Austerity and Swamp-Sur-La-Mer…

Swamp-Sur-La-Mer

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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!

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 28-01-2011, in Police, Society Babble and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. We can’t generally face up to the failures and incompetence that mark out most organisational action Banksie. IG’s stories are to some degree part of the mechanisms of denial, rather than challenging for new ways of operating.

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  1. Pingback: Pond Life Prospects? | The Bankside Babble

  2. Pingback: The virtual hyperbole and bathos of management bollox | The Bankside Babble

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