Service standards and attention to detail

Discussion in 'The Fleet' started by Naval_Gazer, Jun 15, 2008.

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  1. The recent spate of security breaches has brought several things into perspective. Security is a sensitive subject and I don't intend compromising anything or anyone here. However, the regulations are clear and comprehensive; they are laid down in various publications and standing orders. Security lectures take place as a matter of routine and you can't walk around any MoD establishment without having your attention drawn to the importance of PM (Privacy Marked) material on every noticeboard. The main problem is that you will never cater for individuals who are either too careless (e.g. forgetting to lock cabinets in an office or compartment at close of play) or too arrogant (e.g. through over-confident complacency or seniority) to believe the rules apply to them. Government departments, including the MoD, are not helped by their tendency to over-classify documents so that the media are given the opportunity to make a big hue and cry whenever a Sports TM, Fleet Bridge Card or obsolete telephone directory marked RESTRICTED comes to light in the bottom of some ancient second-hand filing cabinet. Neither does the burden of work in most registries allow for the down-grading of classified documents immediately they are past their sell-by date.

    However, I believe there is another underlying reason for the increasing number of cock-ups we are witnessing these days. Here beginneth the sermon (well, it is Sunday!):

    I retired from the RN less than six years ago so I'm not quite ready for my pipe and slippers yet. Those still serving, whose work and attitude I continue to admire enormously, might still call me a GOM (Grumpy Old Man) but the increased prevalence of administrative - and all too often operational - sloppiness in the Service I love does appear to mirror the top-down acceptability of lower standards and poorer attention to detail these days. Some of this is driven through lack of funding but it appears to be much more the result of the Government's social engineering to make the Services reflect 'Cool Britannia' society more closely. Pervasive examples of sloppiness include such things as Government 'sofa politics', knee-jerk reactions to events, glossing over the true impact of policy decisions, short-term planning, badly thought-through legislation, lack of discipline and respect for authority engendered by illogical laws, scruffy or inappropriate dress (e.g. GB insisting on wearing a lounge suit instead of DJ at a formal dinner), and poorer literacy and numeracy among the nation's youth.

    In the Services, this has manifest itself in training short-cuts and out-sourced support. It has has even percolated down to our training establishments where untidy accommodation and lack of discipline seems to be the norm (no, not him!). I am informed that in one of our premier establishments, the mess block offices are now manned by contractors. Nightly accommodation rounds have been replaced with a weekly walk-through by a duty SR with no requirement for the livers-in to be present. I recently chatted with a couple of older SRs who were almost in tears about the horrendous state of the modern SLAM messes and cabins (unmade bunks, overflowing gash bins, left-over KFC and pizza boxes on the deck, empty drink cans, dirty mugs, etc). They also noted that the occupants of most cabins had a TV or TV-enabled PC but few of them had TV licenses displayed as required by Standing Orders. When the SRs reported all these shortcomings up the line, little follow-up action seems to have been taken because the same faults were evident on subsequent occasions.

    Low standards and poor attention to detail now seem to be part of a national malaise, apart from where unnecessary bureaucracy is concerned. When was the last time you saw a really smart-looking RN officer or sailor at one of our naval bases or other establishments on a normal day? The Services used to apply high standards of dress, physical appearance and bearing for a reason; it bred attention to detail. This is not a criticism of today's Service personnel. It is an indictment of Government leadership and the society it has created in our country. I only hope the pendulum will swing back one day. In the meantime, does anyone have any counter-arguments, suggestions or possible solutions?

    Here endeth the sermon.
  2. That is soooo funny :)

    There aint anything left to compromise is there.
  3. Shhhhh! Don't let everyone know. I'd still appreciate you reading past the first paragraph though.
  4. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Do these over-classified documents have tits in them?! 8O :wink:
  5. An interesting and intelligent post that could well start an interesting and intelligent debate. Unfortunately from where I stand there is nothing to argue, I can only agree with everything you've written.

    The problem being to re-introduce high standards requires those in a position of authority to set an example. I believe that most politicians are seen as self-serving, amoral and two-faced. Why then, if they can get away with claiming huge expenses, benefits if you like, whilst not working too hard, should your lazy chav in the street be expected to do any different.

    This is also evident in the service. Why should our young lads & lasses set themselves high standards when those in charge of them don't appear to do so themselves. Only a fortnight ago I had occasion to rip into an AB for seemingly believing that dress regs didn't apply to him outside Derriford hospital (a very public place) only to walk into a WO1 not a hundred yards away was ignoring those very same rules. This may seem like a small and pointless thing, but from small and pointless ignoring of rules and lowering of standards comes big cock-ups. These things have a habit of snowballing.
  6. Naval Gazer

    I am full agreement with you, but you must ask the question if you have noticed this drop of in less than six years, how much has the drop off been in 16 years, 26 years, 36 years or 56 years. Yet you had a chance to do some thing about it if only in small way as an Officer or SR but clearly did not see it as a problem in your watch or were not prepared to raise your head above the parapet very much.

    Yes we know a loan voice in the wilderness, but most officers and senior rates seem to have little interest or heart to enforce regulations and responsibilities. They are very ready to jump on any one who states standards are dropping across the board. Even worse to offer any criticism that is deemed not to be constructive(i.e. you agree with me) the spin the modern RN puts out stories. i.e. a "9 month patrol" no it is a deployment where most of the crew do not actually do all the 9 months and they have regular R and R and Maintenance periods at whatever bases are available to them. What it means is the Boat , not all the crew, has been away from base port for 9 months.

    In WW11 German U Boats that patrolled the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean have recorded Patrols of 280 days that is 9 months of anybodies year. They never touched a port resupply was from other boats or ships in remote areas of the ocean and being continually at risk from attack from allied forces. NOW THAT IS A PATROL. But hey! why should Pusser not believe in its own propaganda.

    Disgusted of Tunwells Bridge.


    N G so now you have signed up with all the other ex silly old pharts who know nothing why take any notice of your posting.
  7. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    PXP: A good and valid point. From my perspective everyone expects me, as a Regulator, to do all the nasty things that no one else wants to do. For example, doing Dress Patrols (!!) in the mornings in the Dockyard, or having a 'quiet word' with a scrote. But why should I? As you said, there are plenty of others, from LH to Officer, walking around ships and establishments who have the same authority to give a lawful command and to maintain good order and discipline in their vicinty as me (read the back of your promotion certificates, if those words sound vaguely familiar to you...). My primary authority is the sam as these people; my only additional authority (by virtue of my Warant Card and Crown) is to investigate offenders.

    It grips my sh!t when certain SRs and Officers come to my door to report an offender within their Part of Ship or Division, and they expect me to do their dirty work for them, else the 'offender' will see them for what they are - their superior officer, not their 'run ashore' oppo. And as soon as I push a blank statement form in their direction, the aforementioned SR/Officer will scuttle away, claiming "Oh I don't want them trooped!", which as I understand it means that they don't want the offender to see that their SR/Officer has put their name to paper and dropped them in it. Well if you can't be bothered to do your job, then why should I?

    I know I'm generalising but it's about time that every superior officer, from the junior Killick to the highest Admiral, is prepared to earn their shilling and start dishing out orders and clamping down on slack attitude and bearing. And that starts with some personal admin of their own. I was always taught: "Beyond reproach"; how can you give a lad/lass grief if you look like a scranbag yourself?

    As for me? I like doing it 'cos I'm a nasty bastard... :wink:
  8. SPB - I started typing this before seeing your later post but thanks for reminding me about increased dumbing-down, the inability of many to present a coherent argument and general lack of pride in one's presentation to the outside world (smacks too much of elitism). =)
  9. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Edited due to double post... :oops:
  10. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    S'okay... I was just trying to blend in with the crowd! :thumright:

    (For my serious response, see above)

  11. Well said sgtpepperband the trouble is it also applies to the land of civilians in the UK where Goverment Organisations seek easy targets to meet whatever their lords and master, who you lot put in power, want.

    Still disgusted Old Phart of Tunwells Bridge

  12. SPB NG and Nutty
    Gripped my shit too in my last job before I left the service, regular event for email and phone calls from officers and SRs telling me as BWO that they had picked up some scrote for being out of the rig of the day or using a mobile. FFS don't they realise the standards are everyones responsibilty from senior AB to fecking COs.
    I can't beleve in this day and age with 1 for 1 kit exchange anyone can have an excuse for being untidy.
    My daughter has been in a year now but still in a training environment and takes an enormous amount of pride in her standard of dress, I hope it lasts although I did get a bollocking for double creasing her No4s last time she was home.
    SLA great concept but breaks down the team spirit and encourages binge drinking and episodes of self harm. As for cleaning contractors do it these days individuals are only responsible for their bed space, this is true for officers and SRs too believe me poor standards are prevelant at all levels or maybe its just the lazy feckers in Devonport.
  13. No you're not generalising it is everyones responsibility. (I hate to agree with a snake). It strikes me that too many people are scared of confrontation. I'm no reggie (made Chief in my own branch!), but I am a CPO. The ET(WESM) bit that follows is just my speciality. Too many of my fellow SRs seem to forget that.

    Not wishing to sound like a grumpy old man, but the problem starts with society. Young'uns are joining up undisciplined and not enough is being done to change that. This has been going on for a while now and some of those young'uns are in positions of authority themselves. Added to that is the increasing lack of moral courage seen nowadays. Peolple too scared to say when they see something wrong. Just walk on by, take the easy way out. Now that is generalising, not everyone's like that, but it does seem to becoming the norm.

    As for me? I don't like doing it 'cos I'm not a nasty bastard, but I will when I have to.

    Apart from this one time, when I managed to pick up a Killick reg who, in his haste to take someones name for being in mixed rig, had left his cap on the dashboard of his van. "Beyond reproach" and all that. I might not be nasty but I can be petty and small-minded at times.
  14. I'm no paragon of virtue but I enforced standards whenever and wherever I was in a position to do so. During the final years of my career, I found myself working away from the fray in increasingly isolated locations with like-minded officers, WOs and SRs of similarly advancing years. Even so, I often raised such issues verbally and in print. Quite understandably, people resented 'outside' criticism of those in their own branch, unit, ship, division, etc., and regarded it as unwanted interference; thus the onus placed today on the Reggies or those in higher authority to put their boot down. I can also appreciate that priorities are placed elsewhere now that courses and other periods of training have been shortened so drastically.

    The problem does seem endemic from the top down and appears to have much to do with the intrusion of the popularity cult into the Services. Strict disciplinarians are now labelled as 'bullies' or charged with other forms of harrassment. I don't think such characters as 'The Terror of Tobermory' (Vice-Admiral Sir Gilbert 'Monkey' Stephenson KBE, CB, CMG) would survive past sub-lieutenant in today's climate. Of course, there should always be some compromise. 'Firm but fair' always worked well enough in the past but the 'firm' bit seems to have become a little too soft (also pink and fluffy according to some people). Even my own children objected to standing evening rounds in their bedrooms and mustering for a liberty boat inspection before proceeding ashore. I ask you.
  15. NG So what happened to the days when you reach the point that you decided you wish to discipline the miscreant and its "Get yer at son" march him off to the Joss's Office and say please charge him with x....x for report at the OOD Table I am both the complainant and witness. Don't want to hear about PACE cos that only applies to Criminal Offences not breaches of QR's and AI's.

  16. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Nutty: The Service Police have been subject to PACE since the late '80s. Any investigation into an offence against the NDA that is taken to Summary Trial (OOD Tables are no longer used as a summary procedure) has to be conducted in accordance with PACE/CPIA, same as Home Office/other constabularies.

    The alternative administrative sanctions (Minor Administrative Action introduced in 2006, similar to Army AGAIs) are not subject to the same procedures...
  17. SPB

    Why do you think it is called the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. First off any person who investigates a Criminal Offence or allegation is subject to PACE and was from the first day the Act was passed in Parliament and came into force in 1984.This can include a Private Investigator, HR Department Manager, Tax Inspector or Shop keeper or Military Police Officer/Man(take your choice). It is that most did not think so hence the collapse of the RAF Cyprus spy trial in 1985.The Judge can rule that the person would have insufficient knowledge of PACE and procedures lets say the shop keeper, but a Private Investigator self employed or working for a Major Credit Card company will have to.

    The act does not apply to internal breaches of Service/Company discipline/rule/regulation code where the various Employment and Human Rights Acts apply. In fact in an Industrial Tribunal situation to Caution person who is being interviewed with lets say, being adrift, would be classed as oppressive behavior and the company would lose the case. Because the Forces have adopted PACE to cover all its ills would not happen if the various employment acts applied to the Forces it is just a choice they have made but it is not LAW.

    In the outside world to question a person about late time keeping with a view to any sort of official discipline you would have to give him 24 hours notice in writing of the interview and provide him with any notes or evidence you may rely on and possible exhibits, CCTV footage of him coming in late to work, at least 24 hours before the interview, plus allow him to be accompanied by a person of his choice if he so wishes to take notes or even record the interview.

    Investigation is to start asking questions of a possible suspected criminal offence. Only the Judge can decided if the evidence is admissable. He would of course use the yard stick of what working knowledge of PACE would a shopkeeper have. It would be different to his views on that expected of a store detective paid to enforce criminal laws.

    What happens in the nasty outside world is very different to the Forces, lets keep it in house attitude.

  18. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Nutty: Another argument for another day, but thanks for the lesson in sucking eggs with regards to PACE and how to do my job! If I was to investigate an offence without complying with the Act's provisions then I would be reported.

    As I said previously, ANY investigation that I conduct into a contravention of any section of the NDA is subject to the Service Police Codes of Practice, which is derived from and forms part of the Act; this includes contravening SOs, QRRNs, DINs, etc. Other internal investigations (as conducted by non-Service Police personnel) are not subject to PACE.

    Maintaining good order and discipline (iaw TORs for all LHs, SRs and Officers) has nothing to do with PACE; as far the Armed Forces are concerned only the Service Police are subject to the Act. The rest can use their better judgement and power of command... :roll:
  19. I expect SPB can answer your question but doesn't this situation arise in civilian life too, e.g. where a breach of company regulations has arisen?
  20. Some times I wish for the days of "being taken round the back of the Island" If we Fu cked up on the flight deck that was how we learned, in my 10 years (77-87) I can't recall a Snr Rate Chockhead trooping a Naval Airman because even though they were run ashore oppos they had the respect of even the most Jr Naval Airman.

    We didn't see it as bullying because once it was done it was forgotten by both sides.

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