With Police Force’s around the country cutting costs wherever possible to save money, some have already reduced Police Dog and Handlers numbers by large amounts, and other forces are talking about further, even greater cuts to dog numbers.
On Monday evening (25/11/13) on Twitter, there will be an attempt to highlight the risks associated with reducing dog numbers even further than they are at now (and many would say that’s already too few !!) – there’s talk in some areas of up to a 50% reduction, and forces where at night there is just ONE dog on duty to cover everything.
What do you think; do we have enough police dogs ? not enough ? or too many ? – take the survey below and share your thoughts.
To add a comment, click the ‘Leave a Comment’ or ‘XX Comments’ link just below the page title.
The use of Taser devices by police is back in the news, after video footage of an incident involving a man with knives in Battersea, London was uploaded to YouTube . Taser has always been a controversial subject in the UK. Maybe it’s primarily seen as the end to the default non-armed position of the everyday British police officer or maybe it’s something else ….
What is known is that Taser devices are a highly effective method of dealing with violent and dangerous situations, reducing the risk of harm and injury to police officers and members of the general public.
On a basic level, the ‘pro’ side will say a Taser can be used without needing to get ‘up and close’ with the subject as would be needed with a baton, immediately creating a ‘safe working space’ and greatly reducing risk to the officers dealing. The effects of Taser use are gone in a few seconds unlike 15-20 mins for CS/Pava/Pepper Spray, plus there is no risk of collateral effect on officers dealing as there would be with a spray – (having been there on many occasions where the officers dealing have been far more affected by CS/Pava/Pepper spray than the subject, I can tell you it’s not a nice place to be !!)
This clip demonstrates precisely how effective correct use of Taser can be in dealing with a dangerous situation. In it, a male brandishing two knives appears to be threatening to harm himself, not others, but clearly, outside Buckingham Palace, with hundreds of tourists, adults and children within a few metres, just about anything could have happened
But Taser is not without it’s critics, and there are many would will say that they are dangerous and shouldn’t be used at all. The are also numerous reports to suggest that deaths have occurred following the use of Taser although looking at the online reports and news articles I have found, none of them can directly link a death to a Taser discharge. There is quite a lot of info here > Wikipedia – Taser Safety Issues
At present, Taser devices in the UK are only issued to Firearms and a limited number of other police officers, primarily those in ‘specialist’ roles. Many officers, and members of the public, believe that ALL police officers should be issued with Taser, and then again, many believe no police officer should have one.
But what do you think ? Please take the survey below and let your opinion be known. There are two survey options, one for police officers and one for members of the public. The questions are the same, I am just trying to establish if there is a difference in opinion from inside and outside ‘the job’.
POLICE OFFICERS – please answer this survey
MEMBERS OF PUBLIC – please answer this survey
Please do not expect any startling changes in national police policy to arise from this poll – it’s just a snapshot of what people think
Comments can be left by clicking the ‘Leave a comment’ or ‘XX comments’ link under the post title.
I was reminded yesterday by the good eggs at Avon & Somerset Police Federation of a saying I had not heard since I was a kid – a comment my dad used to come out with quite often when watching news stories about the latest Royal visit or boat launch or whatever it was …. Dad always used to say “The Queen must think the whole country smells of fresh paint and flowers”, remarking on the vast amount of public space housekeeping that used to get done by whichever council was responsible for looking after the area of the impending Royal visit.
It’s right though isn’t it – as the pavements get swept at the crack of midnight, council decorators on double time are painting railings in the wee small hours, and every litter bin for miles around suddenly appears to have a plant pot full of pansies stuck on top of it – all to show to Her Majesty what a wonderful part of her realm she is about to set foot in …… but we all know it’s no more than a ‘papering over the cracks’ exercise – and I’m sure the Queen knows it too – but just plays along so that everything looks good in the rose garden.
And so it appears to be with policing at the moment. if you are to believe those that dwell on the top floor, the wheels are full turning, every officer is full of the joys of Spring, and any suggestion of unhappiness is a dreamt up fantasy of the few with some imaginary axe to bear. Well, sadly, that’s not the case in the Chaos Constabulary, and talking to frontline officers around the country (you know, the protected species that everyone keeps telling us won’t be affected by all the budgetary and funding changes and cuts) it seems that an awful lot of bobbies have got more grazes on their knees than the average 10 year old after falling off his bike !
I’ve said on previous blogs that when I joined the job, our then Chief Inspector and Super used to insist that Senior Officers took it in turns to go out on the Public Order vans and response cars on a Friday and Saturday night ….. AND to get involved – they were expected to be making arrests and submit crime reports – the reasoning ? to make sure they never lost sight of what life on the frontline is really like, and to make sure their future planning and decision making took account of what hard working officers went through every day to protect the public. Not any more.
The police service as a whole has been taking an almighty battering for a long time now, with the actions of a very few bad eggs causing everyone of the 135,000 hard working officers to be simultaneously tarred with the same brush. The ‘Big 3’ – Stephen Lawrence, Hillsborough and G20 are being rolled out time and time again as defacto evidence that every police officer up and down the land is institutionally racist, overtly violent and a liar. There’s no disputing things were very wrong in each of those cases, but that is three out of how many millions of incidents police officers attend every year and get right ???
How many, murderers, burglars, muggers and rapists get caught, prosecuted and jailed every year ???
How many young, old, or otherwise vulnerable people go missing every year and are located safely by officers ???
How many dead bodies get pulled from rivers, out of trees, off railway lines or off our roads by frontline teams who then also have to deal with the distraught families left behind ???
How many people with Mental Ill Health issues find the police are their first line of help and support as the NHS and Community Mental Health provision are destroyed ???
How many drunken, violent, off their head buffoons get scraped up outside one or another pub or club, taken home or to hospital by police simply because they can’t look after themselves ???
Clearly some officers, somewhere, must be doing something right !!! We keep getting told the prisons are full to bursting and I’m pretty sure 100% of the occupants didn’t venture in there all on their own !!!
Former cop, now author and TV/Radio commentator Mike Pannett appeared on BBC Radio 4 on the morning of Sunday 20th October 2013 to debate the flatline in Police Morale alongside Nick Gargan, Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset Police. Mike explained that despite trying to get frontline officers to give their thoughts on morale in the job at the moment, no-one (myself included) was prepared to speak on air for fear or repercussions on themselves.
Mike described how frontline officers felt the service is now ‘on its knees’ and ‘run ragged’
Nick Gargan disputed this, commenting “the leadership of the service works very hard to keep the workforce motivated and keep the workforce as happy as we can in difficult times”.
When the presenter challenged Mr Gargan over Mike Pannett’s comments re the service being ‘on its knees’ Mr Gargan replied “I was out with firearms officers at our Almondsbury base last week and with city centre officers in Bristol over the previous weekend and that’s just not what I saw, I saw good officers, they feel a bit bruised about pay, they do feel suspicious of the press, they feel they’re not understood all the time but actually they’re very brave committed people”. You can listen to the full interview here >
It certainly painted a picture that in Avon & Somerset at least, the national trend had been bucked and officers working in that force at least, didn’t appear to feel the same as many others around the country.
Or did they ??
Or had Avon & Somerset had a hypothetical visit from The Queen, and the two counties had been treated to a massive dollop of fresh paint and flowers that the rest of the country had missed out on ???
So why not ask frontline officers from around the country how they really felt …….. so I did !!! …. and below are just a small fraction of the replies I received within 24 hours of asking !!
Hopefully the odd one or two senior officers will read these, stop and reflect for a moment and think, ‘actually – there is a problem here and we need to start talking to people about it’
Avon & Somerset – Morale is low on the front line. Our promotion process is is severe disrepute after the last round of psychometric testing. Our force seems determined to promote those that do projects than those who have proven leadership credentials. Windsor has taken its toll and the latest debacle with Mitchell has pissed us off. We have a bit of confidence in our new chief as our last one was widely reviled. I joined loving the job. It was the plan to do the 30 and work my ass off all the way. I know plenty of people doing the same as me and my concern is a strata of those with 5-10 years in currently will jump ship. We seem to have a prevalence of senior officers that want to be more interested in politics than policing. The federation is also quite unpopular. We view them as a little bit pointless and not worth the money we pay them. However what is important is that I still love my team. I love the people that I work with. That is the thing that keeps us going. I am proud to wear the uniform and I’m proud to be a copper. I think that the public individually don’t really care what Tory spin doctors say or the media say. They know what we do and they are still (generally) grateful.
Unnamed Force – We’ve lost the Force Helicopter through cuts, we’re now covered from a neighbouring force so it’s about 40 miles away. By the time it lifts off and gets here its all over, so we’ve just stopped requesting it. The gap is trying to be filled by the Police Dogs , but now they’re being cut too. The criminals must be laughing their heads off. There were 8 of us on the shift 2yrs ago, now there’s 4 if no one’s off – how’s that “no reduction to frontline” ??? Who is kidding who ?
Nottinghamshire – It’s safe to say that moral in Nottingham City division (two divisions, city and county) is horrendously low. I work on a neighbourhoods team and we currently have 3 operations running (long term) which result in constant abstractions from beats. Constant shift changes to later night or early morning shifts and then constant questions asking why updates haven’t been done, or why violent crimes are spiking on my beat. My response was, I don’t know I haven’t been on my beat in over three weeks on a late shift….their response…..5 shift changes the next day moving me from my beat to another for yet another operation!!!! So morale is at an all time low, we cannot win for trying.
West Midlands - I have seven years in the job and in the past 12 months I have lost my public order course, driving grade and been moved to an investigation team where all I do is deal with old crime reports. I have been told I will not get any training in relation public order or driving! They expect me to continue to give 100 per cent when they take things away from me to do the job and that I enjoy about the job. My morale went months ago and I can’t see it coming back. How on earth are we meant to provide a high level of service when we don’t get treated well??
Unnamed Force – This “frontline is being maintained” quote is a joke, are they counting PCSO’s ??? – we come on duty and there can be six PCSO’s and three Response Cops on duty.
By the way someone told us they’re counting investigation departments etc as “frontline” – isn’t that a bit misleading ??? – the public perception of frontline is uniform cops out and about & that’s definitely reduced.
Hampshire – Morale is horrendous. Everyone is exhausted, on the point of burnout. They keep up the line that the cuts won’t affect the frontline. Well guess what? The numbers on 999 response may or may not have been damaged – depending on which set of statistics you believe – but the work that our “backroom” staff were doing still needs doing. So who does it? The frontline staff. Why? Because there aren’t enough backroom staff left, and the work doesn’t go away.
Lose file prep staff? Who preps the files we’re submitting? We do. This means fewer of us available for 999 calls.
Lose CSI support? Who does their files and paperwork? They do. This means fewer of them available to attend your burglaries, TFMV etc.
Lose Station Officers? Who mans the front desk? We do. Or volunteers do. Who can’t be forced to work if they don’t turn up.
Lose police officers in favour of police staff investigators? Who works when they go home? Police do. You can’t order a PSI to stay on duty. We’ve had that this week on our department – they all buggered off at 4pm, we were still on duty at 3am, but instead of 8 of us working on, only 4 of us could be compelled to do so.
Unnamed Force – Morale is rock bottom. Shift pattern brought in Jan 13 killing people. Job is bringing diff pattern in Jan 14. 15 transferred to us recently. 2 going back to where they came from already, 2 off with stress and rest questioning why they moved here. We had most of a shift leave for another force at the same time when they advertised for transferees
Essex – I’m a 10 year cop serving in uniform. I am actively looking for a job outside of the police and once I get a job offering me the same (or even slightly less money) I’ll be gone. I am degree educated but no longer have the stomach for the constant battle against the management just to do the job I joined to do. My day is a constant battle against pointless bureaucracy, and it is a struggle to keep the faith when on the one hand I am told I need to keep on top of my paperwork and emails whilst at the same time I am constantly chased by a Control Room because I am shown as the closest resource to a job (that might be the other side of the division). Morale across the board is non-existent. Frontline cops are under ever-mounting pressure to improve arrest and detection rates, response times and meet various other targets all with practically no staff. We drift from crisis to crisis, one day we’re force critical for burglary/domestics so all eggs are put into the burglary/domestic reduction basked, followed up the following day by another management panic because the amount of unattended 999/101 calls has gone through the roof (because we’ve all been tackling burglaries/domestics the previous day).
Unnamed Force – I’m on Response and to be honest we’re all exhausted, we’re run ragged and snowed under with paperwork and all I read or hear in the media is that we’re collectively crap. It’s really getting us down , if I could do something else that would pay the bills – I’d leave .
Unnamed Force – Morale certainly seems to be decreasing but it’s quite hard as an outsider to put a finger on exactly what the prevailing cause is. As a Special, last year I thought I’d give joining a go. I’ve passed everything so far, assessments, force interviews etc. with a pencilled in start date of early next year but given the current state of everything especially wages, lack of promotion prospects and the treatment of officers I’m just not sure I can go through with joining. My force have put a lot of effort into my training and given me some really great experiences over the years but I’m just not sure whether joining is worth it anymore.
Cheshire – Utterly desperate. Under pressure, losing staff, no replacements, run ragged, put at risk and shifts being changed all over the place. I’ve never seen it so bad.
Merseyside – Morale is horrendous, especially on front line response teams. It is hilarious to see the size of the response teams now compared to five years ago. The public would be aghast if they knew how few officers were there to answer their 999 calls at times. There are so many issues at the moment, from daily media attacks to the IPCC literally gunning for officers. Forces no longer support officers and the CPS run prosecutions in cases where officers clearly have no case to answer but politician/media opinion interferes with their decision. However, the scariest most anger invoking proposal for me and all my federated colleagues is compulsory severance. The inability to be made redundant is the sole protection afforded to being an independent office holder (that of the office if constable). If that is taken away from us, where is the motivation to discharge your duties faithfully and according to law? It changes the game – officers WILL succumb to senior officer pressure in discharging their duties. In turn the senior officers will succumb to media, political and ‘interest group’ opinion. RIP British Policing and a hostile hello to continental policing.
Unnamed Force – I have a First Class degree and other higher education qualifications, but I’ve stayed as a PC for the last 20 years because it’s the only level in the organisation where you can make a real difference to individual lives. But because I want to serve the community directly and remain a PC I’m seen as thick, with worthless opinions. I’ve seen what the pursuit of rank does to people and it disgusts me. It appears that forces are effectively run to provide evidence for a small number of people to achieve the next rank. This means officers have adopted almost every ill-conceived measure thought up by politicians, all of which have proved to be highly flawed. All the above is bad enough in itself, but front-line staff levels are at a critical level, proactive work is gone and all we do is react. Yet we still see the same number of ACPO and Superintendents, while front line officers are thin on the ground. Those who remain are stressed beyond belief. It rubs salt into the wound when the Home Office say that their ‘reforms’ are working because crime is falling. Crime is NOT falling, recorded crime is falling because of many technical advances making traditional crimes less attractive to criminals. I can tell you that things like cyber crime, fraud, drug supply, people trafficking is flourishing and rarely gets included into the official crime figures. In addition, the amount of non- crime incidents which the police attend is increasing drastically as other public services are cut and they reply on police.
Durham – Morale? Well, I would say it’s right on the bottom. And the sad thing is….most cops I work with have no idea what’s coming. Lots of cops are down due to single crewing, MASSIVE workload, and things like Increment freezes, losing CRTP, increase in pension contributions. Cos this is starting to affect them NOW. I warned them of this in March 2011 with Winsor part 1 being published. I was told I was all doom and gloom and look where we are now. Even now, I would say about 75% of Cops I work with have no idea that CS is imminent! The ones that are aware think that our Force will not use it! Talk about being complacent! None of them know about the skills test due to come in 2016, where they may lose £5500 a year! Imagine what morale will be like with £300 net. out of your monthly pay gone
South Wales – The Morale in the Public Service Centre of South Wales Police is pretty low mostly down to the management attitude and the fact that the only concern is that calls are answered, not the quality of the incident that is created or the service that is actually provided
Unnamed Force – Every time I put the telly on there’s someone having a dig at the Police to suit their own agenda. I was in school when most of these ‘failings’ occurred , what can I say ? , I’m sorry ? , yes I am sorry – but I was 6yrs old when it happened.
West Mercia – After a spending review we have had numerous stations shut. Loads of Officers have been relocated into large Divisional stations. Yes that again! Bobbies who have been serving their communities for years have been uprooted and thrown into a pot. This has been done in such a draconian way by SMT. No arguments little in the way of appeals. Now have massive areas to cover single crewed. All advanced cars are being withdrawn so we all lose our tickets. Not allowed to return to stations during shift, lap tops in cars for files to enable this. The SMT are saying lump it or leave. I’ve never seen so many Officers looking for other work. Me included. People are burning out. Hundreds of qualified bods no promotions Sgt/Insp for years.
West Yorkshire – I’m a response bobby with just over 4yrs service. The general feel at our nick in West Yorkshire is dire. No motivation, team split up and parade at different nicks, briefing via a video link, meaning separate to keep numbers out, more and more single crewing. Staff levels at an all time low. Losing rest days for things and unable to re allocate due to numbers it’s really demoralising.
Unnamed Force – Politicians moan that police are overly cautious, but it’s because they made police subject to H&S laws and are happy for forces and individuals to be prosecuted if H&S is breached. They moan when police don’t react straight away, yet they brought in RIPA which makes any sort of immediate plain clothed operation impossible. They moan that officers are short, not having a commanding presence, but they made police subject to equality laws. They moan about paperwork, but they require the police to comply with CPS and court requirements and CPIA is a nightmare. The IPCC and HMIC requires everything to be audited. The Home Office requires forces to provide a massive amount of information which needs recording and processing. They say they will bring back discretion, but policies like NCRS and ACPO guidelines mean the opposite occurs. They moan about standards, but they brought in the very expensive national recruitment system, which is devised by psychologists and assessed by lay MoPs (neither with police experience). What other job would the recruitment process not allow much input from those who actually do the job? All the this is bad enough in itself, but front-line staff levels are at a critical level, proactive work is gone and all we do is react. Yet we still see the same number of ACPO and Superintendents, while front line officers are thin on the ground. Those who remain are stressed beyond belief.
PSNI – I’m in the PSNI, have been for 7 yrs now. Morale !! There is none. We now have big brother watching us. They can tell exactly where we are every second. They want more detail in our files. So it’s get out and patrol, oh wait, no we want you in the station more doing paperwork. There’s more danger inside the station than the dissidents outside the station wanting to kill us. The senior management haven’t a clue about real life policing. They come up with stupid ideas when promotion is out. Yes the supers is out now. Fed up not being able to police the common sense way.
Greater Manchester – Morale went out the window with the arrival of the Tories and their war on bobbies. In short they have turned a career into a job, overnight. Not only are many officers feeling financial pain but their opportunities for advancement / development are Ali but gone. Unless you are a senior officer of course.
Unnamed Force – Savile – I was child when this man was committing these terrible crimes in the 70′s. I even wrote to Jim’ll Fix It like 1000′s of other kids – I wanted to meet the my heroes the Red Arrows. Yet the press & media criticise shortcomings of my predecessors from decades ago they make no distinction between us, but its like its my failing? The same applies to Hillsborough, I was 19 and in College in 1989 when it happened. I’m an LFC supporter and some of my friends lost their friends in this awful event. Its reported in the media as a ‘Police Cover up’ with the inference that it’s always institutional corruption in the ‘Police’. I work with PC’s who are out there doing their best who weren’t even born in 1989. The Police isn’t manifestly corrupt , there are tens of thousands of Police Officers doing an extremely challenging and dangerous job day in and day feel we are being constantly undermined by some hostile elements in the press & politics. All we ask – is a bit of balance and perspective.
Hampshire – The cuts are killing us. Privatisation is not the answer. This government are running a campaign against us. Compulsory severance comes up very shortly at PAT. This government have already wrecked the tripartite structure of our criminal justice system, which has been for so long the pride of our nation and the bastion of justice around the world for centuries. Now, they have brought politics into policing with the PCC’s and with the ongoing attacks on policing. That, more than anything else, frightens me. I am afraid that one day there will be a way to compel me as a police officer, to arrest someone against my better judgement. This cannot be allowed to happen. Liberty agree and want to see the British Police remain independent. I want to remain independent. I want to be able to protect myself from being involved in any miscarriage of justice, without fear or favour and without being influenced by any political party or individual to do their bidding beyond that of upholding the oath.
BTP – I have worked for the BTP for 10 years in Sussex and in London. Overtime ebbs and flows in the BTP but, dare I say, it’s probably better than most other forces so if I really need it then I can find it. Also if you joined pre 2007 then a BTP pension is still a railway linked pension so at the moment we’re cushioned from the assault on this front. I’m also lucky to be in a unit as we look after each other, manage to get things done, have a few laughs, crunch the numbers (as figures do occasionally become an issue) and we enjoy a flexible work structure so long as we’re flexible too! So after all that preamble life is pretty sweet! So here’s my point, I’m afraid I am one of those people that likes to think we’re doing a good job and my morale takes a knock every time I hear another negative story, proven or unfounded tosh. Sometimes it seems that we’re being made to pay for the MP’s expense scandal and the journalists phone hacking escapades so they’ve banded together to ruin us!
I really don’t understand why the Feds can’t look out for us more and I can’t see why direct entry and big hitters dropping into the chiefs chair will help us. I find it incredible that we can’t make our voice heard and have a say in the future of the police service we provide. Put this on top of all the usual: we’re searching too many people, the wrong people, not enough people plus raking over historic incidents and accidents plus political correctness plus human rights plus cases dropped plus criminals walking free plus heavy handedness plus red tape plus… All the usual, I don’t need to tell you! It genuinely depresses me but I have been determined to still do it my way, to do the right thing by victims and witnesses and arrest people that need nicking.
Unnamed Force – I don’t think the public realise just how the cuts have bitten – because on the face of it they still see the Police out and about.
I wish we could tell them there’s only 4 of us on duty, they think there’s dozens of us and they understandably feel let down when it takes us hours or even days to respond to their call – and we can’t tell them why.
Durham – a beautiful City, and the work is varied but, we are slowly being used for other tasks. I don’t believe for a minute my PCC or C. Constable wants to sack us when they get the power, but….if the budgets continue to get reduced, their hands may be forced! So the loss of job security will be another massive blow. I myself really fear that my job may go at some point. I’ll never forget what this Govt. has done to my job. It didn’t used to be too bad when our wage went a good way. But now, with wage freezes, energy bills going through the roof it’s going to come to the point where we are literally going to work just to eat! I’m starting to see it in peoples faces day in day out now at work.
Staffordshire – In my 14 year’s as a front line officer I’ve never known morale to be so low, we are just getting by on the good will of officers, but now that’s going. When are the powers that be going to understand, let us have a meal break, go home on time occasionally and give us our leave when we want to it and we will happily work away. We were recently told by a supervisor that meal breaks are a privilege and we should be happy to be working and if we didn’t like it leave, there are plenty of people who want our jobs. A real morale boosting speech that was…
South Wales - In 11 years service I’ve never known morale so low, which ranks alongside the halved front line resource levels. Dangerous for both public and officers alike. If i had a trade behind me, I’d leave tomorrow. Angry and frustrated at May, Winsor and Cameron for creating an atmosphere where officers feel unappreciated, undervalued and cheated by imposing brutal cuts and pay freezes only to spend hundreds of thousands on police crime commissioners and their retinue.
Unnamed Force – Crime is falling apparently – really ? I wish someone would tell the criminals. We have never been busier, we literally do not stop , you’re lucky to get a 15 minute break in a 10hr shift. Then I turn up to a call I take a jibe about how long it’s taken for us to come out, like we’re in the station drinking tea, I wish I could tell them there are only 4 of us on duty covering hundreds of thousands of people – but I’m not allowed to in case it undermines public confidence…. Where have all the Police gone ? . Spending cuts have hit us very hard, cutting back office Support Staff was a quick cost saving fix, but those functions still need doing – so Police Officers are doing them which inevitably diverts them from actual Policing . Police Officers are burning out , we’re just ordinary human beings, I’ve never known a period where stress has been such a factor , I wish some research could be done into breakdowns and stress related illness in the Police, it’s known as a job that has a heavy toll on relationships and the average life expectancy of a Police Officer after 30yrs service is less than 10yrs. I worry that many of the young Cops in their 20′s today won’t see their retirement in their 60′s. It used to be 30yrs service or 55yrs old , but its recently been changed by the Government, obviously they aren’t the ones who are actually expected to do it , 60 year old Police Officers ? – If it wasn’t so desperate it would be funny.
Unnamed Force – I’m a PC at a very rural nick. Just a year ago we had three on response, plus a few community bobbies and PCSOs floating about. Now there are just two of us (on paper) but in reality only one because the other will be on abstractions for whichever operation is flavour of the month. When I joined we had six on response at each nick so I don’t know where this ‘cuts won’t effect the front line’ has come from because my nick is like a ghost town. It gets worse than that, there’s also no money for training, so I still haven’t had my standard response driving course. Due to the location of where I work it can take me 30 minutes to get to a grade 1 call. When I hear updates over the radio, “caller has blood coming from her head and locked herself in the bathroom”, “Can we have more mobiles here NOW!”, “Offender is still on scene and has blah blah blah” it literally makes my blood boil that I can’t get to help people when they need me. And yes we have a single crewing policy, so even if there was another officer who was standard trained to work with, I couldn’t crew up with them anyway! With all that said, even though morale is rock bottom, and I fear things will get even worse, the shift (including my skipper and response Insp) are amazing- that, and the current job security, are the only thing holding me to the job…stopped being a vocation years ago.
Northamptonshire – Been a police officer now for getting close to ** years, I love my job, I love locking up bad people and helping those who need it most when their lives have for what ever reason spiralled to new lows, whether that be passing on a death message to dealing with those with mental health problems. Morale has been over this time slowly ground down, it improved for a while when we had a new chief appointed, but with the implementation of the Windsor review, the constant attacks that are in the media towards the police and the lack of support that the Fed seem to offer, the heads are dropping. Numbers on the front line are getting less, the work rate is increasing, and we just don’t seem to get any support from the management. The pay freezes are really starting to bite as the cost of everything has gone up but my pay hasn’t and we seem to have a government that is intent on destroying the police service to fill their own political needs. We have been told that we need to save more money, but it makes no sense when you see the PCC spending over and above his budget on recruiting staff. Makes my blood boil ! However, despite all this I still go to work, as the people that are on my team are a fantastic bunch to work with, my team is the front line, and I know that despite what ever happens, my team will do their utmost best for the time that as I have their back and they have mine
Unnamed Force – You don’t join to be popular , and we don’t whine & whinge it’s not appreciated, we want to be the Police Service the public wants us to be and we try desperately hard to do that – I often wonder what the endgame of our serial detractors in the media and politics actually is ? If they eventually manage to convince everyone that the Police is corrupt and not fit for purpose , where do we go from there …
Surrey – I have been police staff for only 3 years but the morale has plummeted in that time. I speak to officers very often to put crimes on and you can tell that most of them are seriously unhappy with the way things are and the way things are going, no one joined up for what we have at the moment. All anyone wants to do is help the public and do the best we can, but all that is becoming more and more difficult. It’s becoming common-place for new policies and procedures to be piled on top of us, more work for less staff, no overtime but expectation that service levels will remain the same and then when someone complains that they had to wait 10 minutes to get their non-urgent call answered we get an email saying that we need to push harder to meet ‘customer’ demands. As Police staff we have the benefit in our contract of not being called in on rest days when business needs dictate, however, recently our deputy head of contact decided to randomly pick a number of staff who were on rest days to come in and work for a special event. It was explained on an email that these staff members had been picked “out of a hat” and would be required to work. It went on to say that this was approved by the head of HR and the only choice available in this was whether to take the day as overtime or as a RDIL. This is completely against the terms of our contract but staff were told that there was no debate with regards to coming in and, if selected, you were expected to be at work at the time stated. A couple of members of staff kicked off about this and questioned it with UNISON who complained however nothing seemed to be done and staff were basically told “you’re lucky you have a job, you could’ve been made redundant”. Since then we’ve all had further rest days cancelled against the terms of our contract, but when complaints are made we’re told that lucky to have jobs and should show more dedication to the force and the public of Surrey. It seems the “you’re lucky to have a job” line has become to norm.
Unnamed Force – Budget cuts means staffing cuts, which means that those left have to do the extra work. It’s not difficult to understand. Police are constantly hammered in the press, and by the politicians, often over matters that are nothing to do with the current generation of officers, (Hillsborough, Lawrence etc), but still we are judged on matters such as these. I’ve worked a football at the local ground where I’ve been called a murderer, because of the uniform I wear, and of events that happened long before I joined. Apart from the facts that our pay has been frozen, pension contributions risen by 1.5%, pension scheme changed without our consent, CRTP being reduced and phased out, and now being given a 1% pay rise (which doesn’t even cover the cost of the increased pension contribution), cost of living rising by god knows how much, having to work longer for a reduced pension, dealing with non-police related incidents etc etc, the thing that really gets me wound up is the fact that the politicians continually beat us around the head with a big stick. Oh, we keep getting told “You’re doing well. Crime is down” etc, but we all know that it isn’t. And we’re being run into the ground to keep the figures down to make it look like we’re coping. We are not coping. We are sinking. And we’re nowhere near the bottom yet. The feeling amongst those at the sharp end is that the Command Teams are only looking out for their own future interests, and are so far detached from reality, that they might as well be Tory politicians. Every week it seems as though we’re being asked to give up something else, while the PCCs and politicians who they represent can get away with fraudulent expense claims and generally blaming the police for all that is wrong with the country.
How can we provide a service to the public when we turn out five bobbies on a shift to cover 40,000 members of the public? We mark up CID vehicles to give the impression that there are more uniformed officers on the streets than is actually the case. How desperate have we become? The public need to know the truth. We are in a desperate state. Morale? What morale?
Thames Valley – We had our own example of ‘Fresh Paint & Flowers’ just the other week. Our PCC came to visit and decided to go out with the team policing the Night Time Economy to see what it was like. Rather than resourcing it the usual way (6-8 over-stretched PCs dealing with 2-3000 members of the public), the neighbourhood team did a “spontaneous” operation and threw 10 more PCs and a glut of PCSOs onto the streets. Also, the NHPT Inspector was out on the streets – certainly the first time I had ever seen her out there at night. As a result, the PCC got a completely erroneous impression of the difficulties faced by front-line officers. Oh, and they all buggered off home at 2am…which is just when the clubs start to kick out, leaving the remaining 6 of us to deal with all the usual rubbish.
West Mercia – The recent merger (yes it is don’t fool yourself) with Warwickshire has been an added nightmare on top of everything else for us for a long time. Rumour after rumour that officers would be sent from one end of the two counties to the other and no one from the top brass would give a straight answer either yes or no. We were promised the changes would mean more people on the streets as office bods were put back on shifts but it hasn’t happened. Last weekend our shift strength was 1/3 of what it is on paper. The new order has seen stations effectively closed with colleagues literally driving past where they work and were stationed till a few weeks ago, to carry on a further 20 or 30 miles to book on, collect a police car and drive back to where they worked before – then do the exact reverse at the end of their shift. Can you imagine for one minute any head of a major successful company suggesting that as a progressive move ? We were all summoned down to our HQ to be told how things were going to be and in no uncertain terms told by a senior officer “this is what’s happening, if you don’t like it there’s the door”. I may be radical but i think the frontline would benefit enormously from private business leaders taking control of planning and management of the police, they would certainly throw out a lot of the crazy procedures we have to put up with now.
Unnamed Force – My son is in College and thinking of following my footsteps and joining the Police but to be honest I’d rather he didn’t. I wouldn’t tell him to his face because I want to be supportive. My dad was a Bobby as well and he cried with pride at my Passing Out Parade …. so what has gone wrong ?
Avon & Somerset – I should be astounded by my Chief Constable’s remarks on the radio that he thinks his officers are a happy bunch but I’m not. I’m embarrassed that he is so out of touch with his own workforce. If he doesn’t know what it’s like for us in the job, how can he know what its like for all the people he is in charge of protecting. I’ve never seen him or any of the senior officers out on a Saturday night fighting drunks in Bristol or knocking a door in the early hours to tell someone their wife has died on the M5 … the stuff we have to do every week. All we get are endless monotonous emails telling us everything that we are doing is wrong followed by some new policy or form to add to the endless pile we already have. I thought they were supposed to be cutting paperwork not giving us more. Most of our shifts are at half strength or below and thats before they take some away for one or other operation or whatever the whim of the moment is. Morale, what morale ?
Unnamed Force – I listen to so much negative spin on TV and by the Government it genuinely gets me down. The worst of it is that none of our ‘leaders’ speaks up for us , why don’t they ? . I wish we could speak for ourselves but we’re forbidden to do so by our own organisation – I really believe its because they don’t want to hear what we’ve got to say.
Wiltshire – EVERYTHING you and others have written about is a 100% true and accurate reflection on my beloved job. I have taken to telling many that I am proud to wear the uniform, proud to serve my Queen for her Country in the office of Constable and Proud to do my job. I no longer care about the organisation as the management are full of “management speak” with beautiful flowing bar graphs and Pie charts. I no longer care about the press or media, as I am afraid Jimmy SAVILLE will never face prosecution, HILLSBOROUGH and G20 is nothing to do with my “FORCE” Plebgate is not my fight to have, all the Spin Government put on Police showing how bad we are – getting us to arrest Journalists making them hate us (hence the bad news/press we get) and as a PC I will never be heard, appreciated or expected to make any difference to these “breaking” stories some of 20+ years ago. With the £millions taken from our budget, our front line numbers now include anyone that is “customer facing” which means, control room staff at Devizes, Enquiry Officers, Local Crime Investigators, CSI, Divisional Drivers (all I am sure are trained to take out a 18 stone drunken/drugged idiot on a Saturday night after ‘his missus is avin a laff’ and reports a Domestic). How can a Response team of 12 be expected to cover the “north hub” with roughly over 150 square miles, covering large towns and rural communities, as these are the only customer facing officers left after 5pm? Now I can sit and complain about WINDSOR, but it is all too late, it has happened and this will never be reversed. Police Federation have no power to resist this onslaught as we are not allowed to strike, as this as it seems is the only way to get the Government to listen but what can we do – work to rule? I am sorry I will never do this as I swore my oath and I still to this day take it seriously. I have seen (and will probably continue to see) friends and colleagues leave the job, ones who have put 5 years of their life into it and are still paid the same as someone who is just coming out of a probation period? how can this be fair, right or humane? So many people have been Temporarily promoted (some over 4 years), all are about to be busted back as they have been used, abused and no longer needed as the number of posts are reduced. So my dilemma and one that I know reflects almost all of my colleagues beliefs (except those on HPDS or are trying to climb the greasy pole) what job is out there that pays the same?
Unnamed Force – I love being in the Police, for most it’s vocation -not just a job , I could earn more driving a bus and I wouldn’t have to wear a stab vest for work. The Police take stick constantly , we accept that , there are dozens of ‘fly on the wall’ programmes on TV that show what we face. It’s not pretty , but it comes with the territory and we get on with it. We’re regularly hurt and physically and verbally abused but we try to front those that want to hurt us because we feel that we’re protecting something. What we can’t take much more of , is the back-stabbing – it makes us feels like the society we’re trying to protect is turning on us. This can’t be the case can it ?
Warwickshire – We were all called into meetings one morning and told ‘from today you are doing this, you are doing that’ – no consultation, no warning and told if we didn’t like it to leave. The job stopped being a vocation for most of us on that day. You had time served experience detectives suddenly doing neighbourhood bobby roles and our OSU back out driving pandas – what a waste of their training and experience and the money it all cost. Then came the alliance and we repeatedly get told how terrible we are and how much better West Mercia are at doing absolutely everything. Which is funny because when talking to WM officers they say they are being told exactly the same but the other way round.
Avon & Somerset – Things are at rock bottom at this moment in time, as we are going tri force ( or farce) as its known , but the best of it all is , no one knows what is happening .. Shifts.. they are s**t .. 5 day shifts from 7am to 6pm for example .. Poor dog handlers are being left in limbo as most don’t know if they will still have a dog, management have no idea what they are doing or how many dog handlers they actually want ! They are going to close a base station on the East of the Force, which covers one of the most accident prone areas the A303/A37 send the whole Ops Dept traffic and dogs over 30 miles to Bridgewater and then no doubt send them back to patrol the East, talk about short sightedness.. But this closure will leave many officers having to do an extra 60 miles a day round trip The majority of us wonder what is happening as there is no clear plan.. Its a fudge unhappy officers/sgts on the Ops Dept who some may end up back to district … We all know . leave it to the Sgts and Pc`s and it all works
Essex – We paraded with 15 officers ten years ago and now parade with 4 in an environment where we now deal with more than ever before. Some days there will be literally nobody to go to calls and the only response on the radio to a violent domestic graded as an emergency will be that of the duty sergeant acknowledging he has been told (for the log) and asking that when a unit becomes available it is assigned. I could go on and on, but suffice to say our good will is now zero. I do a good job by the public I am sworn to serve but I refuse to ‘play the game’ to keep the bosses happy. In Essex TJIF but I know it is no different anywhere else.
Unnamed Force – I’m a Dog Handler with 12yrs service , I’ve now found out I’ve got to do another 20yrs to do , I’m 40 now and I’m knackered now to be honest , my knees and back are bad -all through injuries in work , I worry I’ll dip a fitness test one year and I’ll get binned on compulsory severance – I couldn’t do this role anyway when I’m pushing 60 ! what will I do in the Police in my late 50′s operationally at least – I’m not gonna make it that far …I know .
West Midlands – Morale in our force, pretty much echo’s what everyone else has said so far. Cancelled rest days, duty changes badged as exigency of duty, no opportunities for changes of roles, massive lack of resources, no buy in from SMT’s who are so removed from what’s actually going on on the frontline they think resourcing is fine or it’s simply because it may affect their future promotions. Pay freeze, pension contribution increase with reduced pay outs, extension in working service. I’m not particularly mathematically minded but we’re paying in more, working longer for the privilege and getting less back. Is it any wonder hoards of officers are withdrawing from the police pension and buying property. The current governments pathological hatred of the service and it’s attempts to ruin our already fragile reputation even though a certain individual has admitted what boils down to a public order offence in anyone’s language, excuse the pun, no-one actually cares about the word ‘pleb’, it’s a childish word, I’m more concerned that any member of the public (or MP) can eff n jeff at officers in such a way and then demand an apology for the mess he caused himself. I joined to be a career PC and have been very lucky in the varied roles that I have had but even I would leave tomorrow given the opportunity, which I never thought I’d here myself say. Everyone keeps uttering the immortal words ‘they’ll only do something when one of us is seriously hurt or killed’ which is terrifying. I’ve never seen Morale so bad.
Devon & Cornwall – I work in a busy coastal town, we are run ragged, there should be a Sarge & 5 covering. Most times these days it’s just two. I have gone to incidents where matey is self harming & threatening public single crewed as there was no back up within 60 miles. Me & one other have taken on 12 blokes scrapping, nearest back up 20 mins away. One night we had several I grades, public desperate for help that could not be resourced as no units were free in a whole County. How do we explain that to Mrs who has just had a kicking off drunk hubby? We are constantly being changed, line managers change monthly, departments come & go. All the while front line officers get cut & asked to do more with less. We are given the cheapest kit, waterproof coats that aren’t, underpowered cars. We deal with numerous jobs while some senior rank then checks to see we have completed every form, on most of which we write the same information over & over. The politicians take away our pay, make us work longer & harder. In real terms my pay has gone down. The federation are useless, good intentions but useless. Morale is rock bottom, the cops on the street have lost faith in anyone above inspector, the media hate us, the politicians want to put us down, together they are turning the public against us. Everyone makes mistakes, we do, & the punishment is far worse than any other job. But we front line cops stand side by side, we rely on each other, we know if we press that button calling for help our colleagues will run through fire to get to us. That & the rare moments when you know you have made a difference to the good in someone’s life.
Avon & Somerset – I’m one of those A&S officers CC Nick Gargan didn’t ask if my morale was low. After David Cameron and his rich mates lessened my salary by around £3,500 over the last few years, I can tell you my morale isn’t high and I don’t go to work any more feeling full of enthusiasm. After 25 years, I feel the police are being given a good kicking at Cameron’s behest in a revenge attack after he was shown up in the Sheehy report.
Unnamed Force – Fresh Paint and Flowers you call it. We have our own version of that here every couple of months. The Superintendent will go out on patrol but never with the response teams. He always goes out with the SNTs to some school or fete – basically anywhere where there might be a camera from the local paper. And its always in the middle of the day in the week as well. Anyone would think he was afraid of the dark. We keep getting shift changes at the last minute and at the beginning of the season we all had an email listing Rest Days cancelled for football matches – we all thought they could only do that for an exigency of duty nor for something known months in advance. I tried complaining via the Fed but they are worse than useless nowadays
Kent – Quite simply apart from the self made morale within our response teams there is no morale! Personally I feel we have no support from SMT level with them just hiding their heads in the sand pretending everything is ok. We now seem to be going to more calls which aren’t police issues and the belief is that this is so again we can pretend all is good and that we have enough resources to deal with even the smallest issue. Response teams are run ragged regularly working through without any kind of refs break. We are at breaking point and can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel !
Unnamed Force – Morale at an all time low. Constantly attacked & vilified by politicians, lawyers, our own management. Allowed no discretion. Run ragged & exhausted. Not allowed to tell the truth about what is happening. Genuinely saddened by what we see as the destruction of British policing … The skills learnt on the street not understood or valued. We still keep the peace without guns. We still make our prisoners cups of tea. We still feel sadness for our victims & get a kick out of a decent guilty finding. For how much longer? Most people want to leave. Only the personally ambitious look bright eyed to the future. Most of us are just walking along the beach throwing the starfish back in & hoping somehow someone realises what is being lost.
Hampshire – We can’t keep making these cuts and expect crime to go down. My shift are abstracted on a daily basis for the numerous operations often at short notice. Promotion!! Hampshire interviewed 96 officers for PS 10 jobs at one stage they were told it was 7 jobs. I’m glad I didn’t put myself threw that process as the candidates were given a few low ballers and once again the ”good talkers” got promoted whilst the force is still run on temporary and actings. Apparently we have too many supervisors compared to other forces e.g Surrey – Our new DCC ex-Surrey has plans to transform Hampshire to Surrey. We are not the same force! I’m currently looking for a new job after many years given to the service.
Avon & Somerset – Well my Chief Constable certainly didn’t come to our station and ask if we were all happy in our jobs and I dont recognise the force he was talking about on the radio from the one I work for. Every single day is the same, less of us on the shifts and more jobs piling up because the shift before had even less officers to deal. The only godsend are our Sgts and Inspectors who are fantastic and keep telling us it’s their job to take the flak from upstairs and to try and not worry ourselves but just do our best with what we have. the problem is just how many of our Sgts and Inspectors keep going off sick maybe due to the pressure being put on them ?
Unnamed Force – I’ve got A levels and a Degree with Honours so I must be just what the Government wants for ‘future cop’. Let me tell you now, none of them are the slightest bit of use in this job, they wont stop me getting kicked, punched, bitten or spat at, they won’t stop me having to fill in the same information four times because someone in an office can’t be bothered to turn two pieces of paper over themselves, and they won’t stop the continual barrage of what in any other industry would amount to abuse and bullying that comes down from above. What my degree does do is give me a sound solid base from which to challenge rationally and reasonably some of the things being asked of us but then be quickly ignored because I don’t ‘understand the bigger picture’. Actually I do – better than most of the people who are coming up with the ideas in the first place. That’s why I didn’t last long in an Acting Sgt role – my principles won’t let me toe the wrong line when my colleagues and friends are being abused from above.
Northumbria – The morale In our force has hit an all time low, I’ve been with this force since 2004 and I’ve always been on a response shift, once upon a time we saw numbers of around 20 on our shift! In a major city centre we are now In single figures! We are constantly relying on the special constabulary, which simply isn’t an answer! Front line not effected they say? Who prepares court files 24/7 ? who types letters 24/7 ? who performs goaling duties? 24/7 whom provides public order serials 24/7 ? who provides search teams? 24/7 ? It’s all well and good saying the front line will not be affected!!! This is simply not true it has been and it is being done more and more almost daily!! I love my job and I love that on some occasions we make a difference, however now due to numbers all we can do is simply respond to incidents there is simply not the time or resource to pro actively target and disrupt criminals!!
The Met – I’m a copper’s wife. Police morale is a bit of a non topic lately. Its been overtaken by issues that mostly happened before a lot of PCs were born, and the press and MPs like it that way after having been dragged out in the open over some insidious stuff. It’s all too frightening. And yet we aren’t allowed to complain or tell anyone what’s happening for fear of that cover all ‘ bringing the force into disrepute’. Ironically that is happening anyway. If i could find him another job i would MAKE him go, despite having burst with pride watching him pass out of Hendon.And in spite of the fact he loves his job and takes pride in the fact he jails horrendous and dangerous people. He is the kind of man who comes home and tells me of his triumphs, and I watch his face glow as he tells of a job well done yet I know this job he loves is wearing our family down to the bone. The worst part is living in borderline poverty and me not being able to get a job because we can’t accommodate the fact he is never off a shift remotely on time and we couldn’t get childcare on that basis. We could live on the wage he was paid when we had our son, we even could afford Christmas thanks to his annual bonus. Now the money is so tight I live in fear of literally any bill. I dont get my hair cut and i walk everywhere, i never spend on myself.And remarkably enough, in the face of losing thousands of pounds of income, we are told that debt would mean dismissal as the force couldn’t trust the integrity of an officer in debt. This is before compulsory severance has even arrived. I have sold sentimental jewellery for cash, I have gone without food (even while pregnant) and I spend my days trying to mend clothes or sell things secondhand. Where is the silver lining we are promised for hearing tales of death and harm, wondering where your spouse is as he can’t get to the phone, throwing out the food I can barely afford as he is once again late and didn’t get time to eat? And I comfort his children as they cry out in the night as they haven’t seen Daddy all week because he has arrived home after bedtime. Uniformdating.com must be killing themselves laughing. The police is killing our dreams. I had hoped for some time with my husband when he retired and our children grown to reward us for being society’s gatekeepers. Now I worry I will be a widow with half a pension before my kids get to Uni. Who on earth would be a copper’s wife?
Unnamed Force – I don’t think the public realise just how the cuts have bitten – because on the face of it they still see the Police out and about. I wish we could tell them there’s only 4 of us on duty, they think there’s dozens of us and they understandably feel let down when it takes us hours or even days to respond to their call – and we can’t tell them why.
Warwickshire – I’m a Special Constable with Warwickshire Police, a force who it seems in recent years have increased their intake by hundreds of specials, while taking on fewer than twenty regular constables. Working in the force, and closely with regulars, I see a lot of low morale. Shifts which had a dozen members only eight years ago are now down to half of that at best. On a recent occasion I turned up to find that the entirety of the response shift was me, a SGT and an Inspector – all due to the frankly bizarre planning of shift patterns meaning not even SGTs know who will be on. The workforce is further thinned by the early retirement of many long-serving officers, I guess to save their more-expensive salaries. These factors give the regulars a lot of cause for complaint. What staggers me the most, though, is the inefficiencies and bureaucracies I see on every shift. I can see the need for thoroughness from a legal standpoint, and it’s to be expected that an organisation like the Police is less efficient than a profit-focussed company. But there exist many archaic and mind-boggling processes and procedures that tie up officers’ time and sap their enthusiasm. Most administrative work is still done by hand, on paper. Updating someone about a case requires finding the physical paper file. Procedures seem to change every few months, but never to become more efficient. Officers are bombarded with new information and told to work in new ways, but allowed no time to accustom themselves to these. All in all, though, it must be said that the officers carry on nonetheless and do an amazing job. The Police force still makes a positive difference to the lives of many people every day.
GMP – Morale in GMP…..I had to look up the word as I forgotten what it meant.
Unnamed Force – There is no morale left in the job. Mates on shift still do their best to look after one another but thats it. None of the bosses give two monkeys about us as long as we don’t bring bother knocking on their door. It’s the sergeants I feel sorry for, they are stuck in the middle taking all sorts of s**t from above, whatever the fancy of the day is, but trying to protect us from the worst of it. After 12 years I’ve had enough and already quit, gone back into industry where I was before. The pay is less but I see my wife and kids every evening and they don’t worry about me being shot or stabbed but its not the same I really really wanted to help people. I miss my colleagues and feel sorry for them. Would I let one of my kids join my dream job ? would I hell !
Nottinghamshire – Been in the job nearly 20 years but the last year or so for the first time I have actually not enjoyed getting up for work. The last few months have been the worst with all the cutbacks. Protected frontline my arse, numbers on teams are well down – below half in most cases, yet the paperwork mountain gets bigger and every day some civvy or other is hounding us for something or other. They are supposed to be supporting us but they call the shots. I laughed when I read your piece about Senior Officers being told to get out on the weekends and work with the teams, I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone above rank of Sgt out and about flying the flag.
Unnamed Force – I’m a Tutor Constable and my probationer who’s 24 yrs old has asked me about a taking career break – I asked why and he said “I really don’t want to lose any of the other skills I’ve got from outside of the Police because I don’t know what’s going to happen with us”
Unnamed Force – I’ve got BSc in Genetics and speak German & Spanish I’m a uniformed PC and I’m happy to be doing this role. Yes I’d like to progress and maybe one day attain some rank but its vital that I know what to do, even if its for my own self respect. Now I’m told the Government thinks I’m not good enough and it needs to bring ‘talent’ in.
Police Service of Scotland – It’s just the same north of the border. Since the eight forces becoming one happy family on 1st April (make your own comments), things have gone from okay to very poor. There seems to be more admin for the same old stuff, which in turn keeps us indoors writing for longer. Many guys (Sgts, bosses etc) have jumped ship and many others are still looking (myself included). Our new CC ‘visits’ stations on a marked Police motorcycle without any fanfare and has been known to phone any random station at changeover to ask the poor cop who answers for the Force Priorities, and God help them if they don’t know! Mind you, with our area’s Traffic motorcycle section being almost non existent, (as is the road safety unit by the way), it’s easy seeing him coming because we (almost) don’t have bikes anymore so no prizes for guessing who in coming to the station…..Like every other force, we all suffer the pension changes, no wage rise etc etc, and this is without Winsor! We currently get double time if we work into a rest day AND after a certain time. (which in my service has happened so few times that I could count them on both hands with fingers to spare) I have been present when cops have been told by their sergeants (obviously they have been told by their bosses to do this) that you will have to finish the report by ‘then’ as you’re not getting the overtime! Great, you send us to the calls, put the nasty people to court, do the writing but can’t have the time to do it. We need to adopt the practice of some English and Welsh forces to hand over the package at changeover. It’s bad enough doing the first 30 minutes overtime for free, imagine asking the old school miners or ship building to work for free, you’d have a riot on your hands. All cops have been told that we can’t apply for a/l in 2014 between 5 July and 6 August because of the Commonwealth Games. Imagine the bun fight for the rest of the year, not forgetting the grief cops with kids have with taking them out of school during term time to salvage a holiday with your family. If you have pips and or crowns then I would think you are safe with creating as many operations as possible to take the already thin blue line away from their stations to crew elsewhere in an attempt to keep the bean counters happy. Some of the ‘old forces’ have ski centres to Police in the winter months. Normally one cop is sent up just in time to see 5000+ skiers arrive over the morning. That’s not the kind of ratio you would expect at a sporting event, but it just continues, obviously until it goes t**s up and the nearest cover is a hour away. Morale? as low as I’ve ever seen in my double figure service and the new starts haven’t a clue what lies ahead. We will no doubt be measured on performance, either by FPN’s, stop searches, pub checks or anything else that is quantifiable. I fear for the public response when this inevitably kicks in, when at the end of the month, with lower figures than anyone of us would like, every ‘stop’ now becomes a ticket or somebody will be lifted just to put a tick in a box. It may be just as well that the public is blissfully unaware of the circus we now work in because if the ‘lunatics ever decided to overtake the asylum’ then the job would be properly f***** because there aren’t enough of us to go round to stop it.
Unnamed Force – Morale.. what morale!? Mine along with the majority of my hard working.. stressed out colleagues has flown the coup.. i recently had the audacity to voice my opinions to a senior officer.. having put him on the spot he could give me no reasonable reply.. i had just come into work for an afternoon shift having worked 2 and half hours o/t from shift before.. having already worked 11 hours.. he wanted to know why no updates had been placed on a log.. so for asking him questions i was called to a performance meeting with him and the chief insp.. He wanted me to apologise for what he deemed as me dressing him down in the presence of junior officers.. no back up no support apart from our over burdened sgts.. we all do the same job but the smt seem to be oblivious to this.. stand up for us back us up.. we are slowly crumbling and its the worst i have seen in my 17yrs service..
If you would like to add your thoughts about the state of morale in the British Police at the moment, good or bad, please email them to email@example.com – names not needed but Force name would be a bonus for inclusion.
Anyone reading this and wanting to reproduce the content / comments or requiring more information / quotes / interviews etc, please contact Mike Pannett who kindly helped obtain the info for this article – email firstname.lastname@example.org or @MikePannett on Twitter
Now here’s a thing. Police Officer and staff numbers are falling. With regard to staff, quite a lot actually. Leaving warranted officers to carry out the humungous number of tasks and swathes of paperwork previously carried out by support staff / civilian staff / police staff – whatever your force wants to call them today. Either way, a practical, viable, most under-appreciated part of the police ‘family’ has more or less gone; been ‘streamlined’; been cut; been slashed more efficiently than if Sweeny Todd had done it with a brand new razor.
On top of that, police control rooms are being cut, centralised, merged, whatever todays fancy buzzword is, reducing that one piece of the vital link you can’t rent down at Pertemps – local knowledge. Leaving dispatchers staring at a map screen sometimes woefully out of date, trying to guide an officer, also not familiar with the area because the local nick has been closed, as has the next nearest one, to a new estate that’s not actually on the maps yet because they haven’t been updated, where goodness knows what terrible crime is occurring as nothing can be deciphered above the screaming and shouting on the end of the very patchy mobile phone line.
From a frontline officers point of view, many will say crime is not falling, and they are busier than ever. No doubt some of this will be because fewer officers are attending a larger number of incidents, so on an individual basis, they do have an increased workload – some officers say their numbers on response teams have been halved (or even worse) in recent times.
But hang on, the figures show that ‘frontline officer numbers’ have not been cut. in some cases they have allegedly gone up. This amounts to no more than interpretation of that word ‘frontline’ again.
From the guy or girl in the streets perspective, ‘frontline’ tends to mean the number of police available to respond when they call for help, in an emergency or otherwise.
From a ‘police management’ perspective ‘frontline’ also includes other departments that also have a public facing role. Are CID frontline ? Yes …. and No. Are Local Policing Teams frontline ? Yes … and No. Are specialist units (what’s left of them) frontline ? Yes …. and No. It’s all very fudgy. What is clear is that a number of officers from whichever department you select, are spending an increasing amount of time sinking under paperwork and enquiries that previously were carried out by the ever-helpful support staff who are no longer there … but they are still ‘frontline’.
But here’s another thing. Crime IS falling. Despite all this. Despite all the cuts. The Office of National Statistics says so, by an average 7% as well (more here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23354168). And many excited journalists form a variety of newspapers and news websites are happily tippy typing away to spread the good news.
So all is rosy under the apple tree.
Or is it ?
The thing about statistics is this; if you ask the right questions, you get to determine the answers. If you ask the right questions of the right people, you get the right answers. Many moons ago when I worked out there in the real world, I was involved in Marketing for a period, and statistics, or rather, the manipulation of statistics, were a very important part of the role. It was our job to come up with the results that supported whatever argument was being presented. But without of course doing anything underhand.
Say for example, (and this is of course completely hypothetical) you wanted to know if peoples pet cats preferred Brand A or Brand B cat food.
Now what you are not going to do is ask the cats – chances are whichever options you give the answer would be ‘they both taste yuk, give me a mouse or a sparrow any day’. But that won’t give your client the answer they wanted to be able to boldly proclaim their product is the best of the best of the best !
So you have to look for different approaches …. and that tends to involve asking real life members of the public for their views. Now quite what Billy Bloggs knows about the palatable habits of Minky the pet moggie is beyond me and is most likely beyond the capability of the said interviewee (unless of course he has recently been in some sort of erotic encounter with CatWoman and as a result now has the ability to converse in all feline dialects (never say never) !! The cat, for its part, will eat whatever you put in front of it if it’s hungry.
The simplest, proper, scientific way to answer the question would be to carry out taste test on the entire cat population of the UK, (which if you are interested by the way, is estimated at around 8 million) over a period of time to allow for natural fluctuation in feeding habits etc. That approach however, is slightly impractical, if not a tad over the miniscule budget we were given to come up with the right answer … or rather the ‘preferred’ answer, so you have to go to plan B … which involves asking the cat owners.
So you sent some people out onto the High Street with clipboards to stop and harass a large number of poor innocent members of the public going about their daily basis to quiz them on their pets eating habits. of course you don’t !! We can’t waste time and money on anything so random. What you do is have people with clipboards stood outside supermarkets and pet shops, actively (for that read selectively) pouncing on people exiting the said store with boxes/tins of cat food – a credible targeted approach you may say – what’s wrong with that ?
But what if for the four week period before and during the market research, the manufacturer of ‘Brand A’ has been running a national advertising promotion and discounting on their products thereby ensuring sales are increasing and customers are more aware of their brand. Statistically therefore, a large percentage of the buying public will have already purchased their product, AND be in a more positive frame of mind because they’ve seen the happy cat pictures on the telly AND they’ve saved a considerable amount of money on an essential purchase.
Now you ask that person whether their cat prefers Brand A or Brand B – what do you think the answers will be ?
Not very accurate is the correct answer … but on paper Brand A is the bees knees.
But what does that have to do with policing. Well, not a lot directly. But it demonstrates in a clear and simple fashion how statistics cannot be replied on one little bit. There is a very famous phrase, attributed to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881): “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Further, in a letter to the National Observer published June 13, 1891, p. 93(-94) regarding a debate on pensions (now there’s a thing), the writer says: “Sir,–It has been wittily remarked that there are three kinds of falsehood: the first is a ‘fib,’ the second is a downright lie, and the third and most aggravated is statistics. It is on statistics and on the absence of statistics that the advocate of national pensions relies…..”
It seems that things haven’t really changed with the passage of time. The only people who believe statistics are those that stand to benefit from them.
I digress. back to policing. Yesterday I tweeted “Remember, if you don’t have the staff,you dont do the raid,you don’t find the drugs factory,nothing recorded,so less staff means less crime!”. That got retweeted quite a lot – a heck of a lot actually ! It may be a bit basic or simplistic, but in essence it’s a simple fact – if you don’t know it’s there, it hasn’t happened.
There are all sorts of stories bounding about all over the country about pressures being put on police officers to ‘carefully consider’ the way incidents are dealt with. Now I can’t vouch for the accuracy of any of the comments and I’m sure a lot of officers would not put their head above the parapets for fear of retribution, so let’s just refer to these suggestions as wild, speculative, uncorroborated, unconfirmed rumours :
The Friday/Saturday night drunks, shouting, swearing and being an absolute pain threatening all and sundry, refusing to go home and behave. Locked up Section 5, Public Order Act. EEEEKK !! hang on, that’s recordable as a violent crime. Bad for the figures you know ! In the morning when they are sober, give ‘em a ticket or caution for Drunk & Disorderly. there’s a detection there so the good figures have gone up. AND D&D is not a recordable offence, so the bad figures have gone down at the same time – everyone’s a winner – aren’t they ??
There are some suggesting problems trying to record Attempted Burglaries … “How can you be sure it’s not just a criminal damage to the door/window ?” …. “well they used a flipping lock snapping device for a start !” – “Could it have been kids playing football and the ball has gone through a window ?” … “it’s a ninth floor flat” – and so they go on.
Criminal damage to motor vehicles – “How do we know it isn’t RTC damage from a passing vehicle ?” (again not recordable) …. “erm, the footprints over the bonnet, roof and boot perhaps ?”
There are many, many other examples I’ve been given but again, nothing can be proved – its all rumour, but statistically speaking, what are the chances of all of it being made up ?
So, what have we learnt ? Well, if you want to run a good news story, or a bad news story, you just need some statistics. The same ones will do – it just depends on how you word it to meet your particular needs. It may well be the case for Brand Y that 54% of people ‘preferred their product’ of the two but if you are marketing Brand Z it’s just as positive to say ‘statistics prove almost half of all people prefer our brand’
By the way, if you are ill or injured, best to go home because statistically speaking you are more likely to die in hospital than anywhere else …. and if its Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years day, the statistics say your chances of survival are even lower !!
And here’s a good question for you – why don’t we all drive round in bright yellow cars ?? Statistically they are they safest colour to drive !! (or is it just because there’s less of them about ?) … ohh and don’t buy a red car – statistically you’re more likely to get a speeding ticket ! (but then red is one of the most common colours) (more here http://www.arnoldclark.com/newsroom/124-revealed-britain-s-most-popular-car-colours)
I shall leave you with a quote by another equally famous person “Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that.” – Homer J Simpson.
Well she seemed all right by dawn’s early light
Though she looked a little worried and weak.
She tried to pretend he wasn’t drinkin’ again
But daddy’d left the proof on her cheek.
And I was only eight years old that summer
And I always seemed to be in the way
So I took myself down to the fair in town
On Independence Day.
Well,word gets around in a small,small town
They said he was a dangerous man
But mama was proud and she stood her ground
But she knew she was on the losin’ end.
Some folks whispered and some folks talked
But everybody looked the other way
And when time ran out there was no one about
On Independence Day.
Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today
Is a day of reckoning.
Let the weak be strong,let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay
It’s Independence Day.
Well,she lit up the sky that fourth of July
By the time that the firemen come
They just put out the flames
And took down some names
And send me to the county home.
Now I ain’t sayin’ it’s right or it’s wrong
But maybe it’s the only way.
Talk about your revolution
It’s Independence Day.
Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today
Is a day of reckoning.
Let the weak be strong,let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay
It’s Independence Day.
Roll the stone away
It’s Independence Day.
Below is a re-blog of a post by Carl Eve, reporter for the Plymouth Herald newspaper (@CarlEve on Twitter); originally published on his own blog in December 2012 and reproduced here with his full permission and awareness.
When we think of, talk about, and have a big push on highlighting Domestic Violence, it always seems to be very centric on the two main parties involved. The adults. The grown ups. The ones who the kids look up to.
Yes, and I’m not afraid to say it for fear of being called ‘politically incorrect’ or ‘stereotyping’, primarily an abusive male partner attacking (physically / mentally / emotionally) a female ‘other half’. Before someone jumps up and down on me, I know this is not always the scenario, but it is by far and away the most common.
The point here is, what often gets missed / cast aside / ignored are the child victims – the ones who, if not also being attacked themselves, often have to sit back in silence and see one or other of their parents, their guardians, their role models, being attacked in the most horrible ways possible by someone they should rightly be able to think of as their protector.
So anyway, these are Carl’s words below, not mine. There is nothing I could add. Nothing.
Domestic Abuse Awareness Weeks has been and gone and I didn’t really write anything for my patch. I say this as every year I try to do something to highlight the issue. But as I (repeatedly) say to my contacts in this field, particularly the Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service, “domestic abuse isn’t just for domestic abuse awareness week”.
No-one seems to get my joke, mainly because I say it through clenched teeth. In my old patch of Basildon, I’d be down at the Women’s Refuge, chatting with the manager, staff and current guests about how they are, what they need, what they’re planning, who they’re teaching about DV and how it needs to be countered, which court cases I need to know about and which bigot in the council is trying to give them a hard time.
Here? I’m person non grata, being a) a man and b) a bloody journalist. A combination which assures the view that I’m not to be trusted. So I don’t write as many stories about DV as I’d like.
The irony for me being the Basildon Women’s Aid group had me tagged from the first second. The manager there and outreach workers (most of whom were ‘survivors’ themselves) sussed my background before I’d opened my big gob.
I still recall hearing my mum’s screams. I recall her black eyes, split lip, her fear as the door went and Dad’d come home in one of “those moods” which meant we should all run for cover unless we wanted a piece.
I can’t find any pleasure in playing with Matchbox toys because the metre long track, usually orange, but occasionally the more stiff and unyielding yellow tracks, were not something of fun for me and my brothers. Kept on a little ledge above the fridge, we’d know that if Dad headed towards it, we’d be nursing welts for the rest of the night. I remember almost proudly being able to breathe through an ear after receiving a clout around the ear. I say clout, but that’s rather a quaint old fashioned description. I was playing cricket with a tennis ball with my friend in our garden. The ball hit our back outhouse. Nothing broke, but I was hit around the ear so hard I couldn’t hear the rest of the day and found if I held my nose I could push air out my ear. Strange really.
I had a regular nightmare (at least once a week for several years) of a steaming monster racing up the stairs if I dared venture out of the bedroom to go to the toilet. Only years later I clicked it was about my Dad who, if you heard him stomping up the stairs because me and my younger brother made a noise at night we’d cop a walloping. I remember lying in bed one night, listening to him getting hit and hit and hit, screaming “no, no, no” thinking to myself “if I call out, tell him to stop, I’ll get it too” and hating myself for being a coward.
I got the same feeling of cowardice when I’d hear my mum, in the next room at night, making the same pointless appeal. She’d cry out, begging him to stop. I’d lie there, feeling sick, wondering how breakfast time would be, and whether school would be a kind of freedom.
Like I said, it’s hearing your mum’s screams which I’ll recall for a long while yet.
This went on for years. I didn’t even know it was wrong for a lot of it. I do recall sitting on my bed, in the room I shared with my younger brother. I was about 10, sitting there sobbing after being hit several times. Mum, who’d tried to protect me before I ran, came in and was sitting next to me, also in tears. She’d been hit after she’d stood between me and Dad. She sat, I sat, both crying. I eventually asked her in all sincerity “why can’t we just leave him”. She hugged me closer and after a long pause said: “where can we go? There’s nowhere we can go… I’m sorry”.
Here’s the thing. I know full well it’s all relative and I got off very very light. Since becoming a reporter I’ve made it a kind of point to do stories on domestic violence, or to give it it’s current name, domestic abuse. I’ve heard far, far worse straight from the horses mouth as it were, cases in court, or from officers who’ve attended scenes. Some will make your jaw drop and shake your head. Like the one where the wife is kicked on the ground for daring to answer back, and then the guy got his seven-year-old son to keep kicking mum, so he learned that “that’s what you do to a woman who answers you back”.
One or two have made me well up, particularly when it’s kids because I think back to the fear you feel, all the bloody time. The dread you feel on your way home from school, dawdling so you don’t get home early, hoping he’ll come home in a good mood or there will be Morecombe and Wise or Les Dawson on telly so he’ll laugh in his chair, and we can watch and laugh and we can sit and act like a normal family for half an hour.
I had one of those moments today. I’ve heard this woman’s story from a couple of other people in Plymouth. It was only a few seconds of conversation. I don’t know her name. I was with Kerry Whincup, the co-ordinator for the Plymouth SEEDS (Survivors Empowering and Educating Domestic Abuse Services) for a meeting. Round table, different ages of women, different styles of hair, different outfits, different stories.
She’d come back in after a ciggie and a wee.
She’d left an 11 year relationship on New Years Day. She’d suffered lots of beatings. “After 11 years you leave with what you stand up in”. She has two children. To get at her, to make her suffer, he took a pair of pliers to the children’s teeth.
He’s dead now, and – I am not surprised – she is pretty happy about that.
“You get so used to the daily beatings and everything which goes with it. I didn’t even know what a Refuge was…”
I’ve thought for a while about writing this. About some of my past, why I want to write stories about domestic abuse, why I keep banging my head against some organisations to ensure the message gets out not just one week a year, but as many times as possible.
Meeting her today made my mind up. So bloody brave… and now joined with other victims (okay, survivors for the PC brigade) to help other women, to educate the authorities, the police, the magistrates, the judges, the lawyers, the councillors, the public about why it’s so damned important that this – domestic abuse, domestic violence, ‘another bloody domestic’ as jaded cops sometimes say – should be dealt with, taken seriously, acted upon, spoken about out loud.
I f***ing ask you! Pliers!
And you know the worst thing?
That’s not even the worst story I’ve heard so far, after 13 years as a reporter. Not by a mile. But it still makes me go very, very cold inside.
And also reminds me to call my mum and tell her that I love her because she took a lot of punches for me. So bloody brave…
If you, friends, family, or anyone you know, is suffering from domestic violence, please, please, please contact your local police or one of the very many support groups out there. You are NOT alone. If you can’t face making that step yet, contact me via Twitter, Facebook or email – I’ll do my best to put you in touch with someone that can help, and more importantly support you.
As a footnote, here’s a video clip from someone else, talking about the violence he witnessed his mother suffering as a child