Wednesday 24 September 2008

Things That Have Annoyed Me Recently (Part 2)

After a few days off, I came back to work to discover a multitude of emails, the vast majority of which did not concern me.

I particularly liked two, which had been sent by different people to "All Response Team Officers."

The first one read something along the lines of:

"Would all response team officers remember to park their cars "arse end" in to the walls, so that if an urgent call comes out, or an officer requesting assistance, officers are actually available to get there.
Critical time has been lost trying to negotiate getting the response vehicles out of the yard, and having an officer injured because of it is obviously unacceptable and has the potential for discipline issues

Fair point. Next email:

"All response officers please note. Response cars MUST be parked face in to the walls at all times when parked in the yard - this not only reduces noise to people working in the Police Station, but also prevents the completely unnecessary problem of the exhaust fumes being blown in through windows when officers rev their engines.
This IS being monitored and disciplinary action will be considered against drivers who do not comply

Laugh? I nearly started.

Please vote on which email I should obey - one officer on my relief has tried parking sideways against the wall, but he was in a long wheelbase public order carrier, which took up five spaces.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Things That Have Annoyed Me Recently (Part 1)

As per the title. Yesterday I was driving around during the day, dealing with the usual calls and rubbish and dreaming of international rockstardom.

It was a lovely day, sunny with a hint of early Autumn cool - perfect weather for foot patrol. By some miracle the I-Immediate calls had tailed off for a while, and by an even greater miracle, our control room had given me a brief respite from sending crappy "non" calls to my MDT (Mobile Data Terminl - on board computer).

I parked the car up in one of the town centres we cover, and decided it was too good an opportunity to miss. "Come on mate, grab your hat" I said to my oppo, and withstanding his bemused looks followed by an almost sullen acceptance, climbed out of the car for a bit of foot patrol.

It was wonderful; no MDT bleeping at me, no rattle of a knackered diesel engine fighting against the constrains of gravity, no mainset blatting away with circulations in the background. The sun was out and I had my hat on, and everything was, for just this moment, OK with the world. I walked through one of our markets and chatted to a couple of stall holders, had a photo taken with a very lost tourist, let a couple of children try on my hat. Basically, for a short time I felt like a proper Policeman again.

Then the radio crackled - "999BX from BX, receiving?"
Area: "Go ahead."
BX: "I've sent a call down to your MDT a couple of times, and you're not accepting it. It's an S call from CID to pick up some CCTV. Why aren't you accepting it?"
Area: "I'm not in the car BX."
BX: "Received... why not? Do you want me to create a CAD?"
Area: "Negative, I'm just doing some foot patrol."
BX: "Er... received. We had you posted to a car."
Area: "Yes, that's correct, I'm in a car - I've just popped out to do some foot patrol."
BX: "999 from BX, that's received, you need to stay by your car so we can send you calls over."
Area: "..."

A pause, as I walked back to the car to accept the call. The Radio crackled again. "999 from BX1"
Area: "Go ahead Sir"
Inspector: "Come and see me when you get a minute please."

Long story short, I was later given a rollocking by the Duty Officer for not being with the car and going out on foot patrol. Surely that is what the radio is for?
I'm fully aware that my job is to respond to calls for assistance, but surely proactive patrolling is part of it as well? And getting out on foot and meeting the public is as nice for me as it is for the public sometimes.

Ho hum. Thanks Guvnor. That'll teach the probationer with me never to do anything as stupid as to get out of the car and actually talk to people he meets again.

Saturday 13 September 2008

He's NOT Judge Judy

A quick post, on the Judciary. This has been inspired by a post on a blog I have recently discovered, and more specifically the comments within.

I have no fear of arguing with Magistrates or any part of the legal system whilst blogging - but I do think that most magistrates still do care.

The problem is the system is not designed for caring.
The CPS often are the reason that Magistrates end up making bad decisions (just as members of public for coppers). In both cases we depend on them and a score of other people to feed us the correct information. Often that doesn't happen.

All too often CPS do not offer the case to court at all. All too often when they do, it is either as a lower charge than it should be, or just badly prosecuted. CPS prosecutors are often inexperienced and in fact some are not qualified as lawyers - in a way they represent the worst of both worlds, and I do have some sympathy with them (sometimes).
Their job is to represent victims and the police despite having no real world experience of either on a meaningful basis, no street experience. They are also supposed to be a link to the legal process and judiciary, despite often being unqualified and regularly inexperienced in that field.

Not exactly a win-win situation is it?

On top of that, they get judged on PERCENTAGE of cases won, rather than amount of cases won. So often, they simply won't fight them.

One of the many knock on effects of this (apart from offenders getting clean away, victims and witnesses feeling let down and Police Officers losing their rag) is that the Judiciary don't see the "characters" that have been arrested with the regularity that they should.

Often I hear complaints that they are out of touch - and yes, some are. Most have come from different backgrounds to the average suspect and victim that I deal with, and this can be an issue. But the way for them to even have a chance of staying "in touch" is by being presented with the suspects, the crimes, and the victims and witnesses on a regular basis, seeing the little buggers in front of them again and again, and being able to take direct action against the people they personally see as repeat offenders.

CPS do their best to make sure this does not happen - as do Penalty Notices for Disorder and Cautions.

This is before we even get to the minefield of sentencing guidelines...

Yes, some Judges are beyond out of touch. Yes, some create bizarre decisions that the vast majority of people struggle to comprehend. Our legal system is not perfect; most Police bloggers show that our part alone needs a lot of help.
But I think that sometimes, it's too easy to blame the person sitting on the top of the tree rather than the person who grew it in the first place.

Monday 8 September 2008

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Three or four years ago, I was visiting family on Boxing day, in a semi-rural location, south of Metro City.

I had volunteered to be a designated driver for the evening (after having my fill of alcohol on Christmas Day) and had been out for a couple of cokes watching my friends and family get slowly merrier and merrier in the local town.

As we left, I noticed the poor single crewed bobby sitting in his patrol car watching people drifting out of the local pubs. We piled in my car and I put the heaters on full in order to clear the screen of the ice mist which had appeared in the December smog whilst we had been tucked up in the warm.

I had a car full of female family members, and they were giggling and talking loudly to each other as I stared blankly at the windscreen, and the picture outside that became visible. Although all had seemed peaceful on leaving the pub, as the ice vanished from the screen, I saw a scuffle break out outside two of the pubs.
I couldn't hear anything over the unaware but happy giggles in my car, but no doubt the scuffle was accompanied by the usual screams of "faackin ell" and "leave it Dave, it's not worth it."
Mating calls of the underclasses?

Anyway, the scuffle became more fight like. As I watched, the lone PC climbed out of his car and made his way wearily towards the two idiots on the ground - at the same instant as a group piled out of the pub and ran towards.

Suddenly oblivious to the happy place in my motor, I saw as the PC realised he was sandwiched in the middle of two groups of drunken violent individuals.
Without thinking, I put the car into gear and drove towards the PC as he shouted into his radio and drew his asp and CS - one for each group, futile as it as.
I jumped out of the car and ran towards the PC, ID in hand. He saw me and just shouted "Yes, please mate."

What followed was a kind of chaos as the PC and me tried to keep the innocent bystanders safe whilst also getting back to the relative safety of his car. I knew the reality of policing - that even in metrocity, on nights we are short. On bank holiday nights we are even shorter. On Boxing day night duty... in the semi-rural backlands... I'm not stupid, and it didn't take me long to calculate that help would not be immediate. I worked outside the Met in rural areas before moving to London, and I had an idea of the panic the PC would be trying to quell.

I honestly can't remember how many people I came into contact with in those minutes whilst waiting for the sound of two tones. By the time the first Police cars turned up (three of them in convoy) I was on the floor rolling around with a drunken lad who was bigger than me and doing a better job of absorbing the knocks of the fight. I'd also lost sight of the uniformed bobby.
The first thing I knew about the units arriving was when I felt myself being pulled up and out of the kerfuffle by two uniformed coppers.

I managed to resist the urge to hug them.

As half of the county turned up I decided to go and check on how my giggling girls were doing. Still giggling, and still not sure what had happened. As I went to leave, the first copper came over to offer his thanks, but it was a hurried thanks as you could see that keeping control was still an issue.

Whenever I think about moving back out of London now, I always think about this kind of situation. In Metrocity we find ourselves (especially in the kind of areas I work) in this kind of position much more regularly than many of our county mounty colleagues. But the important thing is, when we call for help, it usually gets there relatively quickly. Whilst I was rolling around with the idiots and the lone PC, I would have given next to anything to have a Police Car appear on scene, and I could see the relief on his face when I jumped in to help.

It's not EASIER working metrocity - it's very busy, regular officer assaults and a constant barrage of calls and violence ensures this. But boys and girls, trust me, it can be worse.

'Nuff respect to my county mounty colleagues listed on the blog bar to the right.
I'll stick to dealing with my gangs and organised violence and crime for the moment.

Thursday 4 September 2008


A photo of someone on the London Underground wearing one of Inspector Gadget's Ruralshire t-shirts.

The Guvnor has posted a more than enigmatic post on his blog, and it's looking like he's getting grief from his Professional Standards Department.

I hope he's not, and it worries me - I personally think that he is in fact one of the better advertisements for the Police out there, certainly better than publicity such as senior officers fighting each other in the press.

I realise we can't do much, but please pop over and show your support by leaving a comment.
It'd be nice to think there is still a semblance of freedom of speech in this country...