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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Starting out? - Part One

I have recently received a few e-mails from people just starting out in the job asking various questions. So, I thought I'd write a post with some tips and advice for new officers.

The first essential recommendation would be that the new or potential recruit undergoes a full psychiatric assessment and head examination. Why? You'd have to be mad to join the job from scratch right now!

One of the big reasons for this is the new pension scheme, which, compared to the old one, royally shafts new recruits.

Compare:

Old scheme:

30 years maximum pensionable service
Increased accrual after 20 years
Additional Voluntary Contributions
2/3 final salary
11% contributions
Minimum pension age of 50


New scheme:

35 years maximum pensionable service
Same accrual rate throughout
No AVCs
1/2 final salary
9-9.5% contributions
Minimum pension age of 55

So as you can see, the new scheme is quite harsh compared to the old one, and is better suited for younger joiners, in their early 20s. If you're older than that, you won't be retiring in your early 50s! It's still better than most private sector pensions, but compared to what it used to be it's quite a bad plan if you've only just joined.

There's also rumour of plans to look at doing what American forces, particularly the LAPD do, and hire police officers on five year contracts. It's not for life anymore, is this job!

Other tips would have to include basic ones like "don't leave your kit lying around". It'll go missing, and that's even if your collar number is all of it. You can leave money lying around, that's not a problem, for it won't vanish into thin air. Maybe officers feel that, as all issued kit officially remains the property of the Force/Service, it's merely redistribution, rather than theft.

Issued kit does the job just fine, and there's no need to buy anything to complement it. You can tell who the over-enthusiastic regs and Specials are, because they have belts and body armour full of excessive, never-to-be-used kit, looking like a poster boy or girl for Niton. Personally, I've managed to get my belt kit down to the essentials - baton, cuffs and CS spray. As you go through your career, you'll continue "optimising" what and how much you carry:

You: "You're under arrest"

Offender: "It's a fair cop, guv. You gonna handcuff me then?"

You: "Nah, I didn't see the need for carrying stuff like that anymore - I've felt light as a feather since then! Now come with me whilst I find a phone box and dial 999 to get a van for you. Whilst were at it, can I borrow a pen and a piece of paper to write your details down?"

From personal and shared experiences, getting anything from anyone in the job is like getting blood out of a stone, especially clothing and equipment stores. They hold on to equipment like they paid for it out of their own pocket, and short of having the Chief Constable accompany you for each visit, you'll be fighting an uphill battle for even so much as a new pair of trousers:

Clothing Stores: "Have you got the requisition form?"
You: "Yes, here it is - double-signed; dated; printed in triplicate; perfect autography; double-checked item numbers and sealed in blood. I hope it's to your specifications"

CS: "This isn't f0r a pair of standard black police trousers is it?"

You: "No, it's for non-standard pink trousers with flamboyant orange polka-dots. Of course it's for a bloody pair of black trousers!"

CS: "Well we changed our catalogue last week and your skipper has put the order code in for the undercover clown costume. It's all been signed and sealed so we won't be accepting any amendments whatsoever. You'll need to get another requisition form with the right code on it I'm afraid"

At this point, a 999 call is usually made for a police officer assaulting a member of aforesaid department. Description of the offender is a male dressed as a clown...

I'll think of some others when I'm in a more serious mood. I'm off to fantasise about what it would be like doing public order patrol on a Saturday night in an oversized yet brightly-coloured outfit...


(c) Bow Street Runner. None of the material contained in this post, or this blog as a whole, may be reproduced without the express and written permission of Bow Street Runner. All rights reserved.
Comments:
Its amazing how kit has legs, especially in a police station.

Cant wait to see you on patrol, especially when you have to run after a yout...
 
BSR, I'm about to enter your ranks (I'm definitely not in the "younger joiners" category so I won't be retiring at 55) and I would like to perhaps add a little balance to the discussion by saying that in my several years' experience as a special I rarely came across officers who really wanted to leave. Lots of cynicism and moaning, but plenty who said that it's a great job.
 
Issued kit does the job just fine.

First time i've ever heard that in any job.
However the stores monkey and stores is for storing attitude is prevalent through most of the world.
 
stores are for storing apparently, then again my stores like to not give things out! Must be a national thing!
 
Well if you were supposed to have the kit they'd call it 'issues' rather than stores wouldn't they?
 
Good one Runner.

I concur. First piece of advice - don't friggin do it.

I am one year from retirement and if I could have my life over again I would never join this job. Sure I had fun in the early days, but things were very different in the 70s. It used to be 10 years before the cynicism and disenchantment took hold; now I see it in rookies before they are off probation.

If you want a secure job with a bit of action join the fire department, everyone loves firemen.

By the way what is this crap above my post from anonymous 11.45 and 11.55? Are we getting spam on blogs now?
 
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