Monday, 29 October 2012

What we do.....

We work 24/7 with shifts that take their toll on your body and mind; you miss special occasions and events with family and friends, anniversaries, your children’s school plays, birthday parties, Christmas and New Year celebrations.

We have to be experts in criminal law, human rights, a social worker, a negotiator, and understand mental health.  One minute you have to be aggressive, intrusive and dominate, then gentle, sensitive and caring.

We scream and shout to control crowds then tell someone a loved one has passed away. We speak to children in a way they understand then try and communicate with an elderly, vulnerable and confused person.

We have to run towards danger as everyone else runs away....

We have to humour drunks, by listening to the same sayings over and over again throughout the night, ‘No I can’t give you a lift home’, ‘No you can’t pee in my hat if you’re pregnant’, ‘Thank you for paying my wages’.

We have to know more about chemicals than a pharmacist, we have to know more about chemical reactions in the body than a doctor.

We have to deal with domestic disputes better than a relate councillor, sorting out people’s lives and tangled webs.

We can never lose our temper....

We can catch a robber or burglar red handed but if we forget to dot an ‘i’ and cross a‘t’ a solicitor will get them released. We have to make instant decisions on the street when we’re cold, wet tired and hungry at 3 o’clock in the morning, only to be told by a panel of senior officers that ‘You should have done this, you should have done that.....’

We can stop a speeding motorist speeding near a school only to be told ‘You should be catching real criminals’.

If we go out to buy food or eat out in uniform, people stare at us like we’re an alien or whispering about a ‘waste of taxpayer’s money’ 

We need to eat....

If we don’t turn up instantly then we are useless, if we don’t solve a crime within a day then we are even more useless.

Nobody likes us until they need us...Like an insurance company, a necessary evil that you only call upon when something needs fixing!

We want to make a difference, we want to help, we care, we cry, we bleed........ we just want to be appreciated!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

With Great Power comes Great Responsibility

I was recently ask to be a guest blog on a site dedicated to issues surrounding Police Community Support Officer (PCSO’s), please click the link to view my post......
It's my fist one as guest so please be gentle – as always feedback is a gift!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Pips, Promotion & Pay.....

I was so excited when I finally got the call that I was to become a Temporary Inspector,   the hard work of studying for the Part 1 and Part 2 examinations had finally paid off! I ordered my new epaulets - the ones with the pips on! My new name badge and hat, eagerly awaiting their arrival from stores and opening them up like an excited child on Christmas day.

I was a temporary Inspector for over 12 months in two different Branches, first as the Hub manager for the OCB and then as part of the Capability Support Team in the External Relations & Performance Branch.

My temporary promotion came with a temporary pay rise, although I failed to take notice of the ‘temporary’ part of this! As the time passed I started to live within the means of my new salary and then came the dreaded phone call.......... I was being reverted back to the rank of Sergeant and into a new role.

After getting over the disappointment that this inevitably brings, I began to look forward to my new challenge and getting back on the front line of Response policing. I started as you tend to do, back on the night shift and soon realised I was going to have to adjust to my new Division and to working shifts again.

 I then had the realisation that I was going to have to adjust to a drop in pay, as I reverted to back my original pay scale, compounded with my new posting that was on the opposite side of the Force to where I lived which dramatically increased my travel costs.

Things were difficult at home as we tightened our belt and slowly but surely the adjustments were made, but not without a bit of pain.

I realised that officers and police staff subject to temporary promotions were not provided with any financial advice and as more and more positions become temporary until the structure of the Force is decided, this could affect more and more staff.

I wanted to warn others of the dangers and of the trap I fell into of becoming reliant on my temporary pay. I made contact with the Money Saving Expert himself, Martin Lewis, who kindly gave up his time to discuss the issue and provided the following advice for staff:

“I call pay rises forgotten gold, we often readjust our spending patterns pretty quickly once we’ve got them and start cutting our cloth accordingly.  If you’re given a temporary promotion and pay rise, treat it as an added bonus not core cash – or when you go back to your substantive rank it’ll hurt.  The primary use should of course be to overpay any debts if you’ve got them – which will have a long term knock on gain.”

If not (hurrah) one option to avoid osmosing the money into your day to day expenditure, better to put it to a specific purpose such as “a savings pot” a “new sofa” a “holiday” so you’re not adjusting your overall habits, but still see the gain.”

He then later wrote a blog on his website

As a result of my experience I decided that I would write some guidance for officers and staff who are currently or will be undertaking a temporary role, both nationally and within GMP. This guidance is now available and if anyone would like a copy then please feel free to contact me.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Victim Empathy….

I was a victim of crime this week, my car was broken in to and my Sat Nav stolen, even though I hid it in a really obscure place that not even the most seasoned of criminal would think of looking – the glove box.

The car was parked on my driveway at the front of the house and the theft was discovered by Mrs Sergeant Butt, as she set off for work.

She was absolutely devastated; it was a present she had bought me for my birthday! She was angry and wanted those responsible locking up and the key thrown away. (Now as we all know, that was never going to happen)

My reaction was, its my own fault for leaving it in the car and I’m lucky that more items were not stolen, I’m lucky that they did not cause more damage and I’m lucky that they did not try to get into the house, or into the shed.

I felt violated, that someone had the audacity to walk right up to my house, as me and my family were sleeping and take the things that we had worked hard for.

Its not just the item that was stolen that represents the cost of the crime, it is the stress, the worry, the taking time to make alternative arrangements, getting the window fixed, getting to work, how are we going to get the kids to and from school.

That’s what we need to remember when dealing with victims, we can complete the crime report like a robot and churn it out in a conveyer belt fashion. We can use the words and phrases that we learn in training, that would suggest we are showing empathy and understanding, but sometimes you cant genuinely do that, until you have experienced it yourself. (See Kate Harney’s blog)

Mrs Sergeant Butt feels devastated, I feel lucky, being a victim is a real roller coaster of emotions and lets not forget we are talking about a simple theft of a Sat Nav – imagine what it is like being the victim of more serious offences.

Officers and equally the courts need to understand the impact that even a minor crime can have on the victim & their family…..

You can follow me on twitter: TariqButt2

Monday, 26 September 2011

Overtime - 'Id rather not Sarge'

Recent reports would have you believe that officers are raking it in with overtime (Guardian). The realities of contemporary policing mean that overtime is a necessary evil. An evil in two ways, first the obvious cost, the second, the lost time that officers will never get back – time away from family, friends, time away from gatherings, events, school plays.
We must accept that perhaps as an organisation when times were good, money was thrown away in order to deal with problems and that we were lax in its management. The focus is now firmly on overtime and ‘robust’ scrutiny is now daily business.
Policing is not a profession where you can simply down tools at the end of your shift, you cannot simply leave the scene of an incident, the scene of an accident, leave an investigation part way through, or leave your prisoners waiting in custody. How would this look to a member of the public, “Sorry I’ve got to stop you there, as you tell me about something important that is affecting your life  - it’s the end of my shift, bye”
Overtime maybe the answer to save some of the examples above, from impacting upon the oncoming shift. Overtime may be the answer to providing value for money, officers continuing with something rather than trying to explain it to others. Overtime may be the answer to providing customer satisfaction, officers don’t need to leave half way through, and the response to that member of the public is not delayed as shifts change over.
Every night over the last set of shifts a member of my team has remained on duty past their finish time, so that they could finish an investigation, or were booking prisoners in to a custody suite that has now moved across the city, or were babysitting a mental health patient awaiting assessment. These officers did not want the overtime, they did not want to stay on duty, they did not want the money, they simply wanted to get back home to spend time with their loved ones, or to fulfil the commitments they had made in their social life (That they were going to miss, again!).
Yes officers may be making large amounts of money from overtime, but from my experience these are few and far between. You must look at what role these officers perform and if you look closely it may well be that their overtime does actually represent value for money......