British Policing: Getting Shafted but officers still carry on!

Yesterday 117 off-duty police officers from North Yorkshire joined colleagues from all 43 forces across England and Wales on the streets of London. They were helping to demonstrate the strength of feeling that exists throughout the service about this Government’s criminal damage of a once great British institution – our police system.

The issues those police officers sought to highlight aren’t just personal ones… Current changes to British policing have massive ramifications for our society, not just the officers who serve that society. Yes, some of the change is required and dare I say it, even sensibly thought through (in the main) however; many of the proposals are being forced through by this government under false pretences.

Unfortunately there is going to be irreparable damage to policing in the UK and negative impacts upon the way that service is delivered to our society. This is the real reason why a staggering 35,000 off duty police officers marched through London to demonstrate their disgust (see here).

York Press – This is about the future of the police service: Passers-by watched as officers waved placards, bearing the words “RIP greatest police service in the world”, “enough is enough” and “cutting police by 20 per event is criminal”. Many onlookers cheered and there were spontaneous rounds of applause…(read more)

Much of the subsequent comment on the demonstration has fallen into the usual trap of being misinformed, misguided and biased. Much of the opinion and comment, mostly developed from political rhetoric and media generated claptrap, espoused by those who have little or no first-hand experience of the profession and/or some personal axe to grind, was in the main simplistic and unfortunately, mostly derogatory.

Police officers march to protest against cuts: More than 30,000 police officers from across the UK protest against police reforms, budget cuts and pay cuts (guardian.co.uk)

The mostly contrived conflict between public and private sector workers was perpetuated. This convenient smokescreen, used by so many politicians (and senior managers), seeks to disguise the true impacts presented by the current reform (aka cost-cutting) process.

Police cuts: Why officers are taking to the streets – Thursday’s demonstration in London by police was a culmination of more than a year of increasing tension between the rank-and-file officers and the government over broader reforms…(bbc.co.uk)

The list of policing activities up for grabs during the government reforms include; investigating crimes, detaining suspects, developing cases, responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals, patrolling neighbourhoods, managing intelligence, managing engagement with the public, as well as more traditional back-office functions, such as managing forensics, providing legal services, managing the vehicle fleet, finance and human resources.

Commenting on yesterday’s police demo in London, one contributor to the BBC article (above) succinctly pointed out there is also a myriad of personal issues involved… “Aside from all the dangers presented by Policing today, there’s also many other aspects of the job that the general public never consider”

  • Pension contributions – 12% – the highest in the UK
  • Average life expectancy after retirement – 5 years
  • Days off, regularly cancelled with little notice
  • Highest divorce rate of all occupations – 75%
  • Working every New Years Eve
  • This summer, no holiday leave allowed

Policing is an all-consuming and often dangerous profession – it creates unique pressures. Shift rotations, role conflicts, physical dangers, long hours with minimal recovery time and the need to control emotions can have a huge impact on relationships. When a police officer is exposed to additional stress at home, matters can also deteriorate quickly and the sad case of PC David Rathband evidenced this recently. 

But despite all the personal, psychological and financial impacts upon police officers, most will tell you they accept them, they can deal with them and new about them but still wanted to serve society and try to make a difference to our communities. What they have great difficulty accepting is being shafted and undervalued by politicians and, often due to our media machine, end up castigated and unsupported by the public they serve. 

It’s NOT about the money, money, money… In the past week, I’ve been pepper sprayed three times (holding on to bad guys not naughty myself I’d like to point out), punched, bitten, spat at and verbally abused on god knows how many occasions – and I didn’t even do a night shift on Friday or Saturday!! (read more)

Constable Chaos (above) et al blog about the true picture of British policing and all the real issues and personal problems faced by our police officers, it’s just a pity the public (generally) formulate their opinion of policing from our tabloid press, a factor that politicians often capitalise upon.

Policing… Could You?

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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 11-05-2012, in Police, Public Service Babble, Society Babble and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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