I was at a meeting recently about performance. Luckily for me I was an interested party visiting, but organisational changes could soon have me on the wrong side of the table.
The command was not Divisional based and therefore their old targets were not sanctioned detections. Nothing in it for their managers to feed their SD's to a number of differing areas. I used to be rather amused as custody officer to see them loitering at the door, especially when the prisoner was wearing motorbike leathers and of Mediterranean appearance. They loved to prey on motorbike couriers who had an uncanny habit of being Brazilians with fake Portuguese driving licences from the Internet. They had a high personal arrest target to meet each month and this type of arrest was one of their better quality ones . I would beware if you are a genuine Portuguese courier rider in the metropolis.
Each team leader was put on the spot to see what had been delivered since the last meeting. I was surprised that very little time was taken up about arrests. No - instead the policing pledge and customer focus was order of the day. All very admirable but the main thrust was about organising meetings and getting the punters into these. The Chief Inspector kept asking about the outcomes, and by this he meant how many members of the public attended these meetings. Each team had also been set a target of completing 500 questionnaires prior to this meeting. I could detect a fair amount of bullshitting from the other side of the table.
I'm at a bit of a loss to see how this particular command was going to measure public satisfaction, when they covered several areas. Perhaps they were forming a baseline from their questionnaires, which are filled out by police staff and police officers chugging punters in the street. I know from experience that these are a waste of time as they're hardly independent.
Don't think I'm against bottom up policing because I'm not. Several years ago I worked on a pilot project based around community panels. I attended local meetings and agreed local priorities with the panels. They actually had little interest in some offences like Robbery and Burglary instead concentrating their wrath on low level anti-social behaviour from youths.This of course was at odds with what our local managers wanted. I don't think things have changed much today and most communities want the quality of life stuff sorted out. The beauty in this set up was that the partnership dealt with organising the meetings we attended, and my team was left to get on policing the streets. There was a balance to be found tackling the volume crime and quality of life issues, but as we were community based we saw the trends before any analysts who worked on 12 week patterns.
I was also lucky in that I was given my own budget from the partnership, which I spent on tackling the crimes I and they wanted. No going to the weekly intelligence meeting to plead my case for funds, I just decided what to do and got on with it. If I needed extra resources I bought them in and paid from my budget. So the punters got the extra patrols to combat kids making their lives a misery. It also helped that I recruited the best constables onto my team and we ticked over arresting the right people.
The partnership conducted their own customer satisfaction surveys using independent firms like MORI. When compared to other similar projects in the UK we scored quite highly. The point I'm trying to make is we just need to get back to doing policing without constraints to increase public satisfaction. It's really not rocket science and just concentrating on meetings and more public meetings is somewhat missing the point. I'm beginning to see too much duplication.