Average age of officers falls rapidly

This news got me thinking. Does it really matter if the average ages of officers goes up? What do younger cops bring to the job that more mature ones don’t and vice versa? So entry starting salary for a new PC is 19k. I came to the job in my early 30’s from continuous private sector employment. I was the breadwinner, and the only pension we could afford was mine. My previous pay had been fairly rubbish but I’d kept off the dole – you might call me a ‘striver’ these days.
When I joined the job the pay was about …19k !!!! Factor in a decade of inflation, taxes and cost of living, what chance does a young cop stand on 19k today- indeed what chance does a mature cop like me have? I simply couldn’t do it again now. I would be committing family suicide.
But what practical differences are there – job wise- between young cops and mature ones?
The answer lies in your team mix.
I had a shift of almost exclusively young cops – they love to blue light and lock up the bad guys- great. But I found a serious lack of self discipline as well- things like getting to work on time, a reluctance to take more than a simple statement when required (rule one-secure your witnesses ) and many other things I could moan about another time such as hair colour and nails! What these people have in common is that the guilty ones were all single, and all are in their first real job.
I behaved like this as a teenage apprentice – my peers inflicted real discipline back then – so much so that you either took it or left. None of the protective bubble of rights that exist today, and that are even stronger in the police. You just can’t give them a good bollocking anymore.
I have run other shifts- my current one are all mature bar one 23yr old- and I find that when they go to jobs they will take all those statements, do the dirty work at the scene, without complaint- they will often contact me and say how disgusted they are with how the victim has been treated by the offender and they are determined to see it through. I believe this is an instinctive mature response to tragedy – in other words ‘that could be me or my family this happened to’ – and is a reaction found in the mature, developed mind of someone with some life experience.
When I lived at home, all I cared about was getting paid and going out on my night off. I’ve seen this countless times with young cops, their entire conversation revolves round the X factor.
It’s about priorities. The more mature will have much more empathy with others – even offenders- as they have something to lose .
So why does the team mix matter?
Take the single 23yr old on my team – he has his immature moments, but he has colleagues to lead by example- he sees them being thorough, they won’t put up with being left to clear up the mess alone, and can’t be bothered with the X factor social scene. This is what happened to me as an apprentice – the majority control the minority !
If that doesn’t reflect a democratic society I don’t know what does.
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5 Responses to Average age of officers falls rapidly

  1. MPS(n)Pleb says:

    All valid points. I’m on quite a ‘young’ relief that’s mostly probies, with very weak supervision. It’s hard work for us substantive 30-somethings trying to keep everything ticking over!

    • bananaman999 says:

      You must do pretty well if you don’t have a supervisor in control.
      That can really sap a shifts happiness. You don’t need a shouter- lots of different leaders- a few wise words and letting them know I’m behind them works for me

  2. An Impudent Prole says:

    I did my thirty and was fortunate to leave a few years back.

    I too was prompted to exercise the grey matter when I read that the average age of a police officer has now gone up. You are quite correct that the younger a police officer is, the less mature. However there are certain advantages in having young officers. The majority of offences are probably committed by young men. Young officers are largely drawn from the same social and cultural areas that those men come from. They understand what is going on with those offenders and are therefore sometimes better equipped to read situations and understand the street scene than their older colleagues. There were certainly times in my career where the important links were made by young officers who understood the culture. It’s not unlike the DVD or computer, it is the youngster of the family who understands it first and the parents who never quite come to terms with the technology. Now we are daily bombarded with new technology and criminal communications take place within gaming, it is the new officers who will get a grip of that.

    It concerns me that a generation gap is being engineered between police and public. There is already enough of a gap between these two groups as it is. What I learned on the beat as a young officer as well as the people and communities that I interacted with at that time, remained and grew over my service. The interviewing of juvenile vandals taught me how to talk to the public and treat them with respect while at the same time obtaining evidence from witnesses and offenders. I fear that a disconnect is being engineered that will not easily be remedied. I was very conscious that as the young thugs matured into the career criminal I kept pace by moving from beat to squad. I was also aware that many a young tearaway quickly gave up offending and became hard working members of society who were sometimes allies in keeping the lid in place.

    I remain forever grateful that I served when I did as I would want most of all to lock up the senior managers that now run the show for perverting the course of justice. For daily speaking falsehoods and for prevarication as to how the police service is being run. Probably why I was happy to retire having only ever held an office rather than a rank.

    • bananaman999 says:

      I sort of agree- its certainly put the point forward for the younger officers. I too have seen that ‘linkage’ happen, although
      That’s also down to good tutoring and learning from experience.
      I have also seen older cops talk brilliantly to the youth in bringing them down – my own favourite is ‘I’m too old to fight you mate, let’s just have a chat eh? ‘
      Remove the threat, sometimes works just as well

      • An Impudent Prole says:

        Of course you are right about the older officers and the craft they employ, they have much to teach the younger officers. The point I tried to convey is that each generation creates a society and sub-culture for itself. They have their own jargon, their own interests, their own drugs, vices and so on. No matter how street wise the old hand is, there is always something new coming along. It is the young, wet behind the ears officer who educates the old sweat into the new cultures and jargons. The old sweat in turn teaches the youngster the craft of working the street, keeping dry and surviving the knife to the belly and the ever present knife in the back from management.

        It’s evolution in action and the fact the yoof of today see no reflection of their age group in the police risks widening what is already a gap that we need to mind.

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