Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lies and Damn Lies

This news article talks about drug related crime. The following two quotes are direct lifts.

Labour: "[we have] reduced drug use to an 11-year low and drug-related crime by 20% in the past five years."

Conservatives: "Labour's failure to tackle drugs has led to an increase in drug crime by 43%"

So which is it? Down by 20% or up by 43%? No idea.

Whichever is right, it doesn't really matter. All that will happen in that whatever pointless home office sourced initiative is implemented, all that will happen for me is that there will be a new compliance or performance indicator imposed on us to monitor our implementation of said scheme. It won't make any difference to victims, and may inconvenience a suspect or two. With the current drug testing scheme in place those found to be users of class A are required to attend drug treatment programmes already. If they don't, the courts do absolutely nothing about it apart from tell them to start it all over again.

This initiative by Labour is merely a rebranding PR exercise in a sad attempt to keep up their tough on crime posturing.

They'll never get the seizing assets on arrest proposal through the house of lords (bypassing as it does the assumption of innocent until proven guilty) and as the Tories do point out existing legislation covers it adequately under the proceeds of crime act.

But it sounds good to say we'll seize a drug dealers assets. Nobody likes a drug dealer.

"We want communities to be free of drug-related crime and we want see tough enforcement of the law"

Good strong words Miss Smith. This of course in contradiction to Mr Straw, asking the courts last week to not jail as many people.

Politicians. Bunch of self-serving, self-interested, self-expense-paying hot air merchants.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oh the hilarity

Following on from the last post- here is the link to Haringey's Autumn 2007 newsletter! The Met are decent enough to publish it online for us all to bask in the hollow words of the senior management team,. Haringey of course is the locality that Superintendent Mawson worked in, and subsequently moved his residence away from as he had some troublesome youths nearby.

It's all on a PDF file and I'm not computer literate enough to be able to copy any pictures of those across, but please follow the link above while it's still there.

Check out the headline articles:

Chief Superintendent: "We've all got a part to play in battle for safer streets". But only from the Ivory Tower offices for Superintendents.

Thie is the best article by a country mile, oh so inappropriate now:

"Making a difference in your neighbourhood".

By leaving!!!!!!!!!


My thanks to Nightjack for alerting me to the fact this was online.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Led by example....

Well, if ever anyone wanted proof senior police management have evolved (or should that be devolved) into political beasts it's here.

Superintendent Mawson would have made many a speech in his climb up the greasy pole about how important the community was, how things must be done in partnership with the community to tackle issues that adversely affect the community.

So here is Mr Superintendent, now part of the community, and adversely affected by a problem. So what does he do, someone in a position of power and authority?

He does what any good politician would do. Talk a good fight, and then move somewhere so that he doesn't have take part in it. If only the rest of us earned over £70K a year and could afford to be choosy about where we live!

An aside. Community is a liberally espoused but often completely meaningless word. Senior management are utterly devoted to making sure everything we do is supported by the community. Being part of any group which can have the community tag attached to it seems to mean instantly that any government funded service think you're a good thing.

"Community" conjures up images of village fetes and retired people chatting over garden fences, but in reality means any group with a common purpose or origin, but whose values can be completely opposite (and on occasion violently so) to those from a different community.

No real point to this last bit, other than I wish politicians and senior police officers would actually be more specific about which community they talk about, rather than the undefinable catchall terms they currently speak about....

GMP: "extra officers- right into the heart of communities"
Met: you can call their "Community Reassurance Team"!
West Mercia- their local police teams "engage communities and partners"

Its such a vague term to border on useless.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Motivation: 0

Sorry to those expecting for some reason a scintillating witty topical post today (as if any of you were) but I am too tired even to comment at the governments latest plea to magistrates not to jail people.

I've just had my only weekend off next month cancelled; I have my "issues" probationer calling me on days off now (thank heavens for caller ID); I have a mountain of paperwork to do (its coming up to PDR time, in addition to issues probationer and if I ever get the chance some self-development stuff!!) which of course I never am able to get on top of as I am hardly ever let out of the custody suite. This has a double impact as on the rare days I am let out of the dungeon I have to spend the day going through said mountainous volume of paperwork.

This really hacks me off as funnily enough I actually would rather like to get out and do some proper police work, which for me involves actually dealing with people, not computer screens.

So I'm off to watch a recently borrowed copy of Long Way Round, and get thoroughly jealous of people with the spare time, money (and a fully kitted TV backup crew) to do such a thing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Straws and Camels

Usual weekend custody suite nonsense for me, where everything blurs into one constant flow of the same questions again and again, swearing at NSPIS, drink drives at 7am (the adverts are true about the morning after the night before) and a general sense of not really having as much idea as I should about whats going on.

Its a strange existence in custody, no natural light for however many hours I'm there, emerging blinking like a surprised badger in daylight when I'm finally allowed home.

Anyway nobody died or was illegally dealt with, which is the short summary of my custody life- so have a tale from when I was allowed out the other week.

Domestic incidents are the bread and butter of police work. I honestly could not tell you how many I've been to.

In years gone by, domestic incidents between partners were largely ignored by police- it was generally accepted by us - and the courts, CPS and everyone else- that matters between husband and wife were to be kept private.

Today, things are quite different, and rightly so. If there is a domestic incident, a whole roll call of procedures are implemented. This is but one of a hundred standard operating procedures for different types of calls, most of which are designed either for appeasement for a particular "end user" group, or to give the "specialists" who should end up taking it on the minimum amount possible to do. Some of these SOPs are completely useless and make no concession to the realities of response policing.

However, the domestic violence policy is one I actually agree with wholeheartedly and make sure the PC's do their jobs properly, and aren't tempted to revert to the "good old days" of a suggestion that they keep the noise down next time.

I went to a middle aged lady the other day. It took her 16 years to call us.

As I sat round the coffee table with her 4 children at 3am, she recounted how within a year of their being married, the abuse started. Nothing ever major, the occasional backhand, a constant stream of denigrating abuse. She left him once, twice, but always came back after the extended family got involved, put pressure on her to go back and keep things proper and not bring shame. They'd have words with him too, and he'd promise he'd change.

Of course, he never did. But having given up work to bring up the children, she was now dependent on him for income.

In terms of what happened for them to call us, again it was nothing "major"- no broken jaws or stab wounds, both of which I've seen before- it was a slap, hairpulling, typical bully stuff. But it was the fear factor which finally prompted her to call. A day of silent treatment over husbands's new girlfriend led to him going for her in the evening.

It might have been much worse but for the intervention of their eldest son who burst into the room when it was still at the hairpulling stage. He was still a boy really but finding himself as he grows up his first steps as a man are standing up to his own dad, stopping him attacking his own mum.

What really made me mad was his attitude when I called in later to custody. Arrogant, confident. Couldn't resist a couple of derogatory comments about how ungrateful she was and how much he gave her.

I didn't say anything to him. Custody suites are covered with audio recording cameras, after all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

....and the winner is

Well, a combination of the previous comments comes in to the right answer.

It is of course, as Pc PurpleHelmet (nice name....) pointed out, the annual drive towards the superintendents bonus... I mean sanctioned detection rates.... I mean 21st century policing.

Every office based unit has got to make efforts to chase up those last niggling possible sanctioned detections and go out knocking on doors. I've already been told I'm in custody that day!

But the part which really made us laugh (us being the 24hr response jockeys) was the part that mentioned even if these arrest enquiries are fruitless or none can be made, then high viz patrol will be undertaken in order to offset the impact the one extra day of unwanted crime a leap year brings!

So this therefore even includes the desk bandits in ivory towers who normally work comfortable office shifts sending out snotty emails and memos about how a certain crime report or case file wasn't quite completed according to requirements. I hope they deal with an abusive violent drunk and get a reality check beyond their warm secure offices and tickbox checklists.

Once I finished chortling at the sense of outrage and desperately grasped excuses of the office brigade I thought there could be a serious lesson here. The Super wants all the extra people out to offset the impact of the leap year's extra day.

So what if it does? All the office dwellers and stat-checkers get their uniform back on and go out on the streets, and crime sharply falls. Do you think anyone will draw the conclusion that it might be a good idea for them to permanently back out on the streets? That all these abstractions from response team to all the various units whose function is to quality control reports, monitor and increase sanction detection rates actually results in an increase in crime?

I can but hope, but somehow I don't think so. Furthermore, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those people would go "sick" with "stress" if they were told they had to do more than a day in uniform interacting with the public every four years.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

What could it be?

Some fairly disturbing rumours floating round the fiefdom of Suburbiaville this week which were proved to be true.

The Superintendent has issued instructions that on a particular day this year, no further leave is to be authorised. Every office based unit is to ensure they are up to date on their first aid and safety training. Every officer who has a shoulder number is to get out their uniform. All of it. Every detective is going to ensure they have body armour.

On this particular day, the offices are to be stripped bare of all but one or two people and they are all going to get out on the streets. Officers in high viz, detectives in plain clothes. Only those signed off as incapable of operational duty by Suburbiavilles HR department are exempt.

So just what can have caused such consternation that all hands are called on deck? I haven't been aware of such a mobilisation of Suburbiaville police in a long time.

I'll tell you next week. Please have a guess in the meantime.....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I tell you what, no matter how manic the day, an oversize mug of tea and an unhealthily sized slab of chocolate don't half make things feel better. Well, particularly so when you're at home and the custody desk which has been the bane of your existence for the best part of the day is now several miles away.

There was at least a couple of times today when if I happened to have a lump hammer close by I would have mildly redecorated the suite with bits of computer and telephone. Had to get people to go to a completely different end of the building to print off bits of paper from the printer 3 feet behind me; people kept ringing up with the most inane, useless questions; people who were supposed to be on "help"lines were utterly useless (4 times I rung up about not being able to print, 3 times I was told it was being resolved.... it never was); solicitors got stroppy; prisoners wailed incessantly when I politely declined their requests to be released forthwith; my lunch sat sadly abandoned in my bag; people coming and asking for quick favours when "I get a minute", governors coming in and getting a bit stroppy when I don't know the precise latest up to the minute details on whichever prisoner he's taken an interest in.

I love custody! Really. And I am now asking myself the question why am I sat down in front of another screen? I'm off outside to wander aimlessly, and simply enjoy the fact I'm able to be outside wandering uselessly.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Targets to nowhere

There's a whole lot of target related pressure in the job at the moment, because we're coming to the end of the financial year.

This has resulted in a deluge of emails regarding attachments to various squads who have been given a bucket load of public cash by superintendents worried about their private performance bonuses, and who now need extra pairs of hands to grab every single last piece of performance indicator pie before March 31st. It isn't just happening round here either.

I treat these pleas with the disregard they deserve, and carry on each day dealing with each job as it comes. This won't have hit any performance indicators for Dorset. Neither will this for North Wales.

Neither did this job.

Alfie (obviously not his real name, but it suits him) is a teenager, and if you know what I mean looks and sounds like one. He is scrawny, has the short spiked hair with every strand gelled in just the right place, the chunky necklace, that immensely annoying london-mockney-ali G inspired (or inspiring) "accent" and a colourful use of language. He'd be the kind of kid that would be your first suspect if you found a recently tagged wall or bus window.

Except that Alfie is the only one trying to keep his family together. Dad has had enough. When it happens he turns the tv up and has another beer. He sits on the sofa staring blankly, his mind wandering back to good times, better times, any time but the present. Younger brother Carl is dealing with it in a different way. He's angry. He's controlled enough not to show it while we're around, but I can tell straight away.

Every once in a while, mum has a turn. The eldest child, the only daughter, died last year in miserable drug related circumstances and she simply can't deal with it. Most of the time she's ok and copes but every so often another little bit snaps and she loses it. This time, she lost it bad enough the ambulance guys refused to go in until we got there.

She's inside in a scarlet dressing gown. She sees us and is a shrill shrieking woman, ranting that we haven't washed our hands, and refuses to speak to us until we do. I note the broken bits of ornament missed in the quick clean up undertaken before our arrival.

An overweight labrador dog pads around wagging incessantly at all the new people in the house.

Dad is not being helpful. He tells her to shut up, daft woman, and tells me she's gone a bit mad. Really. I suggest dad goes outside for a fag and a chat with a colleague. He seems glad of the opportunity and is off.

Mum needs to go down the hospital. Its no guarantee she'll get the right help and a weekend night is not the best time to go down hoping to see a psychiatric specialist, but she can't stay here. Even an outpatient appointment would be a start.

I try talking to her but get nowhere fast, getting sworn at at full volume. Alfie starts pleading with her. I step outside the room. I'm no use, I'm just antagonising her. I hear the conversation played out at full, shouted volume.

"Please mum, she's dead. You've got me and Carl now, you gotta think about us".

After a while that feels like an eternity Alfie comes out. She'll go down the hospital. Alfie's eyes are wet but he's still holding it together. I radio my colleague to let him know, and advise him to keep himself and dad out of the way. I don't want the sight of our uniform or a comment from Dad to upend all this.

I see Alfie in the bedroom, putting some of Mum's stuff hurriedly in a bag. He's lost it now, tears flowing down cheeks as he puts various pink things in a pink holdall. What do you say to a kid barely in the second half of his teens who's the only one trying to stop his family disintegrating even more?

I kind of grab his shoulder as he goes between dresser and bed. I tell him he's doing a great job, a f###ing great job. It feels completely pathetic.

Alfie pauses, looks up.

"Thanks officer."

He manages a sort of smile before returning to packing mum's things into a pink holdall, shooing the ever curious hound out of the way.

I dart out and hide the police car round the corner. After an age Alfie appears, coaxing mum out with an arm around her shoulder. She gets into the ambulance and has second thoughts, and Alfie again goes through the shouting match. Alfie wins again, kind of by default as I hint unsubtly at the ambulance man to drive off as everyone who needs to be is in the back of the ambulance already.

We trundle down to Suburbiaville hospital behind the ambulance. By the time we get there, Mum has changed. She's calm now, laughing and joking with the crew. I don't know if they gave her anything!

There's nothing left for us to do now, and the usual weekend night nonsense is building up on the radio. Alfie comes over and shakes our hands. I tell him best of luck. He'll need it.