I can, and will, leave the police before very long. I can still remember the old sweats from 25 plus years ago talking about how the job was finished. Changes in the law, such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, were predicted to be the end of policing as we know it. Young officers like me just got on with it and didn't really know what these older retiring officers meant.
When I joined the police you knew that you would spend the first two years of your probationary career walking the beat and learning the craft of policing. How to communicate with people; to identify offenders and how to deal with them; to get information. Etc. Once you had proved you could do that, you could think about working on the crime car and perhaps moving to CID.
Teamwork - Still there?
Most of all, I remember a team of officers who worked together, supported one another and whose role was simple and basic. Catch bad people. The job then was a vocation. There was never any problem finding officers to work late or come in on a day off to get something done if it meant catching a bad guy, or girl.
For years now I have seen the job change. Legislation has, of course, made things more complex but this is used as an excuse to set up more and more specialist teams whose purpose, in some cases, seems to be no more than covering the backsides of senior management. This has meant fewer and fewer officers on the front line and more pressures on those officers left.
Constant changes and tinkering with the set up of policing has been more about senior officers CV's than real, long term improvements. Winsor is bringing about detrimental changes to both pay and conditions but, more importantly, will lead to more privatisation in the service. This will destroy even further the team work and dedication of officers.
I have had several experiences of the health service recently and I don't like what I see. Years ago I saw a team. I saw vocation. With some exceptions, what I now see are demotivated, demoralised doctors and nurses fed up with targets and constant interference in what should generally be a straightforward and basic role. Private enterprise within the service has ruined it.
This is now what has happened to the police. Vocation has almost disappeared. I see officers joining the police who just want to catch bad people and make the country a better place for the decent law abiding majority. Before they have completed their first 2 years probationary period, I see frustrated, disillusioned officers who believe they cannot beat the system that thwarts them at every turn. Trying to get officers to work late or on rest days now is almost impossible. There used to be rewards for this i.e. results. Now it is just means more frustration. They don't want it. Time to get back to basics.
Rowing is more exciting
A couple of recent cases caught my eye regarding officers being disciplined. The first was a sergeant who tried to destroy a mobile phone belonging to a colleague who was killed in a road traffic accident. He knew his colleague was having an affair and there would be evidence of it on the phone. He wanted to get rid of it so as not to cause the colleagues wife/partner unnecessary additional trauma. The sergeant was sacked.
I have done similar things many times. For example, I dealt with a 14 year old girl run down and killed by a drunk driver. In her bag she had condoms. When it came to handing her family her property I made sure the condoms disappeared. I don't know if the girl was sexually active. I don't know if the family had any idea. It was irrelevant to the death and why cause further unnecessary upset to the family? Should I be sacked for that?
Another case that caught my eye was of the Met officer who was investigated for putting 'I've met the Met' stickers' on vehicles from another Force. I was pleased to note that after investigation it was dealt with by words of advice. This practice has been going on to my knowledge, since we went on the miners' strike in 1984. Yes it's juvenile and yes it can be a bloody nuisance getting the stickers off but is this what we have come to? The job used to be fun. Not anymore.
So, I am now definitely the grumpy old git who needs to retire. Last post coming soon.