Apologies for the lack of postage recently. Thanks to a combination of quick swings, way too many extended duty days, hardly any rest days, being run ragged thanks to being significantly understrength on team at the best of times, and then having our teams treated like a bottomless pit for aid (instead of actually paying people to come in) which has left us even more short staffed than I could have thought was actually legal, I've been left with a rather unpleasant dose of man-flu, the first sickness bought I've had for a few years that's not injury-on-duty related.
To say the morale on my team at present was 'low' is like saying Harold Shipman was just 'a bit naughty'. It's shit. Proper shit, in fact, and I know I moan, but I've been like a veritable ray of sunshine recently compared to some people (dockyard oysters aside) who are trying at the very least to get out of the borough, some murmurings have been about getting out full stop.
Picture the scene - you know that, on a good day with everyone in, you are only a couple of people above your minimum strength levels. The minimum strengths are decided by the SMT as the minimum 'safe' level of officers to deal with the anticipated volume of calls and to provide a level of resilience should things go tits up, as they invariably do. Given abstractions like court, sickness, courses, annual leave etc, you also know that you will ALWAYS be under strength because your team simply doesn't have the number of people it should. You put a leave application in to get some time off with your family which is rejected by the duties office, as usual the answer is "unable to authorise as officer numbers are below minimum strength"
Fair enough, you think, it was a long shot anyway, that's why you only try and plan stuff on your rest days - if they aren't cancelled.
And then you turn up to work on the day you wanted off to find that two thirds of your team for the day have been taken off duty to do some aid (a demo, Op Blunt, court security etc) on another divisions ground, leaving you with a couple of vehicle crews for the whole shift. You ask where the main bulk of the aid is and realise you have a mate on duty there so you text them to see how short they are today "we're ok actually, really flush, even got some walkers out, why?" is the response. The outrage train has well and truly left the station, and you're driving.
This happens virtually every single day and if I described the boundaries of my patch and how many people we actually have to Police it (physically out on the ground answering 999 calls and patrolling, not in total on duty as we only make up about 4-5% of that number), I'm pretty sure I'd have my legs done under the new 'damaging public confidence' regulations.
Thankfully I've got leave booked over Christmas (that I had to book in January, those who left it until March onwards have had some or all of their applications for leave refused because we're under strength on team) so between now and then I'm going to be mostly working and sleeping and won't be doing much posting.
I'm glad to see ZaNu Labour's efforts to increase officer numbers to 140k over the country has worked out so well for us on the front line.