Friday 30 November 2007

Late Turn

When she came to say goodbye, I think we both knew it really was goodbye. She had a speech prepared, and everything she said was right.
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


Maybe it's because I didn't do enough of it as a teenager, but I cannot resist the urge to rebel sometimes, and the Police with the disciplined rank structure offers the perfect place to do it.

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.

What fun.

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."
Area: "Sir."

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.

And finally...

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.

Friday 9 November 2007

Leaving On A Jetplane

As I think Bill Bailey said, "I'm British and therefore crave disappointment." This is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

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

Green Angels

I think I may have mentioned before my opinion about the Ambulance Service.

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."
Area: "Received..."

Oh. Shit.

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."