I've read many blogs written by the Great British public bemoaning the state of the police today. I've also considered the like comments that have been posted by the readers of those blogs. Some give good reason, many do not. Whilst I appreciate that for some people they will always have a seething distrust and dislike of the police no matter what we do, there are those that have and do give good reason for their criticism. As I said, they are few and far between. It is much easier to refer to us as 'thugs' and 'bully boys' without giving much thought to what an ideal Police Force or Officer should do to improve both the service given and the image portrayed.
So, my questions to you are as follows:
1. If you could influence the way any given Police Force is run, how would you want its performance to be measured in order to gauge public satisfaction?
2. Based on your own experiences of dealing with individual police officers, or should you ever need to deal with one, how has or how would you expect that officer to behave?
Obviously, I cannot change the organisational directions of any given Force, but being an Inspector who now leads a response team of 20 or so officers, I can use your feedback to educate both them and I. I have already given the team targets to achieve, some organisational, some my own. Regardless, I expect high standards of my officers. Some may say I'm a hard task master, but I believe that the minimum targets I set for myself are those that would be expected by the public.
Just to let you know what they are:
1. I can only gauge the performance and bearing of my officers when dealing with the public due to the number of complaints and letters or thanks that I receive. In either case, I will speak to the member of the public to ascertain what dis-pleased/pleased them. I will always speak to the officer, giving advice, guidance or praise where necessary.
2. Each officer has to achieve 5 arrests per month. I don't see this as pressurising them into making needless arrests where discretion would have been the preferred outcome. I have based this on my own performance as both a Police Constable and Sergeant.
3. Each crew posted together in a vehicle is expected to meet the Chartered Response Times. For 'Immediate Calls' this is within 12 minutes, for 'Soon Calls' within 60 minutes. If we make an appointment to meet a victim, we must make it on time, no exceptions, and I have a dedicated officer to respond to these appointments. If a unit is late to any call, I want to know why. Sometimes it's just unavoidable, but I want to see on the Incident Report an entry from the officer saying that they called the victim back and gave an estimated time of arrival.
4. Each officer should achieve a minimum of 10 stop and accounts each per month. I say 'accounts' and not 'searches', because I don't want my officers to unnecessarily search someone who does not need to be.
5. They must be smart at all times. Their shirts must be white (not yellow) and ironed. Shoes must be polished and hair cut to regulation length. When they get out of their vehicles whilst in public, they must wear their head wear.
You'll notice that Sanctioned Detections aren't in there. The majority of arrests my officers make are handed over to other units to investigate, normally CID.
One thing my officers do know is that I don't prescribe to the time-honoured tradition of moving an underperforming officer onto another unit, or giving them attachments, or courses. To do so wouldn't address the problem. Continued poor performance means continued poor service to the public. I'll deal with them and thus far all have responded.
So I've set my stall out. Are the targets that I set for my officers what you would expect? Or is there more that you would expect when responding to the two questions I've asked?
I've got the best analyst in the Utopian Police Force on standby to collate the responses.