This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but 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 pay my salary.


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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

To keep you going...

I'm having something of an enforced gap in blogging due to being too busy, but here's a story to show the police aren't all bad.  Or more accurately, that one civilian scenes of crime officers isn't bad.

The civilian members of Blandshire Constabulary may not take front-line risks, but their jobs are "at risk" most of the time.  The Police Federation is frightened that if we admit some of our roles can be done by non-sworn officers, the police will be further and further civilianised and our powers taken away.  

In actual fact, civilians free up front-line officers to concentrate on those situations that require our powers.  They aren't versatile and they can't deal with the next life-threatening emergency that crosses their path, which means they don't get distracted from CCTV collection and statement-taking.  Since the loss of our civilian case investigators in the latest budget cuts, officers on my team in Blandmore simply don't get time to pick up CCTV during hours when the premises is open, and most of them have a slew of outstanding statements to take, meaning many of the cases end up being filed instead of solved.  We no longer have anyone to complete case file upgrades, or produce the daily stats for the superintendent, or analyse crime trends, and the guys who plan court warnings and day-to-day resources have so much work on that they are sending out duty changes for two weeks ago. 

Instead of campaigning against civilianisation, which just leads to police officers being more and more heavily loaded with work (and work not getting done), the Fed should campaign for a reduction in the burden placed on the police by the courts and CPS, which is the cause for a lot of the paperwork.  Plus the need to produce reams of pointless statistics for police.uk and the HMIC.

Still, having just missed our recent target to reduce the number of targets in Blandmore by 5.6%, the superintendent isn't particularly interested in anything the Fed has to say, on any subject.  We are as far from performance and blame culture change as we ever were, and moving at a rate of knots.

I do hope the member of staff involved in the above story used the right terminology and documentation when recounting the tale to her colleagues.  Otherwise we may shortly see a follow-up whereby a scenes of crime officer in Dorset Police is disciplined for insulting a disabled person and falsifying overtime claims.

Vivre la police.

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

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right. I've always thought that all this talk of cutting 'police' paperwork shows little understanding. While police are quite good at creating pointless forms, its the CPS, Courts, HMIC and Home Office which require most of it.

11 April, 2012 18:00

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asitis: Ellie, have you another book in the pipeline? I thoroughly enjoyed your book. It was a just like life is up here in my northern force.

PS. Good post.

11 April, 2012 21:32

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'd perhaps go along with you re. unnecessary paperwork generated by HMIC and the HO...

...But I'm always a bit wary of police officers complaining about "paperwork" for Court or the CPS.

The standard and quality of documentation required to support a prosecution has to be high, no?

12 April, 2012 08:18

 
Anonymous Learned Council (M.Litt) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12 April, 2012 14:05

 
Anonymous Brontosaurus said...

I agree with you Ellie that we have become overburdened with beaurocracy and reducing this burden will help.

I think you have missed some points regarding civilianisation. Of course there are roles that can and should be carried out by police staff. There are a number of roles that are now carried out by civilians which would be better carried out by police officers.

For example we have officers on restricted duties due to injury, pregnancy etc and we now search for things for them to do rather than use their skills effectively.

Secondly, replacing police officers with police staff does not always make savings as claimed. Experienced police officers in SOME roles can be far more effective than police staff. For example, when I joined in the 80's experienced officers always took the role covering the front office. In those days they managed the non emergency incidents, answered the phones, dealt with callers at the station, found property, dogs, firearms Etc. Etc. It was a tough job but officer's experience paid off. Now we have two station officers, two found property officers, firearms admin, a whole new communications team and set up plus police staff managers etc. You can see these empires being built in all sorts of functions. Surrey Police are at the forefront of civilianisation. They cut 260 police officer jobs and increased civilians by 1540! Where are the savings in that?

Thirdly, the managements current practice of getting rid of police staff and taking police officers off the front line delivers an obvious and worrying message. It says that management believe the back office functions and targets, charts and graphs Etc. are far more important than the front line. This means that post Winsor, when they can make police officers redundant, they will simply keep the back office functions and ditch the front line officers.

Fourthly, if you civilianise all functions there is absolutely no resilience in the organisation. My force has employed civilians to collect CCTV and to take statements and collect prisoners. Instead of having 12 officers on a response team there are now 8. When the wheel comes off the statement taker, CCTV collector and prison van driver can't help. When the next demonstration or major incidents come in a pile there are no police officers anywhere to be called in to help out. The front line is simply decimated and service almost comes to a halt.

12 April, 2012 14:35

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the sentiment however why should this be a fight for the fed? This should be the role of senior managers in the police to push back the tide of demands from CPS and every other agency we feed into.

12 April, 2012 20:05

 
Anonymous Learned Council (M.Litt) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12 April, 2012 20:37

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Today I was handed my new BlackBerry by a warranted Constable whose job it is to dish out and record BlackBerry issues. A job for a cop? I didn't think so either. This is the same non-combatant who claims it is 75% quicker to enter crime details on said piece of already obsolete electrical junk than it is to write one out on paper. Bring on civilianisation - warranted officers doing the job they were sworn to do, support staff to *gasp* support them in their role. It's not exactly rocket science.

13 April, 2012 00:32

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NottsSarge. Its really not as easy as that. What happens if YOU develop an illness or pick up an injury during the course of your career? What happens if circumstances, beyond your control, mean you have to become non-combatant? Will you stand by your convictions and refuse a similar post and resign?

I'm sure that in reality, this constable does far more than just hand out Blackberry's. Did you care to find out the facts before moaning on a website?

It used to be the case that injured officers could retire on sickness. That was stopped when the government brought in targets to prevent ill-health retirements. So these people have to work somewhere.

By the way I am a frontline officer, just one who thinks ahead and won't fall into the divide and rule trap.

13 April, 2012 07:34

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogsy, I suggest at this critical time in policing your blog is more important that your day job in the grand scale of things. Get your finger out love....

13 April, 2012 09:27

 
OpenID officerfriendly said...

I am a "civilian" member of staff working for Northern Constabulary. The role I do was formerly carried out by a warranted officer, but it was deemed that a professional from the area of work would be more beneficial to perform the role. Hence, with my university education and twenty odd years of experience I replaced a uniform. I was also two thirds of the wage.

When I started this job I was classed as a Specialist PCSO, no unifom, no powers, no need for either; until the inspectorate thought that the money for Specialists was being mis-spent. So I was downgraded to PCSO status. Still no powers & no uniform, but professional and efficient.
Last year, HQ came to the conclusion that as we did not need powers, nor uniforms & did not fit the job spec. anymore, we should not be called PCSOs, but civilian staff. All good.

This year, to cover the loss of front line, uniformed officers through retirements, natural wastage, PCSOs being recruited as Police Officers but no new PCSOs being recruited & only a third of the number of officers recruited as left, some bright spark at HQ has put civilians in face to face positions in uniforms, so we can tell the electorate that there has not been a decrease in uniformed front line staff. Indeed there has been an increase.
My uniform did not come with body armour, but I am still expected to carry out lone home visits to the homes of offenders & young offenders. My stab vest has now been ordered after intervention from the Fed, but will take three months to arrive, during which time I will still be required to attend people's addresses. Not just me, but victim liaison officers, who used to be seen as independent but are now visibly "Police".

There are roles for which civilians are better suited than to spend money on cops doing the same role, but there are times when an officer on restricted duties needs something to do constructively with their time. What there does need to be, at least in Northern Constabulary, is a clear definition between staff & officers, deliniation between who is expected to do what, but what we expect too. I love the job I do, but the uniform is a barrier. I also loathe the fact I am being used as a statistic to placate those who know that Police numbers are being reduced, but can't prove it.

16 April, 2012 13:55

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Last commenter, you are so right. I must mend my ways.

16 April, 2012 19:37

 
OpenID inspectorgadget said...

'having just missed our recent target to reduce the number of targets'

classic!

20 April, 2012 09:52

 
Blogger Joker said...

Could they not just have etched the pages with a pencil, like PIs do?

23 April, 2012 10:31

 

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