Saturday, 31 May 2008

Never make plans - you know what happens

So I was set to make my list re "quality call back" and had to decant out quickly.

A stabbing no less on my patch. Why do people do it in the middle of a big push on knife crime. Turn up and two massive knives on the floor. Victim was in a fire tender which was passing. He was sliced in the face. Suspect detained down the road and all very confusing trying to get someone to make sense of it all.

Grabbed somebody sensible I knew, who'd seen enougth to be a witness. Got him to street ID the suspect who was duly nicked.

Seized some cctv and back for more paperwork, and notes re this job. Victim doesn't want to know, which tells you everything re motive. Drugs really are the root of all evil. Usually that would be it, but as we are taking knife crime seriously this week incident will be investigated.

Got my performance indicators done and managed two quality call backs. I was very creative getting two out of one victim. PCSO dealt in first instance then PC reported the crime. Victim was very satisfied - but only had boxes to tick for satisfied or not satisfied. Both had name badges on too so she stated, should I have pointed out the PC hasn't ordered one yet? No she said name badge so I tick the box.

Victim loves us - I tell her we are pleased she loves us but sorry she was a victim, and pledge to solve her crime. Now maybe, just maybe if I wasn't sat listing "call backs" I might have been out on street patrolling at the scene of the stabbing, which is a problem venue for me at present.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

We Don't Provide Quality and everybody knows it - but our survey says

Today at work I'm going to spend my time doing "Quality Call Back". I think this has been in elsewhere for quite a while. I am actually quite excited, as you can imagine in trying to find 10 phone numbers of the public for me to ring. I'm then going to read from a prepared script to see if they were satisfied with the service they received from my officers. I think my Boss will be doing the same for punters I've dealt with.

I do hope a call is made to the repeat victim of burglary. Two burglaries in a week. I think I got round there 4 hours after the call was made. Well that's quality service in itself. The dispatchers had not put it out on the radio even though I was plodding the beat at the time. When I looked at the message later it was pinging around causing untold confusion as 3 flats had been broken into and everybody was trying to make a decision whether it should be tel crimed first and then for SOCO (Scenes of Crime) to attend. Eventually they decided that an officer should attend. This is rare in itself, most burglaries are tel crimed before SOCO attends and updates the report.

Oh for the time when police officers used to control the radio messages from the station. As a controller I would have seen this call as a priority and sent a unit as soon as possible. Nowadays the general consensus is, it's all abit of a mess, and that includes those now working in this new system. But I must be wrong - it's a success, more calls, more this, better that - that is the greater gods speaking of course.

Anyway the original informant had left by the time I'd got there and I dealt with the repeat victim flat downstairs. It was a slip and kick. Naughty blokes had slipped the front door with a plastic strip and had all the time in the world to kick down the internal flat doors. The flat I dealt with was pretty much cleaned out, lap tops, cameras, nice jewellery etc. The electrical stuff was still boxed having been renewed by the insurance.

It was rather embarrassing to find the SOCO already there dusting prints. All I could do was apologise for the awful service we'd provided. The victims were lovely and resigned to their fate. I think two burglaries in a week was taking liberties. They'd had PCSO's round after the last one offering crime prevention advice. They obviously didn't point out the ill fitting front door. There was a dead lock but the way the door was fitted left a gap so it could still be slipped. They said they'd never received my newsletter warning of increased burglaries in that area, and naming their road. No doubt only one got put through the door for three flats. Come on PCSO's 3 bells - gives you a clue. Mental Note to send e-mail later to PCSO's re multi-occupied properties and the need to ensure they all get a newsletter.

I later spoke to one of the other victims, who was away in Italy. I provided her with a reference number for the contents insurance she didn't have. Oh good that's a tick on quality call back. So three crime reports submitted.

I did a follow up and saw the front door had been replaced. This is a rich area and they were fortunate in being able to do so. So three letters of apology from me for the appalling service the police provided and some crime prevention stuff, property marking kit, pens and some rape alarms for the young ladies who rented the flat downstairs.

Now the point of this post is they received a crap service from the police who didn't turn up to a repeat victim of burglary. Yet for"Quality Call Back", hopefully me as an individual should tick the boxes, except for not having a name badge on. So the greater gods will say satisfied customers. I think they'd rather have me out patrolling their road today.

Today I shall compile team performance, as it's nearing the end of the month, and complete CBT (computer based training) on young people "coming to notice". From what I hear this is another fantastic dictate from the gods that will involve - more time inside.

I will not walk the streets today

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Shite Runs Downhill

Found this interesting article stating 1000 police officers off sick with stress Read Here. I know it was last year but still a large number and worthy of note.

Personally my stress never cost the job one measly day, so we can assume that many more are suffering in silence. Until my recent accident I’d never had a day off in 13 years. There is a massive stigma attached to stress, because we are all macho rough sorts. I think there will always be a little label attached to the officer unless the cause is deemed worthy i.e. bereavement etc

Don’t forget all sickness costs officers dear as promotions and transfers to specialised posts have to clear the sick policy first. In my area 18 days in 3 years is the limit, with dispensation given to severe one offs and injuries on duty. I don’t have a problem with it, but only the hard workers drag themselves in.

I don’t know why this number is so high but think the performance culture in the police contributes to it. All Borough commanders compete against each other in certain crime areas. If their crime figures are in the top 3 worst performing than they are summonsed to speak with the greater gods. From experience, I know they’d better be prepared with a plan to reduce things quickly or they are for a rocket. Nothing wrong in this but where does the pressure end up?

I recall when my Division was failing in Burglary. At the time I ran the intelligence unit, writing all the pro-active operations. I was in early doors and looked at the overnights for burglary – the previous 24 hours were bad, something like 14 offences. The Superintendent passed through and picked up the figures grimacing as he read them.

“This is really bad what have we got planned?”

I told him about a forthcoming operation, but we needed to respond now, he states and disappears.

Half an hour later the Detective Chief Inspector pops in.

“I need to speak to you about Burglary, what have we got planned?” He’s none too happy obviously having been spoken to by the Superintendent.

Half an hour after this the Detective Inspector walks in. I knew what was coming.

“Have you seen these burglary figures, what are you doing about it?” I take it he’d seen the DCI. I felt like directing him to his burglary squad so he could ask them what they were doing about it. He probably knew the answer – nothing. I suppose I should have been flattered that he chose to come to me to bail them out again. This really happened and I do not jest.

I only lasted a year in that office before it came too much and I walked. When I look back there was definitely a pattern emerging.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Poor Decisions and the Consequences

Mentally ill people can take up a lot of police time. If you’ve got a mental ward on your patch – police units will be forever attending to report missing patients. When it was a paper record the hospital actually filled out the form for you, now it’s more time consuming.

I’ve always wondered why people who are sectioned are allowed out on unescorted leave. Even on the secure wards patients walk out and are not stopped by their charges.

We had one the other week that was reported missing having not returned. He then rang for an ambulance to take him back. When that took too long to arrive he jumped out of a first floor window ending up in the basement level.

As it was quiet about 5am we had plenty of units. He was pretty smashed up and required the night time HEMS doctor in the fast response car. Trumpton also attended with ladders so he could be extracted. Another poor decision by someone with serious consequences on all three emergency services.

If that was a police decision we would have got slaughtered. At least he won't be walking out for a long while.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

How Many More?

Another young life wasted in a knife attack. Read here What is the solution in tackling this. Of course the politicians express their hurt and pledge to do more. You can bet your dollars that the 21 year old arrested has list of previous that indicated he was a danger. I can see the case disposals in my head cautions, supervision orders, and community orders.

I know of a knife murder where the suspect is known to me. In the 6 months prior to the offence being committed he was seen by officers acting suspiciously. When they tried to stop him he ran off and during the chase discarded a hunting type knife under a car. He was caught and convicted and did he do time? You don’t need me to answer that do you? Even a small sentence inside might have deterred this individual from carrying again. Even with jail time coming back there will still be knife crime as there are evil people out there; however the case I’ve mentioned wouldn’t have happened if the suspect was inside at the time.

I attended a “murder” years ago, where the victim had been stabbed in the street. The injuries were to the legs and he’d been opened up under the arm. The weapon was a lock knife and the injuries didn’t appear to warrant a death. It turned out the victim had a heart problem. The perpetrators got done for manslaughter and I think the sentence was less than five years. When you are actually there and see the loss of life it leaves a hollow feeling in you. What a waste – If convicted these people should NEVER see the outside of a cell again.

But of course that would breach their human rights – Silly Me

Saturday, 24 May 2008

My "Wobble"

So how do you see it coming – it’s in your lifestyle. I was always committed to the job too much.

I worked excessive hours for years on end, never saying no to any job and ploughing on regardless. Yes I got results and was surviving but cracks began to show eventually.

You get very snappy over the little things, but go into autopilot for the big jobs still producing when required. I think I noticed I was losing it when I gave both barrels to a local councillor over the phone. He’d been slagging off the local community police team, which I ran. One of the residents grassed him up to me. So I of course put it to him and gave him a hard time. Not very professional but couldn’t help myself. These politicians really are two faced snakes.

I thought I’d take an office job in intelligence. That is what you call a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve noticed a lot of people do that and move jobs instead of dealing with the issues. On my first day I noticed I was the only sergeant. Other units would have had at least 4. I’d already been warned my intell officer was sick all the time. True to form he was sick on my first day. So for the next four months I was doing the work of five people.

I was working a 6 day week, and not for extra cash just time back, just to keep afloat. No sleep, couldn’t turn the brain off, very irritable taking it out on everybody at home. Did the management care, no they just piled more on top. I felt like sitting in the corner and crying. This is called burn out. You also think about topping yourself but not in a serious way. It’s an extreme option don’t you think, and rather too permanent.

So things were not going to change. I told them I was leaving; I think they knew as I’d had a couple of stress rants. I also think they were rather embarrassed for leaving me in that mess. Still they’d got their product from me, but at what price. I self referred myself for help.

Friday, 23 May 2008

First Blood !!

So here is my first post – I am using the pseudonym “Stressed Out Cop” and will use this blog to vent my frustrations with policing today. I could start with a rant about waiting in court today all morning, only to have the case adjourned for a couple of months because they couldn’t fit us in, but I won’t. See it’s the new me – I can cope with it.

I will NOT bring the police Service into disrepute and any views are my own.

I sustained a serious injury on duty several months ago and whilst laid up had time to reflect and improve my IT skills. They are not so hot so you will have to bear with me.

I had a stress wobble through overwork a couple of years ago and got myself help. I have sent a steady stream of customers to the doors of occupational health ever since. These are not shirkers just hard working people ground down by the system.

If anyone finds this blog and is in a similar position I hope you find it useful. I will try to put some stuff on here that you might find useful.

This is very much a work in progress and I’ve got to find my way around the technical side so stick around