HAVEN’T YOU GOT ANYTHING BETTER TO DO
Ask any serving or retired Police Officer what is one of the most annoying, throwaway comments that they hear on a daily basis?
For me it was ‘Haven’t you got anything better to do than…….’
a) Do me for not wearing a seatbelt
b) Speeding/mobile phone, who doesn’t speed/use their phone/text whilst driving these days?
c) I’m only having a leak, what’s the problem?
d) It’s not like I’ve nicked the Crown Jewels….
My answer through gritted teeth, was always polite;
a) I would rather be giving you a ticket for no seatbelt than trying to piece together your face after it’s gone through the windscreen
b) Just a bit of speeding/texting/phone call? Ah right, okay I’ll remember to tell that to the parents of your next victim when you plough into them because you either didn’t see them because your text/phone call was more important, or because your speed made it impossible to stop before impact.
c) Fine, I’ll just see how your Mum feels if I get one of my colleagues to come and urinate all over her front door because like you, they didn’t have the maturity to find a toilet before they left the pub.
d) Stealing is stealing, regardless of what it is, where it is from, the value or who is the victim. It is a crime.
This was what I was paid to do. Uphold the law, to protect life, limb and property.
Your lives, your property, your safety.
I proudly took an oath to do this, regardless of what the cost would be to me in terms of personal danger, fear and at times, heartbreak.
This is an oath that thousands of Police Officers throughout the Country have sworn to do. They carry out this promise to you day in, day out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year. This is their dedication, their profession, their calling.
When I joined I came with a blazing passion to make things ‘right’, to give something back. I knew that by becoming a Police Officer I was never going to be able to change the world, but I truly believed that if I took the time to care, then maybe I could make a difference, no matter how small.
Looking back over the years I think I did make a difference. Somewhere out there I know there is a young man, who maybe has a family of his own by now, with hopefully a happy and fulfilled life. He may even have an adorable baby boy, just like he was all those years ago. That adorable little baby almost died until a fresh out of the box, very green, very nervous and excitable policewoman scooped him from his own father’s arms to give him CPR.
I will remember that baby’s first breath and cry until the day I die.
My Sergeant patted me on the back and told me it was a ‘job well done’ – then I sloped off to be sick in trap 2 of the girls loo’s at the nick.
I know I also made a difference to many people who ended up serving prison sentences for offences committed, not always in a good way for them but it did make an immense difference to their victims. That was reward enough for doing a job I loved.
Every day, somewhere in the Country, in each Force that covers your area, a police officer will be carrying out a duty that will have an impact upon you, your life, your family and upon themselves.
Granted it may not be what some people will welcome if they happen to be on the wrong side of the law, but then again, popularity is not one of the qualities that attracts so many selfless lads and lasses to this profession.
I needed to write this blog today. It is a far cry from Mavis Upton’s adventures. This does not have a hilarious punch-line, or a laugh a minute scene.
I am writing this for those serving men and women, who like today, a wet, windy Sunday, when we are having a duvet day in front of the fire, catching up with a good film, bottle of wine on the go, sharing our time with family & loved ones whilst thinking life can’t get any better, they are out there. Protecting you, protecting your family, protecting your property.
OR AT LEAST THEY ARE TRYING TO….
I am not political in any shape or form. I strongly believe that there is no place for Politics in Policing as it leaves it wide open to corruption and a devaluing of the service. The Police Service is for YOU, the people of this Country, not for Politicians to advance their own careers, their Party or line their pockets.
Sadly, due to political intervention and the contempt with which the Government holds the Police Service, it is very much in danger of collapse.
Devastating cuts to Police budgets throughout the Country have severely impacted upon how these dedicated men and women carry out their duties every day. Their safety is being seriously compromised, which in turn will compromise your safety. They are stretched to the absolute limit and more and more they find that they are physically unable to meet the demands of their role.
They are at breaking point.
They are as frustrated and angry as you are when they cannot respond to a call in time, or on some occasions respond at all due to lack of resources.
This is not their fault.
They can only work with what is available and if the Government corruptly work on ill-documented statistics in order to impose their cuts on individual Forces, then this is the shameful and dangerous result. This is not the spin the Politicians will give you, or how the Chief Officers, many through no choice of their own, will voice.
Can you imagine working a 15 hour shift (instead of your dedicated 10 hours) dealing with a Sudden Unexplained Death (potential crime scene), three vehicle Road Traffic Crash, two Shoplifters detained, more than half a dozen low grade calls-for-service incidents, a neighbour dispute and finally a child welfare issue AND then dealing with all the corresponding paperwork that goes with these incidents before you can go off duty? All of this single crewed with no more than two other Officers on duty covering a large area and population.
15 hours with nothing to eat, nothing to drink but the bottle of water you hastily stuffed in your briefcase when you ran out from parade to the first call. You almost made a visit to the toilet but got called to an immediate response, so now that will have to wait. When you eventually get home your family have gone to bed but you can’t sleep as your brain is in overdrive. Maybe you might get to see your children tomorrow, if not, just another three shifts and you’ve got two days off to be with them. Then again maybe not. You’ve just had your Rest Days cancelled and you’ve got to work an early shift for at least one of those days off.
This happens every day somewhere in this County as a means of trying to make the job work.
If you were to join the Police now, I would imagine these qualities would come in rather handy;
*Bladder the size of a barrage balloon
*The ability to do without food or drink for a minimum of 12 hours
*The ability to survive on a maximum of 4 hours sleep between shifts
*Family/friends/offspring who have excellent memories so that when they actually get to see you – they can remember who you are
Admittedly these are the accepted ways of the ‘job’, it is what every police officer expects at some point in their career, to be stretched to the limit, working unsociable hours. It is what their families expect. At the end of the day they are not married to/living with an Average Joe or Josephine who work 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. They all accept, adapt and get used to Christmases, birthdays and special occasions without them.
What they didn’t sign up for was the utter contempt shown by Politicians towards the very job they do, the disgusting way their career, terms and conditions have been changed, putting you in jeopardy as well as themselves, and the disgraceful way in which the Media, at the behest of Politicians, has consistently crucified the Service and its serving Officers in turning the tide of public opinion against them in order to gain control.
There are ‘bad apples’ in every barrel. Nothing disgusts or shames a serving officer more than a corrupt or criminal fellow officer. Thankfully they are few and far between and due to the transparency of the Service, they can no longer hide and are regularly brought to justice. What is sometimes lost sight of is that for every one bad apple there are thousands of good, dedicated and brave officers out there willing to put their own lives on the line for yours. These are the headlines that the media shy away from. A story of one corrupt police officer or those that dare to drink tea with the public whilst on duty sells more papers than a story of another officers bravery or dedication.
Sadly so many brave Officers have already done just that. They have put their lives on the line with tragically fatal results. They went to work with plans, hopes and expectations. They didn’t get the chance to come home. They didn’t get the chance to fulfil those dreams.
These sacrifices were made for you.
I am proud to say that I am still in regular contact with my old colleagues. They cannot voice their worries, concerns or more often than not, their despair at how ‘the job has gone’. All they want to do is parade on, go out there and do the job they are paid to do. They want to protect you, they want to arrest offenders, they want to make their beats safe. All they are asking is for their own safety and welfare to be at least ONE of the priorities, along with the ability to do their work unhindered by politics, budget cuts and government targets.
They work incredibly hard and ask only for a fair pay, decent conditions and decent pension rights, which incidentally they already pay heavily for. Don’t be swayed by sensationalised headlines in the media, by Politicians blackening the Service for their own agenda.
They need your support, they need occasionally to see your appreciation for a job well done. They need to know that the next time they are standing waiting for a door to open with an unknown quantity behind it, that not only their colleagues have their backs, but that you do to.
I make no apologies for this rather unusual deflection on my blog. It means so much to me to highlight what is happening to a profession that I still feel incredibly proud and passionate about, for my former colleagues who I think about every day and for you, who ultimately are the customers of these brave, dedicated and professional men and women.
Please remember them kindly and with appreciation. Your anger should be directed at those that hinder them from carrying out the profession they proudly serve.