Amongst the many plethora of useless emails that had landed in my inbox overnight (how does this happen anyway; all the admin staff have gone home by 4.30pm so who is sending all these emails ???) I found one this morning informing me that the manner in which we deal with RTC’s and moving traffic offences has changed …. immediately …. from today … without warning.
I’m sure I only came across this email by accident; by that I mean I forgot to include it in the ‘shift-click’ process of mass delete, which is exactly how response officers deal with inane messages from desk bods telling us how to do our job ‘properly’ aka to make their lives easier and ours a lot more difficult.
I began to panic; a sweat formed on my brow; I didn’t know what to do; nobody had forewarned us of this impending change to our operational procedures; hell, we hadn’t even been sent a link to an online Powerpoint training package. Well, we might have been, but we’re back in the range of that ‘shift-click-delete’ moment again now.
‘In the interests of increased efficiency’ the email began ‘it has been decided that all road traffic matters will be processed from Headquarters, with immediate effect.’ ‘All officers’ it continued ‘will submit all Collision files and traffic process matters daily, prior to booking off duty. All traffic violation tickets are hereby withdrawn and most not be issued to motorists. The decision as to prosecution of the alternative of a fixed penalty notice or Driver Awareness course (where applicable) will lie with the Traffic Offenders Administration Officers. For further assistance contact your command unit point of contact’.
What the %*#$ ?????
So this is how traffic offences work .… or rather used to work …. in the old days …. i.e. last week.
An ever efficient, vigilant, hard working, patrolling response officer (your truly), would identify a heinously evil, degenerate motorist violating the Queens rules and regulations, by travelling on one of her highways too quickly, or on their phone, or without wearing a seatbelt, or with their fog lights on in the middle of a bright sunny day, or whatever it was.
Said officer would cause the offending motorist to halt their carriage by the appropriate use of the police vehicles warning equipment – i.e that spinny bit of plastic with a candlelight-power bulb in it on the roof that even the most sharp-sighted car driver would never see in daylight anyway and the cleverly installed inwards facing ‘not-too-loud-in-case-it-upsets-the-poor-people-who’ve-just-brought-a-house-cheaply-cos-it’s-next-to-the-police-station’ siren. In reality it’s lots of headlight flashing and pointy fingers asking them to stop.
A discussion would take place, a few checks carried out, and using the officers experience and powers of discretion, the end result would either be some concerted advice about road safety, consideration for other road users and the general wish for the person not to repeat their mistake; or if this proposal was not suitable or acceptable, then a fixed penalty notice would be issued.
Fast-forward to today. Up until the stopping of the vehicle, all would be the same. After that however, the world world turns on its head. Your highly trained, highly experienced, highly on the spot holder of the hallowed office of Constable is no longer deemed capable of thinking for himself (or of course herself). No longer can the matter be dealt with on the spot so to speak – it’s form filling time. Everything, from the most minor traffic violation must now be put on a form and forwarded to an office somewhere in the force area, or maybe not, who knows, can digest my submission, send it back and forth several times to query the most obscure detail and then make the decision on my behalf as to what will befall the poor motorist. I heard the other day they were considering hung, drawn and quartering for going through a red light you know !!!
This mysterious office will now also deal with Road Traffic Collision enquiries as well. To you and me that’s car accidents but in these enlightened times we can’t call them that. An accident would suggest just that; a mishap, an occurrence by chance without apparent cause; no ones fault. Well we can’t have that can we – you can’t prosecute no one, so it has to be a collision where it might be someone’s fault and there is the opportunity to persecute, sorry prosecute, one party or the other.
Our Police Force (sorry Service, it’s my age you know) is sub-divided into 4 areas or Command Units (divisions or sectors in some forces). Each area used to have two civilian staff dedicated to dealing with traffic offences and RTA’s / RTC’s, except us in shiny Bigtown Command Unit – we are the biggest area in the force so we had three; so by my reckoning that makes nine staff to process everything. Now it’s been centralised, there are four full-time staff in the office and one part-time, so half the staff doing the same amount of work. Except they aren’t.
Because they are now reviewing and processing all those jobs where before, your friendly neighbourhood response police officers were giving tickets out. So now, half the staff have to do a lot more work. Plus, they have to process all the Road Traffic Collision reports for the whole Force area; but it’s still the job of the initial attending officer to keep the involved parties updated. Except all the information I need to update the two drivers is now in a mysterious office somewhere 30 miles away which is only occupied between 9.00am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, excluding it seems, when you try and get an answer, any day with a ‘y’ in it.
If you ring me up for an update outside of those hours forget it. In fact if you ring me within those hours, forget it. I can’t ring them to find the answer you require – that’s no allowed – they are too busy to waste half their day fending off phone calls from irate police officers or members of the public who may have the odd query of three about their case. I couldn’t even drive all the way down to our headquarters and knock on their office door for you – even if we knew where they were hiding, that’s not allowed either – their too busy for personal callers you see.
Their only method of contact with the outside world is e-mail …. when it works !! So, you ring me; I email them; they email me back; I ring you; you query something else; I email them; they email …. well you get the picture. This more efficient process may take anything from a few hours to a week or more. Good game, good game !!
What you have to bear in mind whilst you are shouting and balling at me; demanding to know what’s happening with your job, complaining that ‘the police don’t do anything so why do I bother’ and that we ‘waste time for wasting’s sake’ is this – I had an email that said ‘In the interests of increased efficiency …….’ It’s progress you know !