Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Country…

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6 Responses

  1. Oscar Blaketon says:

    I’d like to take the Gene Hunt era comparison a little further and provide more contrast.

    In the heady days of 1979/80, after Margaret Thatcher was elected, after Edmund Davies had reported and after we were granted a substantial pay rise police numbers stabilised. Forces had been shedding mid-service staff at enormous rates prior to that. Even so in a small market town – Ruralville – in southern England we still managed to field 1+5 on nights.

    There were 55 officers stationed there then including 14 rural beat officers and the front counter was open – and was frequently used – 24/7.

    At two of our nearest adjoining stations there were more officers such that between the 3 stations on nights – covering more than 250 sq miles – there were 3+18 with up to 11 vehicles on patrol – exluding traffic, dog section and ARV’s (Yes, we had them in those days). All 3 stations had cellblocks and could house and deal with up to 18 prisoners 24/7. 2 had medical facilities and dealt with breathtests.

    The vast majority of officers lived close to their stations. Many in police houses but an increasing number were starting to obtain mortgages. Local knowledge tended to be encyclopaedic and intelligence was good and plentiful. Detections were high – proportionately higher than today – and don’t go believing the hyperbole about ‘fit-ups’, numbers fiddling and write-offs. There may have been isolated incidents of such practices but they were not commonplace as seems to be the perception peddled by those of a policing academic background. Similarly, officers were not unthinking thugs, did not beat confessions out of suspects, “verbal them up” or universally lie in court in anywhere like the numbers suggested by many armchair commentators and, indeed, by some in senior position within the service.

    Wind forward to today and the same 3 areas are largely as they were. A mix of mainly agricultural land with 3 main urban developments, a host of villages, main trunk roads, dual carriageways and motorway, industrial estates and military bases. Little has changed except the population has increased and policing cover has reduced. Radically.

    Neither of the two remaining stations is open to the public at all. Custody, depending where you are, is at best a 45-50 minute drive away. RP may be available but are regulat drawn down for serious RTI’s/FLO/Fatals. The ARV is likely to be a minimum of 40 minutes away. On nights two of the areas are jointly policed with 1+6 and not all units are necessarily double-crewed.

    Ruralville, the remaining area, is now covered from its local “hub” some 15 miles away with a single so-called dedicated unit that in reality is used almost exclusively to cover the gross lack of units in the adjoining city. Response officers have little or no local knowledge, none now live in the area and police by satnav. Knowledge of local nominals is almost non-existant and based solely on having dealt with them previously.

    To illustrate how thin policing now is in a recent incident a Grade 1 “intuders on” at premises so close to the now closed but once 24hr manned station that officers could have run to the scene there was no unit available and one had to be dispatched from the hub. It goes without saying the the intruders had made good their escape by the time the unit arrived.

    During the day the area is covered by just 5 SNT officers – effectively 1 eleventh of the manpower the area historically boasted. Their workload is such that real proactive work is limited and likely to be disjointed.

    As far as CID is concerned they are all now based at regional investigative centres and are completely snowed under. Officers abstracted from Response are being used to paper over the cracks in what was once CID but which is now just another entirely reactive unit that should be more honestly renamed Crime Response.

    None of the descriptions of current conditions will come as any news to serving officers although they might be taken aback at the numbers we once fielded. However, the contrast for the public might be so stark that my words are dismissed as exaggeration but I can assure you that they are not.

    Chief Officers and our much-vaunted Home Secretary might claim that no real comparison can reasonably be drawn because of all of the advancements the service has enjoyed (some were endured) over the last 37 years. The truth of it is that the service cannot provide either the speed or numbers required to deal with situations as it once did and as a consequence the public suffer a disservice, officers are being exposed to unnecessary risk, are being physically and psychologically exploited and are burning out. To attempt to argue otherwise is to indulge in the worse kind of intellectual dishonesty.

    The crisis in policing is now so deep that only the truth will do.

    • retiredandangry says:

      Thank you for that insight Oscar, most informative, I’m obliged, even in the 70s we were cocooned in the Met and didn’t realise how things worked in Ruralville

  2. Rufus says:

    As a serving officer I know how bad things are and the pressures on staff can be intolerable. Its difficult to find a vehicle (they are either broken or PCSOs are driving about in them), all this new fangled technology is outdated and breaks down, there is more and more accountability that means endless pages of forms and more filling in for other services – for example transporting patients to hospital as ambulances rarely turn up anymore.

    I came to the conclusion long ago that the government couldn’t care less if we have a broken police service. They have been so clever in their black propaganda campaign that many of the public have believed the spin and lies and turned against the police too.

    In some people’s opinion there was a sinister privitisation motive behind May and Winsor’s campaign against the police that had to put on hold because of the Olympic G4S fiasco as well as real fears about terrorism. They say they wanted private security guards on minimum wage doing the police’s job as it would have meant big wads of cash. Who knows if it were true.

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