Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Shock, Horror - Police Hours

The Headlines today "Shock, Horror, 'Just one in ten police out on patrol' ".

Frankly, I'm not surprised. As an engineer, I worked for ten years in an environment which required 24 hour a day cover, 7 days a week, every week.
Now, it is a straightforward fact that there are 168 hours in a week, something that seems to escape the notice of those who work normal office hours. My contract (which was designed for office workers) required me to attend for 40 hours each week, but I was allowed an hour each day as a lunch break, resulting in a net 35 hours work.

I don't know how many hours police officers are required to work, but I would assume that it would be somewhat similar. Thus to provide full cover in order to have one policeman available at any time, you will need five officers rostered throughout the week providing 175 hours of cover. This gives a slack of just seven hours to provide for overlap on shift changes. Nor does this figure allow for the absence of any officer on leave, sick-leave, training courses or attending court which probably increases the cover required by the equivalent of another person. So effectively six out of the ten policeman are required just to provide one on patrol at any one time.

"Police often work 12 hour shifts and have to be given rest days to make up for it". This of course is a form of jealousy which all shift workers experience, but if the full number of hours are being worked, what's the problem? For years, I worked nominal 12 hour shifts (often longer), with the result that I did an average of only three shifts a week over a five wek cycle. Allowing for nights and weekends, one frequently heard the comment from a day worker, "I haven't seen you for weeks, been on holiday?" Then some Admin type would decide to hold a meeting on one of your rest days and wondered why you complained. When I tried to arrange a training meeting for a Sunday, the cries of horror from the office workers were well worth hearing!

Yes, I have many complaints about the police, mainly with regards to their priorities, but only getting such an apparently low number on patrol is not one of them.

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