I'd come in early to tackle a particularly important job. I say important as it meant I scored another detection this month, so obviously it was vital. I'd done what I needed to do in terms of dealing with the client, i.e. charging the reprobate and had returned to the office to crew up with a colleague. There was a file to be built before the end of the shift, so that the courts would know why said reprobate was appearing before them.
File-building is a tedious administrative task that merely involves replicating information on a multitude of different forms. For the really big files we do have a team of civvies to do the job, but for the initial hearings we have to do them ourselves. This takes me, a sworn constable, off the streets and puts me firmly behind a desk for an hour or two. It's part of my job, and I find admin. tasks fairly easy to deal with so I get on with it with the same enthusiasm as the rest of my job, but it is at odds with what the media leads me to believe the public wants - more police on the streets, not behind a desk.
I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Shuffling bits of paper about and dealing with 'red tape' is not what I want to be doing, I'd rather be out there catching scumbags. Employing some efficient police staff to handle this type of admin which is essential each time a person in charged would surely be cost-efficient. Perhaps this happens in other forces, but mine is too poor I think.
So anyway, I picked up a couple of jobs with my colleague, as they were piling in thick and fast, there was no time to sit in the office completing the file. I return to the office with a new job to write up, plus the file to build. It would be tight, but I might just get everything dealt with before I was due to book off. I had a very decent reason to book off on time, I needed to get home for something important.
As I'm sat there tapping away at my next MG form for the file build, an immediate response job comes in over the radio. There are four or five of my colleagues sitting in the office, probably a couple more smoking outside, and a couple watching football in the kitchen. No one offers up for it. A few more details are passed. It a shoplifting, and the offender has left the scene. Granted, it shouldn't be a top priority job, but still no-one calls up for it. Something similar happened last week, and I turned out after five minutes while my colleagues carried on chatting. A further radio broadcast gave a direction of travel and description of the offender.
I would have been up and out the door in a second had it not been for the mound of paperwork that had to be completed before the end of the shift. One of my colleagues, who was surfing Ebay turned round and asked me if I was going. I replied I had a bunch of stuff to complete and I was pushed for time as it was.
I felt guilty at not getting out the door immediately, but surely one of the sergeants would turf some of my colleagues out? Eventually, after 10 minutes someone assigned themselves.
With such laziness no wonder our detection rate is so poor. It's also the first time I've not been running out the door when a prioroty shout has come through. I resolved not to let my standards slip again, but it's hard to tip the work/life balance in favour of work every day when those around me have already settled into a lower standard. As it was I still finish an hour late.