Thursday, November 23, 2006

Correct Politicalness

A number of Polis bloggers have directed readers to the article in the Police Review submitted by an Inspector and airing his views on Blogging. I've linked to You're Nicked as he includes the full article, but other takes can be seen at Inspector Gadget and also at Sergeant Says.

Please read the article and then you'll understand why I have a few points to make:

  • Being unhelpful about resource levels - I like to do a little bit of customer research when I get negative comments from mops regarding response times etc. Ask them just how many polis they think are on duty in their city, town etc. Do this on nightshift, say about 4am, when all the office bound polis are in bed and the lateshift have gone home. When they get the answer horribly wrong and they will - n.b. for God's sake don't give them the correct answer, that would be definitely unhelpful - ask them also how many ambulance crews are on, Doctors and Nurses at the local A&E, Out of Hours Social Workers etc etc. Then try and figure out yourself how they got it so wrong. We must be doing something right if they think there's that many on duty. The truth is however that we are all fighting for scarce resources and anyway; they should all be in bed asleep!
  • Washing our dirty linen in public is not the answer - most of the blogs I read from Polis around the UK and blogs from other public servants are genuinely humorous and light hearted in their cynicism and critique of their paymasters. The mops (i.e. the members of the public - an acronym I like so there) that read blogs are likely to be gifted enough to make this distinction and not sit up at night worrying their little heads about the likelihood of them "being overrun by paedophiles, rapists, terrorists and murderers."
  • You always know someone has a poor argument when they resort to typecasting and blatant dishing of their 'opponents' cf. "the opinions of jaded and frustrated officers." Frustrated yes, jaded no. I just CARE about the job and the people I serve enough to highlight the hurdles we sometimes encounter in providing a professional service in a manner that is both appropriate and proportional and for me satisfying and morale boosting.
  • Anonymity - The inspector wrote, "I am aware my bosses read this piece, so I have to behave myself." What is he suggesting? Are Polis bloggers errant kiddiewinks who are due for an early night if they step out of line. A couple of clicks and my identity is there for all to discover, but I don't broadcast it like I was an official mouthpiece for my employers. The purpose of my particular blog, which is not exclusively related to Policing, but will have a large content about same given it's what I do for a living and is PART of who I am, is to discuss, comment and commune on matters I and others find interesting, amusing and thought provoking. I suggest the next time he is out for a drink or at a dinner party and he's asked about his job he just states, "NO COMMENT. I MUST BEHAVE." Despite my occasional moaning about things that DO frustrate me and others, I love my job and wouldn't do anything else. When asked at my confirmation how I felt about my job, I told the DCC I had found my niche. Nothing's changed my opinion. I only wish Inspectors like him (and let's face it the Police is almost unique in that the gaffers have all made their way through the ranks) would recall what they joined for and what their true vocation is. It's not to serve the implied monolith he refers to as THE POLICE, it's the public or as he would probably call them; our customers. In that there lies the problem. We are not a business. We do not have a profit line. Yes we have to give value for money, but we must do it proportionately and in a compassionate and efficient manner. My loyalty to the service remains strong, but it is rightly tempered by those actions made by Government and sometimes our own higher echelons that frustrate day to day policing.
Finally - I would just like to observe that this country has a fine tradition of free speech. However, with such freedom comes responsibility.

For Polis bloggers, that responsibility is to avoid naming names until in the Public domain, avoid sharing ill judged opinions and observations until the facts are known or researched, avoid comments that are
sub-judice, but above all your comments should be transparent and honest. They say the truth never hurts and aren't we in the business of truth..... just remember what you say every time you go to court and before you actually give evidence. Something missing from the Inspector's article was the word integrity. He should look it up in his dictionary.

p.s. After writing all that (or in your case reading all that) I'm feeling JADED for another reason.

And yes, I have now let off steam!!!!


Inspector Gadget said...

Good Blog, spot on and funny as usual!

Noddy said...

Thank you Sir.

Noddy said...

I meant to add that my blog does not aim to bring the Police Service into disrepute, rather that it shows that both in and out of the job we are just normal spuds. I hope it gives us a human face - but there will be no!

Simon Hepworth said...

Good points well made; I have always accepted the rights of others to their own opinions and it is refreshing to see a blog thread on this topic that does not resort to personal abuse.

I just ask to people to read the points I made carefully and completely; I believe that there is a great deal of truth in what is being said and that the real problem is that there is no legitimate means for officers to let off steam. In an earlier 'Comment' piece I tried to make this very point in that the PC culture often denies officers the ability to do this, which leads to unconventional avenues.
Also, all the indications are that the Government will not take heed of anonymous gripes (Tony McNulty sees the works of PC Copperfield as 'More of a fiction than Dickens').

Clearly people take issues with these points and it is refreshing to see a more mature discussion taking place than other such threads which have largely involved personal abuse ('Insp. G' might know what I am talking about....fortunately I have broad shoulders).

At the end of the day, unlike all of you, my identity is in the public domain so I have to think very carefully about what I say, in order to protect my own back from the machine, or from Bloggers!

Anyway, Noddy, you have my respect for your approach to this issue.

Noddy said...

Inspector H.

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I have read all, I think, of your comments on other blogs and the responses to same, and yes you have been a target of some unnecessary personal dishing and other unconstructive commentary.

I think your piece has started a debate, sometimes not as healthy as it should be, but a debate nonetheless.

I read other blogs, sometimes myself with a little bit of a shudder and wish that there could be a little bit more consideration and foresight in regards to the content, hence my view on responsibility, particularly where anonymity is maintained. However, whilst I cannot always support the tone of the apparent ‘whining’ that goes on, I do think it is important that note is taken of the general similarity of the moans throughout the UK civil servant sector by those who genuinely have the means to do something about the feelings and situations expressed. I am not sure where there might be a better a way to express these matters at present and I believe the lack of this has created the problem itself.

It is clear from your comment that, as with many of us, it is the Political interference in the way we carry out OUR job as professionals in that area that can be questioned at times. Blogging about that allows our customers to understand our frustrations and colleagues to feel they are not alone. I don’t think I blame the Bosses particularly for the way they have to manage the various civil services. I think their hands are also tied as well, but just ask any ambulance staff, social workers etc and they will probably list their number 1 gripe as having their job neutered by almost pathological devotion to statistics. (No.2 I wager would be political correctness). What most of us want to do is to just get on with the job in a manner that we, most of the time, know best how to do. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be monitored for effectiveness or methodology, but the nit picking down to the nth degree is a royal pain in the butt and leaves us querying our own common sense application of our actions, powers and resources.

Finally, as I have said before, Polis blogging is there for all to use responsibly for amusement (we need more of that!), discussion, community of the like-minded and employed and projection of the service as a whole. Being negative without constructiveness helps no one, public or Polis.

I want to let the public know that at the end of the day I love my job and doing it FOR them. They should have no fear that I will not continue doing so.

Twining says: said...

With respect Inspector Hepworth is a little naive, pleasing his leaders so. I have seen little race change through upawards or even downwards since 1998. What change has occurred has been FORCED, and you can't do that by toeing the party line or playing plantation politics.