Monday, 17 September 2007

Cooking the books.

As anyone who works for any department in the government, be they teachers, paramedics or police officers they will know the government is obsessed with targets.

Be they hospital waiting lists, exam results or ambulance response times etc. For the police however the government has decided that the way a police force will be judged is by the percentage of crimes they 'solve' or 'detect' compared to the number of crimes reported as a percentage.

This has the following effect, all the forces are then compared with each other and ranked. My force has come in at around forth from bottom, so all the big bosses got a bollocking from the Chief Constable. Then all the Chief superintendents got a bollocking and so on and so on until the sector inspectors gave their sergeants a bollocking.

Then all us Pc's at the bottom of the pile get told to get out there and get some detections!

This has had the following effect in our nick, on every wall is a poster stating the minimum number we each require each month. (Several officers have now been called into the inspectors office and been asked to account for why they've failed to meet this target invented by the inspector). The inspector has written all our names on the whiteboard and next to it the number of detections for each month.

I thought that our nick was bad, in our neighbouring nick its even worse with an actual race to who can get the most each month with a points system and prizes for the winner !!!!

As I said a detection is a detected crime. Now a detected crime could be solving a murder, a rape, a robbery or a burglary. However a crime could also be a person person swearing in the street or it could be a lad having a spliff in a park.

It takes about 15 minutes to issue a £80 ticket for section 5 and even less time to issue a street warning for possession of cannabis. However each one still counts as one detected crime the same as a murder, rape, robbery or burglary.

So we are actually being encouraged by the bosses to get these 'quick' hits. This has led to any officer get some time to be pro-active they are not really looking for robbers or burglars they'd rather find a group of lads sharing a spliff.

I have also heard rumours of officers actually winding up people until they contravene section 5 then issuing them with a ticket.

It's almost as if nothing else matters just get some quick detections, even to the point where are discretion is being taken away. Perhaps you may be dealing with something that could potentially lead to a charge but is probably better to sort out another way i.e a playground scrap or some unwanted texts. You find yourself thinking why bother just get them charged. Which has lead to this.

So if you see your local Chief Constable in the paper or on the news going on about how much their force has improved and solved loads more crime, the likely hood isn't that they haven't solved any more murders, rapes, robberies or burglaries they just learnt how to cook the books.

There is more on this in tonight's episode of panorama 'wasting police time' on BBC1 at 8.30.


dickiebo said...

In the late 50s, early 60s, we had these charts on the wall of the CID Office, showing all arrests by Aids to CID. It was called The Rat Race. If u were at, or near, the bottom of the list, you were destined for uniform duties in the near future. I well remember a very famous Detective Superintendent (then a DCI) telling a meeting of Aids, "I do not want to see any crime being detected, which has not been committed". Make of that what you will but for God's sake learn from it! Performance Indicators? The value of these is in the person who evaluates them, so there is not much hope there, then.

Charlie Lima said...

I wrote this post before I saw the panorama program I didn't realise quite how much of the program was going to address the same issues as this post.