Computer says no!
I think that the vast majority of the public have no idea about the range of tasks that the Police carry out. There are many possible explanations for this. The media coverage tends to cut out the majority of the mundane tasks we do when making fly on the wall documentaries. I can’t say I blame them. Paperwork and taking complaints doesn’t exactly make for riveting viewing. It could be that when people are talking about the Police they understandably tend to focus on the more spectacular incidents. The banner headlines. Or it could simply be that people just don’t think that a lot of the things we do have got anything whatsoever to do with the Police. This is maybe true. The problem is, if not the Police, then who will do these tasks.
Many people don’t realise that when an elderly relative dies unexpectedly the Police have to make arrangements for the coroner and family. Dealing with enquiries into people who are missing from home. Assisting social services or the NHS with vulnerable people and mentally I’ll people. Assisting the Ambulance service with calls where they have concerns for the safety of crews. Assisting the Fire service. Sitting by insecure homes or cars until the owner can be found or a boarding up service arrives. Preventing suicides/self harm. I really could go on for page after page.
The bottom line is when a task needs to be done and all other agencies have found a reason why it’s not their problem, when they’ve decided that its something that they can’t or wont do, it’s too dangerous for them, It defaults to us. The Police. We do not have the option of walking away until a task is done or it has been handed on to the correct agency to deal with it. We do not have the option of saying ‘thats too dangerous.’ once it’s with us we see it through no matter what.
Every other agency has a safety switch. They have somewhere to go when it all goes wrong or it gets too dangerous. They have that final phone call to make. They can call the Police. They often do. Next time you see an ambulance flying past you watch for a bit. You’ll frequently see a Police car either following or in front of it. We aren’t being nosey. We don’t have time to be. The same is true if a Fire appliance passes you. The Police do not have that extra telephone number in our back pocket. The buck stops with us. We deal with it no matter what. We do ask for other agencies when it’s their job. But when nobody else will deal. We do.
Contrary to what the media and our government would have the public believe we’re actually good at it. Sure there could always be improvements. Anybody could do a little bit better. Times change and we must constantly change with them. We constantly have to learn new legislation and guidelines. Get updates on the latest interpretation of the law or a new partnership agreement etc. we do all of this. Admittedly We are pretty bad at telling people what we do. At sharing with the public the reason why they had to wait an hour after their shed was burgled. But, when we do explain, people ‘usually’ sympathise.
So, what will happen once large chunks of Policing have been privatised? What sort of service will the public get then? Private companies have contracts. Terms of reference. When the task doesn’t fit in with their cosy little contract they refuse. Wave the contract in your face. Its not their job. Or, to quote a well known sketch which sums it up nicely, “computer says noooo.” It’s not what they were contracted to do. There are already many examples out there. Privatised companies running custody blocks. Refusing to do certain tasks because it’s not in their contract. They’re the best placed people to do it. They’re on the spot and its certainly what it was anticipated that they would do. But, “computer says noooo.” So a Police officer gets pulled off the street to do the job we pay the private company to do. What will happen when there are even fewer officers available owing to these over the top cuts? Who will do the jobs that are not in a contract. The jobs that need to be done. Nobody. The public will suffer. Maybe we will even end up employing more Police officers once we realise nobody else will do these tasks but we will contractually be stuck with these white elephant private companies too!
Who will find the missing person who’s drunk in a ditch somewhere? The contract says we don’t need to look for 48 hours but it just ‘feels’ like its not right. It’s out of character for him. You can usually tell by the families reaction. If the computer says wait 48 hours then wait 48 hours it is for the private company. He may be dead by then. But they were just following the rules. They have shareholders after all. Who will pop by and check on the 92yr old war veteran living on their beat and make him ‘think’ we’re just there because he makes a nice cuppa? Will G4S think that gives their shareholders good value for money? He probably spends all day waiting for that knock at the door. Makes his day. Who else will visit him?
A murder costs a lot of money to investigate. An awful lot of money. By the time you get through court, appeals etc you could be talking millions. Would a private company be tempted to say its not suspicious? Would bosses put pressure on people to treat a missing woman, who’s been missing for 6 months, after a history of domestic violence as just missing? After all theres no body. No way of proving its a murder. Let’s not cost our shareholders all this money when we can just say she left him! Is that what we want?
The Police service is made up of people from our own communities who hold the office of Constable. We do what seems right. What needs to be done no matter what. Sure we may get it wrong the odd time but we are also accountable and have a well used complaints procedure. We don’t do it to make profit for the force. We don’t get commission. We certainly don’t make a fortune. If it is so wrong right now then why do so many other countries spend so much time and money trying to recreate what we have now?
Forces do not want to privatise the Police. They have had such huge budget cuts that they are being forced to find cheaper ways to fill uniforms. Not better. Not more efficient. Cheaper. The cuts are so severe that there is no alternative. Get the private company to build the new station and fill it with their employees or dont get the new building! The only way to reverse these changes is to stop the cuts. Stop Winsor. Stop the loss of the British Bobby. Please do your bit and sign the Epetition.