Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Have we lost the plot?

You're Fired!

Like all police forces, ours has become a model of political correctness. Sadly, it appears that you are more likely to get promoted for reporting a colleague for inappropriate behaviour than for being an effective police officer. How does an officer tick the box and give an example of how they have dealt with an colleagues inappropriate behaviour if they are just getting on with the job and arresting offenders?

Last week an officer faced a gross misconduct hearing for inappropriate behaviour and was sacked. I have reflected on this ever since and I feel very strongly that the officer was dealt with too harshly. Am I right or am I just an old dinosaur out of touch with the world of today?

The circumstances are very simple. A young male officer walks into a police building and sees a young female officer, who he knows, but has not seen for some time. She is on her mobile phone and facing away from him. He walks up behind her and taps her bottom with his toe. She turns around and he waves and says hello and then carries on so as not to interrupt her phone call. She believes that he patted her bottom with his hand but he has always insisted it was his toe. She cannot be sure. She reports the incident.

I fully accept that what the officer did was unacceptable and that he was wrong to do it. But did he deserve to be sacked? I feel the right course of action would have been to give a formal written warning. Then, if he was stupid enough to repeat similar behaviour, of course he must go.

I would be glad to hear the views of other officers and particularly members of the public. Am I, or are the PC police out of touch with the real world?  


  1. "She smiled and waved at him", I may not be a policeman but even I can see that she clearly did not object to his behaviour, not that his behaviour was right or proper, but would he have been dismissed if it was a male officer, is this real equality?

    If she was so offended why did she not take the matter up with him immediately?

    Is she any different to the woman who sleeps with a man only to accuse him of rape the following day?

    Is sexual equality so unequal that a woman can destroy a mans career for a trivial matter that should have been sorted out with a few well chosen words?

    What's next? Will walking in and saying 'hello' be grounds for dismissal, how about if you are not paying attention to where you are going and collide a woman, is that now to be considered sexual assault punishable by imprisonment, loss of career and a lifetime on the sexual offenders register?

    On this basis alone if the police ever have dealings with me I do not want to deal with a female officer, not if they are like this example, I no longer have any confidence in them or in the kind of officers who made this decision.


  2. If it's true that she really did smile and wave at him at the time, then what got into her head afterwards that it suddenly warranted making into an issue by reporting it?

    As a woman and as someone who has had her bum pinched by an overzealous Italian (back in the days before litigation and disciplinary action got a stranglehold on us) all that was needed in my instance was a steely glare and a 'what the hell do you think you're doing?'. If in fact she *was* bothered at the time by the prod - however it was delivered - why couldn't she just have told him to sling his hook?

    A lost career over something seemingly so innocent (in my eyes anyway) is just ridiculous and does nothing to instil a good working atmosphere. Quite the opposite, I would have thought.

    So the short answer to your question is: Yes, we are probably *both* dinosaurs when it comes to dealing with the PC Brigade!

    (Been a 'lurker' and occasional visitor around here after I came across your site about a year ago. The nonsense of PC is pretty much guaranteed to get me on my soap box!)

  3. Well. I was born before WW11 started, so it's no good me saying anything!
    No wonder our police have completely lost the plot.

  4. "particularly members of the public. Am I, or are the PC police out of touch with the real world? "

    No just the SMT

  5. From the summary of the exchange you have given I would say that the reaction from both the "victim" and the "management" are totally disproportionate.


    This PC must have been fully aware of quite how fascistic the police service can be and therefore I do wonder why he thought it was a funny or clever thing to do. We also don't know whether there were surrounding issues.

    We also know that "management" are only too happy to stick people on for minor transgressions if they are one of those officers who generally take the piss without breaking any hard-and-fast rules. Perhaps the male officer of your story was one of those and this was the first thing that the "management" thought would stick?

  6. You're kidding...right?
    That's why I don't even shake hands with females. The only jokes I tell at work are "why did the chicken cross the road", but now that I think about it, I might be offeneding some of the chickens in police work.
    Oh I better retire before I get fired.

  7. This is typical of the world of work in which we live. Either the woman will get promoted or the pencil arse in management will go one rung higher. None of them are any use in policing. I saw a woman PC who was as wide as she was tall...I don't how she passed the pathetic bleep test (not sexist just factual as there are fat male coppers).
    It does make one wonder if some people are out for free money or an easy way out. Can someone please refresh my memory regarding percentages with regards to the comparative figures on early retirement (on medical grounds) for male and female police personnel.


  8. He smiled and waved at her. She did not respond at the time.
    There are no surrounding issues. The male officer has an unblemished record and no concerns regarding any previous behaviour.

  9. Yes, the plot is lost.

    An unblemished record and he got fired for a mildly inappropriate greeting. Nuts.
    I'd not be happy about being greeted in the same manner, generally speaking. But my approach would be to tell the guy to fuck off and carry on with my day. If he was an old work friend, I think I'd probably just give it a pass, maybe let him know later that I thought that was disrespectful, don't do it again, yadayada.

    If she can't manage something so minor without involving the authorities, you've got to wonder how she's going to manage in the field.

    Sad for the guy that got canned, in my opinion. Also, it probably isn't going to do much for co-worker camaraderie(which is actually very important) through out the rest of the force, or 'service" as it may be in these PC times.

  10. When driving a newly posted female officer around our part of the city to familiarise her with the ground, she lifted her left foot and plonked it on the shelf below the dash, revealing the top of her black stockings and what I recall were purple suspenders. (Yes, the ladies still wore skirts in the late 70`s). I ignored this, but she kept the foot there and the legs on display. After several more minutes of this I decided to say something; "I see you wear stockings, then". The swift reply came straight back at me, "Yeah, keeps me cooler in this hot weather". She then said, "Are you married? I'm getting married". "Is that right?" says I, "Whose the lucky man?". "Dunno yet", came the response. 3 months later, Bob was trapped. PS:I'm not Bob, but then again I avoided her like the plague after that. Good copper though, just not my type.

  11. My daughter works on the civilian staff of a police force. A young constable did something similar to her, and she simply slapped him round the face in the traditional manner. No complaints, they declared peace and later went down the pub for a pint. I don't know what's wrong with women these days, but like one of your other correspondents, I was also born before WW2.

  12. For police to have lost the plot matters very little.

    The real subject of debate is whether UK police have found themselves in an irrecoverable position after the withdrawal of public support and an almost total loss of public confidence.

    If that is the present position, UK police have established a gain; a reputation as public enemies.

  13. MTG - Malcolm, your single issue comments are getting very boring. You say that public confidence is at its lowest, but the statistics show public confidence in the police has never been higher.

    Myself and other bloggers are often telling you how the statistics are being manipulated but you don't seem interested in that and continue with your unsubstantiated allegation.

    you really need to get over that speed ticket you got. It was three years ago now.

  14. Corruption and incompetence aside, other failings prominent in UK police culture include detestation of criticism and a uniform ignorance of English.

    That being so, I commend Cicero and the Latin Language for study, lex ferenda.

  15. Were this bigoted police blogger schooled in Latin he would have chosen loci over ferenda, Malcolm. Lex is a single language chappy, blissfully happy with his lot.

    Yet it was cruel to suggest he takes up Latin prior to the urgent tuition required in English Grammar. The claim to be a thinker is more astonishing until evidence of animals in possession of thoughts and intentions, is examined.

  16. "Political Correctness" is often political but rarely correct. That's why we modify "correctness".

    Everyone has the right to be treated with respect. However, when dealing with friends and (most) colleagues, the respect is acknowledged to be there to start with so we can be a little more free and easy in our words and behaviour. It's like a group of old friends taking the Mick out of each other in the pub - they respect each other infinitely, so there is no need to be superficially respectful, as it's integral.

    In this case the female officer seems to have had two different agendas - one for at the time, and another for later. Or was she pushed into the complaint by a so-called colleague with more political correctness than sense?

    I'm a bloke and have had my bum patted by a few females (and even one or two males! *). In each case we were good friends and colleagues and it didn't affect our professional relationship at all, except perhaps to make us closer.

    The female in this case should damn well grow up. I hate to think how she'd deal with some of the males - and females - I've managed in the past - they were fine people and good workers, but did not believe in either commanded respect (you had to earn it, and it was GREAT when you had) or political correctness.

    If you are going to get stroppy about something like a pat, TELL THE PERSON. Only go to management if they take no notice.

    *No, the males weren't gay; just pretending!

  17. Touching a woman coworker's bottom is shorthand for "you might be wearing a uniform but you're still just a pleasant looking bum and a nice pair of knockers to me, and don't you forget it". It's a way of reminding her that you have a cultural advantage. There's nothing innocent about it.

  18. I would think this is fairly inappropriate in any workplace. But that's all. Maybe worth a warning, but not a sackable offence.

    Particularly given that a member of the police can keep their job in the face of much more serious misconduct (and it the handful of officers guilty of that kind of thing that undermines the entire force).

    You mentioned reporting colleagues for inappropriate behaviour as if that was not the done thing. Do not underestimate the damage caused to the force by the actions of the odd bad apple. Get rid of them and the job will become a lot easier for everybody else.

  19. It is a bit much that the male officer got fired, but at the same time, it's hard to know exactly what happened, but the hating on female officers and staff from some of the above comments is also completely out of line.

    I'm not an officer, though I am a woman who has worked in the security industry and I and other female coworkers have been in situations such as this. My personal method of dealing with it was turning around and giving the offender a piece of my mind about how unmanly, dishonourable and inappropriate his behaviour was. He was squirming like a kid caught red handed by the end of it and apologized profusely.

    However, one of my coworkers also had something like this happen (except in this case, it was a hand-over-the-shoulder-sneaky-breast-rub type deal).

    When it happened, everyone was joking around and while she felt uncomfortable, she couldn't decide whether she wanted to ruin the mood of the group by bringing attention to the incident, because one of the topics being joked about at the time was, indeed, political correctness and how most of the men present hated dealing with "chicks who made a big emotional effing deal" out of "harmless" things.

    She ended up going to the supervisor and the guy was suspended from work for a week. Unfortunately, he was a dick about it and confronted her after about being "a nazi feminist" and a bunch of other unprintable things. He was eventually fired, but the female coworker ended up quitting too.

    Just from a woman's perspective, sometimes it's really a hard decision about whether to report minor sexual misconduct, because of how a lot of women socialized.

    On one hand, it really does feel violating (no matter how minor it seems to be from outside parties), because it was not our choice to be touched in that way, especially because usually, those areas are reserved for people whom we've chosen to share them with.

    On the other hand, reporting it can cause a lot of problems for both the woman doing the reporting and for everyone involved. It's not a thing that a lot of women do lightly and from experience, a lot of women will have something happen to them, be unsure of what to do about it, go home and discuss the incident with their girlfriends/boyfriends/husbands (who will usually urge the woman to stand up for her rights) and come back the next day, and report it.

  20. yes you have lost the plot, it is time officers became accountable and did the job that you joined up for, there are too many "yes" "i want promotion" officers , hands are not tied but many officers choose to hide behind "procedure". Fearful of complaints from ethnic minorities. It is time the service, politicians and the public dealt with scum as scum weather they are black, white muslim christian hindu etc. this does not happen as kid gloves are ALWAYS used it is time for senior officers to move into the real world and soon, many parts of inner cities are no go areas weather they think/or told or choose to believe otherwise. Unless the problem is addressed we will continue to have officers who just work to collect their pay cheque and not the duty they signed for -- wake up!