Everyone loves figures ….. apparently.
If you want to get on in this job these days, it’s your figures that are important. It doesn’t matter one little bit if you’re out there day and night locking up baddies and bringing them to justice – if they’re the wrong sort of baddies you may well as not have bothered !!
It really is a case nowadays where you could be saying to someone “I’m sorry Mr Victim, I can see you’ve had your house trashed, everything bar the kitchen sink loaded into your expensive motor car and driven away, but you see, burglaries aren’t on our priority list this month – sorry and all that but it’d be a different matter if little Billy Smith from down the road had put dog poo through your letterbox; anti-social that is, and it’s our number one priority this week !!!”
There are whole departments in the police, swathes of people, seemingly immune to the swashbuckling cutbacks which are being thrust upon us, all dedicated to the ancient artform of crunching those figures.
To be fair, the only figures most of my shift are interested in are those adorning Charlotte, the new transferee on Team 3. Uni educated, ex part time model, black belt in several martial art type things, and now on the shift that takes over from us – brains, beauty and bloody lethal all in one package – makes you sick !!!!
That isn’t a sexist comment by the way before you all start complaining – even the girls on shift would say the same, and Charlotte doesn’t mind – as she’d happily tell you, all the things she did before were to keep her parents happy – she always wanted to be a copper but they did their best to put her off. Thankfully for us they didn’t succeed but then again, Charlotte is more one of the boys than many of the boys at Bigtown nick; she farts, drinks like a bloomin’ fish, watches Top Gear and Police Interceptors, and is never happier than when getting the advantage over some drunken idiot outside the George and Dragon on a Saturday night.
Anyway, back to figures – yesterday, the Duty Inspector graced us with his presence at our morning briefing. You knew something had to be up – I’ve seen agoraphobic hermits come out of their hovels more often than our Inspector leaves his office. We soon found out why he’d come to talk at us – the latest set of divisional figures were out …..
Apparently we’ve done really good on burglaries and car crime – they are both 8% less than forecast for the month. I don’t mean we’ve actually been committing the crimes; and this doesn’t mean we’ve actually been locking up extra burglars and car thieves – but the total number of these offences is 8% less than the big bosses upstairs had forecast there would be !! Just how do they work this out ?? and does the Superintendent go knocking on No-Good-Nigel’s door the first of every month “Ahh Nigel my good fellow, listen here, we can only let you do 13 burglaries this month, and 27 car thefts; it’s the figures you see – be a good chap there and don’t go over will you”.
We were even better on murders you know – they predicted one this month and we had none – not sure who’s the happier; the still living and breathing population of Bigtown or our big cheese in his comfy third floor office. Just let us know if you see a bloke outside your house with a big black coat on and carrying a scythe – we’ll ask him to come back next month.
Then we got round to the personal figures – “PC Roberts” the inspector stated …. firmly …. staring over the end of his spectacles which he’d pushed down to the end of his nose like an angry headmaster … just for effect …. “Your incident attendance and arrest figures are both down considerably this month. Did you know this ?”.
We all looked at Duncan; Duncan looked at us. I’m not sure who smiled first but I do recall Duncan looking at his watch. Duncan Roberts has been in the job almost 18 years, has seen and heard it all go round the block several times. “Something wrong PC Roberts, you need to be somewhere ?” said the Inspector. “No boss” Duncan replied, “just checking it wasn’t April the first”. Everyone let out a giggle.
“Funny it may be to you all” carried on the Inspector “but the Department for Mystery, Magic and Numerical Affairs (they’re not really called that by the way”) has highlighted your figures on their monthly report to the Superintendent. No doubt he’ll be asking me about it at the weekly Inspectors briefing”.
The reason for our merriment was as clear as the reason for Duncan’s failing figures. He was sat there in our briefing, on restricted duties, with one leg in plaster and two cracked ribs – the result of chasing a local miscreant from a burglary in progress into the Primrose Gardens estate and being set upon by a group of the local ‘yoof’, keen to help their thieving comrade make good his escape several weeks ago. Indeed such were Duncan’s injuries, he’d been kept in hospital for several days.
“Sorry boss” Duncan continued “Maybe I should hobble over to their office and give them a personal update. It’s only thirty miles to HQ and I’m not allowed in a police vehicle because I’m injured”.
The sarcasm in Duncan’s comment, which was fairly evident to the majority of us, seemed to skim well above the Inspector’s head. “You have informed the Ministry for Witches, Wizards and Magical Numerics (they’re not really called that either) about your status haven’t you ?” he asked. “Erm no, as it happens” said Duncan “I didn’t know I had to. You know, the Sarge knows, the while nick knows, Personnel knows, Occupational Health knows, the Super knows because he came to see me in hospital, I didn’t realise I had to tell everyone else …. myself”.
“Write me an internal memo” interrupted the Inspector “I’ll add my comments and forward that on to them. Hopefully they can rejig your figures accordingly, it’s pulling the whole shift down at the moment”. And with that, he got up and started to walk out of the room.
Luckily the Sarge intervened before things got nasty “Leave it Dunc, we’ll sort it after briefing”. And with that, off we went for another fun day, serving the fine public of Bigtown.
Later in the day I dealt with another house burglary. Still not a ‘figures priority’ this month, but I felt all the better for trying to help a genuine victim of crime.