Things I've seen too much of in 2006, would like to see less of in 2007.
Maggots in dead people.
People spread across several square metres of tarmac after road accidents.
Incompetent management who can't see there's a problem until someone points it out, and then get the person who points out the problem to sort it out, and then take all the credit for it.
Sensationalist media reporting.
Paper forms that exactly replicate computer forms, but both have to be completed.
Computer forms that exactly replicate paper forms, but both have to be completed.
Computer forms that contain exactly the same information as other computer forms, but both have to be completed, and you can't cut and paste.
Rescuscitating people who are barely hanging on to life after a drugs overdose.
People dead after a drugs overdose.
People jumping from the 5th floor onto concrete in front of me.
Things I would like to see more of in 2007.
Spare police vehicles to replace the broken ones
Broken police vehicles being fixed the first time.
People being talked down from the 5th floor. (This did happen. It couldn't be made official as myself and the fire brigade chap conveniently ignored Health & Safety to climb up the scaffolding to get to him)
Properly enforced and resourced probation and community service sentences.
Police officers on response team, so we aren't always going from job to job to report to statement to job to report, and can actually go and do some preventative police work
Hum I will come back with some of the good highlights of the year, but in true Sergeant fashion I'm grumpy at the moment, as it's new years eve, I can't go where I was planning as the car broke down this morning, and in any case I'm on early turn tomorow and will need to be out of the house by roughly 5am. Hurrah!
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Things I've seen too much of in 2006, would like to see less of in 2007.
Friday, December 29, 2006
To say I get angry about this kind of thing is an understatement.
This on christmas day, this three days later.
This latter one nearly made me lose my temper.
Stupid, selfish halfwit. It's one of the few things that sorely tempts me to revert back a few decades in policing style. One of those that if I'm at the custody desk, I have to pause, take a deep breath and tell myself I have to treat him like everybody else.
What a scumbag. Disqualified from driving, sticking two fingers up to both courts and police, couldn't give a toss about anyone but himself, showing off to the girl. Even if she knew there was something not right about this guy and this car there is absolutely no way she deserves this. Nobody does.
Death by dangerous driving is the equivalent of manslaughter, and without checking my law books that's at least 14 years. But I bet he'll get about 3.
The Manchester bloke'll probably get something equally limp, and disqualified from driving for 10 years, which really makes a difference to these kind of people. See the London story for evidence of how much.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Coming soon: Sergeant Says' Review of the year 2006.
To include: things I saw this year I will quite happily go without ever seeing again;
things I would like to see more of next year;
things I would like to see less of.
I was planning on actually doing this tonight, but I've only just finished prepping stuff for tomorrow, and I wanted to go to bed twenty minutes ago- so it can wait.
Hope all had a good christmas, and better than the poor sod who I came across just before christmas (see future post: things I will quite happily go without ever seeing again).
Hope all have a jolly good new year. With the following small print: this specifically excludes people who drink too much and either a) fight their partners b) fight their friends c) fight the police officers who are called by their partners or friends d) fight random poor sod who happened to be on the wrong crack of the pavement at the time.
Small small print to point D: exception to this is when you do it in front of a vanload of motivated old bill who particularly dislike eejits who like to engage in such things. As what happened christmas eve. "Happy Christmas. You're nicked." I'm trying to think of an adjective that suits such a person, but I'm struggling to think of something that is both contemptous and venomous enough.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I know, no updates in a week then 4 in a day. But I'm on late turn tomorrow (lie in......... aaaaah) and the missus isn't feeling too well, and was off to bed very early, so could spend a bit of time both on this and looking around the other job bloggers.
Very sad to say the Blogger's Graveyard is expanding. Sensible Policing has simply just disappeared off the face of the earth (never a good sign) and now even the PCSO blog has joined the ranks of those found out and has deleted every post he's ever written.
Every time I see that happen I ask myself- again- just why am I doing this, when all it will ever bring me is trouble.
I know I've nicked Guvnor Gadget's tagline but it is the only way to describe this (also on the official GMP website). You can hear the criminals laughing all the way from Carlisle to Chester.
An extraordinary piece of pink and fluffy optimism policing.
Unless, there is a glimmer of hope here, that the GMP article is so laden with sarcasm and that the officers in the Chadderton nick are the ones laughing. But surely not, not from the official GMP website? Please someone tell me this is a christmas joke........
Okay yes I am a bit grumpy at the moment. I cheered up a bit when I saw Inspector Gadget's appeal for witnesses to an apparent abduction by Met Officers: here. I laughed even more when I saw HobbyBobby's retort- here! Who says police can't have a sense of humour?
But the icing on the cake is this. How I laughed when I saw this, especially as it's Met officers hahahahahahahahahahaha (at least, I think it is- that is their logo just peeking out on the right hand side?)
I know it's a silly photo from a photoshop bodge. But those pink leggings crack me up.
Good one. I'm shattered.
You know those medieval torture methods where you had a horse attached to each limb who each try and pull you in different directions? Thats a bit how I feel at the moment. Inspectors from every which department (licencing, tasking, Intelligence, Motor Vehicle Crime, Robbery and the rest blah blah blah) all wanting my unit to help with their problems in the run up to christmas. Plus some problems with some of my Pc's in the unit, problems which have to be dealt with like now and not left till after christmas. Sooooooo I'm full of the joys at the moment!
There's something about this job which makes people think that a number of officers in yellow jackets will solve any problem you care to mention, whereas the only problem it really solves is that they can now finally tell senior management that some resources are being targeted to combat their particular problem.
When I finally get some days off (not for a while yet!) my phone will be turned off throughout christmas (the couple of days that I have for it, anyway.....)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I think I'll leave my media whinges alone for the time being. Instead, just hope and pray that Suffolk police get their man (we all assume it is a man, but I think it is a fair assumption) quick.
My thoughts are with the families of the murdered girls, and the officers working on the case who I know will be slogging their guts out following useless lead after useless lead, always hoping the next one will be the one. The BBC have published a useful article on how it is calls from the public that are really what are crucial. TV shows would have you believe forensic science can solve everything. It has a role but it isn't enough. A simple "I was here, at this time, and I saw this" will be all the jumpstart this case needs.
Link to Suffolk Police website here.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I don't wish to make comment at all about the things happening in Ipswich, save that I hope to God that Suffolk police catch whoever is responsible pretty damn quick.
For those who may know me I am quite interested in media issues, in particular the way they present stories, the accuracy of any facts that are claimed, and even when and how stories are chosen in the first place.
Found myself agreeing with this article from the Guardian. In a nutshell, its how the media seem to treat prostitute crime as unnewsworthy, and the only reason the Ipswich events are in the news at all is because suddenly there's a "serial killer" or a new "ripper" attacking prostitutes, who are now "vice girls".
The police are familiar with being labelled (justifiably, let me make clear) of having certain ways and attitudes "institutionalised" in their working practices. But I think the media (certain sections in particular) have a case to answer too, for having equally deeply entrenched attitudes that perhaps aren't as fair and appropriate as they'd like to make out.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Speaking to an analyst friend of mine. They reckon that a recent (nearly 25%) drop in particular type of theft related crime in Nutville is down to the arrest of one individual, and thus now he is off the streets there has been a corresponding dramatic fall in crime.
Needless to say, this individual is hopelessly addicted to class A drugs.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Apologies to non-police blog authors, as this is aimed fairly squarely at blog authors.
About a month ago, I got an email from a certain police magazine asking me to phone their london office. Am I alone in this? I emailed a reply to them (mostly stating I wasn't prepared to ring them, but was happy to answer any and all questions on email) but I have never recieved any kind of reply in return.
This has merely fuelled my suspicions about the nature of the request in the first place, which specifically requested don't post about this. But as I say it's been long enough with no reply so I can post about it.
Anyway. Anyone else get this? Am I being over paranoid.....
Thursday, December 07, 2006
PCSO's are in the news for all the wrong reasons.
As per the link below, getting stabbed in the neck and now this, (courtesy PCSO blog for alerting me)
And then I go back and look again at those two Devon & Cornwall police articles in the previous post.
They take away 150 officers from the street. To meet government targets. As in they're going to go and stick them behind desks to massage statistics.
What the ?!@!#! I know I say don't believe the media but unfortunately I do believe that.
And they are to be replaced with 458 PCSO's.
Don't get me wrong on this. I have nothing against PCSO's. I just find the current situation ludicrous and frustrating. Home office demands have created a climate where PC's need to be taken off the streets in order to improve the force's detection rates, or whatever statistical measure that currently has priority attention.
This in the meantime creates a void on the streets, in which to fill, the government spends vast fortunes on PCSO's. PCSO's are designed to look like police in order to fill this "policing gap". But they don't get any of the training, equipment, or backup.
And so PCSO's, devoid of training, equipment, and most crucially of all, experience (even the longest serving PCSO can only have been on the street maybe 4 years now?) are sent out onto the street designed to fill the gap between police and public.
Which in my opinion shouldn't be there in the first place. Spend the money currently spent on PCSO's to recruit and train them as PC's, and they can do exactly the same important job but with better training, better resources, and better backup.
In the meantime, as the above is never going to happen, I reckon an effort should be made to change PCSO uniform to make it pretty clear they are not police. I don't think it's coincidence that the chap stabbed in the neck was the PCSO rather than the eviction officers. Make their uniform distinct- red or something. Not the psuedo-police it currently is. The media don't help in blurring the lines between police officers and community support officers. Check out the headline from Metro.co.uk.
But make no mistake, I wish these two well. Unlike what I wish for for their attackers.
What do people think about their uniform? Should it be clearer they are not police officers? Or is the close association with police a good thing? Views from all sides of the fence please :-)
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Apologies, my research isn't quite as thorough as I thought. Pc Bloggs over at Blandmore posted on this issue a while ago (Blogger posting isn't let me put hyperlinks in at the moment for some reason- click on Bloggs's link to the right and its the "Celebrations Are In Order" post in the November archive) and there has been quite a response.
Bloggs I think people weren't too happy with yours because you fairly comprehensively dismiss the calls for Pc's on the beat! Correct me if I'm wrong, heh thats another advantage of blogging, you can tell a skipper he's talking crap without fear of red pen in pocketbooks.
Anyway. My point was that from a response point of view Pc's on foot are next to useless. However, from a preventative point of view in a very small geographical area, they are considerably more effective than a car. I've seen it myself. Scroties see a marked car coming and dive out of the way, and hide behind walls etc until job car has trundled past. They are quite happy that the chances of job car returning there are slim- that street has been patrolled now and they won't be back for a while- so they carry on with their crafty joints and cans of spray paint.
However, stick someone out on foot and makes a heck of a difference. They know that PC Shankpony isn't going to blat off to somewhere else, and that they can't make a deal of noise as Constable Shankpony isn't insulated by steel and glass, and will hear their shouting and their moped revving (Oh how I hate mopeds. Even in Nicetown where I reside I find myself glaring hatefully at a moped driven by anything with a hoodie.)
My biggest whinge is that because response teams are response teams, I have to put people in the cars first, and to be honest I usually expect them to stay in the cars. I barely have enough officers to crew the cars, so any benefit of foot patrol is, for my part of Suburbia, just theory.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
This is probably one of the aspects of policing that everyone will have an opinion on, yet I am surprised to look around the blog list to the left (which is ever increasing!) to see no other posts on it.
It is the simple issue of whether it is better for police to be out on foot or in cars.
From a response point of view, having officers in cars is much more advantageous. There is the simple fact you can between two points a lot quicker. We are an emergency service, and if a 999 call goes out in a village 4 miles away from local urban centre, the pair on foot patrol in said urban centre are going to be completely useless. Often, (but not always, and thats a different story) there is a need for the blue lights and sirens. Was monitoring the radio last few days and heard one of the calls that always gets adrenaline through the roof- "Callers ex is outside the location making threats- caller states male attacking door, can police come quickly- caller states male is inside location- line has gone dead". For that reason, we always have to have cars to get places quickly. The issue of policing driving is quite different, something I feel quite strongly about, more on that another time.
But I am aware, as I am as guilty as anyone, that once inside your nice little metal box you are insulated from the rest of the world and you don't get out and talk to people, and people find it harder to approach you. An example from two of my folks who were out in a touristy part of town the other day- at one point, they actually had a queue of people who wanted to speak to them. Wouldn't get that in a car.
But to peruse the media, the clamour is for officers walking the beat. From my point of view as a response team supervisor (or at least, when I was), my priority will be to crew the cars first, as that is what provides a better emergency service. If I have sufficient officers, then I will post people walking. However, as we are so short of numbers, I can't actually recall a time when I had sufficient numbers to fill all the cars (and we only have 7 for our area, and at least one is invariably broken).
It is because of this that the government introduced firstly PCSO's and then neighbourhood policing teams. PCSO's are always out walking (unless the Health & Safety merchants get you) and are supposed to be out and about meeting people, building relationships etc. The principle behind this I am fully behind. However, it should be a police officers job. The government in its wisdom created a situation where response teams are thin on the ground and constantly dealing with things that take hours to deal with, so any time they are out and about they are going to jobs or enquiries relating to other jobs, and not "free" time to build relationships with the locals. Instead of tackling this situation, the government introduces PCSO's, who can't report or investigate crime. However, realising that the public aren't quite fooled by this the government introduces NPT's (aka SNT's, Safer Neighbourhood Teams) where police officers (taken from response team) are ordered that they too are now not to investigate or report crime so they can spend time out and about meeting people.
Meanwhile, response teams have had bugger all investment and a third of the team has been abstracted to populate NPT's.
It is my belief that the police are primarily an emergency service, but the government in its drive for vote winning initiatives have sacrificed this. If all the investment that has gone into PCSO's and NPT's went into response team, the vast increase in numbers and resources would mean 1) I'd have enough people to be able post walkers out and about and 2) the workload can be shared out meaning the officers have more "free" time to get out and meet people, to build back the relationships.
So the original question: car vs foot. The answer is both. I dream of a time when I have enough officers to post them in a car for a month, and then on foot for a month. The "emergency" side of policing should not be incompatible with the "community" side.
But at the moment, we have the situation where a division between the two is actively encouraged. And the blame for that lies squarely with the House of Commons.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Nothing too much to write about last few days, apart from the odd duty officer panicking as he heard a rumour that two secondary schools wanted a fight, and visions of 1300 teenagers fighting materialised into about 30 milling around a shopping centre with as many officers watching.
Catching up on paperwork supervision. Took me the entire shift, save 40 minutes. I keep reminding them that they won't get this level of support when they go on response team, as their skippers have more officers to keep an eye on and less time to look at their reports, as two thirds the time they're in custody anyway, and there is rarely a quiet time in custody........ so if they get something wrong out on team, they're by themselves. And we're starting the perennial pain that is the Home Office activity analysis by January (nearly there already, where did the year go?) Which will be even more forms to look at. Funnily enough, on these activity analysis forms, where the entire shift is broken down into 15 minute segments, and you have to state what you are doing on each of those segments- e.g. patrol (yeah right), crime reports, custody procedure etc etc- there isn't a section which states "Filling out annual pain in the butt Home Office stats exercise".
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
To jump on a bandwagon. Most of you who look at this look at other job blogs so you are probably aware of the article run in Police Review by a serving inspector. I've got hold of a copy, but for those of you who don't have it YorNicked has copied the article on his site.
As far as I can tell, the main point he makes that a important role of the police is to reduce the fear of crime. Police blogs, by presenting the reality of police work, and in particular highlighting the lack of response team officers, can reduce the effectiveness of this goal.
Yes, I can see his point.
But I disagree with his argument. He quotes a blog (anyone got any idea who?) which states there are only 3 officers to cover a borough of a 100,000 residents. Apparently, this is not helpful.
I would completely disagree! Ask Mr anti-social blogger man, who is incredibly frustrated with his local police, North Yorkshire. Do you think he believe the media releases from his force that things are improving? E.g. the following quote, direct from the North Yorkshire Police Home Page "....how we will be building on our considerable success to date...."
However, if he is aware that there are only a few officers covering hundreds of miles, whilst it might not make his situation any better, it might help ease his frustration, and more importantly he will know that the bedraggled officers who do turn up share his frustration. (Or at least, I hope they do)
(Note- any reference to Anti-Social blogger man should read anti-social blogger woman! Apologies!)
Police officers have found that their complaints about "inefficiency, shortage of resources or poor management" (to quote Mr Police Review's belief of the source of police blogger motivation) have fallen on deaf ears when done through official channels. I think the last aspect explains all- the fact that the management is poor and does not deal with our frustrations, but continues to present a rosy picture to the media, is the very reason we are forced to publish online.
I would argue that the public, who are our "customers" (to coin a favourite SMT phrase), our paymasters, and to whom we should be accountable to, have the right to know what isn't right with their police forces. But us blogging officers know they are not told that.
Yes, we are forced to be anonymous. And with that, there is no guarantee of credibility with any police blogger. How do you know I'm a police sergeant? Is another police blog actually written by the husband or wife of an officer? You, the reader, can never know for sure.
The purposes of these blogs, as far as I am concerned, is to provoke debate as to the reality of policing. I don't think anyone should ever take what is written here as gospel, no more than anyone should believe what they read in the news. The media can be shockingly inaccurate, believe me.
If I had to put a single reason as to why I do this, it is to proclaim this message: Don't believe what you are told. A bit like police work really. Whatever your politician or police force says, take it with a pinch of salt. Question it. Investigate it.
Enough from me for now.
I love it when I hear about new things that us (the police) are trying out. Except of course, I don't hear about it through the job, I hear about it via the BBC.
Well informed? Moi? To adopt a favoured catchphrase of David Camerons favourite hooligan: "Yeah whateveeeeeer".
So we are to have new mobile fingerprint ID jobbies are we? (Like the ones the immigration service have had for years?). Well, I'm sure that it'll make absolute diddly squat of difference. I predict the following problems.
1) no network coverage. The projected response time of 3 minutes is laughable. It might be just three minutes when bedfordshire alone are using them, but as soon as other forces get involved, the projections for the use it will get will be woefully inadequate.
2) unreliable hardware (they will be the cheapest available on the market, guaranteed)
3) it won't make any difference to whether you get arrested or not. If you're not happy with someone's ID, then you'll probably be arresting them anyway, as a warrants officer won't file someone as wanted on the strength alone of this gadget
4) you have to be on the national fingerprint database in the first place for it to work, which most of us (excluding police and criminals) aren't
5) It's voluntary anyway. (But having said that, a radio report I've just heard says you'll be arrested if you refuse. I have no idea which is true.) If it is voluntary, I'd agreee with the chap on the BBC website report, that the government in the future (if they stay in power, please no) will probably make it a lawful requirement. There'll be an amendment to the Road Traffic Act that a police officer (in uniform!) can demand a fingerprint from a person driving a car on a road.
I also find it laughable that this new gadget will, according to the police minister, help us reduce paperwork and stay on the front line. I can guarantee there will be some form or other to use with this gadget! Hell politicians speak some crap. IF anything, if the claims are true and more bad guys get lifted, then we will be spending less time on the road, as arresting someone is not a half hour job!
I wait to be proved wrong.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Finally, a day off after 7 on the trot, including a glorious 3am start on one particular day, which was great fun. Word has got round the Operational Planning department that there is a new batch of coppers in town and all of a sudden I'm getting calls and requests from all over the place to help with operation this and that. Which I am beginning to have to say No to more often than not, as while it may it sound very nice to say you have x number of officers doing HiViz patrols (HVP's) on your operation wingnut or whatever it is, I have got to be more concerned with the development of my officers, and as they tend not to learn too much by flooding a specific area with yellow jackets, (as all the scumbags quickly figure out there is an operation on, and disappear) I don't want them to do it too often.
Police morale is Inspector Gadgets current problem. Thankfully, for my lot who are brand new and for whom everything is new and interesting, they haven't yet developed into cyncical weary gits, and are refreshingly enthusiastic. Nobody even complained about the 3am start at the weekend! I'd give them 2 months on team, whereupon all the support and flexibility I can currently give them will vanish, before they are as fed up as the rest of them with the perpetual grief and criticism.
Anyway, I only have a couple of days off so I'm not going to spend any more time on here than I have to. I watched that PCSO fly-on-the-wall prog on the box the other day, I might get round to posting something about that. But the other half has a list of things for me to do which I better crack on with else I'll be in trouble!
Links bar on the right has been updated with a couple of bloggers, newbie and established, feel free to peruse around, which I'm sure most of you do anyway.
In the meantime, stay safe y'all
Thursday, November 16, 2006
A whole load of hullabaloo in the media about this ACPO report about drug rape. I'm not going to comment on it. I've seen the shreds of humanity that is a victim, I don't care how or what circumstances it came about it.
I am angry about the headlines. A london bound friend of mine texted me the Metro's blaring headline.
"Drug rape is a myth"
Blared across the front page.
Is that an accurate reflection of the report? Or sensationalism? Helps or hinders? You decide.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The is the last post about DNA, honest. I was reading the guardian today and saw this article. The last paragraph sums up precisely why I think retention of DNA is a good thing. In response to the fear that all it would take to fit someone up with DNA evidence is a couple of nicely placed hairs at a crime scene has obviously never a) been to a major crime scene b) has never seen a trial take place where barristers tear DNA evidence to shreds c) probably watches too much television.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Rightyo. I threw the lib dem DNA link in at the end of the cowboys post as an afterthought, didn't think too much about it. As such, I didn't really say all too much about it.
Going by the response, I think I ought to say a bit more.
Perhaps I'm naive or see things too simply. Perhaps I don't subscribe to the big brother government conspiracy theory, where the government is determined to monitor each and every one of us. Incompetent maybe, conspiracy no.
My thoughts on DNA are simple. As far as I'm concerned, DNA is simply held on a database awaiting comparison samples from crime scenes. If someone would like to show me anything which indicates it is not, I'm all ears. But until then, I cannot see a problem with DNA samples being retained from persons arrested whether subsequently proved guilty or otherwise. And in the majority of cases it shall never be used as the majority of people don't go around committing crime.
However, Say a person is arrested for something minor- a scrap on the street, a road traffic offence or whatever, and the case is subsequently not proved, i.e. they are innocent. If the DNA sample taken on arrest from just this one person is subsequently matched to a nasty crime and that person is taken out of society, then to me it is worth it.
I have read reports from my force intranet pages- where things like that have happened, including one where a male who had raped a grandmother was subsequently identified. I don't know if the offence he was originally arrested for went through to court. But say he wasn't, is there really anyone who says that he should be allowed to carry on in society?
I know most people, certainly the ones who read this, will quite rightly point out that they would never be in that position and such we (the police) don't need their DNA. And I would agree. However. How do you predict the future? How do you distinguish the honest mistake from the devious intent? Answer: you can't. Which is why I think the status quo should remain. The majority of law abiding people don't get themselves arrested anyway. But every person ever arrested, whether it be a person with no ID unfortunate enough to speed in front of a traffic officer on a grumpy day; or someone who hacked someone's head off in the street with an axe (I've seen both go through my custody suite) will go through those first initial steps in front of me or whoever is in the custody suite. Fingerprints, photograph, DNA. And every time I explain to them the concept of a speculative search against existing crime scene marks. And every rare once in a while, you get a result.
In a nutshell: I believe DNA should be retained because I want to catch bad guys. The day someone shows me that the government is doing anything other than retaining them for comparison then I will most likely change my mind. But no-one has shown me anything yet.
As for ID cards. I completely fail to see the point in them. Everyone has an ID number already. It's called their NI number. ID cards will be pretty much useless in real day to day policing unless it's an offence to not carry one. And I would resolutely disagree with that.
Finally. I appreciate DNA is an emotive issue. However, look again at that Cowboys post and tell me which is more likely to affect you. A bad cop, who is a poor driver, a poor investigator, and a poor representative of the police? Or the fact that one day you may have a DNA sample taken?
Yet just one person picked up on the bad cop comment. And in response to that person: trust me, I'm looking to get his driving ticket taken away from him. I just need evidence of it, which is difficult whilst I'm anchored in the office. Furthermore, he's not actually on my team, and with regard to his report I could only point it out to his skipper and voice my opinion of it. He assures me he has dealt with it.
And now for something completely different. I think we may find ourselves sharing common ground again: does anyone else think this (link to BBC website here) could only ever happen in this country?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Been away for the weekend..... Lots of things to reply to from the previous post, a bit surprised at the response I must admit. Should be able to properly post a reply tomorrow.
Ps my thanks to all who have posted. Even if it isn't exactly complimentary. This would be a waste of internet space if people didn't look at it and voice their opinion.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Have to put something on here just to let off a bit of steam. So far most of my unit have been fine.
One of my other constables, however, who is supposed to act as a tutor, I am less than happy with. He drives like a boy racer, and assumes as he has police down the side of his car he has the right to drive like one. I picked up one of the reports his newbie put on yesterday and it's a shocker. So I'll be having a go at them both.
He's supposed to be setting a good example.
I'm just hoping I can catch him driving like a twat, as that's what'll really hit home, losing his driving ticket, as oh he loves himself driving round.
In the meantime..... anyone share a bit of concern over the lib dem's proposals? Some of it I agree with, but not the junking of DNA if you are not charged. As far as I am concerned, DNA evidence is almost exclusively used to link you to an existing crime. It's not used for monitoring, surveillance or anything. Why bin it?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Apologies for lack of updates of any substance. Things have been daft busy at work. It's got to the state where I'm sending so many darn emails I can never remember what I said in any given reply, and have to go search through the sent items to find out what I actually did say I'd do.
When I get home, I am totally fed up of sitting at a desk and motivation to write on here is lacking a tad.
Thankfully, the overall Head of my adopted (adoptive, rather) department has finally agreed last week that a unit of over 20 PC's really needs two skippers, and I met the other bloke today. Today I was fairly easy, tomorrow he shall take responsibly for half of them and I shan't be sorry to hand it over!
Anyway, I'm off to bed. When I get a bit more energy I'll put a bit more into this. Bear with me for the time being....
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
I've only been off response team a week or so and I'm already wishing I'm back there. I know I whinge like a good un about the monumental piles of rubbish we spend most of our time dealing with and how policy z says various reams of paperwork must be filed according the precendents in policy y, but every time I hear a siren I'm like a little kid again, wanting to look out of the window, wondering what's going on, and frustrated that I don't know!
The only things I respond to these days is emails. I only get out of the nick to go to meetings. Should change next week when I get the Pc contigent to my particular unit (I've spent the last fortnight arranging everything- hence few updates on here) and I might be able to get out and go play.... I shall keep a close eye on the duties so I might be able to blag a car to go out in and do what someone should do with several grands worth of taxpayer money, go and do some bloody police work.
New chief culprit of overuse of the word "community": Hampshire Police, whose corporate logo is "working towards safer communities". I can't stand police corporate slogans. Its a case of how many buzzwords can we fit in down the side of a police car. Case in point: the Met. One of Mr I Blairs first things in office was to change old corporate logo "working for a safer london" to "working together for a safer london". Well, doesn't that little change give you so much more confidence should you be unfortunate enough to live in London? (I can say that, I did once).
Or am I wrong? Does a change in a logo like this really make a difference? Please prove my cynicism wrong....
Friday, October 20, 2006
This is a bit of a philosophical post this, bear with me.
I get a bit frustrated every time I hear a politician or SMT blather on about "we will work in partnership/consultation/togetherness/ with local community groups". Its all the rage with Safer Neighbourhood Teams. To quote right from the Met's website: "Safer Neighbourhoods teams are dedicated to your community and are additional to other policing teams and units in London." Greater Manchester Police are at it too: "Neighbourhood policing pilot schemes in the Hall'i'th'Wood and Oldhams Estates have started to successfully engage these communities in the setting of local policing priorities and support in their fulfilment"
Well what the heck is a community?
Apparently, according to the Wiktionary (who makes these names up?)
1) a group of people sharing a common understanding who reveal themselves by using the same language, manners, tradition and law
2) acommune or residential/religious collective
3) the condition of having certain attitudes and interests in common
Who decides what community are to be listened to. Shall we go to Bradford? Where locally elected councillors are members of the BNP? The local community there (or at least, the ones who voted) have displayed what they think. Should the local police therefore pander to the whims of the BNP?
Funnily enough, despite West Yorkshire police having "Community policing for the 21st century" there's no mention of the BNP that I can find on their web page!
So what the hell is my point in all this. Don't think for a minute I'm suggesting West Yorkshire should pander to the BNP.
I think its just that I'm fed up of being treated like an idiot by Senior Management who seem to think that they have to say "community partnership" in every press briefing, assuming that therefore everyone listening will have a percieved sense of ownership of "their" police. Where I live, in a different area from where I work, I'm a member of a community. I'm a member of several. My immediate geographical community, I'm a member of the car driving community, bike riding community, public transport using community, rugby club community. Just within my fairly staid home life, the different community groups I am in have differing and not necessarily compatible priorities. So when SMT talk about setting policing objectives in consultation with local communities, which ones do they mean. They can't mean all of them. The local right wing group aren't going to have much in common with the local Jewish residents.
I think they just mean politically acceptable communities. But who decides this? When I hear SMT say "we want to hear the local communities views" I want to say back "no you don't!" They only want to hear the ones that agree with their idea of who should be in their local community.
No real point to this post, I think. I guess I just object to being pigeonholed as a member of a community to which I don't feel I really am a member of. Where I live and work I hear SMT (and local politicians) talk about how they've consulted with local communities to come up with the latest plan. And I think (for where I live) "Well I haven't been consulted". No, they've consulted some association or other where I wouldn't go if you paid me, as everybody is twice my age and they talk mostly about allotments.
So, lets put this out to debate. Do you think "community" is an overused word that doesn't have any real meaning? Or does it work for you where you are. Tell me, I actually am interested in listening to the police blogging community!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Due to the incompetence of someone else in my wonderful command unit, I've been taken told that I am immenently leaving response team in order to take over another department. Not particularly happy, not got a lot of time to sort a lot of stuff out. It was my fault for informing senior managment of the problem in the first place, as it appears the reaction has been "well, you've obviously switched on enough to be concerned about the problem, so you can go in and take it on".
Which is kind of nice, its a new challenge with a few things I haven't done before, but I can't say I'm particularly happy about the circumstances in which I've ended up there. If I can't manage to sort things out, I really won't be happy if I get blamed for it.
Because this should've been sorted out 4 months ago. 4 months is a lot of time to prepare. The time scale I have is not.
Posts will be probably at a minumum for a while I'm pulling my hair out..... I'm beginning to understand why quite a few skippers have well developed bald spots....
Thursday, October 12, 2006
As I said below, the last few shifts, things have been completely hectic. And I mean hectic. A few highlights of some of the things my lot have had to deal with:
- Burst water mains (like need to close a 3 lane trunk road burst water main)
- Child kidnap
- Sexual assault
- Missing children
- Deceased people
- several ABH's
- several robberies and thefts
- drink drivers
- firearms incidents
- several domestics, some of which involving one or more of the above
About the only thing we haven't had is a serious RTA. It was particularly busy on night shift. Usually, calls start tailing off in the early hours, 3-4am or so. Not the last few shifts. Calls kept on coming right through till 6am.
Things are made worse because of the lack of numbers on response team. Across the whole division we had perhaps fifteen cars on. The problem is, as nearly every police blogger says, we can't just turn up at a call and deal with it in 15 minutes and move onto the next one. Oh no. If someone has been assaulted, then people need to be arrested, crime reports created, witness statements taken. As per posts below this takes hours, especially if someone has been arrested.
I can't really comment on why my team is persistently running at minimum strength. Here's the paradox. Neighbourhood Policing Teams have been introduced in my area. Now whilst they can focus on things that 999 teams usually don't, that is offset by the fact they are invariably staffed by officers abstracted from 999 teams- or officers who were supposed to go to 999 teams. Which means the 999 teams are left short. Has my service's ability to respond to 999 calls been diminished by safer neighbourhood teams?
One thing for certain is the boys and girls on my team at the end of these shifts, are shattered. This is where the concept of police morale comes in.
Police officers by and large want to do their job. Even when they're griefy and time consuming, as usually jobs like this don't come along too often, and most days you can finish on time or thereabouts. But recently this has become the exception, not the norm. Numbers are few enough so that most days its likely you'll be late off.
Now for the non-police readers you may say so what. But remember that we have families too, and we have lives outside this job that are invariably affected enough with the shift patterns we have.
The end result is these calls that come out towards the end of the shift- the ones which you know will take ages to sort out and are likely to result in arrest (you can always bank on a minimum of 4hrs work when someone is arrested) then you can see the faces fall. They don't want to go. This is a bad sign. That is what low police morale is.
So when morale goes, the officers morality tends to go too. What I mean by this is their sense of pride and wanting to do the job goes. They start not caring about what calls come in. On one of the last shifts, one of my lads came in to the nick with about an hour to go, dumped his bag and logbook to the floor and said in no uncertain terms whether he was going back out again. He still had a load of paperwork to do from the missing child (who had gone missing from a location way out of our sector, at the opposite end of the ground- but there was no one left down there) and had been late off twice in the last 4 days, with one of them being a really unpleasant sudden death.
Now if a call came out, I should tell him that he will be dealing with it. But would I? Not bleeding likely.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Firstly, an apology for a lack of any updates with any substance to them. The last few shifts have been absolutely raving bonkers. I have barely a day at home to catch up on a million things (I am currently avoiding opening 6 days worth of post) and to be honest the last thing I want to do is think about more policey stuff. I've had enough for the moment.
However, in the meantime, Nutville (my new name for where I work) Police experiment with a new prototype fast response foot patrol.......
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Having gone through the various links I have on the right I have discovered the Extra Special copper's blog has disappeared.
This is a big assumption but I find blogs just don't disappear without warning. Unless they've been identified. <or their link changes without notice!>
The blog police have done for him as well (well, not yet). And this guy was someone who actually did this work and didn't get paid for it.
A reminder to all. No-one is safe from the powers on high that don't like their rank and file painting the picture contrare to the idealised world they would like to present.
What an absolute bleeding joke this stalinist attitude is. I am very tempted to re-title this blog "IT'S NOT 1984 YET" (Unfortunately, this still remains the same for if we are identified, we still get a rocket and the blog goes)
<<Ok so I'm a tad paranoid. My thanks to you who have pointed out that he has changed to the new whizzy blogger format and his url has changed. Look, I'm on nights and updating this having just fallen out of bed at some time in the afternoon. I'm allowed to not be quite switched on just yet.....>>
Friday, October 06, 2006
Have given up on sleeping, upstairs are having new carpets fitted. I'll be an interesting picture come the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Anyway, have been updating the links bar on the right. Special mention to the parking enforcement (enfarcement! Get it? Ha ha ha. I crack myself up sometimes. Hmmmm. I wish I was in bed) blog who I didn't know existed until the To Park Or Not To Park post below. Political Police is somebody somewhere west of Oxford who is another officer driven up the wall by home-office sourced priorities, and is forced to have some release by telling the world about it.
Have a good weekend all. If you meet a zombie in a police uniform the next few nights, it'll probably be me...........
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I am getting fed up with calls to scumbags within inches of their lives having injected some part of their body or inhaled some godknowswhat and then having your certifiably insane pal call 999 and so us and ambulance crews turn up and get a load of abuse thrown at us from certifiably insane pal, and then the icing on the cake get thrown around by said druggie who is unpleasantly surprised to have been awoken from his comatose state.
It is not a pleasant task to have to give mouth to mouth rescuscitation to a purple faced near-zombie desperately trying to keep them alive until an ambulance can arrive laden with syringes full of some potent anti opiate which gets swiftly expunged into the nearest available piece of flesh. And then once again get a load of abuse, and as an added bonus, projectile bodily fluids.
Or then when we get called too late and we find you arse in the air, trousers round ankles, nose in carpet, hand still tightly wrapped round needle implanted firmly in place needles shouldn't go. Glorious final moments on earth.
Sometimes I wish I could take videos of these things into schools and say look kids. This is how it can end up. No stats, no medical flip charts of heart rates etc. Just videos of things like the above, or the guy high on crack having one hell of an argument with himself on a train platform and scaring the hell out of everyone.
But of course that probably wouldn't be allowed as it isn't statistically proven that usage of A leads to usage of B yada yada yada. Nuts. The intention is to scare them from even considering taking stuff. Statistical likelihoods can be shoved you know where.
Sorry, a bit of a rant. There's a a whole word of debate of how people get themselves into the state where they're taking class A which I have neither the time or energy to get into. But I am fed up with seeing the end result and seeing people who are trying to help them get abuse and injury. All the above examples happened far too recently for my liking.
Must keep sense of humour! Drugs are funny here.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
One of the best things the job ever did was to civilianise parking offences. It means when I get called to yet another parking dispute I can honestly say "Sorry, this isn't a police matter" and advise them to see solicitors, Citizens Advice Bureau etc. For when I see articles like this, I am reminded how profoundly grateful I am!
Monday, October 02, 2006
I saw this on the news the other day- an article about shoplifting.
In it, the British Retail Consortium, after surveying over 10000 retail outfits, found that shopkeepers feel abandoned by both the government and police for not treating shoplifting as a priority.
I am not in the least surprised.
The BRC director is quoted as stating "Attempting to hand shoplifters over to the police has become time-wasting and futile. Too often they are not interested and even when there is a successful prosecution the penalties are derisory"
You may be surprised to hear I agree. Hearing a call come out on the radio of "Shoplifter detained" you can hear the collective groan.
If you take on a shoplifter, it means that's your shift finished with. If it's late in the day, you can forget going home on time.
Things that need to be done:
Custody procedure with prisoner. Depending on the time of day, no less than an hour, sometimes up to four.
Crime reports and arrest notes justifying arrest of said prisoner: depending on your speed of writing and typing: you're looking at an hour.
Taking full evidential statements from the store staff and any witnesses at the store: at least 2 hours. Some stores "train" their own staff to write statements but they are invariably shocking and have to be rewritten anyway.
Seizing, viewing (if, of course, your police station has the suitable equipment to view it- and it works) and exhibiting CCTV statements: 1hr.
If your prisoner is adult, mentally competent, speaks english and does not require a solicitor then game on, you can get on with an interview straight away. Otherwise you have to wait until a solicitor arrives, and/or an appropriate adult, and/or an interpreter. If you happen to arrest said person outside of office hours then you will be waiting hours for someone to turn up.
Once all the above is done, then you have to either speak to a representative from the CPS (however- see above about office hours) or email them the circumstances and wait for a reply.
You can then charge your prisoner. If, indeed, that is the advice from CPS.
If your prisoner is bailable, then thankfully thats it done for that day. If not, then terribly sorry you now have to spend another couple of hours preparing a full case file for the next available court hearing.
By now you've probably missed the last train home and every second word is an expletive.
So. Shoplifters are not very popular with response Pc's. They require a lot of unglamorous work which quite often, as the BRC director says, only results in some poxy £30 fine in court.
So what's your problem you might ask? This is, after all, our job, to deal with criminals no matter how big or small.
However, I do believe shops should take on more of the responsibility of dealing with shoplifters. At the moment, my perception is that we turn up and we are expected to magic them away and do absolutely everything. Perhaps the BRC don't realise just how time-consuming it is to deal with a shoplifter. As it stands at the moment it takes forever and its no wonder shopkeepers wonder why grumpy coppers turn up.
What I would like to see happen never will. I'd like to follow what I understand to be the US system, where the role of the police over there is pretty much to verify the details of the suspect. Everything else is done by the store: the whole process, from gathering evidence, interview to presenting the case at court.
That'll never happen here, but I think there should be a compromise.
Stores providing proper training on how to write statements would be a start. It really is not that difficult. Just saving those 2 hours would be a huge bonus. The workload needs to be shared out. To use the SMT's favourite tagline, we need to "work in partnership".
At the moment, if I have 5 cars out and 5 shoplifters come out- not unheard of- I would lose the entire response capacity for my area. Surely nobody would say that is what should continue to happen. Police are not an unlimited resource!
In the meantime, my force (sorry, service) established a Prisoner Handling Team, with the objective of taking on the time consuming aspects of interview, case files etc and getting the response cars back out. However, the team is staffed by officers abstracted from response team. Give with one hand, take away with the other.
Conclusion to this rant? shopkeepers feel abandoned (I know some store managers don't even bother calling us, or state that the suspect is violent in order so the 999 call handler grades it higher priority); Officers dread dealing with them. The only winner is..... the shoplifter.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
To continue on the police blogging debate.
Tom Reynolds, a London Ambulance Service (LAS) paramedic , who heartily blogs away without having to be secretive, and without the threat of identification (in fact, his employers are quite okay with his blogging) has a posting regarding Inspector Gadget- see here to see it in its proper context.
A reader of Reynold’s site, going by the name of “Rory F” (just scroll down until you see an enormous tome of a comment) posts a very good set of questions as to why the “authorities” clamp down on police bloggers.
Rory states that when he joined the police service, he knew whatever political leanings had to be kept to himself, as indeed we are specifically prohibited from joining any political party. However, policing is intensely political. Most old common law has now been replaced by law passed through parliament. Witness the controversy brought in with anti-social behaviour orders; terrorism legislation etc.
Therefore by expressing our opinions, and despite the small print on every police bloggers website that states that this is not a police website, I bet a whole load of money that Dave Copperfield wouldn’t have a hundreth of his visitors if he was “PlumbersBlog”. Not many people would bother listening to me if I was “Electrician Says” or Inspector Gadget was “Tax Inspector Gadget”.
What is about police blogs that make people want to read them? I know sometimes it’s the entertainment, sometimes its curiosity, sometimes looking for controversy.
Is it because that whatever we write is political whether we intend it or not…. is it because these blogs cause waves that sometimes capsize their own author?
Tell me: Why are you reading this?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I urge you all to visit Inspector Gadget. He has recently posted about the Professional Standards Unit in his force want to speak to him.
It is probably about his blog.
Read it now for the most enlightenment you will get regarding senior police positions. I feel it may soon be curtains for it, as the ultimatum he will probably get is: its the blog or your job.
A reminder for the rest of you reading these police blogs. Every time we type we are running the risk of discipline, sanctions, and even sacking.
Saying "you've got freedom of speech, you can write what you like" doesn't cut it with Professional Standards. Being faced with the choice of facing discipline, loss of rank, and the sack means blogging quickly loses its shine. At the end of the day when we take the uniform off we have mortgages. Families. Our radiators leak every so often and gardens don't garden themselves. We pay council tax and are just as hacked off at the price of petrol as everyone else.
I have not yet seen a police blog that puts lives at risk, that would render anything more susceptible to terrorist attack. I have seen plenty that tell of the frustration of this job, of how we want to do more, but are held back; or how we are expected to do so much and get grief from all comers when we don't achieve what other people feel we should achieve.
But Senior Management don't like to be posed awkward questions. They hate it when some hack quotes a police blog that contradicts whatever official line currently is en vogue. Occasionally, the internet can force senior management to deal with issues from their rank and file (see the Police Oracle Essex Police thread) but that is the exception to the rule. The easier option is to search through every single last detail of every single post and at some point, somewhere, there will be a technicality breached. Even if it is that great catch all in police regulations: Conduct Unbecoming of a Police Officer.
So my thoughts are with Inspector Gadget as he meets the Police police on tuesday. One day, a scared little voice keeps telling me, it'll be me.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The Met continues its fine way of shooting itself in the foot, I note: coverage of the apparent disproportionalities in drug searches- see here.
I'm not going to comment on the arrest figures, and the hows and why's of arrest for cannabis- I suspect that each local borough has its own priorities and "aggravating" factors that render you more or less likely to be arrested: I could spend hours debating that in itself before considering the ethnic aspect.
I am more concerned but equally unsurprised about the lack of comprehensive reporting on what happens after arrest.
When it comes to a charging decision, there are home office set guidelines as to whether a person should be cautioned or charged. Put simply, a person can only be cautioned if they have not been convicted or cautioned for a similar offence in the previous three years.
If they have, then a caution is simply not an available option.
If a caution is not an available option, police officers cannot make the decision to charge. Most charging decisions, including possession of controlled substances, are now made directly by the Crown Prosecution Service.
However, to read the reports you would come to the apparently understandable conclusion that the police are deliberately sending more black people than white people to court. The reality is we have no say in that matter.
Instead of pointing this out, Ch Supt Dizaei helpfully instead comments that drug users are predominantly white middle class men. Nice to know he's helping to bring a more balanced logic to the situation. (Somebody please tell me if the Biased Broadcasting Corporation have quoted him out of context......)
I have had a bit of correspondence with author of The (original) coppers blog and one short article on his site later the number of visitors here has gone up by a factor of 10.
I guess therefore that most of the visitors here are quite aware of the existence of quite a number of police blogs floating round in the cyberzone. When I don't have a list of chores given to me by the wonderful Mrs Locker (Trust me, I don't even try telling her what to do, police sergeant or not) I shall update the sidebar with some of them.
A quick highlight needs to go the next notch up the hierarchy. Anyone old bill reading will laugh heartily, any member of the public will be.... I don't know.... enlightened. To coin the Gadget's catchphrase, you couldn't make it up.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
A post to highlight how long it can take to process a prisoner.
An incident which happened a while ago, prior to promotion. It was one of those days when luck was with us. We were on way to a call that was a complete waste of time (it was that rubbish, I can't remember what it was). Myself and my colleague were moaning about how rubbish this call was when we turned into a quiet, narrow residential street on way to see the informant.
I need to skim over some of the detail here just in case a colleague recognises the story (yes, I am that paranoid) but one short vehicle chase later a burglar driving a car stolen by means of burglary tries to run away but soon realises I am not the donut eating stomach massaging type of cop. He gives up.
I ought to add that the only thing harmed in the making of this vehicle chase was the stolen car, an unfortunate lamp post and the scumbag's ego.
Anyway, excitement over. Start the clock.
I wait with stolen car to await recovery. 1 1/2 hours
(Another unit tied up reporting the accident because it was a police chase- time taken, 1 hr
Return to custody. Colleague has just finished basic booking in procedure with prisoner.
Fingerprint, photograph and take DNA sample from prisoner. 1/2hr.
Seize all his clothing which has to be forensically bagged and exhibited: 45mins
Seize and forensically bag items from burglary that were still in car: 45mins
Research, risk assess and carry out search of home address of prisoner: 1 1/2 hr
Write notes describing circumstances and justification of arrest: 1 1/2hr
Crime report relating to aggravated vehicle-taking: 45 mins
Intelligence reports: 15mins
Approximate time: 7 1/2 hours. For the CID officers taking the prisoner on, there are now hours of paperwork preparing a case file. Which includes a typed statement of exactly what was said in interview; a list detailing every single exhibit and piece of correspondence connected with the investigation, its location and relevance to the case; and a summary of the overall case.
CPS prosecutors at court often only get the files relating to the case the morning of the court hearing. These files can be inches thick. Often, the only thing they read regarding the entire case prior to going into court, is the case summary.
But thats a different story. My point: next time you're pulled over for a bust brake light or something and you accuse the officer of not catching burglars, be grateful. If they had caught one, they wouldn't be out on patrol at all.
A favourite tagline of any aspiring home secretary is "I'll reduce police paperwork". This always makes me laugh and reinforces my belief that politicians haven't got the faintest idea what they're talking about.
I also laughed a while ago when I read in an internal job newspaper someone saying "we've got rid of around 100 obsolete forms". When he was challenged on this he admitted that these forms had merely been replaced by different ones.
Police paperwork is quite a chameleon. They change names and colours but essentially you have to write the same thing. Computer reports are a bit of a joke because the different items of software for different functions are contracted out to different software developers and as such cannot communicate with each other; thus meaning you have to write out exactly the same information 3 times. And no you can't cut and paste.
Of course I neglected to mention that you have to write all the details down in your pocketbook or any other selected book before you have to transfer all that information onto the computer. Of course we could be issued laptops like they do in some US states, which you take around with you and input info directly onto said computer, before returning to your base and docking it and transferring the info, and so saving yourself a considerable amount of duplication.
But that would cost a lot more money than a notebook and a pen.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Was filling up with petrol when I was visiting friends. Saw this notice!
Well damn it. I was going to go and rob the petrol station. I won't now.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Was walking from station (rail) to station (police) the other day at an unearthly hour listening to mp3 player. And it led me to ask myself: What would be the soundtrack to policing?
I have, so far, come up with the following top 3. This not a reflection of the music type I listen to!
Radiohead: Creep. (for the immortal line, "What the hell am I doing here")
The Prodigy: Full Throttle. (Not an intended reflection of police drivers, but more a reflection of the way it sometimes feels)
Anything by Rage Against The Machine. (This may appear to be ironic to non-police readers, who view the police as the machine to rage against, but trust me, we rage against goverment interference, beaurucracy, ridiculous targets, idiotic enforced working practice. Most of the time you and I are raging against the same thing)
Saw something which surprised me the other day, and then when I thought about it I was surprised I was surprised.
Police Review magazine run occasional blog reviews. I have a blog. This freaked me out for a short while. What if they run a review of mine? All these people will suddenly take a look at the site.
Then I remembered back to another police blog who has now gone beneath the waves- anyone remember the Law is a Donkey? Just before that went off to blogging heaven his last post was how a local newspaper had run an article on his blog. I never saw what Semper Fi's last post was before he sunk without a trace.
I assume both were identified by senior management and given a rocket. Wouldn't surprise me if they were disciplined. Both of those sites tended to talk about jobs they've just done. Which at the same time made them the most interesting to read and the most vulnerable. Because they were identifiable.
This whole situation annoys me. It has made me realise (again) just how bleeding secretive and careful I have to be writing this, which I have to admit isn't my normal style. I would love to write about things I've seen and dealt with whilst they're still fresh in my mind- the other day I had deal with an overdoser who was seconds away from dying (thank the Lord for pocket masks) but I daren't write about it, and how it affects me etc because I can't even risk my colleagues identifying me as word soon gets round. It has to wait several months until it is forgotten about by everyone else until I can post anything about it.
Hum. There are bloggers from the London Ambulance Service, the NHS, even a magistrate can do it without getting ordered to take it down, face discipline, face reprimands. But not the police. Why the hell not. Is this a police state? What are senior management so afraid of that they can't let their own officers talk about jobs they've dealt with?
If I stay in this job long enough, and decide one day I've had enough of real police graft and go up the food chain (can you see the blog title: Chief Superintendent says?) I'll tell you. But at the moment, I have no idea.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
A recollection from the custody desk. It started with me thinking the foolish thought "It's quite quiet tonight"...
Cue a Pc come in through the back (prisoner) entrance with a slightly harangued look about him. "Sarge.........."
They had a prisoner who was a complete nutcase. He'd been arrested in a domestic violence context and he had previous recorded history of being exceptionally violent towards police. The Pc was just about finished explaining this previous history (quite handy that he found out beforehand, quite often I found out a bit too late) when I hear a massive commotion going on in the yard. Next thing the door crashes open and 4 Pc's are literally carrying in this bloke who is shouting at the top of his lungs, screaming obscenities about what he would do to us if he found us alone, whilst trying to get a limb free to kick or punch anyone with range.
Did I say it was a quiet night? Damn it.
My first thought is annoyance. Not because of the noise level suddenly going from quiet hum to screaming filth, but because he was secure in the van and I was going to go out and speak to the lad to talk to him and gauge him for myself. I have to be professional with even the worst most deserving arrestees because I am now responsible for them whether they or I like it or not and building up some kind of rapport with prisoners can prevent a whole load of conflict happening. So long as he knows that I'm in charge but not looking to do his legs.
Anyway that option has been taken from me so I quickly extract myself from desk and supervise them taking him to a cell. Coppers can be prone to having too much adrenaline when they have a violent prisoner (especially if he's been violent towards them) but I have to keep them reigned in and make sure things are done properly.
He's safely deposited in the cell. I hear from the arresting officer the justification for the arrest. He'd gone out, got drunk, got back, thrown his partner around the room before (literally)throwing out of the house nigh naked with threats of serious injury should she return tonight.
I'm supposed to give through a number of procedures with every arrestee but there is thankfully a clause which says if he's too violent then it can be delayed. I decide waiting a while will be the best option. While he's still drunk it'll be fairly fruitless
I give my jailers the glorious responsibility of checking on him every 15 minutes while I keep an eye on the CCTV monitor, and call in a doctor to make sure he's fit to be detained. I haven't seen any reason for why he should need a hospital trip but in the current climate where it's my job on the line I call in the FME, so if he does have a hidden heart defect or has taken a dangerous combination of drugs, then it'll be the medical expert explaining himself to a court, not me.
I then have to write a tome on the blokes custody record as to why he got taken straight to cell, the details of every officer involved in doing so, and why I'm delaying informing him of his rights and entitlements. There's about 30 cameras with sound recording in the custody suite and I'm very tempted to write "look at the bleeding video" but decide against it.
Friday, September 01, 2006
This is one of those stories that I don't share around the dinner table. Humour value, it has not.
It happened a while ago, while I was still a PC. I can remember it quite clearly. I was at the scene of an RTA- police speak for Road Traffic Accident. A 40 something woman was cycling home from work, as she had done every day for the last 12 years she had been living in the area. But on this day she never made it. She got hit by an articulated lorry and was dragged about 25 metres under the front wheel.
The truck driver wasn't going fast, not fast at all. But for reasons unknown he didn't see her for the 25 metres.
She was dragged along the road under the front wheel. Several tonne of lorry cab and tarmac acted like a giant piece of sandpaper from hell. There was a discernable tyre tread pattern on the roadway for the 25 metres. Out of her flesh.
The Fire Brigade and Ambulance staff lifted the truck off and hauled her out. She was still conscious until the moment the truck was lifted off. One of my colleagues went with her in the ambulance.
I meanwhile, knowing she likely had hours, maybe minutes left on this earth, was desperately trying to get hold of her partner.
Now I managed to get hold of him on the phone. I don't apologise for this but I lied to him. He was driving you see. If I told him that his partner was hanging onto life by a thread, he would panic. If he had another accident on the way back then what use would that be. I told him it wasn't too serious, she was in hospital, and I would wait for him at his house. (I'd found out where he lived, and was ringing him from outside his own front door).
He arrived after about 7ish minutes. When I saw him, I said to him I didn't tell him the truth on the phone. I told him to get a bag of what he needs as quick as he could, as things were serious.
I drove him to the hospital, about 20 miles, all the way with blue lights going and siren screaming.
I got to the hospital 5 minutes after she died. How do you comfort someone like that. Partner of 12 years gone, and you miss the final goodbye by 5 minutes.
It's one of the worst, and sometimes best things about this job, the perspectives it forces you to have. Whenever I say goodbye to my wife there's always that tiny, tiny little voice in the back of my head which says to me: "You might not see her again". It's been enough that for the last 7 years we've never parted on an argument. There's been our disagreements, but I'll never leave the house without it being sorted.
Sometimes people ask how I cope. Answer is I don't know. I just do. It's a job that has to be done, and it has do be done professionally for the sake of people like the guy above, to give them a fighting chance of seeing their loved ones should their nightmare materialise. But I do have a worry that one day something what might seem small, or insignificant, may trigger a landslide.
But for the meantime: my advice to you all is perhaps unsurprising. Cherish the times you have with your loved ones. You never know when you might wish all the world that you have another 5 minutes.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
A post to highlight some of the unsung work we do.
This happened several years ago, when I was still young in service. This case has been heard at coroners court and as such is already in the public domain, not that I'm planning on naming names.
I was on foot patrol when I heard the call- a believed suicide in a hotel. Being young and enthusiastic I made my way there. My sergeant was already on scene when I got there.
I was led to the room by the hotel manager. It was a fairly reasonable hotel, an upmarket Travelodge kind of place.
I can remember this clearly as it was the second deceased person I had encountered. The first was an old man who collapsed while making a cup of tea, and to whom we had turned up to within an hour of him dying.
This girl was different. She had, as it turned out, been dead for three days, in a hotel room with maximum heating on and no windows open. She was in an advanced state of decomposition. Combine that with the fact she had vomited several times due to the several dozen pills and two bottles of wine she had taken. The smell knocks you back, and I had to focus on stopping my stomach hurling itself up my throat.
We have to check the body for suspicious marks. It is not unknown for someone to fake the suicide of another, and we have to check for signs of bruising, stab or puncture wounds, that kind of thing. We have to check the whole body. Which means lifting up the body, no matter what state it's in. I've been to one where the skin on the arm has become detached from the arm as we've tried to heave the bloke over.
It turns out this is a genuine suicide. The girl took enough of this drug she had hoarded to kill herself 4 times over. (It was a pretty horrible way to go. With the projectile vomiting and smashed bottles in evidence, it was a violent and painful death.) She had written detailed letters to all her family, expressing exactly what she wanted to happen at her funeral etc.
She was in her mid twenties. She had made a rough collage of photos of all her family and put it next to her. It was, all in all, pretty friggin tragic.
I had to seize every single item in that room so the coroner can liase with the family of the girl to arrange collection of it. She had travelled nearly 70 miles to kill herself. I had over 100 items of property that took me 6 hours to book into the police stores.
I can remember clear as yesterday going through these items with her dad and partner (who unfortunately blamed each other for her suicide, which made things even more tense) a few days later. Dad was doing his best to stay in control and stay calm. However, he lost it completely when I got out, of all things, a furry hot water bottle that had a particular memory attached.
He was howling.
I could barely keep my emotions, my tears in check. What can I say to a father whose daughter has killed herself, when the daughter is barely a year older than me? So I just waited until he was in control again, and carried on slowly methodically going through all the items.
I went home that day, several hours late, utterly exhuasted
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Right. As you may figure, this being the first post and all, I'm new to this blogging lark. Well, I say new. I've kept my eye on the world of blogdom for a while now (since I got broadband at any rate) and amongst all the weirdness and obsessives there's been a few good police blogs, written by officers, telling it how it really is on the streets.
However, I've also seen these blogs get shut down. Well, I assume shut down as one day they simply disappear. Probably posing too many questions that highlight the cracks in the veneer senior management like to polish over.
So welcome to my small rebellion against authority, as it seems Official (i.e. high level) police attitude to blogging is a touch too 1984 for my liking.
I don't want to rant and shout about things. I don't want to provoke senior management. I just want to paint an honest picture of the kind of crap that we and the officers I am in charge of have to deal with day in, day out, without recognition or reward. Yet if it is me painting an honest picture of what we deal with is what senior management have a problem with, then I have a problem with senior management.
So let's see whats going to happen. I'll post every so often about jobs I've dealt with, the frustrations I have. I am forced to be anonymous and this will be reflected in that names, places and times will never be what they really were.
I'm experimenting with Blogger and another site as to which I prefer. I'll probably shut one of them down in the near future but I'll let you know which is remaining