Monday, December 31, 2007

Final grim statistic of the year

No sooner had I finished writing that I noticed this on the news!

Some scumbag has shot a Pc in Lancashire. Not going to be a good new year for Pc Katie Johnson, I hope she gets better soon.

I sincerely hope the office dwellers and armchair supervisors don't start going on about breaches of policy for turning up to a firearms incident whilst not a firearms response officer. Unfortunately, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if someone did.

Bit of a slip by the Acting Assistant Chief Constable too:

"It troubles me greatly that at a close confrontation level, someone is shooting not only a police officer but a female one who was clearly identified"

Its the "not only a police officer, but a female one" that caught my eye. Does that mean that it wouldn't have been as serious if it was a male officer shot? Or does he think that as she's a woman she shouldn't have to face such dangerous and naughty people, and it's doubly as tragic when she does?

What will Pc Bloggs think.

In all seriousness though, I hope Pc Johnson recovers without ill effect and the toilet-dweller responsible shoots himself in the groin.

Note- I feel suitably honoured to have been visited by Cuddles, the eponymous idiot commenter with a somewhat limited vocabulary. Normally I'd leave the comments there to allow everyone to see the irony of him adding to my hit counter (thank you, by the way), but at the moment I can't be bothered with it and so am deleting them.

Final post of the year... almost

As most are aware Pc Roberts died from a heart attack, but would he have experienced it if Mr Savage hadn't been such a violent person? We will never know. We salute him for willingly going to a situation which was fraught with danger in the first place.

I'm going to leave the expected charming comment there. If anything, I think it helps show the rest of the world the type of people we have to deal with.

I know I haven't exactly been a shining example of blogging effort the last couple of weeks, but a combination of applying 15 months in advance and being lucky in the pool system meant I have for the first time since the millenium got both christmas and new year off. So I've actually had a "normal" christmas, which has generally involved eating far too much and driving half the length of the country every other day seeing various relatives.

Tonight, I'm off to celebrate new year from somewhere other than the inside of a police car. I have been told that already no more leave will be authorised for the 2008 Christmas period! I'm off tonight with friends who don't feel the need to assault each other or their spouses or feel it is a good thing to become drunken heap on the pavement.

I hope all have a good celebration tonight in whatever form it takes, and I hope you don't have need to call 999 as you haven't got a great chance of getting through, and even less chance of someone turning up.

More cheery posts in 2008! Hopefully.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


My sympathies, sadness and anger are with the Met officers, but most of all with the family of the officer killed. (link)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Just a quick one

Just to say very briefly, and politically incorrectly, happy christmas all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Moving on

I'll let the pay business slide for the moment. It seems for once the fed are actually being half-organised and might actually give us an opportunity to do something to show our displeasure beyond yet another email proforma telling us to write to an MP. We'll see what happens. The much vaunted power of the internet seems to have failed for me.

For as of course life goes on. I've been anchored to the custody desk, so for once with this freezing weather I'm not so fed up of the same 4 walls as usual. My sergeanting colleague wandered in the other day. He has now adopted a permanent expression of.... I can't quite describe it, but resigned acceptance about sums it up. He told me we're now down to 4 Pc's covering Suburbiaville, whose population and problems have not been reduced by a third to match the loss of the PC's. The governor won't be happy, as his statistics will have reduced by a third too. Never mind eh.

Which brings me on. Things I am likely not to see in a custody suite:

1) A PCSO. They're not allowed to arrest anyone.
2) A safer neighbourhood constable, unless they were really unlucky and were in the wrong place at the right time.
3) A safer neighbourhood sergeant. They're not even custody trained round my way.
4) Anyone under 16 who actually demonstrates some kind of regret or sorrow for being arrested.
5) Anyone in a suit before 0930am.
6) Anyone from SMT, unless someone has died.

Feel free to continue the list.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Well, the last post didn't cause that much controversy.... never mind.

A couple of things had arisen though- I had completely forgotten that our glorious government had made protesting within a mile of Parliament Square illegal. I didn't really think much about it before but now it has become something I was actually seriously contemplating doing it really winds me up! If the government don't like being told by their electing public that they're not popular, they'll just make it illegal for the public to tell them about it. They don't want to run the risk of actually being confronted by one of their constituents. Its much easier to dismiss a protest when it's something your secretary can deal with via the postbox. I would love to see what the Met would do though if a several hundred old bill turned up outside the Houses of Parliament. Probably bus in all their PCSO's to give everyone a PND.

Anyhoo I did note that one of the things the Fed is now advocating is a mass protest rally. I'll take the credit for that ;-)

Now that this situation is getting a fair bit of news coverage the comments pages on some of the rags are getting letters sent in. I can't remember which one (and I can't be bothered searching) but someone was saying how pathetic this all was over 0.6%. (someone commented on the last post in the same theme)

So, to clarify. For myself, and I think the most of us, this is really not about the money. We are relatively well paid, especially compared to the other emergency services. Although there are unique aspects to our job that don't apply to the others- but more on that another time, if there's the interst.

If the government had backdated the 2.5% to make it a proper 2.5%, I personally wouldn't be jumping up and down.

What is galling is the way the government have gone about this pay rise. They canned a long standing police pay rise mechanism linked into inflation, which was accepted by "us" in return for the right to strike. They then enter into "binding" arbitration which recommends a 2.5% rise. They then, having stalled the issue long enough, accept the 2.5% increase, but only implement it 4 months after it should have been so that the overall increase is 1.9%.

Underlying all this of course is the fact most of us are seriously hacked off with the target obsessions of this government which has a direct impact on the way street level officers go about their jobs. Which has been, for the most part, a negative impact. Most people have seen or heard a story about how some minor petty offence- e.g playground scraps-which in all honesty should be dealt with by words of advice was dealt with according to the letter of the law- which whilst not illegal is not exactly proportionate. But its the pressure from the senior management, under pressure from the government, to improve detection rates which causes this.

Its not about the money. Its about the government constantly interfering and imposing their will. Now I will counter this to acknowledge there is a need for a publicly elected body to be concerned with the manner in which the country is policed but the manner and the method through which this government has gone about it has been woeful, and this pay issue has just been the final straw.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Time to Listen


This pay decrease we're getting. The fed are writing "angry and frustrated" letters and suggest you do the same. They are apparently holding a meeting to discuss it. ACPO meanwhile are officially disappointed.

Is it just me, or is this mostly a lot of hot air and vigorous arm waving and jumping up and down? I'd like to be proved wrong, but I'm not confident.

I don't think the government really give two hoots about letters from the federation or the opinion of ACPO.

Parliament go onto their 3 week christmas break on the 18th December. (3 week break!) They come back on the 7th January according to here.

I'd like to stand outside at Parliament Square and meet them as they go home to whichever one of their homes they're off to. I think that if enough of us are there giving them abuse as they go off to ponder which christmas tipple to have they might just start to listen. Let them leave their decadent halls with the sounds of hundreds of angry police officers ringing in their ears.

I say hundreds. Here's something to test the "power" of the internet. Is this a good idea? How about we start something from the ground up? Lets be honest, this won't affect ACPO. Can you see them recommending any kind of protest?

So how about it? Parliament Square, 2pm, 18th December? I'm not advocating anything other than a show of numbers and perhaps some light-hearted banter with an MP. If too short notice, how about we meet them coming back on the 7th Jan?

Email me, leave a comment, tell your friends, suggest it to a fed rep! - lets see if there's anything in this. I somehow feel I don't want to trust this issue completely to those who represent us- no disrespect to the fed, they just haven't got the clout, and ACPO wouldn't dare risk their rank (come on and prove me wrong!)- I feel I need to do something myself. And this is what I came up with.

I am interested to see if this post will go with a whimper or a bang.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Two pennies

Every blog has been ranting about our pay award. 1.9%.

Now I don't think we as a rule a particularly badly paid especially when compared to some other emergency services. Can't say I particularly like a pay increase below inflation though, that's really a tad off.

I don't know the ins and outs of the whole history of police pay but as far as I can tell some time ago an agreement was reached with the incumbent government that in return for the right to strike we would be guaranteed a certain pay increase each year. Quite what the mechanisms were regarding that I have no idea but the point is this government has reneged on that agreement.

MPs have such a cushy life which is what really makes this sting. Take a look at Coppers Blog for the best comparison of MPs claiming expenses for everything left right and centre. I have to buy my own torches, batteries and belt kit as the job issue ones are invariably poor quality. MPs can even claim a cycling to work allowance! At their rate, I'll have a pound a day thank you very much. Not much, but it'll buy me and the wife a takeaway at the end of each month. Oh except we don't have a cycling allowance.

I would've accepted 2.5%. What has really wound me up is the way the Jacqui "I live in an awfully nice area" Smith has said she accepts the 2.5% recommendation but won't backdate it to when it should have been implemented, making it a reality of 1.9%. Its underhand, sneaky and frankly I'd like to..... (I've been pondering what to say, and I still can't think of anything postable)

Here's the reality for me. I parade 6 officers to cover an urban / suburban population of approx 70,000. I spent 9 hours of my last shift writing a report regarding one individual person. On night shift there are dozens of spare car park spaces but come the morning every one is filled by someone, but who I never know as they're never with me on response work. Safer Neighbourhood teams have been set up with people taken from response teams to do the work response teams don't have enough time and resources to look at. The ethos of management revolves solely around perfomance indicators (and inextricably linked- whether the Superintendents get their bonus). "Support" Squads are set up with fat overtime budgets to target specific crimes (which are always but ALWAYS linked to performance indicators and bonuses) whilst team inspectors can only authorise overtime when it is completely unavoidable (i.e. arrest). They face discipline if it is overbudget and yet if there is an underspend the money is taken away from them to feed another support squad.

I knew there was a reason I didn't initially want to post about this. It winds me up just how messed up this system is. And the blame completely lies with the Labour Government as far as I'm concerned. I've not been in quite long enough to have worked under the Tories but this lot are obsessed with target culture and imposing a financial reward and sanction scheme on a job that essentially cannot be measured effectively with any statistical means. And those aspects which can be measured cannot give an accurate reflection of what they are meant to. 4 out of 5 crimes aren't investigated? So we are expected to put out witness appeals for every car window smashed as John Random forgot to put his TomTom away? There is often a reason why crimes are not investigated beyond their initial investigation. We don't have the resources to stand there at the following day asking people if they were present yesterday, to pore over hours of CCTV on the offchance a suspect may have been captured. I've known people get furiously angry for us not checking 8 hours of CCTV when they found their car window had been smashed in a car park. No suspect description, not known if he was a he or a she or in a car of their own, utterly unrealistic proposition. But my goodness she went mad at me for not doing it.

This post has gone on long enough, apologies.

Monday, December 03, 2007

PCSO uniform revisited.

This Guardian comment is free PCSO Steve business has jolted my creaky memory.

A while ago I posted a poll about whether PCSO's uniform should be more distinct from police officers. I never got round to talking about it.

The poll result is now parked right down the bottom of the page, underneath the youtube videos. The results are clear in what I freely admit is completely unscientific research (not that that would stop any media outlet presenting it as fact)- the overwhelming majority - 75%- say that a PCSO's uniform should be changed so it is less like a police officers. 67% say it should be completely different.

It would seem most people aren't fooled by the illusion the government wanted to create. If they see a uniform walking past, they want to know it is a police officer. Not someone whose training stipulates to simply stand by and observe someone getting a hiding or drowning, as their instruction is to call a police officer down to deal with it.

I think people would rather see the police officer in the first place. I know I would.

However, I am most curious to see that the remaining 25% would like to see the line blurred further between PCSO and PC- to make it so you only know the difference when you're standing next to them asking them about it.

I am interested to hear why.

Note (4th Dec)- in an unusual turn around of the usual order of things, the only PCSO blogger I know of has been resurrected! Link removed from graveyard accordingly. Check out the view from that side of the fence here. Good to see him back

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Memories revisited

Went past that accident yesterday. The furrow marks on the grass are filling in, and the grass is already making a comeback. The trunk is still a scorched black with scars cutting deep into the wood near the base. Some sad flowers hang limply where they've been tied to the tree.

It's quite a different scene in daylight. The skidmarks have been worn away now by the traffic and rain.

I never mentioned that on the night in question the governor asked me to take a car away from response work - i.e. don't take calls- to specifically target the Dream Factories latest performance indicator.

We were "underperforming" because a while ago someone invented a new code to go on certain paperwork returns, and then made our returns on this new code a performance indicator. Because we weren't told about said new code, (well, it might have been published on the intranet site or even a forcewide email, but I don't count either of those as real communication) our return was zero. Oh dear. Someone didn't like that (probably the person who thought of the new code), sent word to Ivory Towers and so the governor got a rocket.

I did ponder the governor's request on the way to the accident, travelling in a blue light convoy behind the car who was supposed to be doing it.

Did we meet any performance indicators dealing with a fatal road accident? Nope. A bad day at the office for the governor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

PCSO Steve?

Was floating round the guardian unlimited comment is free website as I occasionally do and nearly fell off my chair when I noted PCSO Steve is a contributor! Whether or not the guardian's PCSO Steve is the one and the same as the Met's PCSO Steve is a different story, and whether the Met PCSO Steve is aware someone has nicked his name is one for the Met's Professional Should-Have-Better-Things-To-Do-With-My-Time Unit to investigate.

I ought to clarify he is an author, not a commenteer like myself.

The age old post that I have regarding PCSO uniform- that continues to attract hits from google searches- is the subject of his most recent post.

He comments, in apparent contradiction to what happens when police officers go beyond their training and call of duty (reference Totally Un PC), that PCSOs often get commendations for such. That and they are the centre of neighbourhood policing.... hum...

Thought you might like to know. I will keep an eye out!

For my previous musings on the rights and wrongs of PCSO's, click on the "PCSO's" label on the sidebar, or click here

Monday, November 26, 2007

Too late for a lecture

I look at the scene. We couldn't get close enough to be sure anyone was in it until the fire brigade had been at it for a while damping it down. But even with the heat and the force of the crash, there's still an unmistakable outline in the charred, melted cabin.

I look back down the road . I've heard the accounts from the witnesses who don't know whether to be angry or sad, and just stand there continually rubbing their eyes and running their hands across their head. His friend is just up the road, customised car with aftermarket alloys now sat quietly by the side verge. He saw what happened in his mirror and turned round, but too late to help. There are small pools on the carriageway from where he's thrown up.

I can picture the last moments. What was a bit of "fun", a quiet road with no-one else seemingly around. A friend in the car next to you, having a bit of a race up the road to see who's got the faster car off from the roundabout. You've got dads car, you know its a good one. You've had a good night, no drinking involved, you never do that. You're feeling good. Can't lose.

Except that that gentle curving bend isn't so gentle when you get up to speed. That traffic island you didn't see round the bend is coming up quick, bloody quick. But the road is wet. Suddenly at this speed with heavy panicked braking and slipperiness the road camber plays a crucial part. You're on the wrong side of the road. That slight slope engineered into the tarmac is now a deadly factor in the laws of friction and physics.

The back end's gone. This suddenly isn't fun any more. You're off the tarmac. Onto wet, slippy grass. Don't matter what you do with the steering wheel now.

You look up and have just enough time to take one last sharp breath in as you realise that its all gone so terribly, terribly wrong.

Not a single panel of the car is left untwisted or buckled. Parts of the car are spread over dozens maybe hundreds of yards. The fuel tank is split open and with a disintegrating red hot engine all around the spark is soon a consuming fire.

A single branch, barely a big twig, is knocked off the tree. In a weeks time, the only clue to the tragedy will be the blackened bark. Come a few months, only those who were there and those who have lost will know the horror that tree has seen.

I walk over to the smouldering wreck. I want to reach in and shake him, shout at him not to do it, don't race, as though I can go back through time and change what has happened. But I know I can't. The governor is here barking out orders. I wander back down the road to make sure all the cordons and logs are in place, witness details are registered, make sure people have got warm clothes as they're going to be there a long time. I start thinking where I can go and get some hot drinks for the troops later. They'll need them.

There's nothing we can do for the driver. The ambulance crews find something to do looking after the shell shocked witnesses. Its now a case of preserving every piece of scattered metal and plastic, each furrowed track on the verge, waiting for the time when every piece will be documented, logged, and meticulously photographed.

I want to take the mental image I have, somehow transfer it to paper and show it to the next one stopped for driving like an idiot, who thinks it acceptable nay encouragable to show off, to drive a car to its limit, and who surrounds himself with people who think likewise. Somehow make him understand that the driver of this one thought exactly the same thing 10 seconds before his final inglorious end.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Now that I've got over the personal indignation that the overpaid football muppets couldn't qualify for a pub 5 a side tournament I'm actually quite glad, as it means I am now much more likely to have a less rioutous time next year. (But as an aside, I can't quite believe they are now getting paid up to another £150K each for failing to qualify- as far as I'm concerned you should not be paid to play for your country)

Anyhoo I noticed a while ago something that made me raise an eyebrow. The NPIA has issued an edict that local diversity is to be discouraged. The fact we have different ways of saying things across the country is downright dangerous.

Regional variations in how to say things like "yes" are to be stamped out because too many lives have been sacrificed, apparently. I joke you not, quote unquote from a Cambridge University Linguist. It also takes up too much time, according to the NPIA....

I've never seen anything as a result of this 25 grand either. Probably spent it all on lunchtime conferences buying a rent a quote to justify spending the 25 grand.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Overpaid and underachieving.

No, not ACPO.

Footballers. Some of them earn more in a week than I can look for in 4 years. And they are sufficiently incompetent as a group to fail to get to the European Championships.

Steve Mclaren? Yeh lets sack him. I'll bet he's really upset, being paid £2.5 million. I'm so in the wrong job. Be completely hopeless, still rake it in and get paid a fortune when you get fired.

Except I'd want to knock em all out.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another good job

A job from a while back, on one of the rare occasions I was free of paperwork and able to go out and get stuck in. Not a job of any great spectacle, but a fairly interesting one I thought.

It was a fairly routine night shift and I was leaving the petrol station when a call came out across the radio about an RTC, road traffic collision.

Any RTC that comes in at 3am the instant thought is: this could be serious. This time of night people tend not to crash their cars unless they're drunk or stolen.

I start running along, as does the other (sole remaining) response car. As I'm going, another update comes in that the occupants have made off towards the road I'm currently running down, blue lights reflecting back at me off the street signs. Well, at least it isn't a serious one. But why make off?

We take the left turn into the road the crash is on. Clock middle aged bloke walking along the pavement. We're still some distance off the RTC so we leave him and keep heading towards where it is when someone jumps out between two cars waving at us. The RTC is still nowhere in sight and my operator is about to tell him where to go (again- early in the morning, people quite often tend to talk drunken nonsense at us) when he breathlessly tells us middle aged chap we just saw, now just approaching the junction was in the car that crashed. He's followed him from the crash and is waving so animatedly he throws his phone 10 metres down the road. I see the other cars blue lights approaching and shout instructions down the radio.

One detained, just a touch tiddly. As in not actually able to stand up straight for more than about a second, complete with a swaying routine as though there's a snake charmer playing just the right tunes in his head.

Someone else has turned up to the crash scene. Theres a large head shaped hole in the passenger side of the windscreen. By now other calls have filtered through the 999 system and the passenger of the car was seen to head off covered in blood, again towards us.

We only have seen the one person here but I look down on the floor and sure enough theres a blood trail, a fresh spot every few metres. I call for the assistance of a furry land shark as he's going to do a much better job of following the blood trail down dark alleys than me floundering with a torch.

People at the scene have found some paperwork which seems to confirm boozy middle aged bloke detained, not sober enough to be able to think about giving a false name, was in the car. He can't be the passenger as he would have rather large cuts on his sweaty forehead, and the blood trail is on the opposite side of the road. Combine that with the first witness and he is coming with us to answer questions about drink drive and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

He proceeds to get a bit lairy because we won't let him go to the toilet. Sorry old fruit, you've been nicked for a drink drive offence. What you've got in your bladder could be evidence.

I heard he decided to not wait until custody and released his pressure whilst inside the back of the van. Which pleased the driver no end.

The dog van is now here and we're searching for the passenger. Our concern now is mostly welfare as by all accounts he's wandering round with a chunk of his head missing. We don't want to wait for a call in the morning from an alarmed resident finding a collapsed or worse dead man in his front garden.

Hairy canine follows blood to a path leading to 4 flats. Not sure which exactly which one our injured chap could be in though. We don't have a great deal of choice and start knocking on all of them. I was most impressed that people answered their doors at 4am. Not sure if I would. Anyway 3 of the 4 residents stumble bleary-eyed to the door.

Which leaves one.

Again, not a great deal of choice in the matter. One size 11 key later and we're in. And find chap lying in his bed with a mess of dried blood all over his head and covering his bed. One quick request to the ambulance people and we try to rouse him. Well, he got roused all right.

Talk about not being pleased to see us! I think anti-police would sum it up in a mild manner, especially after I told him I unfortunately had to kick his door in. Needless to say, he refused to tall us how he got this cut to his head and he advised the ambulance crews of his feelings for them with a range of adjectives that tended to start with the letter f.

Once he's signed the ambulance disclaimer we get his details and tell him we'll be in contact when he's sober.

As I somewhat doubt he would be the type to give a full and honest account of the events leading up to the injury causing incident (namely his even more pissed mate, in a car of dubious legality of ownership, drove straight into a parked car at about 35 mph) I now head off to find the original callers to get statements from them to put the arrested driver with now presumably quite uncomfortable trousers in the driver seat.

We return to the nick (via a coffee from the one 24hr place we have) to collate it all the statements, accident reports, damage reports etc for the morning shift to take on the case. The driver blew high 90s on the breath machine but needs to be interviewed about the failing to stop and that can't be done till he's sober. Which'll take about 10 hours, in the doctors estimate. Theres also questions about his legitimacy of driving the car.

The chap in the flat made me laugh. You've been seen to stagger away from a car crash where you've nearly put your head through the windscreen, but you have nothing but abuse for the people concerned enough for your health to track you down. Oh well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quiet Life

Apologies for the lack of posts recently about actual jobs I've been out and about to. I've been anchored to the custody desk for a while with only the odd day out.

Custody can be ok. I generally prefer as a rule being out and about but there is an awful lot of responsibility on your shoulders as a custody skipper and getting it right isn't always straightforward and it can be an utterly exhuasting job.

The video below isn't anyone I know. But it illustrates it isn't always a safe, calm environment....

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clueless Politician Alert- Again

But this time its the police minister!

Tony asks: Do you think I'm a muppet?

Police tell him that we're focusing on government imposed targets at the expense of not being able to focus properly on more serious crime.

Response of police minister? Not to state how he is concerned at these statements being made across the country and how its the result of a 6 month review by the federation; not how he feels he should examine these claims to see if there is any substance.

Instead, we get "'I respect their views; I just think they over-egg and exaggerate to make a point, sometimes to the detriment of the members, and that's not in their own interests"

What? I got that quote from the Metro's coverage of the "Tonight" programme (haven't actually watched it to confirm he said it) but if it is, isn't that just a completely arrogant statement? Look, Tony. Bloggers, Panorama, Tonight, The Federation- we're all consistently saying the same thing. But you brush it off as though we're making it up and completely fail to grasp the point you think we're "over-egging".

Minister for Police? What a joke. Minister for Imposing Political Will On Police and Turning A Deaf Ear to Officers slightly more accurate, if a mouthful.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Clueless Politician Alert

"Everybody is worried about the rise in gun crime and violence in this country at the moment, and the destruction these weapons cause is terrible"

What is this referring to? A debate regarding the reactivation of deactivated guns? The latest set of statistics regarding youth crime? A speech about the import of eastern european weapons?

No. The mayor doesn't want rifles on a rememberance day parade.

The only saving grace is that the other councillors of Chepstow have their heads screwed on right in at least this respect and told her where to go.

Click to see the article here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A song dedication

It's a touch naughty, but I can't resist it: Here's one for you, Mr Blair:

For those looking for a more sensible viewpoint from me, I've started posting things over at the guardians "comment is free" website.

One thing that has annoyed me from the multitude of postings on that article is the way nearly everyone labels the police as "the police", i.e. a collective of autonomous zombies unable to question anything for themselves and unwitting slaves of government and chief police.

I hope this blog and others remind people that actually, we're not hardwired blank faced drones. We question policy just as much, and sometime more so, and get just as frustrated when things go wrong.

I get really frustrated when I see some of the ignorance of how the police really works- one of the comments is that we will now shoot anyone we reasonably suspect of being a suicide bomber and we are revelling in this shoot to kill policy.

No, no, no and No.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Media Monkeys

Regular readers here- should there be any!- will know that it is not unusual I get a bit irate about the media and the way things regarding the police are reported.

We rely on the media a great deal for information regarding things outside our own day to day lives and people most of the time tend to take what they read as fact, give or take the odd pinch of salt, depending on which paper you read. You assume journalists are objective and neutral.

Well I was not too impressed with the Guardian on Saturday. Blaring headline shouting "Embattled Blair faces new armed police allegations".

Except when you read through it, he's not. The two brothers from Forest Gate have popped up again. Apparently those horrible armed bullies from SO19 said rude things to them. The way it is reported would suggest they were deliberately targeted by them. Until you read at the end it was because there was a report that a firearm had been seen and two imitation firearms were recovered. The SO19 officers it would seem didn't even know it was the two brothers until they were already stopped.

And then there's the bit which really made me question why the Guardian reported this at all, let alone across the front page. They aren't making a complaint. This is quite crucial! The Guardian completely fails to address the question why. Why aren't they complaining? They've got the lawyer, the public profile, any complaint they make will be properly addressed, trust me (instant referral to IPCC methinks! Can't see me or the duty officer trying to deal with this locally). To me, there's something missing.

I wonder how much their lawyer charged the two brothers (on legal aid?) an awful lot of money to write a snooty letter to the commissioner saying how armed officers are "flagrantly and flamboyantly endangering the citizens of london".

Whatever. I'd like this lawyer to spend a shift away from her million pound house (well, its got to be hasn't it) in a nice neighbourhood with regular let alone armed police, as she clearly has got no idea, or is breathtakingly arrogant.

Only the Telegraph mentioned the officer fighting for her life after being run over by a suspect trying to escape. Best wishes to DC Corbett.

I've got to admit, I normally find the guardian a touch more reliable than the others, but this article has got me questioning what agenda they've got.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stop and Search- again

Barely had my fingers left the keyboard on my last missive about Stop and Search when its back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

So as a proportion of the population you are more likely to be searched if you're black. On the face of it, that seems worrisome.

But these statistics can only be the tip of the iceberg in what has to be a huge complex interlinked web of many different socio-economic-cultural factors. Why are more blacks per head of population in jail for instance. And to be in jail, that means convicted of an offence, so no issues about (un)reasonable grounds for search by officers.

Delving into this is far beyond me here. I could spend hours debating the availability of role models, challenges of peer pressure, gang culture, the impact of living in an urban or rural area (without spending time researching it, I believe the majority of ethnic minorities continue to reside in cities), how this and all the above link in relative economic depravation or wealth, etc etc.

For me, I still stand by what I said in my previous post. In my specific local area, there is a particular issue with reported street crime- robbery and mugging, and the suspects are predominantly black and to a lesser extent Asian youths- and consequently most stop searches are resultant from this, . However, my previous force area was a much more residential sector, where the principal problem was burglary and motor vehicle offences, for whom the suspects were predominantly white male youths (especially for the motor vehicle offences) and white adults.

So do I change the way I work or the way I expect my team to work as a result as a result of this research? No. I will just carry on the way I think best. Namely treat each case, each incident, each call on its own merits, and deal with it with the information I have and the powers available.

Just please don't call me racist. One of the few times I've nearly lost my rag with people over the years is when I've stopped a black male for doing a fairly blatant driving offence (red light, taking the mickey with speed limits etc) and I get that classic line "You're only stopping me because I'm black". The best one being someone at night doing 45 in a 30 in a car with blacked out windows. I couldn't tell whether it was a male or female driving, let alone any ethnicity. The only result I tend to find that particular comment brings is that the words of advice option quickly becomes less favoured and the pen is out on the FPN.

And before anyone says anything, I don't only stop black drivers. Unless you give me the finger or try and hide your face from me, I look at the state of the car first, manner of driving second and the looks of the driver a very distant and usually irrelevant third when it comes to deciding when to pull someone over. As it happens, as far as I can remember, every pursuit I've been has been a white driver.

And here's an afterthought- most of the people stop and searched are male. Does that make us institutionally sexist? Should an advisory group be formed to examine and direct us on this particular issue? Should groups like Fathers4Justice or Presidents of Working Men's Clubs be asked to comment on this male bias? I feel the media have missed an opportunity to criticise, sorry I mean highlight an issue to debate, here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another one gone

Feel a bit guilty as I hadn't really checked my sidebar for a couple of weeks, relying on that planet police place to see whats happening in blogland.

Unfortunately, it only tells of who has been posting. Not the ones who haven't.

I am most gutted to find one of the best ones has gone. Has been reported or found out, and the management have obviously ordered it to be shut down.

Take a look at his last post before he is told to erase that too.

Farewell, Belfast Peeler. I shall miss your eye-opening tales of what happens across the Irish Sea. It is one of the few things that made me glad to be over here, putting the management problems into a new perspective.

Lunatics in charge of the Asylum

I met Duncan the other day. Well, I say met, if a meeting is what you would call several 999 calls to a naked man running around in the street.

Duncan wasn't running around in the street when we got there, but he was happily doing the backstroke amongst the petunias in someones back garden.

Still naked, I might add.

Duncan was actually quite pleased to see us, and actually had to be handcuffed to ensure there was no physical actualisation of him being pleased to see us, if you catch my drift. Although he did stop when the female ambulance staff arrived, saying he would never do that in front of a lady, but was quite annoyed at our reluctance to let him pleasure himself in front of us.

Duncan unsurprisingly was sectioned under our S136 Mental Health Act powers- which to summarise is that if we find someone who appears to be suffering from mental illness, in a public place, in need of immediate care or control for their or the public's safety, we can take them (against their will if need be) to a place of safety, usually a hospital.

I say appears to be suffering from Mental Illness. Being mere police officers we are of course unqualified to say anything definitive about mental health symptoms and so there are a number of things that must happen once we get to said hospital to ensure it really is mental illness- which involves waiting (usually for for several hours) for a suitably qualified collection of people to say that they are indeed mentally ill.

We were fortunate enough to section Duncan in office hours, so everyone was actually present and he was sectioned and sent straight back to the ward from where he was released less than 24 hours earlier.

You see, if Duncan doesn't take his medication, within 12 hours he effectively becomes a hyperactive 5 year old who cannot stop talking (or shouting, singing etc) at 120 miles an hour and has absolutely no idea of social norms. Hence the naked swimming in flowerbeds, masturbating and attempting to punch ambulance crews. He will have no recollection of these events.

But within 24hrs of ensuring he has his medication, his symptoms will have all but gone as the haywire bit of brain is brought back in line. He will be released back into the "care of the community".

He will then stay at a "sheltered" accomodation. I spoke to the warden at the place where Duncan was staying before his naked endeavours. I got seriously wound up with the attitude of this warden, which could be summed up as "Do I look like I care".

To me, this means one of two things. The warden from day one just couldn't give a hoot about their role in making sure the residents have their medication- they are happy with their state provided flat and call whichever emergency service whenever a resident gets out of line etc.

Or. They started with the best intentions, but got overwhelmed by the enormity of their task with little or no support. Their are about 50 rooms in this sheltered housing block. With the one warden who occasionally has daytime support staff.

People with mental health problems should not be locked up and hidden away. I know people who have done and do suffer with mental health problems. But if people don't have caring and patient families and friends to support them, and have to rely on the state to help, then the outlook is bleak.

Care in the community sounds great on paper, and I'm sure makes all the right political noises and has all the right buzzwords of "inclusion", "equity" and all that. But the reality is a perpetual cycle that is underresourced and overwhelmed, and has few success stories.

The title of the post, by the way, refers to the government. Not anyone actually involved in dealing with mental health.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Speedy excuses

wwwSo West Midlands Police only paid 14 out of 2600 tickets eh? Naughty.

Hang on. So thats 7 per day, roughly speaking.

More than 7 emergency calls across the West Midlands every day? I'd have thought so. Its actually nearer 2000 per day, according to their website. So a rate of one camera is set off roughly for one call in every 285. You'd have thought that might've warranted a mention..... but no. Much easier to sneer and criticise.

(Note- edited Friday 26th to the correct figures after someone pointed I completely messed up my sums. It is roughly 50 tickets per week, not per day as I originally said. Look, I posted after a long day! But it makes my point even more so, that it is only one call in every 285 that a camera is set off. Why is that not mentioned??)

An aside. We don't want to set them off though, trust me. The paperwork side is a royal pain in the butt.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stop and Search

What a rare hullabaloo going on in the press at the moment.

It is such a touchy subject. Take a look at this old report from Devon & Cornwall. An increase of 40 stops over a year- to 146 out of a total 13500 (i.e. 0.01%). I agree with the chief, who sounds a bit bewildered when he asks what is all the fuss about when there were 40 extra searches across the entire two counties over the whole year. But look at the Race Equality Council- demanding to have an explanation for the increase from 0.007% to 0.01%, and demanding to know what the police are going to about it.

So Keith Jarrett has opened a rare old can of worms, asking that more youths should be stop searched. Predictably Ch Supt Dizeai has his oar in already, disagreeing, despite the fact Mr Jarrett is asking more youths be searched, not black or white youths, but the race element is instantly brought into it because he is president of the NBPA.

Now here's my take on it. Personally, I agree with Mr Jarrett. In my specific localised area the majority of robbery and street crime takes place with youth offenders and youth victims. I am not mentioning anything about their ethnicity because it isn't relevant. Often, these robberies are "knife-enabled" (to use the management speak) and occasionally gun-enabled (whether real, imitation, or whatever). And sometimes, people get hurt.

However, the only time my officers feel safe in conducting searches is after an event, i.e. when someone has called us to say there's been a robbery, or they've seen someone with a knife, as they then feel they have the grounds to search people matching that description. So most of the searches undertaken are effectively already too late- the robbery has already happened, someone has already been threatened with a knife. Occasionally we are lucky and get the right person.

Because with the level of scrutiny stop searches get, my officers generally don't feel 'safe' unless they have rock solid grounds to suspect someone of carrying something. A group of youths hanging around eyeing up passers by? Not enough, according to the guidelines we have to follow. Even if you recognise someone from having previously arrested them for carrying a knife, still not enough. I've seen the complaints upheld for things just like that. I have to supervise every one of their stop slips to ensure they do have reasonable grounds, because I'll get in the smelly stuff if I let slide.

Its one of those things where we could be certain a particular bunch of people are carrying something, but we know and they know unless we can point to something objective giving us that suspicion, we haven't got a legal leg to stand on.

Stop search could be one of the most effective preventative tools we have. But because of the requirements for us to have these reasonable grounds to suspect something, we are not able to be as effective as we otherwise could be.

I know the reason for this- accountability and justification. I'm not debating whether the legal side is right or wrong here, just pointing out we can't have it both ways.

Monday, October 22, 2007

False Confidence

Is the expression and demeanour displayed when it is yourself, 12 PC's in yellow jackets, and two blokes on horses holding back about 2000 football fans, who aren't necessarily pleased at your presence.

Gotta love the football season.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I don't know whether this story is true- one thing I have learned having read newspaper reports about jobs I've dealt with, is that newspapers can be hopelessly inaccurate and too often present opinion as fact (and the Daily Mail group are especially prone)- but apparently:

A police crackdown on vietnamese drug barons is stopped because it is racist.

According to their report some forces fell foul by specifically mentioning the Vietnamese nationality in their warning letters to landlords.

Is this a good thing? Open question- if it is an accurate report, did those forces do wrong by specifically mentioning a particular nationality?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stating the Obvious

We live in a day and age where we are encouraged if not rewarded to state the obvious.

We had a couple of incidents recently which made me laugh. Well, not the incidents, but the subsequent actions after I was required to take.

The following post is written in recommended politicalo-correct font.

Firstly, in an area of town frequented in particular by one section of our diverse community. Naturally on this blog I cannot specify which particular community segment I refer to, as actions experienced by myself are not necessarily indicative of the whole community, but a minority and I do not wish to encourage any negative stereotyping.
Early in the morning, outside a venue frequented by members of said community, we had an incident where the was a disturbance. CCTV cameras pick out one person in a small group of others has what appears to be a gun handle in his waistband.
Armed response boys come in, and a plan of action agreed which results in identified individual and his group being stopped, after a little bit of a chase. Lots of other members of the community witness police actions and aren't necessarily happy despite the fact a live loaded Eastern European handgun is recovered. "Unfortunately" the way armed response do stops with people suspected of having guns isn't particularly touchy feely with a nice chat and officially approved "Hello, I'm Constable Sidearm from Central Police Station, can I have a word please".

So as a result of the above I have identified that a particular community has had 1) what they may have percieved to be a negative experience with police 2) a community within this community appears to be having some kind of argument which is resulting in members turning up to disturbances with loaded guns. I therefore need to inform the relevant people (SMT, NPT/SNT etc) with my revelation I have identified possible "community impact factors" (such a wonderfully vague nonsensical term) which they should know about.

Of course they would know anyway about the incident, but I and the boss may be liable for criticism for not identifying these community impact factors at the earliest possible opportunity and informing the "relevant people".

Thats the way it is!


Morning. Or is is afternoon? I hate it when its one of those days when you have to look at your watch to remember a) what day it is and b) what time it is. Night shifts. Love 'em.

Apologies for not that many posts of substance. Seem to spend my life at work at the moment. I've taken my leave this year in two big chunks and it's something I've regretted. I won't have any proper time away from work until Christmas now. Excluding sleeping, I will see the wife for a total of approx 8 hours this whole coming week. Its the football season now so weekends off are something of a rarity. One good thing about television-isation of football is that matches are no longer always on Saturday, or not a kickoff in the middle of the afternoon, so at least I sometimes have a weekend or a bit of one every so often.

And the government still want to reduce our pay. Any pay rise we have is worked out in relation to the average across the private sector, i.e. what people in "normal" jobs get. Government want to bin that, so they can pay us less.

So yeah time I'm off I tend not to spend on here.

Do you know what I'm talking about when I mention that part in Hot Fuzz, where (important, must be said in a West Country Accent) Sergeant Angel has been told so many times that things are done in a certain way round here that he kind of glazes over and mulls along until he has that flash of inspiration?

Its kind of like that with me at the moment. It seems every suggestion I have made to try and improve things on my response team has come back with the reply "we don't do it like that here". When asked why I never seem to have a clear answer, maybe an occasional rumbling containing word snippets like "budget" or "its your officers fault it got like this, therefore its their problem". Thats when I get an answer. The desk drivers at the people responsible for pursuit policy won't even offer an acknowledgement of me trying to get hold of them, as though I am completely unimportant and inconsequential, despite the fact I implement their decisions on a near daily basis with inadequate equipment. I can't be bothered with the flog across the division to Ivory Tower at a time when they're actually in the office and I'm not dealing with a hundred other things. I'd only end up getting angry at them and saying something anyway.

Trying to effect change from the bottom up in the police is like trying to change the direction of an oil tanker from in the water with nowt but a pair of flippers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


So apparently 95% of children are victims of crime in some sort.

I don't know what to make of this. Back when I was a kid, you got into scrapes, had arguments with friends which sometimes ended up in a scrap, had stuff pinched from your pencil case, and everyone tried to think of ways of getting extra stuff from the canteen without paying for it.

But would I have regarded myself as a victim of crime? With one exception (when me and my innocent bag of chips were set upon in the park by a group of what the media love to call yobs), no.

I think the problem I have with this report, or at least the way some of the radio reports I've heard have talked about it "Every child is a victim of crime!!" is that straight away it encourages people to become immersed in victim culture. In particular I mean the way people think of themselves as completely innocent, and it's everyone elses fault they're a victim. The second question people usually ask when told someone is a victim of crime is "what are the police doing about it?". Or more usually, it's the police's fault for not doing enough to prevent in the first place. Or someone else. Definitely nothing to do with the "victim" themselves.

I would like this survey to have a few extra questions. Like- have you ever pinched anyone elses stuff? Have you ever hit someone or pulled their hair?

Because I reckon about 94% would say yes. If they answered honestly.

Don't get me wrong, there will be examples of genuine victims, unprovoked assaults like what happened to me, and other malicious stuff that kids seem capable of (especially you girls!).

But lets get some perspective, please. Ask any copper if he's had stuff pinched from his bag or locker. About 95% of us would say yes. Someone took a boot (just one) from me once. My point is- it happens. No amount of legislation and government directives to investigate every allegation will stop it. Just let us use our common sense to decide when someone is a genuine victim, and let us concentrate on them.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Joys of Autumn

No sooner had I written the last post then my body agreed with me I was doing too much and currently have a joyous head cold. Combine that with too many early turns and being posted with the skipper has been even more of a punishment posting! Well, it would be if we had enough people to double crew the cars.

Anyway, something caught my eye on the news. Normally, I have mixed feelings about the fire service- you know, usual stuff about being paid to sleep on nights, being encouraged to play sport in downtime, never having to write stuff up about demolishing peoples front doors / walls /ceilings except for "I thought there might have been a fire".

It really annoys me when they completely destroy a door, frame and surrounding brickwork following reports of a fire, leaving the place completely insecure, and then call us to babysit it for a few hours until someone comes to repair the place.

On the flipside though they are consumate professionals at major incidents, RTC's and when there really is a fire its bleeding dangerous work.

Anyhoo, they definitely have my sympathy when I read this report. Would the same sanctions (demotion, discipline, fines, diversity awareness course) be applied if they had disturbed heterosexual couples commiting the same offence? (For offence it is, to be having sex in public).

And if not, why not?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Too much

I know I haven't posted much recently on "real" police jobs, i.e. stuff I've been going to.

A couple of reasons- a course, one which I feel Inspector Gadget would have particularly loved, a course which can be summed up that if someone is underperforming, its actually my fault. It took a week of seminars, role plays and discussions, to tell me that, and that's about all I can remember. Well, that and the fact I was now called a delegate, the trainers were now to be called facilitators, and we didn't have to wear ties.

That aside, I came to the conclusion last night I'm trying to do too much. I'm involved in projects with various senior management teams trying to improve practical stuff at my (i.e. response) level, I'm in consultation with a specialist branch developing a training package because I found out my troops are completely unsure about how to deal with these particular incidents and are running on a combination of rumour and common sense. Which most of the time is fine, but its when it goes wrong it will come back to bite them. If a standard operating procedure regarding a particular call is published deep in the job intranet files somewhere, it doesn't matter how little publicity it has or how hard it is to find, if its published it is assumed everyone knows of its existence and will be called to account for why it hasn't been followed.

But now I've found this out, the responsibility has shifted on to me to bring everyone up to speed. No pressure there then.

Combine this with a new PC needing a lot development (see above about it all being my fault) who is taking up completely disproportionate amounts of my time, plus the new governor being a big fan of figures, plus a load of other stuff which is too identifiable to blog about, but all requiring computer time. The other day I spent about 5 hours in the poxy windowless box with dodgy heating that serves as the sergeants office staring at a screen trying to make headway with all the above, in addition to the usual supervision stuff I have to do with regard to crime reports and everything else, before I said "Bollocks to this", threw on my civvy jacket and took a walk round the park round the back of the nick in what was a glorious autumn day (I didn't know, see bit about poxy windowless box), where I got hassled by an over friendly squirrel for one of my Revels.

I didn't give him one.

But even then I still took my radio with me, knowing I would feel the vibrate if someone pressed the panic button and having that bit of ear specially tuned to the high pitched beep which accompanies it, so I could sprint back to the nick and be in the car within two minutes.

So I've come to the conclusion I've got to scale back. Accept the fact that changing policies at high level is a process which happens at a pace akin to evolution, and just concentrate at the moment on the stuff that needs to be done here and now. Its frustrating because I know just a few changes, and someone taking responsibility for something rather than saying "thats not my problem" would make a world of difference. But at the moment I don't have the hours in the day to be the person to take that responsbility, which is I know what'll happen. Maybe in a few months when things have settled, just not now.

As for right now, the sun is out and this is enough time in front of a computer for today. Except for one last thing. In true gadget style, here's a song that came on whilst I was writing this which fitted my mood... one of those "sing as if nobody's listening" kind of moments for me.....

Monday, October 01, 2007

This and that

Tying up a couple of loose ends....

Pursuits. Thanks to commenteers as always. As far as I'm concerned this would be a useless blog if people weren't prepared to comment. I do have an opinion on most things but I know that mine isn't necessarily the same as yours and I'm not always necessarily right! (Just ask the wife....)

My own opinion on pursuits? I certainly wish we could have TPAC reintroduced- "nudge features", boxing in etc to attempt to bring a pursuit under our control, and not entirely in the hands of the loon in the bandit car. The reasons why it was withdrawn I'm not sure about but it would have probably had something to do with when it wrong once (i.e. over keen police driver- I'm sad to admit it does happen, look at the video on the sidebar), plus of course the big pound signs- more driver training, damaged police cars, and the fact lawsuits from injured people who were pursued are actually paid out. I don't get that. Their argument is they wouldn't be injured if they weren't being chased. I'm sorry, but as above just who is in control of whether they stop or not?

I'm not saying everyone who gets chased should be TPAC'd. But it should be an option available when the crime is serious enough, and not a blanket ban. I'm trying to find out who writes our pursuit policy so I can discuss this at high level but no-one has replied to my enquiries yet....

I'm aware that police advanced driving is just the foundation for even more advanced stuff- anti-hijack, close protection, use of vehicles as weapons etc but the majority of the techniques on there shouldn't apply to a "regular" pursuit. Indeed, I reckon it'd get you into a pile of smelly stuff if you did, knowing the job. Wouldn't stop me trying to blag a place on one of those courses though!

Secondly, PCSO's. I asked around about their training. Turns out the two in Manchester did exactly what their training (should it be the same as ours) stipulates- they are civilian members of staff, so do not get involved, and call for regular police. If they went in, got into trouble, chances are their union would not cover them for insurance etc because they ignored their training and got into a risky situation. Much as the emotion of the situation says otherwise, I can't blame them for not going in. They did what they were told they had to do, knowing that if they did go in and get into trouble, their own loved ones would suffer as they might not get a life insurance payout. The police officer, being a warranted officer and has a duty to protect the public, is covered should the worst happen.

I found out there are two general types of PCSO's.

1) Very good ones. Keen to get involved, put themselves on the line, including in risky situations, and generally do their best with what they've got.
2) Others who do the bare minimum, and seem to take advantage of the lack of inefficiency procedures, and are happy to walk around not doing a lot.

Very broad generalisations, I know, bear with me. The thing is, the ones in group one very quickly become frustrated with their lack of powers, the lack of any career prospects and scarce opportunity for skills training. So they apply to join the job as soon as their 12 months are up.

Please note I know there are exceptions, that there are very good ones who are happy to remain as PCSO's and are well motivated. But I consistently heard from across the board that the above is the case- that the good ones join the job, and it is a struggle to motivate the others.

Trainers at HQ are quite convinced that the government will continue increasing the powers of PCSOs, and quite soon there will be a two-tier police system in this country.

Thats enough about that for now. Next time, a story from the real world of policing! Unless the Daily Mail comes up with something else that winds me up a treat.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


More on pursuits (not that I'm obsessed).

Our force doesn't have any tactical options for dealing with motorbike pursuits. The end result of this is that a criminal on a motorbike or a moped knows a pursuit is not going to be authorised unless he (or she, of course) has committed a serious crime. And then what happens is that we follow like blue lighted sheep until a) he crashes or b) we lose him through a width restriction, like a footpath.

B is the more common, by the way.

Here's a spanish tactical option for ending a motorbike pursuit.

Should that be an option available to us? Honest answers please. Police readers, who might be be more inclined to say yes- would you be prepared to be the driver of the car that does it? Non-police readers: do you think that the above is excessive? Your politicians and police chiefs certainly say so. Do you agree?

Note (27th Sept): I know this is a fairly extreme example in terms of the crime committed, and am not suggesting this should be employed on someone for evading road tax or parking on a double yellow. But at the moment this would never be considered regardless of the crime committed, and I am asking- should it be an option available to us, even if only as a last resort?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pursuits continued

Finally managed to read through the bulk of the IPCC pursuits review.

Shockingly, most of it actually makes sense. It mostly calls for the existing guidelines to be more consistently and properly adhered to- i.e. only advanced drivers should pursue etc; fit data recorders to cars (something I wholeheartedly agree with); and a whole load of stuff to do with reporting it when it goes wrong.

The recommendation that did have me shaking my head is number 13- namely that if there are no tactical options available, there should be no pursuit.

And here lies the problem. My force no longer has TPAC- we (the drivers) are not trained in it, and it is not authorised. Apparently, it is felt it poses too much of a risk to the suspect. Therefore the only tactical option we have is Stinger.

Only traffic officers have stinger.

Last set of nights I was on, there was one traffic car across the whole district.

The end result is that despite me being an advanced driver, I effectively still cannot pursue. I have no tactical option available- and so according to the IPCC I should therefore not engage in the first place. (I tend to anyway of course, and usually end up waiting for them to crash whilst the traffic car comes from miles away, correctly second guesses which road they're going to go down, and then successfully deploy. Haven't seen it happen for a while.)

And of course, Stinger won't work on run flat tyres. Anyone else see that 5th gear show where a BMW went round their racetrack on flat run-flat tyres, and was only a few seconds slower than the properly inflated ones?

It frustrates me my force doesn't allow TPAC. A glance at the IPCC report shows the majority of pursuits happen at night. Empty roads work for TPAC, even in the suburbs. Top brass seem to wring their hands at the thought of even a suspect in a vehicle pursuit getting injured as the result of police action, and so once again the "rights" of a suspect outweigh the rights of everyone else to have a dangerous scumbag put somewhere where he can't do anyone any harm.

Which I think is what really hacks me off. I've mentioned before about the one character- a prolific burglar, I might add- on our ground who shows off how he will never stop for police, how he knows our tactics (or lack of) and knows he just has to drive as dangerously (I'm talking red lights at 70+) as he can and we'll call it off. What I'd do to be able to knock him off the road in the first few seconds of a pursuit, just to see his face.

I can but happily daydream.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Not good.

Once again PCSO's are in the headlines for the wrong reasons- the sad tale of the drowned 10 year old who had sunk beneath the surface. Apparently, two PCSO's were on scene quickly, but did nothing apart from radio for police officers.

Two things strike me from this.

One: why were they dispatched there in the first place.

Two. It is sad that litigation culture has grown to the extent that people appear exempt from criticism because they haven't been trained to do something, and their employers have to defend them because of this.

There may be more to this. Perhaps the PCSO's couldn't swim. I don't know, they didn't give evidence at the inquest.

Distinctly sour taste left in mouth after this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Okay so I heard on the news today how we take unnecessary risks in vehicle pursuits.

I haven't read the report in full yet, but I will.

I nearly fell off my chair when I discovered Tony McNulty said something which both made sense and I agreed with- namely that chases only happen when a suspect refuses to stop!

However, for some reason I have only just skim read the BBC report and already I can feel my hackles rising and can feel myself getting defensive.

Hum. I'm off to the gym. Will come back to this at some point for a more measured response. I think I'll do another of those poll things asking- Whose fault is it when a vehicle being chased by police crashes- the suspect, or the police?

Here onwards

Well if there's ever going to be a day when there is renewed interest in police blogs it is today. The original candle bearer has gone and told the world about the state of policing culture, where the priority of the police is to meet performance indicators, rather than use common sense and deal with situations in the best way.

I guess that leaves myself and the other bloggers left to try and keep the world aware that despite what the government says this is what its really like. But there is an inherent risk in writing these blogs. I started because of someone else I knew who wrote a police blog (a good one at that), but got found out and got hauled in front of the Chief. There can be real discipline brought against officers writing these things.

As for Tony McNulty. Am I the only one who thought he gave the impression that he regards the front line police officer with contempt? That they should do what he says because he's the police minister? I'm sorry Tony. I know several officers who have been in the service far longer than the Labour government have been in power, let alone before anyone had heard of you. I know who I'll listen to.

So where from here? Two things, I guess. One, to carry on on here, posting now and then about what I see. I'll be the first to admit I don't post about half what I see for fear of being recognised by a colleague. How Stuart Copperfield-Davidson managed for 3 years I don't know (but am impressed).

The other, more difficult thing will be to start making more of a stand at work. We have a new governor coming next month who the rumour mill has is very stats driven and expects 1) the Pcs to have a certain number of arrests, detections, stops etc per month, 2) myself to reinforce this.

Its one thing blogging about how crap this is and another to start doing something about it. But perhaps it might be time to start. It hasn't been a problem recently, my old governor happy enough with us doing our jobs properly and as long as policy wasn't breached then didn't mind us dealing with jobs appropriately. This looks like it is going to change. Might be time to put myself to the test, can I practice what I preach.

Last word today ought to go to Mr DC- click here for his summary of his experience of writing the blog.

Monday, September 17, 2007


The inspiration behind myself and many others has revealed himself.

Pc Stuart Davidson, aka David Copperfield, we salute you.

Best of luck over there. Don't send a postcard, I'll only get jealous ;-)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Performance, Stats, Targets etc

Carrying on with this performance v policing debate.

I was talking about our teams performance with another skipper today. The ethos on our team generally amongst the skippers and PCs is that on response teams, response work should take priority. (The governor is trying to get us to push more the other way, towards stats, more on that another day.....)

We had a look at the response times of the top performing team. They are pretty poor. For some reason, response times to calls are not one of the team performance comparisons given any weight.

And herein lies the dichotomy.

The top team have the best or at least high statistics for arrests and stop searches /stop accounts and detections. This is because they are quite happy to arrest people left and right and centre for minor crap. They are in fact encouraged to do so. The usual tales of "its not drunk and disorderly, its section 5" and all that.

So- they can be said to performing well and are providing good value for money for the public. The statistics say so.

And in a certain way, that may be the case. Unless you're one of the unfortunates who's called 999 to find that the top performing team is on duty and they're all already busy dealing with (on the whole) more minor stuff.

Broad generalisations here but the overall picture is accurate. A police team that is performing the best on paper is more likely to be providing a worse service if you're the one actually calling us.

But how do you measure the performance of the police? Its your money being spent on us lot. I wouldn't accept just being told "We're doing a good job, just believe it". But the current system isn't exactly working, nor accurate.

Suggestions welcome.....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Too many targets? Surely not?

Well its a day old news now (sorry, been busy, blah blah) but the prize for the least surprising news article of the year so far goes to the BBC.

Despite the reams of bloggers telling the world for months and even years in some cases that we have too much paperwork, and discretion comes a limping second place to government imposed targets and directives, it is now official. The HMIC say so.

The Home Secretary comes up with the usual pseudo-enthusiasm about how they will listen to this report and suddenly free up 400,000 of police hours by engaging his recommendations.

Forgive my unabashed criticism but my arse you will. I'll believe it when I see it. The trumpeted reports about how many forms have been discontinued is a sly move as they completely fail to mention that the old forms have in the majority of cases simply been replaced with a newer version that is not necessarily better or quicker.

I can remember the old version of the stop / search forms. The size of half a piece of A5 paper it recorded the essential details- who, where and why (what power) and that was it. However, the new version is half the size of A4, has codes for why someone was stopped and then a different code to enter for what they've been searched for (to help statistical compilation), has a space for you to explain why they weren't given a copy of the form at the scene (the office brigade get very uptight if that isn't completed, and I get sent them back with red pen and highlights). And we have to fill out one of these every time we ask someone what they're doing.

"Excuse me sir, would you mind telling me what you're doing? Its 2am, a residential area and you seem in a bit of a hurry".

"My mate's just dropped me off, and I really need the toilet, and the wife'll kill me because I'm this late".

"Fair enough, on you go..... oh no, hang on wait, I need all of your personal details, date of birth, current address, self-defined ethnicity, clothing description, height, distinctive features, hair style, and offer you a copy of everything that I'm writing including why I felt it necessary to ask you to account for your behaviour."

"Do I have to wait?"

"Er no but......"


"Dammit. I've still got to write this thing out in its entirety and now additionally add why I failed to give him a copy of it. Oh and transfer all the details of it onto a computer database. Best get myself a cup of tea then".

I was about to write this is a fairly extreme example, but it isn't. Seriously, if I or any other officer asks someone to account for their presence in any particular place, we are required to fill out a form detailing just that and why.

The logic behind this is to keep the individuals concerned in being asked to account for their behaviour an opportunity to understand why, and to have a record of it if they are feeling victimised.

Noble ideas. But the end result is we don't ask as many questions of people we think are up to no good as perhaps we should. For if one does complain that he's been victimised, and you haven't filled out your stop form, then you shall face discipline.

Yet from personal experience the only ones who really get targeted are the ones who we know are up to no good, but don't always have the level of proof required for a conviction. Amnesty would therefore say they are innocent and perhaps in some cases they are right.

But not always.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Guns and hot air

Well apparently a room full of 200 people who often seem to feel actions aren't often as appropriate as a carefully considered collection of politically approved words are having a chat about guns.

Yes, its the ACPO firearms conference.

I did think about engaging in a reasoned debate about the rise (or apparent rise) in gun crime and the media sensationalism about it- drink drivers still ruin more lives than guns, but I don't see that all across the papers. Tragic as the Liverpool lad's story is, I wonder if it would be national news for a fortnight if it was a drunk driver who killed him. (Note thats a criticism of the media, not meant as any kind of lessening of the impact on Rhys's family). It is no less tragic and no less wasteful and pointless when a life is ended because of someone else's irresponsibility with a car. Like here. Or here. Its not hard to find these kind of stories.

But then I thought I'm on nights, anyone sane would be sleeping now, and the idea of a reasoned debate arguing about firearms-enabled crime trends kind of fell into the "forget it" box.

I will, however, concede I might have felt a bit more affinity with the so-much-stuff-on-my-epaulettes-I-can't-stand-straight brigade when I read the end of this report, about their reaction to a video of a shopkeeper chasing off an armed robber with a baseball bat:

"And perhaps the greatest applause of the day came for a speaker with neither a police nor a political background.
There were cheers and shouts of approval as delegates watched a video of Jagdish Patel, a brave shopkeeper from Rochdale who saw off an armed robber with a baseball bat.
Not an officially-approved response to a potentially lethal situation. But an encouraging example of a member of the public prepared to take a risk to stop gun crime.

Maybe, just maybe they are cops at heart after all.

(Edited slightly the next day from original post after a bit more sleep!)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

One for Which End Bites

May his fluffball rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Organising etc

Rightyo have fiddled with sidebar links now to have all the other job bloggers ordered in the length of time that their page has existed. As usual if you want your link in let me know via comments or email.

Have added a couple to the graveyard, too. Dogberry has disappeared without a trace. I have added a new rule that if your page hasn't been updated for 6 months without explanation then it goes down in the graveyard too.

Following on from previous rambles about PCSOs and whether their uniform should be more distinct from regular sworn PC's, I've added one of those poll things to the sidebar. Please click your thoughts in, just to satisfy my curiosity.

In the meantime in the news here's a tale of two trains. First- ordinary member of public is prosecuted for having a her feet on a seat. Second, here's a train guard sacked for telling a youth to get his feet off a seat (ok, so there's a bit more to it, but thats how it started). Bonkers eh?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Taser taser

Well apparently some of us across the country are getting more tasers.

I just noted some of the headlines across the media.

Trust the Daily Wail to get completely hysterical and sensationalise an issue that wasn't really there. (Can anyone tell I'm not really a fan of this paper?)

I mean, for goodness sake. To read their headline and leading line- "Police will be allowed to shoot children with Taser stun guns despite concerns it could trigger heart attacks"- conjures up images of officers swanning down the local play park and randomly electifying little Joe on the swings, laughingly telling mum "because we can".

Well, no. I have never heard of any child (I note the mail give no definition of what age you're still a child) but I cannot recall either in my force or reading about any incident where a taser was used or even threatened on someone under 16. The level of justification for using a Taser is at such a high level that there has to be serious risk of serious injury before it can be contemplated, and when lesser means are exhuasted.

Despite the temptation I might often feel when booking in one of our regular juvenile crime waves for the umpteenth time in a month I can't just Taser him because the government haven't expressly forbidden it.

At least the BBC are a little more... well, journalistic about it, questioning the level of training that the new taser recipients are to have.

My own opinion? I certainly don't think all officers should be armed with them. I do think more officers should be armed with them, and they should be more readily available for immediate use on the front line, and not dependent on whether the areas firearms car is tied up with something else and you have a half hour wait for the nearest available one to arrive. For example. I turned up first a domestic the other week to be confronted with the household equivalent of the Marie Celeste- door wide open, things still cooking on the stove. Slightly more disturbing was the evidence of a struggle with things hurled over the floor. Even more disturbing was the unsheathed Samurai sword lying in the middle of the floor. If we had arrived but a few minutes earlier then chances are we'd have found a rather hostile and angry male resident armed with 3 feet of sharpened steel. Baton isn't much use against that.

Taser doesn't even have to be fired to be effective. Its laser sight (I've seen this, and so have others) parked ominously on a suspects chest has been enough to calm him and subdue him to where he follows our requests (usually to get on the floor and be handcuffed).

I am interested to see what the taser training is going to be like for the new non-firearms offcers being equipped with it. I have no idea what it'll be, as the first I heard we were getting more tasers was on the news!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Leading from the front

Gordon Brown, August 2007: speaking about not paying public sector workers their recommended (by independent panel) pay rises: "We have succeeded in tackling inflation and having a stable economy because of discipline in pay over the last ten years. That discipline will have to continue".

MPs in December 2006: requesting a 66% pay rise.
MPs in 2003 voting some of themselves more of a pay rise.
MPs in 2001 voting themselves more of a pay rise.
And don't forget their 23% increase in 1996.

Whatever, Gordon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Public Relations

Been sent an email from an officer who states he is in the self proclaimed flagship of British police services, The Metropolitan Police. Paraphrased slightly to ensure names and times remain ambigiuous, and swear words removed.

"I am a level 2, or public order trained officer. Over the bank holiday weekend myself and my serial have been on standby at the Notting Hill Carnival.

We have been kept back, in a hall, awaiting deployment in case of a major incident or fight- large scale public disorder. I was one of several dozen if not 100+ plus officers held back in this hall.

Now there was one point early in the morning when the carnival parties were still in full swing and the booze and cannabis (thats another story) were in plentiful supply. As you might expect, a couple of fights broke out.

One or two of these fights became quite serious. The carnival has dozens of PC's on the ground. Most of them are what we call level 3 public order trained, i.e. have no riot training. One or two of these PCs found themselves in a quite serious fights and unsurprisingly asked for backup.

There were over 100 of us probably nearer 200, ready to go in that hall in full riot kit, ready to deploy as soon as the command was given. No such command was given. We sat in the hall listening as it became more and more urgent on the radio. Urgent assistance was required. Next thing, officers were down.

Still we had no command. We were standing up, adrenalin going full throttle, waiting to be let out to help our colleagues.

No command was ever given.

It turns out Gold (overall command) or whoever was his deputy wasn't prepared to release us. I have no idea how they justified it but it boils down to they were prepared to sacrifice the safety of a PC or two in order to not deploy the riot police with all the negative media that that would undoubtedly follow. At least two PCs were put in hospital just so the management could say it was a quiet successful event"

I have no idea if this is true or not. I was happily nowhere near Notting Hill this bank holiday. But if this is the case- I am hoping that some of the commenters may be able to verify this story- then this is a damning indictement of the modern police service. Safety of individuals play a poor second fiddle to the corporate and media image that senior management wish to portray. I hope the hospitalised PCs make a full recovery and sue the living daylights out of the Met under the Health and Safety at Work act.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Daily Wail continued.

As I was saying the other day. Daily Mail reader is shocked and appalled to wait 50 minutes for a real police officer to turn up to a fairly nasty assault on his son.

I say real police officer. I have got to admit that I am beginning to get a little irate when I see reports which refer to a PCSO as a community police officer. You might say that it is just a minor play on words but there is a significant difference. A PCSO is not supposed to be a police officer, and to refer to them as such is inaccurate.

I've debated PCSO's and their distinction (or not) from police officers before on this blog (with particular regard to uniform and appearance), and its a post which consistently gets referrals from search engines, and I don't propose to debate that again. My view remains the same, namely that there should be more of a visible distinction between regular officers and PCSO's. I was at a motorway services the other week and a PCSO was there handing out leaflets. Now don't get me wrong, she was doing an important job of making people aware that service stations are a criminals dream with all those unattended cars with sat nave, ipods and even caravans available for the taking. But I could only tell she was a PCSO when I got close enough to read her epaulettes. Her hat even had a chequered black and white band round it, black stab vest, black trousers. To a ordinary member of the public, they would've thought she was a police officer. But she was not. A criminal intent on doing no good may decide to have a go yet she has no protective equipment beyond the stab vest and no training for dealing with it.

But anyway. Back to the Mail.

First of all, here's my perspective. I am unashamedly a uniform response officer. For me, it is what the majority of policing is about. With the exception of some ultra-specialist departments like surveillance and counter-terrorism nearly everything else the police deal with, a response team officer (I include specialist response teams like firearms and traffic here) will be the first to encounter it and make the initial moves. You'd think that therefore most other departments should therefore act to help and back up the front line. Unfortunately it is usually percieved the opposite way round, namely uniform response should do more to help the other departments.

In my division, the regular response teams are quite distinct from the neighbourhood teams. PCSO's only work on neighbourhood teams. Therefore I cannot comment on exactly what they do.

What I can comment on is the impact they have had on myself as a response team supervisor. And the answer is minimal. I appreciate this may be unpopular with some readers who are PCSO's (I know there's one or two out there) but here is why. I have only heard one usable relevant piece of intelligence sourced from a PCSO, which was when he recognised a wanted character. I cannot deploy them to any kind of call. I can only use them on a counter-terrorism cordon, and even then it has to be one where I cannot give them a scene log as they've never seen one before. It feels like we have just as much youth disorder as we've ever had. So I take exception to the Home Office stating they are there to support police officers. I have never seen this support.

Now if I was a neighbourhood police team sergeant, I would anticipate I would have a different story to tell, of how his or her PCSOs have got the time to engage with vulnerable community sections (e.g. the elderly) and how their job is not about crime and detections (true enough) but about building bridges. My argument remains the same though. For the 14000 PCSO's you could have 8-9000 PCs who would be able to do exactly the same job- and a whole lot more. My understanding of the the way this was budgeted, certainly to start with, is that the PCSO budget was extra funding made available by central government. Therefore the PCSOs have not taken over a PCs role, i.e. every PCSO has replaced a PC: the PCSO is in addition to the PC. I say 8-9000 extra PCs would make more of a difference, even in the ringfenced safer neighbourhood role.

I note the home offices definintion of a PCSO's purpose is completely unquantifiable, in complete contrast to their attitude towards police officers, which is measure everything, set a target relating to everything and then cut budgets if these targets are not reached, which of course really helps.

So we have: Reassure people (has anyone seen a survey to find out if this is the case? Perhaps I ought to do one of those poll things); build confidence in communities (ditto! In my area, I have never seen a PCSO round where I live, and I live in a fairly large town. According the board up next to the local Co-Op, there's two dedicated to my ward. Where are they?); and support police (er... maybe).

Do tell me if I ever sound like a scratched record going on about this, won't you....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Daily Wail (again)

Well, I'm glad to see the Daily Mail still gets completely hysterical about anything police related.

Example one: unfortunate tale of a man down south.

Example two: That PCSO headline.

Lets start with number one. Lad goes down to Portsmouth's 24hr european cafe culture one weekend night and encounters random hooligan and gets a pasting. Not taking anything away from the victim, my only surprise with this story is that anyone is surprised it took a response team officer that long to turn up. In all honesty I wouldn't have been surprised if it was nearer the four hour mark, let alone fifty minutes.

I can completely sympathise with the person at the 999 call centre. Its interesting how what would actually be a civilian operator suddenly become "the police" with its deliberate effort to tar everyone with the same brush. That as an aside, I would anticipate that operator had had dozens of calls from people on that late saturday night. Some of them (well, I read some of our official propoganda in a moment of boredom and found 70% of 999 calls are actually not emergencies) and this poor sod at the end of the 999 line, obliged to make a record of every call recieved was probably more than a touch frustrated at the sheer volume of idiots calling with nonsensical claptrap that would still under this that and the other charter require a police officer to go and speak to them in person. So when he or she gets a genuine call through, like the one in the article, lo and behold noone is available. Or of course there have been sufficient serious calls to mean all available response officers are already dealing, as what is reported here. The 999 operator would've been more of aware of that, too.

I must admit I've used that line before- when I've been haring round from call to call and someone says "what took you so long?" I tell them there's only 6 of us on tonight covering so many thousands of population, and if he doesn't think that sufficient to write and complain to his MP. And you know what, I wish they would.

I don't know quite know why this particular tale warrants a trumpeting around the Wail. There would have been hundreds of people calling 999 across the country at the weekend and found that the police response takes more time than they would expect, or demand.

I have sympathy with the Mr Bayliss senior too. Not his sense of moral outrage at being told to phone his MP, how could some possibly be so rude, but for the circumstances of it. Most decent people can remember how many 999 calls they've ever made and it is quite a significant event, amplified a hundredfold when its your own son.

But Mr Bayliss junior, now that things are over, you had opportunity to make a difference to other people, to try and stop such things happening again by joining up. I'm sorry but withdrawing your application isn't going to help anyone.

At the end of the day, the 999 operator is right. I would bet Hampshire's finest would have loved to have come and locked up a drunken violent hooligan. At least, I would hope so. But they were unable to simply because there weren't enough of them. And the blame for that lies with the MPs.

Which would lead me on nicely to the second article. This is where all the money for PC's has gone. Most forces are recruiting more PCSO's than PCs.

But I'll continue with this another time. This is enough for now.