Friday, April 14, 2006
Why the f*** do I still do this job?
This blog serves as a great way of venting and also informing the public at the same time, but this shift I've just come off was an absolute farce by any reasonable standard, which if it wasn't true would be funny. This story's got it all - senior management overreacting; pointless bureaucracy and more or less the final straw to this laughable joke of a 'job'.
Nearing the end of a 10 hour shift, we are informed an hour beforehand that, owing to the larger-than-expected number of people in the entertainment areas, we may be kept on in case something happens.
For a start, how can this be larger "than expected"? It's the Thursday before Good Friday, a public holiday. A lot of people will have been paid, and don't have to goto work for (in some cases) several days. Logically, therefore, there's always a lot of people out on this particular Thursday night. Surprisingly, this pattern on the calendar and on the streets has emerged over many, many years, so how the bloody hell can numbers be larger "than expected"?
I've already had a rubbish shift, dealing with half-arsed handovers by officers who really aren't too bothered about little details like statements that contain the bare minimum of information. And why should they be? They'll never have to deal with the job again, and their supervision won't reprimand them for neglecting to do their job properly, no matter how much we complain. They can get away with it, so they do. So the poor sod lumbered with the handover more or less has to start from scratch.
We were told that a decision as to whether or not to stay on would be made half an hour before we were due to finish, by the covering Sergeant. Sergeants don't normally have this authority. However, in this case, our erstwhile off-duty Chief Inspector (probably on a night out or something), on seeing a lot of people in areas that have bars and nightclubs, decided that a visible presence should be shown (because, of course, we don't already do that and would never dream of providing yellow jackets in a crowded area, for we are but drones, unable to think for ourselves and unable to remember that we do exactly as the Chief Inspector is suggesting week in, week out, for years at a time), so rang the Sergeant several times over the course of the evening conferring authority to keep the afternoon shift on. Nevermind that there was an overlapping evening shift that could quite adequately provide such a presence; it's a case of the more the merrier, and better to have too many staff on for nothing to happen, than too few for a major incident to occur. Plus he can take the credit if nothing goes wrong, for 'planning ahead'.
Having heard nothing at the agreed time, we head in 10 minutes before we're due to finish, one of our colleagues having gone around the entertainment area; spoken to door staff to ascertain numbers and having reported it back to the covering Sergeant that, actually, numbers in the clubs are quite low, and there really isn't any need for an 'overkill' police presence.
Since we are lowly public servants, and not permitted to use our judgement in any way whatsoever, someone gets in a car and drives around the entertainment district to see for themselves, leaving us in limbo with 5 minutes before the end of our shift not knowing whether or not to stay on. On returning, everyone is brought upstairs and told that, in fact, we ARE to stay on until at least 1.30 am, with us on static points in the entertainment area, and to report back every half hour as to volumes of people/cars etc. It's no surprise that he's keeping us on half an hour extra, it's not like that will cost the budget anything.
Utterly pissed off that we are told 5 minutes before finishing time that we are to stay on for another half hour, unpaid (since the first half hour over a planned finishing time is done for the Queen, grateful public saps that we are), we trudge out and ignore most anything likely to invoke a "ball of shit", or job that will tie us up with paperwork and (un)due process. 1.30am approaches and things seem to quieten down at our point. We report this via radio, yet the Sgt says it's still busy elsewhere and we should stay on until at least 2am. The sinking feeling sets in that supervision have every intention of keeping us until 3am, and thus a full 12 hour tour, just because senior management have, as usual, overreacted to a perfectly expected and manageable situation and have initiated the use of a 50 ton sledgehammer to crack a tiny nut. I expect a full firearms raid on a toy store for selling water pistols next.
At the end of my tether, I am really not in the mood when a fight breaks out across from us. Luckily a lot of us turn up (more than needed as usual, people will down tools to get to an 'adrenaline job') and people are sent packing without any lockups or messy assault allegations we are obliged to follow up on. Unfortunately two males decide to start taunting us and being aggressive, increasing in hostility when challenged. With a large crowd of people still around we can't really leave it, so, begrudgingly, I arrest one of them for s5 Public Order. As I do so, his mate kicks off and starts pushing at me. I pushed him back, and he nearly through, a shop window - luckily he bounced off it onto the pavement, as if he went through I'd have to mess around with boarding up and the associated paperwork - then rolled further onto the road. He gets locked up too. So now I've got two arrests on my hands, an hour and a half after my planned shift finishing time.
At custody they are bedded down and I'm told to write out £80 Fixed Penalty Notices for s.5 Public Order. Fixed Penalty Notices are, theoretically, on-the-spot fines for misdemeanours. Except they're not on-the-spot, as occasionally force policy will change (because if things stay the same for too long in the police then clearly something is wrong and management aren't being "innovative") and decide that we can't be trusted to do things like clear up small matters immediately without creating a large mountain of paperwork. The latest senior management bullsh... idea is to demand that each and every fixed penalty be accompanied by a crime report. Thus, s5 Public Order dealt with by fixed penalty becomes a sanctioned detction, pushing the stats up and resulting in someone who may never have been in trouble with the police before having a record created for them on the computer, and that record associated with being given a Fixed Penalty for s5. Since most s5's are usually violent, they'll end up with a violent marker on the computer as well, which will haunt them for the rest of their lives, even if that s5 moment was a one-off.
There are no crime report sheets left in the drawer, and I tell the custody Sgt that I am not going to fanny about finding any more crime report sheets when I'm heading towards a 14 hour shift and am 4 hours over my finishing time. He agrees and says that as long as I submit the crime reports when I'm next in. I leave, get home and type my resignation notice. It's printed, signed, ink drying and ready to be handed in. I'll probably wait a few days and cool down first.
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However - asking you to stay on like really does take the piss.
The way I look at it is, one day closer to the house in the middle of nowhere where you don't have to deal with dickheads again if you don't want to....
However, what you have just described is every Friday/Saturday night foot patrol for me where I inevitably end up staying on for hours because the skipper wants a more than adequate presence in town or the local club has decided to stay open another hour
My Nan, is sat at home, rates the police and she knows, If she needs you, you will come and do your very best for her.. She always talks about "how bad it is that police get hurt, Rachel Bown Notts Police who was recently shot, My Nan took her flowers and a card, but states that she could not do that for every officer in Notts, cause she doesn't have the time and is waiting to cross the gates, so she needs to look her best. However she thinks it, But until now you would never know that! No matter how people make you feel, You make a difference...
On a different note, I did indeed stop a police officer in my town centre the other night, I tried to tell him that I thought he did an amazing job, and would he like a chip....... I wish I had not of been out since 6pm that night, Maybe then he would not of told me to "Get in that taxi, before he gave me a lift to the station where I could sleep off the beer"
He did add one or two extra's in, I got his point, Tried to say sorry and explain, He said "Don't say sorry and to Pi** off" ..... Taxi!
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