Thursday, 21 June 2007
- He is always covering his arse about using words like "he".
- He goes on duty with one set of handcuffs, one baton, one can of CS spray and about eighteen pens.
- He likes nicking thieves and drug addicts.
- He can't remember the last time he got the chance to nick a thief or a drug addict.
- He genuinely wants to make a difference in society, but is saddened by the fact that all the beaurocracy in the job is doing it's best to stop him.
- His staple diet at work is kebabs and pizza, apart from when Mrs Paperwork makes him a lovely pasta salad which he takes to work in a tupperware tub.
- On those occasions, he forgets to take a fork and, after using one from work, forgets to take it back and it ends up going home with him. Because of this, his kitchen drawer contains six knives and sixteen forks.
- He loves going to jobs on blue lights.
- He is neither racist, sexist, homophobic or Gingerist , yet he lives in constant fear of being accused of such.
- He manages to make jokes about things like badly decomposed bodies, not because he's unprofessional but because otherwise the things he has to deal with would severely screw his head up.
- He is assaulted on a depressingly regular basis.
- And yet he doesn't routinely beat people up, regardless of what tosh you sometimes see in the papers.
- He knows that part of the reason there's so few bobbies about is because so many people waste Police time with spurious nonsense. Because of this, he doesn't understand why those same people then complain when it takes us so long to respond to their "request" for Police attendance.
- If the job gave out NVQ's for everything we actually do, he'd be qualified in social care, child care, negotiating, IT, book keeping and accounting, health and safety, law, management and people skills, performing arts, public services, first aid, driving, animal care and "looking interested". However, they don't, so he can be classed as unskilled when it comes to pay rise time.
- He knows that, without his goodwill to work until he's ready to drop then the whole house of cards would come crumbling down. However, even when treated shodilly by Senior Management or Government he still doesn't withdraw this goodwill and continues to blue arse from job to job picking up more and more bits of paper along the way.
- He knows that justice is blind and all people are equal before the law. Except Police officers who, if accused of some minor indescretion (whether or not with any substance) will be investigated by a crack team of detectives and are far more likely to face prosecution (whether or not there's sufficient evidence to meet charging guidelines).
- He works best if there's fresh tea and a nice cake at parade.
- On the few occasions he watches The Bill he'll scream things like "That's wrong!" constantly during the interview scenes.
- On the few occasions he watches The Bill he'll probably say, "Fair enough" during the scenes where everyone's jumping in and out of bed with each other.
- Regardless of all the crap that gets thrown at him from all sides; Management, Government, public and media, he still enjoys his job and realises that, without him, we'd all be buggered!
This happens when you deal with some spurious complaint in, say, January, and that person then makes a note of your name and collar number and puts it on a post-it note next to their phone.
Then, and for ever more, you'll be called to deal personally with every matter of insignificance that happens to that person.
You get into work after a few days off and check your emails. Most of them will be a load of old tosh about some new diversity project or other, some will be a general email from somebody you've never met telling you that they're retiring/changing departments/moving to Australia then there's the ones from any number of civillians telling you off and putting you in your place.
Stuck somewhere in the middle is an email from a colleague telling you that you have to return a call to Mrs Eileen Bonkers who has phoned about a matter you're dealing with. Eileen Who? You do a quick check and see that you attended there six months ago and gave her advice about pigeons or something. And, because she made a lovely cup of tea and had some nice biscuits, you made the schoolboy error of telling her who you were.
Now, she owns you. You are hers, as surely as the ornamental plates commemorating George V's wedding over her fireplace.
This time she's reporting a problem with "youths" congregating near her house. (On a side issue, given her age, "youth" could include anyone up to and including 50 years old. But anyway...)
When you call her, she'll first want to tell you how unhappy she is it's taken you so long.
"But Mrs Bonkers, I've been off for a few days..."
"Don't give me that. The Police never had days off before this country went to pot." (She'll then go on for a few minutes about how "this" would never have happened if that lovely Enoch Powell had been the Prime Minister. Use this time wisely! Have another cup of tea and look at holidays on the internet).
"Well, we have to now. European rules I'm afraid." (Always, ALWAYS, blame Europe!) "Perhaps in future it might be helpful to call the general number and they should be able to get an officer out to you on the day?"
"That's no good, I'll have to explain everything to them all over again! You already understand!"
I haven't got the heart to tell her I haven't really been listening.
So, you trot round there, have some more custard creams, and listen to how teenagers are running amok with "those skateboard things" and how "it isn't safe to even step foot outside anymore!" You give her half an hour of nodding and making sympathetic "hmm" noises before telling her you'll set up a task force. Then, when you get back, you allocate the message to somebody from the Safer Neighbourhood Team.
This Personal Police Officer thing does have a good side though. There's nothing like the feeling of elation you get on answering the phone and Mr Doolally says, "PC Copper already knows all about this".
"Right, I'll send him an email and get him to call you straight away!"
Monday, 18 June 2007
This has got absolutely nothing to do with my job. I just hadn't heard it for ages and it made me smile. It's the sort of speach that I wish I was able to give, but I'm not nearly articulate enough.
I'd consider playing it to all the little sh*ts I deal with who take it upon themselves to cause me grief, but I doubt they'd have the concentration span to listen.
There you go, a Police reference! Hope you enjoy. I'm off to drink coffee.
I opened up an email from a chap who's an Acting Chief Inspector. He was forwarding a string of emails to all the Sergeants on our Division. This string of emails had been through two Supernintendos, any number of other Chief Inspectors, somebody called a "Governance Manager" (how do they think up their job titles? Stick a pin into a random page of the dictionary?) and started with a Civilian member of staff with a whinge.
Apparently, the staff in the Enquiry Offices (the front offices of the Police stations) are a bit niffed at all the producers they're having to deal with. Basically, if you're given a producer by a copper to show your driving licence, insurance etc, then you have to take it and your documents to a Police station. Here, a Station Desk Officer will check your documents and fill out another form to show that they're all OK. It is, as it were, part of their job description.
But not, it would seem, something they're over keen on. Hence the long string of emails. (As an aside, I wonder if this would work for me? "Sorry guv, I'm not keen on dealing with domestics. I'll send you an email...")
The person originating this email (bearing in mind she is paid with tax payers money) had sat down and audited every single producer issued since the begining of the year. The officer can choose to have the documents just "checked" (i.e. is the insurance in date and for the right car etc) or recorded, where the policy numbers etc are written down.
This woman had produced league tables of those officers who had issued more than five "check only" this year and made them into a lovely looking Excel spreadsheet. One of my officers was on the list.
I've got to be honest, when I first saw the spreadsheet I hadn't bothered reading the email properly so my first thought was, "that's fantastic, he's in the top ten. I'll have to remember to thank and congratulate him". But apparently this wasn't the point. I was supposed to "have a word" with him about the strain he's putting on the Enquiry Office.
So I replied with one of those emails that you write when you're angry, press "send" in a blind rage and then, afterwards, think "oops".
I listed the following points whilst I was venting my spleen:
- the fact that there's inadequate numbers of officers, meaning that those who are available are getting dumped on more and more, means that we should be thinking of ways to maintain their morale and enthusiasm. This wasn't a good way to do that.
- officers are, for want of a better word, "marked" on how pro-active they are. A good way of measuring this is by seeing if they are getting out there and stopping our criminals and checking, amongst other things, that they've got insurance etc.
- this bloody woman is paid thousands of pounds of my money. If we absolutely have to employ her, then I'd rather she was doing something even vaguely worthwhile with her time.
- people are starting to get hacked off with email after email telling them what they're doing wrong (normally only filling out three forms with the same information, rather than the fourth one that's required by some department that doesn't even exist any more, but that still, for some reason, wants their copy of the information). It wouldn't hurt to send the odd one telling them how marvellous they are. Infact, they could even do this in person although I accept they'd have to be careful not to fall down the stairs as they descended their ivory towers.
- that checking drivers' documents when they've been required to produce is, kind of, this bloody woman's job. If they don't like it then they can go and get another job. There's probably loads of well paid Council jobs for people who can use Excel and Outlook.
- that I was starting to get hacked off with the way the job was going and that I'd rather spend my time catching burglars rather than dealing with drivel like this.
- and that, finally, I wouldn't be "having a word" with the officer, other than to give him a pat on the back.
I'm looking forward to the reply that'll be waiting for me when I go back to work. I'm really getting a bit too bolshy these days. This sort of stuff used to just wash over me but I think I've just had enough to be honest. Which, I accept, probably isn't great for my career.
If I had to give five words that come into my head when I think about the weekend they'd be;
- fights (in pubs, outside pubs, in the street, in houses. One fight, between brothers, was on a cricket pitch). The majority of the fights I went to were refreshingly civilised. Only a couple of them involved weapons such as bottles and metal bars or, in one case, a television.
- alcohol. While I try and remember everything we did (I've just woken up and am going to need several more coffees before my brain starts working) I'm struggling to think of any job I went to that didn't involve somebody being pissed.
- rape. Unfortunately, because it's the weekend, there were the usual number of females (and one male) reporting having been raped whilst out drinking. This included a 13 (yep, thirteen) year old girl who'd been out drinking vodka with her mates.
- domestics. For anybody reading this from abroad, the weekend is traditionally when British people drink too much, go home and knock lumps out of their wives/girlfriends/husbands etc. Last night we arrested one bloke who's been systematically bullying and abusing his wife for seven years. (I think I'm supposed to use the word "allegedly" here?) which is a coincidence, given that this is exactly how long they've been married. As we slapped the cuffs on he gloated, "I bet I'll be out in half an hour. I'll show the bitch!" Happily, he'll still be locked up now. Eating microwave lasagne.
- gobby kids. I. Don't. Understand. Why. They. Can't. Just. Shut. Up. And. Walk. Away. You'd have thought that, given that they've been drinking and causing problems they'd want to avoid any Police input to their frivolities. But no. We turn up and they see it as an opportunity to show their mates how hard/clever/funny they are by arguing. This normally happens about fifteen seconds before the first one of them is locked up and made to look a bit daft/stupid/wet. "Children of Mytown: I wasn't joking when I threatened to arrest you. Go home!"
So, how did it measure up to my wish list?
1) I went to lots of jobs on blue lights and only rarely had to use my scribble stick. One mark.
2) There wasn't chance to watch Hot Fuzz. But we did spend a lot of time quoting our favourite bits and slipping them into conversations with the public - "I don't care who your dad is, jog on!" Half a mark.
3) I arrested one young chap for possession of different drugs. But he was actually rather pleasant. And we waited for hours to get through custody. So, no marks. However, I assisted in the arrest of the bloke from the domestic, and we only had to wait half an hour, so maybe an Honourable Mention.
4) I wasn't quick enough with the P.A. system turning up to fights. However, I went to a report of anti-social behaviour where a van load of PCSO's were having difficulty dispersing some kids. Inexplicably, I started quoting Jim Bowen over the P.A. ("And Bully's special prize, a night in the cells!") For some reason, (they were probably a bit scared!) this did the trick and they all buggered off. Half a mark.
5) We camped it up a bit, but not nearly as much as we should have. I did give my best Julian Clarey "Hiya!" when turning up to a disturbance at A&E, but that's about it. No marks.
6) I was threatened by lots of people; with the sack and with variations on "I'll see you off duty". On one occasion, I got my pocket book out and, pretending it was a diary, said "I can pencil you in for Wednesday, but it'll have to be quick because I've got a breakfast meeting." One mark.
7) Emails! I'm going to do a seperate post on this. But, trust me, this one scores marks!
8) Automatic (false) alarm at quite a nice house. Four bedrooms (one en-suite), nice big lounge and a lovely garden. Kitchen was a bit small for my liking though. One mark.
9) The wife from the domestic counts as a real victim. Particularly as she was brave enough to give us a statement. We spent a good few hours there between us making sure that her shit of a husband gets what's coming. One mark.
10) Bloke phones up to say he's been assaulted by his brother. When we get there, they've already made up but he's got a bit of a fat lip. He doesn't want to give a statement (says it was just an arguement) but I've got a dilema here (see NCRS on the "Creative Writing" post). He's reported a crime and I have to investigate it, and in so doing waste hours of my time. I ask him how he accounts for his injuries, then absent-mindedly rub my foot on the kitchen floor saying, "Ooh, that's a bit slippy" (they'd spilt something during their "arguement"). His eyes light up, "Er, I slipped and banged my face on the cabinet".
"Splendid, sign here and we'll be off!" One mark!
11) After the email I'll be writing about, I realised that I could never come up with anything quite as stupid as management and would only embarass myself by suggesting something with a bit of common sense. I didn't even try. No marks.
12) And finally, well, I'm here. One mark.
Adding them up, eight out of twelve. All in all quite a good set of shifts. I'm working next weekend too on lates and I'm quite looking forward to it.
Friday, 15 June 2007
1. I want to be able to go to lots of jobs using blue lights and not have to take my pen out of my pocket when I get there.
2. I want to get the chance to watch Hot Fuzz during the wee small hours.
3. I want to arrest a Bad Person and not have to wait for hours to get him booked into custody.
4. I want to go a fight outside a kebab shop and start singing "Eye Of The Tiger" over the p.a. system. Just to see what happens.
5. There should be a squad "camp-a-thon" where one member of the team has to act like Sebastian for an hour at a time.
6. I should be threatened by at least 5 people per night saying "wait til I see you out of uniform".
My reply each time should be, "Well, it's a lovely offer but I'd like to get to know you a bit better before you get me out of uniform". Ideally, this should be whilst it's my turn to "do" Sebastian.
7. I want to have loads of emails from people whinging about me not submitting paperwork to them. I should reply to each of them with a different recipe lifted from the Jamie Oliver website. Again, just to see what happens.
8. I want there to be a report of an automatic alarm at a really nice house so that I can have a good look round and do my Through The Keyhole bit. "Who'd want to live in a house like this?" There's a version we play when we go to visit the underclass - "Who'd want to take heroin and systematically ignore and abuse their children in a slum like this".
9. I want to meet a real victim of a real crime and be able to help them so that they leave feeling a sense of justice and protection from the Police.
10. When I meet a pretend victim of a this didn't really happen crime I want to smile sweetly and use the phrase, "Look, please don't take this the wrong way, but I really don't care enough to stay for another minute.
11. I want to spend some time composing a suggestion to Senior Management. I'll give it some snazzy title like, "The Way Forward - Together". It'll probably involve lots of terms like "stakeholders" and "partner agencies" and the gist will be making all warranted Police officers redundant and replacing them with raspberry flavour Police-shaped jellies. It will no doubt be taken seriously and by the next time you read this blog I'll have been promoted. Twice.
12. Most of all, I'd like to come home safe at the end of the shift.
Posted Mar 21, 2006
A music video for the 80s classic Survivor - Eye of the Tiger. From Rocky. http://www.rockinthebury.com
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
The post itself is the normal top fair from 200, but I was drawn by one of the comments left below. Just in case I haven't put the link in properly above (which wouldn't be the first time) I'll cut and paste the comment here:
fuck all pigs says:
Great news as another Nazi pig gets put down. What a wonderful week it is now. shame the guy did not stick a few more Nazi pigs before they got him.
Someone should dig up the dirty pig cut off the baldheaded Nazi cunts head and stick it on a lamp post in luton town center, as a warning of what all pig scum should get for being a traitor to the man on the street.
and may may more of the scum follow this scum to an early grave in the most painful way possible.
every dead pig is a victory for the people.
I should apologise first for the language in the post. I thought it was worth people reading it in it's glorious entirety.
Now, given the poster's name is "Fuck All Pigs" (and assuming this isn't referring to their weird sex life) I'm going to assume this guy isn't our biggest fan.
I posted a comment on the blog too making a couple of generalisations about them based on what I've found during my career. They may be right, they may be wrong, and I guess I'll find out by what they reply, but here goes.
Firstly, some people aren't that keen on the Police because of some personal situation. Maybe we've let them down at some point (because, like everyone else, we sometimes make mistakes) or maybe it took us longer than we'd have liked to respond to a call due to the fact that there aren't that many of us.
Whatever the reason, I can normally sympathise with these people and try to do my best to make sure that their latest experience of the Police is a lot better. I'd get a lot of personal satisfaction if I knew that they had changed their opinion in some way because I'd put the effort in.
Then there's the person who HATES the Police. And they're normally quite vocal about it, shouting things like, "I hate the Police".
My normal response is then to ask how many times they've been arrested. The answer's normally somewhere between "several" and "lots".
You see, I've learned that the people who HATE the Police normally do so because we keep catching them breaking the law. And then locking them up for it.
I've lost count of the amount of times I've been accused of harassment because I've stopped the same person for the umpteenth time. ( I once searched the same heroin addict three times in the space of about two hours. The third time he accused me of harassment. I told him that I'd stop searching him when he stopped stealing things. I didn't see him in the town for a couple of months after that. Job done!)
They normally hate us because they're on bail and we do bail checks at midnight to make sure they're not out burgling people's houses. They don't hate us specifically for being on their doorstep; it's more to do with the fact that they can't commit crime because of it.
Then there's the person who hates the Police because all we do is spoil their fun. The fact that their fun involves causing a nuisance for everyone else (who has called us to complain) doesn't really come into their thinking. The bottom line is, in their eyes, they're doing nothing wrong and we're just facist pig baby killers who are agents of a Police State. (They like saying things like that. They once heard somebody else say it on some film or other and it makes them feel very "Che Guevara" to repeat it!)
This is a youtube video from a student "party" that was broken up by Police in Leeds recently. It's just one of loads. If you search under "hessle avenue raid" or similar you'll find lots of comments about The Police State on there.
It's impossible to reason with these people. They are always right and, though they love to spout on about free speech this only applies if you actually agree with them. If you don't agree, it's probably because you're a sexist, racist, facist pig.
The point behind this rather long-winded post is that, regardless of the crap we take from these people, regardless of the abuse they dish out at us, we still go running to their aid whenever they ask for it.
I mean, if they get jumped on their way home after a hard nights yoghurt eating and beanbag sitting who are they going to call? Their mate "Sundance", the committed pacifist? Nope, they're gonna dial 999 and expect us to get there as soon as possible.
I wonder what their reaction would be if we turned up and found some right wing idiot cleaning their boots on the callers face and we just said, "well, sir, this skinhead does have the right to express himself. I don't want to make him feel oppressed in any way." I'm bloody sure they'd be screaming for us to chuck him in the meat wagon, demanding we gave him a kicking.
So, to Fuck All Pigs and all of your like out there I've got this to say. I know you hate me, and I know that you're not going to change your mind any time soon. I also know that, when we meet, you're going to call me all the names under the Sun and treat me in a way that you'd never want to be treated yourself. I know all this, but still I'm here for you. The next time you're in the sh*t with nowhere else to turn, you know where to find me.
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
It's now 24 hours since the fatal stabbing of PC Jonathan Henry in Luton. As tends to happen, a few more details are starting to emerge about the incident and about the man himself.
The incident was called in to Police at about 7.15am. So, at this time, Jon and his mates would have been sitting in a briefing, having a brew and chatting about the day ahead. Who had people coming back on bail, who had appointments elsewhere and what work was to be allocated to which officers.
There would have been laughs and jokes, and grumbles about how hard it is getting up on earlies.
Somebody would have been having the p*ss taken out of them for something they did the day before, and they'd have come back with "Ah, but remember that you you managed to lock yourself in that woman's toilet!"
And then the weighty issue of what the squad was going to do for breakfast.
Basically, a team of Police officers getting ready for the day ahead and, tragically, you can imagine them talking about their plans for the evening. Within half an hour one of their number would be dead.
Jon left behind a wife, Mary, and a baby daughter, Maggie, who isn't yet one year old. I've never met them, nor had I met Jon or his team, but I hope that in some small way their grief is helped by the knowledge that they are in the thoughts of so many of us.
It's because of Mary and Maggie that I want to be careful about how I word the rest of this post; to make sure that it isn't disrespectful to Jon's memory. I think it's wrong to use the death of a Police officer to try and make a political point.
But it's the thought of all the Police widows, widowers and orphans that makes me feel like this should be written.
For some time now the majority of frontline Police officers have called for us to receive better protection, both from the judicial system and in terms of the equipment which is issued to us.
Firstly, there needs to be mandatory "life without the hope of parole" sentences for those that murder (and I mean "commit murder" as in this case) Police officers in the line of their duty. The murder of a Police officer was one of the last offences for which a person could be hanged. And, although occasionally a Police officer was shot or stabbed, there was some sort of deterrant there. A person going to commit an armed robbery could think, "if the Police come and I'm cornered, I can either do 10 years for the robbery or hang if I kill the copper". And they would, normally, choose to give themselves up or at the very least not resort to using their guns.
Nowadays, there's no difference between killing a public servant in the course of their duty and killing your neighbour because you've fallen out. I'm not saying the life of the Police officer is worth more, but the fact that they are on duty serving the public should be reflected in sentencing.
It took years for the Police to be issued with a decent baton in this country, and how they wailed and cried in Westminster and in Middle England when they were issued. The same debate happened, to a lesser extent, with the advent of quickcuffs.
When the idea of CS incapacitant spray being issued to every officer was mentioned, you'd have thought that "CS" was actually some sort of machine gun! Still, after an unbelievable amount of drama, it was issued. And today no officer would consider going out on the beat without these three appointments.
The call for Taser is growing. I've heard that at least one force has already bought enough to issue to all frontline officers and are just waiting for the nod from the Home Office (or whatever it's called this week). I wasn't present at the incident yesterday, so my knowledge is limited. But I believe that the murderer was arrested with the assistance of Taser. I can't help wondering if Jon would still be alive today if he had been issued with it himself.
People, I'm thinking about Amnesty amongst others, will tell you how dangerous they are.
Jon Henry's friends and family will tell you how dangerous knives are.
How can I be expected to protect the public effectively without being given the means to do so. I have to be able to protect myself in order to protect others. I too, like Jon, have a family. I'm sure that every Police officer, past and present, who saw the news yesterday had the same thought, "there but for the grace of God..."
Finally, have a look at National Police Memorial . Soon, Jon's name will be recorded here, alongside those other officers who have given their lives in the service of the public.
It's because of this huge list of names and, selfishly and I suppose cowardly, because I don't want to join the list, that I believe it's time for all of us to put pressure on the Government to roll out Taser to all frontline officers.
Monday, 11 June 2007
PC Jonathan Henry died from injuries received whilst protecting members of the public from a knifeman in Luton, Bedfordshire.
My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. I'm proud to wear the same uniform as him.
Saturday, 9 June 2007
In theory that sounds all right. We're all intelligent people and we know that that space in the corner of the room should have a DVD player in it. Therefore, it has been stolen! Elementary.
However, an unfortunate by-product of NCRS is the fact that we have to take on face value all sorts of spurious reports from some people who are mad, lying deluded or a combination of the three.
"Right, so it was martians who stole your garden gnome? Here's your crime number." Well, it's not quite got to that point yet, but we're not far off.
When I was a lad, I would often get into fights at school. It wouldn't really matter what it was over. Whose ball it was, whose football team you wanted to be on at break, whose dad was hardest and whether your dad really was Mr T. Whatever, at some point during lunch break I'd probably end up having a scrap.
I used to tell me dad when I got home, but soon realised that this lead to me getting a clip around the ear and a telling off. The one thing he didn't do was phone the Old Bill. If he had though, I'm sure some bobby would have come round and, er, given me a clip round the ear probably.
However, if my dad was to phone the Police now the bobby attending would bring with him a hundred weight of paperwork to complete and I'd be video interviewed. Because I'm a victim. Of course, they'd then go and see the other lad (or girl if I'd been properly beaten up) and of course they'd be a victim too. Bottom line, we're both as bad as each other so we can both have juvenile reprimands.
When I first joined the job, which isn't actually that long ago, I went to a reported shoplifter. Turns out it was a 11 or 12 year old girl nicking sweets. She'd never been in trouble before. The shopkeeper knew her and her mum (in fact, he'd already called her) and just wanted her to get a telling off.
So I did. I waited for mum to turn up then I told the girl off until she started crying (otherwise you can't be sure they're actually listening) and then, er, well we all went home. Mum was happy that her daughter wasn't going to Cell Block H and that she'd learnt her lesson, shopkeeper was happy that he could go back to, well, shopkeeping and I got to go back out and look for some proper criminals. I can't remember if I found any. Probably not. But the point is I was out there looking. Nowadays I'd be hauled over the coals for dereliction of duty.
Now I'd have to spend hours on the job; appropriate adults, interviews, solicitors, statements, file preparation....
Because of this, every copper who's been in for a little while (anything over about six minutes) quickly learns the art of "batting" or "cuffing".
In essence, this is a Bad Thing. It means, if I'm honest, getting rid of a job rather than dealing with it "properly". However, "properly" isn't necessarily the best way for all concerned. So some jobs genuinely deserve to get "batted".
If I go to a 11 year old shoplifter tomorrow, in exactly the same circumstances, I can either get the golden "detection" to help off set our unsolved burglaries, in which case I'll get little else done all day, or I can try and introduce a bit of common sense into procedings.
First time around, I could have given a result like, "shopkeeper doesn't want to make a complaint, mum's taken daughter away, no crime". And that's it. Finished. And this was fine with the bosses.
Today's copper has to be much more inventive with the the wording. So, I've found the following phrases of great use...
"There is sufficient doubt to suggest that a crime has not been committed".
"This was not an assault, rather a case of school yard japes". One of my favourites. I actually used this one. And it worked!
"It is impossible to tell whether this is new or old damage".
"A heated arguement rather than an assault".
"No possibility of successful prosecution".
"Not in the public interest to continue".
"A disproportionate use of Police resources".
"The suspect has stated that he made a genuine mistake and has paid the money owed".
"The witness was unable to provide any description".
"There is evidence that the item may actually be simply lost or misplaced".
"A minor neighbour dispute that doesn't amount to harassment".
"Things said in the heat of the moment but not meant".
"An unfortunate, unforeseen set of circumstances which could not have been avoided".
I'm not giving away any secrets. It's only what their solicitors tell them to say, and if we investigate a crime we're looking at all sorts of other things like CCTV, witnesses etc. And that's the point. Police officers like arresting crooks. If we think there's half a chance of locking somebody up who deserves it, we'll be there like a rat up a drainpipe.
It's just that some jobs really neither need nor deserve Police input.
Caller: "My neighbour keeps harassing me by cutting his lawn on Sundays when he knows I like to watch Coronation Street".
Result: "A minor neighbour dispute that doesn't amount to harassment".
See how it works? So, if the government insist in making us nothing more than crime recorders, the least they can do is send us all on a course so that we can do it with a bit of flair!
Friday, 8 June 2007
At first, it wasn't clear that he was going to make the appointment at the station. Not because he couldn't be bothered, but because, at 86, he's also the sole carer for his wife who has dementia. She has good days (like when one of my team went to visit them and she thought he was the gardener. Kept trying to give him a spade!) and bad days, when she doesn't even recognise her own husband.
Luckily, she was having a good day and so "Robert" came in to view the slides I'd set up on the computer.
While we were waiting for the hamster on it's wheel to turn enough for the computer to warm up we were chatting about each other's lives. "Robert" (not his real name) was in the RAF during the Second World War, barely out of his teens. He'd met his wife "Gladys" towards the end of the War and they'd married shortly after as it wasn't certain he'd still be alive if they waited. The closest he's ever got to hurting anyone else was in the defence of this country.
They then spent the next 60 years working hard and paying taxes up until retirement, at which point they just wanted to see out their twilight years in quiet comfort. They have two sons, one who lives in Manchester and one who lives in Australia, and so they are pretty much on their own. But that's fine with them, as long as they have each other.
Neither of them had ever been in any trouble with the Law and, though I've still not met "Gladys", "Robert" was a thoroughly decent and funny chap. He loves his wife dearly and dotes on her.
The burgling scum who carried out this crime were able to because, when they came calling, Robert had popped to the shop to get him and his wife something nice for lunch. Gladys didn't stand a chance but, because it was one of her good days, she was able to tell Robert that some strange men from the water board had been round to check for leaks.
He was immediately concerned and, when he checked, over £500 was missing from the house.
Robert had only just missed them, and actually may have passed them at a neighbours house as he walked back from the shops. Hence his appointment to view photos.
From the description he'd given, I'd put together just over a hundred photos for him to look at. We have to show them in groups of twelve, and to be honest it's really rare that anybody gets picked out. This can make me feel a little blase about showing them, but this was one time I really wanted a result.
We went through the photos twice but none of them rang any bells with Robert. I'd already heard that CSI had found no evidence at their bungalow and, although we may have found a witness from house to house, to be honest it's not looking like we're going to catch them this time.
As I turned to him to give him this news the words just stuck in my throat. The reason I joined the Police was to help the Roberts and Gladys' of this world. And this time, as with all too many others, I've not been able to.
I've got quite adept at lying to the public, trying to give them hope that something will come good when I know full well that it'd take a miracle. But I looked at Robert and he had this look of quiet shame about him, like he'd let me down. I was lucky that he beat me to it and I was able to hide my cowardice in telling him the truth. He said, "well, that's that. Sorry I couldn't pick him out. Thanks very much for trying to help us. It means a lot that you and your officers care enough to try."
Bloody typical, I'm supposed to be helping him and he's the one giving my self esteem a boost!
We've put some things in place with his neighbours that'll make it a lot less likely that this will happen in the future, but that's scant consolation to be honest.
Still, we will catch these bastards. And the best bit will be going round to see Robert and Gladys for a cup of tea and giving them the news.
I'm not sure if I'm doing it right though. When my team are together on a van crew at the weekend we have a laugh, which includes taking the p*ss out of each other.
(And if any of my team are reading this, yes I am only short. And, yes, my hair the other day did make me look like a 10 year old schoolboy. Noted!)
If a member of public draws our attention, then we may well comment, privately, about their physical appearance. Particularly if they look like Quasimodo's bigger, uglier brother.
One of the females on my team dropped a bollock the other week and referred to herself as "having a blonde moment". I didn't challenge her comment.
The probationer with the youngest service said "I'd better go and make the tea then hadn't I? Because I'm the newest". I didn't stop him and give him a big hug. (In fact, I told him not to forget to put 2 sugars in mine.)
The most respected copper on the team referred to one of local oiks as "a thieving little shit". Instead of writing him up for the discipline book, I kind of agreed with him.
One girl, we'll call her "Susan" was outside having a brew and a ciggie with me when she made some comment along the lines of "I think there's too many people sneaking into the country then committing crime. I reckon if they get caught breaking the law they should be sent home again!" I know, I know. I should have reported her to Professional Standards and stood there cheering as she was made an example of. But, given that I agreed with her, too, I'd have felt a bit hypocritical. So I made her another cup of tea.
I've also been overheard referring to people as "girlfriend" rather than "partner"; "black" rather than "african british"; "gay" rather than "member of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender community" and "tosser" rather than "Superintendent".
I know I'm not supposed to enjoy myself at work, in case somebody takes offence, but I can't help it. I love doing my job, I love helping people (those who actually need my help and not just a slap around the back of the head) and I love the time I get to have a laugh with my squad.
It's just that, with all this unprofessional behaviour, nobody's resigned or gone off sick with "stress due to bullying". I mean, if you believe the hype, we're all spending 8 months of the year on the sick playing golf and putting shelves up at home.
I'm not suggesting for a second that the people who bring in these regulations about what we're allowed to say/do/think are wrong. I mean, they must be right. The Force is spending thousands on them. It's just that, no matter how often I use phrases like "thieving scumbag" or "gutless yob", I don't seem to be upsetting anybody.
Which brings me back to the start of the post. I've looked into it, and I'm definately part of the "canteen culture". But, for some reason, nobody's offended. If anyone's got any suggestions on how I can improve my performance (there's targets to meet here!) I'd be grateful.
Thursday, 7 June 2007
The first type is actually, normally quite a laugh. They come staggering up to you, give you a big, beaming smile and slur something like, "You know what? You're a copper you are. I love you. Do you wanna be my friend?" And then they try and give you a (friendly) bear hug. Honestly, I can't take my mum anywhere these days!
I don't mind dealing with Nice Pissed Bloke. They're good value and definately beat Mr Angry as a way to spend ten minutes. They'll tell you that they could have been a pro footballer. And show off their skills with a discarded kebab. Before falling over.
Or that they're going on the X-Factor next week. And then serenade you with a really, really bad song. Sung really, really badly. Before falling over.
Even the ones who want to tell you how bad their lives are, and just drone on and on about how their wife left them, their house fell down and their dog died aren't too bad. You just give them five minutes of TLC before pretending there's something really important going on that you just have to go to. As long as they manage not to vomit on my face I don't mind them at all.
If it's quiet, we've even been known to join in with their singing/dancing/football/reminiscing. It's all in good spirits (literally) and it helps keep up the image of friendly British bobby.
However, there's the other sort of drunk who I hate with the very fabric of my being.
Pissed Angry Man or Pissed Leary Woman who is insisting on having a fight. With someone. Anyone really. Doesn't matter. "He barged into me!" "He spilt my pint!" "He looked at my bird!" "She chatted my bloke up!"
These are the people who insist on being arrested. Even when you're giving them the chance to just get into a taxi and go home. You'll say to them, "Look, why don't you just go home. You've had a good night, time to get yourself off." And the inevitable reply is, "I don't have to go nowhere! You can't tell me! You f*cking pr*ck!"
Right. Best you come with me then.
These are the same people who phone up, absolutely bladdered, reporting that they've been assaulted by bouncers. And they've done nothing wrong! Even when you point out that the CCTV shows them trying to start fights all round the club, including with the door staff.
"I wanna make a complaint!"
"Yeah, me too sunshine. But who's gonna listen?"
And they'll get all brave when their mates are with them. Full of "Wait 'til I see you off duty!" (At this stage, I normally point out that their grammar's atrocious. "But you're not on duty, sir. Did you mean "Wait until I see you when you're off duty"?")
This stage is normally followed by the bit when they start crying, which in turn is followed by the bit where they get violent again.
So we have to restrain them and then they get the chance to complain about us assaulting them the next day.
This sort of drunk person makes my Friday and Saturday late shifts a complete pain in the arse. You need the patience of a Saint and half a dozen witnesses to prove that he got that crack on the swede by headbutting the side of the car.
I've realised that the best way to deal with them, as you take them to the ground, restrain them and wrap them up with limb restraints is to get ultra, ultra nice and professional.
"Now now sir, we don't want to do that do we? We might end up hurting ourselves."
Or the fantastic, "Is there anything I can reasonably do or say that will help you to calm down?"
"I'll take that as a no then sir". This has to be delivered with your best "media smile" to be completely effective.
There's a couple of reasons why, when in Police custody, you might end up being strip searched.
If you've been arrested for being in possession of drugs, or if you're a known, current drug user then it's pants off. This is to make sure you don't have any more hidden away that you can overdose on whilst in your cell. Because then we'll lose our jobs. Oh, and we don't want anything bad to happen to you.
If you're known to be suicidal then, again, you may well be strip searched. This is to make sure you can't self-harm whilst in your cell. Because then we'll lose our jobs. Oh, and we don't want anything bad to happen to you.
And then, if you're known to carry weapons or if the offence you've been brought in for is weapons related then, again, you'll have me or Female Me staring at your bits shortly afterwards.
I also saw one person get strip searched after repeatedly telling the Custody Sergeant to "f**k off!", though I'm not sure whether that was the reason for the search.
Anyway, you go in front of the Custody Sgt who directs the officers to conduct a strip search. You'll then be taken to a cell with at least two officers. They will ask (which means tell, but we're polite) you to remove the top half of your clothing which will then, in turn, be searched. You'll then have to pop your hands on your heads so that they can see you haven't got anything squirrelled away in your arm pits. If you've got particularly long arm pit hair, they'll have to give it a little rummage through to make sure there's nothing in there.
You'll then put your top half clothing back on (or the Police issue paper top if we're keeping your clothes) and you'll have to remove the lower half of your clothing. And, yes, this does include your underwear. I've strip searched some people, who have been in exactly the same position dozens of times, and try to swear blind that last time they didn't have to take their shreddies off. Well, you do. And if you refuse I'll have to come over and do it for you. Which will involve me touching you whilst you're naked. And I really don't want to do that.
You'll then have to show the soles of your feet and squat down to make sure there's nothing hidden where the Sun don't shine. Anyway, you then put your clothes back on and that's it. It doesn't take very long, but it's not very pleasant for any of us.
Apart from the vagrants. These people seem to revel in getting a bit of air to their boy bits. They'll stand there in the cell and swing "it" about looking like they're in the middle of a country stroll.
And they smell like something has crawled up their arse and died. As do their holey underpants, which I have to turn inside out to make sure there's nothing hidden in there. I am able to sit here and swear, on oath if necessary, that skid marks come not just in brown but in a variety of different colours. And textures.
The drug users are often covered in pus filled absesses, particularly around the groin where they "deep vein" because their other veins have collapsed. Their clothes stick to the sores and pull off any fresh scabs they've got.
And I've heard all sorts of unpleasant stories from female colleagues about them having strip searched female prisoners who are on their period but who haven't, er, fully taken care of their feminine hygeine. It's for this reason we keep a store of sanitary towels in the custody block.
Sometimes, of course, even a strip search doesn't find everything. Heroin users, particularly, are very adept at hiding some fairly large, sometimes sharp objects up their bums. One bloke, knowing that he was going to get nicked, managed to get heroin, citric acid, spoon and cigarette lighter up there. That's when you know that, perhaps, your addiction has got to an unmanageable state.
So, that's my bit done for the recruitment department. Should bring the applications flocking in. When they suggested a "warts and all" look at Policing, maybe they didn't have the hairy wart on some wino's backside in mind though?
Sunday, 3 June 2007
Now I reckon most coppers (though I can only really speak for myself) have some sort of grudging respect for decent villains. The type who plan their heist down to the final detail, sneak in and out without anyone noticing and nobody gets hurt. Think "Oceans Eleven" but with less hair spray.
I would love to catch somebody who's done a job like that, but I'd probably shake their hand just before I shut the cell door on them.
However, this isn't Hollywood and most of the criminals in our area don't have the same gleaming white smiles and $500 hair cuts. They have the brown, yellow and black teeth with greasy, dirty mop of hair that is normal for the raging heroin or crack cocaine addict.
And they don't plan their jobs to the minutest detail. They instead find a house that looks like somebody elderly lives there and then try and con their way in. I'm not giving away any secrets here. Groups like "Help The Aged" and "Age Concern" have been offering advice to the elderly about this type of criminal for years.
Trouble is, it normally gets ignored. Not because the person involved is stupid, but rather because they come from a different generation and don't like to seem rude. So when a total stranger turns up at their door, the old person's first thought is probably, "I'll try and help this person". Of course, the person at the door is thinking "Where's your pension book?" There was a two hour delay in us getting one of these jobs reported the other day because the victim concerned didn't want to bother us!
A genuine victim of crime, who really needed us there and then, didn't phone us because she probably knew we'd be too busy trying to sort out the latest arguement between "Dean" and "Bianca" or taking a statement from somebody desperate to use us as a weapon in some insignificant feud.
I've posted about this sort of crime before, right at the start of the blog. I can't remember if I wrote that we caught the bloke in question. He's since had his bail cancelled because the CPS has decided to put it in the Too Difficult Box and not prosecute.
This guy, incidentally, describes himself as "Irish Traveller Builder". Only he was born in the UK, lives in a house (paid for by me and thee) and doesn't build anything. Instead he's decided he's far less likely to get his (stolen) jeans dirty by just stealing money instead.
I'm writing this blog because there's a spate of these jobs happening at the moment, all over the country and more than a dozen elderly people in our area have been hit in the last couple of weeks.
Now, I won't say too much about their technique because some smart arse brief might decide that it predjudices some future trial. Because we WILL catch them. That's not the issue. It's just whether or not we catch them in the house and record them saying to the occupant, "I was actually lying to get in here. I only really want to steal everything you own that isn't nailed down". Because otherwise the CPS will just laugh when we send them the file.
To be fair, most of the victims don't make the best witnesses. Poor eyesight, the onset of dementia and a prediliction for trusting everybody all conspire to make them excellent targets for the gutless thieves who do this sort of thing. It's just that, with the other job I mentioned, we actually did have a picture of him entering the lady's house. And he was good enough to be wearing the same clothes when we nicked him the next day. He was as guilty as a puppy sitting next to a pile of poo, and still he gets away with it.
So, I'm instead going to go and visit all the elderly people in my street and let them know that this sort of thing is going on. Again. And hopefully one or two of them will be that much less likely to fall victim.
The other step is to lobby the government to push for tougher sentences for these people who specifically target the most vulnerable people in our society. I'm going to suggest throwning them into bags and beating them around the head and neck with cricket bats.
Friday, 1 June 2007
This isn't because of them as individuals. The Police haven't started recruiting directly from the W.I.
I reckon it's because of the way their training is pitched.
Every lesson has a moral, and that moral is generally "If you do this, you'll get sacked".
During Officer Safety Training they're told that they have to justify their actions (quite rightly so too) but that if they receive a complaint of excessive force then they could, potentially, end up with a criminal complaint against them and lose their job.
It's all, "Do this, lose your job. Do that, get a complaint. Do the other, get disciplined. Do practically anything, and potentially all those could happen plus your picture will be shown to small children as a warning to behave themselves."
So when they're getting all this negative input, is it any reason that some of them end up thinking, "hang about, if I don't do anything then I can't get sacked..."
Instead of having confidence instilled in them, they instead have fear thrown at them.
Instead of being told, "In these set of circumstances, it's perfect reasonable to....", they are told, "Well, it's for you to justify. And if you can't then you're out on your ear".
I've had probationers stare at me in disbelief as I've grabbed somebody and thrown them across a garden and into a fence, before taking them to the ground and cuffing them face down. They've asked, "Er, Sarge. Are you sure it's OK to do that?"
And I've replied, "Well, yeah, he was trying to stab me with a screwdriver".
Even then they're not sure. I know because they'll say things like, "I'm not sure".
Our society needs a Police Service that is disciplined and only resorts to force when it's necessary. But, when it is necessary, those officers need to have the confidence and skill to act firmly and decisively without dithering. Otherwise they, their colleagues and any members of the public we're supposed to be protecting will get hurt.
When I'm tucked up in bed, I don't want to have some nutter with anger management problems looking after me. But, at the same time, I don't want a load of pseudo Social Workers worrying about the Human Rights Act either. In fact, I want Pat and Carl from Road Wars...
Whilst they were going through his work, the tutor raised a concern that the probationer wasn't giving out enough tickets. This isn't the first time that this has happened. The last time, the other officer concerned went out and dished out a dozen or so seatbelt tickets. I suggested that his tutor had spent a little bit too long staring at white boards and not long enough dealing with members of public.