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.


Anonymous said...

As far as I remember Yossarian in Catch-22 had to pretend to respect his senior officers in order to be sent home rahter than being court martialed for going awol, are you saying that pretend respect is no respect no matter how it looks to anyone outside the loop?

Anonymous said...

Sorry I cheated and googled it. It wouldn't have anything to do with catch 22 where Yossarian thinks everyone is out to kill him and goes to great lengths to try and prevent his death? If not the resemblance is uncanny!

Anonymous said...

Yossarian was the hero in Joseph Heller's "Catch 22". Am I close?

Anonymous said...

Bugger! One minute out!

RandomPinkness said...

Bloody hell by the time I've read the post there are four comments when there were none, I had no idea the relevance of the title and unlike some people I wasn’t going to cheat ;)

Well done my dear on a very cunning plan, I just wish I'd seen it, trust you to think of something like that.

Area Trace No Search said...

I'm impressed as well - Yes, the first Anon is spot on. A bottle of vodka for you, sir/madam. Let me know what to do with it!

There was also a particular quote I was thinking of relating to Yossarian and saluting, if anyone knows it...

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell that's the first time I've ever won anything! E-mail sent with details

Anonymous said...

Hahahahahahaha... You, sir, are a very funny writer. Just thought you should know. :)

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

got no idea!I know where you work,I'm sure!!!we will end up at the same shout one day,please dont take the piss when we do!!

Anonymous said...

Absolute genius.I salute you!
We've had numerous e mails at the minute about headwear etc and I'm afraid I'm going to have to follow your example.

cogidubnus said...

Loved the saluting had me rolling about...thanks, marvellous!

Whichendbites said...

You couldn't make it up. We had to respond to an outbreak of disorder at a railway station and deployed with dogs immediatley due to the amount of assistance calls. One of the incident commanders seemed to think that the MOPs would not be able to recognise us without our hats on, despite the high vis tabs with Police emblazoned, despite the dog vans with blue roof bars flashig away, despite the barking and lunging dogs, despite all the other officers there fighting with hooligans. Just which public this was who would not be able to recognise us I do not know.
I suppose next time we should book off as at scene, lock the van after deployment, seek advice from the officer in charge of the incident before we take any action. Now that would impress everyone who really matters.

XTP said...

I'm going to get slaughtered for this but here goes -
I have over the (many) years of service come across the idiot senior officers who don't know what to do at a scene and so all that they can think of is to "order" us poor plod to wear our hats. I don't particularly think that it's because they want us to wear them especially but because they're so out of their depth and petrified that they'll say something stupid that they'll regret later. We should pity them really.

Mind you - don't you think that it does look better and more "professional" if we do wear them? I always try to remember to wear mine if I know I'm going to be out of the car for more than a minute or so. Also when I'm sticking someone on, I have to say.

Maybe it's just because I'm old-fashioned!

BUT - any senior officer who takes you to task about it at any sort of scene like you describe needs one in the chops!

"gunner" said...

well done "area" that's what we did with newbie shavetails wot got too up with their brand new "butterbars", salute them until their right arm went lame. ("butterbars", in the u.s. forces a 2lt wears two parallel gold bars as rank insignia.) usually they got the message fairly quickly.
by the way, sorry i haven't been by for a bit, my computer fried the motherboard and cpu so i've had to borrow the wifes machine pending getting new bits to replace the ones that failed the smoke test.

cogidubnus said...

I'm thinking hard...It's been years...I can recall Yossarian (I think just after he'd agreed to be sent back home in disgrace) leaving the Colonels office and answering a salute from a PFC who looked vaguely familiar (and who turned out to be his late friend's whore) and attempted to stab him to death...Didn't the Colenel save him or this what you meant?

TheBinarySurfer said...

Nice area, play them at their own game and win.

Dave H. said...

"Some people are born mediocre, some achieve mediocrity and still others have mediocity thrust upon them.

With Home Secretary Homesecretary it was all three.

In a cabinet full of ordinary people she somehow stood out at as being more ordinary than the rest and the only remarkable thing about her was how unremarkable she was."

Metcountymounty said...

I like the new look area, much easier to read albeit a bit MDT in nightmode!!

Slippery said...

XTP hits the nail on the head; that kind of order in the circumstances described is weak, petty and small minded. It shoes a complete lack of leadership and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

However, there is nothing wrong with trying to raise standards with officers and not just those in uniform. (For the record I am a serving police officer with more than 10 years service.)

I am amazed at the shower of s**t I see wandering the streets in uniform. Not wearing hats is the least of it! Seems the definition of "uniform" is lost on the majority of officers. Most I see seem to wear whatever they want when they go out. I saw 3 officers go into a cafe to buy refs all 3 of them were dressed differently: one had a jacket on, the other a short sleeved shirt and body armour and the 3rd had a long sleeved shirt, no hats naturally.

I was in MacDonalds with some non job friends when a uniformed serial on aid came in. I don't have a problem with them getting grub when/where they can but it was cringeworthy. Again, none of them were dressed the same, coats undone, no hats, no ties (despite being on aid wearing long sleeved shirts). They were all laughing and joking, one was outside with fag on and others strolled down the road to the carrier eating chips and burgers in full view of MOPs! Unbelieveable, it was like a 6th form outing.

Anyway, good blog. Stay safe!

Area Trace No Search said...

Thanks for all the comments - to those who mention uniform standards, I agree. Long sleeve shirts without ties is a bugbear of mine, as are boots that haven't seen even a wipe over polish for years.

But, as everyone has acknowledged, time and place...

The quote (which I have been trying to find but have lost my Catch 22 book) was something along the lines of: "A salute became a way of saying "Fuck you" to those who demanded it."

dave h. said...

Oddest of all, there's a uniform even when off-duty.

Without exception you wear funny white caps.

Louise said...

.....and here was me thinking you had devised a new greeting for the big chief "Yo Sir Ian"... now that I would like to see!! Do I get a prize?

Fat Lazy Male Nurse said...

When I was in the army we used to lay saluting 'traps' for officers. We'd hide around corners, in doorways, behind vehicles, or bushes and await our prey. When some 22 year old Montgomery walked along, we'd jump out in turn and salute him until his little right arm throbbed.
Oh those were the days, and far more fun than painting stones white.

PCFrankyFact said...

How gratifying it is to see that some of your colleagues supported you in your wearing of the hat campaign.
Camararderie seems to be dead in my force. I've found from experience that when I've opened my trap all of a sudden I'm on me todd with tumbleweeds blowing by.
G class 5/90.

Anonymous said...

Who says passive-aggression doesn't solve anything? Good job getting something done without having to pitch a big fit about it =c )

uncommon said...

Hah, someone told me the job had changed: I can see from this it hasn't!

brendan (hantspol 66-91, now living in Atlanta)

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