Response times must improve!

Gadget reading one of the Chief's many explodi...
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As I wake bleary eyed, shuffle into the kitchen and hunt the teabags after tripping over the dog, I find another dismal day of damp weather and overcast skies. Going back to bed would be a good option but no, I’ll crank up the old steam radio and blog surf with my now steaming brew…   

WTF? Does nobody in the blogosphere actually sleep? It appears that Dennis O’Connor (HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary) has been on the BBC Breakfast programme this morning, telling the public that the police have “retreated from the streets” since the 1970s and, as a result of forthcoming public sector austerity measures, police availability should be the last thing to be cut… No shit Sherlock!    

Obviously the blogs renowned for policing comment are awash with opinion; on a weekday morning and less than three hours since the show was aired? Judging by tone and content of many opinions, it would appear unlikely any of the authors were of the well-known office jockey ilk. I can only assume a lot of the opinion must have originated from retired and off duty police officers or ‘observers’ from other fields after all, they couldn’t possibly have been compiled in work time… Could they?    

Dennis O’Connor tells the truth: … Our police have become an utter disaster, though this extends far beyond their inability to form decent response teams. Other agencies are as bad or much worse… Once again, we are in a situation in which the very people who have been failing for 30 years are put in charge of change and can lay claim they have been doing something new and we should wait for the outcome. (allcoppedout)    

Dennis O’Connor is quiet right to point out; the public do not distinguish between anti-social behaviour and crime – for them, it’s just a sliding scale of grief”…    

Where the streets have no name – HMIC SHOCK! Society can blame the police, teachers, social workers and parents as much as it wants. The basic fact is that in the days before all this feral behaviour, if someone went before a Magistrate, they were dealt with. Now, with every yob diagnosed as some kind of victim of something, they are treated more like medical patients. (Inspector Gadget)    

Without going into specific numbers (which would probably land me in the crap), I can confirm the comments made by Dennis O’Connor (and many others) are true. In my own part of the UK there is now well less than a third of the police officers available in a response roll, compared to 30+ years ago… And ACPO still denies the fact and accuses the HMIC of being “untruthful”? I think we all know who is actually lying!    

So, what is the likely outcome of this ongoing (and long understood) debacle? Well ACPO have had their knuckles rapped (yet again) but this time by the HMIC (who in many respects should really be considered as ‘one of their own’). The politicians at Westminster are fully aware of what needs to be done and, the level of public opinion and feelings about the situation. Are things actually going to change for the better? I’m not confident they will.   

There is a blind ignorance and ambivalence to the situation by ACPO indeed, since the original show this morning, ACPO officers have already been vociferous in their condemnation of Sir Dennis’ O’Connor’s views. In their position would you actually admit your failings? If there was a need to trim numbers from your social club, would you? It has been said in many forums, “Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas” which is so true. In addition and, in many ways due to current ‘fasions’ for police delivery, ACPO is being told ‘do not cut officer numbers’. That in itself is sensible however, it would be a very brave Chief officer (or politician) that allowed any rolling back or adjustment of the Response Officers / Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) policing split.   

This is where many of the problems are actually manifested… Irrespective of increased establishments over recent years, there is simply not enough police officers (as resources are currently managed and deployed) to allow upwards of 80% of those officers, not to be actively involved in response to public demands. This alone is ludicrous!

Cardiff University research for HMIC: Police systems and processes for responding to ASB have become overengineered. There is strong evidence from the research that what victims value is a ‘boots on the ground’ response that finds ways to stop a problem as quickly as possible. Albeit more tentatively, the study also suggests that there may be a need to re-balance other parts of the approach being implemented by police and Community Safety Partnerships. In some areas it appears that too much reliance is being placed upon longer term problem solving based interventions, without properly considering the implications of these for public facing outcomes. More effort should be directed towards developing effective fast-time responses and to ensuring that all activity supports key public-facing outcomes. (Read full report)

I wish I had been a little more ‘on the ball’ this morning however; perhaps I shouldn’t be too self-critical after all, ACPO so obviously aren’t. Putting things into perspective – the addition of my comment to the topic at this ‘late’ hour actually shows, a better response time than most police forces are actually delivering these days!

(Note to self: must rig up an alarm clock or big mallet on my RSS reader.)

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3 thoughts on “Response times must improve!

  1. Official ACPO response to HMIC report on anti-social behaviour

    ACPO lead on anti-social behaviour Assistant Chief Constable Simon Edens said:

    “Chief officers are acutely aware of the devastating impact anti-social behaviour can have in neighbourhoods when it is not tackled, particularly where repeat and vulnerable victims are involved. We will continue to work tirelessly to improve our response.

    “What this report highlights is that where there is police action, victim satisfaction in the police response to anti-social behaviour is high.

    “As HMIC recognises, modern policing has to meet a hugely complex range of challenges. Tackling anti-social behaviour must be achieved alongside keeping people safe through less visible parts of policing such as tackling serious organised crime or terrorism.

    “Anti-social behaviour is not a matter for the police to tackle alone, and the service supports the Government’s approach to encouraging greater personal and community involvement in neighbourhoods.”


  2. Justice never sleeps MrG, except in the hands of those pretending to deliver it, perhaps? Gadget tells a bit of the story, good at blaming everyone else. We all do this, he issue being why we can’t develop better on our personal development and get to sensible solutions. His book contains much I witnessed 30 years ago – social services being useless and so on. What he doesn’t get to is that cops seem just as useless to victims and that social workers tell their own tales of why they are impotent wretches.
    ‘In some areas it appears that too much reliance is being placed upon longer term problem solving based interventions, without properly considering the implications of these for public facing outcomes’ (Cardiff). This kind of language is a major part of the problem. The reality is cops not turning up, being useless and worse when they do, stereotyping victims when they do as part of the problem and leaving decent people who have reported accurately in the lurch with vile scum who later petrol bomb them. And the cops are the best of an entirely bad bunch. Interestingly, most of the cops and other street bureaucrats are quite ordinary people too, hopelessly out of their depth. Theresa May strikes me as quite ordinary too. Her one line solution is to cut red tape, a known failed solution for thousands of years.

    The problem is bureaucracy and leaving both the failed individuals and system that will only produce more of them in place. I suspect IG is right to focus on Magistrates – these should be key people, not volunteer duffers, but professionalising them without a new social contract won’t work. My guess is that the answers lie in radical reform of work and income distribution. Its much more complex than the tools we have to treat with, which are clapped out from our politics, economics, education, media and on. The metaphor I keep coming back to is that of a sports team that loses every week but still thinks it is unlucky!


    1. Allcoppedout – Since starting to read your blog, I (unlike some) usually value your obviously educated and informed opinion. I do however take exception to the way you often appear to infer; all the cops are useless, is that not an implied stereotyping?


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