Friday, 13 June 2008

Greggs Bakers - Help Yourself

So Targets Targets it's what we are about. We are getting measured on how much crime we clear up as a force so a sanction detection clear up is all the rage.

A sanction detection is basically a case disposal Charge, Caution or Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND). So if you had say, three burglary reports unsolved and a person charged for a minor public order offence, your clear up rate would be 25%. Simple isn't it.

It's down to local management how they measure and motivate their staff. We run a points system, where you get a whole point for a cannabis warning or a PND. If you arrest somebody and the case progression unit deal with the arrest, which leads to charge you share the point getting half a point each. Each officer in my area has a target of 21 points for the year. If everybody reaches this target the bosses are happy and we are performing.

So you arrest a murderer who is charged and you get half a point. You seize some cannabis you get one point and no paperwork. Now in years gone by on a busy Friday night you would arrest your drunken idiot for being drunk and disorderly. A quick incident book, night in the cells to sober up and unless he had annoyed everyone, he would be booted out in the morning with a drunkenness warning.

There is no sanction detection for drunk and disorderly, so nowadays if there is evidence of Public Order the arrest is for Disorderly Conduct. As long as there was a member of the public present who was caused distress the same conduct is a recordable crime, and the case disposal means you get a sanction detection and your valued point. Still with me.

So by concentrating on the minor offences you increase the overall detection rate. The problem for the officers is if you don't get the points you are seen as under performing. You get no points for dealing with missing persons, taking statements for a colleague, hospital guard, being gaoler, doing endless worthy tasks that don't end in arrests.

The bosses actually worry about this on some Divisions. The area I work now, I personally believe you don't have to put yourself out too much to get your 21 points. It's an inner city area and as long as you're a working copper you will get your fair share of cannabis and other points to be OK. In quieter areas it may be different.

At one previous nick I was in on the strategic meeting for the week. The Supt was discussing sanction detections and how to increase them. There then followed a lengthy discussion about Greggs the Bakers. For those of you unfamiliar with the branded establishment. This is a Sandwich and Pie emporium where you go in and select your fancy from a very open display range before queuing up to pay for it. The Chief Inspector had noticed that alot of customers actually just walked out without paying. They wanted a plan written and officers deployed to target this minor theft problem, when it was decided Fixed Penalties could be used as a case disposal. He wanted observation points, directed surveillance the whole lot.

Now the drip who would have had to write this plan would have been me. Luckily I wanted to discuss drugs supply and a test purchase operation. We had a target of 40 Class A supply offences for the year, each receiving a sanction detection. I think the boss saw the possibly of killing two birds with one stone and by the skin of my teeth I managed to persuade him to go down the drugs route. At the conclusion he got 60 detections and the impact was massive locally with over a dozen dealers arrested.

By chance I was working elsewhere a few weeks later in plain clothes on a covert operation. I was stood with my mate outside a Greggs Bakers and recounted this ridiculous situation I found myself in at this meeting. You wouldn't believe it, we saw two different punters just stroll in over a 15 minute period, have a shifty look before snaffling a baguette and leaving without paying.

So obviously that's why I'm not a Chief Inspector but where do you think the resources should go. No doubt there are places where they wouldn't go for the drugs option.

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