Friday 13 March 2009


One of my fleeting moments of power and influence.

It was 0800hours and a few of us had been called in on a rest day for a pre-planned operation, to dress up in plain clothes and go out looking for wanted offenders.
We had obeyed by turning up in the obligatory "plain clothes copper" uniform of DM booths, jeans, and North Face jacket with buzz cuts for the blokes.

Of course, the robbery squad were too busy to deal with any robbery prisoners. Same for the burglary squad, and the domestic violence unit are always snowed under with their prisoners.
So all three had requested that we didn't go out looking for any of their circulated suspects.

Instead, we were briefed to go out looking for SERCO breaches. Most met officers will know these - when people who have been electronically tagged breach their conditions, SERCO automatically send a fax to the force with the time of the breach, and arrest enquiries are (eventually) made.

The sergeant had called in sick. The DI looked at me - "Area, you're Acting Sergeant for this. I need a return of work on my desk before you head off. Cheers."

I leafed despondently through the dockets - I had one for a breach of curfew by four minutes. Hmmm.
Another one for a breach of curfew that happened on the day of his court date - the suspect had been at home since then, but had obviously got home late from court and therefore technically breached his curfew conditions by being outside the curfew hours. Not unreasonable when court finished at 1700 and curfew started at 1800.
A third breach of curfew by twenty minutes where the suspect's mother had phoned and stated he was ill and in hospital. This has actually happened some weeks ago, and since then the suspect had gone to court for trial and been found not guilty.

In all, we had one docket with a 'real' arrest.
The robbery, burglary, and CID dockets had been sprited away by the guvnor from CID.

I had six officers and three unmarked cars. I quickly came up with a plan: "OK, lets see if we can nick this bugger and be back for breakfast."
Sure enough, the suspect from our one good docket had been evicted, and the house was boarded up.
I sent the other cars out to verbally warn the breaches of curfew, then at 1000 hours with nothing left to do, we RVP'd at the nick for a late breakfast.

With the "return of work" threat ringing in my ears, I decided to be creative, and we went out hunting. Two officers on plain clothes patrol in one of our busier town centres, and the rest of us targeting our hot spots and seeing if we could turn over some gang members.

At 1930 hours we headed back to the nick - loads of searches, a number of drug seizures, two shoplifters, an arrest for PWITS (Posession with intent to supply) and one for a wanted male who had decided to kick one of the unmarked cars in a drunken haze.

I dismissed the PCs with me, and headed up to report our success to the DI.

Next day, I had an email waiting in my inbox (as did the officers with me) asking in the strongest possible terms for an explanation - apparently there was great upset at my decision not to arrest the SERCO breaches I mentioned above. "Verbally warned" was not the result they were looking for. Our self created arrests didn't count as part of their targets for their dockets...

Serves them right for putting me in charge.


Anonymous said...

All of the responsiblity, but none of the authority eh? I think you used too much initiative, it frightens the powers that be. It's a slippery slope Area, today might be initiative, then tomorrow you'll start being pro-active! Then who knows whatever next? Common sense?

Lola x

Anonymous said...

Stories such as this always remind me of that quote from Blackadder Goes Forth - "God, it's a barren, featureless desert out there, isn't it ..."

Followed by a turning over of the map onto the printed side.

In short, our "commanders" haven't got a damn clue. Never have, never will.

TonyF said...

Initiative...Brilliant! Scaring the pants off the PTB Even better!

Old BE said...

Be careful, this kind of subversive crime fighting does not seem to be condoned these days.

You are truly on the front line of some guerilla crime-fighting sh*t.

Anonymous said...


Beware the power of a maverick - I love it - nice post and good job.


Roses said...


Be patient with them, they know not what they do.

Hogdayafternoon said...

In the late 70's there was a hell of a riot and running battle in Lewisham. The long shields were actually `deployed` for the first time and the next day the headlines shouted as much, with the hilarious quote: "Senior officers decided that shields were needed and the order to deploy them was issued". The truth behind the headline was that the officers on the ground got so fed up of the pasting they were taking from missiles being thrown that the van containing the shields was located, broken open and said kit self-issued.

Leadership and decision making is obviously still `alive and well`.

Anonymous said...

So in simple terms you spent your time doing what normal people would expect that Police Officers should be doing and PCSO's cannot do, but the management did not like it.

Anonymous said...

DM boots in civvies is soooooooo passe! Merrels are the way forwards for standing out like a bulldogs b0ll0cks!

Anonymous said...

That'd be the same ilk of SMT that have you doing 'burglary patrols' along a high street on a saturday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

If I didn't know this was a Police blog I could have sworn you were talking about SMTs in Further Education.

I conclude that any organisation that has to report back to Her Majesty's Government will subordinate actual valuable work to meeting targets.

Baby P is just one terrible example of this.

Asclepius said...

So despite the fact you got a result they were miffed that it wasnt a result that could tally against their plans? We get the same stupidity from our leaders in the NHS.

At the end of the day as long as you are doing your job(from the sounds of it you are doing it well) just ignore them.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

ATNS - it's quite entertaining how doing a bloody good job of policing is actually "bad policing" nowadays in the eyes of the management.

PCMP - oddly that popped into my head as well!

Bridge said...

Christ on a bike.

Anonymous said...

Nothing like being productive and sensible to piss off the management!

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like the people you decided not to arrest had not actually done anything wrong so if you had arrested them you would have generated lots of paperwork, wasted a few peoples time and done absolutely nothing to make the world a safer place. Instead you went out and actually caught a few criminals. I would have though congratulations for a good show of initiative were in order, not a telling off.

thinblueline said...

OI Area. Get out there and stop thinking for yourself.

Anonymous said...

The many responsiblity,Diablo 3 items but none of them of the expert right? I do think anyone used an excessive amount of gumption, that frightens the capabilities that will always be. It is just a elusive slope Area, nowadays could possibly be initiative, and then the next day you will begin currently being pro-active! AfterCheap wow gold that that knows whichever up coming? Wise practice?