Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

Do you have confidence in the police? How should we measure it?

February 7, 2010

I’ve finally secured enough time in front of a computer to put some thoughts to press, as it were.  Unfortunately this isn’t the blog post I promised earlier in the week – that’s still to come as I need more time to work that one out.

This one, however, is about work and how bloody stupid it can be at times (well, okay, all the time!)

I’ve been running around like a blue-arsed fly this last week (and next week too) because a spurious measure of police performance for our Farce has dropped by a miniscule amount (less than 1 percent.)  This measure is, of course, taken over the last quarter from a sample of the population so small as to be statistically insignificant and not representative of the whole population of Ruralshire*.  I can say that because I have an A-level in Maths and went on to study statistics (amongst other more interesting things) at university.  Then I joined the police, but that’s a story for another day.

Statistical mathematics - FUN!

Statistical mathematics - FUN!

So, 200 people (approximately, based on percentage drop vs total population) have said they’re not happy with our service.  The senior ranks are stomping around like headless chickens discovering KFC are rolling out a boneless bucket happy hour (or their bonuses are on the line) and issuing edicts and directives left, right and centre.  I was unfortunate enough not to duck down into the trench quickly enough and caught an underarm howler right in the chest.  I cannot be any more specific than that, I’m afraid, but basically I’ve been told my next promotion hangs in the balance if I’m not able to complete x within y weeks, producing a z increase in public confidence. Fun!

What alarms me the most about this isn’t the fact that we have this ‘public confidence measure’, or we have specific drives to increase it, but it’s the almost terminal fascination I have with the way ACPO and SMT seem to get in such a huge flap about a measure they genuinely do not have very much control over, at all.  Yet they can’t see that.

PCSO

Working hard - for what return?

Yes, of course, if 20 PCSO’s go out on their beats and do marvellous jobs, deliver excellent customer service, identify a few offenders, prevent offences and perhaps even catch a few criminals in the act, they will still have only had a direct influence over a handful of people who might think they’ve done a good job and be prepared to say that.  Of course, they might hate the police whether or not they do a good job – depends who they are.

Conversely, over the last quarter we have had one of the coldest winters in 30 years or so.  This is has caused chaos on the roads, leading to a number of ‘incidents’ where regular, law-abiding motorists (who’ve clearly been lobotomised at a young age) have done things which has led to police action against them.  Said motorists have then spent nearly a week on the radio complaining and getting fired up by the anti-police radio presenters to the point that a Tier 2 critical incident was on the verge of being called, due to the public outrage being stirred up by the press.

Of course – 20 PCSO’s can do their bit to show their community what a great job the police try and do.

The media, however, can spin a story to millions in front of the gogglebox, radio, newspapers and t’internet – and let’s face it, it’s never going to be a good story about the police really, is it?  Won’t sell.

So who has the most influence on public confidence?  Perhaps ACPO & SMT should think on that before they started wanging off howlers to overworked staff about pointless crusades to try and improve confidence…

* I have to put a disclaimer in here, as kKop’s Ruralshire may or may not be the same one as Inspector Gadget’s.  We’re neither too sure.