Thursday, November 30, 2006

Car vs Foot

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

Paperwork, paperwork

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

Police review response

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 " 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.

Well informed?

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

Days Off

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

Last bit about DNA

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

Bad DNA & dodgy coppers

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

just quickly

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

It's going to be a long few months

Post removed

Monday, November 06, 2006


Hi Y'all

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


This might get to a job in the charter response time.

Actually, it probably wouldn't. Given some of the job drivers I've seen, this'd have an early rendevouz with a lampost or field.