Squeezing the Jam Sandwich

As a kid I was a bit of a jam butty addict. My one failing in this area was that I always put far too much jam into it. This always seemed like a great idea and against my better judgement I would do it time and time again. Yet the same result happened. I would bite into one end and the jam would come oozing out of the other. Worse if it dripped onto my mothers carpet or sofa. But having a large jar of jam in the fridge to call upon was just temptation beyond endurance.

I worked nights last night from 7pm to 7am. This is a normal shift for me. We had a busy start and then things gradually settled down. After 3am not one further arrested person came through my door. I was safe. I had something to eat, regular cups of tea and we even discussed the organising of our Christmas doo. I was also able to keep one eye on the developments in London and around the country.

Not matter the outcome and the wrongs and rights yet to be fully established over the Duggan case the actions of the thugs (as I can use no other word) on the streets of the United Kingdom are nothing to do with it. These are mindless individuals with a very shallow or no link at all with society. These hooligans who damage, rob and loot are criminals. They are low level pond life who have no regard for others, act totally selfishly and jump on the band wagon of wanton disorder in the belief that it will gain them some kudos amongst their similarly educated and morally depraved peer group. It probably will.. but in society as a whole their actions are deplored. These are the people who will be the first to pick up the  phone and complain to the police if someone broke into their home and stole their 42″ plasma TV or their PS3. All those items that you can obtain on job seekers allowance. The sort of homes that have a huge TV and a satellite dish but no food in the cupboards, no carpet and odour that can make you retch.

A while ago I blogged about my feelings about the police on the day of the Royal Wedding. You can read the full text here;

Emotions

One section from that post was in my mind last night;

But as I sat watching the images I felt an affinity, a solidarity and a comradeship with those officers and I don’t know them from Adam. Furthermore, I would throw down my life to protect one of them as they would for me. 

Last night, sitting safely in my custody suite, miles away from the dangers my colleagues were facing in London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and elsewhere I was overwhelmed by a desire to just drop everything and go to help. I obviously couldn’t do that but the feeling of being their, to “hold the line” with them was strong. Yet I found I was soon chastising myself. You have to hold a specific qualification level to undergo this kind of policing. You need plenty of training that teaches you the skills so that when the bronze commander asks for a tactic you do it without thinking. I had this qualification but I don’t hold it anymore.
Not because I’m not fit, not because I’m not capable but because I’m unlikely to use it in my role. Therefore my force (and every force in the country is the same) will not pay to train me in something I’m “unlikely” to use. On the face of it this makes sense. However, the commentators and criticisers of the police often apply business principles to police work. We are not a business. We are a service. We are told that 80% or so of our income goes on wages but this is not surprising really because our people are our assets. If a hotel didn’t sell rooms or meals I guess about 80% of their budget would go on wages? We don’t have a product to sell and so we don’t generate an income to offset our expenditure.

The police constable was a multi-skilled omin-competent being. He/she was trained to deal with every aspect that may arise so that the police had a skilled workforce that could be deployed to any eventuality. This obviously created a “top heavy” system where far more officers would be trained in a skill than was needed in the “normal” course of operations. But when and “if” the smelly stuff hit the spinny thing senior officers had a large pool of staff to call upon and deploy. This has changed. Over the last 10yrs police forces have been looking to save money in every area driven by Government targets. We have therefore been forced into generating “silo” policing where officers are no longer omni-competent but specialists in very narrow fields. We have young officers nowadays on response patrols who are great at dashing around in a car and locking people up but they have very little evidence skills, very little ability in taking a quality statement and they go white with horror when you ask them to deal with their own detainee.

Prior to the battenburg livery we have on police vehicles now we used to have a red stripe. Many called police cars a “jam butty.” In many ways the overfilled jam butty depicts how police officers were armed with skills and qualifications. These were often latent skills but were there to be called upon in times of emergency.

We are currently reaching a state of emergency in this country. Police officers, paramedics and fire fighters have put their lives on the line for 3 nights running. The Met Police are doing the best they can with limited resources. Read a fantastic blog by @InspectorWinter

Tottenham, Enfield, Brixton. Polcing and Public (dis)order 

There are suggestions from today’s COBRA meeting that the Met will have 16k officers on duty in London tonight. This is fantastic and clearly needed. The Met cannot simply put half of its staff on nights and still cover everything else. But this is a drain on other forces and if the disorder across the country continues those forces will also come under pressure. I’m fully in support of the mutual aid to London that is suffering severely at the hands of what the media are calling “protesters” but what you and I know are thugs. However, we should remember that the jam on the sandwich is now a lot thinner than it ever used to be and if the government continue driving through 20% cuts it’s going to get even thinner.

If this current situation continues to spiral downwards there are going to be a lot of senior officers worried that they have insufficient trained staff to deal with it. In the meantime the politicians have the power to make a difference….. but at the moment all we seem to have is indifference.

I hope and pray this situation is resolved quickly and that no emergency personnel are seriously injured or killed in circumstances like Keith Blackelock. The only people with blood on their hands if it does will be the politicians.

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