Friday, 6 June 2008

The Good The Bad and the Ugly

Interesting article today about the pay of our Armed Forces when compared to local authority traffic wardens. Read Here. Once again a great institution being taken for granted.

Well some interesting points made in that the wardens generate revenue, so in a way finance themselves. They have targets and have incentives to dish out more tickets. Compare the wages of both to Police Community Support Officers. They are on 25K if they have the full shift allowance in the metropolis.

I'm not going to go on a rant about PCSO's, just post a few views. I remember when they first came in. They did security patrols in Central London around Whitehall replacing foot patrolling officers. This nobody would disagree was anything but sensible. It freed up police officers to get back on the beat. If you think of the 9/11 events and how New York coped, then again there is a need for a contingency in having uniformed officials to cordon off what could be a large area for quite some time.

I must also give some praise to the greater gods. They delivered a project in fast time, despite the poor training given to the first recruits. They also increased diversity of recruits and have a pool of "policey" type people to dip into when they need to swell the Real Police ranks. The money was made available just for this project by government, so of course you would grab it to increase visibility.

So all of the above is sensible. The politicians can claim credit for increasing "police" presence on the street, and benefit from public satisfaction. Don't forget there was NO or very limited community policing at the turn of the last century. They ran a few pilot projects and saw it was a vote winner and that's why this Safer Neighbourhoods thing started. Let's face it if there was nothing there before - and then you get a small team of officers to listen to your problems, you can't really complain.

Now from a project point of view I've always had issues with the pay for PCSO's. They don't produce much and generate very little. They can issue tickets for small offences, riding on the footway etc. The amount of administration in processing the ticket negates the fine collected, if the person actually bothers to pay it.

In my experience I've come across some fantastic PCSO's who interact with the community, run community projects and are all round good eggs. These are in the minority. Where else could you get paid £25 for doing very little.

I actually had an ex local authority parking warden under my supervision as a new PCSO. She told me she was doing me a favour in patrolling without body armour. It hadn't arrived by the time she started at my station. I asked if she'd had body armour as a parking warden. Of course I had to run around to find her some. Now parking warden must be a shitty job full of confrontation but she increased her pay by thousands to do what, walk about doing nothing. I'm glad to say she left of her own accord, there are loads like her still creaming it.

So army pay is a disgrace. I believe they are still paid on a daily rate depending on skills. Pay them a tax free bonus on top of their normal pay for each tour of duty. It's only fair. Don't even get me started on care for those injured on operations. If PCSO pay is going to stay so high then perhaps we can have some direct entrants from HM forces - with a free rein to deal with gobby kids as they see fit.

The future? I think that after the Olympics in 2012 we will see PCSO's scaled back as they don't provide Best Value in their present format.

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