I’m terribly sorry to rain on the “police must use common sense” parade currently being trotted out as the latest genius idea by certain ACPO officers, but last time I looked, the phrase “the Chief says I’m a human being, and as a front line professional I sometimes make mistakes” was not an acceptable defence in the eyes of HM Coroner.
GMP Chief Mr Fahy hectored that “the tickbox culture had spread through all areas of public service, with social workers and nurses being particularly affected”. Yes, that would be because social workers and nurses face internal and public enquiries each time something goes wrong.
From the ACPO ivory tower comes the instruction: “It will no longer be acceptable to say `I followed the procedure`”
Here is some news just in from the street-level.
When we arrive at and deal with incidents involving grave risk to people, things are not always immediately clear. People shout, threaten and try to influence officers. Many are telling lies when they do so. Some are hysterical, some are manipulative and some are just in shock. Neither side wants to hear anything but their own version. Sometimes we have to remove children, call for firearms officers or arrest a person who may appear innocent.
Add a measure of darkness, heavy rain, loud music, alcohol consumption by the people involved and a large crowd of hostiles and you just start to get the picture.
What I need to do in these circumstances is follow procedure exactly, and then mark it all up in precise detail. Only in this way will I escape the inevitable vengeance of the Monday Morning Jury at a later date if things go bent. “Writing up” a failed decision or a stupid move does not make those things suddenly acceptable, but it does provide evidence of defensible decision making at a later date. Remember, we don’t know which incidents are going to go bent at the time, that only becomes clear later.
So until ACPO can deliver PSD, HMIC, IPCC, CPS and HM Coroner on a plate for me, I’m sure Mr Fahy won’t mind if I continue to keep my notes and tick my boxes. The public are the ones who demand this level of accountability so the public can do without police officers on the street while they write up their pocket books.