Monday, 31 March 2008
White Van Man
People that know me may be surprised, but I was nice to someone the other day.
It was the end of night duty, and I was single crewed driving the streets early in the morning, as it was just getting light. I was on an 'A' road heading towards another nick, and as I pulled off at a junction I saw a white van blatting along the road in the semi-darkness.
I turned round on the junction roundabout and then back onto the dual carriageway in the direction the van was heading in and went after it.
The speed limit on the road was 60mph, and the van was doing ninety odd approaching a set of lights. I coaxed the battered diesel engine to catch up with the van, and as we passed the traffic lights I hit the blues and woke the driver up with a burst of two-tones.
The van pulled straight over, and the driver climbed out and walked to me. As I got out I recognised him straightaway. I'd arrested him a couple of years beforehand on a warrant, and remembered he had needles in all his pockets at the time. If I do traffic stops on people I usually get them in the car in the back seat to keep them contained and to try and protect us from passing traffic - with junkies I'm not so keen on this idea.
He (I'll call him Aaron) apologised straight away for his speed, as I was searching him. I did checks, and he actually had an actual full driving licence. Aaron explained he had a job as a courier, hence the van (with insurance) and driving licence.
He told me that in fact he was clean now. I've heard this before from drug addicts, and funnily enough I often suspect a mistruth. Aaron obviously knew this, and pulled up his sleeves to show a lack of needle marks. When I had nicked him he had a very long record of drugs, theft and Failing to Appear offences, and was expecting a child. I reminded him of this, and he laughed.
"Truth is mate, that's what's sorted me out. There's only so long you can live like a wanker."
Aaron hadn't come to the notice of the police since the birth, he'd got his driving licence in the same month, and had been working agency for courier companies since then. He looked knackered, but as I talked to him I realised that the grey face had more colour than it used to, and he was amazingly lucid. He'd had a second child, and fathering duties plus early mornings were obviously catching up with him, but I actually believed him about the drugs.
I knew then that Aaron would be getting a verbal warning - he was late to work after sitting up with a crying ill baby, not through injecting himself with gear. I knew that he couldn't afford to lose his licence as he'd probably lose his job, and to be honest I was impressed.
Afterwards I did some digging, and according to the Drug Intervention Programme team, Aaron really has gone clean. No relapses, paid off his fines, and working six days a week twelve hours a day to support his new family and clear his debts.
Aaron is one of the few examples of someone actually, truly changing, and I respect him for that. I'm glad I stopped him, it cheered me up and I know some officers would have done him for the traffic offence.
I've seen him a couple of times since then at about the same time in the morning, as it's a usual haunt of mine, and he's been doing a steady 59mph.
Something postive for once!