Letter: A police force suffering from frustration cannot solve society's problems

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your front-page article of 24 February ('Police solve fewer and fewer crimes') came as no surprise to me, a constable with 15 years' service in a large force.

The causes stated of the drop in detection of offences are relevant, and the morale among those at the sharp end of policing (in this force at least) is the lowest I have ever known, and this includes the mid-Seventies pay crisis. Much of the blame must go to the management of the service. We are grossly over-managed.

There are too many managers and not enough troops. The managers are desperately looking for something to do. What they do bears no resemblance to the police work I was taught at training school. We at the sharp end are spending ever more time completing surveys and in lectures given by senior officers telling us what they are doing for the force.

The latest gimmick is sending a whole shift away for a complete day to learn, among other things, how to work together. This equates to an eight-hour shift away from police work for a group of 15 highly trained and dedicated officers; at what cost? That they have been working together for years seems to escape our leaders.

These same managers transfer dedicated and hard-working officers from one department to another against their will, and have the audacity to state that it is costing the force nothing. Is there any incentive for those officers to work to their full potential in the face of such crass incompetence?

I know I am not alone in saying I have no confidence in my leaders and no confidence in the criminal justice system. What keeps me going is the unswerving belief that what I am doing is right, that at the end of the day the force and the public gets more than its value for money from my efforts, and that if I put a villain before the court and he gets off on a technicality, I have done my bit. I can sleep with a clear conscience.

To the Home Office inquiry, I would urge the following: start at the top of the service and work your way down, and do not believe everything the managers tell you. Check with the grass-roots officers; you might get a shock.

Yours faithfully,

GEORGE BARNES

Bicester, Oxfordshire

The writer is using a pseudonym.

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