Let me paint a bit of the real picture of work as I’ve found it around several industry sectors and around the world. My experience tends me towards belief that human organisation is more likely incompetent than good at what it’s supposed to do. I’ve lived (a couple of times only just) through too many cock-ups to believe otherwise and one only has to look at the mammoth looting pool for the rich that masquerades as economics to know,when promised a piss up in a brewery that the organisers will send you to the wrong one. Teaching tends to confirm this view – remember we get to see the work you put in and know how bad it is. We forget, of course, that we were just as bad before we got to do the marking. A judge is only a law student who can mark his own work. One set of horrifyingly stupid students of mine submitted the same handwritten work in photocopied form at the same time in the same class. You could just make out the mark of 38% given by a previous tutor. What sort of wuckfit submits a cheat paper that has already failed? Their cunning excuse (they were Pakinstani) involved them not being able to read English. And to make matters worse they had been passed through HND at another university.
When you’er doing a job like policing the incompetence can get at you from all directions and you’re thrown into the mess wet behind the ears and with minimal, and in my memory more or less useless training (though I did play a lot of cricket at Bruche). I actually found loneliness, boredom and the shifts the hardest to deal with, along with freezing and wet streets (we still plodded then) and dire supervision (though most was good). Some probationers left when they realised they had to do nights – wish I had as I might not been diabetic now.
Jobs are rarely interesting, well-paid and with a good crack. I’ve generally found most worse than policing, with more dishonesty required. The vast majority of my colleagues haven’t worked really hard and were never to be seen at any voluntary events like those teachers who turned up so we could play sport at school. Image management was 80% of everything everywhere. Modern cops tell me they work much harder and are so so busy in comparison with the job when I did it – strange when there are so many more of them and crime has been dropping for over a decade? I’ve had a close look of late and my feeling is the pressure of work has increased, though I can’t detect and real increase underlying this – and efficiency is always claimed to have been increased. So more cops with much higher levels of investment and new efficiencies and less crime are under more strain? I’d need to do a lot more work to explain this, but believe it true – and that gaming rather than truth underlies the drop in crime.
It would be interesting to know about the health of police officers leaving the job. I still find myself angry with much of my treatment (in retrospect) and others around me. I’d recommend a book by Neville Evans (a serving officer) as a read if this is troubling you in service. It’s self published and his email is available if you contact me if you can’t reach him – I’m averse to publishing it here for fear of spam and nutters. The book’s called ‘Morale Matters’. It’s professionally written – as opposed to what I trot out here – and I found it rather touching. It’s simple in the right kind of way – something I find very difficult – where I might get into issues like the paranoid-schizoid position advanced by Melanie Klein, Neville kind of talks you through with examples. It would be good if the ACPOs could take his stance on – but sadly pigs might fly (I guess – though I know some really good senior cops- but they are of the working model). It might well be a good read as self-help and thinking on the cops and ex-cops I’ve taught, more must be of a philosophical bent than admitted. All such ‘students’ were in the top half of my university classes once they shed something of an inferiority complex (this means you if you’d like to give uni a throw).
Books similar to Neville Evan’s slim volume had good effect on me when I needed it. I’ve sort of outgrown them and you’re more likely to find me poncing on about Freud or social epistemology at some conference abroad where the food is good. It’s almost a pre-requisite in my game not to be intelligible. Neville gets the point across pretty directly and I stuck with his book much longer than most,and a lot longer than Gadget, Bloggsie or Copperfield (though he’s right). Knowing your plight is shared can help more than you might think. Charlie Owen even seems to bring my former ‘H’ Division colleagues back to life. Gene Hunt wasn’t half the man of any of them! Neville’s book, on last reflection would also do some good if read by supervising officers looking not to be a cause of misery to their staff. The trouble is the ones who do cause the misery are witless incompetents without even a glimmer of self-insight. The worst of these prats seem to get cosy jobs doing nothing about corruption in my favourite sport! Who will catch the cheats now the News of the Screws is dead?