Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 February 2014

Cuts make the job impossible

A police shift worker

I work for the police as a call handler. I have to work shift patterns that include nights. We provide a service over 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But we only get a 20% shift allowance, which my work colleagues feel is inadequate.

We are always tired by the time the night shifts come around as we have already completed four ten-hour shifts and know that the night shifts are the busiest and bring the most difficult calls.

My last night shift started at 10pm on Saturday night and ended at 7am the following Sunday morning. I usually try to lie in as late as possible on the day of my first night shift so that I am not so tired. This is not always possible. This time emergency road works kept me awake.

I arrived at work and I saw on the monitors that calls were already 'stacking'. This is when a high number of calls are coming in with not enough staff to answer them immediately. There were a lot of people waiting and some were 999 calls.

For the first four hours I handled mainly 999 calls. This is unusual and means that non emergency 101 calls were not being answered and a high number abandoned by the callers. Most of these callers are trying to report low level crime and anti-social behaviour.

After the first four hours I was speaking to people saying they called earlier in the evening but abandoned the call.

The issue was still going on so they called back to report it again. We all received a lot of abuse from angry callers, but who could blame them?

The busy period meant none of us were able to get a 'screen break'. We are told by the Health and Safety Executive to take a minimum break of five minutes every hour.

But if you take 'too many' trips away from your desk, a supervisor is quick to jump on you. They say: "If you want a screen break stay sitting at your desk and look at the far wall for a bit".

Some calls are mundane and frustrating to deal with but others are harrowing and distressing to listen to and very hard to handle.

When we handle such a call there is a 'quiet room' set aside from the department that we can retreat to in order to gather ourselves.

On my last night shift I saw an upset colleague, who had just handled a very violent domestic incident, told to return to her work station as it was too busy to be 'sat out here'.

My shift ended with the last couple of hours spent talking predominantly to the growing amount of vulnerable people or callers with mental health conditions.

Again, these calls can be very difficult to deal with. I have had two people commit suicide on the phone with me in the past and I am always anxious and desperate to help them.

By the time I went home I was so tired I drove with the window open so the cold air would keep me from falling asleep at the wheel.

Cuts have meant a large number of people have lost their jobs, some with a vast amount of experience and knowledge.

In my opinion, it has left the organisation with too few people, some who are less able and prepared to deal with the challenges of the job.

We are experiencing a peak in calls from vulnerable people with mental health issues, drug use problems, among other things.

The police are expected to pick up the pieces but, with the latest round of cuts, this will be impossible.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 19 February 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Floods chaos: End cuts now!

Floods reveal rottenness of government cuts

High rents + low wages - End this housing misery

Scotland: 'Project Fear' goes into overdrive

Affordable childcare? And where are the jobs?

Barclay's bonuses - laughing all the way to the bank

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Bosnia: mass protests show potential of working class

Socialist Party workplace news

Doncaster care workers vote for seven-day strike

Care worker action escalates in Glasgow

Runcorn: Workers' solidarity scores victory

Newham primary school strike over new pay scheme

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Time to strike the bedroom tax a killer blow

Service users "terrified" by cuts in Worcester

Kent: Marching to save children's centres

Anti-cuts councillor exposes devastating cuts plans

Councils pass on Tory pain

Medway council will "rue the day" they attacked library

Fast Food Rights day of action

Stop the deportation of Jermaine Strachen

Socialist Party conferences prepare for year ahead

The Socialist readers' comments

Working nights is bad for your health

Cuts make the job impossible

Cycling deaths must be stopped

'Criminal' waste and 'legal' waste

Campaign against "Lobbying Bill"


Home   |   The Socialist 19 February 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleBradford protests against kids' service cuts

triangleVictory: Pontllanfraith leisure centre saved

triangleLabour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget

triangleNorthants council crisis - protesters demand an end to cuts and privatisation

triangleBradford Socialist Party: A strategy to defeat the cuts


triangleTories raid 1bn from NHS facilities budget - unions must act

triangleTragic death exposes criminal understaffing of NHS

triangleNHS - build the fightback

triangleLeicester NHS protest


triangleUndercover policing legal challenge

triangleIrish capitalist state: rotten to the core

triangleOrgreave campaigners' Halloween 'Death of Justice' march

Mental health:

triangleNHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangleClosure of Nottingham unit shows dismantling of NHS


triangleProfiteering NHS counter-fraud firm in alleged case of... fraud

Health and safety:

triangle2m to remove Grenfell-type cladding: residents to get bill

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments



The Socialist inbox



In Windsor none of us want to see homeless people on the street



I'm now a 'manager' and I can barely manage!



The Socialist inbox



Darkest Hour: Not the usual flattery of brutal Tory Churchill



Bernie's book shows need for workers' party



GCSE grading game stresses out students - even more than before!



Tragic death exposes criminal understaffing of NHS



Fighting sexism: Positive discrimination - yea or neigh?



Capitalism v cricket



Trump as Nixon: urgent questions about press freedom and the state



Presidents Club sexism scandal: what you thought



Carillion crisis exposes PFI chaos


Universal Credit

Universal credit: set up to fail


The Socialist

The Socialist inbox

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

February 2018

January 2018