If you come to this blog post direct you should know that it is a piece of fiction. Read into it what you will. For those who came via Twitter.. you already know this.
At 5.30am the alarm sprang into life and the music playing gradually infused with the random dreamy thoughts in John’s head and he stirred from his slumber and woke. He headed downstairs and commenced his normal routine for breakfast. Then at 6.00 with time beginning to nag him he returned upstairs and pulled on his uniform. It was a shallow resemblance of what it used to be and of very poor quality. The uniform that used to be supplied was too expensive and had been outsourced to a cheaper provider. It galled him to pull his shirt on and see a G4S (“the company”) logo on the label inside. It was generic uniform that was purchased en-masse for all staff managed by the company no matter what area of business they worked in and for those organisations that had outsourced to them. The badges on the sleeves were the only indication he was a police officer and not a security guard or meter reader. There had been much argument about them as they were not corporate but he had sewn them on anyway. This was something they were not going to take away from him.
Once ready he headed out of the door for the office. His car was his own but the company paid his travelling expenses when called in outside his normal duty time to make up numbers. With the reduction of warranted officers this was often. As a result they had negotiated a contract with the unions that all staff across the organisation, police or the company, would have the company logo on the doors of their private motor cars. His car had been his pride and joy and always shiny clean. He didn’t wash it anymore. The thick layer of dirt and mud disguised the logo… not enough but something was better than nothing.
Driving to work he began to ponder the day ahead and became gradually more depressed at the thought. Arriving at the gate he raised his security pass to the card reader. It replied with an aggressive beep and a red light. Further attempts resulted in the same outcome and the gates remained resolutely shut. A line of cars were building up behind him and people were becoming impatient. He managed to manoeuvre away from the gate and drove out onto the road to find a parking spot. There weren’t any so he drove into the next street and found a car park. It cost him £5 to park all day and ironically it was the company that managed the car park. The ticket warden in a uniform identical to his looked on as he put the ticket on his dashboard.
On arrival at the police station it took several intercom conversations and security checks before he was allowed into the building. The company owned the building and the car park and controlled access to it. A change to the way they managed their car parking arrangements had been implemented and it was now only for senior staff employed by the company. All others and those employed by the “police” would have to find alternative arrangements. The company owned car park nearby was cited as a secure option but there would be no free parking.
He collected his kit from his locker and then proceeded to the parade room. He arrived to find a Sgt and one other Constable. The look on their faces said they too had gone through the car park rigmarole. The walls had once been full of intelligence matters and pictures of all the local targets. They were now bare and clean. The policy on the building contract meant that you couldn’t put a drawing pin into a wall or noticeboard without getting a lengthy approval signed off by the company. It also incurred a charge.
There was no cup of tea on parade. All kettles and individual brew making facilities were banned. All users of the building had to make use of the company run and maintained canteen. It wasn’t subsidised. If anything it was marked up to increase profits for the company. The Sgt had little to tell them other than what they knew. They had a population of 250,000 to look after over 50sq miles and they were it. For everything.
A smart figure in a suit then put his head into the room. “Just to let you know. The control room are doing some training today. There will be no communications between 11am and 3pm. There’s also no CSI. We reduced them to one last week. They’re on an on call basis and won’t come out for anything less than a murder and only on my say so.” He smiled benignly and pulled the door closed as he left.
The Sgt grimaced as he outlined that CID resources were 30 miles away at another station and that the nearest back up officers were 20 miles away. “If things get dangerous pull back and wait. Ensure you stay safe” he said. “Well at least we have the taser option” said John. The Sgt sighed. “No we don’t. There is an argument about where we can site them in the building. The chosen location was not accepted by the company and with the security requirements, power supply and other matters they have quoted nearly £20k to fix them in a secure place. The Chief has had to put them on hold whilst things are sorted out as the budget won’t stretch to it. There’s talk we may have to site them at HQ and pick them up before we come on duty.” John didn’t ask. He knew that no additional payment would be given for the extra miles incurred going to and from work via HQ.
John grabbed the keys to his car and headed out into the car park. The vehicle fleet purchase arrangements had been contracted out to the company too and he now had the joys of a Fiat 500. Functionality and being fit for purpose had been disregarded. These vehicles had been purchased purely for the cheap deal that had been secured. The typical police insignia had been dismissed as oppressive and so this car had a large company logo on the door and a small police decal on the rear quarter. Nothing about this car shouted “police”. He squeezed into the car and headed out onto the roads.
His first job was to support on of the company’s first contact officers at an address. He had gone to a report of a burglary but the occupant was a bit upset and he couldn’t cope. John arrived to find the first contact officer stood by the garden gate. “I’m glad you’re here. He started getting angry that I wasn’t a police officer. I’m not trained to deal with conflict so I got up and walked out”. John looked at him in disbelief, pushed past and went to speak to the owner. After a few brief moments of conversation he had convinced the victim that the first contact officer could take his report. John walked back outside but the officer was gone. He stood at the gate and looked both ways up and down the street but he had vanished. Angered he shouted up on the radio to ask where he was. The controller replied. “Sorry but the victim showed verbal anger. As such we cannot put our staff at risk and so he left. You will have to deal.” John sighed and turned back into the address. The radio beeped into life again “… and can you hurry because we have a lot of other jobs that need looking at and first contact officers are reduced today as overtime requests were denied.”
Just another day in paradise he thought to himself as he walked back toward the victim thinking about how he could get out of this career…. no farce was a better word to describe it nowadays.