Sunday, 28 December 2008

Mark


I think it's time that I introduced you to Mark. Mark is a Paramedic in the LAS, and a lovely fella to boot.
As I've posted many times before, without the help of the Ambulance Service on many many occasions, or Hospital Staff we would be Donald Ducked, many times over.

I've known Mark for years - years ago we worked for the same company, fell out of touch when we left (me off to the Police, him off to the LAS) and then met whilst at an incident a couple of years ago.

Mark is the kind of person that causes a thoughtful pause whenever he has spoken, whilst people try to work out if he is amazingly deep or is genuinely as shallow as he appears.
He is genuinely as shallow as he appears.

Example: Whilst talking about winning the lottery, on a bored night shift outside the local hospital.
Mark: "Yeah, if I won I'd buy Buckingham Palace and move in to there."
Area: "So you think the Royal family would sell it to you Mark?"
Mark: "Yup."
Area: "They'd give away generations of tradition, Britain's top tourist spot, home of our Monarch - to you?"
Mark: "Yup."
Area: "Why would you want it anyway?"
Mark: "Cos then when it's raining I can ride my motorbikes inside."
Accompanied by the look of smug intelligence. Like I hadn't thought of that.
"Then I'd knock the corridor walls through so I could ride from one end to the other, like."

Anyway, one of his most endearing and frustrating qualities is his complete inability to master any kind of attention span. A couple of weeks ago, we were both at an incident where we were on 'standby,' a non-specific task that involves standing around for hours before being 'stood down.'

As the hours went by and I ran out of papers to read, I wondered towards Mark who was sitting in the driver's seat of his ambulance staring blankly out of the window. With no sign of his oppo, I tugged the door open and climbed in to the cab next to him. As I did I noticed his partner, crawled up in a foetal position and snoring gently on the stretcher in the back of the ambo.
"What's the matter Mark, did you try telling him a joke?"
Mark grinned and pulled a thermos flask out from beneath his seat. He poured a cup out for both of us, and I gripped on to the mug of hot chocolate trying to get some warmth into my fingers. I wasn't in the mood for chatting, staying awake was hard enough - but Mark of course had other ideas.
"So, right... I've been thinking."
No answer from me. I huddled up into the collar of my goretex jacket, praying for silence or oblivion.
"The thing is, right - have you ever seen an ugly Asian woman?"
Pause. My brain went into overdrive as I tried to work out where this conversation was heading. And failed of course. "Mark, what the Hell are you talking about?"
"I just mean. They're better looking than white women."
"Mark, what exactly do you mean by 'Asian Women?' I mean, which country or countries are you even talking about? Asia isn't one place. And besides..." I tailed off as I realised I had made the fatal error of trying to inject sense into a conversation with Mark.
He sighed. "I suppose you're right. Maybe I'll leave it then."
Thirty seconds of silence.
"Do you think cats are ambidextrous?" No answer from me. Mar tried again.
"More hot chocolate? I found it in the canteen, when I came back from rest days, but it heated up alright when I reboiled it." Cue sounds of a desperate uniformed copper trying to spit out any remnants of the warm liquid back into the cup.
"Mark, if you ever find a woman stupid enough to want to spend time with you, she'd better have appalling standards of personal hygiene or else the relationship is going nowhere."
A satisfied smile from Mark. "I heard woman can burp seven decibels louder than men. Do you reckon it's because they've got more body fat?"
There's no way to deal with this. "Mark. Shut. Up. Now. Or I will kill you."
"Only I've been thinking of going to Canada. I want to practise my French. Are there Italian Canadians as well?"
"Mark. Please. I'm begging you. Really. I will get out of the Ambulance and promise never to be a bad man again if you will please shut up."
"Nah. Tell you what though, there's a girl at the Royal London, I reckon she likes me. Not sure whether I should go out with her though. Not my type."
"Mark, you'd get up on a scabby cat going out of a skylight. Please, stop talking."
"True enough. Do you reckon Trumpton ever play rodeo type games with their hoses in their down periods? Those hoses pack a punch, I reckon if you tried to sit on one on a crash mat it'd be just like one of them electronic bucking rodeos, like."

And so on, and so on, until dawn.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to anyone silly enough to be on the net today. I don't count, I'm a shift worker.
Seriously though, thanks to everyone that has visited, read my blog, commented or emailed. Lets hope none of you lovely people ever has to need the assistance of me or my colleagues.

I'm currently sitting at home alone, not long out of bed and enjoying some peace and quiet before I head out to face the chaos. In the meantime, a little yuletide story:

Yesterday, whilst driving back from dropping some case papers off I found myself behind a car which was being driven by a young woman. I was trundling along behind her, not really watching her and idly looking over the other cars passing past in the opposite lanes.
As we approached a pedestrian crossing, the lights went to amber, then changed to red. The woman in the car in front accelerated through them, making the waiting pedestrians look open mouthed.

Frankly, doing with a marked Police Car behind you is just taking the mick.

I hit the blues and pulled her over, into a shopping centre car park.
I told her why I'd stopped her. She started to deny it then thought better of it - she was just short of being bolshy, and obviously frightfully annoyed at the Police having the nerve to waste her time.
After checking her licence and insurance details on my Mobile Data Terminal in the car, I walked back to her.
"Here's your driving licence back - going through red lights is an endorsable offence, so you are eligible for points on your licence plus a fine. However, on this occasion I am going to let you go with a verbal warning, seeing as it's Christmas Eve."
The woman's outraged response - "I'm not a Christian. Why should Christmas make any difference?"

*deep breath*

"So, let me get this straight... you weren't getting a ticket, but think that you deserve one because you're not Christian?"
No answer.
"Good bye, drive carefully."

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Express Yourself


Like many coppers, I often claim to be unshockable.
And then I am without fail proved wrong.

One of the things that was slightly disconcerting to me when I first started doing Gaoler duty was some of the cell dweller's activities once safely hidden away in their rooms.

Spitting, fighting, self harming, vandalism, peeing or defecating in unusual places - all expected and easily coped with.

However, some of our 'clients' partake in slightly different methods for passing the time.

A significant number of young adult males feel that whilst lying in the (CCTV viewed) cell awaiting questioning is a good time to indulge in some "self expression."

I think it's safe to say that whatever fantasies people may or may not have about Police Officers, seeing the reality of the urine stained, dirty, smelly, vomit ridden cells is not something that would turn most people on.

Of course, rattling the wicket on the door and reminding them that their cell is covered by CCTV as they approach the crucial moment is only fair.
Bizarrely, this only stops some of them.

As I said, I'm still shockable.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Bear Returns

Yet another shift with too many calls, yet another parade room with too few officers, yet another station yard with not enough Police Cars to get out and start assigning callsigns to calls.

Yet another evening in the company of Ruffles. You may have to read that link for this to make any sense.

Once again I have spent a shift driving our Sergeant around. I think it is supposed to be a compliment (and of course he keeps asking questions that I will be forced to regurgitate in March).
Apparently it is 'Good Experience.'

Blackstones never mentioned keeping a temperamental teddy bear happy though.

Once again, Ruffles was strapped into our super powered diesel car in the back seat and stayed safely there, unless excitement happened.
Once again we went to a fire, and once again Ruffles was placed on the dashboard.
Apparently not only does he like fire, he also "loves seeing firemen in their uniform."











Ruffles at scene at an incident. His identity has been protected



My Sergeant has been working on response for most of his twenty two year career. People talk about the risks of Policing, and the effects of shift work...

After my first post about Ruffles, a few people suggested some ideas for dealing with him. What I am worried about is the effect it could have on my Sergeant's morale. Seeing him proudly sitting Ruffles by the computer in the parade room is somehow heart warming.

Ruffles also has an inappropriate sense of humour. At one point we went to a very nasty scene. Blood everywhere, withshocked officers standing in silence, ashen faced and monosyllabic when asked questions.
You know things are bad when the usual cynical comments are not forthcoming from either the coppers or ambo at the scene.

After we had left, Ruffles proceeded to tell a very long and tenuous inappropriate joke.
At least, I think he did.
My Sergeant 'translated' for him.

Help?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Guinea Pigs Have Taken Over The Bank


Of course, as mature as I may pretend to be I am not totally averse to having fun at work sometimes.




One of my more elaborate plots involved someone who had annoyed me considerably - and no, he was not a Senior Officer. Call him Paul.

We had had a little bout of small practical jokes on each other, ending with him doing the traditional "fingerprint ink on the hat band" routine on me.

All very funny.

In retaliation, I started to collect at any opportunity the paper discs, discarded from hole punches - the actual 'holes' you punch out of the paper.

Once I had the correct amount (one 'C' size evidence bag for those interested) I waited in lair for my adversary.
Unfortunately I had to wait a while, as we work in different departments. However, whilst chatting to the garage hand in the yard of the nick one day, who should I see drive up but my sworn enemy.

Paul parked his response vehicle, and wondered in the direction of the canteen.

I approached the car, and with care, tipped the small paper hole punch discs (do they have a name?) into the heating vents of the car.
I then positioned the vents to face towards him, and put all of the fans on to maximum so that when he put the key in the ignition and started the engine they would burst into life.
Oh yes.

I sat myself down with some paperwork, with a view of his car. I was prepared to wait. Then the radio crackled into life: "Any unit available to run the Borough Commander from Bravo X-ray to the council offices at about half eleven, over?"
A pause. Not a popular job.
"Bravo X-ray from Bravo Zulu Two One, I'll run him over when I've finished refs."
"Two-One, that's much appreciated. Bravo X-ray out."
I recognised Paul's voice immediately.

The temptation to let the mini explosion happen to Paul AND the Borough Commander was huge, but I didn't like to think of Paul having to explain the situation to any Senior Officer.

I trotted up to the canteen - "Paul, can I borrow your keys? Just need to move your car."
Back down to the yard. The garage hand came out of his office grinning. "You'll be wanting this then?" He handed me the vacuum cleaner.

The only way to get rid of the eyelets was to flush them out, so I started the car, and experienced the softest explosion known to man kind. It was a little like being in a warm snow storm, as the paper discs fluttered around me.
For a minute, all was peace.
Then I set to work with the vacuum cleaner.
It took me my whole bloody refs break.

You'll be relieved to know I have a plan B though. Glitter. He'll never get that off...

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Oink Oink

Sorry for the lack of posts, I have managed to get single figures worth of sleep in about ten days, so things have been a bit blurred for me.

Regarding this post, it appears that on reading the news maybe my senior officer was not being pig headed.
Maybe he was being prescient AND pig headed.

Personally if I'm ever in the position where a Nurse calls me love or dearie then I'll smile and make the most of it - they're usually so stretched and overworked that the sight of another weary uniformed copper turning up (and usually trying to cadge some gloves or tea) illicits nothing more than a barely supressed sigh.


I also got called in for a bollocking the other day, which was not so nice. Interestingly though, the Supernintendo had to tell me that at the same time as bollocking me, I was also getting a QSR (Quality of Service Report) placed on my personel file, signed by him. For the exact same incident...

He realised the ridiculousness of it as well, but had to play his part.

In recognition of this, as I took the QSR and shook his hand, I kept a serious frown on my face.

As Inspector Gadget is fond of saying, you couldn't make it up.

Also, I have received recently a slightly strange text from PC Pinkstone. I think that alcohol may have been involved in the creation of it. Please to suggest any completely unrelated and off the wall ideas for texts I can send in return.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Steve's Room

Our Division, like all in the Met, used to have a custody area with cells in every nick.

Now, like most Boroughs, we have one full time custody area, one that is used for very occasional operations/building work/overflow for other Boroughs/Safeguard Operations, and then a couple that are locked up and the cells used for nothing more than storing old bicycles, confidential waste, pigeon nests and shady cigarette breaks.

"Steve" knew this.

Steve had spent some of his youth fighting, and had been in the cells back in the day. He liked to tell us he'd been in the cells in every nick in the local Borough, at some point in his past.
He'd then joined the army and 'made good.' Unfortunately, on demob things went wrong for Steve, and although he never went his old path of fighting in the street, Steve became a sad, sad sight. Bedraggled, homeless, and often drunk - he's been on the streets longer than some coppers have been alive.

In fact, some coppers have joined the job, worked their thirty, and retired, and Steve has still been there. I've no doubt that a few coppers on their retirement bunged him a few quid.

No trouble, and no convictions since before joining the army. A perfect Gent, albeit a smelly drunken one.

As I said, Steve knew about our spare custody.
Station Officers throughout the years have been woken up on a winter's night, from an 0100 hours day dream to find the spectacle of Steve in the front office, usually clutching a gift of some sort. Yesterday's paper was a favourite.
Experienced officers knew him, knew to simply open the door and usher him into the spare custody area, where he'd crawl up in a ball after thanking the officer profusely, and settle down to a long and well deserved sleep in the warm.

The early turn officer would be briefed and would shake him awake with a cuppa soup, and offer him a shower. Steve would repay the kindness by cleaning up anything he could, and cleaning the tea club mugs.
An impressive and well received gesture, especially well received by the probationer currently running the tea club.

As far as I can tell, Steve never mentioned his hidey hole to his fellow homeless people, most of whom he seemed to treat with a dismissive attitude. For him, they were there because they'd failed. He'd made a lifestyle choice.

Of course, as CCTV throughout the cells became more prevalant, eventually even the spare custody area got some. As did the station office area. Steve got older, and suddenly the idea of taking an alcoholic elderly man into the cell area unsupervised on a semi regular basis became unattractive.

The relief Inspectors made the difficult decision, and two or three years ago Steve was thenceforth barred from the nick.

I am glad to this day I was not the station officer on duty who had to tell him; I think it would have been heartbreaking to see his hopeful face clutching an out of date newspaper, changing to confusion as the news sunk in.

This time last year, Steve was found lying in a doorway by the Ambulance Service, on a bitter November night. The ambos were on the way back from a job, and recognised the huddled shape so stopped to say 'Hello.'
Of course, as I'm sure you've guessed, on their approach they realised that there was no point in saying hello.

Later, I turned up to say Goodbye, as did most of the patrols on duty. For many of us, Steve was the first experience we'd had as probationers of the local drunks, always willing, and regularly used as an experience of searching people you may not want to search.

Steve outlived a homeless person's life expectancy, and no one would have betted on him getting a telegram from the Queen, but that didn't stop a few of us on our relief (and I'm guessing in all the other teams) sitting round and wondering if he'd have been alive if he hadn't been barred from our nick.

Who exactly was helped by our Risk Averse policy?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Rememberance Day


I was going to post this the day before Rememberance Sunday, however events have forced my hand a little.





Just over a year ago I was on patrol in a relatively low crime area in my divison - low crime in comparison to the rest of the borough anyway. Those living in the Ivory Towers would still be shocked by the sheer brazenness of the criminality that goes on in the area.

Whilst driving around late at night, I turned the lights out as I went down a side street which bordered a local park. The park was part of a church; although there had been no reported crimes there (so hence completely unworthy of our attention), I had talked to the Priest and discovered he was getting more and more trouble from drinkers and drug takers hanging around there.

He had also been suffering minor criminal damage to the church, and had drinks thrown at him when he had asked them to leave. Of course, none of this had been reported. When I asked why, he shrugged and held out his hands: "My daughter is in the Police and my son in the Army - I know how short you are, I wouldn't like the idea that I would be taking Police Officers away from tackling REAL crimes and more deserving victims."

This is the kind of attitude often displayed by those who both need and deserve our help most, and it is tragic that whilst the Priest (and many elderly people especially) suffer in silence so as not to bother us, the local oiks get yet another Police car, yet another CID officer, yet another pointless arrest, yet another intervention from outside agencies... for a threats by text from an ex. Again.

Anyway. Deep breath. Back to the story.

On this occasion, as I went lights out on the car, I saw the sillouhettes of two figures, crawling over the side gate that led into the churchyard park.

I was still some distance away, so coasted down towards them, slowing down and coming to a stop using my handbrake in order to keep the brake lights off.
As I stepped out of the car, they were well inside the park, so my operator trotted around to the main gate to prevent their escape.

Which left me with the mission of climnbing over the gate, wearing twelve pounds of body armour and a utility belt - whilst also trying to remain silent.
It's as surprising to me as to you that I managed it relatively well.

I spotted the two figures straight away, hunched over a wall. They were so busy talking that they didn't even notice me until I had a hand gripped into their hoods on their tops, and had started to twist hard to keep hold.

What I had seen had convinced me that they would not be leaving the park without a new pair of shiny bracelets.

In the darkeness, lit by distant street lights, the moon and a Nokia mobile phone, it was immediately clear what they had been doing. Crouched in front of a war memorial, a can of spray paint at their feet - and a giant swastika still dripping wet over the headstone.

I've arrested a huge amount of nasty people, but rarely has the temptation been so great to show them the error of their ways myself. I managed to resist though, and instead opted for icy calm.
One of them tried to pull away, and his look of sullen insolence changed to something like panic as I held on - I think he realised he was going nowhere.

I was joined by my partner, who quickly realised the situation and assisted by taking one of the two fifteen year olds.

I then made a quick decision - the paint was still wet, and if wiped at now might well be removeable. However, that would remove all evidence of the offence, and there was no way these two were not being arrested.

After a quick conflab with my oppo, the two suspects were cuffed hand to hand, round a tree so they couldn't leave. A quick dash to the car, and luckily there was a camera in the boot. After a very quick bout of photography, I explained to the lads what happened next: "Right, just so we're clear here. You ARE getting arrested. Right now I am going to attempt to clean this paint off. I've got absolutely no power to make you clean it, but if you do it will go in my notes and be read WHEN you go to court. If not, I will describe exactly how you refused to help and instead watched as we cleaned it."

Funnly enough, both offered to help.
One asked about cleaning cloths; by this point my oppo had found a bucket of water from somewhere in the church yard. I looked at the youths in their Kappa hoodies. "It's a warm night, isn't it boys...?"

Later, in custody, a senior officer questioned my decision to arrest two juveniles for minor criminal damage that they had attempted to clean up. I was about to blow a fuse, when my oppo tactfully asked the Supernintendo if he knew the circumstances; once explained, to be fair the Super was on our side.
"These two are getting charged. Understand? They ARE getting charged."

Coppers don't look lightly on situations like this.
You'll be pleased to know, neither did the Judiciary.

The church has now paid a huge amount (destined for the upkeep there) to help secure the graveyard. The Priest still doesn't report incidents when he kicks people out, but most importantly the families of the men named in the memorial never found out about the damage caused.


This post was posted earlier than expected, due to THIS news story.
I wasn't aware of it, until someone emailed me to tell me about it - no idea if he wants to have his name plastered about, so I'll just say thanks to TF for it.

I can only hope that when the buggers are caught for it, the same attitude displayed by the Police, CPS and Judicary in my case is shown in theirs as well.

To the copper/s that hopefully arrest these lowlifes, a genuine offer from me - a bottle of bubbly if I ever find out who you are.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Need a Drink


Many officers, on blogs, in books, and even face to face admit to being affected by their job in many different ways.
The side that is usually only touched upon as briefly as possible is the emotional side.



Although, as with all emergency services, we 'toughen up' and the vast majority of things become day to day, there will always be things that effect us.

Sometimes these are things that you wouldn't expect to have that effect; something or someone you've dealt with many times before. These take you aback as much as they upset you. I think personally that part of that is because as coppers we have to accept that there is a chink in our armour, that sometimes, something does get through.

Not too often luckily, else we'd never be ready to go to the next call.

One of the things guaranteed to be difficult for blue light responders is dealing with children; especially sexual abuse cases, or anything at all to do with babies.

In the incidents I've been in which have involved young children, every officer has done the job proud. Training kicks in obviously, as does experience. But humanity is the most important trait at times like that and it is one of the times it is important to use it rather than keep it out of the equation.

Seeing the parents is always the bit that gets me; I've never teared up yet at work, but I've definitely felt washed out completely afterwards.
At one incident, I was sent halfway through a night duty to what was described as a "six month old baby not breathing, LAS on route."

Not a nice thing to happen, and not a nice thing to hear over the airwaves.

I arrived on scene to be greated by a hysterical couple, clutching a baby that was turning purple as I watched.
Suffice to say that whatever you think you know about CPR, doing it on a baby of that age takes a lot more concentration than on an adult.

Once again, thank you thank you thank you to the LAS for arriving promptly, and actually taking over.

The baby girl was pronounced dead after nearly an hour of an entire resus department at A&E working on her, and I stupidly volunteered to tell the parents - they knew anyway, but it needed to be said.
They reacted as any loving parents would.

I walked away to give them a few minutes, and to get some air myself. To be honest, this is when I started feeling it, and frankly what I wanted was a bed and a few shots of whisky - not necessarily in that order.

What I actually had to do though, was pick up the baby and take her to an observation room, tear the parents away for a while and then inspect the body for signs of abuse.
Praying all the time that I wouldn't find any, and luckily my prayers were answered on this occasion.
During all of this, recording my actions in an IRB (Incident Report Book), and then taking details from the parents, getting an initial account of what happened from both, whilst trying to console them.

I'd about reached breaking point myself, but everytime the I felt like taking a break I looked at the parents and reminded myself that they couldn't "take five."
A subtle knock on the door interrupted the quiet sobbing, and a nurse poked her head around the door. "Sorry to intrude, but your son, Jason, he's just turned up"
Cue panicked looks from the parents. The Mum spoke; "He's only fifteen - how am I going to tell him?"
After a long and uncomfortable silence, I sighed soundlessly to myself. There wasn't much else I could say: "Do you want me to tell him? I don't mind."
Not pleasant.

In the wonderful way of the job of course, after I had handed the parents over to the specialists after a couple of hours, it was back to the nick for a statement and then back on the streets again.
To be fair, if I'd asked I probably would have been allowed home. But what would be the point? I wouldn't be sleeping anyway, so being out on patrol made more sense than sitting by myself in a darkened flat trying to keep quiet.

I don't mind admitting that the nightmares took a little while to stop afterwards though. Seeing a father cradle his baby daughter in his arms for the last time is not something that is easily imagined, and even harder to forget.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Stuff


Whilst walking around Leicester Square last night, watching the crowds doing their thing at the James Bond Premiere, a thought struck me.



Why?

Why the hell would fully grown men and women queue up for literally hours and hours for the chance to see a glimpse of the back of a minor Royal or an actor from a film?

I mean, it's not even as though they get to see the bloody film.

All they get to see is a group of yellow clad PCs getting progressively more bored, cold and grumpy, stood on a fixed point in hi-viz hell waiting for a question that doesn't start "Can you tell me where I can find..."

There has to be a sane reason why so many people do it, please can someone tell me it?



By the way, I have been trawling the blogosphere, and have discovered (or re-discovered) Police and Law Enforcement blogs in abundance. I am slowly updating my linky sidebar. Any that you know of, please let me know.
I have also noticed that although I have found many for the UK, US and Canada, I've found none for either Australia or for the Guards in Eire. Does anyone know of any?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Trick Or Treat












With Halloween fast approaching, we are girding our loins in preparation for an evening of fun, fun, fun.

ALthough the vast majority of youths out there are law abiding citizens, there are a significant minority that love Halloween for all the wrong reasons.

Mainly that over the week leading up to it, our young robbers, car thieves, burglars and other unsavoury characters can wear any type of mask or disguise with complete impunity, and chances are not even get a second glance from the overworked response team officers.

Incidentally, am I the only one that views trick or treat as borderline robbery anyway? I admit I am naturally a grumpy bugger, but offering a threat of violence in order to take someone else's property just seems too borderline for me...


Anyway, it has got me to thinking about tricks played on colleagues; often the younger service members of the team.

We've all heard of most of the tricks done, and we also know that a huge amount are handed down from copper to copper without actually being done very often.

The only one I've ever seen done more than once is the asp throwing competition. Namely, in the wee small hours of a night duty as it quietens down, the team meat in a large local park, tucked away in the dark and nice and private.
We all line up at a spot and explain that, for a laugh, we're going to have an asp throwing competition - loser buys breakfast for the others next early turn.












The probationer steps proudly up to the mark, and of course when the command is given, throws with all his might along with the others.
The more suspicious probationary officers may hesitate, suspecting foul play, but they will see the asps being thrown with force and the other coppers letting go, so join in with gay abandon.

Of course, what they don't see is the other PCs holding on to the lanyard attached to the asp, so that when they let go of said asp it flies for a very, very short distance before bouncing back into their hands.

Leaving said probationer to crawl around in the dark looking for his lost asp, with the help of his or her tiny maglite.

Disgraceful. I've obviously never seen it happen for real.

Apparently, if the probationer needs to be taken down a peg, whilst he or she is searching for the offending item, a Sergeant (who has known about this since the start) drives up and asks the PC what they are looking for.
Then asks them to explain how they lost it...

Many call this the "honesty test."



Any others anyone else cares to mention?
Please try and avoid the hackneyed "Bi-annual water sample from the Thames" trick, or the "hiding in the morgue/morgue version II/morgue version III"

Monday, 13 October 2008

Things That Have Annoyed Me Recently (part 3)


Recently, in Custody.
I had arrested a woman in her late forties who had been rather silly - she was not known to Police before and basically had been caught doing something that she knew was wrong in a moment of stupidity.


We all deal with this kind of person occasionally, someone who has thus far led relatively blameless lives and suddenly they come to the attention of Police.

No, before you ask, this was not a figures arrest. In fact, there was no detection involved in this one...

We had brought her in, and the woman was obviously terrified. Unlike our usual, regular customers she felt shame at being arrested and obviously didn't want to be with us.
She also told the Custody Sergeant she suffered from claustrophobia.

Now, as any copper will no doubt attest, a huge amount of the clientelle we get in our cells will claim they have claustrophobia, or any other condition they can think of to get released, bailed, or just to wind up the coppers.

This woman was obviously not playing the system, so after a brief chat with the Custody Sergeant (and an even briefer trip to the cell door, discovering she quietly having palpatations) we brought her out of the cell and sat her on one of the metal seats opposite the Sergeant's desk, where the Skippers could keep an eye on her.

I was writing my arrest notes when our borough commander walked in, on one of his rare trips to see the troops in custody. As he went up to annoy the custody sergeants, I thought it prudent to make myself busy so decided to get the kettle on and brew up for the Sergeants.

For those of you not in the job, Custody Sergeants run on tea. Without tea on a fifteen minute cycle they will not, and in fact can not function.
FACT.

I made a list of who was drinking what, and as I went past the huddled, shivering nervous woman I had arrested, I took pity and said "Tea love?"
She shook her head, and I contined on to the kitchen area.
Follwed by the Borough Commander.

Great.

Expecting a chat about the borough's "basket of ten," or possibly a bollocking for taking the prisoner out of the cell, I was surprised at the topic of conversation he chose.

A ten minute lecture on the inappropriateness of calling a female prisoner "love."
A promise that this would be mentioned to my team inspector.
And a threat that if said prisoner made a complaint against me, the borough commander would have no choice but to give evidence on her behalf due to the blatant and flagrantly open way I had chosen to use this "wholly inappropriate term in a public, CCTV recorded arena."

He then disappeared off - one of the Custody Sergeants told me later that as I was boiling the kettle (and boiling up inside) our wonderful leader went up to said suspect and offered her his apologies.

As I came back with the teas, the boss was gone from the custody area. I sat down next to the woman, and gave her a tea - yes, she had said no, but she needed a little kindness.
"You OK love?"
She smiled wanly as she took the cup.
"I'm OK, thanks for this. But who was the idiot in the hat who came in?"

'Nuff said.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Op Blunt

Recently (after successfully avoiding it for a while) I have been doing a few shifts on Operation Blunt.

For those of you lucky enough not to be au fait with the practicalities of the operation for street PCs, here is a short summary.

On regular days response team officers (and occasional others) are warned for "Op Blunt." We will be taken off our already short teams, and given a parade time with operational orders. We will parade at our nick on that day at the given time, and have a short briefing.

Then the fun begins. We will then drive to a central parade point, and from then to whichever borough we have been assigned to patrol for Operation Blunt. Often we will pass officers from different boroughs heading towards our borough to patrol it.
We like to wave at them.












If this car I've stopped has people with knives, where is my back up? On the other side of London of course.



We then get a further briefing at the central parade point, and then all embuss and head over to the Division we are assigned to, and patrol there to proactively deter knife crime. We are encouraged to stop search, but we are not allowed to take the vast majority of calls that come out.
Not that we could, as we wouldn't know the way anyway.

If we get prisoners, we have the joy of booking them in and dealing with them in a strange nick.

Because of all the parade and briefing/travelling time/operational feeding/parade and briefing/getting lost on way to ground assigned/de-briefing at area/travelling time back to borough, we obviously spent a relatively small amount of time actually on patrol.

After doing our short hours on patrol, we then make our way across London back to our home borough, not forgetting to wave at the non-local officers leaving our borough. Then home for tea and cakes.

Of course, if we had been allowed to put these numbers on to OUR borough on response teams, we would have been able to have enough coppers to both respond to calls AND to proactively patrol. Most coppers regularly try to prevent knife crime given the time. We might even be able to use a little of our local knowledge to actually target our patrols, and get to places without arguing over the A-Z.












I didn't need an A-Z for this call. What I needed was a large amount of non-existent officers to help with the mad person waving a twelve inch kitchen knife around.


Anyway. Something I heard over the radio on Operation Blunt made me giggle manically for an inappropriate amount of time.

Control: "Units to assist on an I Grade please, robbery at Brixley bus garage in the past two minutes .on a number 37 bus."
Unit: "Bravo X-ray, show Bravo X-ray Two Zero One. Have you got a description?"
(Pause for comedy effect...)
Control: "Bravo X-ray Two Zero One, it's red with four wheels."


I can't help but find it reassuring that even in The Kremlin there are still long forgotten slightly eccentric people manning the microphones.
Long may their reign remain undiscovered by the people in the Ivory Towers.

New Policeman

Short Post to say, please go and check THIS SITE.

It belongs to a copper just starting off in Canada, the land of Opportunity and David Copperfield.

It is his first day as a street monkey today, so please please pop over and say "hello" and "good luck." Whether you become a fan of his blog or not, a quick comment to wish him well (and tell him where you came from!) would be great. The uniform and badge may differ, but the job remains the same.

I'm sure that any copper remembering their first day would appreciate the sentiments. Nervous probably doesn't even cover it...

Comments are locked for this post only; any comments please pass to him.


Thanks

Friday, 3 October 2008

t'net

A quick post, just to say that I am temporarily without internets.

According to BT I will be up and running next week, and they never lie. I'm actually doing this post on my phone, through the wonders of machines with 'i' in the title, as PC Pinkstone says.
This is down to my endless quest to be a cheapskate and the continuing search for the best way to save pennies.

Can you blame me? We're in a credit crunch, our Home Secretary won't give us a pay rise, and my boss has just suspended half of my senior management then resigned himself.
Fun times ahead...

I will continue my short series of things that have annoyed me when I get the net back - rest assured there is only one more to go; there are still things that make me laugh as well in this job.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Things That Have Annoyed Me Recently (Part 2)

After a few days off, I came back to work to discover a multitude of emails, the vast majority of which did not concern me.

I particularly liked two, which had been sent by different people to "All Response Team Officers."

The first one read something along the lines of:

"Would all response team officers remember to park their cars "arse end" in to the walls, so that if an urgent call comes out, or an officer requesting assistance, officers are actually available to get there.
Critical time has been lost trying to negotiate getting the response vehicles out of the yard, and having an officer injured because of it is obviously unacceptable and has the potential for discipline issues
."

Fair point. Next email:

"All response officers please note. Response cars MUST be parked face in to the walls at all times when parked in the yard - this not only reduces noise to people working in the Police Station, but also prevents the completely unnecessary problem of the exhaust fumes being blown in through windows when officers rev their engines.
This IS being monitored and disciplinary action will be considered against drivers who do not comply
."

Laugh? I nearly started.


Please vote on which email I should obey - one officer on my relief has tried parking sideways against the wall, but he was in a long wheelbase public order carrier, which took up five spaces.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Things That Have Annoyed Me Recently (Part 1)


As per the title. Yesterday I was driving around during the day, dealing with the usual calls and rubbish and dreaming of international rockstardom.


It was a lovely day, sunny with a hint of early Autumn cool - perfect weather for foot patrol. By some miracle the I-Immediate calls had tailed off for a while, and by an even greater miracle, our control room had given me a brief respite from sending crappy "non" calls to my MDT (Mobile Data Terminl - on board computer).

I parked the car up in one of the town centres we cover, and decided it was too good an opportunity to miss. "Come on mate, grab your hat" I said to my oppo, and withstanding his bemused looks followed by an almost sullen acceptance, climbed out of the car for a bit of foot patrol.

It was wonderful; no MDT bleeping at me, no rattle of a knackered diesel engine fighting against the constrains of gravity, no mainset blatting away with circulations in the background. The sun was out and I had my hat on, and everything was, for just this moment, OK with the world. I walked through one of our markets and chatted to a couple of stall holders, had a photo taken with a very lost tourist, let a couple of children try on my hat. Basically, for a short time I felt like a proper Policeman again.

Then the radio crackled - "999BX from BX, receiving?"
Area: "Go ahead."
BX: "I've sent a call down to your MDT a couple of times, and you're not accepting it. It's an S call from CID to pick up some CCTV. Why aren't you accepting it?"
Area: "I'm not in the car BX."
BX: "Received... why not? Do you want me to create a CAD?"
Area: "Negative, I'm just doing some foot patrol."
BX: "Er... received. We had you posted to a car."
*Sigh*
Area: "Yes, that's correct, I'm in a car - I've just popped out to do some foot patrol."
BX: "999 from BX, that's received, you need to stay by your car so we can send you calls over."
Area: "..."

A pause, as I walked back to the car to accept the call. The Radio crackled again. "999 from BX1"
Area: "Go ahead Sir"
Inspector: "Come and see me when you get a minute please."

Long story short, I was later given a rollocking by the Duty Officer for not being with the car and going out on foot patrol. Surely that is what the radio is for?
I'm fully aware that my job is to respond to calls for assistance, but surely proactive patrolling is part of it as well? And getting out on foot and meeting the public is as nice for me as it is for the public sometimes.

Ho hum. Thanks Guvnor. That'll teach the probationer with me never to do anything as stupid as to get out of the car and actually talk to people he meets again.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

He's NOT Judge Judy


A quick post, on the Judciary. This has been inspired by a post on a blog I have recently discovered, and more specifically the comments within.


I have no fear of arguing with Magistrates or any part of the legal system whilst blogging - but I do think that most magistrates still do care.

The problem is the system is not designed for caring.
The CPS often are the reason that Magistrates end up making bad decisions (just as members of public for coppers). In both cases we depend on them and a score of other people to feed us the correct information. Often that doesn't happen.

All too often CPS do not offer the case to court at all. All too often when they do, it is either as a lower charge than it should be, or just badly prosecuted. CPS prosecutors are often inexperienced and in fact some are not qualified as lawyers - in a way they represent the worst of both worlds, and I do have some sympathy with them (sometimes).
Their job is to represent victims and the police despite having no real world experience of either on a meaningful basis, no street experience. They are also supposed to be a link to the legal process and judiciary, despite often being unqualified and regularly inexperienced in that field.

Not exactly a win-win situation is it?


On top of that, they get judged on PERCENTAGE of cases won, rather than amount of cases won. So often, they simply won't fight them.

One of the many knock on effects of this (apart from offenders getting clean away, victims and witnesses feeling let down and Police Officers losing their rag) is that the Judiciary don't see the "characters" that have been arrested with the regularity that they should.

Often I hear complaints that they are out of touch - and yes, some are. Most have come from different backgrounds to the average suspect and victim that I deal with, and this can be an issue. But the way for them to even have a chance of staying "in touch" is by being presented with the suspects, the crimes, and the victims and witnesses on a regular basis, seeing the little buggers in front of them again and again, and being able to take direct action against the people they personally see as repeat offenders.

CPS do their best to make sure this does not happen - as do Penalty Notices for Disorder and Cautions.

This is before we even get to the minefield of sentencing guidelines...

Yes, some Judges are beyond out of touch. Yes, some create bizarre decisions that the vast majority of people struggle to comprehend. Our legal system is not perfect; most Police bloggers show that our part alone needs a lot of help.
But I think that sometimes, it's too easy to blame the person sitting on the top of the tree rather than the person who grew it in the first place.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Fight! Fight! Fight!













Three or four years ago, I was visiting family on Boxing day, in a semi-rural location, south of Metro City.

I had volunteered to be a designated driver for the evening (after having my fill of alcohol on Christmas Day) and had been out for a couple of cokes watching my friends and family get slowly merrier and merrier in the local town.

As we left, I noticed the poor single crewed bobby sitting in his patrol car watching people drifting out of the local pubs. We piled in my car and I put the heaters on full in order to clear the screen of the ice mist which had appeared in the December smog whilst we had been tucked up in the warm.

I had a car full of female family members, and they were giggling and talking loudly to each other as I stared blankly at the windscreen, and the picture outside that became visible. Although all had seemed peaceful on leaving the pub, as the ice vanished from the screen, I saw a scuffle break out outside two of the pubs.
I couldn't hear anything over the unaware but happy giggles in my car, but no doubt the scuffle was accompanied by the usual screams of "faackin ell" and "leave it Dave, it's not worth it."
Mating calls of the underclasses?

Anyway, the scuffle became more fight like. As I watched, the lone PC climbed out of his car and made his way wearily towards the two idiots on the ground - at the same instant as a group piled out of the pub and ran towards.

Suddenly oblivious to the happy place in my motor, I saw as the PC realised he was sandwiched in the middle of two groups of drunken violent individuals.
Without thinking, I put the car into gear and drove towards the PC as he shouted into his radio and drew his asp and CS - one for each group, futile as it as.
I jumped out of the car and ran towards the PC, ID in hand. He saw me and just shouted "Yes, please mate."

What followed was a kind of chaos as the PC and me tried to keep the innocent bystanders safe whilst also getting back to the relative safety of his car. I knew the reality of policing - that even in metrocity, on nights we are short. On bank holiday nights we are even shorter. On Boxing day night duty... in the semi-rural backlands... I'm not stupid, and it didn't take me long to calculate that help would not be immediate. I worked outside the Met in rural areas before moving to London, and I had an idea of the panic the PC would be trying to quell.

I honestly can't remember how many people I came into contact with in those minutes whilst waiting for the sound of two tones. By the time the first Police cars turned up (three of them in convoy) I was on the floor rolling around with a drunken lad who was bigger than me and doing a better job of absorbing the knocks of the fight. I'd also lost sight of the uniformed bobby.
The first thing I knew about the units arriving was when I felt myself being pulled up and out of the kerfuffle by two uniformed coppers.

I managed to resist the urge to hug them.

As half of the county turned up I decided to go and check on how my giggling girls were doing. Still giggling, and still not sure what had happened. As I went to leave, the first copper came over to offer his thanks, but it was a hurried thanks as you could see that keeping control was still an issue.


Whenever I think about moving back out of London now, I always think about this kind of situation. In Metrocity we find ourselves (especially in the kind of areas I work) in this kind of position much more regularly than many of our county mounty colleagues. But the important thing is, when we call for help, it usually gets there relatively quickly. Whilst I was rolling around with the idiots and the lone PC, I would have given next to anything to have a Police Car appear on scene, and I could see the relief on his face when I jumped in to help.

It's not EASIER working metrocity - it's very busy, regular officer assaults and a constant barrage of calls and violence ensures this. But boys and girls, trust me, it can be worse.

'Nuff respect to my county mounty colleagues listed on the blog bar to the right.
I'll stick to dealing with my gangs and organised violence and crime for the moment.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Gadget

A photo of someone on the London Underground wearing one of Inspector Gadget's Ruralshire t-shirts.













The Guvnor has posted a more than enigmatic post on his blog, and it's looking like he's getting grief from his Professional Standards Department.

I hope he's not, and it worries me - I personally think that he is in fact one of the better advertisements for the Police out there, certainly better than publicity such as senior officers fighting each other in the press.

I realise we can't do much, but please pop over and show your support by leaving a comment.
It'd be nice to think there is still a semblance of freedom of speech in this country...

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Nurses


Nurses - the biggest friends of coppers, or their greatest cause of downfall?

Discuss.

Incidentally, despite what the gorgeous, innocent, fresh faced Nurse tells you whilst visiting their hospital, it is important to remember a few salient points.

1 - You are a male in his twenties, talking to a young nurse. What organ do you really think you are using for your thinking?
2 - Despite her relatively short life, she is not nearly as innocent as you think and will have dealt with and done things you haven't. Don't even try and cross her.
3 - She won't be impressed by your stories, so don't even try.
4 - If you mess up with her (and you probably will - see point one again), you may face the prospect of having an entire A&E shift turn against you. This is bad. You then may face the very real prospect of having to go there for medical treatment after an injury on duty. This is very bad.
5 - Despite what they tell you, Ethanol and Dr Pepper is NOT an appropriate substitute for "real" alcoholic drinks. You will get sick, I promise. See point two again.


And don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Smiley Happy People


Just a quick post - The past couple of days I've spent mainly on foot, dealing with a large variety of dribbling, drunken, stoned illiterate wrecks whilst trying to keep my sanity.
And no, this time I am not referring to the senior management team.

Dealing with wasted people is par for the course, and can be funny - but after many, many hours of it even the most saintly Police Officer finds his or her patience ebbing away. Days of it and a snarl becomes the appropriate response.
With the people that have gone beyond mildy abusive, into all out fight anyone mode, we have the delicate situation of trying to perform our duties as Constables and keep the peace, whilst also bearing in mind the "try not to nick anyone" missives from the senior management team.
After all, it's family fun for all.

All this whilst sweating in full uniform, long sleeve shirt, protective vest, hat and (of course) the wonderful sweat suit that is the high-viz jacket.
In August.

"Job" readers will probably know what I have been doing at work for the past two days.
Non job readers, please see this post and look up "Not Carnival Related" about halfway down.

Joy of joys - back again tomorrow.

Tired now, so straight to bed. Up at 0400hours to do it all again.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Ambos and Tea Spots


I was at a regular tea spot haunt the other night, having a quick drink and something greasy and unhealthy to eat. Most night shift workers will know the place - it's where Police Officers (often from different forces and areas), Ambulance Crews, RAC and AA Crews, Truck Drivers, and Cabbies all end up socialising as they wait for their sausage inna bun.

Whilst chatting to a couple of ambo boys, they told me a story that made me laugh out loud, but made my partner, Tom, recoil in horror and look at me funny. In retrospect it's probably both funny and horrific.
So I thought I'd pass it on.

Both of the ambo lads were paramedics, who usually work on the solo fast response cars.
One night shift in the very early hours of the morning, they had parked up by the river next to each other for a chat and a cup of tea, whilst waiting for the calls that never came.

Of course, warm drink, heaters on, both of them fell asleep.

As one of them described it "The next thing I know, a pissed wailing banshee is hammering on my window and screaming at me."
A very drunk female woke them both up, shouting that a man was hanging himself.

In front of them.

Surely enough, that was what had happened. Whilst the ambo crews had slept, a depressed and also very drunk young man had walked up, tied a rope off a post, and lowered himself on to it. The drunk lady had noticed from a distance and ran to the paramedics.

As the crews described it, they literally woke up in time to see the man drop in front of them. Makes waking up to an alarm clock suddenly seem so much more bearable.

Both paramedics obviously leapt out and dealt with it, and the male was taken to hospital, no serious injuries at all.

Now, obviously if the man had succeeded it would have been a tradgedy. But what made me giggle was the panic the ambos must have felt on A)waking up from an illicit sleep, B)having a screaming banshee hammering on their windows, and C)seeing a man with a noose around his neck lower himself in front of their still bleary eyes.

One of the paramedics told me later that as he was cutting the man down and working on him, the whole time he kept imagining waking up in the hazy dawn light with a corpse hanging in front of two fully marked ambulances.
Apparently they haven't had any more illicit snoozes in public places since then...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

PCSO Rescue


An interesting news story, about an obviously very naughty and reprehensible act by some council employees in Oldham.




Luckily there was a PCSO, I assume from Greater Manchester Police, on hand to assist and stop the offenders in their tracks.
Some good publicity for CSOs.

Two things struck me whilst reading the quote "It reportedly carried on for 20 minutes before the PCSO intervened"

1 - Was the PCSO watching for the full twenty minutes? If so, surely s/he must have youtube evidence at least.
2 - Twenty minutes!? Is that physically possible? Wow. Give the man a medal I say...

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Ruffles



More and more, we are starting to worry in our team about our Sergeant.
He has always been on the eccentric side of the camp, and in fact, has happily described himself as "bloody mad" before.

At first, they were minor things. Things that made me chuckle - like when he was put in custody, a prisoner was brought before him, and the good sergeant brought out a coin of foreign denomination with a head on both sides. He then proceeded to tell the prisoner that he was going to decide bail on the flip of the coin, heads no bail, tails you get bail...
He hasn't been posted as Custody Sergeant for a long time.

This, and other striking traits has always endeared him to me. Like many long-serving sergeants, his knowledge of most law is vast and in a critical incident he kicks into action, and obviously knows the vast majority of police procedures back to front. He even nicks people occasionally.
But outside of these kind of incidents, he potters along in a bemused way making jokes that aren't funny and asking questions of officers that have little or no basis in reality.

Recently though (and I appreciate this may give a clue who I actually am), he has taken to going everywhere with a small cuddly toy in tow, the kind of thing you get free with a McDonalds happy meal.

He is inordinately proud of this toy.

He clutches it close whilst talking to senior officers, sits it on the desk whilst supervising crime reports... and chats to it all the while. Even whilst no one is about.
This is fine by me, but some of the other patrol sergeants are starting to get that weary, I've had enough face when sitting opposite a sergeant having an animated conversation with a fluffy toy: "What's that Ruffles? Under the Home Office counting rules this crime report might be better classified as a criminal damage. Hmm, you may be right."

I recently had the pleasure of driving him about on a night duty, and I can testify now that Ruffles (not his real name) was safely buckled into the back of the supervisor's van before I drove anywhere. At one point we went to a fire, and the sergeant got him out to sit on the dashboard.
Apparently Ruffles likes fire.

All this is well and good - the Police has always had a comforting way of welcoming eccentrics into the ranks.
But Ruffles must go.
Our sergeant has started deferring questions to Ruffles. Acting Sergeant Ruffles as we must now call him.
Ruffles has even started countermanding our sergeant's orders.

Last week Ruffles denied an annual leave request I made.

The bear must go.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Level II

Here is my level II kit, washed and ready for action again.













Look closer... is that an issued t-shirt?

It is Ruralshire issued kit, which, lets face it, is more comfy and practical than the kit from my force, and at least turns up within the decade I order it.










Thanks to the Guvnor for authorising the uniform request.


Mutual aid is a wonderful thing, not least because coppers get to moan to a new audience, play tricks on new victims, and show off their kit/get depressed about other forces kit.

Sometimes it makes you proud.

Driving along the A-road, watching carriers come the other way.
From many forces, travelling from far and wide.

A couple of kent carriers, glorious in their battenburg markings, officers with ties on, speeding past at a decent speed.

Ditto the South Yorkshire van.

Ditto the two carriers from Wales.

Ditto the van from Thames Valley Police.

Then the met... two dirty, twelve year old carriers - one with a van load of coppers asleep in the back, the second with no ties and window lickers.
Ten minutes later, another Met carrier. This one leaning to one side at an alarming angle, as though it was tacking against the wind, making a rattling sound that carried over the busy road and through the car's soundproofing.

God Bless the Met.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Swampy Spotting




Look at the Police Officer's eyes.
They are praying for the arrival of our most trusted, effective and powerful colleague, PC Rain.

Thank God for the arrival of PC Rain.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Thoughts of The Day


A couple of thoughts.

Firstly, I have been playing with my mobile phone a lot recently - crime scenes give you ample time to fart around doing things that you wouldn't usually do.

At 3AM a couple of nights ago, I was struck by a thought, whilst experimenting with the Predictive text feature.

I was texting another copper and asking to meet them in Trafalgar Square. Interestingly, my phone does not recognise the word "Trafalgar."
It does, however, suggest an entirely plausible alternative of "Upbealias."
Even more interestingly, although not allowing me to type that word, someone has gone to the effort of teaching it the word "Egalitarian."

My point, although a little obtuse, is that I think that the people who programme mobile phone dictionaries must be the same people who set Policing targets and priorities.
Only these type of people would consider that "Trafalgar" is a completely unknown word, "Upbealias" is a better alternative, and the word "Egalitarian" is much more useful and likely to be used.

Part of me feels good about the fact that these people exist in the private sector as well as the public sector...


Secondly, is it mean to gently wind up PCSOs? I've always enjoyed winding up Police Officers, but I know that CSOs are a relatively new thing and might get more offended.

If it's not too naughty, a colleague of mine has found a novel but harmless way of playing with our blue-shirted colleagues. I'd never do it of course, not least because my CSO acquaintances would gang up on me and beat me up.
Incidentally, please pop over and say hello on the following PCSO blog.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Knife Crime


This post will probably make me unpopular with the public and the Police equally, but knife crime is in the news so much at the moment it seems daft to leave it alone.

There has recently been a 75 strong anti-knife crime unit set up by the Met to help out, and good luck to them. I do have to wonder where the seventy five officers came from though, and whether another desperately short team is now even more desperate.

On our response teams, we can also prevent knife crime. Until our numbers were so sorely depleted, we used to put out Q-cars, a plainclothes unmarked car, every night duty and some day shifts. I haven't seen one put out by our team in months.
CID and the Robbery Squad also used to go out hunting, but their hours and staff have been reduced to the point where CID especially are struggling to keep up with their workload that is already on their plate when they come in. Sometimes our night duty CID cover is one lone officer, and I don't expect him to start scouring the street for knife carrying feral gangs alone.

We struggle on our response team to put out the numbers and get to the calls, as I have talked about recently. This means that proactive patrolling, although the most enjoyable part of policing, is rarely if ever done.

But we know where the knives are. Any street copper who has worked years in the same area knows where the gangs hang out, where the knives are carried, and who regularly carries them.

Although this is unfashionable, some officers are scared. Not all of us, all the time - but scared we sometimes are.
When we approach these groups, there can be more of them in one place than every single officer in the division. And some, if not most of those officers will of course be dealing with other things. So we know that if it comes down to a real violent situation, in the short term we will lose.
We still approach them, and still get assaulted of course, but it does put you in a thoughtful mind sometimes. Sometimes the control room will not even let you approach groups if you put up you're going to go after them.
We're scared of complaints - we're told we're harassing people. This we are, but that is because, as I said, we know where these knives are - but turn up in a marked Police vehicle with officers in uniform, and most people will have plenty of time to ditch or hide their weapons before our approach.
Often we use stop search as a deterrent, as a nuisance rather than a finding exercise.

When we get lucky, and get someone who is armed and arrest them, we hit the next problem. There will be no handover team if it is weekend, evening, or night (and the handover teams are so busy that often they can't take the jobs on during the day).
So that is probably you and another officer off the road for the rest of the shift. Plus any further enquiries you many need to make before the court case. I am assuming they are charged.

This means that whilst you are sat inside dealing with your body, you cannot deal with the constant, frantic calls that are being put out. Knife fights, serious assaults, domestics, serious car accidents, pub fights, sudden deaths... all are coming out over the radio and you can not assist with any of them.
Neither can your colleagues. They are either tucked up with arrests of their own, or already at or on the way to calls. There are ALWAYs calls outstanding, some hours old.

Don't misunderstand me - my colleagues and I want to arrest people carrying weapons. We want to drag self created arrests in, and do more than just respond to calls. But we don't have the time and resources, and until a more efficient way of dealing with arrests is put into place, this is not going to change.

Like most Police bloggers, I don't think we need more police officers per se. What we need is those officers out on the streets, providing a visible presence, and getting in the way of the persistant criminals. And we need to be helped to do our jobs, rather than constantly hindered in the execution of our duty.

If that happens, then simple - knife crime, and many other types of crime, will fall.


EDIT - the link to the news story where the photo above came from is here. It is a scary set of photos, showing incredibly brave, unarmed officers dealing with an armed, angry, dangerous individual with mental health problems.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Management Talk


It's disconcerting when Officers above the rank of Inspector go out and about on the streets. It's strange enough when Inspectors go out.
Of course, when senior officers to go out for one of their annual walk abouts on the street, things are never as they seem.

Just as the Queen is said to believe the world smells of fresh paint, the same kind of thing applies for our senior officers. Whenever they turn up to parade, we have by some miracle scratched together enough officers in the parade room to make it look as though we are acheiving minumum numbers on the streets. Even if that means taking officers off other, already over stretched teams.

They then usually commandeer the area car, and float about taking no calls and dealing with nothing they come across.

Inspectors are stuck in the middle of this - there are more and less proactive Inspectors. We recently had one covering as duty officer, who not only turned up to parade, but booked out a car and actually went out; and took calls! This in itself is unusual, but not unheard of. Our regular Inspector very occasionally takes calles, but on arrival will call a PC down to the scene to do the paperwork/take the crime report/make the arrest/do the accident book.

This substitute Inspector even dealt with the calls though - one day he even brought an arrest in. I've only ever seen an Inspector produce a prisoner to custody once before, so it got the team talking.

In fact, we've had him a few times recently, and ended up being a bit spoilt. Much as we like our current Guvnor, having a boss that goes and gets his hands dirty occasionally is very invigorating for the troops.
I have even seen the odd glimpse of morale on team.


One of our area car drivers is running bets on how long it will take before something comes along to help destroy this.

As the old saying goes "Are the men happy Sergeant?"
"Yes sir"
"Then stop their mail and cancel their leave."

Friday, 27 June 2008

Birthday


It's my birthday!

Well, ok, it's actually not. I've just been blogging for a year, but seeing as I am pretty unlikely to ever post my real birth date on this site, it'll have to do.


Cakes to the usual address.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Idiot


Idiot - that's me. Just realised that I have been saving my past few posts rather than publishing them.

Hence the sudden flurry of posts.

Sorry. Abuse welcome.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Criminal Protection Service









I am so angry that I am struggling to write clearly. I recently received a result from the court, for a case that we were waiting to give evidence in at Crown Court.

The case was one where there had been a large scale public order in the High Street. Three people had been abused, then the same three (entirely innocent) people assaulted, by one very horrible person.
Police had arrived and quickly arrested the person, who had whilst waiting for the Police to arrive called as many mates as possible.

CCTV control room had been watching, and luckily called urgent assistance on behalf of the officers who were struggling to control their detainee whilst keep an eye on the growing crowd.

As always, everyone was miles away, but by luck I was one of the first units to arrive. By that point about two hundred people were gathered, and suffice to say they were not making it easy for us. I attempted to help contain the original prisoner whilst other officers tried to control the crowd - whilst doing so, I was assualted seriously and methodically by the detainee and other people as were two other officers. I can't tell you the exact details, but we were assaulted in a series of interesting and unusual ways, resulting in bruising AND bleeding.

I also got a mouth and face full of saliva for my troubles.

Straight to hospital for me at the time, and the other officers.
Life-long physical scars for me on my chest and arms.

Detainee charged with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm x3, common assault x2, Section 4 public order act and affray.

I was actually looking forward to court, I wanted the jurors to hear my long and very detailed statement, and the other officer's evidence, and see the CCTV of both the incident and the later goings on in custody.

Instead, I got an email "You are de-warned for court, the suspect has plead guilty."
Shame, but a good result.

But no... I did some digging recently. The CPS, ever mindful of their figures and desperate to avoid a costly trial (which always has a chance of failing) instead plea-bargained the suspect to take a guilty plea for common assault and public order.
No prison sentence, and a fine of less than £500.

I know I've felt let down before with court cases, and frustrated by the CPS. But this is a new low for me. With eight Police officer witnesses, three independant witnesses, clear and accurate CCTV evidence of the whole incident from two cameras, CCTV in custody of continued fighting, and medical statements of our injuries plus photos taken and exhibited of the injuries, one would think that it was enough for a trial.

I WANTED my day in court.
Instead I sit here looking at my scars and bubbling over in anger, and frustration. This post is meant as nothing more than a cathartic release for me, and I know I can't acheive anything by it. But really, what is the point? After getting blood and saliva in my eyes and mouth, and physically scarred, seeing my mates getting a kicking and being caused open, bleeding wounds - I have to wonder why on earth we all still go in to work?

I don't even know where to start with this, but if a private prosecution is possible I will be spending my own money to do it, on principle.

It's just beyond depressing that I have to resort to that.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Night Duty

Leap in the car, seats still warm from the day shift's crew.
Blat to call. Nick someone.

Drag arrest into custody, too drunk to deal, start notes - urgent assistance to a pub fight, so turf out again.

Fight in the street.

Back to custody to finish my notes from earlier.

Urgent assistance to another pub, diverted to that.
Foot chase after wanted male, caught and cuffed.

Head back to custody to finish my notes from earlier.

Come across fight direct in the street. Call for more units.
Another arrest in.

Back to custody. My operator is booking in this arrest, so I can get my notes done from earlier.

Stabbing in the streets after a gang fight, Inspector turfs everyone out.

Desperate search for victim, followed by desperate wait for ambulance.

Area search for suspect, no luck.

Head back to custody to finish my notes from (now much) earlier.

Operator has finished booking his arrest in. Too drunk to deal. Inspector sees us - units are tucked up on the crime scene, there are "I" immediate calls outstanding. Back on the street. Now. No refs this shift, sorry lads, you know how it is.

Domestic. Take a statement then back to do a crime report, the other unit attending has the arrest.

Back out - can't do my arrest notes from earlier, as there are now only two units for the whole division covering a busy weekend night shift.

Call for assistance from Traffic officers who have come across a large scale street disturbance, running battles with naughty people.

Head back to custody to finish my arrest notes from earlier. Fourteen hours and twenty two calls after starting my shift, when the rest of the team has left and gone home, I walk into custody and hand over the notes to the custody sergeant, who looks over at me.
"Ah Area - good, if you're still here, your man is fit to be dealt with in just under an hour. You can deal with it..."


I still love this job!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Naked Policeman (with photos)

Yes, this is as the title says.

A naked New Zealand copper, chasing and catching a man committing criminal acts.

Good on you mate.

Ladies, avert your eyes.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Laughing Policeman


It was a rainy night duty, and PC Rain was doing the wonderful job that we all know and love him for. I was single crewed and had actually managed to get a refs break. I wasn't expecting one, so I had called up another unit that was on their way in to grab me a nice healthy meal.

Whilst waiting I had been browsing through the hundreds of notice boards that are up around our nick. I have no idea where they come from, but surely people must realise they aren't serving their purpose anymore? When every wall and every surface is plastered with these boards, with "Senior Management Updates," "Community Relations News," and "Our Basket Of Ten Priorities" then it all becomes a senseless blur, like slightly more colourful wallpaper.

Hidden amongst this was a useful section which showed our current senior officers on the borough, a large section with blow up photos of each one. I had spent an informative ten minutes or so finding out how many of them I actually knew/recognised/had heard their name before (three out of about twelve) and how many I had actually met(two). I had then spent slightly less time correcting some grammatical and spelling errors that had appeared below the photos (awful really, someone had spelt "suck" as "suk"), written by cynical and bitter officers no doubt. I recognised at least one Inspector's handwriting.

I then ambled towards the canteen, a bundle of computer handouts in my hand, passing the Sergeant's Office on the way where two Sergeants sat typing at their computers. One paused and looked up.
Sgt 1: "Ah, Area, just the man. Are you doing anything right now?"
Think fast, think fast, think fast... oh bugger... "No Sarge, not particularly."
Sgt 1: "Good, pop in, I need a word"
I started to think even faster. How could he have seen from his office?
Area: "Ah, the thing is Sarge, I was only correcting their spelling. I didn't add anything."
A Blank Look.
Sgt 1: "Do I want to know what you are talking about?"
Area: "Er..."
Sgt 2: "Shut the door Area and take a seat, you're cluttering up the office."
I did as I was told, then decided to bite the bullet.
"Am I in trouble Sarge?"
Sgt 1: "Should you be?"
Sgt 2: "Stupid question, Pete."
General laughing from the Sergeants. I tried to smile as well.
Sgt 1: "In fact Area, believe it or not I just wanted to say I've received a letter from someone thanking you for your help in dealing with her incident. I've also got an email from another relief's Inspector saying you did a good job working with his team the other week."
Area: "In that case, can I take the Beano from out the back of my trousers then. As I'm not getting a beating this time?"
At this point, Sgt 2 who had been typing continually turned to me. Whilst sitting at the desk I had been nervously fiddling and folding at the print outs that I was holding. "What are you doing with those print outs Area? Is that a paper plane you're trying to make?"
Um, actually, it was supposed to be the head of a power ranger. I didn't mention this.
Sgt 1: "I think its nice that Area can express himself without using crayons occasionally." (smirk)
Sgt 2: "Of course Pete - so on top of his other talents, Area here is a black belt in Origami as well?" (snigger)

Ha ha ha. No-one should be in that much of a good mood on night duty. Especially Sergeants.

Ha bloody ha.