999 services – a very public difference

As I sat at home this morning I was watching one of those Saturday morning cookery programmes, and found myself watching a nice Asian lady chef in a fire station showing the firefighters how to cook some nice wholesome food without resorting to Tins of beans etc. I didn’t think anything of it really, other than they got to sit together as a shift to eat, which is something the police- certainly on response – don’t get to do.
A little while later I was checking my twitter account to find a post by SYP armed police – asking this :

“Member of public shows disgust at police officer having refreshment break in public domain whilst in #sheffield . What do you think? #SP”

This got me thinking. I have come across this before- an old Sgt of mine used to send me out on foot patrol and tell me to take a coffee break in local shops or cafes- reason being I was visible and would put a pound or two into the local economy. The amount of intel you get on foot is phenomenal !
But even though some people loved to see a beat bobby there were also those who either tutted at me for using taxpayers time to eat or drink, and those who would come up to me directly and blatantly challenge me over it. This happened so often that I stopped taking a break in public, and went back to the nick instead.
Contrast this with CID teams who I often found in Starbucks or in the office with takeaways all sat down (no radios ! Ps that’s not a dig just a fact)
I have two main issues with this , firstly it’s about public perception – apparently the fire service need to eat – joe public still think of their firefighters as heroes, whereas the police less so. Why this is the case has, in my humble opinion been a demonisation over several years by the police hating minority. The vast majority of the public like the police, or at least the thought of them being around if needed. But these are the silent majority- long ago the police haters – from disgruntled motorists to anarchists- learned that if they shout loud then there are media willing to listen….and print their views because they are strong and opinionated.
My second point is that these people forced me back to the nick for my breaks- those same anti police people who are quick to say they never see a bobby on the beat – cannot or will not see the irony in what they have done.
It might interest people to know that in my area, police uniform teams are Forbidden to eat together, so as to keep a patrol going at all times.
As a supervisor I know that my teams are always tasked with incidents and very little ‘patrol’ goes on other than travel time. We are now so efficient that SMT can keep a computerised check into where we have all been, and with whom, and what route we took to get there, without ever leaving the office.
All this leaves the troops on the ground wary and apprehensive of being watched – never mind popping into a coffee shop with a colleague to fly the flag. The police get cold too you know!

My final point would be to all those chefs out there- Jamie Oliver are you listening ? Why don’t you come to a police station and cook for a response team? You need to be able to cook it by yourself, and it needs to be what I call ‘goldilocks’ cooking- re-heat able – my shift will drift in and out, and as soon as they sit down will be called out to the next job. It needs to be just right!

You could always invite the splash and dash around..or just leave it for CID

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2 Responses to 999 services – a very public difference

  1. jaded says:

    Very true.
    When I was new in the job I was queuing in Macdonalds with an old sweat.It was Sunday so our canteen was not open.A couple of yobs behind us were making snidey comments about our presence there.My mate turned round and said to them in a loud voice “Do you think I run on f*****g batteries?”.Made me laugh and shut them up.
    I usually eat out.Firstly my station canteen is expensive and not very good quality since it has been privatised. Secondly the borough I work on is mostly a nice leafy suburb and we get welcomed. Thirdly people do tell you things whilst you are sitting in the cafe.

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