Thursday 30 October 2008

Need a Drink

Many officers, on blogs, in books, and even face to face admit to being affected by their job in many different ways.
The side that is usually only touched upon as briefly as possible is the emotional side.

Although, as with all emergency services, we 'toughen up' and the vast majority of things become day to day, there will always be things that effect us.

Sometimes these are things that you wouldn't expect to have that effect; something or someone you've dealt with many times before. These take you aback as much as they upset you. I think personally that part of that is because as coppers we have to accept that there is a chink in our armour, that sometimes, something does get through.

Not too often luckily, else we'd never be ready to go to the next call.

One of the things guaranteed to be difficult for blue light responders is dealing with children; especially sexual abuse cases, or anything at all to do with babies.

In the incidents I've been in which have involved young children, every officer has done the job proud. Training kicks in obviously, as does experience. But humanity is the most important trait at times like that and it is one of the times it is important to use it rather than keep it out of the equation.

Seeing the parents is always the bit that gets me; I've never teared up yet at work, but I've definitely felt washed out completely afterwards.
At one incident, I was sent halfway through a night duty to what was described as a "six month old baby not breathing, LAS on route."

Not a nice thing to happen, and not a nice thing to hear over the airwaves.

I arrived on scene to be greated by a hysterical couple, clutching a baby that was turning purple as I watched.
Suffice to say that whatever you think you know about CPR, doing it on a baby of that age takes a lot more concentration than on an adult.

Once again, thank you thank you thank you to the LAS for arriving promptly, and actually taking over.

The baby girl was pronounced dead after nearly an hour of an entire resus department at A&E working on her, and I stupidly volunteered to tell the parents - they knew anyway, but it needed to be said.
They reacted as any loving parents would.

I walked away to give them a few minutes, and to get some air myself. To be honest, this is when I started feeling it, and frankly what I wanted was a bed and a few shots of whisky - not necessarily in that order.

What I actually had to do though, was pick up the baby and take her to an observation room, tear the parents away for a while and then inspect the body for signs of abuse.
Praying all the time that I wouldn't find any, and luckily my prayers were answered on this occasion.
During all of this, recording my actions in an IRB (Incident Report Book), and then taking details from the parents, getting an initial account of what happened from both, whilst trying to console them.

I'd about reached breaking point myself, but everytime the I felt like taking a break I looked at the parents and reminded myself that they couldn't "take five."
A subtle knock on the door interrupted the quiet sobbing, and a nurse poked her head around the door. "Sorry to intrude, but your son, Jason, he's just turned up"
Cue panicked looks from the parents. The Mum spoke; "He's only fifteen - how am I going to tell him?"
After a long and uncomfortable silence, I sighed soundlessly to myself. There wasn't much else I could say: "Do you want me to tell him? I don't mind."
Not pleasant.

In the wonderful way of the job of course, after I had handed the parents over to the specialists after a couple of hours, it was back to the nick for a statement and then back on the streets again.
To be fair, if I'd asked I probably would have been allowed home. But what would be the point? I wouldn't be sleeping anyway, so being out on patrol made more sense than sitting by myself in a darkened flat trying to keep quiet.

I don't mind admitting that the nightmares took a little while to stop afterwards though. Seeing a father cradle his baby daughter in his arms for the last time is not something that is easily imagined, and even harder to forget.

Wednesday 29 October 2008


Whilst walking around Leicester Square last night, watching the crowds doing their thing at the James Bond Premiere, a thought struck me.


Why the hell would fully grown men and women queue up for literally hours and hours for the chance to see a glimpse of the back of a minor Royal or an actor from a film?

I mean, it's not even as though they get to see the bloody film.

All they get to see is a group of yellow clad PCs getting progressively more bored, cold and grumpy, stood on a fixed point in hi-viz hell waiting for a question that doesn't start "Can you tell me where I can find..."

There has to be a sane reason why so many people do it, please can someone tell me it?

By the way, I have been trawling the blogosphere, and have discovered (or re-discovered) Police and Law Enforcement blogs in abundance. I am slowly updating my linky sidebar. Any that you know of, please let me know.
I have also noticed that although I have found many for the UK, US and Canada, I've found none for either Australia or for the Guards in Eire. Does anyone know of any?

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Trick Or Treat

With Halloween fast approaching, we are girding our loins in preparation for an evening of fun, fun, fun.

ALthough the vast majority of youths out there are law abiding citizens, there are a significant minority that love Halloween for all the wrong reasons.

Mainly that over the week leading up to it, our young robbers, car thieves, burglars and other unsavoury characters can wear any type of mask or disguise with complete impunity, and chances are not even get a second glance from the overworked response team officers.

Incidentally, am I the only one that views trick or treat as borderline robbery anyway? I admit I am naturally a grumpy bugger, but offering a threat of violence in order to take someone else's property just seems too borderline for me...

Anyway, it has got me to thinking about tricks played on colleagues; often the younger service members of the team.

We've all heard of most of the tricks done, and we also know that a huge amount are handed down from copper to copper without actually being done very often.

The only one I've ever seen done more than once is the asp throwing competition. Namely, in the wee small hours of a night duty as it quietens down, the team meat in a large local park, tucked away in the dark and nice and private.
We all line up at a spot and explain that, for a laugh, we're going to have an asp throwing competition - loser buys breakfast for the others next early turn.

The probationer steps proudly up to the mark, and of course when the command is given, throws with all his might along with the others.
The more suspicious probationary officers may hesitate, suspecting foul play, but they will see the asps being thrown with force and the other coppers letting go, so join in with gay abandon.

Of course, what they don't see is the other PCs holding on to the lanyard attached to the asp, so that when they let go of said asp it flies for a very, very short distance before bouncing back into their hands.

Leaving said probationer to crawl around in the dark looking for his lost asp, with the help of his or her tiny maglite.

Disgraceful. I've obviously never seen it happen for real.

Apparently, if the probationer needs to be taken down a peg, whilst he or she is searching for the offending item, a Sergeant (who has known about this since the start) drives up and asks the PC what they are looking for.
Then asks them to explain how they lost it...

Many call this the "honesty test."

Any others anyone else cares to mention?
Please try and avoid the hackneyed "Bi-annual water sample from the Thames" trick, or the "hiding in the morgue/morgue version II/morgue version III"

Monday 13 October 2008

Things That Have Annoyed Me Recently (part 3)

Recently, in Custody.
I had arrested a woman in her late forties who had been rather silly - she was not known to Police before and basically had been caught doing something that she knew was wrong in a moment of stupidity.

We all deal with this kind of person occasionally, someone who has thus far led relatively blameless lives and suddenly they come to the attention of Police.

No, before you ask, this was not a figures arrest. In fact, there was no detection involved in this one...

We had brought her in, and the woman was obviously terrified. Unlike our usual, regular customers she felt shame at being arrested and obviously didn't want to be with us.
She also told the Custody Sergeant she suffered from claustrophobia.

Now, as any copper will no doubt attest, a huge amount of the clientelle we get in our cells will claim they have claustrophobia, or any other condition they can think of to get released, bailed, or just to wind up the coppers.

This woman was obviously not playing the system, so after a brief chat with the Custody Sergeant (and an even briefer trip to the cell door, discovering she quietly having palpatations) we brought her out of the cell and sat her on one of the metal seats opposite the Sergeant's desk, where the Skippers could keep an eye on her.

I was writing my arrest notes when our borough commander walked in, on one of his rare trips to see the troops in custody. As he went up to annoy the custody sergeants, I thought it prudent to make myself busy so decided to get the kettle on and brew up for the Sergeants.

For those of you not in the job, Custody Sergeants run on tea. Without tea on a fifteen minute cycle they will not, and in fact can not function.

I made a list of who was drinking what, and as I went past the huddled, shivering nervous woman I had arrested, I took pity and said "Tea love?"
She shook her head, and I contined on to the kitchen area.
Follwed by the Borough Commander.


Expecting a chat about the borough's "basket of ten," or possibly a bollocking for taking the prisoner out of the cell, I was surprised at the topic of conversation he chose.

A ten minute lecture on the inappropriateness of calling a female prisoner "love."
A promise that this would be mentioned to my team inspector.
And a threat that if said prisoner made a complaint against me, the borough commander would have no choice but to give evidence on her behalf due to the blatant and flagrantly open way I had chosen to use this "wholly inappropriate term in a public, CCTV recorded arena."

He then disappeared off - one of the Custody Sergeants told me later that as I was boiling the kettle (and boiling up inside) our wonderful leader went up to said suspect and offered her his apologies.

As I came back with the teas, the boss was gone from the custody area. I sat down next to the woman, and gave her a tea - yes, she had said no, but she needed a little kindness.
"You OK love?"
She smiled wanly as she took the cup.
"I'm OK, thanks for this. But who was the idiot in the hat who came in?"

'Nuff said.

Monday 6 October 2008

Op Blunt

Recently (after successfully avoiding it for a while) I have been doing a few shifts on Operation Blunt.

For those of you lucky enough not to be au fait with the practicalities of the operation for street PCs, here is a short summary.

On regular days response team officers (and occasional others) are warned for "Op Blunt." We will be taken off our already short teams, and given a parade time with operational orders. We will parade at our nick on that day at the given time, and have a short briefing.

Then the fun begins. We will then drive to a central parade point, and from then to whichever borough we have been assigned to patrol for Operation Blunt. Often we will pass officers from different boroughs heading towards our borough to patrol it.
We like to wave at them.

If this car I've stopped has people with knives, where is my back up? On the other side of London of course.

We then get a further briefing at the central parade point, and then all embuss and head over to the Division we are assigned to, and patrol there to proactively deter knife crime. We are encouraged to stop search, but we are not allowed to take the vast majority of calls that come out.
Not that we could, as we wouldn't know the way anyway.

If we get prisoners, we have the joy of booking them in and dealing with them in a strange nick.

Because of all the parade and briefing/travelling time/operational feeding/parade and briefing/getting lost on way to ground assigned/de-briefing at area/travelling time back to borough, we obviously spent a relatively small amount of time actually on patrol.

After doing our short hours on patrol, we then make our way across London back to our home borough, not forgetting to wave at the non-local officers leaving our borough. Then home for tea and cakes.

Of course, if we had been allowed to put these numbers on to OUR borough on response teams, we would have been able to have enough coppers to both respond to calls AND to proactively patrol. Most coppers regularly try to prevent knife crime given the time. We might even be able to use a little of our local knowledge to actually target our patrols, and get to places without arguing over the A-Z.

I didn't need an A-Z for this call. What I needed was a large amount of non-existent officers to help with the mad person waving a twelve inch kitchen knife around.

Anyway. Something I heard over the radio on Operation Blunt made me giggle manically for an inappropriate amount of time.

Control: "Units to assist on an I Grade please, robbery at Brixley bus garage in the past two minutes .on a number 37 bus."
Unit: "Bravo X-ray, show Bravo X-ray Two Zero One. Have you got a description?"
(Pause for comedy effect...)
Control: "Bravo X-ray Two Zero One, it's red with four wheels."

I can't help but find it reassuring that even in The Kremlin there are still long forgotten slightly eccentric people manning the microphones.
Long may their reign remain undiscovered by the people in the Ivory Towers.

New Policeman

Short Post to say, please go and check THIS SITE.

It belongs to a copper just starting off in Canada, the land of Opportunity and David Copperfield.

It is his first day as a street monkey today, so please please pop over and say "hello" and "good luck." Whether you become a fan of his blog or not, a quick comment to wish him well (and tell him where you came from!) would be great. The uniform and badge may differ, but the job remains the same.

I'm sure that any copper remembering their first day would appreciate the sentiments. Nervous probably doesn't even cover it...

Comments are locked for this post only; any comments please pass to him.


Friday 3 October 2008


A quick post, just to say that I am temporarily without internets.

According to BT I will be up and running next week, and they never lie. I'm actually doing this post on my phone, through the wonders of machines with 'i' in the title, as PC Pinkstone says.
This is down to my endless quest to be a cheapskate and the continuing search for the best way to save pennies.

Can you blame me? We're in a credit crunch, our Home Secretary won't give us a pay rise, and my boss has just suspended half of my senior management then resigned himself.
Fun times ahead...

I will continue my short series of things that have annoyed me when I get the net back - rest assured there is only one more to go; there are still things that make me laugh as well in this job.