Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cops with Cameras

Anyone see that ITV show the other day? All dramatic music and shaky cameras. "And here is constable Jones, who is fitted with our cop cam".
Anyone else think it was, well, embarrassing? I can see what the guardian tv writer thought about it (The Laurel and Hardy show, for those who can't be bothered to follow the link).

Okay so there were the chaps down south somewhere who had the Theft Act warrant. So lets stand outside and ask really nicely if we can come in. "Please, pretty please, pretty please with a cherry, er ok now lets do the door" Unsurprisingly, the chap who was in there and most decidedly not answering the door is found outside on the balcony, and any decent evidence has by now dropped several stories to the ground. I think you had the justification to go straight through the door there my friends. You are allowed to.

South Wales take things seriously don't they? Unfortunately I just couldn't get over the immaculate spiked hair of the bloke explaining stuff. How long did that take to do?

The Plymouth lot had a good result with their drugs bust though, all excepting the final poxy 18 months sentences for what seemed like a lot of white powder.

Special mention to the Met though. Hello, here's a plain clothes unit in an identity crisis. Or maybe just plain lazy. We can't be bothered putting uniform on, so we'll just stick our stab vest on over our jeans and t-shirt and go along to our raid in a bleeding great marked police carrier. Subtle it was not. Also, anyone else note that in their office / briefing room - only populated with white officers- the big St Georges cross hanging on the window? Ok so that doesn't necessarily mean a thing but with the Met being a force struggling more than most with the institutionalised racism label, not very clever at all.

I don't think I'll bother watching the rest of the series, assuming there is more.

I was that enthralled with the programme I missed half of it doing more valuable things like getting cups of tea but there was hardly anything on response team work. Not surprising, really, as I don't think it makes good television, not without a whole load of editing. Most police work is unglamorous, tedious, time consuming and boring. Arrest procedures for a start.

Rightyo I better head off. Back in custody, the joys. Was out and about last week though, even arrested someone! More on that another time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Full of the joys

Spent more time last evening with the other half than the total hours of the previous 6 days combined. Great company I'm sure I wasn't, unless you regard zombiefied stupor as a roaring time. Will update on here when I'm feeling vaguely human, and not in a persistent battle to stay awake............

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Handbrake turns

I can hear the screeching tyres in Canary Wharf from here. The Independent has had a rethink and has decided that you know what, cannabis and all that is still dangerous and should be illegal.

Well, really.

Apparently the good old fashioned hash is fine, but these youngsters these days don't want to smoke what their parents did, and use skunk instead. They didn't think of that.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Essential reading

Just been browsing through the other blogs. Reading this post by TUPC was like running into a brick wall. I would urge you to read it, whatever you think of the police.

addenum, Friday 23rd March

Please also see Big Fella's post, likewise this one from Franky Fact. Forget the rhetoric and bullcrap peddled by chief officers and politicians. These are the guys who give you value for money for your tax. Even if the force badges are different, I'm proud to wear the same uniform as these guys

I don't get it

I think I like one or two other people in this wonderful job I didn't have a relaxing weekend at home this past weekend.

I don't know, I really don't have words to describe just how pathetic people get once they've had a few too many drinks.

Since joining this job, I've found I can't go out to town with my wife. I can't relax. I find myself looking at every bunch of teenaged or twentysomething lads (and girls) and identifying troublemakers. In Urbantown centre, it feels like they're round every corner, just waiting for you to look at their girlfriend or pint in the wrong way, itching for an excuse to macho it up for their mates.

Am I getting too old? Wasn't that long ago (I keep telling myself) that I thought going out to town and having several shandies was a great thing to do, and how traffic cones really were hilarious when you wear them and how grand a 3am kebab tastes. (Although I might add I never got into any fights.)

But now I just look at them and think they're pathetic, drunkenly trying to eat sausage and chips out of a yellow plastic carton, chewing like a 3 year old dropping half chewed chip down their ted baker shirts.

Sat in a carrier outside one nightclub. On one side, three chavs have had a barney with three squaddies dressed as schoolgirls. Half my crew are out shoving them away from each other with bored, fed up expressions. There's no point arresting them. The nearest cell space is miles away, we're only one of two carriers in Urbantown tonight and we need to stay available in case something really goes wrong. I've made the mistake of keeping a window open and I am enduring a completely nonsensical diatribe from some bladdered girl, who looks quite disgusted at my lack of reaction beyond nodding and saying yes (I honestly have no idea what she was talking about though) and stumbles off, before taking 5 minutes to negotiate her way over a pedestrian barrier.

We just watch, not even finding it funny.

The ambulances have it even worse. Some point around midnight we overhear that there's none left, we need to wait for one to finish dealing with their current job before one can get assigned.

I nearly lose my rag with some idiot just about capable of standing upright who has been chucked out of a bar, and calls 999 for us to get him back in to get his girlfriend (who is still having a fine time with her own friends). He makes a big display of writing my collar number and van registration onto his phone after I tell him "er, how about No". I'm not worried, I'll be astonished if he managed to write it right, apart from the fact I really don't have anything to worry about with regard to our service to this particular "customer". I do however resist the temptation to take his phone and drop kick it down the high street. Idiots like him taking up time on the 999 system could mean a delay for someone who really needs it.

A suitable collection of Friday Night Highlights here, courtesy ExtraSpecial (may his blog gather dust in peace) who originally posted it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cold Fury

Met someone yesterday. A completely broken soul, devoid of anything behind her eyes. Someone simply unable to lift their eyes off the floor and raise their voice above a whisper.

She's saying nothing at all but we've been around long enough to know what's just happened. I make some phone calls, do some research and discover the long, disturbing history.

The things that have happened to someone so vulnerable and defenceless. She is a victim in a sense that the word itself can never convey. And yet she still blames herself for what has happened, and what happens to her. It takes hours of patient talking and coaxing just to let a doctor see her injuries.

Someone who was supposed to protect her has done things so unspeakable. Is this supposed to be a civilised country?

A whole team of officers was willing to go halfway across the country if it meant they got the chance to arrest the person responsible.

Part of me is glad we didn't get the chance. I don't know if we'd have kept our tempers should we have met him.

I hope and pray this poor, broken wretch of a girl can somehow find the courage just to let us help her.

Friday, March 09, 2007

To clarify

Rightyo a couple of things leading on from the post below, and their comments.

Firstly, to the anonymous person who says I've been away from the street too long. Whatever. I've been back on response team for a while now, if you had cared to read through previous articles you'll see I've mentioned it once or twice. I have been deliberately vague about precisely when. The stuff I've had to deal with the in just the last two sets of shifts would, if I posted about it, fill several posts. Stabbings, statutory rape, attempted murder, vehicle chases, kids into police protection to name but a few.

The thing is, I tend not to post about them. I have to resist that temptation for reasons of self-preservation. I will do, but after a sufficient passage of time.

So what was my point in the post below. I posted my first impression, and as though I wasn't in the job. Would anyone challenge the fact that on first impression that video wasn't shocking? That it looks like he hits a prone female pretty damn hard when she's already restrained? That it looks like it is really not proportionate?

Effectively, the "What on Earth" post below is half finished. I did originally start to write about from a job perspective: about her level of violence (it looks to me as though she gave him a good whack, enough to knock his hat off- what happened to the assault police charge is yet another thread) methods of restraint taught (or more to the point, not), level of force (empty hand, CS, closed/open baton) etc, and how he would've called for assistance, to which every unit goes, dog van or otherwise.

But for some reason I decided not to carry on, delete what I had written in the second half and post. Why? I guess to see what would happen, to provoke something.

Dibble picked up on another thing I had in mind to provoke responses about- the way this was reported and I like the way he put it as a "self perpetuating media frenzy".

Whether he was justified or not, the reporting of this has whether you or I like it or not, been a negative thing for all of us. Police readers of this will look at the video, will probably believe how the officer accounts for it, and say what he has done is justified, even that they might do it themselves. A bloke tried to grab my balls once in a one-on-one fight I once had, at a domestic job where my colleague had her own problems with the female. And I tell you what, when I finally got a restraint on after rolling about on his driveway for however long it was, hell I made sure it was on if you know what I mean.

But Jo Public probably won't believe the officer. They'll say "well of course he'll say that", and make the exact same comments I did in the original post. And it makes such good news (said with a Bloggs level of sarcasm)- what with small little targeted victim and the bigoted white police bullies. Ali Dezai is predictably all over this case.

One thing I can't work out is- why has it taken until she's convicted of it until the video is released. This incident has to be from how long ago? Why the delay? All sorts of cynical answers spring to my mind.

So yeah. There you go. I guess I did because I know a lot more people read this than comment, and I wanted to know what it would take. Dibble can have a warm self-congratulatory glow for picking up on it.

Next item on the agenda. Recently murdered someone? Don't fancy life in jail? Well it just so happens the most senior judge in the country agrees with you!

What a load of crap.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What on earth

Please note this post should be read in conjuction with the "to clarify" post above, not read in isolation

Nearly choked on my tea when I saw the Guardian headline: male officer suspended after punching a woman 5 times.

I have got to admit I am quite speechless. Watch the video here, the incident occurring at 02:18:58, then much more noticeably at 02:19:44

Now I'm not going to comment on whether it was right or wrong, whether she is trying to grab his genitals or not, whether he was justified or not. I can't tell where he was hitting her, whether it was on her arm or not. The closer I look, the more it seems like it was her arm- which would corroborate with what he said about trying to get her to let go of him. But maybe I'm looking for that because thats what I'm hoping to see.

Make up your own mind. To be fair to the guardian they seem to be fairly objective and factual about the incident. But those facts are disturbing.

South Yorks seriously need to review their officer safety training if their policy is it takes 4 men and a dog to restrain all 9 stone and 5ft 6 of female.

Whether the subsequent enquiry proves his use of force as proportionate or not, the overall image presented by this incident has tarred every single one of us who wears the uniform. This particular moving picture speaks a thousand words. Read through the guardian comments section and you can see what the general consensus as to what those thousand words say.

I didn't even realise she was black until I read through the comments section.

Other bloggers take on this: only Bloggs so far.....

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Today, I'm feeling too lazy to actually think of anything myself, and will instead draw your attention to the following police blogger posts:

Busy Lizzie over at Panda tales has two tales of frustration: the first being diverted to a pile of thankless, pointless teenage woe whilst trying to catch burglars (really) and the second of how we just can't win of when we are obliged to do things we don't want.

Pc Bloggs has been watching and learning from the top on how to respond to questions.....

Big Fella wonders just what it will take before the system starts to reflect more weight in favour of the victims than criminals....

Franky has just realised the law has changed (only a year late mate ;-) )

Extra special just has too much time on his hands and is watching american TV!.....

Suppose I better go and do something myself now..........

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Was banging on about PDR's in a post the other day. A question I meant to ask is thus:

A competency within the Integrated Competency Framework is "Community and Customer Focus". There are a number of behaviours associated with this, which is summarised as I need to "provide a high level of service to customers. Maintain contact with customers, works out what they need and responds to them"

On response team, who or what exactly is my customer? Is it the person who has called 999? Is it a victim? Is it anyone who pays taxes? Is it everyone? Is a suspect a customer? A burglar? A rapist?

If someone can actually explain this to me in a way that doesn't want to make me sledgehammer my own head, I'd be grateful. Or is it just stating the bleeding obvious? Does this blog contribute to myself maintaining contact with customers and trying to work out what they need? Ha ha I'll mention this if I ever get busted for doing this blog.....

"Sergeant, your blog has portrayed the police in a negative light, and is highly unprofessional. Give me your stripes".
"But guv, I feel it demonstrates how I focus on the needs and feelings of our customers and citizens, and provides an avenue of contact which may not be otherwise available, which is what the Home Office says is mighty fine evidence of how to be a good police officer."
"Damn it. Have some pips instead."

I tell you what. I have spent quite a while going through google trying to find a link to anything that explains just exactly what the "integrated competency framework" and its list of competencies is, and who actually wrote and designed it. (The best link I can find is here, and it doesn't really go into any depth whatsoever) I'd have thought the home office would want everyone to know what behaviours, responsibilities and competencies it thinks a good response team police officer needs. Or a firearms officer. Or a schools officer. I can only find links to every force under the sun saying "we have adopted the ICF and expect you to evidence the following if you want to work here / already work here / have accidentally driven through here" etc etc.

But it would seem the only way you can find out what they are is to subscribe to the Skills For Justice website, which apparently is designed only for police users.......... hmmmmmmmmmm

Passing the buck

On the western edge of Suburbiaville is a foster home run by Urbantown & District Local Authority. This is the place where kids with backgrounds that make you wince go to stay. (Talking of which, I had to take a girl away from her mother into protection recently, more on that another day).

Some of these kids tend to be a tad disrespectful of authority, which in moments of sanity I can understand, especially when you look at their individual histories. But what has got my wick this week is not the kids but the Authority policies which apply.

Mona is barely scraping 15. She has a curfew at the foster home, which means she has to be there by 10pm every night. As any parent of one of similar age may know, getting teenagers to abide by curfews is a touch challenging. Mona is no exception. Pretty much every weekend this year she has decided she'd rather be out somewhere else than the home and stays out late.

Pretty much every weekend this year she has been reported missing by staff. If she isn't in on her curfew time y'see, their "duty of care" is to call police. Except it isn't duty of care. Its passing the buck. Its what they have to do to prevent themselves from being criticised for not being concerned.

At the weekend, Mona goes out. She isn't in for curfew. Staff call police. Staff do nothing else. I read through the previous missing persons reports as I'm section sergeant and have to do risk assessments on all these missing bods. I read through how another Sergeant had a blazing row with the home staff, telling them that their duty of care does not completely dissolve once they've called us, they need to continue to make their own efforts to contact the "missing" person. You see, once they've called the police as per their policy, they "hand over" all investigative aspects to us. They don't even bother calling the missing kid, as it's no longer their problem. They can't even be bothered to make a phone call to speak to her.

Of course, we know as well as they do she isn't missing out at all. She's out getting bladdered with friends.

Every time Mona has been reported missing, she saunters in with likely a bit of a hangover the next afternoon.

Of course, once this happens a hapless response car has to be despatched to her to speak to her, with the hope she might tell us something about where she's been so next time we might save ourselves a bit of work and go pick her up straight away. She of course says absolutely nothing. Dont' forget that prior to this the original response car assigned to the missing person report has had to spend approx 4hrs off the road doing standard enquiries, e.g. checking with all of the regions A&E departments, custody suites, doing various computer traces.

This of course is a complete waste of their time, which the crew are only too aware of. This makes them angry at the kid and the foster home staff. And unfortunately they sometimes let them know (more by demeanour and attitude rather than anything which is said), which simply breeds further resentment on both sides.

When this landed on my desk "Here you go sarge, a great misper for you" I took an educated gamble and called the crew off all but the most basic routine checks. I classified as the lowest risk possible, spoke to the control room and scheduled it to be reassessed in the afternoon, after the time she usually comes back.

I say gamble. This is a story of the missing person who cries wolf. One day, she'll go out beyond her curfew and get herself in a world of trouble, whereupon I will probably be in a pile of big steaming poo for inappropriately classifying the risk level and halting the enquiries. But in a world of a severely reduced vehicle fleet and weekend football matches meaning a large chunk of my team are off elsewhere on public order duty, I have better things for the remaining response cars to do. Like go help search for the dangerous mentally ill person who's just escaped in Urbantown.

And yes, roughly 3pm Mona stumbles back, staying awake long enough to tell the attending officers to "f--- off" before going to sleep. Gamble pays off this time.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Time flies

Time flies. Apologies to all, haven't really had much chance to update on here. Also not a great deal to talk about, offices are a tad boring. Still, apparently on Monday I'll be back on response team, but I know the Training & Development unit boss (i.e. the overall boss of the Probationer Development bit I'm currently in) is arguing I should be staying where I am, as apparently I know what I'm doing, they still need someone to do the role I was doing, they still haven't got anyone to fill the position on a full time basis, and most unfortunately they now have my name. My team governor is being equally as adamant I was only ever let go on a temporary basis, they've already had one extension to the date I was initially given to return, and frankly they should sort themselves out and get something organised.

I will not be amused if I'm back for all of two weeks before big chiefs get involved and side with the TDU, as it'll take me roughly so long to catch up with "my" constables on team and get PDR's sorted out (see previous post), so meaning I'll just about be ready to go and get stuck in with things and I'll be off again.

Speaking to ex-and-soon-to-be-contemporary colleagues the vehicle situation is still diabolical. I heard that one Pc on the day a car returned had it for about 4 hours before kerbing it. Muppet.

The current policy of begging us to use the cheapest fuel available would now appear to be up the spout. I never took any notice of that anyway. Occasionally I am known when I'm really hacked off at penny pinching and lack of resources to go and find the most damned expensive ultimate / optimax fuel and fill it to the limit. Aren't I a petulant schoolboy!!!

Although there could be an interesting study there.... if the manafacturers claims are to be believed then using good quality fuel actually means more efficient engines, i.e. less pollution and less breakdown, and so may well be moreenvironmentally and economically efficient in the long term.... thats the argument I'll use anway!