Friday, 16 October 2009

The Lender Of First Resort

There is one good thing about having policed the same area over the past umpteen years. I am in a unique position to compare things now to what went before. I do recall one Superintendo stating that response team would have a strength of 21 and if it fell below that, he would post people from non-operational posts to maintain that level. I think at the time there was a concerted attempt to raise the status of uniformed reliefs. It never happened and that same team now has a strength of 14.

That's not to say there are less boots on the street, with the community teams and dedicated squads we do in fact have an abundance of resources. Unfortunately they all work towards their individual remits. The reported levels of volume crime have decreased considerably even when you take into account some minimal fiddling. I know this because I was in the morning hot seat nearly 10 years ago having to read out the overnight figures. I can put this down in part to the pro-active activities of the Burglary squad, Drugs squad, Robbery squad and Motor Vehicle squad.

These are not made up wholly of CID officers but have to take constables from the response teams. Due to the type of work they undertake the most productive officers will be spirited away from uniformed response. After some short term pain they will be replaced, but most likely by a non skilled probationer or I think I must call them student officer's. Some of the teams where I work have over 60% of probationers (less than 2 years service) making up the core strength. When I was in my probation over 20 years ago I was the only newbie on my relief for a 2 year period and that's a lot of tea making I can tell you.

I'm continually having to give up people when a new temporary squad is formed to meet some centrally imposed target. We have newer squads other than those mentioned, which I won't name so not to identify my area. It's always with no notice that I have to provide another constable and it will invariably leave us struggling to cope with calls. I feel like the coach of a football academy being stripped of my best players having invested time in bringing them up to a high standard.

It's the way it is and you can't really stand in the way of a constable seeking better working conditions on a squad, with the added benefit of overtime thrown in too. If I was them I would be sorely tempted too and being totally honest the results speak for themselves. Response team is harder work than it's ever been and I must say I'm very proud of what these youngsters produce and their commitment. All I ask for now that those volume figures have gone down is for some of the constables back.


Tom said...

Not to worry SOC. At least you've got a constant stream of tea makers.

I should imagine by the numerous references to the 'response' teams that it is a useful method of sorting the wheat from the chaff. However your dilemma regarding the loss of the more promising officers is a tad worrying.

Metcountymounty said...

My borough is going through some changes at the moment, a huge bone of contention is losing people from response to other things like prisoner processing, CID, city centre etc. We asked why every other department in the Met has both a minimum enforceable level and can also advertise for vacancies whereas we can't, the answer from our new CInsp was "because everything would stop over night"
I can't help wondering whether or not changing the point of view and chucking all the back up, courses, resources and actually staying way over the minimum level wouldn't help. With enough people to not only deal with all the calls but to target and harass known problem makers we could handle virtually everything that came our way without the need for a different squad for every possible type of crime. The problem is response is and always will be the bottom of the pile and seen as a limitless pool of eager and skilled people.

Stressed Out Cop said...


Not even heard a 99 called since being back on response and only had about 2 / 3 morale boosting teas after parade .. Times change.

The chaff has tradionally been sent the way of community team .. shame because that's where the truely pro-active street cops can show out.

There is still plenty of "opportunity to develop" others when we have to jif someone off area.


Response is the deal with eerything squad with no remit. You need the numbers to free up the really pro-active otherwise the calls stack up, so I agree with you re more people.

I'm in the middle because some of the squads do bring in / take out some good bodies.


Anonymous said...

My "hunch" (not experienced enough as a police officer or manager of a large organisation) is that MCM is right. If you had a much stronger core team actually able to deal with things as and when they came up and able to be pro-active, the need for umpteen narrowly-focussed teams would reduce.

Would we need a special robbery team if there were more officers outside being visible and dealing with things? etc.

Tom said...


The old adage 'rock and a hard place' comes to mind, but I am somewhat persuaded with the comments from MCM and SC.