Reverie on the difference between perceived service and actual service

Police notce

Ah hello, may we come in madam, it’s the police. I’m PC Smith and he’s PC Jones. Yes, you can take the chain off. Oh, and the other one, my that’s a big bolt. Thank you, cosy in here! Tea, don’t mind if I do. Don’t worry about the batons and body armour – standard issue. Anything wrong? Ha ha no no, quite the opposite in fact. But as it happens you may be able to help us with something…

You may have seen the news about the latest crime statistics. Yes, terrible those stabbings you read about in the paper, but the thing is that, overall, crime’s actually been going down. That’s right going down. Only we don’t seem to be getting credit where it’s due. Crime levels reduced 18% in the last four years, but satisfaction with the police is only up by 6%. That’s right Jones, hurtful isn’t it, ungrateful…

The thing is, the Home Secretary says that from now on we won’t be measured with top-down targets, and that’s a good thing – too much paperwork, not enough time out on the beat. Except for one target, from now on, she says, we’ll be measured on public confidence in the police. “Outcome-based metrics”, that’s the buzz word. And that’s where you come in madam…

Yes, you see our computer has identified your postcode area as one where the fear or crime is out of all proportion to the actual chances of being a victim. Yes Jones, it’s hard to believe. I mean it’s not exactly the Bronx round here is it, all these net curtains and privet hedges. Myself, I blame “A Touch of Frost”. But if we don’t do something our Chief Constable will have some explaining to do, madam, and that’s why we’ve come to ask you a little favour…

Well it’s like this. If a nice lady with a clipboard happens to stop you in the street, maybe she’ll say something about the British Crime Survey and ask you lots of questions. Well if that were to happen, my Chief would be ever so much obliged if you could say nice things about us. Like how quiet the neighbourhood is, and how safe it feels, what a great job your local boys and girls in blue are doing…

Oh no Madam we’re not asking you to fib, but let’s put it another way. That’s a lovely collection of porcelain you’ve got there. My colleague, PC Smith, he gets emotional sometimes. And then he can be clumsy with that big funny old side-handled baton. Be a shame if anything were to happen…


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Product strategy and design leadership in web and mobile media. Before that I was a newspaper journalist and history student

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