Monday, April 16, 2007

Irony: Life

I'm going to leave the whole PCSO / government / finance thing alone for the moment. They're not going anywhere. I've just read through the comments on my post, and over at TUPC, and well its all a tad depressing and frustrating really. I'll bang my drum on another time.

So instead I'm going to post about a time when I had to take a kid into police protection. This is something that I do far too often for my own liking. This happened several months ago, but I can still remember it.

I want to post about it just to remind myself (and in a different way, you the reader) of the realities of police work. I could go on and on about the politics of policing and at the end of the day will have made no headway at all. However, things like this baby do happen. Its easy for me to forget about, sat in my study with warm spring sunshine flooding in, just how depraved and wrong (I don't have sufficient adjectives to describe, really) some people in 21st century society are.

It was about 6am after a busy night shift. Normally, things are quiet by now and I was pootling back towards my nick. The initial call started routinely enough, as they often do. "Can a unit attend Block Street, a female in labour....." Well, okay, not that routinely. These calls get pinged straight to the ambulance service, you know, the medical people? Basic first aid I might have, delivering babies not one of my areas of expertise.

The radio operator is thinking the same thing and has paused with the transmission open while she reads through the script on the screen in front of her. When she starts speaking again her voice has a harder edge to it. "The unborn child is on the at-risk register".

Looking into it later I see there for once has been good communication between our Child Protection Team and the ambulance service. The CPT had asked the ambulances to flag the address so when they call for an ambulance, we know about it.

As "luck" would have I left Block Street all of 3 minutes ago. I'm going to have to go anyway by the sounds of things and spin the car round. I wait outside for the ambulance. I quickly fire a couple of questions and my mobile number for the control room to do checks to verify why this kid is at risk.

The ambulance rig arrives after a minute or so and we all go in. A late middle aged woman opens the door and beckons the crew in. She sees me and my colleague following and instantly her demeanour changes to hostile. "What the f*** are you doing here?" I reply something about how we always get called to these things if we're nearer. She seems to accept that and either way ignores us as she shows us where her daughter is. I look around the flat and note the broken furniture, filthy floors and walls, and the mattress covered with a single stained sheet with the pregnant girl on it. I don't get a chance to look at the kitchen. I can guess what it'll be like.

The ambulance crew confirm she needs to go to hospital like now. We leave the flat and I follow the rig to the hospital. I badger the control room on the way getting some history to this family. A bell rings with the info I hear in my earpiece. I've met this family before. I've sat in a different hospital whilst I was based somewhere else a good few years back, guarding a 2 month old baby from this same family. I wasn't told why then, just that this baby was forcibly taken into care and needed 24hr police protection from his own family.

It seems we're not waiting 2 months this time.

I get the night duty social worker to call me. Even knowing the above I still have to have solid reason to take this baby into police protection as soon as its born. He tells me that now the child has been born they have a full court file prepared and will have an emergency hearing first thing to legally and permanently take the child into their care. My role, as it turns out, is simple. If the family try to take the baby from the hospital before this court hearing, we have justification and power to take it into police protection. He gives me some of the circumstances.

I don't need to hear much.

By now, we're in the maternity ward. I get some strange looks off the midwives. I explain to them why we're here and confirm the layout of the ward and make sure the exits are covered. The baby, mother and grandmother are in a self contained room. I don't sit in and watch. I don't think I could look them in the eye.

I try not to think about the 3 year old killed in a road accident earlier in the day which I was told about at the shift start handover. We even went down the very same road where it happened en route to the hospital this time. Flowers are already attached to the remains of the railings, still with bits of police tape left flapping in the breeze. I begin to boil up at the terrible irony that earlier a child was taken from parents, and here I am doing the same thing, just this time from a family who don't deserve to have children. I wonder what the parents of the three year old would say to this lot.

The early turn skipper arrives. They're already up to date with whats going on, and having been able to research the relevant databases they know more than me. They'll make arrangements to take the baby to a different hospital, one the family don't know. One member of this family is dangerous enough that the duty officer is considering an armed guard.

The early turn sergeant tells me and the other night duty units to go. Its well beyond changeover time now. She's arranged for someone else to do the reports, for which I am most grateful. I go home in silence, a thousand unanswered questions in my mind.