First I want to say that I had some serious help with this post from a close friend and colleague, who is a far better writer than I. My thanks to him for saving me here as I was lost for words.
Don’t let the Home Secretary ‘blind you’ by talking nonsense. On one hand she makes grand claims regarding ‘stop and account’ and how she is reducing the burden of paperwork on operational policing by removing this burden in a trial 10 forces – oh don’t rush there are 43 forces you know. Lets not forget that this is the same Government of which this would be minister belongs that introduced ‘Stop and Account’ in the first place. As is usual with ‘Nu Labour’ this was contrary to the fears of the service (or as I preferred to call it in it’s heyday ‘Force’). Why did they introduce this process initially? It was to appease some unproved belief that the police were somehow institutionally racist. Do me a favor; nobody other than the author of that ‘famous report’ even knows what that term means.
The fears about the introduction of this ‘paper form’ were well founded. Stop and search encounters reduced and knife crime increased. A coincidence? – I don’t believe in coincidences. Now I am sure that if I was a ‘spin doctor’ I could produce some correlation between the two but I think even common sense must say that the two may be related. We now have a situation whereby individuals feel they can carry weapons with abandon without fear of being bothered by the police. The loony liberals have taken over the asylum and seem more intent on worrying about how policing is done than the actual criminal acts that we are trying to prevent.
Read on however… There is clearly not a problem with stop and search but headlines portray ‘Stop and Search Complaints Increase’. Is this headline deliberately chosen to somehow justify the Governments ‘concerns’ about police constables using the powers bestowed upon them by the Crown and the forms introduction. I think so to, so I looked closely at these figures, 955,000 stop and searches in 2006/2007 – a good ‘turn out’ despite Government Interference, maybe it would be higher if we weren’t filling in lots of forms. The interesting thing is that of the stop and search ‘grievances’ only 169 needed to be investigated and 88% of these were shown to be unfounded. Why then are we producing a mass of paperwork that is clearly unnecessary whose only purpose is to keep a few bean counters employed. Answers on a postcard please, Good old ‘Liberty’ think the figure is low because the ‘young and vulnerable’ lack the confidence to complain – wrong , come out with me on a Friday and Saturday and I will show you how ‘timid’ this group of people really is.
I digress but I could not let the stop and search issue pass after today’s ‘report’, and it is related to the topic that I wanted to blog about, that old favorite, unnecessary paperwork and stop and account was a good start. It’s only purpose after all is to provide statistics. I was really ‘heartened’ by the claims that the burden of paperwork was being reduced when I first heard it and thought Jacqui actually had a brainwave, but alas as you can see from the above, hollow words.
There is no real commitment to reducing paperwork, and I know this because the dreaded spectre of activity sampling rears its head again this year – what an absolute waste of police time, effort, resources and tax payer’s money. Two weeks of recording my every move, every fifteen minutes of the day. It’s been blogged about ad-infinitum but the only effect there seems to have been is that a smaller number of staff are being sampled, not insignificantly small, and too many in an operational role whose core task is to protect you – the public. The anger I felt when this ‘tosh’ arrived in my work tray prompted me to blog again as we seem to be making no progress in returning policing to the police.
If you only take one message from this post, then that should be ‘don’t believe anything that this Government tells you about reducing paperwork’. For each form taken away two seem to take their place. It’s about time ACPO actually earned their rather inflated salaries and stopped sitting on the fence and supported the front line staff by actually saying no in the dying months of this Government