Monday, 22 December 2014

New Streamlined Dispersals

Merry Xmas my friends.

A short post for you today, to convey the most recent amusing 'slashing of red tape' in the Met.

My supervisor today showed us a little red book with 'Police Dispersal Power' marked on the cover. It is the latest new piece of Met Police paperwork.

The background is that under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, police officers can disperse people from a public place for up to 48 hours to prevent ASB. Until recently the exercise of dispersal powers involved handing out a plan of the dispersal area and writing the person's details in my pocketbook. This new booklet was intended to 'streamline' the paperwork for issuing dispersals, but as usual, the tail is firmly wagging the dog.

"The process now involves simply giving them a ticket from this booklet," said my supervisor. "The instructions are on the Intranet." Inwardly I raised a sceptical eyebrow.

He read the notes out loud to the team, explaining the new process. To issue a dispersal notice, we must now do the following:

  1. Complete the form using the subject's details and give the top sheet to the person. 
  2. Create a CAD specific to the dispersal. (A 'CAD' is a log or record of actions). 
  3. Create a specific intelligence report ('CRIMINT'). 
  4. The IBO (an administrative team) maintains a spreadsheet of dispersals, which I must update. 
  5. Scan the dispersal form on a printer and save this file into a particular folder on the Metropolitan Police computer system. 
  6. Complete and give the subject a stop-and-account form. (Form 5090).

If I'm thorough (and want to protect myself against allegations) I'll probably also want to duplicate the subject's name, address and date-of-birth in my pocketbook.

This is another only one of hundreds of procedures we are supposed to know like the back of our hands.

After this rousing briefing I wanted to check a certain suspicion, so I logged into a computer and found the folder for dispersals. I thought to test it by attempting to save a document into that folder.

I wasn't surprised to find that I didn't have 'write' permission to do this...and neither did anybody else.

In the Met Police, systems are created by persons who seem to give no thought to the actual implementation – to the difficulties that the guys and girls on the street are likely to encounter.

There's a familiar pattern here. The reality is that this 'improvement' will cause the power to be used LESS often. Officers will be unwilling – without a good reason – to jump through these hoops simply to disperse people.

I predict that in a few months time dispersals will become a performance indicator, in order to force officers to use the power.
I've seen this cycle happen so many times in the police force. It's depressing.

And it's good to see that the bosses are really working hard to reduce the duplication of paperwork...

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- Justice and Chaos