Thursday, 13 March 2008
Recently on my division, as on many other divisions in the met, there has been a drive on improving standards.
Uniform standards that is. What else did you think it meant?
Emails have been sent round, inspections have been done, PCs have been given bollockings for not wearing a hat or a tie - I personally saw a long service PC getting bawled out by a guvnor for not wearing his tie, as he had his hi-viz jacket on.
Background to that is that the PC had leapt out of his car and shoved on his yellow jacket to try and fend off traffic as his colleague was crouched in the road trying to stem the severe bleeding of a pedestrian who had been hit by a motorbike. But that obviously wasn't important.
This has come from high up, and despite being ridiculous, it makes me smile inwardly. It puts me in mind of the captain of the Titanic checking the qualifications of his on-board chefs shortly after hitting the giant ice cube.
Then recently, I was at an assistance shout. A sporting event had spilled out into the street after the fans had consumed generous quantities of alcohol, and level two public order officers were deployed and requesting urgent assistance. I arrived on scene with a colleague and jumped out of the car whilst it was still moving to assist a British Transport Police PC who had just fallen to the floor and been kicked in the face by a beered up football fan; Pulled the suspect off the PC assisted by other officers, then ran to where another fight was breaking out.
This continued for half an hour or so, ducking bottles and street furniture being thrown at us. Injured PCs were led away, many arrests were made, and half the met turned up to try and control it. Afterwards, we were talked to by our guvnor: "I noticed a few of you weren't wearing your hats..."
Although I will and do happily wear my hat most of the time when I get out of the car (it keeps my poor head warm and dry), the day when I stop to walk around the car, open the boot and get my hat out rather than help a PC on the floor being kicked in the head is the day I hand my warrant card in.
Anyway. Deep breath.
After this, I took to wearing my hat. Constantly. In the car, out of the car, at calls. Walking around the Police station. Eating refs. As did my colleague from the assistance shout.
Smirks from some of the other PCs.
Then another one of my regular partners in crime started wearing his all the time. Then another. Before long, half of us were wearing hats during morning parade (until then I'd never seen a hat in parade, let alone someone wearing one).
Bless, the Inspector and his bosses saw this and started to get embarrassed. And so started to wear their hats everywhere, even walking around inside the nick. Spot on.
Then I remembered my Hendon training school days. It is still (officially) Met policy to salute an officer of Inspector rank or above, if they are wearing their hat... In practice I have NEVER seen one saluted in day to day work, and in fact only ever seen it during parades, ceremonies and funerals.
I took to saluting every single senior officer I saw. As did a large proportion of the relief. A wonderful way to stop unwanted conversations with senior officers, snapping to attention and ripping off salutes. It got to the point where my poor Inspector couldn't walk down the corridor without saluting every few paces.
Shortly after that in parade, our guvnor made a few "clarifications" about the crack down on the uniform code, and when and where it should be adhered to.
Hats off at urgent assistances. Result.
Of course, the wonderful bonus to this is everytime I am dealing with an incident out and about wearing my hat now, and a guvnor approaches, he is watching warily to see if he is going to be put through the embarrassing rigmarole of saluting in the street.
Particularly brave and stupid officers have been raising their hand quickly to brush their hair in order to see the senior officers flinch and/or start to raise their hand in salute.
Childish? Maybe, but I think more than that it's an example of us keeping our morale up despite the best attempts of senior officers.
PS... an unspecified and probably worthless prize goes to the first person to work out the relevance of the title. If anyone does.