoppers).

There's some for booking in, useful some even worthwhile but not when there's a queue and can be done by anyone at anytime.

Some for leaving.

Have you any complaints?
Here's a list of local counselling services.
Here's a list of local snake oil salespeople.
Here's a form which says if you don't have a snakeoil salesperson and want one at court the case might not be adjourned so you can get one.
Here is a crimestoppers leaflet.
Here is your case reference number and the OIC- already on the charge and bail sheet but we can create another form just for this.

There you go that's 11 that could be ignored without affecting anyone's rights or welfare, that's without postcodes for place of arrest (fields even), home address postcode (even if nfa).

What Ellie hasn't mentioned is that the auditor is being paid less than a PC but the Job is paying more than an Inspector.

13 March, 2012 10:18

Blogger Kaela said...

The arguement goes, that with all the information, future events can be better prepared for, maybe not this year, but next year, or so.

If you went into stores and asked for a hat, you would expect to get one for your gender, male or female, and probably with a badge attached, and even a complimentary weatherproof, hi-visibilty, long-life waterproof cover( one size fits all)

But if we negated half the essential information, you would end up with a hat, maybe a bowler or a peaked, it may or may not have a badge, and a waterproof cover would be nowhere to be seen. It might not even fit you.

Leave out essential detail, and you create rubbish.

I would however ageree, there can be better times to collate the data, rather than at the point of meeting the nice custody sergeant.

13 March, 2012 15:00

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was lifted (in Wales) my "rights" consisted of a very short piece of paper. Looking forward to this privatisation thingy, plod bleating about how hard it is to "get by" on 60K p.a. The only thing stopping you lot from being strung up now is the shambles that the far left has become - Revolution Now and a cuppa tea luv!

13 March, 2012 17:18

Anonymous Anonymous said...

60K p.a? What planet are you on? The highest earning Constables earn just over half that. You've got to be a supernintendo before you touch the 60K p.a mark.

But why let a minor inconvenience like 10seconds on google or little things like facts get in the way of (yet another) toxic, nonsensical anti-police rant. You throbber.

13 March, 2012 22:06

Anonymous Concrete Sea said...

According to information I have read, plod as you call them Ciaran don't earn 60K p.a but then that's your mind wandering again.Far too small to be out on it's own.
Make some sort of sensible contribution please.

13 March, 2012 22:15

Anonymous painauchocolat said...

I wonder if Cairan gave cite his sources for "plod bleating about how hard it is to 'get by' on 60K p.a."?

Somehow I doubt it.

14 March, 2012 12:13

Blogger Stressed Out Cop said...

Now if you had CDO you would obsess about filling all those drop downs properly - they all please somebody employed elsewhere !

14 March, 2012 16:37


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