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A Guest Blog – Response Times and Stats

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Recent articles in the press have prompted one of my readers to submit a blog to me for publication anonymously.

The author is a serving Police Officer and wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, but that does not detract from the story they have to tell.

Because they are currently serving their information is current, their feelings about the subject matter are real and their story is reproduced unedited in any way.

Please take a moment to read and take in the significance of what is being said here.  Thank You

Policing is a constantly changing business, but some of the things that don’t change are response times to incidents.

For the uninitiated, the incidents that the police attend are graded according to perceived threat/risk/importance etc.
To keep things simple, I will refer to these as Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. Grade 1 being the most important, and which the police must attend within 10 or 15 minutes, depending on which force you work for. Grade 2 incidents usually have a time limit of an hour in which the police have to attend, and Grade 3 incidents should be attended within 24 hours.

Police forces are measured on their ability to attend incidents within the allotted time.

Recently there has been much talk about the recently released crime figures, and how crime is down with fewer officers. This has made the government very happy, but there are those that have stated that the figures are down because fewer people are bothering to report crime. Either way, it makes the Government look good.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May has stated that she wants to abolish targets, and I’m all for that. However, the Senior Management Teams have been target orientated for so long that I think that they forget what policing is all about.

Recently, officers from within Bedfordshire Police have been told not to mention to the public, anything about the how the cuts have affected how they work. Yet the police officers are constantly being told to be honest and truthful at all times. Does this mean that they have to lie to the public? Or just not mention the cuts?

It’s no great secret within the police, that figures have been ‘manipulated’, if you like. I won’t elaborate further, but it will come as no shock to any serving (or retired) police officer.

Are the recent crime figures to be believed then?

Well, before the advent of AVLS and ARLS, automatic vehicle location system and automatic resource location system, (a gps tracker fitted to vehicle and personal radios which can be monitored on a screen, and shows the viewer the location of an officer or vehicle), officers had to state when they had arrived at an incident via their radio.

Grade 1 incidents are usually not a problem for forces, as whenever one comes in, people will drop what they’re doing and attend within the allotted time. Grade 3 incidents usually aren’t a problem either, because they can usually be attended within 24 hours.

Grade 2 incidents can be a bit of a problem, for all sorts of reasons. A high number of Grade 1 incidents, not enough staff, staff tied up with a major incident etc.

I know of officers in at least one force that were asked by their supervisors to state that they were already at a Grade 2 incident before they arrived there, just to meet targets (all before AVLS/ARLS), and in this respect, the police didn’t really help themselves. It made it look like they were coping, and meeting targets. And this after the cuts had started to take effect. In this respect, they weren’t helping themselves.

What some of the officers didn’t realise was that they were leaving themselves wide open for disciplinary action if something went wrong. Imagine, you say you’re at an address before you get there, say, 10 minutes before you get there. But 5 minutes before you actually get to the address, you have a traffic accident, and knock someone over. Would the people who asked you to say you were already at the address back you up, if the Senior Management Team decided to discipline you because you said that you were somewhere you weren’t? And effectively lied?

Is it worth it, just to meet a target and make the bosses look good?

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One Reply to “A Guest Blog – Response Times and Stats”

  1. retiredandangry

    I have commented before on my views on this subject. They re quite simple, the public should be told the truth, whatever that truth is.

    Monitoring Response Times has a limited value. It isn’t quite the same as making sure the phone is answered within three rings or whatever. Those who make big issues out of Response Times are missing a vital point. Policing is in the blood. It is a job like no other. Having received a call Police Officers do not sit back and say to themselves “I’ve just got to finish choosing the wallpaper for the lounge and I’ll get over there”. WHATEVER it is they are thinking about (if they even have the time to think about anything else) they just GO.

    Monitoring Response Times and the like does nothing other than tell the bean counters whether their targets are being met. It doesn’t assure anyone that the target Response Times are reasonable in the first place. It does put added pressure onto the Response Driver who has already got plenty of pressure just making sure that he doesn’t wipe out a pedestrian or another motorist getting there.

    No incident is so serious that it justifies an accident was the very first thing we were taught at Hendon Driving School, some of our modern senior officers and politicians seem to have forgotten that. How do PCCs influence Response Times?

    So my answer is simple, DO NOT say you’re somewhere when you’re not. Do not lie to the public, they deserve better than that. DO get to every incident, be it Grade 1, 2 or 3 as quickly as you possibly can but get there safely WITHOUT keeping an eye on the time. A true Police Officer doesn’t have to do that, they will just get there as quickly as humanly possible, They are professionals, let them do their job professionally, unhindered and they might just surprise you Mrs May.

    If an officer is performing below par there is a method for dealing with that. DO NOT place unreasonable pressure on our valiant officers who are already having to do more with less. They are trying their very best. No stats should be manipulated (or maybe even measured in the first place) just to make the local Commander look good and contribute towards his/her QPM. Let them get their QPM by serving the great British Public well.

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