Posts Tagged 'Police and Crime Commissioner'

Election day…


Welcome to David Jamieson, our new Police and Crime Commissioner.

A quick post this one to congratulate Labour’s David Jamieson on his success in the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner election and to welcome him to the new role.

David fills the vacancy left by the late Bob Jones and will work alongside our Chief Constable, Chris Sims, acting to oversee how the force is run.

As you may have noticed from the press coverage following the announcement of the results, voter turnout was somewhat lower than many people had been hoping.

In fact, if you happen to be reading this blog in the company of nine friends or family (hello everyone – gather closer!), statistically only one of you likely cast a vote.

Read into this statistic what you will but I think more than anything else, it suggests people are not yet familiar with what the Police and Crime Commissioner’s role is.

They’re not ‘in charge’ of their police force as such, rather it’s their role to hold the force to account, to set budgets and outline the force’s priorities.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is there to scrutinise the performance of the Chief Constable and his or her force, he or she also has the power to dismiss a Chief Constable if necessary.

You can find out more about our new Police and Crime Commissioner on his website where you can also find out more about the role itself too.

Furthermore, you can contact David by a variety of ways here and can meet him in person by attending one of the regular surgeries held around the West Midlands.

Tell it like it is… (2/2)


Playing with fast cars and fancy kit is definitely one of the better bits of joining the police.

You were thinking of applying to join us as a police officer, you then read yesterday’s blog about the drawbacks of policing and are now feeling depressed and are thinking about giving up, right?

Wait there, potential student police officer!

If things were as bad as all that, I don’t think I’d be doing the job myself and that I am and doing so happily suggests actually, there are some pretty good things too about being a police officer.

What are they then?

Why here is a random list designed to emphasise that whilst there were definitely some things highlighted yesterday that you need to consider, they in no way take precedence over the below -

  • Make a difference – You’ll be in a unique position in which you will be able to make people’s lives considerably better. It’ll be down to you to help people put their lives back together and it’s easy to underestimate how much of a difference you’ll be able to make to people at their lowest ebb by providing to them the best, most professional service that you can. You may see problems in your community – drug dealing, vandalism, anti-social behaviour – here’s your chance to do something about it.
  • Chance for personal development – With the opportunity to step into people’s homes and meet a wide cross-section of the community, you’ll find that your world view is challenged and perceptions you may have held about, say, prostitutes and drug dealers, is challenged when you find yourself speaking to them and seeing the circumstances that lead people into crime in the first place.
  • Excitement – Driving a police car at high speed, diving through red lights and then chasing a suspect on foot with the helicopter hovering above you can be just a little exciting. You’ll get to do things in the first weeks of your service that most people won’t do in their entire lives and whilst it’s not Point Break every day, some shifts come close.
  • Help serve the public – Whilst it may not feel this way all the time, everything you do in the course of your role as an officer will ultimately benefit the public and be worthwhile as such which is a hugely rewarding feeling.
  • Opportunities for progression – West Midlands Police is the second largest force in the country and as such, there are roles inside the organisation that even I don’t know about having done the job for a few years now. We have dog units, firearms units, detective teams, a group of officers whose job it is to ensure planes don’t get shot down at Birmingham Airport. We have football spotters, gang specialists, officers specialising in conducting searches, a helicopter, collision investigators. The list goes on and on and if you fancy, there’s a chance to progress up the ranks also.
  • Important work – This is the reason I joined, I wanted to do something that I felt to be important and to do it well. I can finish work with the satisfaction of being able to say someone who has been making a victim’s life a misery is going to court entirely because of my own work on the case. I used to work at a hotel and satisfaction would be ‘I laid the tables quite neatly’ or ‘I refilled the printer pretty well’. There’s no comparison!
  • Responsibility – You’re often going to be the first person on the scene of major incidents, it’s going to be down to you to quickly assess what’s happening and decide what to do. You may have to prepare cases to go up to Crown Court and give evidence, you’ll likely be sent to serious crimes in the first instance and the actions that you take in the first few minutes of arrival can make a huge difference to how things progress further down the line. This amount of responsibility may feel daunting at first, you’ll develop the confidence to feed off it though.
  • More than just a job – Teams tend to be quite close and there’s a fair amount of socialising too. Colleagues are friends and if you’re feeling active, there’s plenty of sports and social activities to pick from. It’s a tight-knit community and one that you’re likely to be very happy as a part of.
  • Good conditions, pay – The take home pay isn’t too bad and there are chances for overtime, there’s a decent pension waiting at the end of your service too for when you’re a bit longer in the tooth and telling all the new recruits about how things were in ‘your day’.
  • The X Factor – Police officers get discounted tickets to go and watch The X Factor being filmed. Joke! In terms of the things that you’ll see and do, from your first arrest to the moment you put on the Chief Constable’s epaulettes (when he’s not looking), there is simply no other job that comes anywhere close to The Job. That’s why they call it ‘The Job’.
  • Sexy uniform and handcuffs – …

What I’d want you to take away from both my ‘think carefully’ and my ‘join immediately’ lists is that policing is a worthwhile, exciting job and whilst  it’s not for everyone, the people who it ‘is for’ are very happy and would likely recommend taking the opportunity to join.

If you think it is for you then, go and express an interest on our recruitment website and as I’ve said, if you’re still not sure and want to know more then please ask and I’ll be more than happy to try answer.

Tell it like it is… (1/2)


The constant watch – one of the less appealing sides of ‘The Job’.

So you’re looking to join the police as an officer because you want to fight criminals and punch crime on the nose, right?

Great! Is that what you’ll be doing all the time? No!

Designed to be read in conjunction with the following blog on the positive sides of being a bobby, this blog is designed to set out some of the drawbacks of doing the job so that new applicants have an accurate view of what the job really involves.

It’s in no way designed wanting to put people off, only to present the honest information that any potential applicant needs to know to ensure policing is the career for them.

In no order other than a rambling, whatever came to mind first type order, here are some of the less appealing sides of ‘The Job’ -

  • Going home on time – A 15:00 finish time on the rota means that, right? Oh no! There will be times when you’ll find yourself come finishing time still at a custody block on the other side of the force area with a list of things to do longer than both of your arms put together. Your advertised finishing time is best seen as a ‘suggestion’ and you’ll join knowing that from time to time you’ll be sacrificing your evening plans.
  • Flexibility – Leading on from the first point, you can be called into work at short notice and shift patterns changed with a snap of the Chief Constable’s fingers. This won’t be a regular thing but in response to extraordinary events (riots etc), you can very quickly find days off cancelled and hours extended.
  • Danger – Something that lurks around every corner, the work of a police officer is inherently dangerous and we do sometimes get hurt as a result. You will at some point get attacked, car accidents are always a risk with response driving and in the course of saving life and limb, you’re going to face some very risky situations.
  • Abuse – There are plenty of people who will hate you for no reason other than the uniform. Shoplifters will abuse and spit at you. You’ll be taught new swearwords by prisoners in the cells. It isn’t personal but it’s not nice either – a thick skin is a must.
  • Crime in reality – You may think a police officer saves good people from the bad criminals. We do, also though we have to attend when Person A with seventy previous convictions calls to make a very suspect report  that Person B with the same amount of convictions has wronged him in some way. Many of the calls you’ll attend will be very dubious in nature, you’ll not be told the full details by either side and often will find that when you delve a little deeper, there’s not a crime in the first place. This can be frustrating but it’s part of the job, for every ‘genuine’ call there’ll be several ‘I’m calling the police because I’m locked out of Facebook’ jobs to sort out.
  • Stress – One minute you’ll be in a patrol car talking about doughnuts, the next you’ll be faced with twenty people brawling in a pub and it’ll be down to you to sort it out, all whilst the radio is chattering away in your ear and you’ve got twenty different accounts of what’s happened. You’ll be required to make decisions there and then and everyone will be looking to you to know what to do.
  • Boredom – Think standing on a crime scene for ten hours is exciting? How’s about watching some sleep in the corner of a cell for an entire shift whilst on constant observations? It isn’t! Whilst there will be exciting moments, you’ll have some shifts where the clock moves very slowly indeed.
  • Missing breaks – A busy night on a response shift might mean your meal will be a petrol station sandwich half  eaten on the forecourt being being sent to the next job. Break times are set out but as with finishing times, they are ‘suggestions’. Overall the busy times are balanced out by other shifts during which nothing happens but even so, this won’t make any difference to you on the shift that you don’t get a moment’s rest.
  • Dealing with the injured and the dead – If you don’t feel comfortable with the sight of blood, policing may not be right for you as there can be a lot of it. I’ve seen people with stab wounds down to the bone, I’ve had to help funeral staff lift a cold body onto their trolley and I’ve seen crime scenes that give the Saw films a run for their money. Crime isn’t pretty and you’ll be faced with this reality up close.
  • Taking the job home –  Again leading on from the above, you’ll see some things that will stay with you beyond your tour of duty. They’ll come home with you and whilst there’s plenty of good support available, you may find some experiences looking to set up camp in your head.
  • Workload – Policing can be a busy occupation, the workload can be high and it’ll be down to you to manage your time effectively and ensure that the four court files you have are submitted on time as well responding to jobs on the radio and making everyone a lovely cup of tea.
  • Frustration – Things won’t always go to plan, sometimes you’ll meet people who you know full well are guilty but have to let them walk free without charge. There’ll be nothing you can do about it and you’ll have to grin and bare it as you let someone out the cells as they cheerfully boast and tell you that they’ll ‘see you soon’.

So those are some of the drawbacks to consider but don’t despair, there are good points too which I’ll write about tomorrow!

I’d also add that even the above considered, I’d still recommend the job without any hesitation at all.

It’s not for everyone and the above give an idea of why it’s a ‘job like no other’, this is not to say that it’s not an excellent job as I think most officers would agree that it very much is and a privilege to do.

Found a job…

Police Class Photo

It will shortly be recruitment o’clock for new police constables – what do you need to know?

According the cheap Casio digital watch that I wear to work, the time is currently ‘recruitment o’clock’.

Now lots of people over the past few years have asked me ‘when will recruitment o’clock be?’ and I’ve always had to say ‘I’m not sure’, the reason being that I wasn’t sure.

Now though, times have changed.

As you’ll see from the news flash over on our website, Bob Jones, our Police and Crime Commissioner, has confirmed that over the course of the next two years we’ll be looking to recruit 450 new police officers.

This is exciting as it’s been five years since people have been able to apply to join as constables and I think it’s fitting that I am able to write about the new vacancies considering that I was on one of the last intakes before recruitment closed last time round.

Because I’m sure that there’ll be a great deal of interest from people wanting to become rozzers, I thought it might be useful to give some insight into what the role is actually like (good and bad) to help potential applicants make an informed decision.

As such, I plan to write this blog (I’m writing it now, watch!) in which I’ll give a few general considerations and then two following, one of which will highlight the positive points of being an officer and the other which will show some of the drawbacks.

I’ll write honestly as it’s a huge step to join the police, it’s a big commitment and with the job not being for everyone, it’s only fair that people interested in the vacancies know what they’re letting themselves in for.

Right then, in bullet point format here are some general considerations you’ll want to ‘considerate’ -

  • Physical fitness is important. You’ll need to not only pass a physical assessment but also maintain a decent level of fitness so that you’re able to pass the annual fitness test.
  • It isn’t all paperwork but a lot of the work we do is on computers. A decent grip of IT would be a great benefit as much of the work you do in the station is digital.
  • The application process can be a long one. I don’t know how things will run this time round but for me it was two and a half years between posting my form and putting on my uniform.
  • As I’ll stress in coming blogs, it’s not for everyone and nor is it easy. It requires a real commitment and you join knowing that you’ll meet people who will hate you from the off, that at some point you may be abused, attacked and still have to respond professionally when you find this happening to you on the wrong side of a long night shift.
  • You’re going to be held to a very high standard and will be expected to act accordingly. Wearing the uniform may enable to arrest someone, at the same time though the uniform expects of you that you act with the integrity, honesty and professionalism.

You’ll be able to register you interest in joining West Midlands Police from February 10th and can find out more about the applications over on our recruitment website.

The site has a FAQ and enables you to ask questions also which on the topic, I’m happy to answer questions too if you fancy leaving a comment on this blog, tweeting at me or going onto The Facebook and leaving your query there.

I can’t answer specific questions about the application process as I’ll not know the answers (use the recruitment website for those), but I’ll try to accommodate general queries as best I can and over the next few days, will be uploading the two aforementioned blogs about the realities of doing the job so stay tuned!

A house is not a home…

Walsall Police Station under construction in 1965. As part of our recently announced estate review, we’ll be looking at how best to use our buildings.

The best part of twenty years before this fresh faced officer was born, workmen from W. Kendrick and Sons Ltd were scurrying around what was then a building site on Green Lane, Walsall, to build the ‘H’ division a new HQ.

State of the art for its time, the new base featured a shooting range, billiards room and a fountain in the front office that functioned as both an aquarium and an impromptu bath, depending on who was using it.

As Kev Pitt writes on his beard-strokingly interesting blog about the construction of the station, the total cost for the build came to £444,979.

Fast forward to the current day and whilst the building has served us bobbies well, it now costs more per year to maintain than the entire station cost to build in the first place, not adjusting for inflation.

As I’ve written previously, it’s owing to these sort of economics, alongside the fact that the station is in dire need of an update, that we’ll be moving out of Green Lane over the next few months.

The reshuffling due to take place forms part of the wider estate review announced by PCC Bob Jones on Monday under which the force’s bean counters will be examining our 140 properties with a view to reducing the £17.5 million cost associated with maintaining them.

Areas to be examined include how we’re currently using our buildings, the long term maintenance costs and whether we could save money by finding ‘room mates’ such as the local council with whom to split the bills.

On the latter point, it’s something that’s already happening in Solihull and has been very successful thanks to a well organised washing up rota and understandings that police officers take out the rubbish once a week and that councillors buy a new carton of milk when they finish the old one and don’t have the TV on too loud late at night.

Furthermore, the reshuffling also takes into account our move towards ‘super blocks’ with our living history cells at Steelhouse Lane being shut accordingly.

The estate review will take place in four phases taking us into the distant future-scape of 2015 and we’d be keen to hear from yourselves on how the proposals might affect you.

You can contact us through a range of different methods by clicking here, I’ll keep you updated on the project too with a special focus on what’s happening at Green Lane as and when I hear more.

I make mistakes that I learn from ’cause I’m young…

Some of Paris Brown’s tweets were ill-advised sure, but wasn’t her youth – and the experiences that come with it – why she was picked for the YPPC job in the first place?

A quick post this and one I’ll start by stating firstly that I think Ann Barnes has rightly condemned Paris Brown’s tweets as being ‘silly’ and ‘offensive’, secondly I’ll add that I’d not usually go for Tulisa lyrics for my blog titles but in this case, it’s appropriate…

As you’ve likely seen in the news over the past couple of days, shortly after seventeen year old Paris Brown was given the job of Youth Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent Police, The Mail on Sunday ran a story in which they published a series of historic tweets from Paris’ personal Twitter account.

The controversial tweets made the headlines, a clearly upset Paris made a public apology and her boss issued a statement of support for Paris, rejecting calls for Paris to be removed from her post.

The role of Youth Police and Crime Commissioner was to bridge the divide between young people and the police. It aims to provide representation for young people to help promote inclusiveness in process of making decisions about how the force is run and what its priorities ought to be.

Many of the people that we deal with are younger and whilst officers and those making decisions about how the force operate try to be as inclusive and approachable as possible, I can see that having someone from a younger background available to facilitate communication and understanding could be quite invaluable.

To do the job well, it stands to reason that said person needs to be young themselves so they can honestly claim that they’ve got the credentials to speak for the younger members of the community that the force polices.

They need to be able to illustrate how the experience of growing up today is very different from that of what youth would have been ten or twenty years ago – they need to reflect what ‘it was different in my day’ really means.

The qualification that this background of youth gives at the same time affords the person some leeway to make mistakes – an essential part of the experience that they represent.

Find a seventeen year old candidate for YPPC who’s whiter than white and you’ll have found someone who’s not right for the job.

Instead, pick a teenager who has made mistakes that he or she regrets and will learn from and you’ll have a candidate in a much better position both to represent the thousands of other young people making similar mistakes, and to help give the advice that represents those people’s experiences.

P.S. This blog from A Dragon’s Best Friend I thought was interesting in terms of the context under which young people use social media and the consequences, it’s well worth a look.

Power to the people, right on…

It’s less than 200 days until the first Police & Crime Commissioner elections but did you also know it’s under 100 days until the start of the Olympics? (Image from London 2012)

It’s less than one hundred days to go until the start of the 2012 Olympic Games. You’d know that, were it not for the fact that the celebration of this milestone was so completely overshadowed by the news that it’s less than two hundred days until you have the chance to vote in a Police & Crime Commissioner.

Yes, elections are really that close. Can you believe it?

Okay, I jest – there’s a good chance that many people didn’t know that elections for the new position are to be held on November 15th.

It may seem a long way off but trust me, with all the excitement of England winning the Euros and Team GB hoarding gold medals in London, the big day will be here sooner than you realise.

I’ve already written about the plans to replace Police Authorities with single elected representatives and at the end of the article had promised to post updates as and when we know more about the vote.

Well, with the two hundred day milestone being celebrated with street parties up and down the country now seems like a good time to do so.

First of all, if you missed November’s post on PCCs and don’t fancy reading it now (even if it does feature Batman), the basic idea is that Police & Crime Commissioners will have responsibility for overseeing their local police forces. They’ll be able to set priorities for the police and hold the Chief Constable to account.

This job is currently done by a panel of bods drawn from a variety of sources who are known as the Police Authority.

At the moment PCC candidates are jostling amongst each other for their party’s nomination, a process which I assume involves speed eating competitions, bleep tests and possibly musket duels.

In the Labour camp for the West Midlands there’s Mike Olley and Bob Jones. For the Conservatives, Joe Tildseley seems to have the nod and for the Liberal Democrats, Ayoub Khan has expressed an interest in running.

Of course these are early days and as a week is a long time in politics, over the twenty eight something weeks leading up to the elections the selection of candidates could well change completely.

There’ll be further information published ahead of the elections themselves – most important on how and where you can vote – and there are a number of websites on which you can find more information on PCCs.

The Top Of The Cops blog has a news feed dedicated to stories on PCC elections and has individual pages for each of the police forces involved – you can find the West Midlands’ section here.

Our own Police Authority has dedicated a section of its website answering some key questions about PCCs and the Home Office has a site too providing further updates.

As the election campaigns begin to pick up speed, it’s going to be interesting to see what issues candidates decide to concentrate on to attract interest. Keeping bobbies on the beat, reducing response times and cutting paperwork all seems to be popular topics from looking at their pledges.

Just as important too will be how they seek to make good on these pledges and I’m sure as we near the elections discussion will grow around many of the topics being raised.

As I ended the last post on PCCs, I’ll end again by saying that as soon as we know more about the elections, the candidates and the issues I’ll try and pull the information together in the form of another sassy blog. Until then stay tuned…

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