A while back I was working a late turn major bank holiday, which is always nice for the bank balance if not so much for my excuse for a social life. As usual, the already short response teams had been hugely cut down in numbers to save money on overtime, and as usual we had alcohol induced fights and domestics happening all over the shop more frequently than we could effectively deal with.
It's on shifts like this that you start to appreciate the people you work with, and when you instinctively work harder and work smarter.
After a ridiculously busy shift, as it got darker and colder, and people's alcohol imbibing reached break point, things started getting really bent. Calls were coming out all over our area for fights and domestics, officers were rushing to one, "Area Search No Trace, where's the next one control?" Lower grade calls weren't even being assigned to officers as we were so short and the control room was desperately trying to keep the emergency calls in check. Every call was finished with us hustling out to the car to turn the blues and two tones on and blat back across the division for the next call. We took a call to a possible domestic - a male smashing up two women's car with a metal baseball bat. We were second unit on scene, and went off to do the area search for the guy who had just made off leaving two very shaken girls. As we were doing the search we were diverted to someone being attacked in her flat.
We started heading in that direction whilst keeping an eye out for the fella, as it was close by. As we did our van unit TOA'd at a pub fight nearby. My partner and me both turned the radio up as they gave their location - two female officers turning up without back up to a pub fight on bank holiday can get nasty. It shouldn't matter that they are females, but it does. They can take care of themselves, but both of us made a mental note of the location in case they called for assistance. Every unit was assigned to a call or off the road. We arrived at our call and found the house in darkness, all seemed quiet and neighbours told us they haven't seen anyone.
We come out of the block of flats and the radio was screaming, whilst we've been inside the block where our radios don't work it all went wrong. A stabbing was reported close to the baseball bat call and the pub fight, by males of the same description. The van unit attended leaving the now calmed down pub and called for urgent assistance. Another unit arrived on scene and also called for assistance.
I broke into a run towards the car and we leapt in and headed towards.
I arrive on scene I see a crowd of people, blood on the floor, lots of angry people shouting. Some are witnesses, some are victims, I assume some must be suspects, and some are just pissed and enjoy shouting at coppers.
We have six officers there against the large crowd. We TOA but don't cancel other units, there aren't enough on to guarantee help otherwise. I wade in and start trying to give first aid to a couple of bleeding, drunk and abusive girls, one of which is the girlfriend of the suspect. I am helped by a drunk neighbour who repeatedly tries to steal my radio "for a laugh." The main suspect for the stabbing has made off, but there is a lot of aggressive people around shouting. I leave the pushing and shoving to the other officers as I try to hold one of the girls still so the little that is left of her nose that is attached to her face remains in place. Maybe the doctors will be able to sew it back on, and stitch up her upper lip. They really do work wonders at the hospital, despite being overstretched, overworked and underpaid. She tells me to fuck off and that she hopes I die of cancer. I love my job.
London Ambulance Service turn up and start to clear away the injured and pissed, working their magic (I love the LAS).
There are now quite a few officers with us, but we are hugely outnumbered. Our Inspector gets on the radio and tells the control room we might need more units soon. The control room says there are none to send. Guvnor: "I appreciate that, but tell officers with prisoners to leave them at the nick. Officers with paperwork can leave that and come out, get people de-assigned and available." The control room comes back. "Yes guv, we appreciate that, but everyone is there. There is no one else to send."
This is when the call comes out for Urgent Assistance from the LAS a few roads away. This is probably the only thing that could get us away from the scene. As me and my partner were first aiding not crowd control, and ambo were on scene, we ran for it.
We turn up and the ambulance is surrounded by drunken angry young men, chief amongst them is the main suspect for the stabbings, and the baseball bat. Happy days, he's quickly arrested and we escort the Ambulance away. I look at my watch; it's fifteen minutes past my shift end time. I won't be off for hours. I hope CID, the CPS and whoever else gets involved make sure this bugger doesn't get bail and goes straight to court. I spend hours seizing his clothes and writing up my notes well, and the officers at the scene do the same, getting statements and seizing evidence and manning crime scenes.
He gets bail.
Four days later his girlfriend, the original victim, is killed by him.
I have to keep reminding myself I love this job sometimes.