Saturday, 22 December 2007
I had kindly left my partner to talk to the very drunk, half dressed behemoth that was supposedly the female victim of this call. She reminded me very much of one of Terry Pratchett's female trolls.
I was outside the flat, letting the wind play with the collar of my gortex jacket and idly wondering how long I would wait outside before the cold drove me back to the flat with the abusive drunken female troll.
Approximately until Hell froze over, if you were wondering.
As any member of any uniformed service will testify, if you stand still long enough you will get a crowd. For some reason, the less interesting the activity you are doing, the more likely it is you will get a large and dedicated following. In my case, it was of a group of young lads.
Area: "What's happening, lads?"
Lad 1: "Have you got a light, mate?"
Lad 2: "Has someone been killed?"
Area: (sotto voice) "Not yet."
Lad 2: "Huh?"
Lad 3: "Have you ever shot anyone?"
Area: "Only for asking stupid questions."
This went on for a while - The boys were happy whilst distracted, and I realised that I could use as much sarcasm as I liked without causing offence.
However, something inside of me felt I should take the initiative.
Area: "So what do you want Father Christmas to bring you this year?"
Lad 1: "A Blowjob."
Area: "Ah... right..."
You and me both mate, you and me both...
Sunday, 16 December 2007
In the beginning was The Plan. Then came the Assumptions. The Assumptions were without form. The Plan was completely without substance and darkness was upon the face of the Policemen, and they spoke amongst themselves, saying "It is a crock of shit and it stinketh".
And the Policemen went unto their sergeants saying, "It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof," and the sergeants went unto their Inspectors saying, "It is a container of excrement and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."
The Inspectors then went unto the Chief Inspectors saying "It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide it's strength." The Chief Inspectors spoke amongst themselves, saying to one another, "It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong."
The Chief Inspectors then went to their Superintendants saying, "It promotes growth and it is very powerful."
The Superintendants went unto the Borough Commander and said "This new Plan will actively promote growth and efficiency of the Force and in weak areas in particular"
The Borough Commander looked upon the Plan, and saw that it was good and the Plan became Policy. This is how shit happens: so sayeth the Poor Bloody Copper.
This is doing the rounds at the moment...
Thursday, 13 December 2007
Units To My Location
Yes, I can arrest you.
No, I don’t need a warrant.
Really, I can arrest you.
No, you don’t need to take your shoes off. Really.
Ok, let me rephrase that. DON’T take your shoes off.
Honestly – oh, right. Well, put them back on again. The socks stay on. THE SOCKS STAY ON!
Oh for the love of God. Take your feet away from me. I really don’t want to search there.
No, your shirt can stay on. I don’t care. Tattoos don’t interest me. Not even that one. Or that one. Who is Cindy anyway? Ah, sorry to hear that.
Right, now keep still. I mean it, don’t mess around here. You don’t want to be cuffed? Fine, so the police car is behind you, why don’t you climb in and I’ll chauffeur you to the Police station?
No, that is not your right. Or that. I hate to tell you, COPS may be good to watch, but it isn’t filmed here. It’s filmed in The States.
No, the United States... you know, America.
What do you mean, “so?” Well, they have different laws – look, it doesn’t matter why I stopped you. You’re drunk. And you’re wanted. And those tablets are NOT aspirin.
Do I have anything better to do? Well, yes, I could be spending this time in a hot tub with a beautiful blonde girl outside a villa by the sea in the Med, with a bottle of champagne cooling nearby. Failing that, YOU are my project for this evening.
No, not in that way. Perhaps that was the wrong choice of words.
Yes, that’s true, I’d have to get the blonde girl first. And the rest of it.
No, that’s very kind, but I’d prefer to try and find a girl to spend my time with myself.
...The things you say and do when you’ve stopped a car whilst single crewed and are waiting desperately for back up to arrive to help you deal with the four, known, violent occupants.
Or is it just me?
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
The A Team
It is not exhaustive, not least because there are so many characters; and besides, everyone knows the “brand new probationer officer/pre retirement officer” comparisons. And the brown nosers, the lazy officers, and the vast majority of reasonably hard working people that make up a team.
Tired: Tired is, well, always tired. He (it is always a he) will be late for early turn so regularly that most of the relief will a) know his phone number off by heart, and b) know the route to his front door in a police car when going to give him a “friendly wake up call.” Tired will be late to training days, team meetings, and even late turns... and even manage to be late for night duties sometimes. He suffers from Sticky Mattress Syndrome. Annoyingly, he will usually be up for overtime, all the time, despite the fact his suffering team may want to actually go home. As they need to be up on time for work.
Angry: Angry is angry at everyone, and everything he comes across. This will include: our kit, our cars, other coppers, victims, witnesses, suspects, the calls, the sergeants, the senior management, the quality of tea in the canteen, the smoking ban, any department he has not worked on, any department he has worked on...
This will be made even more annoying as he will seethe constantly and simply moan at anyone close at hand. And tell you what he thinks about everyone else. You can be safe in the knowledge that when he is not posted with you, he will be just as scathing about you. Comes alive in public order situations. Possibly unhinged.
Chipper : Chipper has the morale of someone on very strong anti depressants, and will generally be less than thirty seconds away from a smile, or probably a cackle. Usually a female officer. Chipper will take any and every call and still have the time for a joke with her partner. And a cackle. Often speaks a little too loudly, and laughs after very unfunny jokes. Is the kind of person that holds the team together when morale is at rock bottom. Can be very tiring to work with. Completely unhinged.
Bitter: Bitter is not old enough in service to be accepting about things yet. He or she applied for the area car course, but “don’t give a shit the guvnor gave it to someone else, only did it to make more paperwork for him.” Or failed the sergeants exam, but “only did it for a day out and to prove how easy it was.” Or got passed over to be Acting Sergeant, but “would have refused it anyway, there’s no way I’d want to brown nose like that.” Bitter thinks the job owes him. Unhinged.
Overtime Bandit: Exactly that. They will take calls after handover time, even when there are plenty of units from the next shift available and with cars. Will volunteer for any crappy duty on any crappy posting, but only if money is involved. Otherwise, forget it. Often has an impressive car/flat/collection of new technology and an even more impressive credit card bill.
Home Boy: Tells everybody about his girlfriend/relationship troubles/family history/sexual exploits/financial problems. Just say “no” to any question of his.
Psycho: Possibly ex-military, but not necessarily. Starts the day by looking at pictures inside of his locker, of his “calm place.” Do not interrupt this. Do not try and see said pictures. Do not try and ask him about his calm place. This procedure is not negotiable. Sometimes freezes in conversations and goes misty eyed. Can silence most sober suspects with a "look." Less strong supervisors often fear to tell him anything, although he will unfailingly carry out an order. Icy calm in crazy situations. No fear. Often spends down time staring at nothing muttering to himself. Do not try and have a personal conversation with him. It will not work. Will occasionally be posted with Home Boy by a Duties Sergeant with a wicked sense of humour. Unhinged.
Old Sweat. Never has a pen. Has done everything, ever, in Police work. Will never be surprised at anything. Often underestimated by younger officers, as will stand back in most situations. Never gets griefy crime reports assigned to them. Knows how to “cuff” a job. Capable of surprising everyone in the team with huge displays of compassion and competence when really needed. An endangered species, unlikely to have anything close to a successful personal life, and not much better on a social life, after a long career spent doing earlies, lates and nights. Unhinged.
Eccentric: Eccentric reads a paper half the team haven’t heard of, listens to music no one has heard of, and goes to places no one else would want to. They will have a slightly mysterious past, that gets harder to make sense of the more you know about it. Unlikely to speak in short, concise sentences. Will prevaricate around the bush whenever possible. Is generally liked/tolerated on the relief, but doesn’t have many close friends within it. Will have a love hate relationship with each and every supervisor he or she works with. Will put in official requests for things like time off for “a bi-annual virgin sacrifice” in order to worry Duties. This works wonders when annual leave is needed in a rush. Suspected of being unhinged.
Please add more, the better ones I will add to this post.
I am not going to go on about our pay, except to ask one thing: Jacqui Smith, the best recruiting officer that overseas Police forces have ever had?
Monday, 3 December 2007
I thought, like Jerry Springer, I’d try something controversial.
So, lets talk about Soldiers. I love dealing with soldiers at work, for a number of reasons. None of them are reasons that perhaps will ever be taught in Hendon, but hey ho.
I’d also like to say that it is definitely a minority of soldiers that we come into contact with. When we do, most of them are drunken, very young and homesick lads with too much booze in them who just react with their fists. If this is against locals, then we come down on them, hard. If it’s SOS (Squaddie On Squaddie) we’re there just to nick anyone still standing afterwards.
Now, dealing with squaddies is an art into itself. It’s not all plain sailing, you have to remember that you are in effect dealing with a group of well trained, fit, tough, battle hardened and capable men. Who have been drinking and feel no pain. Oh, and like coppers, when they say to each other “I’d take a bullet for you,” they actually mean it.
But if you keep this in mind, and turn up mob handed, and employ some simple tactics, as a copper you should be ok. One of the tactics is to let them fight it out first, so they’re nicely tired out. Wait until you’ve got numerical superiority. And with fighting, drunk squaddies, don’t try and talk to them. They’ve already made the decision to fight, and so the only way you’re going to be cuffing them is with force.
Oh, and before you draw your CS spray, try and remember that they are probably more likely to be able to cope with CS than any street copper is.
But there are many advantages. Firstly, my paperwork will be minimal. Once I’ve got the soldier safely tucked away within the confines of the local cells, I pick up the phone and call the Royal Military Police. If they can deal, then that’s the end of our involvement. Oh, and PACE doesn’t apply to them the same as it does to us.
Another thing, is that unlike the usual scrote that I drag in, the soldiers actually fear the consequences of their actions once they’ve sobered up. The justice administered by the RMP and the Company Sergeant Major afterwards is more immediate, harder and probably more effective and long lasting than anything that the civil courts hand out.
And if they’ve been brought in for Assault Police, or Resist Arrest (common), then the chances are you will get an apology if you show sufficient respect to the RMP lads who turn up. There’s something a lot more satisfying than seeing a baseball capped youth sneering in court at you – and that is seeing a contrite and hungover soldier being marched double time to you by two RMPs, brought to a halt, stood to attention, and made to apologise for his behaviour.
But the thing that I genuinely like, is that soldiers are in some respects like old school villains. Once they’ve sobered up, they’ll call the Custody Sergeants “Sarn’t,” they’ll ruefully smile and be quite happy that they got clobbered by a couple of PCs whilst being dragged in; they were fighting, and got fought with. Most expect nothing less.
This is something I would love to see from drunken members of public – the acceptance that if they offer violence to police and public, they will receive it in response.
Continuing on a military theme, I have discovered a blogger that I would like to draw to your attention, a female US Marine – someone doing a job that is a bitch to get into, a drag to do well in, and hard to stay with, no matter what sex, age, colour or religion your are. A regular commenter on this blog, “Gunner,” is an ex-marine, I hope he at least enjoys it. If you like it, leave a comment for her and tell her how you found her! The blog is HERE
Friday, 30 November 2007
I didn’t listen.
I heard what she said, but I didn’t listen. Instead, I stared into space, a talent of mine.
I remember staring at her belt, and thinking that I didn’t recognise it. Is that a result of my lack of caring, or just the situation I was in? It was rainbow coloured, with a silver coloured buckle, something that I can physically see now when I close my eyes.
I was sitting on the spare bed, in the flat that was once ours. There were tears in her eyes, and I know there were in mine.
“No,” I said, and kept repeating; “No.” My mind was made up.
She kept talking, and what she said was all true. How often was it wrong? But I tried not to think about it. Instead, there was only one thought clear in my mind.
“I’ve got to iron my shirt for late turn.”
I do love my job, but God alone knows I hate it sometimes. I should have listened, I should have called in sick, I should have shown her the respect she deserved.
Instead, she left, I ironed my shirt, went to late turn, nicked a guy for being wanted on warrant.
Came back, cleared out the flat, cleaned it, and slept on the floor in an empty flat that we once called home.
And it comes back to me regularly, when I look for a dvd and realise I don’t have it anymore as I bought it for her. Or listen to a song that was “ours.” Or when I finish work and start to text her to tell her I’m on my way home, then remember I’m not going home to her.
Most of all, I want to apologise to her, to explain that in fact I fucked up, that I was wrong and she was right. But I know that if I care for her the best thing I can do is leave her alone.
So instead, I keep going to late turn, and turn up to fights, and traffic accidents, and try and forget about the flat that was our home.
Thank God Coppers don’t have feelings, eh?
Thursday, 29 November 2007
In a nice way, obviously.
I have a strict personal code - I never stray as high as "Bad Behaviour" and generally stick to "Sillyness" or occasional bouts of "Slight Naughtiness."
Recently a few of us were in work for an extended tour of duty on an operation. In the wonderful way of the Police, we had paraded at 0600hours, had a briefing, had some breakfast, then were sitting around for the marked carriers to come in for us to use. Which were due in (in an example of amazing planning) at 0800hours from the night duty operation.
I was not with my usual relief, but knew a few of the lads from my previous team. One of them, I'll call Terry, had a penchant for sillyness as well.
Once we'd arranged and had the quick knock out round of office chair races, we decided to see if we could toboggan down the fire escape on the public order shields.
It was going excellently, the corners were managed with no problem at all. Myself and Terry braved it and tried going down the stairs simultaneously on shields.
That is, until we met the Superintendant coming up the stairs. I shouted for him to get out the way, and he flattened himself against the wall, only to turn and watch me... and promptly got "taken out" by Terry who was behind me.
Of course, when you are hit by a public order shield with fifteen stone of copper on it, there's not much you can do about it, and Terry and the Superintendant slid down the escape clutching each other in a desparate embrace.
As I fell off the shield at the bottom, Terry and the Superintendant slid to a halt next to me, and I lay on the ground giggling. The Superintendant was too surprised to know what to do - finding yourself in the middle of a shield race at 0700hours is not the best way to start the day.
We stood up. The Superintendant looked at us, dishevelled, guilty, and holding back giggles.
Super: "Do you have any idea what you are doing?"
Area: "I'm sure there's no actual written rule against it sir."
Super: "My office, ten minutes"
Oh bugger. Me and Terry know the route well, but it's not a journey we enjoy.
Both of us stood in the yard, as our serial filed past, led by Pissed Sergeant, with faces full of smugness.
We heard a scraping noise start. It seemed to be coming from the stairs. I rolled my eyes, knowing that another PC was trying the same thing and was no doubt going to be joining us in the SMT office. Pissed Sergeant smiled evilly and positioned himself at the bottom of the stairs.
As the uniformed officer slid out and fell off, giggling, Pissed Sergeant reached over and hauled him upright.
Pissed Sergeant: "You daft bugger... oh, morning Sir"
Breathless Superintendant: "Er. Morning Sergeant. There was a shield left upstairs I thought you might need."
Area:(thinking quickly) "Thank you Guv. Shall we come up to your office now?"
Super: "Hmmm. Possibly not. Well, good to see you are keeping morale up. If you hurt yourselves, don't even think about claiming an injury on duty."
Area: "No sir, thank you sir."
Super: "And put your tie on."
I miss that Superintendant, he left to play with guns and the division hasn't been the same since.
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Gotham City PD
See, the problem I have is that I still enjoy policing. And of course, the system is not set up to encourage us to do much policing, let alone enjoy it.
I hear regularly that frontline police officers are lazy and just want to spend their time in the office. This winds me up every time; there are so many office jobs throughout the police with departments creating work for other departments to fulfil a government quota. If I (or pretty much any other officer on my relief) wanted to sit inside behind a computer all day, I could pretty much guarantee we could be in an office job within two months, at the outside.
Because of this, the vast majority of officers who work on response teams and other front line work are there because they actually want to go out and do policing; I imagine this is the same situation throughout the UK.
The oft-repeated complaints about paperwork are well known outside the police now, and it is true that if I deal with a non crime domestic incident it will take me two hours to complete the assorted paperwork and reports.
But there are other things as well... like the lack of cars and resources for a shift. It is a regular occurrence to sit in the yard at shift changeover time with no cars to take out, as the previous shift is still dealing with their incidents. We’ll hear call after call put out (some of them outstanding from the last shift) and we can’t get to them. Our nick is based nowhere near civilisation, so walking to the calls is out of the question unfortunately.
And the stingy beggars in the helicopter won’t give us lifts.
Whatever, it’s the lighter moments that give us relief and let us enjoy the job a bit more. Things I have seen recently in no particular order:
1 – An eighteen stone man mountain of a copper delighting the rest of the team by showing that he can dance, well, and doing so with an elderly lady in her back garden to apologise for running through it looking for a burglary suspect. In the light of the helicopter spotlight, naturally.
2 – A young female PC arm wrestling a male custody sergeant and winning, to his obvious and understandable embarrassment.
3 – A couple of ARV lads swanning around and impressing the ladies at a well known tea spot, before swaggering back to the car and falling spectacularly over in the “waste” that a kind dog walker had left behind. Obviously, none of the watching officers from our team, the neighbouring borough, and British Transport Police laughed, as that would have been unsporting.
4 – A full serial of kitted up public order lads about to storm their way into an address, having to knock at the neighbour’s door one by one to use the toilet as they’d been called out of refs and had been waiting ages... and her checking each and every one of their boots to make sure that they weren’t too dirty.
5 – Area getting his chance to practise his rousing speech for when the revolution comes. Searching a block of flats, I found a way onto the roof. In the pouring rain, in the middle of the night, I realised that my chance had come. I made my way to the edge, and started to shout inspiring messages to the troops below. Thunder cracked, and I realised that fate was smiling on me, as I raised my torch above my head to call the batmobile from its lair...
My Inspector was very understanding really, and I believe him when he said that the reason he put me on a constant suicide watch guard in custody afterwards was to give myself a chance to dry off. The prisoner I was guarding was very encouraging about my plans for the revolution, and the PC I relieved from the post had kindly left a half cold and half drunk mug of tea for me.
I don’t like tea.
Sunday, 11 November 2007
The Least We Can Do
Friday, 9 November 2007
Leaving On A Jetplane
I'm proud of being British, I'm proud of my family's mixed background, and I like a lot of our national traits.
However, we've been talking at work about emigrating a lot recently. It seems more and more officers are doing it or thinking of doing it, not just David Copperfield. In fact, I personally know three officers that have jumped country recently, and five more that are in the process of doing it, not to mention the ones that I don't know personally but know of.
This is backed up recent statistics floated about in the news showing that emigration from Britain is increasing and is at a high point.
I have also thought seriously about emigrating, to either Australia or possibly the US. The reasons for me are quality of life, more affordable living... and also to work as a cop in a different way to the way I do now. I'm not naive enough to think that anywhere has a perfect system of policing, but that doesn't stop me wanting to seek one out.
Although I'd happily emigrate (and may well do it in the near future), I also would stay British. I'd take citizenship anywhere that I'd like enough to live in, but I would only voluntarily give up my British Passport in extreme circumstances.
In fact, I can think easily of only two:
1 - If the death penalty was reintroduced in the UK
2 - If all drugs were legalised
I'm not trying to start a debate about the death penalty, there is one about sentencing and the death penalty that appears to be starting on Inspector Gadget's blog at the moment.
What would make you give up your passport?
And, people who have emigrated, or thought about it - why?
If and when I do it, I will be moving as a copper. Despite the frustrations, I still like being a Policemanofficer.
Saturday, 3 November 2007
In case, for whatever reason, I wasn't clear enough; I love them to bits and couldn't imagine working without bumping into them on a regular basis.
Their professionalism shames me sometimes, their knowledge fills me with admiration, their attitude to the job shows that you can be cynical and still care, and their institutional sense of humour goes well hand in hand with coppers.
Oh, and their pay is appalling for what they do. The fact is they have to be issued flak jackets now, and attend the same jobs we do, sometimes arriving before us. I have turned up to violent domestics to find the ambo crew on scene; I know of quite a few that have been assaulted, and one or two seriously, including an LAS paramdedic stabbed in the head by a drunken husband of a victim he was attending to.
Not only that - but they often can point us in the direction of eligible nursing staff. And warn us away from others. Not to mention some of the lady ambos...
Of course, they are overstretched as we are.
So many times I've heard "LAS have no unit to send" whilst dealing with something. And I know they've heard the same many times from us. Usually it's not too bad - if it's not critical I'm happy they can't come. I'll even make sure it doesn't get chased up if they're on their shift changeover time and the patient is not too time sensitive.
Occasionally though, the wheels come off and they can't get there.
That's when every copper really starts to appreciate how much they love the ambo crews, just like a real relationship.
A while ago I took a call to a welfare check, after a daughter of a woman had been unable to contact her mother on the phone.
The woman had suffered a stroke, was epileptic, asthmatic, diabetic and had just come out of hospital after major surgery - her children were grown up and moved away, and were on their way down from Yorkshire to check on her but were worried after a phone call was cut off and she didn't answer call backs.
We turned up on scene, and spoke to neighbours who told us the same thing. The lights were on, so the door went in - with a satisfying crash that immediately impressed the elderly occupants in the nearby flats. I love feeling like a hero.
As we entered the flat, I saw straight away the woman, not elderly but obviously very very weak. She was struggling to breath, and was semi-conscious, with an enormous collection of medication next to her.
Straight away, I called up for an ambo to attend.
I was talking to her, and could see she was fading in and out, and her breath was becoming more ragged. I eyed the assorted inhalers, and realised I'd have no idea which one to offer her.
The radio crackled into life: "BX23, LAS report they have no units to send at the moment."
My partner was looking nervous, and as the woman sat up she started to shake. In fact, she started to convulse. I looked at him, and he got straight on the radio and started to ask the control room to chase up the LAS.
Oh shit. Oh Shit.
The woman looked at me, and her eyes seemed to unfocus, then she went rigid. I realised she wasn't breathing. I shook her, pinched her ear, "Can you hear me love?"
Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
Radio: "LAS still have no units to send, they will advise when they can get one."
The woman slumped forward on to me.
I pushed her off, and slapped her face, not a technique in any book but I wanted to be sure. She had no reaction so I started to pull off her jacket and jumper, I didn't want to be trying to locate her breaths and heart beats on the floor through loads of layers. My fingers were fumbling in my haste, but I managed it in a few seconds.
I yanked the woman towards me, and laid her on the floor. Well, I say laid - perhaps a better description would be "threw."
The woman landed on the floor, with an "Oof." And opened her eyes in shocked surprised.
I started a new mantra in my head: Thankyou God, thankyou God, thankyou God.
In the recovery position, all under control. Ish. I heard the sound of a siren, saw the strobe of the lights as an ambo rig pulled up the crew dismounted,
LAS did their thing, put the woman on oxygen, loaded her up.
I realised I was in love, deeply madly with both the crew members. One of them asked if I wanted to go with them.
Area: "I'd love to come with you. Anywhere."
LAS: "I meant with this lady to hospital."
Area: "Oh, er, yes, me too..."
The love remains, even after the ribbing we received from them. "I thought you said she wasn't breathing?"
Er, well, she wasn't.
"I don't know, you coppers are always flapping. See you later love."
Friday, 26 October 2007
I have said some of those things of course.
The thing is, I suspect that traffic process is done very little throughout most of response Police officers. A lot of it is left up to traffic officers to do.
Yes, probationers are expected to hand in a certain amount of process, and all of us are expected to show a return of work of some type, so traffic process is done.
But I don't think it's way off the mark to guess that 80% of people that get pulled for traffic offences are let off with a warning. I'm not talking for No Insurance or similar, but for the smaller offences. I STOP people for these offences, but I have a very simple test to see what happens afterwards.
You see, I walk up to the car, and say "Excuse me mate, you weren't wearing your seatbelt back there." I then wait for the reply from the person, knowing that it will affect the outcome of this stop. If he replies "Sorry, officer, my fault, I know it's wrong..." or something along those lines, and doesn't smell of booze or drugs then frankly I know that within about thirty seconds I'll be back in my car and he'll be on his way.
If, after my opening gambit, the reply I receive is along the lines of "Fuck you man, you filth are always pulling me over, just get out of my face. I'm not getting out of the car, last time I got arrested it took four of you," then there is a good chance that I will in fact be doing some kind of writing. Although not necessarily for traffic offences.
I actually stopped someone who was on his phone a while back, and I was busy enough to verbally warn him and be on my way. Except he wasn't happy with that. And went into a rant about how last time he was nicked for supplying drugs the week before it was well out of order, you filth are all the same, it wasn't enough for supply...
So, funnily enough he found himself getting searched.
And, funnily enough, had drugs on him.
So once again was off to Custody for PWITS (posession with intent to supply). Although, like many of my customers, his custody record should have read "Failed the stupid test, arrested for prompt and effective investigation of any sign of intelligence."
More trade secrets!
On another note, Belfast Peeler seems to be in a pickle at the moment.
He is one of my favourite Police Bloggers, and it's his choice whether he explains the situation. However, can I suggest posting a comment in support of him at this time? The comments may not be posted (as they may be more damaging to him) but he'll be reading them, as he has comment approval on his blog, and I think we should show our support for a great blogger and someone who sounds like a great copper as well.
Sunday, 21 October 2007
If you are being chased by a police dog, don't try to get away by crawling through a tunnel, going onto a little see-saw, and jumping through a hoop of fire.
They are trained for that, you see.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
I've got shaky hands again, and I don't know why. I'm safely at home, the heating is on, the door is locked (and double locked) and my uniform is sealed in a plastic bin sack by the front door.
My hands weren't shaking earlier when I was at work, thank God. Although they should have been.
I can still smell the metallic tangy smell, my hands are washed clean but still feel sticky, and I've been searching for nail clippers since I've got home to get someone else's DNA out from under my nails. My shirt I won't wear again, I'm desperately short of them now but even if I bleach it I think it's ready for the great launderette in the sky. My strides are black so should hide the stains well - and I only have two pairs, getting hold of another takes weeks if not months.
I'm thinking about anything at the periphary of the incident - anything except what I actually dealt with. The LAS fast responder who turned up. Six hours earlier in the shift we had been at another scene, talking about his son, his car, he smiled: "you lads need some gloves?" We don't even bother making up an excuse now, their gloves are better than ours, we both know it.
At the more recent scene he wasn't smiling. No jokes about his son's college, no banter about swapping gloves for an asp. Instead I watched as he pushed a copper in the chest who got in his way, trying to keep someone alive whilst chaos happened round him.
I was working with him - I like to try and help out medical staff, it's less glamorous than some of the tasks on offer but it's still the number one role of police officers (saving life and limb). I saw that his gloves were working well, but the blood was spattered over his elbows. I knew then that it wasn't sweat I was feeling on my arms, but didn't want to look. The Gucci gloves only go so far.
Seeing the mess afterwards, gloves, tape, wires, assorted debris from the kit bags that were scattered all over.
The flash of blue strobe, a copper climbing in the Ambo for continuity, as I walk away I realise someone has put up police tape and a cordon is in place - why is it the tape is always upside down?
My hands didn't shake then, nor when I washed my arms off, or when I wrote my notes.
But now I'm on the prowl for diversion in the middle of the night, in my home, and they won't stop shaking. And there's no bloody booze in the house. Whatever happened to the promise of 24 hour drinking?
PS - I'll re read this post tomorrow at some point... if it's as badly written as I suspect it may be, I'll get rid of it and substitute it with some funny pictures
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Gangs and Tags
Thursday, 11 October 2007
For the uninitiated, depending on the terrorist threat at the time each borough will put out a bomb car, with list of vulnerable or critical sites to visit, in a random order over the course of a tour of duty. The bomb car is not available for calls unless related to their core task - eg unexploded bombs or threats etc.
Don't worry though - they give us a bag with a loudhailer and two rolls of tape, so in the case of a terrorist attack we are fully prepared. And our hi-viz jackets of course.
The lovely thing about the callsign is that not only are you given a break from the endless calls, you also actually get a chance to be proactive, something that really never happens usually except for between the hours of 0300hours and 0500hours. When, of course, there is a huge amount of people about to stop...
So we wander around the borough, stopping random cars and people for anti-terror checks. Funnily, most members of public are very supportive when we tell them why we are stopping them (and sometimes searching them), to deter terrorism is a popular aim through most of society.
There is usually an embarrassing moment though, when Mr and Mrs nice who you have stopped in their Ford Mondeo ask the crucial question: "If it turned out we were strapped up with explosives, what would you do?"
Well, we've got this bag you see...
Our sites have to remain secret of course, but there are obvious targets and not so obvious ones. I always like to pop over to the Army barracks and tell the guys standing with SA80s that we are here to protect them from terrorists. If they fail to show the appropriate level of respect, I often get out the bomb car bag. The rolls of tape do it every time.
I can see it in their eyes, the squaddies wishing we had been there with our loudhailer and rolls of tape to help them out when they were in Iraq.
So I had a successful set of bomb car duties. No terrorists found, but a couple of self generated arrests, a decent amount of traffic process (no insurance and no D/L) and a chance to put the hat on and actually do some foot patrol.
Anyway, back to the domestics now...
As a side note, Twinings emailed me about his post on Burma. Check it out and leave a comment - and does anyone know if someone has started one of those government petition things about it yet?
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Thanks for the messages and emails, sorry I haven't posted recently. For those that enjoyed the peace and quiet, sorry I'm back!
Watch this space..
One of the many people that have emailed me in my absence is a Doctor, who many of you may have already heard of - he is Dr Nick Edwards. He's following the route of many successful copper bloggers (and other public sector workers) and has published a book. Check it out, not least because he is brave/stupid enough to use his real name! Clicky Link
A quote from the press release: "Ever-conscious of meaningless targets, the author would like it to be known that 98% of the stories contained in this book were written in under 4 hours."
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
I’d met a friend of mine in Central London, and we were at the train station about to head back. Stupidly we’d both unthinkingly driven to our respective local tube stations so drinking was out, and our little day trip had come to a close earlier than expected.
Of course, on approaching the ticket barriers with warrant cards drawn, we notice (too late, too late) a group of four lads creating a fuss with the barrier guards.
I should explain a little bit of background here. As many readers know I’m originally from West Yorkshire. My friend is a Welsh lad. Both of us have next to no accent through necessary social camouflaging. Except when we are either drunk, angry or both.
Of course, one thing led to another and we found ourselves physically marching this group of second generation Vietnamese lads out of the station.
Area: “Roight you lot, no more shoite, Oi’ve had enough, get away!”
Friend: “Now then boyo, don’t try and sneak back, I’m not stupid you know.”
Ultra Cool Youth: “What you talking about man? You taking the piss, innit?”
Ah, joy of joys. That’s what it’s all about.
Sunday, 16 September 2007
Obviously the vast majority of these I have never heard for real and are never used nowadays. Which of course is a good thing. Any additions welcome...
100 Yard Hero: A member of the public who is very brave and shouts obscenities at a police officer from a safe distance.
Alabama Lie Detector: Police baton.
Angler: a thief who uses a rod or pole to steal from ground-floor windows.
Bad Call: What your police partner says when they think you need an eyesight test. Usually uttered after you've pointed out a member of the opposite sex.
Bamber, to do a: UK police expression which means to make a mistake.
Banter: leg pulling. eg: Good banter, fierce banter, nasty banter. To describe a close knit a team. eg. 'They've got good banter that lot'.
BINGO Seat: Bollocks Im Not Getting Out Seat. The seat at the back of a police carrier where the laziest officer sits. One up from a BONGO.
Black Rat: Originally Met traffic officer. Now in general use. Alledgedly chosen as a motif because it's one of the only animals that'll actually eat it's own young! Until fairly recently a traffic officer could place a black rat sticker in their private car as an unobtrusive way of 'showing out' to colleagues, in the hope that they wouldn't get pulled for driving offences etc. Now-a-days it's more than likely that the car doing 90mph in front of you with a rodent sticker on it's number plate isn't actually being driven by a Black Rat, but a sl*g boy racer who's chancing his arm. Give him a tug.
Black Rover: Warrant card, when used as a travel card on bus, tube or train.
Blag: a violent robbery or raid; the act of using clever talk or lying to get something. Also to get something free, or at vastly reduced price. Also see G.T.P and Do you take warrant card?
BLAHING: Usually used when officers tell war stories about previous exploits.
Blues and Twos: Driving very fast on an emergency call.
Body: Potential/Valued customer wearing handcuffs.
BONGO: Books On Never Goes Out. See also Uniform Carrier, FLUB and Clothes Hanger.
Boy Racer: Term of endearment for young and usually spotty members of the public. Usually said to male drivers who travel at high speed in their spoiler clad Vauxhall Novas.
Brew: Hot beverage, usually but not always tea. See also chink-chink.
Brief: a solicitor or barrister. Also brief, a police officer's warrant card.
Canteen Cowboy: Police officer, generally young in service. One who likes to advise other officers, usually younger in service than the cowboy. Can be used as a put down, but usually behind the cowboy's back. eg: 'He's a real canteen cowboy that one'. Can be used as term of endearment during banter. eg: 'You're a real canteen cowboy, you are!' Slap on the back, guffaws etc.
CHAV: Popular phrase widely used. Several variations of the same. Council House And Vermin, Council House And Violent etc.
Chink-Chink: The sound that cups make when knocked together. Called over the radio to indicate that a brew's up. If more than one station shares the same channel to avoid disappointing thirsty officers, chink-chink may be followed by the individual station's call sign at which the brew is ready and waiting.
Clothes Hanger: Useless or ineffective police officer. See also uniform carrier.
Con: convict, confidence trick
Cooking the books: The art of making an area appear safer to the public than it actually is in reality. Also see not carnival related.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigator (formerly SOCO).
Cush: savings to fall back on. From cushion.
Datastreaming: a growing crime where a hacker obtains credit card details to create counterfeit cards.
Do you take warrant card?: Method of payment for goods or services by police officers. Practice believed to have been totally eradicated in the early 1900's. More flexible than your most flexible friend. eg. 'How would you like to pay for this curry?' 'Do you take warrant card?' 'That'll do nicely sir'. It has been said that back in the early 1900's some officers in the UK had totally done away with the need to carry any other form of accepted payment on their person. Also see: G.T.P. and Blag.
Done it in: To be late for a shift. eg. 'Can you show me weekly leave in lieu, I have done it in for early turn again....'
Down, going: to be sent to prison.
Double-Bubble: To be in the unlikey position of earning double time. eg. 'I've got double-bubble...... Yeee-Haaa!'
End: share proceeds from a crime.
Early turn: Shift or tour of duty starting at 6am. Can be used as an excuse for various bodily functions or odours. 'What's that smell?' 'Sorry it's me, I have early turn bottom'.
FLUB: Fat Lazy Useless Bastard. See Uniform Carrier.
Force Feeding: Sampling the culinary delights created by Michelin starred chefs employed to look after the delicate palates of Police officers. Force is often uttered with a silent 'd'.
Front: a person with a clean criminal record who provides an acceptable face for a known criminal who is the real owner of a club or business.
Gate fever: the emotion shown by a prisoner nearing the end of his sentence.
Get pulled: To be stopped by police, also give tug. Can also mean to be taken to one side by a senior officer and spoken to about something. Usually something you've done wrong. eg. 'I got pulled over not having a shave'.
Give tug: As in 'give him a tug'. Same as get pulled.
Good Call: Very rare occasion where police presence is required. Also may be used by fellow officers in reply to your attempts at pointing out a particular attractive member of the public. Negative may be Bad Call or worse.
Grass: an informer.
Gravel Rash: What a prisoner recieves when taken to the floor causing cuts to face.
G.T.P.: G ood T o P olice. Many things can be considered G.T.P. Shops that provide discounts, curry houses, night clubs that provide free entry etc. G.T.P -The unethical practice of using your position as a police officer to obtain services or goods for free. (or at wildly knocked down prices.) Business that are G.T.P are never found advertising on the local nick's canteen notice board, nor are these businesses ever advertised in a particular force's in-house magazine or newspaper. The practice of police officers frequenting G.T.P. businesses is believed to have been eradicated in the early 1900's - Thank god. It has been said that before this time police officers had to make a show of paying for goods, then feign embarassment that the shop owner had seen the officer's brief fully opened and left on the shop owner's counter, before this farcical act of attempting to pay for items had even taken place. It is also said that officers would pass on information about any particular shop's G.T.P'dness to fellow officers - Outrageous! We're definately glad it doesn't happen anymore. Also see: Blag and Do you take warrant card?
Ghurkha: Someone who has forgotten their powers of arrest. Taken from stories from the British army, e.g. Ghurka's don't take prisoners.
Guv: Officer of at least Inspector rank. Someone who doesn’t get paid any overtime.
Gypsey's Warning: When someone is given a 'quiet word' in their ear. Was in common usage until the 90's when it became politically incorrect. Believed to date back to old English, when children who misbehaved were told they'd be taken away by the gypsies if they continued in their bad behaviour.
Hobbit: a prisoner who complies with the system.
Icecream: a narcotic.
JAFLO: Just Another Fucking Liaison Officer. Often used on mutual aid visits to outside forces.
Jumper: a thief who steals from offices.
Ker-Ching: as in noise made by a cash register. Usually said out loud shortly after giving a caution for littering (or any other sec.25 worthy offence.) ten minutes prior to clocking off time. Also see over-time bandit.
Kremlin: New Scotland Yard.
L.O.B. A call which did not require police presence. Load Of Bollocks, in less politically correct times was often heard on the police radio, was often given by old sweats as a result to a call.
Lag: a person who has been frequently convicted and sent to prison. Often 'old lag'.
L.A.S. People who make drunks disappear, take our carefully applied bandages off and know which nurses at the local hospital are currently single.
Late turn: Shift / tour of duty that starts at 2pm.
Local nick: police station
Lump, The: building site fraud to avoid payment of income tax.
M.O.: modus operandi. The way in which a criminal commits a crime.
Muppet: Most Useless Police Person Ever Trained. Generally a term of endearment used whilst engaging in banter. Used when someone makes a mistake. eg. 'You muppet, you've forgotton to bring the white stuff back with you'.
Nick: to arrest someone. Also Police Station eg. 'I'll see you back at the nick'.
Night duty: Shift that starts at 10pm. Usually called nights. Causes zombie like states in some officers, growth of whiskers, night duty bottom etc.
NonDe: Non descript, used when referring to an unmarked police vehicle taken out on obbo's.
Nostrils: 70s term for a sawn off. (Just for historical reference).
Not Carnival Related: Blatant lie. Met. Usually said to press or police officers during briefings carried out over the Notting Hill carnival weekend. To give the appearance to the public that the carnival has been totally crime free for the umpteenth year running....! eg. 'There's been 3 floats TDA'd, 5 sound systems stolen, 2 gun point robberies, 4 indecent assaults and 12 reported incidents of steaming in the last 24 hours. Also there was a small localised riot around the BoomBoomCrew's sound stage at 4am, after local residents complained of a noise nuisiance to the council. Happily we've just heard that the environment officer who attempted to turn the volume down will be out of intensive care in a few days, doctors are hopeful he'll function quite normally with only one lung. Ready for it........ All of these reported crimes we can safely say are not carnival related, so feel free to bring the family and kids along to soak up some of the great carnival atmosphere expected here today'.Nut: the expenses incurred by a thief setting up a robbery or theft. Also second most important piece of equipment after stick.
Obbo: police observation on criminals.
Old Bill: Full details here on another thread.
Old Sweat: Description of an officer long in service. possible term of endearment. Considered made it, see it, done it.
Olympic Torch: Never goes out. See BONGO.
Onion: Sergeant. Onion Bargie - Sargie. eg 'watch out the onion's coming!'
Over-Time Bandit: Officer who generally uses ker-ching frequently.
Padding: Unscrupulous police practice of adding to a drugs haul to upgrade an arrest and ensure a conviction.
Peckham Rolex: Tag worn by criminals on release from prison.
Pig: Polite, Intelligent Gentleman.
Plonk: Person of Little Or No Knowledge. definitely a 'no-no' these days! Used for female officers by Old Sweats.
Probationer:The officer who just gave you a ticket for no seatbelt.
Q.E.: Queen's evidence. An accomplice in a crime giving evidence in the hope of a lighter sentences.
Ramp: a police search or a criminal swindle.
Rat: Really Adept at Traffic law.
Refs: Refreshment break, meal break. eg. 'what time refs are you?' Mainly Met speak.
RTA: Road Traffic Accident.
RTC: Road Traffic Collision.
Sarge: Sergeant. See Onion
Section House: Large, usually decaying tower block housing young single police officers. Just like the TV program men behaving badly, but on a much, much larger scale. Also see sl*g.
Shiny Arse: Derogatory term for an officer employed in a long term office environment.
Shoulder-surfing: stealing pin numbers at cashpoints for use later with copied cards.
Showing Out: The unethical practice of hinting to an officer upon being stopped that you are a fellow officer and therefore not a sl*g. Done in the hope of receiving unfair treatment which we in no way condone e.g 'Have you got any ID on you sir?' - 'Why yes officer, I think I have my driving licence in my brief side pocket'. 'Do you realise you hit 97mph over the hump back bridge 10 miles back?' - 'Sorry officer, I'm court off nights this morning, I'm rushing home to get my number ones'. 'Have you ever taken a breath test before?' - 'Only when I was at training school, I blew under after having ten pints that day too'.
Slammer, the: prison.
sl*g: criminal. eg. 'he's a right sl*g that one'. Also person of low sexual morals, usually found living in a section house.
Suspect: Potential customer.
Sorted: everything is organised eg: 'It's sorted.'
Spin Drum: To perform a search, generally to search a property. 'We're gonna spin his drum'.
Spun Drum, property already searched. 'We spun his drum and found nuffink'.
Station Cat: Officer who preens themselves and finds every excuse possible not to leave the factory, work shy, a borderline shiny arse. Not to be confused with
Station Cat: a nice, friendly, fluffy whiskered feline whom keeps itself busy by sorting the rodent population at the nick and living on tidbits thrown to it at refs time.
Strawberry Mivvie: Civvie. Civilian police staff. Can be shortened to Strawbs etc.
Stick: Truncheon, now mainly out of popular usage except with Old Sweats. eg. 'stick him'. or 'sticks out'.
Sticked: To have been hit with a truncheon for failing to do what you're told. eg. 'I had no choice, I sticked him'.
Stick Out: to have your cover blown when in plain clothes. Generally caused by having a short back and sides hair cut, wearing dr martins boots, police issue black leather belt, blue jeans, white t-shirt and lumberjack type checked shirt whilst following a suspect in an ethnically diverse area of East London! 'You Muppet!' Also Stick Out: A particularly dangerous situation. eg. 'It was so bad, I got my stick out'.
STILL: As TGB - Thieving Gypsy Bastard (a real no no). Came about following the Viz cartoon of the same name is now totally politically incorret they are now refered too as a 'STILL' as in Still a Thieving Gypsy Bastard.
Suit: A person who spends his/her time at a desk on the phone and computer.
Supergrass: a very important informer.
TGB: Thieving Gypsy Bastard (a real no no). Came about following the Viz cartoon of the same name. See STILL.
The Bill: The Bill, popular UK TV program that Police officers watch to see the newest item of kit that may, or may not eventually find it's way down to the sharp end. For Old Bill click here to find huge detailed list of possible origins.
The Factory: Police station, generally used by those in the office.
The Filth: Criminal term for the police.
The Griff: The full facts, as in "give me the griff on that would you old chap."
The Office: Generally CID term for police station. eg. 'After we've spun his drum, we'll all meet back at the office.... Sniff'.
Thief Taker: Term of praise for a police officer. An uncanny radar-like ability to spot a criminal. eg. 'he's a good thief taker that one'.
Time, to do: to serve a prison sentence
Tit: Hat worn by wooden-tops for the benefit of tourists’ digital cameras. Plonks don’t generally have these.
Tour of duty: An alloted shift at work. Generally when referring to early turn, late turn or night duty. Couldn't be used by a shiny arse in front of shift officers. Shift officers do not consider anyone working usual daytime hours to be actually working at all. In fact they shouldn't be allowed to carry a warrant card, wear a uniform,receive pay at the same rate, park in the station yard etc.
Trumpton: Fire Brigade, very adept at cutting the roofs off of slightly dented cars. Rumoured to be prone to stealing, practice believed eradicated back in the early 1900's.
Turtles: As in turtle doves, meaning gloves.
TWOC: to take without the owners consent. A Twocer is someone who steals vehicles etc. Also in Met land TDA: Taken and driven away.
Uniform Carrier: Useless or ineffective police officer. See also clothes hanger.
Upstairs: to be convicted at the crown court. The dock is reached by climbing the stairs form the cells.
VPU: Vulnerable prisoner unit, used to keep prisoners likely to be victimised away form other prisoners.
White Stuff: Milk, the second most important ingredient of a police officer's staple hot beverage.
Window warrior: a prisoner who constantly shouts from his cell window.
Window Licker: Definite 'no-no' these days. Someone who is quite obviously mad, deranged, psychotic etc. eg. 'He's a right window licker that one'.
Wooden-Top: A person who spends his/her time dealing with domestics.
YOIs: Young offenders institute.
Zombie: a particularly nasty prison officer - more dead than alive.
Check out the original on Police Oracle HERE
Friday, 14 September 2007
So, truth is, this is not something that has happened to me. It is a re-ocurring dream I have, one that is amazingly real. When I wake up I wake up thinking it has happened, and for hours I still think of it as a memory, not a dream.
In it I'm on patrol with an officer from my nick, a guy I've known for years who is one of my favourite coppers to work with, call him Howard. We close up behind a clapped out Peugeout 306, big bore exhaust and stuck on spoiler in full view. The two occupants ignore us at first as we drive down the hill. Then they start to twist round to look at us. The Pug speeds up and Howard hits the blues. The car doesn't stop and speeds up.
We hit a junction at the bottom of the hill, the Peugeot pulls a sharp left and comes to a stop, holding up traffic and almost causing a pile up. Howard pulls the car to a stop as well, slightly further ahead than the Pug as we weren't expecting this.
Both occupants bail out, the passenger I'm not interested in, it's the driver I want, a white male in his twenties. I'm not on the radio, Howard is calling this in. The driver runs up a slope on a small road off the junction, he's about thirty feet ahead of me when he stops and pulls out a handgun.
It's black, it's a Glock, I recognise that much. I see him raise it and point it directly at me, and on autopilot I yank my asp out and rack it, knowing how futile that is, frozen to the spot.
His face is wrinkled in hatred, a face I've seen many times before. He fires, I hear the shot and see a flash, Jesus I'm scared. I turn and start to run, looking over my shoulder I see him standing still pointing the gun, I drop the asp realising that it's useless now, just extra weight I don't need.
I run behind a car with its windows shattered, hoping to make it to the police car. As I do I hear another shot, followed almost immediately by a thud as the bullet hits my back through the vest, almost directly between the shoulder blades and I fall to the floor.
I shout out, a swear word I'm sure, and my God it hurts... then of course I wake up, sweating and shouting. And my back still bloody hurts!
After this I get up, have some food, and watch TV until it's time to get up. Or go on the internet and look at blogs... Not much point in trying to get back to sleep, don't want to wake the neighbours up again.
My point (yes, there is one) is this: Would I keep having this dream, over and over again on a regular basis if my real life situation was different? What if instead of instinctively reaching for my asp I was reaching for my gun? What if I could get a shot off before he got another go? Would I be as terrified?
Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
I could just stop drinking Vodka before bed of course...
Thursday, 30 August 2007
There was I, navigating the small rat-runs of an estate on our patch and trying not to crash the police car. My Sergeant had given me strict instructions: “try not to crash the police car.” I was doing my best, as I hate it when I get the disappointed look from him.
I heaved the car around a corner and saw a male that I recognised. My colleague also recognised him, that much was obvious, as he said “it’s that bugger again!” and immediately leapt out of the car.
It’s not uncommon for people to get out of the car when I’m driving, but I felt it safe to assume that there was actually a reason for my colleague’s hasty departure rather than sheer blind terror.
There was. The radio crackled into life: “BX, chasing suspects on foot, he’s wanted for a GBH that occurred last week…” I floored the accelerator and counted to five as the knackered out turbo vainly fought against the forces of gravity to try and haul the car forward (note to self, when accelerating from 5MPH in a hurry, change down from third gear).
I passed the miscreant and my colleague, pulled up and jumped out to join the chase. The suspect ran down an alley and we followed, my colleague keeping up a commentary. “Control, he’s going down Pickney Avenue, towards… oh no, it’s Sampson Community School.” Having learnt my lesson in the last foot chase about trying to sigh and run at the same time, I controlled my urge, but in my head I let out a long exasperated sigh.
Most coppers identify with teachers, as the poor buggers deal with our “clients” all day every day, whereas we get days seeing new suspects, hence why Mr Chalk is on my sidebar. However, every patch has an “anti” school – anti police, anti cars, anti parents, anti social services, anti rules… Not usually down to the teachers, but there is often an angry headteacher tucked away somewhere living her life vicariously through her young charges. As in this case. We had recently been told to ask permission from the head before going into the school, as our senior officers had received an ear bashing from her when police officers had taken a few moments of rest by chatting to the kids in the playground (and no doubt causing chaos whilst doing it).
I knew we were going to go into the school. And I was pretty sure the suspect wouldn’t stop so we could ask the headteacher’s permission. The suspect leapt the gates at the side of the school and my colleague balked at the challenge and ran to the front of the school. I like to destroy my uniform trousers every now and then as it means I can actually get a new pair, so I jumped/clambered after him. The suspect ran into the school grounds, and I took over the breathless commentary: “jumped the wall…running towards Tweedy Street Entrance…Male IC1…” I could hear two tones on the radio, mirrored in sound by two tones on the nearby streets, of units getting closer. My colleague headed off the suspect and the suspect turned directly into the school entrance.
I squeezed what little stamina I had left and put everything into getting hold of him. Whilst chasing outside I had felt fairly confident, I knew the estate very well and there were units closing on us who would be there in minutes. Inside the school, with a violent suspect, and children… not a situation I wanted to be in.
The suspect turned into what turned out to be a classroom, followed closely by two slightly desperate coppers. He stopped, nowhere to go, my colleague had his asp out, “Stay there, don’t move, DON’T MOVE!” someone shouted. I realised it was me and I was holding down my transmit button on the radio still, my hand shaking.
That was because my hand had assessed the situation quicker than my brain could – I suddenly noticed a queue of young primary school children to my left lined up against the wall, either ending or starting a lesson. The suspect started to move, I was between him and the children, I didn’t know which one of us he was going for but wasn’t going to wait to find out. I pushed him back, radio still in my hand. He grabbed my wrist, tried to hit me and I fell on top of him.
What happened next is still slightly hazy. I continued barking (ignored) commands at the suspect, combined with shouting at the teacher to “get everyone out of here NOW!” My colleague was joining in, the suspect wasn’t in the mood to stop fighting.
You know the metal framed plastic chairs we all dread sitting on? You know the little dinky ones in primary schools? One of my lasting memories of that incident was seeing these chairs fly about the room as we scrabbled to keep the guy still and get him cuffed.
My other lasting memory? Thinking “this is a career killer” whilst still fighting.
Two other officers ran in, God alone knows how they found us, we cuffed the suspect and held him on the floor and tried to get our breath back. As we lay there, gasping for breath, in the middle of the chaos we had created in the classroom, the heroic head teacher entered. “I have an agreement with your borough commander you know, you are supposed to ask my permission before entering school grounds. I will be mentioning this.”
I know it was wrong. I really tried not to. But, lying on the floor, in the midst of upturned mini tables and chairs, with a line of engrossed children watching open mouthed, a suspect cuffed and wriggling and a colleague wiping blood from his nose, I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing directly at the head teacher - I actually had tears streaming down my face.
I was still giggling as the van pulled up and we loaded the suspect in. And when the lovely young teacher apologised for the head’s behaviour: “She’s been going through menopause for the last decade I think.”
And I even started again when the Inspector pulled me in to say that the head had complained about our conduct. My poor guvnor. I was trying to hold it in and snorting then bursting out laughing every few seconds. “Have you finished yet Area?”
“Yes sir.” (no)
“Are you sure?”
“Yes sir” (no)
“Ok then… she says here that you made a complete mess of the seating arrangement… Oh, pull yourself together for God’s sake Area…”
“Sorry sir” (I’m not)
“At least pretend to care about this”
“Snort, snort, giggle, sorry guv, giggle giggle”
“Oh bugger off Area, I don’t want to see an overtime state from this one." Long pause, whilst I try to keep a straight face and fail. “Thanks sir…snort…”
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
The blogs on my sidebar I read on a regular basis, one of which is Belfast Peeler. It's a gripping read, not least as I have toyed with the idea of joining the RUC/PSNI in the past.
One of the best posts I've read by Belfast Peeler has just been posted - it struck me straight away, made me think of all the urgent assistances I've been to, HERE
It's a brilliantly written piece, but it's not quite there... not because of Belfast Peeler's inability to write, on the contrary; he gets closer than I can - but because it's next to impossible to really express in words the emotions and experiences that come with this job, especially in times like large urgent assistances. Read Belfast Peeler's blog, and in fact the other blogs on my sidebar. But the only way to really know is to experience it, for better or worse.
Official Secrets Act
Obviously I change names, and in fact make a point of using names of people that are not on my team, and I'm quite ambiguous about my location. But I want to show the real incidents I deal with, or else I might as well just write a fiction book about policing. I also feel that I owe it to anyone who takes the time and effort to read this not to lie to them about things I've done.
The thing that I am finding difficult is finding incidents old enough to use. For instance, I dealt with a very blog worthy incident yesterday... but as it is so recent and unique if I blog it now and someone involved reads it, they will be pretty easily able to work out who I am and what the incident was. I don't want that as I want to a) protect my anonymity, and b) protect those involved. This is a problem, as although I have quite a few things to write about, the things that I really have in my head are the recent memories.
So my gap between posts is not through lack of inspiration - it's through trying to work out what I can safely write about.
Ideas and advice are welcome as always - the comments are the reason I keep blogging and keep checking this page.
Friday, 10 August 2007
Skippers and Magic
There is a Sergeant I meet regularly who just doesn’t “get” me. We’re both adults, we don’t hate each other, but he definitely doesn’t understand my attempts at a sense of humour and I don’t always agree with his decisions or supervising style. For “Job” readers – think “Towbar” and “evidence gathering” and “High Potential Development Scheme.”
For non-job readers; in a few very short years Chief Inspectors will be calling him “Sir,” and he will need to collect scalps to get there at that speed.
Unfortunately he seems to have me in his sights at the moment. A while back I was trundling back into the nick near the end of night duty and he saw me climb out of the van in the yard. He noticed I wasn’t wearing my protective vest, and decided to mention it to me, whilst shouting, in the middle of our divisional HQ. I did the “yes Sarge, sorry Sarge” bit, knowing that if I explained why I wasn’t wearing it, he would have continued unabated. For anyone interested, I had spent three hours sitting in a primary school waiting for Scenes of Crimes Officers and various interested parties to attend, and then taken a statement from a very elderly and tired old lady related to the incident – neither of the incidents needing a vest in my opinion, but technically I had no leg to stand on. He is correct, I should wear a vest at all times.
Fast forward two weeks, and I took a call to some naughty boys being naughty in a public place. Very warm, mid summer, and I ran round the back to cut off the naughty boys as I arrived on scene as I knew the area, leaving my crew mates in the nice air conditioned Police Vehicle. Of course, on seeing the aforementioned Police Vehicle the naughty boys made off, and we had a little chase.
Suffice to say it was more successful than my last but one post, with less mud etc. The incident was dealt with, and we headed back to the Police Vehicle. We were twenty minutes past our shift handover time, I’d ran twice and it was muggy, our batteries were dying, there was no way we were dealing with any more calls, so I took my vest off as we drove back to the nick to try and cool down and deal with the sweating..
I’m no good at punchlines, so I’m sure you can guess who was standing in the yard as we drove in.
I got out warily. I knew that this was not going to be a chat about my welfare.
Pissed Sergeant: “Area, a word, right now.”
PS: “You’re not wearing your vest.”
PS: “You weren’t wearing it out on the street, I saw you driving in.”
Area: “No Sarge."
PS: “What do you think you’re playing at? I’ve told you before.”
Area: “ I have to warn you Sarge, I am the Wizard Hazakaboo from the Planet Printocknablatee, and if you continue to threaten me I will perform a spell that will make you into the size of a dormouse.”
I swear to you, he actually stood with his mouth open like they do in the movies, and then walked away without saying anything.
The next day, one of my regular Sergeants approached me. He kicked the tyres of the station van and stared up at the sky nonchalantly.
Regular Sergeant: “Apparently Pissed Sergeant had a word with you yesterday…”
Area: “Yes Sarge.”
RS: “He said you weren’t wearing your vest.”
Area: “No Sarge.”
RS: “Apparently you said you were a wizard?”
Area: “Yes Sarge.”
RS: “And threatened to turn him into a weasel or something?”
Area: “A dormouse Sarge.”
RS: “Ah ha, a dormouse, very good.”
Pause, whilst the kicking sped up. The Sergeant started to fiddle with the windscreen wipers.
RS: “You do realise you were probably the only officer on the relief not wearing a vest at that moment, don’t you?”
Area: “I’m also the only Wizard on the relief Sarge.”
RS: “Do you know, I thought you’d say that. Please leave Pissed Sergeant alone, he always complains of headaches after talking to you.”
Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Coffee and Chases
To continue from my previous posts…
I think I need to explain something about them. I love pursuits in principle, fast cars and bad guys is a winning combination for me. The problem is that I have been in a couple of serious accidents in my time in and out of work, and I really don’t want to have to have the ambo crew and trumpton drag me out with neck braces on a stretcher again if I can help it.
The other, probably more major problem is that I think I was off on a bad start with pursuits.
My first ever pursuit was when I was very fresh faced and just weeks into playing about on the streets. I was in the area car (for non police readers – the fastest car and best trained driver the borough/department/team has, usually a BMW 5 series or similar) with a long service PC.
We had stopped in the petrol station and I had done the excited probationer thing of staring blankly about whilst trying to catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of the garage doors. Mark, the area car driver, had done the usual thing of mentioning coffee numerous times and how thirsty he was and looking pointedly at me. The sharper of you may have worked out what I should have been doing, but it took me a less subtle hint. “The coffees aren’t getting themselves probby.” That did the job.
As I was walking back to the car with a paper cup of steaming hot coffee for Mark and a hot chocolate for me, he was on the radio. I slipped into the car seat and the Mark looked at me. “That car parked in front of us was nicked via a burglary. A nice arrest coming up for you my son.” I looked ahead and saw a navy blue Skoda, which at that moment drove off the forecourt and sped away. My first pursuit. I was so excited.
We were off at speed, and Mark shouted us up on the radio. I couldn’t reach the mike due to the drinks, couldn’t do anything as both hands were tied up. “Open the window, so I can chuck the cups!” I shouted.
“Not a chance, the drinks are hot!” came the reply. We took a corner sharply and Mark threw the mike down to take the corner and then scrabbled about for it as we straightened up. “Open the window so I can chuck the cups for God’s sake, I can do the commentary then!” I yelled. Mark kept driving and kept the potted commentary going, pausing only to shout back at me “I’m not wasting the coffee.”
The commentary came in dribs and drabs from Mark as he drove – eventually another unit stopped the car ahead of us and we roared up. Mark leapt out and ran to the bandit vehicle, as he did I could see the crew of the other Police car smashing the windows of the stolen car with their asps to get in. I couldn’t open our car door. I couldn’t do anything. I still had the coffees in my hands. I was almost crying with frustration as another unit pulled up, boxed me in and ran to join the fun.
As they hauled back the suspects and the police officers started to disperse, Mark wondered back to the car chatting to a Sergeant. Sergeant says: “Why were you doing the commentary? I thought you were double crewed?”
Mark “Yeah, my operator had just bought hot drinks and was too stingy to throw them.” Sergeant (whilst looking at me with disgust): “Bloody probationers.”
Me and pursuits were never going to get on with each other after that.
By the way, I am still sans my own internet, hence the delay in posts. I've written a few now and will post them when I get access, please keep the comments coming!
Fail to stop... Foot Pursuit
Area had spotted likely lads in a car.
The car had not stopped for him.
Area had tried to keep his calm whilst the chase continued.
The likely lads had bailed out.
The story continues…
I leapt out of the car, adrenalin properly kicking in. I actually quite enjoy foot pursuits sometimes, as I’m relatively fit (compared to some coppers), and am reasonable at running.
It’s also one of the times I feel like a proper policeman, a running uniformed Police Officer actually gets noticed and people get out of the way for them.
Unfortunately I knew this could be a problem. It was night time and I was in an area I didn’t know. I started to run after the driver, and shouted up on the radio. Our poor borough controllers, who had not been aware of the chase as I was chasing on the mainset were treated to an overexcited PC shouting “Chasing suspects on foot, I think it’s Dowling Woods, I went shooting here once I think.” I’m never one to miss a chance to talk about inanities.
Our control came back, “Er… received. That’s not on our ground is it? …(long pause on an open carrier)… Er, the controller thinks it may not be even on Met ground.”
Great. Just what I didn’t want to hear. You can’t sigh when running at full pelt, but I made a valiant attempt at it and started coughing.
So… Scary chase? Check. No back up? Check. Out of our area? Check. Unsure of precise location? Check. Possibly out of my force area? Check. As long as my radio holds out, I should at least be able to keep containment until dogs or local units arrive.
You can see the punchline coming, can’t you?
The radio in my hand tailed out into a fuzz of static and silence – the old met radios weren’t designed to be used off borough. I had no way of stopping and changing channel, wasn’t even sure if I had the best channels in the set or what would be the closest met district. The suspect stopped and turned to look as he ducked under a tree. I threw my radio at him.
Possibly not the best move of the night, even I will admit.
The suspect ducked under the tree and I stumbled after him – I couldn’t work out how it had managed to be a dry day yet my boots and trousers were getting covered in mud. My arse, realising that it had been kept out of the action so far, decided to join in and went down to have a look at the mud as I clambered down an incline. Twice. At least I was vaguely camouflaged, being now semi covered in mud. I fumbled on my belt as I ran, and then the real humiliation started – I had to call 999 on my mobile phone. And explain that I was lost. With no radio. And yes, I am on duty, not off duty.
Dramatically, the suspect fell over an unseen obstacle in front of me, and as the woman on the end of the line was still talking I hung up and jumped on top of him. He didn’t even try and fight, and I cuffed him feeling pretty pleased with myself. I went to pick up my radio to inform them I had one detained, then realised I hadn’t got my radio. Sigh. Back to the mobile phone and the wonderful 999 system. I explained the situation, and they found the linked CADs (calls created), then came the killer. “Do you still need units to assist?” Er, no, not exactly. “Are there suspects outstanding?” No idea, I’ve got mine. “Why have you called back?” Er, I’m lost. I can’t find my car…
The final insult? Getting back to the vehicles, minus radio, phone out of battery, missing parts of ripped uniform covered in mud from head to toe after my chase, my frequent falls and the subsequent dramatic leap on to the suspect.
And being made to sit in the back of the cage with the prisoner in the station van as no one would let me in the car with them.
The things I do for this blog.
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Fail To Stop
On a more exciting note, I had a pursuit a while back.
Most Police Officers have pursuits on a semi-regular basis, although in city areas especially most end very quickly – either the bad guy disappears or bails, or the chase is called off by the control room or (less often) by the chasing unit.
I was trundling along one of our local rat runs on a night duty, and I spotted a likely looking vehicle. To non police officers who might wonder what I mean by that, the only way I can describe it is this: the kind of car you wouldn’t want to cross the road in front of.
It had three occupants who all did their best to avoid my gaze, and I pointed it out to my partner Dan who was driving. He had also noticed them and swung our police car round to get behind them. I called up on the radio for a check on the registration, and found myself in a queue - as always. We have computers in the car for doing checks, but they don’t give us all the information that the control room can over the radio. I started doing the check on the computer whilst waiting, partly to get the result and partly to get the registration number noted; although I wasn’t expecting a chase I have forgotten a car’s registration number before whilst chasing it and found it very embarrassing indeed.
As I did this I realised that we were getting a lot of attention from the occupants of the car. Me and Dan shared a look, and I called up on the radio for the check to be done on the hurry up. I said to Dan, “I think he’s going to go. Do you reckon you can keep up?” Dan gave me the look so many people do over time, and said “Eat me.” It’s his way of showing he cares. As I laughed, the car in front sped up. Dan hit the blues. The car didn’t stop.
I called up “Control from BX22, active message.” The Active Message phrase is supposed to get people’s attention, to let them know that it’s not just the usual waffle and to shut up and let ME speak – I usually only use it for ambulance messages and pursuits.
The control room gave me the go ahead, and I gave the details: “Vehicle failing to stop, high street towards the centre, red Ford Escort, three up.” I gave the details of the registration and then moved to the mainset. In London if you have a pursuit or other major situation you get off your borough radio channels and start using the “channel north” or “channel south” radios fitted into your cars. I called up and started the pursuit, and heard other units start to call up.
One of the things you learn is to keep your cool whilst chasing, otherwise the chase is called off. It takes a certain type of mind set to cling on to the door handle whilst doing 90MPH round a bend then pick up a microphone and say “er, control from BX22… yeah, he’s done a left left into Letsby Avenue, no pedestrians, left at the end of the road, stand by for road name,” when in fact what you want to say is “I need the toilet. Like, now. Perhaps we should stop at a service station?”
As you may have guessed I’m not big on pursuits.
The car we were chasing jumped on to a large A-road and continued to Fail To Stop. Luckily it was a small underpowered vehicle, as every really fast car in the Met seemed to be on the other side of London. The driver was starting to panic, and swerved off the A–road into a small rural type road. We were well into another borough and although I had kept the commentary going in the slowest, most sardonic voice I could manage, every unit I heard on the radio was calling up with hopelessly inadequate ETAs. I knew we could carry on chasing, as I can read road signs as well as anyone else. I just hoped we wouldn’t get a foot chase as I had no idea where I was in relation to anywhere I’d been before.
The car stopped.
The occupants bailed out.
We had a foot chase on our hands. Oh dear…
In the spirit of The Bill - To Be Continued…
Monday, 23 July 2007
Man VS Technology
Rest assured that as yet the Professional Standards people have not found me. Also rest assured that I have not spent my time reading the latest Harry Potter book. I have been working as always, and filing away incidents for your delectation.
Unless a regular "Job" contributor can point me in the direction of one, I have started writing a translation sheet for non job readers. Any suggestions/queries are welcome, it should be posted within a week (if Sky decide I am worthy of an internet connection again).
Saturday, 7 July 2007
So if you see these fine people around, give them a hug. In this video a couple of members of the police family joined in - lets see if we can have a more practical approach to all these "reassurance patrols" that we are currently doing. I'm sure that a good hug would reassure more people in London than seeing a distant Hi-Viz jacket. We need more people like this in the world. In fact, why not try hugging a senior officer, in the hope that they will take the experience and maybe think better of street monkeys?
Oh yes, I forgot, we can't. It's a weekend. Senior management don't exist then.
Enjoy anyway! I know, I'm a Hippy at heart really. And your point is...?
EDIT - after a couple of comments I've changed the template to something that is hopefully more pleasing on the eye to read. Thanks to Negative Result for help in tidying the links.