How to Avoid Work & Waste Money?

Imagine you are a shopkeeper. You earn your living by the shop being open & by you selling your wares.

That is one of the reasons that Asian run corner shops survive & seemingly thrive whilst traditional shops seem to close.

I live on the edge of London, many if not most people living where I do commute by train or tube to their jobs in Central London or drive round the North Circular Road to get to work. Few people work locally to where they live. By locally, I mean so they have a commute of less than 15 – 20 mins.

In the past people worked closer to home and most women did not have employment outside of the burden of child care. They would visit the local shops during the daytime.

This has a significant effect on the ability of people to visit the local shops if they only open from 9-5. The Asian shopkeepers recognise this & you will find their shops open until late so the local population can visit them & spend money after they get home from work.

Sadly too many shopkeepers have not realised this & open from 9-5 when their target customers are not around.

The shops could increase their takings without increasing their opening hours if they responded to the cultural changes by for example changing their opening hours from 9-5 to say 12-8. They still open 8hours a day but are now open when customers can visit. The big supermarkets & DIY stores have responded to these changes & open late & as a result thrive.

So, what’s this got to do with the title? Well bear with me (bare with me if you fancy) & I will try to get to the point.

Now, as we have hopefully established, as a shopkeeper you need to be open when your customers need you.

Imagine the said shopkeeper shutting for regular days/ parts of days to have team meetings or to discuss drawing up new policies on equality & diversity or to decide what appropriate behaviour is.

Every hour the shop is shut, money is being lost. I’m not suggesting these sort of issues are unimportant, but a prudent businessman would fit these sort of things around opening hours.

Now imagine if you have 2 business premises 200 miles apart, do you close both businesses for a day & pay for everyone to travel to one of the premises for a 2-3 hour meeting. Bearing in mind you will need to pay for 10-15 staff from one premises to travel by train to the other premises. You will also have to pay for their meals etc as well.

So you are unable to do any work at either premises for a day & you have to pay the travel & subsistence costs of getting the staff from one place to the other. This cost, is money you will never get back. It is a cost on top of the loss of earnings.

As I’ve said these sort of things are important. Businesses need to ensure they have appropriate policies & exchanges of information with staff & between staff. However, in the private sector, these are fitted around work, not done instead of earning money.

The civil service/ public sector which are paid for out of your taxes see things differently. Meetings are seemingly encouraged. Today, I along with all my colleagues based in London have travelled the 200 miles to our other office for a meeting.

No file examination – our day to day work- for us today. No getting on & reading the 100s of CPS files we have to read. Instead, we have had a 2-3 hour hot air session where we *:
1. Initially discussed whether we agreed the minutes of the last meeting 4 1/2 months ago. – who cares? They are 4 1/2months old & work have moved on since then;

2. Debated to death minor quibbles about what is in the minutes & whether they had been circulated via email or via the computer shared drive. Not that this matters at all;

3. Had a repeat of the training update we were given a fortnight ago & nothing has changed. Rather than just say nothing has changed, we were told again everything we were all told 2 weeks again

4. Next we had a senior member of staff spend 10 minutes telling us what the topics were that he was going to tell us about rather than just getting on with things.

5. Next was a 30 minute update on methodology updates despite telling us that most people will never use the methodology as we are almost certain not to use it again! We also learn that another member of staff is compiling a central repository for the methodology & all the linked documents we are unlikely ever to need again.

6. Next an repeated lecture on a policy we were told about at a previous meeting & which has not changed since then.

7.Next we had half an hour to talk about the future work programme which is pretty much the same as before & a discussion at length of the policy to distribute work which boils down to “you’ll do what you’re told”. This is pretty much what it was before!

Oh, I forgot that we spent the first 15minutes going round the room saying who we are & what we are working on at present. We of course all know each other already & know what everyone is working on as well all have a copy of the work programme/timetable!

Like any other group, we have some people who seem to like the sound of their own voice & have to debate or challenge everything that anyone else says. Thus dragging the meeting on & confirming to everyone else the old adage that “empty vessels make the most noise”.

What is that saying? “Better to remain silent & have people think you are a fool than to open your mouth & confirm it”

As I type this blog, I am on the train back to London having done no productive work. I am employed as a legal inspector at your expense. (Assuming you are a taxpayer). I could have been far more productively employed inspecting & file reading. That would be cost effective & is what you employ me to do.

To spend lots of my time in similar types of unproductive meetings is not unusual. It seems to be a fact of public sector life.

In these times of austerity & cut backs, it would be far better in my view to work efficiently & cut down the time spent doing non-productive non core work than to reduce the time for core work by having lots of meetings & then complain you can’t do the day job because of lack of resources!

Some of the public sector in the UK is a great example of inefficiency & avoiding work. Just google & see how many civil servants we have now compared to when the British Empire was at its peak! Now try to tell me the public sector is not inefficient!

The blame for this has to come from those at the top who allow and or encourage these inefficiencies

The public sector is an essential part of the UK & cannot all be privatised. It is more than a balance sheet entry, but it must be run more efficiently. It is not about making a profit, but making a difference & making that difference efficiently.

The answer to the title of the blog post is to have a meeting.

* some events may have been adjusted for explanatory purposes but the gist remains accurate.

Why Routinely Arming The Police Is Wrong – Its Blindingly Obvious

As the title says, in my view arming the police routinely is wrong, despite the hysteria in the media following the tragic deaths of the 2 female officers in Manchester recently. There was also the off duty PC killed in Essex tackling an armed man earlier this year.

The police do a dangerous & difficult job. I know that I can be a pain when I’ve had a few drinks, but there are people far more offensive to the police. Some people are offensive & insulting & aggressive to the police no matter whether they have had a drink or not.

In the USA, the police are routinely armed & many (if not all) of the officers I speak to when doing the bike ride say they would not feel safe doing their job without being armed. Most also say they do not carry a gun or possess a gun outside of work. Yet in the UK, the last time a survey was done of police officers, the vast majority voted against being routinely armed.

Why the difference? Well despite being armed, around 120+ US officers are killed each year, compared to <5 in UK. Now in UK its rare for gunfire to kill police officers (usually <1 per annum). In US around 50% of those deaths are by gunfire. Even allowing for the population differences, its a big discrepancy.

The police on both sides of the Atlantic see that arming the police leads to an arms race with criminals. Once race starts, it is impossible to revert back to beginning again.

Turning to another issue. When UK police officers were first issued with CS spray, we were told it would only be used in exceptional circumstances to prevent loss of life or limb. That has changed over time so that CS spray is now used to subdue un co-operative detainees irrespective of risk to life or limb. Indeed it is often now used as a weapon of first resort rather than as we were promised, a weapon of last resort.

Then we had the introduction of the Tazer, an electronic stun gun for want of a better description. This was originally only issued to firearms officers & was again to be a weapon of last resort to protect life & limb. We've had a vast expansion of the issuing of tazers & recently plans were called for to issue tazers to all police officers.

There was a case sometime ago where police tazered an unarmed man in his own home. His crime? Refusing to go to hospital for treatment as per his wife's wishes.

Then this week the perfect example of why we should not arm the police came when this story broke in the Daily Mail & was followed up in every other paper

A police officer in Chorley in Lancashire, looking for a man armed with a samurai sword managed to mistake a blind man (Colin Farmer aged 61) walking with a white stick as his suspect & shouted at blind man & then tazered him when he did not stop.

1. Samurai sword? White stick? I mean they look identical don’t they?
2. Thug waving sword as he walks looks just like a blind man tapping his way down street as he shuffles along doesn’t he?
3. As the victim says, when he heard someone shouting & yelling at him as he was peacefully shuffling along, he feared he was going to be mugged & carried on.

Even after tazering this elderly blind man, that wasn’t enough, they handcuffed him on the ground.

The use of a tazer in such circumstances cannot be justified, yet Lancashire Constabulary keen to protect their officers rather than the public have already announced that no disciplinary action will be taken against the moron in uniform that tazers blind people.

Come to think of it, perhaps the officer should have a white stick as well as he obviously has serious eyesight problems if he cannot tell a samurai sword wielding thug from a partially paralysed old man shuffling along with a stick.

Fortunately, the moron in uniform only had a tazer, imagine if he had been armed with a firearm? The outcome would have been fatal.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the scrutiny would have been different IF officer’s had used firearms. Harry Stanley was executed in 1999 by armed police officers for the crime of walking home with a table leg in a carrier bag. . No officer was prosecuted or disciplined & these were allegedly highly trained firearms officers.
What about Jean Charles De Menezes who was executed at Stockwell Tube Station in 2005 for the crime of going to work. The officer in charge was hunting an Asian male & gave orders for the shooting of a Brazilian! Rather than being disciplined, Cressida Dick the gold commander was promoted following this!

I could mention Mark Duggan’s execution which sparked the 2011 riots or numerous other incidents

So, it seems we can have little faith in the police to use weapons safely & little faith in the system holding them to account either.

Until we have a system of holding officers individually to account for their use of weapons, we should not extend the range of weapons & officers authorised to carry weapons.

PS if the spelling, grammar etc is not up to my usual low standard, then blame it on the fact I’ve typed it on my phone on a train!