Do it right
A while ago I was made aware of the Met Federations Do it right campaign. I have not read the fine print and, as I am not a Met officer, I don’t know too much about how it works in practice. But I think that it seems like an excellent idea. To some extent, we ourselves are the biggest Obstacle to the public becoming aware of the devastating effect of cuts to Policing. I will try to explain why I think this.
Police resources have already been cut too far. Yet we continue to operate. ‘Recorded’ crime continues to fall, or rise only marginally. We tell the public that the effects will be devastating. Yet the statistics and the evidence that the Public see are far from devastating. They are noticing dropping response times. Maybe being told a bit more often that no Police officer will attend their incident, but nothing along the lines of what has been predicted. So, are we wrong? Are we scaremongering? Is the government right?
The problem is that the Police officers and civilian staff that remain are bending over backwards to plug the gaps. They are not just working harder or a little bit smarter as claimed. It’s not the case that we have just got rid of a lot of people who were doing nothing. I accept that some changes and efficiency measures have worked. Some were needed. But I see on a daily basis officers working 2 or 3 hours a day and not claiming overtime. I see officers being kept on at the end of their tour of duty and claiming overtime but being told they’ll have to change their claim to time off. Time off that they rarely get the opportunity to take may I add.
People are coming in on their days off. Doing way more than they should. There are a number of reasons for this. Some people are doing it to further their own careers. To stand out. Some are doing it because they are afraid to say no to their bosses. Some are certainly being bullied or intimidated by senior managers into working excessive hours for no payment in order to avoid repercussions.
The results of all of these extra hours, extra work rate, extra responsibilities, stress and intimidation at work are starting to show already! Sickness is almost universally up. Injuries on duty are rising. Complaints from members of the public are rising. Service levels are falling. This is now. There are more cuts to come. This is after a short period of time. The real results will come when we have been trying to cope for even longer. It is a ticking bomb.
Perhaps even more worrying is that staff are attending incidents and finding reasons not to record the incidents as crimes. I realise that it’s quite a contentious point but it’s true and we know it! To investigate a crime allocated to themselves takes time. Time that staff know they don’t have. So when there’s an incident that ‘may’ be a crime people are tending to go down the no crime route. When they attend fights or disorder in the street the tendency is to write it off. To gloss over the circumstances. To not record a crime because they know they don’t have the time to deal with the implications of another crime to deal with! Unfortunately a minority are going further. They are not recording incidents as crimes where a crime has clearly been committed. They are doing so ‘believing’ they are doing the right thing. They are not!
In addition there are less officers on the street to discover offences. Less stop searches being conducted. less officers to discover public order offences or find drugs. These are big factors in the drop in recorded crime. The main crimes that are falling are those that we aren’t discovering anymore. There is not less crime out there. This is a recession. The reverse is true. Crime is rising. We just don’t record it or discover it as much. This is not good. In such an environment criminals prosper and good people suffer.
We feel that we are serving the public by papering over the cracks with our extra efforts. But these efforts are not sustainable long term. The government will use the evidence that we are providing with our short term efforts to justify further cuts. To say “we knew we were right.” they will cut further. We are leaving the public exposed. When the staff are gone they will not come back. The people leaving are not those with no skills or prospects. The people leaving are those that are being cherry picked. Well qualified and valued colleagues. I have seen some excellent colleagues take their skills elsewhere. They are getting more money and better hours etc. they will not come back! Lost forever. That is not to say that those of us remaining are not skilled or qualified. But any organisation would struggle to cope with such a talent drain. A drain that will be plugged with cheaper new recruits. Who will take years to be half as efficient as those leaving!
So what do we do? We need to “do it right!” it’s no good for one or two people to do this. They will be earmarked as trouble makers. Moved, bullied or even made redundant under new proposals. We all need to do it right. We need to record crimes properly. Let the media and the public see the real implications of cuts. We need to work according to the regs we have. If they want to cancel our rest days or change our shifts then tell them we want what regs say. Don’t just say times are tough. If you do that then you are letting others down.
The fed in the Met (and others recently) are showing us what they want. They are not asking for work to rule. They are not asking us to be obstructive. Just do it right. If you go to a job. See it through properly. Crime it. Investigate it. Don’t cuff it. Don’t forget the extra hour you worked or the mileage you did in your own car. Don’t just pop in on your day off to do that bit of paperwork. If we all do it then the cuts will show. The cracks will appear. They will have to rethink.
Support your colleagues and the public. Do it right. Every time.