16 Aug 2007

We require better performance and whilst your at it, save some money!

I was sat covering the office one morning this week, something to do with the office clerk needing some ‘urgent time off’. I think it was for shopping or something?

As I peeled my hard-boiled egg and waited for our next ‘customer’ I started reading the latest edit from senior management, a document about the Force CCR. Apparently CCR stands for Capability & Capacity Review and, according to the summary, ‘we’ are expected to find ways of saving money whilst working harder, no change there then!

The CCR is a process designed to address our ability to deal with targets, efficiency and at the same time, work out how to reduce expenditure. Although I understand and believe in the format and remit of the review, my in built copper’s scepticism made me start to wonder why, blame only ever appears to flow down hill?

The common thread in all this Police Reform, modernisation and target driven efficiency stuff is that… It only ever seams to apply (or be applied) to those on the bottom rungs of the ladder? When was the last time you saw a senior manager taken to task for poor performance or a blatant waste of money and/or, creative accounting to support some personal career aspiration? Can’t remember? Exactly!

But we are not alone in the Police Service, other public entities like the NHS, the Teaching profession and local Authorities are all going through the same trauma. And, despite having vast quantities of ‘back office’ administration and support functions, those actually responsible for delivering the service at the sharp end are always the ones required to work harder with less investment in what they do.

Have you ever wondered where all the cops actually are when you listen to the rhetoric and inflated claims from politicians, Police Authorities and Police Chiefs about increased numbers? Take a look at the actual figures behind the hollow words. In my own force over the last 6 years there has been a massive increase in the establishment. Does this mean more officers at the front end? Not a bit of it, our 24/7-response capability is worse now than it was in the early 80’s? We have however increased our Superintendent ranks, our police staff and our HR department at a phenomenal rate!

I’m all for this CCR stuff after all, there is only a finite amount of money available in the public purse to pay for police services. What concerns me however is the probability that, this massive administrative tail will continue wagging the operational dog. Far too often, people within the administrative sections that are supposed to support operations do not have the same passion about ‘the job’ or the same work ethic. They are in it for themselves, to enhance their own career path and personal importance whilst increasing their financial remuneration. Providing a quality service to the public and their community is totally ancillary to that fact.

Any way… Better clean my eggshell crumbs up, Sgt. Blaketon’s back from his CCR briefing at Division and, judging by the colour of his face, it looks like his blood pressure is reaching a critical mass!

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