Monday, 6 July 2009

Market Research

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.

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  1. I apologise for answering to this post, as it appears you're only seeking the opinions of the general public and not those of your fellow officers. I work as a response constable in Scotland and would like to address the targets you require of your officers:.

    1. I agree that letters of thanks are a great way of determining the performance of your officers, but surely these are few and far between in comparison to complaints, and therefore cannot be used as the sole basis of an officer's general dealings with the public?

    2. This was the strongest cause for contention in my opinion. An officer can only respond appropriately to the calls he or she attends. In the past I have gone weeks without recording a single crime, despite working in a very busy town. This has been simply due to dealing with sudden deaths, missing persons, carrying out protracted enquiries in relation to crimes that have previously occured, and simply attending calls where there has been no crime. As it happened this period occured during a time when our performances were targetted. Despite possessing numerous notebooks full of information, not a single recordable target had been achieved and consequently a royal bollocking followed. And what happens when your officer only manages to pick up undetectable crimes, such as petty vandalisms with no named suspects and subsequent negative enquiries? If there's no immediately identifiable person to arrest, then maybe your officers would 'ditch' the call as soon as possible in order to attend something where a suspect is named on the call log. Who benefits from that?... Certainly not the public.

    3. Fair enough. It's the way it should be.

    4. This also seems perfectly acceptable. Although I have found in the past that when times are busy and officers are struggling to make up the numbers, they'll either randomly stop people coming out of the 24hr Tesco at 5 in the morning, or they make the forms up using the names they've obtained of witnesses from previous events. This is why I never believe the figures when I see them.

    5. I honestly believe a smart officer looks the business. Just don't have a go at him/her when he/she bulled his/her boots for two hours one night, only to lose it all in a fight with a custody the following morning when assisting custody staff in the processing of our 'guests' (as it happened to me on a certain occasion).

    I'll admit I despise tardiness and unprofessionalism in the police, and sometimes the actions of colleagues make me ashamed, but overall I find that the vast majority of officers out there do their very best for the public they serve day in, day out. The officers I work with despise targets, as do I. We feel it is an added pressure to a job that requires less of it. We had a new sergeant join our team a year ago who immediately removed all targets that were asked of us. Immediately the team became the most efficient within the division, as its officers no longer spent its shifts filling in forms. Not a single complaint was received for 8 months! Sadly he's recently left us and a new target-driven gaffer has taken over... My team-mates are already making up new statistics so as to avoid the next bad appraisal.

  2. Anon - thank you for your comments and it is I who should apologise, I should have invited comments from serving and retired officers also.

    To answer your very good observations...

    1. I should add that I also attend incidents my officers deal with, and I will also patrol with them to see how they interact with the public. Quite surprisingly, I do receive a number of letters praising the actions of my officers, and the complaints I do receive are very rarely about the conduct of the officers themselves. They are mostly regarding disatisfaction of the outcome - invariably a disbelief that we are unable to investigate further and arrest suspects due to lack of knowledge of the perpetrator, CCTV, forensics etc.

    2. Being a police officer isn't just about responding to calls. A good street copper will know the ne'er-do-wells who cause the majority of crime in their area and will atively target them. They'll take note of the information on daily briefings and patrol accordingly. A bit of initiative like speaking to the warrants officer helps, as does looking at outstanding suspects on Crime Reports. I have had many arguments with DI's who have been unhappy my officers have brought a suspect in when they say they are too busy to deal with them, and that I should have consulted them first. I always counter with 'what would you do if we'd arrested the suspect at the time of the offence? You'd have had to deal with them, so crack on'. Also, I don't think getting 5 arrests for 14-16 12 hour shifts per month is difficult to achieve. As I said, I'd never ask my officers to do something I never achieved.

    4. Again, with the tours worked and the high volume of crime my district has, I'd be very surpirsed if an officer could not at least submit 10 stop and accounts. This again is dependent on the officer taking sufficient time to research our prom-noms and direct their own patrols. I'd never advocate a trip to the cemetary or a flick through the telephone directory to obtain names.

    5. That's a bit of an extreme response by your supervisor, but I've seen officers wearing earrings, t-shirts visible under shirts (a pet hate of mine) and not parading with all of their appointments.

    I must stress that the targets I set aren't those imposed by the Home Office. They're ones that were set for me as a constable before the targets came in. They're the bread and butter of what an officer should do. I don't do statistics, I do performance, and I make sure I know if my officer has fallen short due to sudden deaths etc. They are just as important, and I know the officers who never report them!

    Thanks for your comments, they were very much appreciated.

  3. Sir,

    I am serving so this is my take on it.

    1) Our customers are a fickle bunch and most are dissatisfied with ther service they receive. As long as you do filter out the L.O.B complaints, no problem.

    2) Not difficult to achieve, but depending on posting, it is sometimes not done. A probby should EASILY get five, if not they need a toe up the @rse. As for your grizzled old gits on team, if they are dealing with the calls effectively and teaching newbies, why pressure them to arrest?

    3) No particular grief with this one, surely some exception? Nights when its all gone to cr@p and everyone is tucked up.....

    4) As matey said above, a trip to the graveyard to lift names from headstones come the 29th of the month...... If people need spinning, then so be it, but i dislike figures on it.

    5) I get ripped apart by my team for still polishing my boots after seven years.
    Worryingly, the probs say theirs weren't done that well when they were at the sausage factory. Headdress? When appropriate.

    At the end of the day, we work for a disciplined organisation (apparently). If my guv'nor tells me to do something, i will. I just wish that my employer would actually do something about the people who don't give a cr@p instead of putting them in the too difficult box. I turn up, well presented, work hard then accept my money every month. A lot of people i know don't bother except with the last bit. Instead of dealing with individuals who fall short we get round robin emails which are sent by people who don't care to people who ignore them. POINTLESS.

  4. You say you want to be anonymous and then you go and post a picture of yourself?

  5. MP9000 - would you like to join my team? I like the cut of your jib.

  6. Anonymous - actually, that's a photograph of Sarah, my brother.

  7. 1. You can't measure performance unless you actually see what happened. There is a reason why hearsay evidence is disallowed in court: the same reason means that your officers' performance is unlikely to be accurately reported either by them or by the public. An indicator of police effectiveness is the rate of change of reported crime. If the number of crimes being reported per month, say, is falling, then likely your officers are doing a good job.

    2 There appears to be a culture of 'world-weary, seen it all before, pull the other one, who cares, cynicism' in lower-rank officers. It makes a member of the public wonder whether there is any point at all in reporting something. I stopped reporting acts of vandalism years ago because the police never turned up. I don't mean came late: they never turned up at all. I'd just like to know that, when I have to deal with a police officer, I won't be treated as a pain in the arse whose probably lying through my teeth.

    On the whole, of course, I'm very glad the police are there and do a good job nabbing real villains but you have a REAL PR problem with basically law-abiding citizens and I think that is unnecessary and destructive.

    To give an example from my own experience: about a year ago I was stopped by an officer who had been following me for a while (I was driving). One of my tail light bulbs had blown. Out of the car and into the back of the patrol car. 'Hmm', said one of the officers (It takes two policemen to nab a tail-light offender, it seems) 'What shall we do with this one, then?' The second one thinks for a while and then says something that might be the name of a form or law or something, I didn't understand it, anyway. Then the first one CAUTIONED me, for a f*ing tail-light! he filled out a form and I had to take all my documents into a police station. Excuse me, but if that's how your officers reach their targets, then that is public money very badly spent and (I think) decent citizens pissed off.

    How it should have been dealt with? 'Get that tail-light fixed'. End of story. Those two officers then would have had 20 extra minutes to look for real villains.

  8. Whatever blueprint you end up with, "benevolent domination" is something that the public need to accept as a necessity, rather than a cause for complaint, when an officer feels moved to intervene during the onerous task of policing freedom. (Do you think I sounded a little like Dr M.T. Grey there? Too subtle? More bile and vitriol needed?)

  9. Hi, i think it is very inpiration Blog. You have done very good job about tell market research. I think, in any business we need to concentrate on the basic, then we can get succsess.

  10. Hello. I have never had to call the police (luckily!) so I don't really know from that point of view what good and bad things are happening. The one time I have interacted with officers was when two knocked on my door to see if they could see from my balcony the barking dog which had been complained about. They were well turned out, polite and professional and I was proud to let them into my home.

    I suspect that it is more difficult to deal with more difficult customers in such a way that they feel like they have had a good service. For example people who are up to no good will never appreciate a "stop and account", will they?! And if they get stopped a lot because they tend to come to the notice of police of course they will feel like they are being targeted.

    If you have any PCSOs on your team, could you let them know how unprofessional it looks for them to be leaning against walls in nice areas chatting amongst themselves when we would prefer them to be walking the dodgy streets preventing untoward activities?

  11. Sir,

    In my Force they stopped recruiting for 18 months recently. This has finally caught up with us and as a result the shifts are all 2/3 their strength of a year or so ago. This effectively means that on a late shift there are 10-15 extra jobs floating around. Mercifully my chained-to-the-desk Sgt sorts out a few over the phone but the rest of us have sort out the remainder.

    Coupled with the fact that mine is one of those forces where response officers investigate all less serious crimes themselves (i.e. resond, investigate, arrest, interview, narey file prep, full file prep etc) we just don't have any time left to proactively patrol.

    It's partly why I am transferring to a force that separates responders from investigators as I think that is the only way to do it. As a purely response officer I would have problem fulfilling all of your requirements. But it has got the stage where my Sgt just tells us to do "fire brigade policing".

    My point is that you should ajust your expectations to the avilable resources.

    Also, I don't think it's fair to compare when you were a PC to what PCs do today. The job has changed so much in my short service and I'm sure it'll worse in a few years more.

  12. I don't know how to gauge this by numbers, but I'd like to see officers being taught how to patrol properly. In my neck of the woods, they amble around in packs like teenagers, all having a good gossip and setting up a "barrier" between themselves and the MOPs around them.

    I saw a Super not long ago leading two probies around on a "patrol". He led by example by putting hands in pockets and staring at the ground two feet in front of him as he strolled up and down the shopping strip. No looking into shops as they went by, no looking at bystanders, no studying of body language or anything like that. They ignored everything around them, and disappeared back into the station (I know, because I followed a few feet behind them, and they never noticed me).

    All I can recommend is that you sneak out of the station and follow your troops around and observe from a distance - it's the only way to tell if they are doing their job properly or not! I heard of a commander doing just that here, and being utterly appalled by the results. Standards will only be upheld if commanders get out in the field and show the troops how things should be done.

    Perhaps you could burn all the chairs in the station? We took all the chairs out of a meeting room once in order to speed meetings up. It's a great way of getting people away from their desks.

  13. Sierra Charlie07 July, 2009 15:19

    If my guv'nor tells me to do something, i will. I just wish that my employer would actually do something about the people who don't give a cr@p instead of putting them in the too difficult box. I turn up, well presented, work hard then accept my money every month. A lot of people i know don't bother except with the last bit. Instead of dealing with individuals who fall short we get round robin emails which are sent by people who don't care to people who ignore them. POINTLESS.

    YES! YES! Can you come and tell that to my bosses!?

    Us lot are all tarred by a tiny number who just do not or cannot pull their weight. "Regs" just don't know how far they can trust us until they've spent some time with us so they often avoid the risk by letting us get on with our own taskings. When someone c^cks up they should be told, not via some w^nky circular email that just leaves everyone thinking "that doesn't apply to me".

  14. PC Fish Thief07 July, 2009 16:02

    I had just started dayshift a few months back when I felt I needed to nip to the loo. Whilst in there I was struck by a horrendous odour, so for some reason unbeknownst to me I thought I'd look in the cubicles. In stall number 1 (the usual culprit) I found what appeared to have been the result of a hand grenade left inside a large bucket of diarrhoea. The mess had obviously been deposited by a nightshift colleague, not just all over the toilet itself, but also on the walls.

    After showing my team mates and all of us having a good chuckle and a bit of a vomit, the cleaners turned up and we scarpered.

    About an hour later I overheard a cleaner ranting to the station inspector, and I managed to catch his forlorn reply:

    "Yes, I appreciate that this is unacceptable, but how on earth am I supposed to put this in an email to my officers?"

  15. So many comments and comments for me to comment back on, thus inviting further comments. I'll do the easy ones first...

    Allen - thank you. A new career for me perhaps? One with more money?

    Blue Eyes - I don't have PCSO's but when I'm patrolling I will pull them up about their appearance, as well as with PC's. I once saw a PC leaning on a wall outside a school eating a kebab. I would have vented spleen there and then but the Chief Inspector standing next to her didn't seem too concerned. I got the PC later, though the argument loses some weight when a member of the SMT is implicitly condoning it.

  16. Anonymous transferee - my team has had to lose 4 PC's due to restructering, and I've been told I'll lose a PS and a further 2 PC's due to resources being required elsewhere. I had the exact same conversation with my boss as you suggested with regards to my expectations - with less officers are the targets I'M given going to be adjusted. Can you guess what the answer was? Nevertheless, I still think the targets I'VE set are achievable. I achieved these on a team of 7 PC's, when we investigated our own cases and prepared case papers etc.

  17. Sir - one question. Is it different for the bobby with 27 years in? (Not that I've got 27 in or anything!!!) and . . . what do you expect from them? Thanks.

  18. Hog Day - I'm upset you didn't give me a vaild crossword solution today! I agree with you, sometimes the public needs to accept that we do have a bit of an idea what we're doing, and should just leave us to it.

    Boy on a Bike - when you've got senior officers behaving like that, what chance the newcomers for being effective? I'm surprised you didn't see them on the chairs taken from that meeting, sat in the street drinking tea and being nice.

    Sierra Charlie - A Special at my district works 5 days a week, and is the top arresting officer on team. How's that for dedication. As for group e-mails - never. It's just the one individual concerned in my office who needs to be 'educated'. I do the same for the good performing ones also - the only difference is I thank them.

  19. R/T - a wee bit. However, and I'm sure you'll be familiar with this - I've worked with PC's who have 5 years service but quadruple the experience. I've worked with PC's who have 28 years service and no experience, because they pride themselves on having done nothing, taking every step to avoid work. Their the ones who will have to arrest 5 people. As for say, well, an R/T driver, they have that qualification because they've proved their capable of dealing with any incident without a supervisor. Such officers should aid their operator and hand over arrests, but I'd expect to see the operator getting more than th required 5.

  20. PC Fish Thief - at my training school we had a Phantom Shitter. It was quite remarkable. No matter what time of day or night we went to the toilet (cubicle one, like you say) there would be a jobbie nestled on the seat, with part of it lazily drooping into the bowl. It was massive. We never did find out who was responsible and if the cleaner did complain to our instructors, they never sent an e-mail about it either.

  21. Taranis

    1. The problem with that lies in your second point. If police don't attend to report crimes a) they'll be a reduction and b) people will stop calling because there's no point. The new Policing Pledge that had been rolled out to al Forces will address that and ensure you get some response in the future, and I would encourage any MOP to read it. That being said, the previous response you had is unacceptable. I also don't think a reduction in crime should be used as a basis alone. The British Crime Survey was used to measure confidence in the police but, because people had no confidence, Labour decided to bring in other measurements. I touched on this in one of my first posts 'Your Government Wants You...'

    2. As above, because officers are measured on detections, and as one of the serving officers commented, if there is no likihood of an arrest then they'll want to move onto a report where there is. That being said, they should always be courteous and offer crime prevention advice. This example is also one of the reasons I kick my skippers out of the office so that they can actually supervise and make sure folks are treated and spoken well.

    The last one you mentioned - poor. I can't stand to see officers talking to the public like they're a child, unless that's the only language they understand. Maybe they were traffic officers, in which case they'd be measured on the traffic process they return? Either way, a busted light isn't Ronnie Biggs stuff, is it?

  22. 1. I see performance measured on two different levels. The first level would be on arrests for crimes, the manner in which police officers deal with incidents of any type (By this, I mean how they deal with me as a victim or as a witness) and how they use their judgment and powers of discretion to bring a close to the incident they are dealing with. One of the things I do not miss about England is the feeling that the most basic level of law and order had been completely wiped out by misguided liberals who have created an environment in which the underclass that care for no one but themselves can do what they want. For example, about 10 years ago I read of an incident where a pregnant woman had her car clamped by a private clamper because she was 5 minutes late getting back to her car. The clamper had been predatory and could have cared less. When she threatened to call the police his attitude was “So what? What do you think they will do?” The police officer that attended could see that the clamper would not be reasonable so he arrested him for attempted theft, held for a few hours in a cell and released without charge. In my view, the police officer used his powers of discretion and hopefully taught the clamper a small lesson on to behave more reasonably with people.To me, the police officer showed that he was a force and not a service. Tothe pregnant woman, he was no doubt a hero. In the eyes of the general public, he showed the police can be relied upon.
    There is more serious crime going on than just incidents such as this, and I realise this may not have been the best example to illustrate my point, but you know more than anyone else how it is with the public. Be seen to fix the more prevalent easy stuff and their general perception changes because you are seen as a defender of all things that are right.
    The second level would be on how an area "feels". For example, does the area feel safe and law abiding and do you see a regular police presence?
    A long while ago, New York City had a very bad rep for crime so the police chief launched the zero tolerance program that I have no doubt you are more than aware of. If the popular press is to be believed, the program worked then and works now.

    2. When I were a teen (oh God, here I go…) in the 70s, my Dad ran a shop on a Dagenham council estate. We lived there too. The local beat bobby, Andy, was in my Dad’s shop and other shops on the estate a lot. Everyone knew him. He rarely drove squad cars, preferring instead to walk. He knew everyone and we knew him. He showed up at our schools, sometimes at morning assemblies, and got to know the kids. He turned up at the pubs at turning out time so that he was seen. Get up to mischief and he somehow sensed it and showed up. Kids knew not to run because he would either a) magically reappear at the other end of an alley b) call out your name letting you know he knew who you were (and would knock on your door later). You didn’t call the police, you called Andy. That’s the way he was seen and this is the point I am trying to make. He was consistent and he was a presence. In fact, omnipresent. He would speak plainly to people but with respect. If he felt your behaviour was wrong, he told you so. Some people may not have liked him, but they respected him. Equally as important, he knew his beat and there was very little happened that he didn’t know about because people spoke to him.

    Somehow I have given you one answer to two distinct questions. You ask two very simple questions that are actually very tough to answer – I see why you are The Thinking Policeman! It’s easy for me to say why can’t it be like it was in the 70s, but things were not so political and touchy feely back then. I think you really have your work cut out for you these days with so many oversight committees and pressure groups. By the way, where did you get that photo of me? It doesn’t say Wanted above it, so I assume it’s safe for me to return to England now?

  23. Sir

    Thanks for replying to my comment.

    - Annon Transferee

  24. Thanks for the response, Inspector. It seems fair and reasonable to me. I didn't know that there are police officers who ony do traffic-related work. My apologies to the rest!

  25. Guv,

    Hoped you'd say that - I agree 100% (esp with your comment about the 28-year shiny arse!). My crewmate and I normally get between 2 and 3 times your quota so phew!
    Any other long servicers can add anything?

  26. Dagenham Dave - checked on the Police National Computer this morning, you're still shown as being wanted for selling counterfeit Pie N Mash.

    R/T - do you want to come to my team?

  27. I'm just a member of the public. Mostly law abiding. Never, ever violent.

    I suspect I'll go off the point here quite a lot, and I'll need to post 2 or 3 comments to get it all in but in response to your questions:

    1. I don't know. Depends on whether public satisfaction was a driver for police behaviour. I think that the police are there to protect the public & enforce the law, legally & benevolently, for the benefit of society. Not to satisfy the public per se; although in theory one ought to naturally follow the other, were it ever to happen.

    Public opinion is often just uninformed hysteria combined with manipulation of the agenda by politicians & the media, and distracts the police from their job as it distracts from important issues in many walks of life. So really I would be less inclined to measure a police force's performance in terms of public satisfaction & measure it instead against what it's supposed to be doing.

    I understand that this is a simplistic view & ignores the pressures which I've alluded to above and I believe there are MANY "bad laws" which nobody should ever be hassled for breaking, but there should not IMO be any such thing as "policy" within the police. The only policy that needs to exist is "do the job", with all the facets that has.

    2. I would expect all officers to behave in accordance with the law & their responsibilities at all times while on duty. I would expect that as public servants they behave with humility & respect towards members of the public. I would expect that the possibility of them committing crimes while on duty or breaching their professional responsibilities would be so alien & hostile a concept that it were barely conceivable, & certainly abhorrent.

    Those are my expectations. My experience is minimal. I had a bike stolen 11 years ago but can't remember anything else I've had to report before or since. Of course, there was little to be done about the bike, and nothing was expected on my part. I was arrested aged 11 (about 23 years ago) for running from the scene of a car vandalism (not committed by me but a couple of mates I was with) & I was treated fairly (caution).

    I'm an amateur photographer. I've not been hassled in that regard but I'm rarely at it in the street. I know folk that have been hassled & we've all read stories of folk being harassed or told to delete images. This bothers me. I disagree with the police acting illegally more than I disagree with non-police acting illegally.

  28. ....continued.....

    My present views are severely tainted following the G20 event, which I was at on April 1st. I witnessed so many examples of what I consider criminal behaviour on the part of the police that I couldn't possibly have counted them. Also, the obvious pleasure on the faces of officers who were indiscriminately attacking people has created what I think will be a permanent distrust, if not fear, of the police. That's wrong. Only criminals should fear the police, & they should only fear them cos presumably they are putting their own liberty at risk & they value their liberty, not cos they might be subjected to criminal acts by police.

    I was also lied to several times during the day by officers. At other times they just refused to speak to me or respond to questions, standing silently & glaring with a look that can only be described as hatred or suppressed violence. I heard police abusing members of the public behind their backs as they walked away, having already been rude & offensive to their faces. Not to mention the misinformation put out about the fella who died.

    These are things I would not expect. My expectation was summed up in point 1: protect the public & enforce the law, legally & benevolently, for the benefit of society. An important element of that in my opinion is not just taking responsibility for their individual actions, but also actively rooting out those elements of the police that are so often described as "bad apples" but are actually vile, treacherous, hypocritical criminals. It should never be thought of as a club, a blind eye should never be turned from inappropriate behaviour. From my perspective, I find it hard to believe I'll ever trust the police en masse in this country until I see them to be as keen to deal with the criminals within their ranks as those outside them.

  29. I'd like comment on a couple of your criteria too, as a member of the public:

    1. This makes sense to me, although as I think someone has mentioned, and as happens in all walks of life, those moaning will shout loudest and more often.

    2. I can see that realistic targets are useful, if officers deem them to be important in motivational terms, but I don't like this. It's just so arbitrary. Why 5? Why not 4, 3, or 19? Setting targets like this can potentially suggest the appropriateness or otherwise of achieving a different number. The target, as far as I can tell, should be to arrest 100% of those people who ought to be arrested for committing crimes, for the protection of the public. How that is distributed amongst individual officers doesn't bother me, providing they are all acting correctly and diligently.

    3. Fine, I suppose. I disagree with a burdensome level of reporting or paperwork but it seems this is in part a result of mistrust and performance management at various levels. I agree with the attitudinal aspects of this point.

    4. This really makes me feel uncomfortable. In a similar way to number 2, but somehow I feel less happy about this one. I think that's because I assume, or hope, that I won't ever be subject to arrest, but feel personally threatened by the idea that I could become subject to a pointless and probably intimidating encounter with police simply because someone needs to make their numbers. I appreciate the point you make about knowing the "ne'er-do-wells", but I also know that people frequently are stopped and searched for no good reason at all, and also for very sinister or inappropriate reasons. I don't see why there should be a target for this.

    5. I can't honestly say I've ever thought about this. I think uniforms are a bit rubbish in general. Nothing wrong with being smart though, I suppose.

    erm. Sorry it ended up so long. And sorry if my detour about the G20 was off topic...but it will have a lasting effect, and not just for me.

  30. Rented - thank you for your comments. Very concise, engaging, and well-written.

    I read your comments on G20 a number of times. I wasn't there, but I am public order trained and have been involved in many volatile and hostile situations, but these pale into insignificance compared to those I've policed involving law-abiding citizens that have passed without incident. I can only talk from my own experience, but I've never witnessed the behaviour you talked about from any of my colleagues - ever. I've seen them demonstrate the upmost restraint when colleagues have been stabbed, hit with bricks, surrounded and beaten - never the behaviour you describe. I'm not saying I don't believe you, just that I've never seen this myself.

    Apart from my post on the idiotic comments made by George Monbiot in 'Guilty', I have declined to comment on G20. This is not out of cowardice, but of respect, which I outline below and in no order of importance.

    1) The family of Ian Tomlinson. Like everyone else, I have a close and extended family. Should any of them have died in the same circumstances as Mr Tomlinson, where I had been able to view his last moments, seen only in the context of a shove from the PC involved, I would want answers. I cannot even begin to imagine the range of emotions they are experiencing. It must shift from sadness to despair, anger to disbelief, to frustration at not knowing the conclusion of the IPCC outcome, which I have read is not likely to be produced until 2010. Anything I say as a serving police officer would be inappropriate, and the last thing I would wish for is to add to their sadness.

    2) The PC involved. He has not been found guilty of manslaughter, although he has been interviewed for it. He has not been found innocent. I cannot anticipate the outcome, nor would I attempt to do so. Nevertheless, I am sure that not a moment passes whilst awake or asleep that the officer does not relive that moment. Whatever the outcome, his life will never be the same again.

    3) The MPS. Although you mention about the MPS mis-informing the public about Mr Tomlinson's death, I have to admit I don't really have knowledge of this in sufficient detail to pass comment. However, I believe that The Commsioner has acted in a responsible manner by immediately referring and supporting all information to the IPCC and by requesting that HMIC conduct a review into the tactics used. I'm no great strategist, just someone on the ground who knows how to ensure my part of the strategy is completed as per instructions. The MPS will produce its own statement and conclusions when all enquiries have finished, and again as a serving police officer it would be irresponsible to make a comment on behalf of that Force.

    I'll move onto your other observations shortly. Please don't construe the above as being a political response. It's not. It's a moral one.

    I can say I agree with you on one point - it will have a lasting effect, not just for you or me, but for the nature of public order policing and the responsibility of organisers for protests to 'self-police' trouble-makers.

  31. Rented - I've spoken about my rational for arrests in previous replies to comments, and some of the other areas you address. However, I want to stress this as it is an important difference - I am not directing my officers to stop and SEARCH people. I'm directing them to accurately record stop and ACCOUNTS. No one can tell me that if you are a police officer patrolling a burglary hotspot at 3 in the morning, and you see a lone individual, or two together, walking about with no great purpose, you wouldn't stop them and ask them to ACCOUNT for their presence in that area at that time? They may have good reason, in which case details are taken (as per legislative obligations on our part - they can refuse details) or if sufficient grounds exist, to search them? The key to all of this is to INFORM that person why you are speaking to them. This serves a number of purposes: if they live in the area they will be delighted to know police are patrolling thier area to stop burglaries; if they're a burglar they'll know to move on; they MIGHT get searched, might be a burglar, might have items to go equipped to commit burglary, and might get arrested.

    I hope this clarifies the difference between stop and account and stop and search.

  32. Just a short comment l may come out with more thoughts at a later date. I realise that l have posted something not specific to your question but it does make a difference for the problem in hand if someone is briefed well and appears confident.

    I come into a fair bit of police contact usually through work. After dealing with a couple of police probationers (well they appeared to be very new) bringing us a load of swabs and then being confused as to how many to use and where to swab and other info.

    And a second swab incident where 2 officers who were on their own so obviously not totally new but who seemed to have no idea on taking basic info which l am sure must be needed.
    They were clueless about what was needed from them re the swabs. Did they leave the swabs then go, did they write them up, where did they take them. I insisted they stay while l swabbed which took all of 2 minutes. As to where they went to I suggested they ring their sergeant for info
    After swabbing they looked at the swabs like they were aliens so l passed 2 empty evidence bags and said seal them in there and write the details on, my name area swabbed FWIN etc. still blank looks, and nothing written on the bags, l left them to it.

    If new staff are to be used to run any errands they should be properly briefed. It may be a simple job to the person that sent them but it is new to those sent.
    Having said that the sergeant l dealt with on the phone and who sent them round was unpleasant and egotistical enough to find it funny to dump the job and no briefing onto the pair.

    I can only assume in the second situation (I dealt with a different sergeant so know he was not to blame) that maybe PC's do not routinely collect evidence but they should be aware of the basics.

  33. Sir,

    I would suggest that there is only one real way to measure the effectiveness of the police, and that is by the absence of crime.

    Total absence is too much to ask, I know. There will always be criminals. There will always be someone who notices something unattended and walks off with it. Someone who thinks the speed limits are for others to observe. Someone who thinks they can stagger home, bellowing hits from the 'Sound of Music' in between vomiting on lawns and passing cats at 3 am. There will always be some who can't contain their violence, and so on.

    The thing is, when you set a target of five arrests per month, the police then become dependent on the presence of crime in order to meet those targets. The crime becomes essential to the function of the police. If there is no crime, and therefore no arrests, the police will be deemed to have failed when in fact they will have spectacularly succeeded.

    If the arrest rate, and thereby the crime rate, goes to ten arrests per officer per month, the police will be applauded for exceeding their targets whereas in fact they will have failed.

    The targets set up a situaton where there must be crime in order to meet them. That leads to arrests for petty things that could have been dealt with using no more than a few stern words. I know, towards the end of every moneth, drivers near me talk about being extra careful in case they come across a policeman who needs one more for his target. (I'd prefer they were extra careful all the time, of course, but it's the response tothose targets that bothers me here).

    The only measure you need is 'Who controls the streets? Police or criminals?'

    If it's the police, you're doing it right.

  34. (ahem) Apologies for typographical errors. I am neither policeman nor typist.

  35. Vet Nurse - you're right, but officers have to learn so much. I remember in my probationary period not always knowing how to deal with incidents and procedures, but the secret lay in two things - if you don't know, ask. If you get it wrong once, learn from it, don't get it wrong again! I've told detectives the correct procedures for taking swabs, even they didn't know! I only learnt from working in an area where serious incidents occurred daily and so I had to learn. I wasn't impatient with the officer, I told them exactly what to do and stood by them when they did it. Now they know! As for the sergeants you speak of, I bet they didn't know how to do it themselves...

  36. Leg Iron - don't worry about the mispellings. My fat fingers hitting more than one key at once is usually to blame for mine.

    I take your point about setting arrest figures, but it isn't something I plucked out of the air. I actually spent a lot of time researching my officer's past performance. What I looked at was the total number of arrests made across the team that were made for priority offences such as robbery, burglary, domestic violence and theft. I then divided the totals per officer to see what they could get in these areas, and the average was 5. I left out things such as minor public order, drunkeness etc, because such offences should be left to the discretion of the officer. In many instances it's much better to take the first-time, often young offender home to their parents, stand back and watch as the vitriol commences. It can be a much harsher punishment than anything we deliver!

  37. Wow, I cannot believe how many comments there are here.. in fact I could say lots of things to lots of them. There are many great comments and valid points... but I digress.


    I don't think your targets etc are unachievable as long as they are not a blanket policy and common sense prevails based on both the situations at hand and the resourcing etc as available.

    Anon Transferee,
    I agree. It all sounds very, very similar to my farce, I guess we weren't the only ones in the country being run by shiny arse bean-counters... I too am considering a transfer.. it's daft!!!

    Anyway, I could keep going but this is for another post on my blog :-)

  38. First up, I'm just a common or garden MOP. But I do have friends and family serving with the police either as serving officers or support staff:-

    1/ I would completely divorce the Police from wider government and have it run as an independant public body with it's own policy-making chain of command that isn't answerable to the Home Office or Westminister, only to the public or the judiciary. Robert Peel laid out in brilliantly clear terms what the role of a Police Officer is and this is what individual officers and the organisation as a whole should be judged by.

    I've always been suspicious of any form of performance measurement via statistics. They've always stuck me as a desperate attenpt to make a square peg fit a round hole, i.e trying to apply a rigid scientific formula to the chaos and unpredicatability of real life. I find them patronising by the implication that I (as a member of the proletariat) wouldn't be able to understand the complex role of a Police Officer doing his duties, so therefore the product of his labours must be stripped of all meaningful detail and presented to me as an easy to understand number or colourful pie chart.

    2/ I have no complaint whatsoever with the manner or appearance of any Police Officer I have ever had cause to deal with. They have always behaved exactly as I would expect them to with cordially, professionalism and politeness but still maintaining an air of authority and not crossing the line into "mateyness".

    I feel though that the wider public just can't make up their mind how they want Police Officers to be. On the one hand you get people shouting that dress standards within the Police are falling, but then the Police are accused of being "like a paramilitary" when parading in full gear. People complain when the Police aren't polite but then cheer for the "good old days of coppering" when the BBC unleashes the character of "Gene Hunt" onto our tellyboxes, A burly 70's detective who isn't adverse to hurting a few feelings and cracking a few heads.

    I think the lesson from that is that the public doesn't actually know what it wants. So by trying to pander to public opinion you'd just be chasing your tail.

  39. Ollie, a very experienced and crusty old git once said to me (over a fag and brew in the yard), this organisation lost the plot a few years ago when they decided we needed to be liked by the public. We are the police, we come and remove peoples loved ones from their homes for things that they do wrong, we come up to you when you're having "fun" with your friends and inform you that you are being a drunken arse. We tell people their driving is bad (i saved that till last as that causes more fights than the other two put together). As long as our organisation still does ANY of those things, we will NEVER EVER be liked. The best we could hope for is to be respected, which we were. But now, by attempting to portray ourselves as all singing all dancing, friends to the world the public at large thinks (correctly) that we will pander to any group with a drum to bang while letting nuts and bolts problems slip. So we are no longer respected either.

    Game over.

  40. Does anybody have any experience with this market research firm?

  41. Intelligent POVs. My take (and I am a MOP) has to do with perception and cynicism. People reflect what they see, or think they see. Its not about neccessarily having to like the police, or an individual officer. Or indeed having to be liked. Its about trust. If you can trust, you begin to respect. And if you can respect, and get to know, you can also get to like or be liked. But as an MOP, when I see, hear, or read articles, stories press coverage which are DESIGNED in many cases to show the police, or an individual officer in a negative light, the question that will arise for many is "how can we trust/respect judgement/behaviour we have just seemingly witnessed?"

    Many of us are living in tough times, and we all read of stories where people feel they are being turned into criminals for just the slightest error of judgement or infraction. I do not condone breaking the law, but we are all equal under it.Recently, an MP was summarily arrested in the HOC (and I am not going to comment on the grounds or evidence for that as I was not there). But there have been no arrests of MPs for fiddling their expenses. Nor of bankers, whose apparent reckless greed will undoubtedly create a fresh batch of criminals. (Unemployment increases lead to desparate measures sometimes,) I'm not condoning it however, merely showing that someone should be asking some penetrating questions. As their action affect, in the main, the UK public, it would be in everyones interest (except of course bankers) to get some answers. After all, if the police are to act on suspicion, and the general public raise those suspicions...

    This is what the public *expect* in order to feel that "the law" is equal to all. When they see the great and the good 'getting away with it' you can understand their cynicism. And cynicism rarely leads to trust or respect, something which the force/service must have, as it creates confidence in the public mind. Take a look at how companies who deal with the public go about ensuring their product/service/shop is well received. Confidence is everything, a solid foundation on which you can build relationships. Once that happens, people will feel more inspired to support what the police do, rather than complain.

    Of course, IMHO the vast majority of officers do a tough and difficult job, and much of their work that benefits the public goes unreported, which is perhaps unfair. (Do you guys do PR, or is it just left to the senior pc officers to spin?)

    I have used MPs and Banks as illustrations, inasmuch as these issues do affect us as citizens/consumers, and rather than trying to be political.

    And of course, there's the blame culture for all the ills in society. People always will look for a scapegoat, and currently, anything associated with either law/authority/politics politicians is likely to further alienate them, and again, its about trust, and perception.

    For all we know the respective officers may be wading kneedeep in paperwork looking for evidence, on the above examples with a clear commitment to prosecute all who fall foul of the law, irrespective of their status in society.

    As for arrest targets, I would place far greater emphasis on those aspects of criminal endeavour which cause the most offence. I'd rather see one rapist for example (and it may take a lot of work to secure a conviction) rather than 5 people arrested for say cycling on the pavement. (Not that that ever happens where I live!)....

  42. ....Be seen to actually supply a service when its required, rather than lip service, and believe me, you will build that trust, respect and confidence which you *absolutely* need to do your job. I guess thats what a lot of people are asking for, after all, and if they dont think they are getting it, why bother again in the future. Would you go back to a restaurant that had shoddy service, poor food, and was poor value for money? Would you safely reccommend them? I think not.

    Less pandering to public opinion (lip service) and more delivery of what the public (customer)wants.And believe me, the public do know what they want, but its up to you to deliver to us, not the other way around. I hate using terms like public servant, but thats what you guys are, and if you are not seen to be serving the public (the customer is always right - even when he/she's wrong mantra!)our cynicism will be a reflection of what you deliver. And as police officers are just as much consumers as anyone else -above all, HUMAN, you can perhaps begin to see how this vicious cycle grows and serves noone. Not you, not us. I hope this is read in a constructive way...I am pro police, but that does not mean its a blind support for all that is done in the name of law and order.

  43. Very interesting blog. As a state police officer in the U.S. I find some similar grievances in foreign law enforcement community. Thanks for sharing.