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

Previously, on The Bill…

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

I have been told by my friends that this blog is not exciting enough, and that it is too far removed from The Bill. Unfortunately, I have to agree, although the Bank Holiday post was as close to an ending from The Bill as I could manage, all wrapped up in half an hour. It’s been a while since I’ve watched the Bill but I can’t remember them sitting on the phone for hours for CPS advice to charge/bail.

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

Just to say, sorry for the lack of posts - I have been hit with a double whammy of no internet and also a laptop that has decided that Hari Kari is the only option, so I am writing this on a borrowed computer on another internet connection. Avoid Sky internet!

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

Free Hugs

I just wanted to say Happy Free Hugs Day - for that is what it is today. In fact, it is International Free Hugs Day

More here

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.

Wednesday 4 July 2007

Commenting On My Blog

I am new enough to this blogging thing to get a frission of excitement everytime I get a new comment. I was a well-loved child, I was breast fed, and I don't have confidence issues... but I was nervous about posting on the www and every comment is validation for choosing to blog.

The question is, what is the correct ettiquette? I get an email for every comment and read every single one (that's just good manners), but do I reply to every one?

At the moment I want to, but then I'd turn the comment section into another blog - and that's what this page is for, the comments section is for other people to have their say. Any advice/criticsm in the form of comments is welcomed.

I've also turned off the option to moderate everybody's comment before it's posted. Let's see if that works.

Most of all please keep reading and commenting!


Area Trace No Search

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Yellow Clad Numpties

Working in the big city, and being close to the anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, not to mention the recent attacks, I get a raised level of attention from some of my friends; mainly I am being told to keep safe.

Some also want to know the "behind the scenes" story. I always hate to disappoint my friends, but the Home Secretary has stopped inviting me to the COBRA meetings after the incident with the water jug and the silk throw. I hardly ever get invited to the Commissioner's briefings either.

The fact of the matter is that I learnt about the attacks via Sky News. During 7/7 I learnt about the attacks via BBC news and the ones the week after 7/7 via BBC News as well. I was attached to a different department during 7/7 so I could spend time on the internet watching developments, and update other officers by text.

All this is a long winded way of saying that I do not know anything else that you don't. In fact, due to my shift work often I miss the news for a couple of days and you might even be better informed than me about current developments. I am sure that I am not the only copper that has been approached many times by members of public and asked "so what do you think about XYZ..." and had no idea what they are talking about.

However, I do have one piece of "insider" information. The Police have discovered something that is impervious to terrorist attacks, and frightens off the majority of terrorists. I am talking of course of the hi viz jackets. After any incident such as the attempted bombings, the hi viz comes out and PCs and Sgts are sent out to make the world a brighter, more yellow place.

This will of course prevent any further terrorist attacks - no terrorist however crazed would be fool enough to mess with us when we are wearing them.

EDIT - It seems even Inspectors get asked similiar questions and told to brighten up.... http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2007/07/03/glasgow-bombs/