There are ten key points in the pledge. If you cannot be bothered to learn English, it has been produced in at least nine different languages for you:
1. Always treat you fairly with dignity and respect ensuring you have fair access to our services at a time that is reasonable and suitable for you.
2. Provide you with information so you know who your dedicated Neighbourhood Policing Team is, where they are based, how to contact them and how to work with them.
3. Ensure your Neighbourhood Policing Team and other police patrols are visible and on your patch at times when they will be most effective and when you tell us you most need them. We will ensure your team are not taken away from neighbourhood business more than is absolutely necessary. They will spend at least 80% of their time visibly working in your neighbourhood, tackling your priorities. Staff turnover will be minimised.
5. Aim to answer 999 calls within 10 seconds, deploying to emergencies immediately giving an estimated time of arrival, getting to you safely, and as quickly as possible. In urban areas, we will aim to get to you within 15 minutes and in rural areas within 20 minutes.
6. Answer all non-emergency calls promptly. If attendance is needed, send a patrol giving you an estimated time of arrival, and: - If you are vulnerable or upset aim to be with you within 60 minutes - If you are calling about an issue that we have agreed with your community will be a neighbourhood priority (listed below) and attendance is required, we will aim to be with you within 60 minutes. - Alternatively, if appropriate, we will make an appointment to see you at a time that fits in with your life and within 48 hours.· If agreed that attendance is not necessary we will give you advice, answer your questions and / or put you in touch with someone who can help.
7. Arrange regular public meetings to agree your priorities, at least once a month, giving you a chance to meet your local team with other members of your community. These will include opportunities such as surgeries, street briefings and mobile police station visits which will be arranged to meet local needs and requirements. Your local arrangements can be found below.
8. Provide monthly updates on progress, and on local crime and policing issues. This will include the provision of crime maps, information on specific crimes and what happened to those brought to justice, details of what action we and our partners are taking to make your neighbourhood safer and information on how your force is performing.
9. If you have been a victim of crime agree with you how often you would like to be kept informed of progress in your case and for how long. You have the right to be kept informed at least every month if you wish and for as long as is reasonable.
10. Acknowledge any dissatisfaction with the service you have received within 24 hours of reporting it to us. To help us fully resolve the matter, discuss with you how it will be handled, give you an opportunity to talk in person to someone about your concerns and agree with you what will be done about them and how quickly.
If some of this sounds familiar, it is. Most of it was in customer service charters we produced in the 80’s and 90’s. Did that make any diference then? No, to be honest. Most of it very basic and sensible but my biggest concern is the Pledge is symptomatic of our society at the moment. It is all about rights but silent on responsibilities. In an ideal society we wouldn’t need to remind people of their responsibilities but we are certainly not an ideal society. A small minority of the population soak up all the police resource and the Pledge is just a charter for more of the same. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:
3. We won’t be in your neighbourhood 80% of the time. We will be in the neighbourhoods of the underclass dealing with their alcoholism issues, domestic arguments, fights over girlfriends, petty squabbles etc. All those problems that the uncivilised and needy have, living in close proximity to one another, which they can now allege is harassment or threatening or abusive behaviour. If you have trouble with rowdy drunks walking down your street at midnight, we might patrol it once in a while, at 3 a.m. when everything else has settled down.
4. In the Utopian police force we have employed some police staff ready to return your call within 24 hours to comply with this and to tell you that your neighbourhood team will call you back when they are next working. At weekends we have neighbourhood police officers sat in the police station returning the calls within 24 hours telling you that your neighbourhood officer will call back when they are next working. So you used to ring your local officer and you would be told when they are next on duty and you can expect a call back then. Now you ring your local officer and get told someone will ring you back within 24 hours. Then you get another call to tell you when your neighbourhood officer is next working and that you can expect a call back then.
7. We are committed to so many clinics, surgeries and street meetings, there is hardly any time left to deal with all the problems that people want us to deal with. Being there and listening to people is an absolute requirement of neighbourhood policing. But if you don’t deal with the problems people raise they will lose trust and stop bothering to tell you.
I have been involved in Neighbourhood Policing for many years and I am committed to it. I believe that having local officers in communities finding out what the issues are and tackling the problem people and places is the way to make a difference. I want my officers taking on the yobs, drug dealers, violent thugs and car thieves. I want my officers in their faces and banging on their doors and arresting them. Does the Policing Pledge take this forward and help achieve those aims?
We need to break away from being a front line social services department for the needy in society. All the time we make promises to respond to allegations of abusive texts, harassment via Facebook and name calling, we commit, and waste, most of our time to this and don’t have time to tackle the problem people and places that the majority would like us to. We have been in neighbourhoods long enough now. We know what the problems are. If we don’t tackle those problems we will lose the trust of our communities, Policing Pledge or not.