Thursday, 12 February 2015

A New Year – Moving Forward With The Metropolitan Police

I've been running this blog nearly a year and a half and we're now well into 2015. It's probably time for a recap and to remember where we're trying to go with this. Perhaps even to work up a statement of basic goals. This post is a bit miscellaneous, with a kind of list of points.

My motivation: within two weeks of probation I realised the job was nothing like the fiction that was peddled to me in the promotional literature. Instead of catching bad guys it was all about targets; all about managers hounding you for performance figures, using the public like a resource to hit their targets.

The tail wagging the dog. I found that constables had the lowest imaginable status in the organisation, lower than the most junior clerk.

I'm in the Metropolitan Police Service and the management of this shambolic force is riddled with broken thinking. The problems don't start between the inspectors' and chief inspectors' ears, but those guys certainly buy into the target-chasing and all the rest of the lazy management techniques.

We all need to keep working to raise awareness of the dysfunctionality that saturates the UK police service.

I applaud the awareness-raising work of passionate people like Tony Munday at Police Choice (Police Choice), working to reform the system.

My aim is to serve you – to serve the community of people who care about policing.

When you read a post, please do leave a comment, good or bad. Blogger doesn't allow me to respond, but I'm trying to work around that. As soon as I can, I'll get back to you.

If you want more of something – more facts, less whining, or whatever – do let me know, and message me with any suggestions.

When I write I assume you probably aren't a copper, and so try to show you the reality behind the soundbites and journalistic speculation. I hope I hit the right level of detail. I don't tell you everything, because that would tend towards unreadability. So there is simplification involved, but the facts are there.

As for tone, the distressing state of the police service and the management thinking, in particular the Local Policing Model, makes me very angry indeed. You are probably angry too, and that's why you are reading my blog.

I want a really effective criminal justice system – we're paying £3billion a year for it, so let's start asking for one. And let's keep on asking until our government starts to listen.

I want a criminal justice system that functions properly, instead of decisions made on the basis of optimising managers' promotion prospects and protecting them from criticism.

We need a happier organisation, with trust, good regard and loyalty between the managers and the constables.

How about the officers' careers and welfare featuring somewhere on the force's list of priorities? Will managers please stop mistreating them simply because you can – because they aren't protected by employment law and can't withdraw their labour. Better morale will feed into a better service for the public.

I want a better career for my colleagues and myself, but also for the public (which includes all cops).

The spirit of policing in the UK is hideously perverted by a management whose management decisions seem to be dictated solely by their desire to protect themselves from criticism and gain promotion.

It is never my intention to criticise the rank-and-file officers, who tend to be normal folk doing a difficult job. They are working to pay their mortgages, and trying to make the job work as best they can, despite the barriers put in their way.

My commitment to you for 2015 is that I will keep blogging and updating you with relevant information that enters my awareness. I don't always have the most interesting or well-written material, but I'll do my best.

I really think we can eventually remedy this disgraceful state of affairs, but it has to start with full awareness of the true picture. It needs a public with their eyes fully open – which is where bloggers come in. Not only me, but the many other wonderful police bloggers.

If we persist we can cause a gradual evolution of attitude. We've seen this already, in that the public distrust claims that targets have been banished.

I hope that it won't take a national disaster to prove the full extent of the travesty. If something happens, for example a plague like several we have narrowly averted during recent years - such as bird flu - what if we can't adequately respond because we're too busy ticking boxes and chasing targets?

History shows that it will happen. Commissioners' knighthoods won't protect them from fatal viruses.

Let's stop the senior officers from treating British policing like it's their own personal play thing.

Here are some goals we might try to work towards:
  1. The creation of a government committee working on a plan to reboot the UK police. Such a committee must include experienced serving constables.
  2. Legally-sanctioned media access to constables without fear of disciplinary proceedings against those officers. At present no journalist can speak with a constable without exposing that constable to threat of dismissal. Sir Bernard has clamped down on journalists' access to cops - what is he afraid we'll say?
  3. A government investigation into police promotion methodology (inspector rank and upwards) and a programme to redesign the promotion process.
  4. Explicit inclusion of officers' careers and welfare in force policies.
We have to keep going; there's no other choice. I intend to start regularly Tweeting though I prefer spending my limited time and energy working on my book, which still isn't ready for publication, but should be up on Amazon in the summer. The book will be the story of my career experiences. You'll enjoy it.

Here's to the next year, which will hopefully see more eyes opened, and will I'm sure yield more amusing yet sadly predictable police mismanagement.

And thank you so much for your support since August 2013.

Together perhaps we can save the criminal justice system, one blog post at a time...

Justice and Chaos

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- Justice and Chaos