Just say Winsor has a point?

Before you all go WTF??!

Let me make it very clear. I do not, as you all know, like anything that is going on with the Police Service at the moment and I do think the ‘Independent’ report is anything else but a farce. HOWEVER…..
I have thought of some of the points and he may have a couple of good points.

I only said a couple

One of the points is Fitness.
Now I don’t regularly exercise and I know I need to get back in to the swing of things, but I do know, as we all do, officers who have not passed the fitness test, and yet, are still deemed suitable for being ‘fit for duty’.
I can immediately think of at least half a dozen officers who are SO overweight that even eating their dinner or walking up the stairs leaves them completely breathless. Really. In fact I am so concerned with a couple in particular I have had to speak with them one to one to ascertain whether there was anything I could do. I am not talking about those who have a disability, or have been injured, and they should be given as much help as possible, I am talking about those who have just ‘let themselves go’.

Can Winsor give them the incentive to get fit?

Well that’s the point, perhaps it just might?
The fitness test has been, to my understanding, set to quite a low level, so anyone who is relatively fit, or with just a small push, will be able to do it no problem, but for those that have really let themselves go are going to struggle. If officers aren’t fit enough to walk up the stairs without being out of breath, they may just not be there to help you out in a sticky situation.
If you press your emergency button, just how long do you think it will take them to get out of the car wading through the junk food wrappers to get to you? May be too late. Is that fair on you?

The other point is performance
Again, I don’t agree that we should be performance driven and that we are under pressure for arrests, detections and alike, however, there needs to be something to sort out those who do the square root of zero. You all know who we are talking about.

Can Winsor give the lazy officers incentive to work?

I am sure you are aware of officers who are doing jobs in offices, who have created a niche for themselves with a job that was never advertised, but have put themselves in a role which involves them going out doing ‘tasks’ all day, has fallen under the radar, they either can’t go out on front line duties as they are unfit (and yes they do exist), but how do we judge how much work they do?
Speaking to colleagues from a range of forces, of officers who book on and then slope off, normally for a coffee somewhere, or home for hours, don’t answer the radio or phone – Just how can they justify their existence, being paid a good wage and do nothing? That is who we should be concentrating on, not those who work hard, but their work is not measurable in terms of arrest numbers, tickets etc. An officer may be dealing with non measurable jobs, for example, sudden deaths, community tension factors, being a Family Liaison Officer, or being on a seal all shift, so how would that be measurable on figures?
Rather than looking at the front line officers performance figures, perhaps they should start be looking at those who are trying not to be noticed, and rather than having to speak to officers for not pushing an ‘at scene’ button or having to justify spending time dealing with victims of crime longer than deemed necessary, they should be looking for those who have gone under the radar and either get them back out doing the job they are supposed to, or be one of the cuts to save the jobs of officers who do deserve to keep their job.

I know that Winsor Part 2 has some shocking recommendations, but if there is a 20% cut, then they may well be the people we need to be looking at first.
We are very lucky to hold the ‘Office of Constable’, and I am still proud to say I am a Police Officer, but I do not accept those who are lazy either physically or work shy.

Any thoughts?

IJB

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Comments
4 Responses to “Just say Winsor has a point?”
  1. Olly says:

    Unfortunately Winsor had the opportunity to suggest positive reform and i say ‘unfortunately’ because he has squandered this and shown himself to be wholly ignorant of what might constitute better working practices. When considering physical fitness it is right to expect the police to have a certain standard of cardiovascular fitness and strength. The standard should be attainable for someone who exercises regularly and provision or incentive should be made during the course of a normal shift to exercise because not only does it contribute to professional fitness but also personal fitness.

    The benefits of regular exercise and the impact on staff sickness levels is well known and ignored currently by most forces as they cite lame reasons for not being able to provide exercise time to ther staff. The fitness test should be fit for purpose and should be performed in full kit. I’m not suggesting special forces-type levels of endurance but being able to perform job-related tasks while wearing the kit which officers wear while doing their job. Perhaps performing a chase scenario and maybe pushing a BDV in full kit as most officers generally are presented with these tasks routinely.

    Currently standards are so pathetic (sorry i mean ‘inclusive’) that performing a low level on a bleep test on your shorts and trainers just is not a test which is fit for purpose (until officers are permitted to patrol in their gym kit). Also having a required standard of fitness which is pathetically low and only tested on a yearly basis is insulting and not motivational at all (much like most of the reforms Winsor is proposing).

    Winsor can’t even get this reform right. He had a golden opportunity to propose a measure which would increase officer morale & fitness, enhance public perception, reduce sickness days and send out a signal that the finest police service in the world could be finer still. Shame on you Winsor.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      You have made very valid points. The fitness test has been set at a low standard because if they were to set a high standard of fitness there would be so many officers who failed and then consequently they would not be able to get on front line duties and we would be stuck in the hole even more than we are now.

      They should see the bigger picture, giving officers time to keep fit and to eat better, although initially would be an expense, the long term prediction would mean that it would be cost effective. As you point out, quite rightly, exercise = good health = less sickness.

      There was the excellent opportunity for Winsor to say you get fit and do the fitness test, and in return we will provide gym and food facilities, not sticking vending machines with processed food and drink.

      I feel they have missed a really big opportunity to get people onside with at least one issue.

      Shame on you Winsor.

      IJB

  2. Mrs Plod says:

    I read your blog with interest IJB. I do so as my partner is a rank and file officer, and quite frankly we are struggling with the job at times. So I like to canvass opinion as to whether it is just us or whether we are all truly “in it together” as is the bloody annoying watchword of the moment.

    Truth is I don’t agree with your first point AT ALL. Have you ever considered why officers become unfit? At their initial training they are all encouraged to keep fit and they all pass a fitness test,at this point some training centres have on site facilities. For puppy walking and the first few years on the beat, they walk miles so whatever they eat is irrelevant as it is burned off.

    Then you get to my partner’s situation. He has been an officer for in the order of a decade plus some. He has progressed his career to become a senior investigator dealing with really serious crimes and criminals. And what does that entail? Well, being in a countryside force a lot of it involves being sat in a car. You can eat celery and put on weight sat on your bum all day I reckon. Secondly, I endeavour to make him healthy food every single day, but being sat in said car or in an ill equipped office, or being called out to a job at 2 am guess what are the only sources of food at that ungodly hour? Fast food. My ham salad pitta goes in the bin as it’s been sat in a warm office until he gets back from the job he has been on. He tried cycling to work but was exhausted afterwards and I felt it unsafe, especially on lates or nights so I told him to stop – that was after he had had three rtc’s including cycling into the back of a parked lorry…he was chinstrapped. Can we afford a gym? No, we can’t afford to eat and don’t see enough of each other as it is.

    So what can be done? Well, I personally firmly believe police should be given time to exercise on force hours. I believe this already happens in the fire service? Surely if part of the job is being fit then it is the employers responsibilty to facilitate this. You cannot ask for a certain level of performance without giving the means to achieve it. Also I believe there should be an appraisal of what provision there is for officers to be able to eat properly. The government is plenty worried about our schoolchildren eating properly, so why not extend this? Pot noodles do not maketh the man.

    Your second point, now with my member of the public hat on, is a moot point. In ALL jobs you will get hangers on, stringers along, lazy gets. Doesn’t mean the whole workforce need to be harangued for it. As I see it, performance is loosely defined in Winsor. Getting yourself stabbed is poor performance to TW. I’d love to know who these slacking officers are, because most people I know in the force are working the jobs of 3 officers and a 5 minute lunch break is a mythical beast akin to the tooth fairy these days, see also getting off your shift on time. Is it me, or is it the senior staff’s job to weed these individuals out not TW’s? So if you are an Inspector so how come you feel this way? Is it that the government are eroding your powers in preparation for it all to be privatised anyway? As you are clearly aware, setting performance figures doesn’t always fit every role. My partner spent some time preventing serious reoffenders – how does one evaluate his role precisely when his job is to make sure someone does nothing? I have always felt that if the police is run like a sales job the public will suffer. I do not want Winsor to bring in performance targets, I want police officers to be motivated to do the very best they can with their heart and soul because they feel supported and that they do a worthwhile job- a point TW and the Home Sec have missed entirely.

    I’m not berating your inquisitive nature, but I just think the two points that you have picked up on that are mildly credible are in fact less than credible and felt it my duty to give you my point of view. Hope it is received in the spirit it is intended. Regards. Mrs Plod.

    • Thanks for your very valid comments.
      I take on board what you say, and you have valid points.
      Please trust me when I say that I am not targeting those officers who work hard doing the work your husband does. I believe that the job should provide quality time for fitness for officers. I also believe that instead of getting a 10% discount for local gyms – we should have the equipment readily available at all stations.
      I know, more than most, that fast food is a very easy option, and it was my downfall last night, and again, you can make all the effort at home, but after a warm sit in the car for 8 hours, the lettuce would be limp!
      I believe that again, this is down to the inability to be able to provide services for officers. I know there were police canteens up and down the country, but then they were closed as it wasn’t ‘viable’. This seems a nonsense. If they provided a gym and a canteen and encouraged all officers and staff to eat healthily and light exercise then they would have the issues they do.
      I DO know that officers being overweight is different from being seriously OBESE. I know of officers who, in my opinion, are like walking heart attacks waiting to happen, and it saddens me that they have the inability to seek help. One officer I am aware of, and have mentioned, is so unfit that when they go up 15 steps they are out of breath. They are only in their 30’s.

      These are the people who need help and these are the ones that if they cannot pass the test should be put on an action plan. Would you feel comfortable being crewed with someone who can’t even get out of the car properly? Me neither.

      In relation to the hangers on, yes we all have them, and no it doesn’t mean that they all get harangued HOWEVER, if it was a choice of losing a front line officer or a hanger on who is just ‘sitting it out’ keeping their head down, then it’s the hanger on for me every time.

      I agree with what you are saying, and part of my writing includes playing ‘devils advocate’ to provoke reaction, so I am still glad I have brought it in to the public domain.

      Thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns and I look forward to writing the next.

      Take Care

      IJB

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