I’ve been tweeting for a little while now and I often mention “the team”. I thought my reader (singular, this isn’t a very popular or busy blog… yet!) might be interested to learn a bit more about the fine men and women who deliver response policing in our little corner of the UK.
The team is split roughly 65% men, 35% women. That’s what I’d call a little “cock heavy”, a rather crude way of saying there’s too many blokes, and not enough women. I’ve always found that a team with too many blokes can become a bit macho, a bit rough round the edges. The women tend to bring a bit of decorum, a bit of softness, not just in the nick but out on the street. Most of the scumbags who wouldn’t think twice about thumping a male copper will behave quite deferentially towards a female officer. Females can often calm down a situation which blokes would wind up. So ideally, the boss (Inspector) and I would prefer the team to be a little more balanced – but we don’t have a huge amount of control over this, we get what we’re given by HR.
In terms of experience, we’ve got a fair spread, and in that respect as a rota we are quite lucky.
We have a very few probationers (officers in their first two years’ service) who come to a response team for a period of four months as part of their training. We chuck them in the deep end, with support from their colleagues and of course their caring Sergeant (!), and let them learn about policing by getting out there and doing it. Probies get a lot of the drudge work, but we do try to expose them to as many policing situations as possible. The probies we have on team at the moment seem pretty good, and are fitting in well. Sometimes it’s a real shame to see them move onto the next stage of their training – other times, we all breathe a sigh of relief! They don’t tend to call me during the shift. Maybe they’re a bit in awe of supervisors, more likely they’d rather go to the more experienced PCs to ask for advice.
Next, and making up maybe 70% of our team, come the officers with less than 5 years’ service. These are officers who have been signed off their probation, and are working in their first proper posting. It’s difficult to generalise, but usually these officers are keen, enthusiastic, and can be relied on. They are really the workhorses, dealing competently with a range of incidents from the mundane to the exceptional. As a supervisor, I need to be able to rely on these folks and they don’t usually let me down (if they do, it’s donuts). I tend to get most phone calls for advice, guidance or reassurance (also known as arse covering, as in, “I told the Sarge so if it goes wrong, I’m covered”) from this group.
Then we have a number of officers with from 5 years’ to perhaps 20 or 25 years’ service. They know the job inside out. Some of them were coppers before the younger PCs on our team were even born! Many have been on other departments, such as proactive teams, traffic or firearms, and their experience and knowledge is worth its weight in gold. The advantage of these folks is that they need very little supervision – they rarely need to consult me, they are solid, reliable and not only know how to do the job, they know how to work with other departments. In short, they get the job done. The only disadvantage of these officers is that they can get bored. They’ve seen pretty much everything, and they are rarely challenged by the work. As a supervisor, my job is to try to keep these folks motivated, whether it’s by helping to guide their career (is it time to move off response and do something else?), help them towards promotion (time to do the exam, and/or do some acting Sergeant duties), or give them newer PCs to mentor.
In terms of age, we have a lot of young officers (from 18 years old to mid 20′s), a few in their 40′s and older, and a few in their 30′s. As for education, we have some people with degrees, some with no qualifications, and the majority with an education somewhere in between. Pretty much all of them have healthy amounts of common sense and (an absolute prerequisite this) a lively sense of humour which will veer between the ironic, the crude, and the morbid. Often in the same sentence!
And then there’s me…