You lie because you’re busy. But you’re busy because you lie.

One of the biggest time-wasters I have ever experienced in policing – and as I write this I feel a compunction to confess that I have done it myself – is telling lies. Not perjury-type lies, though. The little white ones.

The one where you tell the victim of a crime that something can’t or won’t be done because of some excuse that comes to you in the moment. Ones like, “A house-to-house never turns up anything’; ‘the criminals won’t use local pawn shops, they’re not that stupid’; ‘it’s your word against theirs so the CPS won’t prosecute’; and one I experienced, which was more of an excuse than a lie, ‘I’ve spoken to the CPS and they say there is insufficient evidence’ when I know that they hadn’t even interviewed the named suspect.

All of those comments have one objective – to avoid work. Now, I’m not overly blaming people; the reason they want to avoid work is because they feel that the work they do have is more than enough to be going on with, without another hour or so to be taken on a task that experience suggests won’t have a tangible result.

You see, when the CPS keeps telling you that what you think is a stonewaller guilty verdict ‘has evidential problems’ – i.e., their title for ‘I’m too frightened to try and litigate this, I only do guilty pleas’ – then you, too, eventually start thinking that what you need to do will be a waste of time.

I’m partly convinced that this is why the new Chief Constable of the GMP has declared that all burglaries will be attended to – for too long, the poor detection rate has resulted in our doing less work rather than trying harder to detect crime. The feeling is that if the detection rate is only 30%, then we should only attend 30% of those crimes and weed out the others. Which means probably missing out, by definition, of another 30%’s worth of crimes that could have been detected if we’d gone to them.

(Weird how a 1908s unethical personal policy eventually became a 21st century force policy, eh?)

I stand by this sentence: If you can manage your time effectively and efficiently, you can do all the work that is required of you. Too many people put things off so consistently that they’ve forgotten that doing it takes less time than putting it off. The corollary, however, is that if you/the organisation do not learn time management in a systematic fashion, then you will never learn how to maximise productivity while reducing stress.

Dear senior officers: the service you provide to the public, like any corporate, client-focused business, requires that you invest in teaching your employees how best to serve your customers, and that training must include the basics of time management, whereby people learn appropriate time usage in order to put the appropriate amount of effort into the appropriate things in the appropriate way and at the appropriate moment.

The NCALT package isn’t enough. People need to learn a system the same way they learn custody processes – learning it, seeing it, experiencing it.

Invest some money in teaching your people to manage their time so that they can provide the service you want to provide with improved consistency.

Or the same problems will keep arising – incomplete, poor-quality work and the associated results. Having to do things again, and again, and again……

Like investigating burglaries committed by people you could’ve already caught, if you hadn’t been too busy to do the basics.

Blunt, I know. But you also know – it’s true.

For a police-oriented guide to time management in the policing sector, buy Police Time Management by David Palmer, £12.999 through Amazon.

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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