Monday, 7 April 2014

The Figures Prove It's Working!

Panicked by suggestions from the public and media that Sir Bernard's Local Policing Model is a shambolic failure, Simon Byrne – the Assistant Commissioner, soon to be Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary – has been holding public meetings.

The meetings were attended by community members, press and cops. One of my contacts described to me how, prior to the arrival of the public, an inspector organised a police-only 'briefing'.

“We need to make this look good,” he told the assembled constables. “If you are asked questions, give the impression that it's working well. Reassure them and don't say anything negative.”

A constable told me afterwards:

“He was asking us to lie to people - sickening. Our job was to make Simon Byrne and the Local Policing Model look good.”

The officer explained that people looked askance, but Byrne just kept pointing at his graphs and repeating himself:

"Look at the figures - they prove there are more officers out there. The figures prove it's working!”

The Local Policing Model certainly might function if it received a little tweaking, but Sir Bernard refuses to accept that there are problems. "Nothing will be changed" we are constantly told. This shows an ugly element of police management: a fear of losing face. Senior bosses think that acting upon constructive criticism means losing face. They therefore refuse to accept any useful constructive criticism, of which there is plenty coming from the constables struggling to make it work.

Simon believes his graphs really do indicate increased patrolling and more effective policing. His a certainty is an interesting symptom of the dichotomy between senior management and rank-and-file:

Their spreadsheets and graphs are the senior bosses' reality. To the guys and girls who are hands-one with victims and criminals, the realities are the victims and suspects, the events they witness and the day-to-day organisational stupidity that threatens to drown them.

I don't blame Simon Byrne. It's understandable that he is unaware of the realities of policing, and that his perception of policing is riddled with misconceptions – he is nine ranks above a constable, so how could it be otherwise. It's unavoidable that all senior officers at that level are PR managers.

What is avoidable is that they force their policies through, ignoring feedback from the rank-and-file, and so fail to fix or discard their failing initiatives. They grit their teeth, ignore reality and keep presenting their graphs.

That is unforgiveable.

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- Justice and Chaos