Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Gangs and Tags

On my division we have a gang problem. This is an occasion when I have to admit that the intel units and desk weenies were right and we were wrong. Four years ago they were telling us the gangs were rising and we had a growing problem.

Most officers on the street laughed at this. We knew most of the lads, the so called "gangs" who were just disorganised groups of disenfranchised youths hanging about outside the corner shops.

This has changed. The stabbings and shootings prove this. The stabbings are more and more frequent, sometimes multiple stabbings a week - sometimes multiple stabbings in a shift. And these are the reported ones, the vast majority don't come to the attention of the police until unofficially afterwards. Either the gangs have grown up nasty, or we just didn't see them coming.

If course, we're the idiots payed to get in the way of it.

It has started to pray on more and more officers mind in my team. I can tell this, not through the serious chats we have (they don't exist). I can tell this by the tone of the jokes, by the officers suddenly becoming acutely aware of exactly how many units we have on the street at any time, the fact that we are starting to wait for back up to certain calls (and still end up outnumbered and calling for urgent assistance) and by the fact that more and more I am seeing reluctance by us to get out of the car and "get in the faces" of large groups of people we know to be violent and armed.

A conversation we regularly have in the team is "I don't understand why these lads..." Insert the chosen topic here.

The thing is - I can understand being in a gang. It's what I do. I'm in the biggest gang in the area, although our gang doesn't have the numbers on the street like some of them do. It can be a little hairy when you're battling two fighting gangs, and you know for a fact that each of them numbers more than the entire available officers on the street.

But I know the attraction of being in a gang. When I call for help, when I press the orange button and shout for more units, I get a rush hearing the two tones. I get the biggest buzz at seeing my colleagues screeching tyres, leaping out and running up to assist me.

I get a buzz when someone else puts out an urgent assistance, and I see every officer drop their food, leave their wallets, their kit, their paperwork, their mobiles, and run for the first police car they can grab.

I know what it's like to have my "homies," and I KNOW they got my back.

I even like our tag - the flash of blue lights, the flickering of strobe. Our tag doesn't last as long, but when I see it reflecting off the wall at 0200hours in the arse end of town, I feel better. I feel like I belong, and we ARE the biggest and best.

So we have homies, we have our tags, we have our colours (mainly dark blue), and have our tunes (nee nar...). So I understand these gangs.

What I don't understand is beating the crap out of people, of large scale group robberies, of carrying weapons on the street for fun. Maybe I'm just getting old...

PS - For a laugh, read this blog - it's a collection of comments from the BBC news "Have Your Say" website. Hilarious, although maybe NSFW.


PT COP said...

Best feeling in the world, two tones and running feet when you're in the sh*t!

Emma said...

Your not getting old, just better informed and realising the last two generations have been brought up with very little respect for anyone...mates included..x

Whichendbites said...

We have seen it coming but we have been making things appear to work for a long, long time. We are so intent on targets that we continually make the system work to keep our mates safe and happy, to keep our Sgt happy and so it continues. Our managers, in their constant efforts to promote the brand, promise more and more in an ever increasing cycle or producing more from less and less resources. We portray an image where have all the knowledge and resources to do anything and everything. SMT's and Politicians promise everything yet the resources to deal with this promised everything are not there. So we make the system appear to work and we suffer as a result. We can only do one thing at a time so lets do it properly. Then we move onto the next. We can prioritise but we must stop trying to deliver everything because we can't. Some things have to wait until we have the resources to deal effectively.
For the gangs we have been there and done that, no offences committed to close the job and move onto the next. The amount of calls we have somehow reflects on the quality. We have taken away giving time because itis deemed to be a waste. Time to hang around where these 'gangs' hang out and know them, know what they do. When they understand that the old Bill is out there, everyday, watching and learnig about them they are different. Not all good I admit, but they are different because they know, we know who they are. We have lost the career beat officers who know everything that is going on and know who everyone is. We have lost them because itis deemed a waste of resources and inefficient to use such an outdated method of Policing. These were the eyes and ears of the communities all across the country and by losing this valuable tool we have lost our vision of the community and our links with vast areas of our communities. Trendy and fashionable ideas took away the most important contact with communities. This cannot be replaced. A beat officer who worked on their beat everyday and often lived on their beat for most of their service had a true understanding of what was going on. No need for tension indicators or recognition of crime trends. People told them what was going on because they were part of the community, visible, easily accessible and would give people time to talk. Not the case now where contact is only sufficient to complete the relevant forms.

Metcountymounty said...

I know what you mean mate, my patch is where all these lovely boys and girls come to play, get pissed and spend their drug/robbery money and although we don't get as many trident shouts as you do its getting more and more frequent, and the knife crime is rediculous with everyone from Eastern europeans, chineses, asians, africans and good old home grown VEM's

Considering that we are only putting out a couple of vehicles nowadays on each division, exactly how hard is it for the people at Metcall to keep an ear on the radio and know exactly where we all are at any given point?? We do it anyway because we care if our mate is driving or walking into a particularly dodgy estate or road and I've heard the comment "sorry, we've just changed over, whats going on?" far too many times from them.

Jeffrey P said...

...and the situation is not going to get any better....

These gang members generally carry knives (and, in an increasing number of areas, firearms); seeing the effectiveness of the judicial system, they are not going to be averse to using them against Police officers...but you must know this, it is happening already.

It is well past time for frontline Police officers in Britain to realise that nowadays, in order to effectively police the country, you need to be routinely equipped with firearms.

If you do not have the will to accept that fact and the bottle to go forward on that basis, you are going to totally lose the streets, and you will need the Army to look after you whenever you leave the safety of your stations.

But I feel as if I am preaching to those who don't want to hear.

thoughts running through my head.... said...



Metcountymounty said...

Jeffery, what are you on? what you have said is pretty much what every Police blog and post have been saying over the last couple of years. The people that don't want to hear that are the ones with MP after their names, not PC in front of it.

Jeffrey said...


From my own visits over the years to British Police Forces (mainly in England) and from speaking to a considerable number of your colleagues, and from other assessments that have been made available to me (and indeed from what I have been reading on Police blogs) I think that there are a lot of serving British Police officers who would have a distinct reluctance to being routinely armed on duty.

I do not think I have ever met your good self, however, and I am pleased that you agree that routine arming of Police is going to be the way forward. Please do your best to persuade any colleagues who doubt this.

Take care.

(not from any UK Police Force)

PCFrankyFact said...

Yo Area.
Es mi bario homes.
Its been a while since I was at the sharp end.
Now I just read it and hear it and the adrenaline still kicks in.
Stay safe.

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