5. Aim to answer 999 calls within 10 seconds, deploying to emergencies immediately giving an estimated time of arrival, getting to you safely, and as quickly as possible. In urban areas, we will aim to get to you within 15 minutes and in rural areas within 20 minutes.
Meaning: the latest call centre technology will mean if you use three nines you will speak to a real live human being – probably in a large building a long way from where you are. Eventually a message will get to a dispatcher/radio assistant/comms operator who is in touch with the bobbies who will be going to where you are. Those particular bobbies will do their damndest to drive a knackered saloon car or Transit type van (or even one of the newer ‘popemobile/ice cream van/postman pat-type vans that are now in vogue) to your emergency through congested roads. These are the self same bobbies whose front-line strength has haemorrhaged away over the past fifteen years or so. Chances are that the response officers for whatever part of the UK you are in are part of a very, very thin blue line. And God help them if they collide with anything on their way there. And just remember 15 to 20 minutes is a long time if you’re fighting.
(On a personal note – I can say from experience that even a couple of minutes feels like an eternity when struggling with an enraged and intoxicated person who is beyond the call of reason. Been there, done it, have numerous t-shirts in the drawers. Bear in mind I’m a volunteer, and have spent nearly fifteen years doing this by choice – for Joe Public who has to defend himself or another, through that unexpected and terrifying encounter with one of life's ne'erdowells - or an enraged partner - or a cornered thief – that 15 to 20 minutes will stay with them for the rest of their life.)
6. Answer all non-emergency calls promptly. If attendance is needed, send a patrol giving you an estimated time of arrival, and:
• If you are vulnerable or upset aim to be with you within 60 minutes.
• If you are calling about an issue that we have agreed with your community will be a neighbourhood priority and attendance is required, we will aim to be with you within 60 minutes.
• Alternatively, if appropriate, we will make an appointment to see you at a time that fits in with your life and within 48 hours.
• If agreed that attendance is not necessary we will give you advice, answer your questions and/or put you in touch with someone who can help.
Meaning: Promptly means call centre technology again – press 1 for harassment by text message – 2 for threats via instant messaging – 3 to complain about a social networking site – 4 to complain about something alarming on a video sharing site – 5 for silent calls from a withheld number. (I’m now halfway through the options, and we haven’t reached ‘proper’ crime and anti social-behaviour = welcome to my world…)
And ‘upset’ – by your standards or mine? What does this mean? What do we sacrifice in order to measure this and gather the statistics – don’t worry Mr Taxpayer – we’ll sort it. Needless to say, a small portion of our 'user group' will no doubt try and make compensation from this. You can even imagine the crocodile tears being shed to the local media when Tracy tearfully complains how she waited for hours on New Years Eve for the local constabulary to attend to her complaint of threats to kill by text message...
‘Neighbourhood priorities’ – a can of worms if ever I heard of one – even when the process of ‘agreement’ filters out the re-siting of bus stops – or dog fouling in private places – or the voices in your head telling you your neighbour really fancies you and that’s why they have invisible sex outside your flat (All of these are real ‘community police’ incidents I have dealt with…) – then you will either wait for a warranted officer to get round – or more likely end up with a PCSO – who – no matter how well intentioned – has precisely no power to do anything constructive.
7. Arrange regular public meetings to agree your priorities, at least once a month, giving you a chance to meet your local team with other members of your community. These will include opportunities such as surgeries, street briefings and mobile police station visits which will be arranged to meet local needs and requirements.
Meaning: You will have new and exciting ways to make your voice heard – as these meetings, surgeries and briefings can all be counted and audited. After all – what gets measured – gets done! (The reality is that the police deal with three main communities – offenders – the mainstream career petty criminal – starts in early teens – and generally grows out of it by mid 30’s – the victims – who can be any of us – but mainly the partners and kin and neighbours of our offenders – and the interested parties. Criminals aren’t interested in meetings with the police – victims are too busy with their own lives and jobs and so on – and the busy ones – whether ‘partner agencies’ or the under-employed who like to go to public consultation meetings with the local police can rejoice in new ways to use up their lives and that of others in more and more pointless meetings and talking shops... Let's face it - unless local needs and requirements are audited, counted and checked by the Home Office, or their local stooges - they won't get the lip service that the important figures deserve - customer satisfaction surveys anyone? Just think of the stakeholders - does our service delivery fail to meet diversity criteria? Just remember who is in charge - not the taxpayer - not the police - our friends in the Home Office.)
And on it goes… as does my gross generalisation... part three coming soon...