Monthly Archives: January 2011
In this age of hyper everything and the era of a superfast, constantly connected and switched on virtual world, many of our leaders and managers are losing sight of both reality and humanity. They are becoming ‘virtually’ robotic in their interaction with others…
Many of those erstwhile human skills of empathy, honesty, integrity and compassion are apparently outdated and considered somewhat ‘old hat’ by many. Is this really a productive ethos and more importantly, is it the correct way to behave from a moral point of view?
Whilst musing about the events at Davos 2011, Tim Weber, BBC Business Editor asked; We’re all hyper-connected, now what?
Most employees can now have as loud a voice as the chief executive or the head of communications, in our permanently connected world. And, any leader or manager that underestimates that fact should realistically be destined for personal failure. In general within business that’s correct, take the recent Deepwater Horizon debacle in the Gulf of Mexico as a prime example. The incident was, financially deeply damaging, for both the BP organisation and many of its executive staff. However, it’s a pity the same can’t be said when high profile adverse situations befall those within the public sector!
“At best, a company has 12 hours to get a credible story across to the public.” And “be consistent”, another chimes in. In the connected world, “there are more opportunities than ever to be caught out as a hypocrite; you have to be authentic”. “Treat your employees with respect and stick to your values,” advises another. (More at BBC)
Straight talking or the ability to genuinely say what you think and think what you say is considered to be far too dangerous these days. Hardly surprising I suppose, given the media witch hunt and blame culture mentality of our society. Consequently, every leader and manager usually needs to choose their words very carefully. Especially when they are concerned about self-preservation of their position. That said, the clever and contrived use of words may be ok for a machine but that ethos is simply not acceptable when dealing with issues impacting upon those you are responsible for i.e. your employees. Any manager who truly wants to be valued by their team, whilst providing inspirational leadership to greater things, really needs to get a grasp of more human skills, as opposed to robotic ones…
It’s a pity so many police (and public sector) managers talk the talk but rarely walk the walk these days… In Tubblog – the ramblings of an IT consultant, the author whilst talking about a West Midlands Police experiment with Twitter recently said - ”The bottom line is – it’s all about communication, both giving people the opportunity to engage with you if they choose to do so, acknowledging them, and keeping people ‘in the loop’.”
The recent handling of redundancies by North Yorkshire Police (and other public sector agencies) is a typical case in point. With the current and prevalent management methodologies we are heading towards a great storm of public dissent…
The Iliad of Homer: The day shall come, that great avenging day, Which Troy’s proud glories in the dust shall lay, When Priam’s powers and Priam’s self shall fall, And one prodigious ruin swallow all. (Alexander Pope 1688-144)
After perusal of last weekend’s usual media crud I moved on to browsing the swamp archives at Gadget’s office. For some time now Gadget has been telling us all the facts about British policing but unfortunately, the majority of people outside the service still fail to listen.
A recent post entitled Hearts gone astray on the swamp although slightly off topic here, was particularly poignant as an indication of the stark realities involved in policing the social decay of our mixed up society.
The government austerity measures impacting upon policing are in many respects dire however, despite instructions from government to ‘protect frontline services’, it would appear Chief Officer’s up and down the country are implementing slash and burn methods across service delivery. Although I fully appreciate the need for cuts and a tightening of financial belts in the public sector, it looks like ACPO are still trying to protect their fiefdoms.
I got to thinking; what are the likely after effects of proposed police cuts in our ‘swamps’ across the county and more importantly, from a more personal basis, will my wife still have her bloody job in six months time? She and her colleagues, have finally gained confirmation of the control room closure rumour but not from their management. They actually gleaned the information from the media. (See BBC: 999 Control Room may be shut.)
It’s a sickening yet interesting fact; this type of incident is unfortunately indicative of today’s Police Management style. Say and do nothing until your hand is forced because you have been found out or simply, ensure everyone and anyone but you is left carrying the can for the predicament you have created. It’s a trait which is also prevalent right across the public sector. Managers who fail or make mistakes very rarely get disciplined or remedial actions within the public sector, just moved upwards or sideways to a different post where they can continue the damage.
North Yorkshire Police (like others) have stopped recruiting. They are forcing officers, who have reached their pension entitlement point, to retire and they are getting ready to make hundreds of support staff redundant. It’s only a matter of time I would think before they also try to realise some cash for ‘redundant’ assets in estates etc. There is no doubt that some would call it, selling off the crown jewels to finance the management and administrative gravy train running costs.
As a result of these desperate times, I’ve heard that the 150+ strong HR department are struggling with the weight of work created by staff redundancy issues; other members of staff, not them of course. They are important and needed to aid removal of the rest, I also understand HR may be recruiting extra staff (all be it on temporary contracts) to assist with the increased workload of making others redundant… Every HR cloud has a silver lining I suppose but I digress!
The front line police services in the county are going to look very different once the management team complete their process. Despite the increase in police officer numbers over recent years, both nationally and locally, in real terms there are less officers on the streets now than was the case thirty years ago. The correlation between officer numbers and crime rates is however a strongly contested issue. Some say the amount of officers has little or nothing to do with the rate of crime. Whether you agree with that or not, people who live in the county are likely to see even less police officers than they do now. They will also wait a damned sight longer for them to arrive when they are called, always assuming they get a reply to their phone call in the first place.
I don’t wish to belittle the decline in service that residents of North Yorkshire are likely to endure however, one of my greater concerns is that of officer safety. With already mismanaged and limited resources the thin blue line is set to contract even more. Due to the distances involved and time taken to get from A to B in a rural area such as North Yorkshire, it can be a very long time before an officer receives assistance from colleagues when in trouble. It is not unknown for officers to travel 15-20 miles or more when attending to assist a colleague in an emergency. A grave situation when you consider, every minute before help arrives can make a substantial difference to the injuries an officer might receive. But what of Swamp-Sur-La-Mer I hear you ask?
Over the years the well-known Spa town of Swamp-Sur-La-Mer, first made popular as a holiday destination in Victorian times, has become the home of ever increasing numbers of all manner of swamp dwellers. Social types that are especially labour intensive of police and local authority resources if you get my drift. Put it this way, the once relaxed coastal resort, and prefered holiday destination for Glasgow Fortnight summer holiday trippers, could easily supply enough material to keep Jeremy Kyle busy until his retirement.
Despite the hard sell of tourism departments, the “aren’t we wonderful” PR rhetoric of local authorities and a general public perception (often based upon childhood recollection) the reality is; you don’t need to live in a sprawling metropolis to witness substantial urban and social decay. With that decay comes crime and anti-social behaviour along with all the usual alcohol related public order and violence issues, and all that’s before you even start to consider the drug related problems. The fight to deal with this decay and the associated issue is further compounded when, failures in ‘partnership working’. Many statutory agencies, also for financial reasons, duck and dive their responsibilities or don’t punch at their full weight.
Twenty years ago all the above issues were obviously far less of a problem than they are today however, for at least two weeks every summer, Swamp-Sur-La-Mer received an increase in police numbers to help deal with the increased workload. This practice may have ceased years ago however, the level of work that required a temporary influx of extra officers is actually far greater now than it has ever been previously. Add to the mix something like a 50% reduction in officers able to respond to an incident per shift than there was twenty years ago and there are problems. That’s before any further reductions!
The rural areas are set to see an even greater decline in service than their urban neighbours. The methods employed to implement financial savings so far don’t bode well for the county as a whole, let alone Swamp-Sur-La-Mer!
- Crumbling Pounds and Empty Pandas! (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- The cyclic evolution of Scumbags and Swamp Harlots (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- So much more than just job losses! (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- “Slash and burn” OR ‘Trim and Smoulder’? (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- Control from Z-Victor1? (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- Public service announcement: The Gravy Train now standing at platform #1 is… (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- The challenges of the police reform process (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
One of the control rooms which handles 999 calls at North Yorkshire Police could be closed as part of cost-cutting measures, it has been confirmed (BBC News). The force said any decision would be based on “maximising efficiency” while continuing “a high-level of service”.
I suppose it depends what you mean by ‘efficiency’ or ‘service’ and, what they mean by ‘maximising’? It may suggest to some that things are good and will get better? Perhaps it’s more sensible to read it as; “We’re trying to do the best we can with limited resources and finances, we know it’s not as good as it should (or could) but it’s the best you’re going to get.”
Delivering his keynote speech to the CityForum policing strategy round table in London this week, the policing minister Nick Herbert suggested that (where appropriate); private firms should take over the running of police custody suites and control rooms to save money…
“Because what matters to the public is the front line. The police officer who is there for them, patrolling the street, responding to a 999 call or investigating a crime.” (Nick Herbert MP)
You can agree or disagree with the politics of the ConDem clan but Mr Herbert is talking a lot of sense (see full transcript of speech). For many years there has been a massive national overspend, much of it unnecessary and largely mismanaged. The cash cow has finally succumbed under the weight of waste and gravy consumption. The forthcoming demise in policing and many other areas of public service may be the direct result of imposed financial limitation but something had to give.
However, we mustn’t assume government austerity measures are the panacea or cure-all potion for our public sector malaise. We’re simply applying a sticking plaster to the wound in an attempt to stem the erstwhile catastrophic flow of blood. The wound may heal in the short-term however, a massive course of antibiotics are also required to treat the almost malignant infection that will still exist. The greater underlying problem, and one which is a far more intrusive ailment in the process is, the short-sighted, self-perpetuating and self-promotional management which is still endemic in the system.
As many skilled, devoted and very able people inthe control rooms face the job centre, police officers will also be contemplating carrying on their (often dangerous) work with the freshly imported telesales clerk at the other end of the radio. Members of the public across the County will be sat on the phone listening to a recorded message; “North Yorkshire Police values your call, we are committed to blah, blah, blah, press 1 for… Press 2 for… Etc.”
And the senior officers? Business as usual I expect; sat in the golf club bar flicking through magazines over a Pimms. ”Thinking; shall I book another Caribbean cruise, replace the conservatory or order a new Mercedes, I’d like a red one this time. What the hell, let’s have the lot my bonus is due.” Always assuming they keep the PR spinners safe from redundancy and avoid any allegations of misconduct that is?
MrG note: Any implied reference to any particular individual is purely incidental and an observation made simply to illustrate a point however, should the cap fit you are more than welcome to wear it.