Nothing going on but the paperwork

I work continental shifts, 12 hours, 2 days + 2 nights 4 on 4 off. It suits me, doesn’t suit everyone, but the fact that my weekends move around a bit means that often enough I’m off when everyone else is at work. Paperwork is the bane of my life, it prevents me from actually doing the job I’m being paid for (yes I know paperwork is necessary on occasion) by keeping me in an office filling out forms rather than fixing/maintaining the equipment I’m in charge of. All in all though it takes up about 10% of my time or 5 hours over the 4 days I’m on. So I was not surprised that the Police do pretty much the same if not more in the way of paperwork.

Police officers are being buried under a ‘snowstorm’ of official diktats spelling out how to perform the simplest tasks, it was claimed yesterday.

Manuals have been drawn up to explain how to use handcuffs and CS spray, and how to police ‘high risk’ cricket matches.

Officers are even told to take drunks home in case they fall and hurt themselves.

Last year Government, police quangos and forces produced more than 2,615 extra pages of guidance on top of more than 6,000 pages of existing rules.

One force issued a 93-page guide to riding a bike, but withdrew it after a public outcry.

Inspector of Constabulary Sir Denis O’Connor said that if all the pages were laid out end to end they would be three times the height of the Eiffel Tower.

He warned that the array of rules and regulations designed to avoid every kind of risk was preventing officers from using their common

sense and discretion. He added that the scale of the bureaucracy was responsible for taking officers away from the front line.

New regulations in every possible area of policing are forcing more officers to become specialists, and pushing them away from beat duties, he said.

A survey of 40 forces in England and Wales found the number of beat bobbies fell by 1,429 over three years from 2006, despite more officers being hired. Meanwhile 1,587 went into more specialist roles.

Now assuming that the average plod works 40 hours then that means that they spend only 15% of their time doing what the public presume to be their job and the rest (85%) filling out forms.No wonder you can’t get a policeman (unless it’s a hate crime against one of the favoured) only 15% of them will ever be available at any one time cos the rest are doing paperwork!

No wonder this country is going to the dogs and every promise to remove red tape ends up with you’ve guessed it, even more red tape. The one bit of regulation they did remove was the one checking up to see how much red tape they were producing.

Anyone putting this sort of thing in a novel would be accused of taking fiction to extremes, yet here we are in modern Britain shifting the deckchairs on the Titanic whilst the population slips more and more into despair with the way the country is being run in seeming opposition to their wishes.

Perhaps we should simply go back to the basic Peelian principles of policing.

  1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
  2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
  3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
  4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
  5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
  6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
  7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
  9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

Yes I know modern policing has changed beyond recognition from the early days of the “Peelers” however the sheer amount of red tape now preventing officers from being on the beat is becoming self defeating. No, I don’t want the police to have vigilante powers nor be totally unaccountable, but I do not want them to be so weighed down by bureaucracy that they can’t do their job properly either.

Perhaps we should go back to the old days of treating people like adults rather than regulating their lives to the n’th degree.

Not that that novel thought will get anywhere with the powers that be…

3 comments for “Nothing going on but the paperwork

  1. May 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Good post.
    A few days ago, I was ambling into town when a police officer walked past and said a pleasant ‘good afternoon’ to me. I was astounded, it was so unusual, hasn’t happened in years. That’s the point of course. I shouldn’t have been astounded, not in a small town.

  2. May 26, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Ray Mallon said, at the Tory conference that 13% of policework was on the beat – the rest was paperwork, meeting KPIs, reports in triplicate etc.

  3. May 27, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Excellent, fully agree!

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