Thursday, 4 August 2011

We're all in this together

So Blue Eyes has been banned from Inspector Gadget's blog. Can't say I'm surprised, given the usual style of comments there. Blue committed the mortal, unforgiveable sin of criticising a policeman! Worse, he suggested that their pension scheme should bear some resemblance to that available to others! For this, he is apparently a troll and a banker (which is worse, I wonder?), and if he persists in arguing that police pensions should be like everyone else's then he shouldn't expect officers to turn up if he gets burgled.

Now, that last comment provoked the same reaction on my part as it did for Blue. Told in the comments that
my colleagues and I keep you safe at night. we [sic] investigate when you’ve been robbed, me [sic] maintain your way of life, we ensure the bad guys are always chased, so yes, you can pay our pension after a [sic] we retire.
I couldn't help but point out that:
I can honestly say that we do appreciate that. We really do. When you actually do it. However, what tends to happen is that when we call, it’s “not a priority”, or “no-one is available”, and when we have to sort it out ourselves because you’re not there, it suddenly is a priority to arrest one of us.
Blue Eyes even has a solid example (mine only come from family & friends...):
I tried to get my local Safer Neighbourhoods team to intervene with the people in the flat below me who smoke cannabis most evenings. As far as I can work out they simply don't work evenings or nights. The argument for the good pay and pensions is that it is an anti-social work pattern, but apparently not if you are on my local team!
That comment from Special Dibble is not the only example. PC Lightyear thinks that:
the emergency services are different due to the role they perform- you want the ambulance service to be cut back when you’re waiting to be cut out of a wrecked car? Or the fire brigade when you’re trapped in a burning building, or the old bill when youre [sic] house is being burgled.
This is the usual Police argument.  "We're special", they say.  "You need us, you'll miss us if we're gone".  True enough, we would indeed miss them.  In what way (exactly) does it make the Police special, though?  How long would the average Policeman cope if the water companies stopped supplying him with potable water?  Or if the supermarkets stopped supplying him with essentials such as bread, milk, (donuts...?) and so on?

And what about me?  I'm a patent attorney.  They don't need me, surely?  Except, maybe they do.  A good proportion of my work is for a company that leads the world in radiotherapy treatment; I secure them the protection they need for their inventions, allowing them to justify the research and development work that they do.  That development work has, over just a few decades, made radiotherapy treatment far safer, and far more effective.  Just as I want the Old Bill to turn up when my house is being burgled, I suspect Special Dibble will want my client to have found it worthwhile making that investment when he (or someone close to him) is diagnosed with a tumour.

The simple fact is, we all depend on each other.  Such is the nature of a market economy. The Police, however, seem to think they are in some way blessed.  Sorry to break the news boys and girls, but you're not.  That doesn't mean you're not appreciated (when you actually do your job), it just means you can drop the holier than thou attitude when you're dealing with the law-abiding public.

Just as I am a servant to my clients, so the Police are servants to all of us.


  1. we [sic] investigate when you’ve been robbed, me [sic] maintain your way of life, we ensure the bad guys are always chased, so yes, you can pay our pension after a [sic] we retire.

    In addition to the points you make about this, it's worth remembering that as your previous post said the police do not always chase the bad guys. On the contrary on third of crimes are never investigated.

    The police answer to this is "When assessing crime we need to look at the likelihood of identifying a suspect for a particular crime.”

    This is reasonable. But it doesn't explain why it is that they fail to do other things. When I was the victim of crime a few years back, the police complaints people phoned me to find out how the police had done. It was only then that I discovered quite how few of the things they were supposed to have done were not done.

    None of these failings related to difficulties of identifying criminals. Each of them was related to my personal safety.

    I still have to pay my taxes though.

  2. "you can drop the holier than thou attitude"

    Neatly summed up.

    Albert is right (!) we can't sack our police force if it is rubbish, unlike an inventor can sack his patent attorney if he is rubbish. And if an inventor doesn't think a patent attorney is a worthwhile investment at all he can not bother protecting his invention in the first place. As taxpayers and voters we are not allowed to do that.

    The reason that my comments provoked such ire, I think, is that the police officers posting on Mr Gadget's blog know perfectly well that their "deal" is well out of line with what other similarly-worked professionals get and that their package is an anachronism, a relic of 1970s industrial-relations planning.

    Nobody is arguing here that police officers shouldn't be fairly remunerated for the anti-social hours and occasional danger they are faced with. My point is that taxpayers are effectively paying for their services twice: once when they are in service and again once they retire, mostly extremely young by today's standards.

  3. Albert is right (!)

    No need to sound quite so surprised BE!

    My point is that taxpayers are effectively paying for their services twice.

    and sometimes we don't get the service even once.

  4. And then there's the harm the police can do.

    When Pope Benedict came to visit the country I witnessed a group of Islamists inciting violence against the Pope. When I pointed out to the police that this was illegal, they agreed but did nothing, saying it would be more expedient if they got them later (which was perhaps true). I checked in the papers but, unless I am mistaken none were.

    Had Richard Dawkins made similar comments he would have been arrested, I am sure. So the police are actually guilty of preventing fairness when it comes to freedom of speech. If your group is known to be violent, the police will give you more freedom than if it isn't.

    That's not the kind of protection we need from the police.

    In fairness, I'm not meaning to get at the police. I just think that they cannot take the credit (and the pension) for doing things that they haven't done.

  5. Many of us could make the same arguments about our jobs, certainly those of us working as engineers/technicians in the utilities - electricity, gas, water, sewage, telephones, etc. I'm sure the average member of public would miss any of the above far more than he'd miss the police service.

  6. English Pensioner you are quite right. Some would argue that the universality of a public service is important but we have seen with TVs, cars, mobile phones that very quickly even dirt poor people decide they need a service and are prepared to pay for it. So if the state pulled out of policing altogether, overnight, communities would club together to buy a new service right away.

    Imagine that, a service that the people who use it commission and have control over!!

  7. I'll freely admit, we are far from perfect, it makes my blood boil just as it does yours. I relish debate, you're free to look at my blog and argue, and you won't get banned unless you swear or are rude.

    ‘Blue committed the mortal, unforgiveable sin of criticising a policeman!’

    Come on now, that’s a little unfair. The reason people get banned is because they repeat the same rhetoric over and over even though many people answer and give credible answers but they are deliberately ignored. Blue Eyes clearly had an agenda which was anti police, and of course that isn’t going to go down well on a police blog.

    The reason we kick over pensions is the rumour that we will be forced out at the age of 55, or after 30 years service before 55. The pension will kick in at 65 years. What will we do in between for money? As in the private sector, there has been a pay freeze, baring that in mind, coppers are being asked to put more money into it-more than any other public service.

    My colleagues I and in Anonshire face a rising level of violence. I myself have been assaulted a number of times and at one point feared for my life. Regulars do this every day and the toll on the mind and body is scary. A decent pension is a sort of ‘thank you’

    If you read Inspector Gadget’s blog, you’ll hear us all moaning in a sanctimonious manner though you are of course only seeing a glimpse of us letting off steam after a hard 12 hour shift.

  8. Hi Special Dibble, welcome. Good to hear that your blog rules are the same as mine.

    Yes, my summary is probably on the harsh side. I've been to Gadget before, though. I tend to go there to try and see things from the point of view of you guys. All I get is abuse, though, for being a "MoP", and asking questions.

    Most of that abuse is delivered in a high-handed manner, as if given by public servants who have forgotten who it is that is serving, and who that is served. It sounds like a police force who look down on us all with contempt. That is not a pleasant sight.

    Your colleagues may be letting off steam, and I can understand the need for that, but it is giving us a very poor impression of the Police.

    So when you then (collectively) turned on someone I've got to know well over the years, I think my response was quite measured. Yes, Blue Eyes has probably raised the pensions issue often. But it does rankle with us who have to pay not just Police pensions, but pensions for all the less-then-civil servants who spent their time making life difficult for us. I can't say I'm surprised that Blue Eyes keeps raising it, in the face of groups who simply refuse to accept the truth - that you have a very good pension indeed and should count yourselves lucky.

    So Blue Eyes has an anti-police agenda? I've been accused of that, too. A better approach might be to ask us why we have those views. I'm not anti-police, but like Blue Eyes I keep getting let down. Only a few weeks ago I was a witness at a traffic accident. The 999 operator was (I have to say) distinctly unhelpful but eventually sent an ambulance. So when I realised you guys were needed as well, I ran to the copshop that was 300 yards away. It was empty (at 4pm??) so I used the phone on the wall. The operator didn't understand the address that I gave and had to ask for directions and explanations - despite that address being "Opposite the police station in xxx town". Local policing with local knowledge? Anyone?

    (That is just the most recent example btw, in the past I have been lied to, misled, let down, and intimidated by Police Officers for no better reason than "We can".)

    There is a huge amount of instinctive support for the Police in this country. Sometimes, though, it really feels as if every level of the Police is doing its best to destroy that. From the incompetent, uncaring and distant management to the copper on the street who forgets that he's only meant to be nasty to the scrotes. It worries me that respect for the Police is evaporating (and that probably comes out).

    Thank you for explaining your point of view regarding pensions. I'm sympathetic, to a degree, as it sounds unfair. However, we all face that kind of unfairness. We all have to support ourselves until we can retire, probably on a worse pension than yours. All of us could be out on our ear at any moment, and those of us that pay your pensions are probably at greater risk of it than you. Yes, you take some crap while you're working, but so do a lot of people. We don't get any breaks, reality applies to all of us - and (sorry) but that includes you too.

    Thank you also for listening to my mini-rant (if you have actually read this far). It's not often we get a chance to talk openly to a Police Officer. Remember - this is from someone who instinctively supports law, order, and the Police. You can dismiss me as an anti-police whinger, or you can reflect on why I feel this way.

    Keep safe.

  9. Interesting. Special Dibble didn't quite have the stones to post that same comment on my blog, the one for my delectation was somewhat more "sympathetic".

    FYI I do not have an anti-police "agenda". I was not repeating the same "rhetoric". I was making a point and I was shouted down and then told that whatever it is I do for a living is a worthless activity. Not very professional, is it?

    Nice bunch of guys over at Gadget's!

  10. Sorry Blue Eyes, I didn't know you have a blog. You're welcome to mine.

  11. Woah now, I did know you had a blog, I looked at you avatar and not your name

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. I think you should ban Special Dibble from your blogs. I'm quite disgusted at their attitudes on IG site. It's quite appalling.
    Don't worry Blue Eyes, there are plenty more people in this country who have had simialr experiences to yourself and you're quite within in your rights as a taxpayer and a member of a democratic society to be critical and to question and debate issues.
    I think the problem is that to many police officers the concepts of debate, questioning, evaluation, review are foreign and viewed as a personal attack leading to defensive almost narcissistic behaviour traits. Maybe the job attracts such types, I don't know but would most people want to have to go to such officers when they've just been through something terrifying? I don't think so.

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. I've been told by many officers that the main reason they stay in the job they quite clearly hate is ........THE BIG FAT JUICY PENSION.

    They basically cannot afford to leave and do any other job.

    Most officers don't care a tuppence about the victims who are just an inconvenient sideline.

    They are in the job for the salaries, hefty overtime payments ( which can add an average £300 per month to PC grade salaries!), and benefits such as the old housing allowance.

    Of course there's the Kudos, power and control that comes with the job. i.e. who else would be so insultive and disrespectful as shown by comments on IG blog? They all have narcissistic personality disorder.

    I know one retired officer who is still working for the police and gets:-
    Pension plus existing full time police salary, accommodation paid for and food allowance.
    He also got £300 per mth housing allowance during the whole of his 30 years service!

    Where I live, all the police live on the 'posh' new build estates containing large mansions showing prosperity but devoid of any character. Its like walking into legoland. All have nice fancy sports cars on the drive though!
    What other profession can beat that?

    They loathe the public and loathe victims and feel chained to policing because of the money. That's why they are such an obnoxious lot!

  16. Hi,

    I am a serving police officer, and a regular reader of the IG blog. I came here from a link in the comments section.

    I won't get embroiled in the arguments over pensions here - suffice it to say that I do think we have a better argument than many of the public sector given that we already pay 11% of monthly salary into the scheme - but just wanted to make a point.

    The IG comments section are helplessly populated by some illiterate, immoderate police officers who I suspect may use their comments as some kind of catharsis for the stresses of the job. It *is* a very stressful occupation.

    However, their off handed manner and pig-ignorant (pardon the pun) treatment of the public does no one any favours. They do not reflect the views of the majority of officers, who remember that their job is to serve the public, not themselves.

    Some of the apparently anti-police comments in this very comments section are fairly ill researched or out of date, but I know that name calling and immoderate behaviour from my peers will not help to change misconceptions or honestly held mistaken beliefs. When the public feel let down, they will complain. It is no different for any job. My peers generally recognise that broadly speaking, the public are in support of the Police. We couldn't do our job without the public. When we do things wrongly, it doesn't hurt to hear about it. If some people don't like us, we should probably have skins thick enough to absorb a bit of criticism.

    You may not choose to believe me, but the majority of my colleagues are there to help you, and regularly stay on late (without payment, as it goes!) to make sure people are kept safe. I've been late off pretty much every day for the last couple of months. Personally, I have no interest in raising revenue for HM Government through speed cameras, persecuting motorists or fining people for non-compliance with recycling laws (?).

    Please believe me when I say there are a lot of decent, hard working coppers trying (in spite of an often rotten system) to the best they can to help people, keep the public safe and lock up offenders.

    Patient tolerant debate should be the way for my colleagues to respond to criticism of the service. We do occasionally get it wrong, and arrogant, rude defence of the indefensible does our cause no good at all. So, to anyone who has been insulted or treated badly by my colleagues, an apology. The silent majority of police officers who do not post on blogs are still trying to fight for you.

    Mind how you go.

  17. Anon,

    I've used the moderator on some of your posts, for the first time in a while. I believe in explaining why, so here goes:

    16:19 I've made the point that the reception given to non-police commenters on Gadget's blog is not overly warm. We don't need chapter and verse. If comments like the ones you've quoted there appear in my comments section, they'll get moderated whether they are originals or quotes.

    16:26 I'll block Special Dibble if he is rude or offensive on this blog. He hasn't been. Therefore he is not blocked here.

    16:45 Those are serious allegations against serving officers. Although you don't identify the officers, in my view those comments are potentially libellous. If you know for certain that they are true, and want to make them public, then have the nerve to do so under your name, and preferably on your own blog.

    17:14 There, you've gone beyond what I think is actually the case. I think the management of the Police force is serously lacking, and that there are a small number of officers who could do with (shall we say) a more open and enlightened attitude. Your assertion is, effectively, that they are all venal and in it for the money. That is not my experience, or my opinion.

  18. @honestcop
    Thanks for your welcomed reply.
    However my comments relate to existing police officers in the Force. All the information can be validated as it concerns currently employed officers.

    This is how such information has been gleaned.

    Unfortunately you sound one of the few serving members with any integrity.

  19. Honest Cop,

    Welcome to the blog. Thank you for coming here to give your side.

    their off handed manner and pig-ignorant (pardon the pun) treatment of the public does no one any favours.

    I couldn't agree more!

    They do not reflect the views of the majority of officers, who remember that their job is to serve the public, not themselves.

    It's a relief to hear that, and your apology is welcome. I've been on the receiving end of a steady stream of negative experiences from the police, and it is good to see something different.

    We need to change the system you work in, though. I wish I knew how.

    Keep safe.

  20. Honest Cop,

    Thank you for your very gracious comment (and Specialdibble too as it happens) - and for the work that you do.

    I for one am very pro the police. I loathe it when I see people attacking the police, for example when you are policing protests. I dislike it when I see police officers misrepresented. If I was in real difficulty, I know I would feel greatly relieved if one of you chaps appeared. But you will understand that I would want to challenge any complacency among police officers - the kind of complacency that makes them look self-serving or unaware of their failing. That does not take away from the more general gratitude I feel for the job that you do

  21. Remarkable how much warmer we all become toward the police when our views and concerns are treated with respect and understanding...

    HC & SD, keep at it. Next time I meet a copper, I'll try and remember that it might be you rather than one of the self-important idiots from Gadget.

  22. Now lets have another look at the 'we don't need the police' argument.

    Having just come back from a "policing factfinder" on a Caribbean island, it might be worth noting some points.

    The corruption is incredible. Worse than the commons, and that's saying something.
    The island's foreign population and 'tourists' are mostly Americans, then Brits.

    Some recent cases.
    A British woman's car was parked in a supermarket.She wasn't in it. It was hit by a driver who claimed he was backed into.
    The driver was a native of the islands. His car was a wreck. He has previous for insurance fraud, specifically ramming cars and claiming injury. He won the case by producing a police eye witness, who no-one else had seen. He won a two years salary as compensation.

    A local student tracked his 'chipped' laptop to the police station. He discovered the duty cop was using it, and the policeman claimed it was station property. When he showed the cop it was his, serial numbers etc, the cop just handed it over and told him to get out.
    There have been 23 murders since January from a population of 30,000. Mostly drug related.
    That would be a high statistic for a town in the USA.
    The police chief has just stepped down.
    The politicians have not released funds {some $3 million} given in BRITISH foreign aid, for policing and crime prevention uses.
    {the theory is the PM can't see a way of getting a cut so won't release the money as he gets more from the drug runners for leaving it where it is.
    The residents {white mostly} of the islands are talking about private security. $15,000 / household is the figure.
    This is not Jamaica. It is really just a quiet tax haven island.

    Policing makes investment safe. In politics, in business, in private wealth.

    In the light of these 3rd world experiences
    our policing experiences are bad service. Not bad policing. Just thought should mention it, even though its barely relevant.
    We're luckier than we think.

  23. Oh, good lord yes, we certainly need a police force! The intention of this post is to point out to the police that they're not the only ones we need.

    As you've shown, we also need the police to be effective, trustworthy, and trusted... which means they need to act in a way that maintains that.

  24. Hi Albert,

    Thanks for the thanks. I think we are singing from the same hymn sheet. IG rails regularly against a system that is not only failing, but has essentially failed. We have come out of a dire period of policing that was massively tainted by political inteference and the leadership of fools.

    A system of bonuses for achieving "numbers hit" for senior officers blighted the common sense and discretion that British officers were famed for. This corruption - for it was exactly that - is exactly in my mind what caused the current rift between Police and public. Younger officers join and have known no other system - a system which has been promoted to have no or little regard to actual people, and more to do with achieving targets. This unwelcome intrusion from the private sector hasn't engendered any sensible debate in policing for a long time. Officers have become cynical and weary - and occasionally that spills over with contact with the public. That is always regrettable, as I am sure that most members of the public are massively in support of the Police - and more over would change the system in favour of common sense and discretion being restored to the Police.

    Those of us that refused to play the numbers game on ethical grounds have either been essentialy sidelined and barred from positions of power, or they have been silenced (q.v. Nightjack).

    The good news is that this system appears to be on it's last legs, and even the most "numbers" hungry senior officers can see the writing on the wall for lazy, stupid quantitive management styles.

    The block on promotion for those of us with an ethical backbone also seems to be lifting, so hopefully a new breed of manager will emerge in the Police and support common sense.

    The majority of us love the public (after all, we are the public too - as are our partners, families, friends) and dearly want to help victims. The inequity of the current system against helping victims and about "supporting" offenders is a national scandal.

    In reply to Anonymous (and the deleted post) - I am sorry to hear that you are aware of drug addicted and drink dependant police officers, and officers in massive debt. I have been with my force for about fifteen years - in that time, I think I have only worked with one alcoholic - who later left the Police. It only emerged about his problem after he left. I have no doubt drug taking may go on - though I am not personally aware of any (though to be fair, you wouldn't expect them to advertise - particularly in the Police). We tend to carry the same levels of debt as the rest of society - which is allowed - it is unpaid debts that are strictly sanctioned. I have spent just a little over half of my time in the CID, and I haven't noticed a drinking culture. Sadly, the only time I get to spend duty time in a pub is if it has been broken into or the scene of a nasty assault!

    I would also like to leave you with the (maybe) reassuring thought that I am in no way representative of the views of a minority of Police officers. Most of us are decent, hard working and respectful - but as you will all know, the ones that shout loudest get noticed more often. (They also have the least useful things to say!).

    Mind how you go,


  25. People do get the wrong impression from offhand use of social media by serving officers - @_millymoo was sensible enough to realise, but in that respect she is unusual.