Monday, 27 April 2009

Supervision


I sit at home and sometimes, you can’t help it, ponder the events of the day.

I frequently attend incidents where the “bigger picture” has to be viewed. I am talking about scenes, prisoner watches at hospitals and the inevitable constant obs at police jails. All of these things are considered. I arrive at a job, there is clearly a scene and it needs to be preserved. If the offender is arrested it is worthwhile otherwise all you are recovering is frequently the blood of the “victim” (note adherence to the victim charter there). However there is a gut wrenching, sphincter snapping clap that echoes throughout Notgreatside at every occasion where somebody is even slightly hurt.Common sense does never prevail therefore and the echo of the sphincter results in a scene etc. How many rolls of scene tape we must go through actually scares me. Incidentally when a scene is taped off and there is an officer stood preventing people access how many people come up and ask if it OK for them to walk through it or just ignore it altogether? “Can I just walk through as I need to go to the offy?” Errm No! They still ask though. Would I put tape round that says “POLICE CRIME SCENE DO NOT ENTER” if it was ok to walk through?

Anyway after numerous stints of acting despite never even sitting the exam never mind passing it. I now find myself in the position of having supervision who have less time in than me or have been so far removed from front line policing they are a bloody liability! They have obviously read the books and passed the exam, they are still at the T/Sgt stage and still haven’t a clue about anything. One of them can’t work past x o’clock in the morning due to sleep problems. I sometimes struggle to sleep on nights but don’t complain, why is he a Sgt on a 24/7 response block? The other one, well, is generally never there due to courses but is quite effective when in work. In other words the burden frequently falls on my shoulders.

In my former life in the RAF I was promoted to the rank of Sgt and after passing what was called General Service Training courses on two occasions, four weeks in the classroom/field (one to Corporal then the next to Sgt) I actually learned how to lead/look after staff. Welfare, food, drink and toilet breaks are essential. They are not just to be accommodated when convenient. To the best of my knowledge I never had to order anyone to do a menial task, there was always a request and due to the fact I would also do the rubbish jobs when required my staff just did it. There were frequent instances where I had to just ask people to do jobs and they would. If my shift heard me say this or that needs doing NOW I wouldn’t have to order anyone they would just do it I would not do it unless necessary. End result the job got done and people had respect for the rank because:

a) you had earned it and got the t-shirt.

b) you treated them properly.

Moving on a decade or so and I find myself in another uniformed role which is supposedly disciplined.However there is a distinct lack of leadership. From a purely personal point of view being deposited at a crime scene at 23:00 and not being relieved until well past 07:00 is not acceptable. Never mind the weather or the availability of facilities this is clearly not right. (Haven't done that for years but still remember). I would even push it to possibly be a contravention of yooman rights but will stand corrected on that one. When I wear the mantle I always remember try to remember the fundamentals of it. While we lucky ones who get to whizz around in fast cars frequently never get a break it is significantly better than standing on a cold wet scene with nowhere to have a pee! Frequently in the full view of the press and numerous other members of the public. This ignominious role frequently falls to the junior officers on the block. I did it but thankfully with Sergeants who gave a toss. There was always a break for a brew and another one for your scoff. I try to follow their example. That was not that long ago, only 9 years. Those people have either moved on or retired. The sorry replacements are not up to the job or just don’t care. I know from my own experience that once a commitment is covered then the welfare of the staff doing it takes second place despite my urgings. On numerous occasions I have taken flasks of hot water and maxpax out to scenes etc when I have pointed out the requirement to my “superiors”. I wonder why so many student officers are leaving before their 2 years is up. These same people are scared of making decisions and as such will always take the “cover your arse” position instead of following the advice of an experienced officer or frequently, the position dictated by common sense. It really concerns me that these people are responsible for so much. It really isn’t hard to put yourself in the position of someone dying for a pee being surrounded by Sky Poos reporters and cameramen doing the “really need a pee/poo dance”. For heaven's sake one female student officer ended up in hospital with a severe kidney infection due to holding her bladder for 10 hours. Why can I see the basic needs and do my utmost to accomodate these whereas those with stripes can't. I point out with apologies that I.G. and other supervisors who post probably do give a stuff which is why their staff get on with the job. These people obviously have common sense whereas a lot of supervisors just complete the advisory staff management course, take no notice of it and get on with their next promotion. How that differs from my man management training.

I could go on for ever pointing out the failings of supervision, the lack of balls oops, courage for the diverse, the futile allocation of insolvable crime reports, the basic requirements of staff as highlighted above and above all else the absence of leadership. This goes beyond immediate supervisors right to the top echelons of “management”. When will the government realise that the police is not a business and does not need managers, what it needs are some leaders who will enforce the laws and policies that direct their staff and not worry about this. Perhaps that way we can just get on with the job whilst still being held accountable, and not be the excuse for the political clusterfucks that we are now.

This post comes from despair about what we are becoming and also from hearing the results about who has passed the OSPRE exam and who hasn't. 22 year old just, and he has passed? How is he going to lead?

I haven't got the spare time at home to study at the moment hence the reason I am not one of the happy or sad candidates.

14 comments:

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Most members of the public would not be qualified to pass comment on the content of this enlightening article. It provides useful insight of practical difficulties facing police at a time when unprecedented criticism skews citizen opinion.

On the other matter, I must confess to being an avid Brunstrom fan and simply shrug off a few of his apparent eccentricities.

Constable Confused.com said...

Dr MTG,

thank you for a balanced thought out comment. I'll be honest and say that it wasn't expected when I saw your name.

The post highlights the non-sexy/controversial stuff that is the routine and is frequently forgotten following press friendly matters.

Mr Brunstrom, well as long as you don't own a motorbike or speed, he's still a Chief Con.


Regards.

Dandelion said...

When will the government realise that the police is not a businessProbably when they realise that healthcare, education and transport aren't businesses either. I can't quite tell you when that will be though...

Call me naiive, but surely if we put our heads together, something can be done?

Anonymous said...

Try not to despair Constable, as it will only drag you down in a never ending spiral of doom and gloom. I realise that words are easy to type, and to say, and not always easy to apply in ones life.

But try to think of the song from the Monty Python film, "The Life of Brian"....Jesus on the cross singing, "ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE". Because life really IS full of shit, when you look at it, so cheer up you "old bugger" and keep em laughing as you go.... Having been in despair myself in the recent past, about a job related issue, or two, the above worked for me. It also worked for my elderly parents a few years ago, when they started to become "the glums".

Interesting post again, and as Dr Mel says, very enlightening. The media appear to play a large part in public opinion of the police, and anyone else who gets "targeted" for that matter.... The McCanns spring to mind, and Robert Murat, plus others.

Even Richard Brunstrom has been targeted by them for unfair comment, which has undermined his role and the work he has done. His local MP needs to "get a life", or better still play the Monty Python song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", often. Fancy taking issue over a Rainbow Flag, and the fact that the Chief Con is not afraid to tackle controversial issues. I suppose the Chief would be considered eccentric to the rest of the sheep. But I like that too, so he has my vote of confidence and support. The force could do with more like him. Is he a Jedi? ;0)

That's the solution Constable Confused, seek out the Jedi within the force, and they will lift your spirits. There was an article in the Daily Mail on St George's day, about a good number of officers who consider themselves to be "Jedi". They work with "The Light" to combat the dark side of life.
Brilliant.....Lets have more of it.

Hawkeye x

Stressed Out Cop said...

I think you sum it up by the word common sense. It's not hard to lead a team and the little things like toilet breaks are what matters.

A welfare visit to relieve LITERALLY) the troops for a wee raises morale and is remembered. Of course meanwhile the drive towards ticking the calls over is deemed as more important.

We have very few PC's with 9 years service on team. A few years ago the average was about 3 years. Even today we are nearing 50% as probationers.

As a supervisor I would rely on people like you to keep the youngsters in line (you know what I mean - who needs guidance)- Leadership though was from the Sgts.

Vetnurse said...

MTG am not sure the reason as a MOP l could not understand fully nor pass comment on the posting?

I agree with the rest of what you have said (like CC this is a shock to me) apart from Brunstom so just had to google him.

I just wish that police blogs were required reading and not facebook, as to fast tracking l have never understood it in any walk of life and am afraid l am one of those who has no respect for fast trackers, unfortunately for me l let them know it.

dickiebo said...

I know that I have said it before, but....at the risk of boring you! My mate was Acting Chief Constable of his force and said to me one day, that 90% of his force recruits had the quals to be (eventually)Chief Constable, but only about 10% had the necessary attributes to be a Constable!

Constable Confused.com said...

Dickiebo,

you haven't bored me and unfortunately how true your comments are. Incidentally I don't have the quals to be Chief Con. Then again maybe that's a good thing.

Regards.

Anonymous said...

suppose you think you're a fucking hero now then.

Loser do the test and sort it out yourself. you're probably too thick to do that though aren't you.

Annette said...

Actually, it sounds very frustrating.

Hibbo said...

CC, can I ask what trade you were in the RAF, and how long did you serve?

You will find incredible incompetence in management/leadership in any walk of life; it does seem that the police are extremely reluctant to do anything about it though. Just dish the PNDs out, chalk up the detections, don't rock the boat, take the money and toss it off till it's pension time.

Nice work if you can get it.....

Hogday said...

CC.com has flagged up irritating problems that blight and frustrate police forces up and down the land - and many other trades and professions too, so I agree with Vetnurse that the failure to produce quality management and leadership in policing are failings equally identifiable and understood in other walks of life. The same basic human failings in managing and leading in the police are alive and well all over the place. Mrs Hogday, a former police officer herself, is in a totally different trade these days, but the same basic faults as CC.Com has flagged up exist in her very different workplace. She's no longer frustrated by the policing system/CPS/Social Services etc etc but the thing that most frutrates and infuriates her continues to be people in positions of leadership and authority who either have no idea how to get the best out of their staff or if they do, they choose to take what is, for them, an easier path. Often its because they lack the knowledge and experience and haven't been trained how to use and manage the experience of others, who may well be their subordinates - maybe its all an ego thing? Good leaders may be born, they may also develop the knack through experience, but they certainly won't do any good unless they are shown how to do it properly in the first place and are continuously encouraged and themselves led by example. In support of CC.com, I never saw that much of this either. I reiterate a previous point I made somewhere else, I've worked with great leaders of low rank, crap leaders of high rank who couldn't lead a charge on a shithouse and a mediocre to average majority in between. This really is a matter that the police need to look long and hard at, but it isn't rocket science!

Retired Sgt said...

I was once told by a CH.Supt that Sgts were just "Glorified Pcs"
I said "OK tell you what we will both take next week off-which of us will be the missed the quickest do you think?"

Constable Confused.com said...

Hibbo,

joined in 1987 as alowly TG 9. Was promoted in 91 to CPL, GST 1 at Hereford as it was then. Promoted again in 94, on the back of a few brownie points to Sgt GST 2 at Halton then. Air Traffic Controller school for 6 months then posted to Lossie. Usually the token SNCO amongst the commissioned officers responsible for the junior ranks.

Regards.