Monday, 21 April 2008

Look how the red line goes down......

It must be said that in today's world there is an awful lot of shite that anyone who has anything remotely to do with the Government has to put up with. This is mainly borne out of the view that in order to justify ones existence (and expenses) they must be accountable, and the easiest way to account for something is for someone to make a graph so that they can point to it and say "look how good we are, that red line has clearly gone down while the green line has gone up, so we must be doing things right!"

I'm not a big fan of statistics for statistics sake. In the last 10 years the Government have all but brought the Police to their knees with paperwork and targets, the same can be said for GP's, Hospitals and teachers. The problem is that the people who set the targets don't really understand the problem and they massively over simplify, which subsequently creates problems that everyone but the target setters see coming a mile off. Not that this matters to the Government.

The National Crime Recording Standards (NCRS) were originally conceived after calls from certain sections of the public who were aggrieved that the Police were not taking their allegations of crime seriously and that we were failing them. In some cases they were perfectly justified in saying so, in others they certainly were not. There were also calls for the Police to be held considerably more accountable to the public purse, and the best way to do that of course is to be able to have a list of everything you’ve dealt with.

To appease certain sections (ethnic minorities with perfectly legitimate calls at one end and time wasting losers with nothing else to do but report each other for 'harassment innit' who, unsurprisingly weren't being taken seriously at the other end of the scale) the Government suggested that if a person thinks a crime has happened - whether it actually had or not - then the Police had to treat it as a crime and investigate the incident to prove one way or another. If the evidence suggests that a crime has taken place then the offender would be put forward for prosecution if the evidence passed the threshold.

NCRS also stipulates that the Police should record a crime even if the victim doesn’t want to know or is refusing to assist Police with investigation (conceived to tackle ‘honour’ and domestic crime) and also to make a report in anticipation of a crime allegation even if the victim doesn’t actually know they’ve been a victim yet such as burglary or criminal damage where the victim is not aware.

Now this is where the problems start seeping through the cracks, because NCRS applies across the board to everything and not just certain stipulations for certain types of crime. The people who rightly said that the Police were not treating them seriously thought that now the Police HAD to take them seriously, then all their grievances and crime allegations would be dealt with quickly and effectively making their lives better.

This was not to be the case, as even though the Police did treat them seriously because we had to, we also had to treat every other person in the country seriously, no matter how moronic. Now that everyone had to be treated the same there became so many more crime allegations that the Police had to deal with and investigate, and Police numbers never increased sufficiently to effectively deal with the increased workload.

The only thing close to workable under the new regime was to remove officers from frontline positions and to put them into crime management units, force recording bureaus and various other admin roles to try and keep up. Naturally this meant the number of officers physically able to pop out to take the report went down and the workload for those few remaining officers increased exponentially.

Almost every crime (bar the most serious such as murder or the political hot potatoes) became a ticky box investigation that if it was not laid out in front of the investigator then it would be boshed as soon as possible to allow them to move onto the next one in an ever increasing pile. The net result of this, is the sections of the public who were being previously unfairly failed by the Police now joined everyone else. The problem is they are still being failed, but at least now that everyone is getting bad service, it's fair isn't it?

When I used to patrol around if we saw a bus shelter or a phone box with a broken window then all we would have do is get the control room to call the relevant company to give them a heads up so they could fix it the next day. Signs of damage and disorder reduced, public feel less like they live in a complete shit hole.

Now because of NCRS, even if the victim doesn’t actually know that they have been a victim, the Police still have to report the incident as a crime and fill out the relevant crime report in anticipation of the victim making a complaint of criminal damage. Filling out a crime report could take anything up to an hour depending on the details of the incident but usually about 30 minutes. Now compare this to the previous procedure of the ten second radio message from the Police officer, and two minutes to create and type up the incident message from the operator and it is hardly surprising to find that no one now calls in to report the phone boxes or bus shelters as being damaged.

If you were to drive around and see two phone boxes and one shelter smashed, that’s at least an hour and a half to write it up which is an hour and a half away from the street and actually being visible to the public, as well as criminals that we seek to deter. This isn't Police officers being lazy, we know all too well how much the public want to see us out and about and none of us like being stuck behind a desk.

The companies never reported the criminal damage incidents to the Police before hand due to the cost in additional administration to them versus the already accepted and budgeted costs of routine repair. Now that they don’t know the next morning that one of their units have been damaged, it could feasibly add another couple of days before the routine repair requirement is identified, which also means more time for people to walk past and think that the area is going down hill.

The problem is further complicated when the government looked at the sheet of lists of crimes and said to ACPO "this is clearly not acceptable, there are too many robberies and burglaries (for example) so you have to cut the numbers"

With less police officers on the street to actually deter and detect crime (as well as pathetic sentencing of those who were caught, charged and convicted) the only way that the Police could actually reduce the numbers was through a process of reclassification performed by crime management units and CID departments responsible for 'overseeing' the crime reports. Robberies became theft and assault, burglaries became walk-in-thefts, attempted burglaries became criminal damage, assaults were down graded, violent disorder and affray became pathetic Section 5's. Sometimes the job would be handedover and it would be NFA'd (no further action) because it's deemed not in the public interest. The list goes on, and the only people to benefit from the police having to report anything and everything are the criminals because there are less Police officers available to make their lives as uncomfortable as possible.



Anonymous said...

If you ever want to become a politician, I'd vote for you!


Metcountymounty said...

I think I'd rather boil my own head, but thanks for the support :o)

Phil A said...

You make some excellent points.

But don’t forget the additional problem of an ever diminishing support from a public aghast at such situations as where a law abiding school nurse is arrested and locked up in a cell for smacking her unruly teenage son, gets placed on the risk register and looses her job as a result - Excellent use of discretion and police time. Or are you even allowed discretion these days what with policies and targets.

Anonymous said...

At last, someone has finally put everything that's wrong into a (relatively) short and easy to understand guide. Now, if only those idiots who "run" (and I use the word loosely) the country would read this, perhaps they'd begin to understand.

Excellent post, great blog. Keep it up and don't let the b*stards grind you down.

Area Trace No Search said...

All so disappointingly true.

To be honest it's very tempting to drive or walk around with the blinkers on, I'd love to report minor acts of criminal damage and the like, but as you said, it'd mean I'd deal with nothing else.

Anonymous said...

As ever MCM, the problem with NCRS is not specifically with the policy itself... its with the way police management implement it. If a complainant wants no action or not to make a complaint, why on earth do we jump through hoops investigating to the end of the earth? Police bosses with cahonies could make it much better.... sorry, just daydreaming again.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoying your blog. My only critisism is that the postings are possibly a little too long. You could make your point just as eloquently with less words. Keep it up.

TheBinarySurfer said...

Been catching up reading through your back posts. Good work and keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I know just what you mean:

reported "Robbery"
downgraded to
common assault and lost property;

reported "Rape"
downgraded to
business dispute.

Any more?

Carry on Constable said...

Sounds like we're in the same Force!

Anonymous said...

But you are colluding with the system

All of you.

Metcountymounty said...

phil a - the support from the public is being stripped away as a direct result of actions caused through following the guidelines that we have all said will cause problems, its only now though that everyone is staring to see how bad it's become. It's been getting worse for years and people have always slagged off the Police for complaining about targets and paperwork but we're not stupid and can sniff bullshit a mile off. With regard to your link, personally I would rather sit down in my inspectors office to justify why I didn't nick her (as I have done more than a few times) unless the kid looked like he'd had a proper kicking and the mum had lots of previous for assault or was a scrote, which by the looks of it she wasn't.

anon 1241, to be fair to the Met, we do score really really badly with NCRS compliance because we do write off a hell of a lot, I'd rather someone up high got roasted for not complying with it properly than the whole force grinding to a halt in a weekend.

anon 1245, I can get into a rant which is one of the reasons I held off writing a blog for a while, but all of the posts are less than 2 pages long, however point taken and noted!

anon 1355, dipping and pickpocketing recently got a good one from our dipping squad - if the complainant didn't actually see the item being stolen then because the area is so busy and rife with our new EU brothers and sisters thieving from everyone it would be reported as lost until proof of theft emerged ie someone using the 'lost' cards.

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Angry Rozzer. said...


Another cracking post.

I think we all said on the introduction of NCRS;

"This is gonna bite us in the arse"

And guess what?!

Job's f***ed.

Anonymous said...

A couple of weeks ago my daughter's car was parked and unattended in a London street and was struck by a black taxi, the driver stopping, checking to see what damage he had caused, and then driving away. This was witnessed by a passerby who left a name, telephone number, a brief outline of what happened and the index of the cab. My daughter followed the correct procedure of reporting the matter to the nearest Met station and was told that as she didn't live in London, she should report it locally!). This was done and the file sent to the Met. The file was sent on to the Met who notified my daughter with an RTA number. After a couple of weeks she was told that "on investigation of the circumstances it has been decided that no further action will be taken by the Met Police" and added that if my daughter wished to obtain the details of the other driver, she should apply to DVLA for reg keeper details. On contacting the witness to ask what had been told to the Met it appeared that no contact had been made by the Police. My daughter is now left with 3 options to try and be reimbursed with the £400 plus damage to her car: Private prosecution (the Met won't send a full copy of the file even on payment and won't even confirm if the taxi driver reported the matter himself); small claims court; or a letter to the taxi driver through Transport for London which is the regulating authority for taxis. Whichever way, it will cause expense, inconvenience and a load of hassle due to her car now being off the road until she can afford the repairs. The Mets have more or less washed their hands of the matter and won't even discuss it. To add a rather surreal conclusion, the friend she was staying with at the time received a leaflet through the door asking for any information regarding a collision involving a Police car! Talk about looking after your own. I know that this keeps the figures down and that an RTA doesn't count towards the stats for the Div Comds bonus but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth of someone who has, until now, always supported the Police. A letter of protest to the Commissioner is now in the pipeline. What chance of success?

Anonymous said...

Loving this new blog. This latest post is very well written and, as said by others, makes some very good, important and clear points that need to be taken heed of.

It's depressingly funny how good intentions behind some the decisions made can actually lead to situations being made worse. The awful thing is, now we are in this mess, it doesn't look like we're going to get out of it very quickly or easily. politicians really need to wake up and start listening to what the problems really are.

Keep up the great posts.

Also, I disagree that they are too long, reason being that most blog sites generally have their blogs too short.

XTP said...


Don't listen to anon @ 1245! I like a good, long read just as much as I like a (usually much shorter) Gadge or Ellie post. I'm sure that there's room for all and you seem to be getting more than a few hits recently.

BTW - being a bit of a luddite I don't know what the word verification thingy is. Can anyone explain please?

Metcountymounty said...

anon 2121, first off, the reporting at the location station thing is bollocks, you can report any incident anywhere and they should deal with it, I'm in central london and we get stuff relating to the whole city and country because lots of people go there, whoever said that was being a lazy bastard. Annoyingly, I'm in exactly the same position as you at the moment with my wifes car and some git who stoved the back of her car in and drove off leaving me to foot the bill so I can sympathise wholeheartedly, and also the local pcso's who were sent out to have a look were as f&cking useless as I have come to expect. With the thing about investigating police collisions, there is a seething undercurrent to our job where anyone in a position of opportunity (anyone with rank or ambitions to have rank, traffic departments, professional standards etc) is out to either cover their arse or do someones legs, if they can get a scalp in the process then so be it. Also organisations like brake and the ipcc love nothing more than to collect a few scalps or climb on the soapbox so we have to investigate anything we do that is a political hot potato (such as everything) and hand ourselves over to get dry humped where appropriate, believe me - its not looking after our own. And the chance of the commissioner reading your letter let alone actioning it? if he does its because he's read the sarcasm in my response to you, so pretty damn slim really!

xtp - the word verification although irritating sometimes, stops rediculous amounts of automated spam being sent through to me, it doesn't stop the likes of cuddles, but to be fair I've only had about 5 or 6 shitty emails from trolls so far.

As you may have guessed, 23 hours sleep in 5 days doesn't really agree with me so I'm off to bed for a day, laters!!

Metcountymounty said...

dammit I knew I forgot something... anon 2121, Traffic does not in any way, shape or form get any recognition from the home office for anything. Speeding tickets (my personal hatred) mobiles, seatbelts, jumping red lights etc get no statistical points at all, that is the reason that 99% of police officers don't touch it any more. Traffic matters are a bloody good way of getting into peoples cars to see what they are up to which is why any copper who has an interest in annoying scrotes uses it, but as for getting points or bonuses etc for processing people, we get sod all.

I will be posting on that matter soon as it seriously grips my shit when people accuse us of doing sod all else but persecute motorists, believe me, we hate speed cameras as much as everyone else, if only because we know that their one single aim is to collect revenue. Gatso even say so in their marketing spiel to councils as exposed by a paper recently when someone said to an undercover reported "if you target school runs and rush hour then you'll make more money in a week than you'll know what to do with"

Pisses me off.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to your replies to my rant regarding my daughter's car. Although not a Police officer, being retired I spend a few hours each day trawling through blogs and I have found that quite a few of the Police blogs are interesting and raise a good number of questions of how this supposed civilised society of ours is going. Reading your reply, I have changed slightly the letter of complaint to Ian Blair, adding the bit about being told to report the matter locally. I'll give him a couple of weeks for a reply and then go to the papers - there may be some reporter out there who'll take up the story.
Enjoy your rest.