Time management applied to complaints? Nonsense! Or is it?
When I was a uniform PC during the Jurassic Era, I was ‘proud’ to be top of the force for the number of complaints I received in one month (or quarter, I may have been less productive….). I was also pleased that my own relief sergeant was third. We were busy, he and I. One time, we were complained about together. Ah, the good old days.
Like you, I suspect, in your early career the threat of a complaint devastated you, if you knew you’d done no wrong. By the day of my personal best, I understood the strategy of one particular solicitor was to get the client to initiate a complaint at the tiniest, even sub-atomic level of cause. It meant he could raise it in court. I learned to bounce them off him.
And I learned that the best way to deal with complaints was to be proactive.
If I was complained about, I made sure that I was prepared. I’d be so up on the law about the particular matter that the ‘other side’ couldn’t bamboozle me. I used to ache when I saw younger (in service) colleagues buckling at some veiled, nonsensical threat made by a legal advisor. Knowing the law and being confident in that knowledge is a massive time saver.
I was with a DC when we arrested someone for burglary, and on searching his home we found all the evidence of a drugs party. We told the legal adviser (non-qualified, social justice, ACAB type) and he said, in front of the custody sergeant, “If you arrest my client for allowing his premises to be used for the consumption of drugs we will make a complaint about you.”
At which the DC turned to the client and said, “ I am arresting you for allowing your premises to be used (etc.)” Then he looked at the runner and grinned. He knew what he was empowered to do, the lawyer (term used loosely) didn’t.
Know the law.
Next, assemble all ‘your’ evidence as diligently as you would any related to a criminal investigation.
And finally – and this one will blow your mind – chase up the Standards Dept and demand you be interviewed. They won’t be rushed, but there is a certain self-confidence to be gained by taking control of the situation. Give them everything they want, even before they ask for it. Make it clear that you’re ready when they are.
You see, another thing I eventually learned was that Professional Standards have a job to do, the same as you. If you’re innocent, they tend to find you innocent. There may be some advice – “Don’t put your gloved fingers in the suspect’s eye sockets and threaten to blind him, in case you slip” was one piece of advice that I was given. The good old days.
But psychologically, and they may deny it but it has an element of truth, a co-operative interviewee tends to be treated a lot more leniently than an obstructive and unhelpful one.
You know that, because you do it.
In conclusion, then.
Don’t misbehave deliberately, know what you can and cannot do. Document everything you possibly can – the Officer Safety Trainers are right in that – but also know the law so that omissions can be countered, e.g. “You didn’t write that you’d double locked your ‘cuffs” can be countered by “I didn’t write I used the toilet, either, but I assure you that I did.” An inference is hard to draw on an explained omission, like it or lump it.
Nevertheless, accurate records are always hard to counter so make sure yours are as good as theirs.
It saves so much time, and that allows you to apply your emotional focus to better things.
For more on this subject, buy Police Time Management at AMAZON. (Click the link)