Specialist or specialism?

It is an inescapable fact that police forces across the country are been asked to do more with less. Or at the very least maintain what they do with less. At some point over until 2015 and beyond, something will have to give. Whether that be a sea change on how the police deploy there staff to incidents or whether a combined with a loss of specialist skills.

I am a road-policing officer and along with my colleagues we specialize in investigating fatal road traffic collisions. I’m also a specialist within a specialist department in that I police the motorway. Different environment, different skills that have to be learnt.

A firearms officer re trains once every six to seven weeks in order to be proficient. To be less than competent in a firearms situation does not bear thinking about.

A motorway patrol Officer has to work the network most days to stay safe and proficient. Unfortunately that is now not the case. Believe it or not, just as firearms officers, we need to regularly patrol the network to keep our skill base.

As cuts keep digging deeper, specialist officers now become response officers with a specialism. How long before specialists become simply response officers. A specialism long forgotten.

You cant expect an officer who has trained to be a motorway officer give him his first job, months, years after his course.

In 2002 I underwent my sexual offences course. After two weeks I was the bee’s knee’s. Not only have I not investigated any sexual offences since, the law has changed dramatically since 2002.

Conversely though, things are changing. Traffic officers that think in the future they will only deal with road policing issues are sadly mistaken. There are sadly officers in their force that hide behind their specialism. As numbers cut, all must be counted for. For some, there can no longer be a hiding place. A case in point was the other night when I had to cover section jobs. A bit hazy at first but it soon came back to me. Burglary, public order, theft, the list goes on and on.

Police Officers first, specialisms second, we all have a part to play. Whilst I would like to remain a specialist and I’m good at what I do, I have to concede that in the current climate I merely have a specialism.


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