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Frontline dismiss PM's officer on-call 'gimmick'


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Frontline leaders and officers have dismissed plans by the Prime Minister to create an 'officer on call' service for crime victims.

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Get the message: PM's on call plans won't work, say rank and file officers

Date - 26th July 2021
By - Chris Smith

Proposals by the Prime Minister to change policing priorities have been condemned by rank and file officers.

A Downing Street briefing to a national newspaper set out how Boris Johnson wants every victim of crime to be given a named police officer ‘on call’, league tables for answering call times and more officers to deal with school truancy.

The plans will be formally launched tomorrow.

It comes just days after the 0% pay deal and a statement of no confidence in the Home Secretary issued by the Police Federation.

The announcement, made at the start of the summer recess, coincided with a new report from the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) that revealed more than three quarters of officers have experienced mental health or wellbeing difficulties in the past year.

The Fed’s survey of 12,471 rank and file police officers impact revealed 69 per cent of all respondents linked ‘work-related difficulties’ to their distress. Of these respondents, 58 per cent experienced work-related mental health and wellbeing difficulties and cited heavy workloads as a factor.

Frontline officers reacted to the PM’s plans with fury, making clear they were unworkable unless there was significant investment and that most officers had other priorities above offering a telephone service.

One officer shared on social media: “On call while on a night shift, on annual leave, seconded to police public order, out dealing with new victims, or simply on the phone to all the other victims. It's a gimmick crippled by austerity and fatigue.”

Fed leader John Apter, who had already issued a blistering statement in response to the pay fiasco, was equally dismissive.

“Accepting I don’t know the full details, but what I’ve read this is flawed in so many ways. When it fails, it will be the police who will be lambasted, rather than government. Let’s put aside the gimmicks and look at funding the whole Criminal Justice System properly,” he said.

Hampshire Fed Chair Zoe Wakefield said exhausted officers would be unwilling to take on any extra responsibilities: “The public aren’t happy that many crimes/incidents are not responded to or investigated.

"The reason they are is because there are not enough officers. Any new scheme will not work without adequate investment into policing. According to regs, on call is voluntary, relies on goodwill.”

The Met’s Fed Chair, Ken Marsh, said his members had washed their hands of the government: “The Prime Minister is treating us in a derisory way - he doesn’t back us. His words are hollow and my colleagues are fed up with it now.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded the ideas a “gimmick”.

He said: “Of course, have a system where victims get information, they’re consulted, they’re engaged. I’m absolutely in favour of that, I would actually put that in law.

"This is just a gimmick by the Prime Minister yet again, he loves soundbites, he loves slogans, he loves gimmicks. But every time you look beyond it, there’s nothing there.

“This one won’t work. It won’t improve … if anything will make things worse because individual officers work shifts, they’re doing investigations they’re off duty. It will actually slow things down. It’s an ill-thought-through gimmick,” Sir Keir said.

The story trailed at the same time as the NPCC laid bare the pressures the Service is under due to the high number of staff who are self-isolating because of COVID-19.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair Martin Hewitt, said: “The recent increase in Coronavirus cases and the knock on numbers of people having to self-isolate has caused challenges for police forces. Our control rooms and custody suites have been particularly affected and this risked our ability to respond promptly to calls from the public.” 

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It's curious that the government have suddenly decided to go on the offensive around crime. 

They have some nice shiny words that don't mean anything, but I would imagine the voters will be super excited to hear and vote for. It won't make any difference to anything but it sounds good. 

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  • 2 months later...

Sadly those in power or senior positions are so detached from reality on the ground. There simply aren't enough officers to for such schemes to work, sure you could cheese some sort of "crime progression" type unit staffed with PC's who are restricted, but again many of said PC's are in other roles already. Again as the article has already mentioned Mr. Apter highlighting that officers are already suffering from mental ill health and welfare concerns following the cancellation of rest-day's, demand for PSU/Mutual Aid and the daily demand generation on response policing for other sectors struggling to fulfil their own roes (here: I am of course referring to Mental Health, Rough sleeping and social services). 

The whole telephone service scheme has been tried before in other forces and is not a panacea for this malaise that policing finds itself in, which has been created because of a lack of investment in policing. When serving inspectors leave the job to go drive a train and the fact everyone in rank is "Acting", especially Sgt (the most crucial rank) in policing, you know something is very, very wrong.

Meanwhile you have PhD candidates in police studies from certain universities lecturing operational staff / constables on policing strategy who don't know an MG11 from an MG5, and this is the problem. The Police in the UK are hiring "experts" from outside who don't have the grounding or operational understanding of front line policing, in policing in the 21st Century, when a police constable attends a domestic incident (even if it is a verbal only domestic) the paperwork to be completed and the personnel hours required to complete this accurately and with a high degree of competence can be anywhere for 30m/2 hours depending on the types of referrals, care plans, DASH, THRIVE etc etc that needs to go in. Now if one party has to be arrested for an offence, add to that time the time required to transport DP to custody, wait for custody (some nicks are busier than others), process DP booking in, requesting duty solicitor/AP adult/Interpreter (where necessary) build a file (forces differ here I understand, but still the bare min would be an MG5, MG11's, MG12, PNC, MG6), interview DP, CPS pre-charge decision via phone, update file, all of this takes time, and time is a finite resource on a 10h shift. 

A response relief may have as little at 6/8 cops on duty at some stations ( I appreciate this may be different for other forces), now imagine one of these may be a student officer and a tutor so that's essentially 1 officer (not double crew), one or two may have urgent CPS/Crime actions that need to be completed before they can head out, the ones that are left take what keys are available (oh, oh wait a min earlies transported a prisoner in the van who decided it was a good idea for a dirty protest) said van is now defective, you grab the keys to the liveried Peugeot and off you go with your oppo. You just start your usual patrol when control comes on the airwaves with "XXY123, you are showing state 2 double crewed mobile is that correct? It's probably nothing but there is a concern for male at Lord Mountbatten Street, you are the nearest patrol on mapping, can I show you making? Before you can interject, control comes back with CAD/Log number is 1234556 bye. 

You arrive on scene with oppo to fine matey is having a full blown ABD episode, he is combinative, not engaging, not heeding verbal commands and you have a genuine concern for his safety and the safety of others around him, you request additional patrols to assist, matey puts up a bit of a fight resulting in him being taken to the floor and placed in handcuffs. Upon arrest the DP now starts yelling "IM GOING TO KILL MYSELF", (again each force may be different here) but following your protocols you decide to use the telephone triage /MH helpline and it is determined that DP has significant previous MN history including SU and SH, it is decided that at present custody is not a place of safety considering his metal state and decide to take him to hospital for assessment under S136 MHA, you update control and endorse the log/incident. 

You were in a car and will need a van or ambulance for transport, Ambulance are on a Cat 3 not allocated. You speak to supervision and decide to transport DP in a police van, but you are in a car, you shout up for assistance for anyone with a van, wait, attend hospital, book DP in, triage, 136 suite if full, so you have to wait, then the AMHP are busy and will review in the next 4 hours, congratulations that is the entirety of your shift in hospital. 

And so the cycle continues, day in day out. The systems in place are broken, they don't work and whilst I appreciate that forces and policies differ from place to place, this is the reason response officers are burnt out. 

 

Sorry for the rant. 

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It also comes from Senior Command who have never arrested anyone and have very little on hands experience who, basically kniw sweet Fanny Adams. We/you cannot even attend crimes in person and do not have enough officers to even man, sorry, staff Police Stations. It would take a huge increase in staffing levels to even stand still.

The days have gone since the Sergeant would say "Stick him in the cell and do the paperwork after refs"  You are lucky if you get refs.

Do not forget the CID requesting uniform to go and arrest someone for them as they are busy polishing their chair with the backside of their trousers, if you know what I mean.

Edited by Zulu 22
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12 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

It also comes from Senior Command who have never arrested anyone and have very little on hands experience who, basically kniw sweet Fanny Adams. We/you cannot even attend crimes in person and do not have enough officers to even man, sorry, staff Police Stations. It would take a huge increase in staffing levels to even stand still.

The days have gone since the Sergeant would say "Stick him in the cell and do the paperwork after refs"  You are lucky if you get refs.

Do not forget the CID requesting uniform to go and arrest someone for them as they are busy polishing their chair with the backside of their trousers, if you know what I mean.

Exactly.

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