Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season of Goodwill

Like many other suburban or rural forces we have a permanent travellers caravan site. The local water some time ago provided a permanent water supply to the site and provided meters to each plot akin to what you or I would have.

Nearly a third of a million pounds in unpaid bills later they got warrants to have the meters changed to pay as you go ones. The Utility company asked if we would come along to 'prevent a breach of the peace'.

After some umming and aahing by the people in charge of such things on a higher pay grade than I, they agreed to go along on a "neighbourhood style" of policing, i.e. not many officers, and the ones who are there to go round and "engage" with the residents.

Well, about half the meters had been changed and a number of plots were without any water at all when there was a perceptible mood shift and a few characters were noted walking round with various gardening and building tools, but not doing any gardening or building jobs, if you know what I mean. Combine that with a few insults and an increasing array of missiles from the youth element and the water boys decided this was not worth it and left.

Now the Utility Co won't go back in unless we can guarantee their safety. The only way to (probabky) guarantee this would mean a lot of officers to safely contain the residents away from the workers. Probably in riot kit. Effectively barricading women and children in their own homes or corralling them outside. And don't forget another lot manning a roadblock to prevent friends from coming to assist.

The Community Superintendent won't authorise that. It's not proportional. And to be fair, I understand why. Legal aid human rights lawyers would have a field day and in the current circumstances he'd find himself in rather hot water.

So. The Water Company have a court issued warrant to change the meters. The police won't help to implement this warrant despite the Water company following all the correct legal and court procedures.

In the meantime, half a dozen traveller families are without water.

Season of goodwill indeed.


On a cheerier note. Hope you all have a merry and safe christmas, whether working or travelling on these ice rinks masquerading as roads!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where's Max Clifford when you need him

Just noting the relative absence of outcry and wailing about what's going in Denmark at the moment. Where's all the victims going to publicists about how they were slapped?

Can you imagine if we arrested 968 but only charged 4 or 5 with any offence? We made them sit down in lines with their hands tied behind their backs???! We'd be compared to Guatanamo bay before you could say "You're nicked!". How about if we use tear gas against a crowd? Or even imagine if we sealed off an area and said nobody is allowed in or out?

I can imagine the Guardian and Liberty offices simply self combusting in an wailing outrage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Staffordshire Stories

Saw this splashed over the papers today- the girls in low cut tops with police jackets apparently causing merry mayhem in Staffordshire.

Apparently the officers have been disciplined. The Assistant Chief goes on about how these images could be negatively percieved.
What a 21st Century response. Why were these officers disciplined? The four were brought to the station as victims or witnesses. Okay they're young girls with a few Bacardi Breezers down them and put them in a station with lots of uniformed nice young men around and yes things got a bit silly and flirtatious I'm sure.
But what where the alternatives? Arrest them? Seize the cameras? Put them all in seperate rooms? They would have had no legal power to take the cameras or delete the photos. Yes they should have had a bit more control over them but they are not exactly on the al-quida wanted list are they.
Then, while I was searching through the BBC website trying to find another link to the story, I stumbled across this. Why did the media choose to splash the low cut tops and pouts over this one I wonder.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Bonus is under threat

No, not the banker kind.

The Superintendent's bonus.

We have experienced a rise in Burglary. A rise significant enough that apparently the absolute top of the police tree is apparently somewhat upset and the rumour machine has it the Superintendent's performance related bonus is on the line.

Well hellfire if things haven't suddenly happened. We have a support squad who generally patrol in unmarked cars, although nothing as decent as the performance motors seen on Road Wars. Well, they have been hoiked out of their normal taskings and are now solely focused on burglary. Somehow from somewhere they have sourced more unmarked cars, somehow blagged from a different force.

They're normally a small unit but not any more. People have been dragged off the core response team to go and assist. I mean dragged. Some of them only a weekend's notice to turn up to a different police station on Monday. The little Support unit now has more officers parading than the entire outfit of core response team officers. Except the support lot only have to deal with burglary.

Now, not only have they taken officers from team but they've taken some of our response cars too!

To be fair to the support boys and girls they're mostly embarrassed. I've worked with them a lot and most of them are thorough and decent cops, with an encylopeadic knowledge of all the bad guys they've arrested or know are up to no good. They dig up some good results with a style of policing occasionally robust enough to make the Community Superintendent choke on his Earl Grey, but when you're talking about youths with loaded firearms there isn't time to introduce yourself and get consent for your search.

They're more than aware that they're being used as little more than a tool by the top brass to tackle one specific thing, and all their previous good work like the above has been swiftly ignored. They're ashamed of how the core teams have been stripped.

In the meantime as far as you're concerned all this is great if you've been burgled. You'll have a flood of officers arriving darn quick.

However. If you've been thumped on the head by some drunken yob; are cowering in fear from a violent partner; or have been crashed into by an uninsured driver; well, you'll have to wait. That'll still be the beleagured response team in our remaining battered Astras, picking up all the slack for every other darn call generated.

We dealt with a particularly sad fatal accident the other day. Load of units tied up for the shift with cordons etc, dealing with traumatised witnesses, furious drivers who don't care about what has happened, etc. It was a job well done by all us lot who turned up.

Next day, we're greeted by an email from the Superintendent who has analyzed the arrest figures for everyone. It is clear as a bell that as far as she is concerned that if you're not arresting people you're not performing and you need to get your act together.

Who said the performance culture is dead?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Garage Sergeant Please

I'd hate to have been the officer driving this particular motor. The Italian police's Lamborghini has been written off.
He's going to be buying donuts for a hell of a long time.....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Polar Opposites


Pc Bill Parker


Ex Pc Martin Forshaw

I know it's been a while. I was going to go on about the latest round of patheticness and career obsessions of some of the incumbent SMT round my way that are really driving me up the wall, enough to get me back on here.

However. That can wait till another day, as in the grand scheme of things they're insignificant compared to the impact on Bill Parker and Claire Howarth's families.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's what I do

Nearly wrote this the other day, glad I didn't now. Couple of good days off does wonders for calming you down.
Now I know there's a whole load of stuff going on in the outside world that is worthy of debate- the TSG trial going on in South London caught my eye- the 'whistleblower' is either the bravest PC ever or slippery and dangerous- but today I just need to let off a bit of steam.

I don't have any regrets about getting promoted. Save one.

I don't know what it is about Custody. I always knew that I'd get custody postings, after all as a response monkey it always came with the job, being the one behind the desk. Just of late, for a number of reasons, I'm in there a lot more than I'd expected, and I might add a lot more than is reasonable. That and a couple of other things mean I am seriously fed up with where I am and what I'm doing at the moment.

Problem is, I really don't know what else I want to do. Psychologists out there would have a field day I'm sure talking about self image and identity but blue light uniform work is all I've ever wanted to do. Being the one who turns up when you call 999 is what I do. Okay granted far too often half the reasons people call 999 are a load of nonsense (that's the advantage of being promoted, I can delegate those calls off!) but ever since I can remember as a small boy getting excited about seeing a police car with it's sirens on, I'm at my happiest at work now when I'm the one behind the wheel of that police car.

Which is why I get so fed up looking at the same set of walls going throught the exact same inane questions to the next character being hauled through the doors from the yard.

I'm always keeping my eye out on the internal website to see if anything else is coming up. Problem is, there really isn't that much. I'm not interested in the Detective side of things. Traffic is an option but it's still on the politically unacceptable list it would seem and they're all downsizing- or at least having to work below their minimum strength (leading to the obvious question, what exactly is the point in a minimum strength) so vacancies are not on the horizon, and I don't know if I've got the patience to wait. Armed response isn't an option unless I can somehow persuade Mrs Simon of the merits (I know, who really wears the trousers etc)

Safer neighbourhoods? I'm yet to be convinced of the political merits and it's effectiveness. However the hours (weekends? Ha!) and lack of custody postings means I may have to give it a go.

Thing is, wherever I go, after a few months I know I'll be wishing I was back on response team, crap shifts, tedious postings, dubious line management and all. It's what I do.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunny Times

Saw the Sun has officially told the world that the incumbent government has lost it's support. Waiting for the return of the "Woz the Sun wot won it" headline....

Anyhoo it's rare I find myself agreeing with much that particular comic has to say for itself but their editorial on the state of law and order since Labour came to power rings actually pretty true:

"But they FAILED on law and order, their mantra "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" becoming a national joke. Knife murders are soaring. Smirking criminals routinely walk free in the name of political correctness, while decent people live in a virtual police state of snooping cameras and petty officials empowered to spy and to punish"

The next line could have come straight from a Gadget post:

"Billions more spent, insanely, making benefits more lucrative than a pay cheque - creating a huge, idle underclass for whom work is a dirty word"

I could go on about centrally enforced performance targets forcing the Police Chiefs to chase the easy targets of sanction detections at the expense of other things that don't always result in a tick in a box. The whole desperate tale from Leicester being a case in point. Harassment and antisocial behaviour- adult bullying, basically- is a long term process to sort out which goes against the ingrained police culture of once a crime report is closed (whether sanctioned detection or not), the matter is sorted. Chiefs are reluctant to spend money on a unit which doesn' t bring in the results they are required to produce.

It is no surprise that many police forces have one or two officers on the antisocial behaviour unit (who deal with the paperwork side of amassing evidence for ASBO's) whilst there are many more resources put towards the Crime Management units, i.e. office dwellers who have targets to reduce certain crime types by reclassifying them where possible, and chasing up those elusive SD's.

I'm technically not allowed to have a political opinion but I won't be sorry to see this government go. The question I'm asking is whether I dare think the Conservatives are really going to be any better.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oh the irony

Suburbiaville is pretty much like any other town that happens to have a reasonably agreeable train link to the nearest proper urban centre.

That means parking restrictions. For anywhere within a bordering unreasonable walk to the station has restrictions between what normal society calls working hours. Where there are parking restrictions, there are parking wardens.

Now I admit I don't have anything against these girls and boys most of the time (probably because when I have to park a car with a blue strobe light on I don't worry too much about what little signs on a lamppost say), and if anything I have a degree of sympathy because they can get an inordinate amount of grief.

Quite a few times we get called to help, at which point whilst making sure nobody actually does rip anyones head off we invariably reel off the same standard lines about civil dispute, civil remedies, and generally advise people to pay the fine and then claim it back later.

(Note- this may sound somewhat contrite but this is actually how we do have to deal with these- a parking offence is not a criminal matter, and no matter what the protestations I have no power to order one of the wardens to rescind the ticket. Having been on the recieving end of these things I know how sometimes they can make your blood boil. Which is usually how we end up getting called, to stop it becoming a real criminal matter should the blood perhaps more literally boils over.)

Anyhooooo I happened to be out and about the other day when another of these calls came out to a parking dispute where things were getting out of hand. I wasn't a million miles away so I flicked the little blue switch and pootled along.

I turned around the corner. I am always surprised at how quick these parking warden people manage to get their colleagues round as there were a right old crowd there, at least 6 of them. Anyway I eventually managed to find what was going on.

I managed to supress my laughter when I realised the clamped motor was a council parking enforcement one! It seems one of their chaps had popped in to see a friend or something and had parked on private premises. Just the owner of this particular private premises had paid out for a private firm to clamp naughty unlicenced parkers. The signs were even up. Unlucky for him the private enforcement van turned up while he was still having his tea and digestive and he didn't scramble out of the place in time to stop the clamps going on.

So we had the usual standoff going on whereby removal bloke was attempting to remove vehicle but the driver had sat himself on the seat and was refusing to move. Yes, the driver was a parking warden. Many a time I've dealt with this situation on the flipside.

So I have to admit I was kind of expecting the council blokes to listen to me when I told them once again that I can't make him rescind the ticket. The private contractors were professional ones (I know some are real cowboys) and even had copies of the land registry to show the extent of the private boundary. I told him until I was blue in the face about civil remedies. I pointed out to him just once or twice that the rules are exactly the same for the dozens of times they call us to something like that, just that this time he was the one having to pay out the cash.

Would he listen? Would he heck.

He started going on about allegations of assault and rang 999 when I told him I was not going to deal with this allegation. Spoilt little boy reaction to someone not getting his own way as there was no assault unless you count a tug of war on opposite sides of a motorbike handlebar. Thank you very much. That's two completely and utterly pointless crime reports that are going to go nowhere that I've got to waste my time writing now because it's now officially recorded that there's an allegation of assault.

A colleague turned up and took over (saying exactly the same things), just in time before I lost my temper. I wasn't far off I tell you.

It was eventually resolved when after the best part of 45 minutes he finally listened and stomped off to a cashpoint and got the money. I had to get signatures from them to confirm that the assault allegation wasn't an assault. This was was solely to cover my backside from when the office monkeys picked up the "crime" report the next day and go apoleptic there were two suspects for an assault at the scene I didn't arrest!

So yes. Off the road nearly two hours dealing with what was little more than a grown adult having the tables turned on him and having a right strop about it!

Just thought I'd share.....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stop, search, write

Well. Apparently stop and search forms are to be reduced to the bare minimum if the home secretary is to be believed.

Forgive my cynicism, but I'll believe it when I see it for two reasons:

1) In the name of efficiency I suspect we'll have to finish using up all the old forms first
2) It wouldn't surprise me in the least if my own force bottles out of this in the name of local accountability and we get an amended version which has more stuff to write on it.

In the meantime, I'd love to know where this claimed million hours of paperwork saved figure has come from and how it was figured out. It certainly wasn't from the response team jockeys whose paperwork burden remains as daft as it ever was.

Never believe someone official when they say they've taken x number of obsolete forms out of circulation. All they mean is that they've been replaced with a new version.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Old enough to play the lottery....

Shift in custody the other day, had a few in for immigration offences.

Immigration jobs make permanent custody sergeants moan, going on about taking up cells and creating them what they feel is unneccessary work. I generally ignore them as most custody sergeants fit the grumpy old man profile very well and if they weren't allowed to moan about something then they'd probably implode.

I'm not bothered about dealing with immigration offences. They do tend to take longer to deal with and there's a whole set of detention and questioning powers I don't really know much about but on the whole they're not that hard.

What does annoy me though is the little bit of small print somewhere in the immigration laws that if someone claims to be under 16 then they cannot be deported but have to be taken into care. Now this in itself I don't object to, for if there is a genuine child who has found his way into the country by whatever means then we should look after them.

I do object when fully grown adults, who wouldn't be challenged on a door at a 25 yrs above only nightclub, claim they are 16. Despite it being as plain as day- and I acknowledge there are some 14 year olds who can pass off as over 18 or even 20 - that someone is a close to 16 years old as your average Shadows single, they are treated as though they are until proven otherwise.

Unfortunately, the people at Social Services who are deemed wise enough to officially decide that someone is not under 16 don't work weekends.

The end result I had was that I had no choice to but to release this bloke (aged between 25 and 30, at least) into the "care" of social services who placed him in a foster home.

Don't get me wrong, but placing a fully grown adult about whom absolutely nothing is known, into a home full of the most vulnerable young people and teenagers in society, is a disaster waiting to happen. But unfortunately until that disaster happens I have no choice in whether I can release them or not.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to basics

Was being sociable the other day and was chatting to some people I had just met. Conversations as they often do turned to work and what I do.

I explained where I work, being a response team monkey somewhere in a suburb. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at their surprise when I said just how many police officers there were at any one time. It made me think for the unitiated i.e. those probably not reading this (never mind) there is a spectacular gulf between perceptions of police numbers and the reality of those on the streets who turn up when you call 999.

There's about 250,000 people resident within my particular part of the policing front line. It has a mix of everything from major trunk routes, well to do areas, old and new estates, some spectacularly notorious and in their "heyday" weren't strangers to featuring in media, and was where police trod carefully and didn't go alone. Some of them have been knocked down now, tower blocks being gradually replaced by compact brick housing on narrow roads. New buildings don't disguise the fact the same people live there.

So with this number of people, major arterial roads, a number of less socially well to do housing estates how many police officers are on duty at any one time? There used to be at least 4 parade stations in my area but it's now down to 2. Between us, we're lucky to have 30 officers.

There is an oft-quoted saying in Suburbiaville that Poo rolls downhill (you can guess what the unsanitised version is). Well, response team is in the coal pit at the bottom of the valley beneath the cliffs the top of which where the poo starts rolling from.

If there is an increase in a particular type of offence- e.g. street robbery- then response teams have new targets to tackle it and get given new fresh tarted up reporting standards by the "specialist" CID units who investigate it, as we were clearly not up to standard. When these specialist CID units fail to meet their targets then officers are taken away from response team duties to man up these teams. I have to supply officers to act as jailers in the custody suite. I have to provide officers to man the front offices. God help us if there's a crime scene anywhere needing a uniform to stand outside. Suddenly the number of officers who are actually there, in a response car with the ability and training to respond to you when you call 999, is pushing 20.

Funnily enough a couple of hours into a shift and with the volume of calls we get, e.g. a couple of shoplifters or someone presenting false documents at a bank (happens a heck of a lot), then we're down to just one or two cars covering the lot.

Now there are of course a couple of other people floating around- catch the right time in the day and you'll have the SNT (also known as NPT) out and about. But it's not their job to answer 999 calls. Someone told me the other day that we're allowed to deflect a single call a day to the Safer Neighbourhood Team. One a day. That's handy.

The effectiveness of the SNT teams is something I remain to be convinced by. Took a call the other day and was met by pretty much the entire street, up in arms about a perpetual problem they have, and the complete failure of the relevant SNT to do anything about it. I'll talk a little bit more about the other issues I have with a police force entirely geared towards the SNT model another day.

Policing is so ridiculously political these days and absolutely everything must be geared towards meeting the needs of the community. Problem is, there are so many different communities within a wider community which can often have polar opposite desires and intentions, and it would be frankly impossible to meet the desires of all of them.

As far as I'm concerned, from my own point of view, policing is really simple.

1) People don't want crime to happen to them in the first place
2) If it does, I'd want someone to turn up in a reasonable time to do something reasonable about it.

Now quite often there's nothing we can do about any particular crime. Your car window gets smashed between 10pm and 8am short of the culprit leaving a business card we've got little hope. But I wouldn't mind it properly reported and you know perhaps seeing someone on patrol between 10pm and 8am once in a while.

Problem is, whilst we are busy chasing our tails trying to meet the myriad different needs of so many different communities, there's nobody left on the response team to try and do anything like directed or reassurance patrol. Unless we're taken off response team duties to go and do that (yes, that happens).

And lets not forget all the officers doing office jobs in units with titles like "Detection Team", "Crime Reporting Integrity Team" doing their best to massage figures to meet whatever the governments latest targets may be.

Blimey. I've been ranting for ages. Apologies. Regular readers of police blogs will be more than aware that the policing situation is riduculous and that the blue line is gossamer thin when it comes to the capacity and ability to answer 999 calls. But on the offchance someone just stumbles across this post as one of their first police blogs, this is the reality.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Here & There

I have come to the conclusion that blogging is for those without children, or at least grown up enough so they can take care of themselves (most of the time). I know I have been spectacularly slack for a while now, but things are likely to remain that way for a while! On a day off, I have roughly 2 hours at the end of an evening to do the things I haven't been able to do the rest of the day, like cleaning or getting tomorrows lunch ready, you know, real exciting stuff. If I've done that then it invariably means a collapse on the sofa with the Mrs to watch something suitably untaxing.

I do try and keep check on the blogosphere every so often (there's a lot of good blogs out there!), and there's plenty of activity going on so I'm sure you're all still well up to date with the all the internal workings of the sad state of affairs that is the politicians whim of a police service today.

I noticed from the odd glance at the news websites the Met are getting it in the neck as per the normal run of thingswl. They're still as racist as usual (coming from an MP who naturally has a outstanding second home claim history.... cough) and another individual has come out about her most frankly awful treatment at G20.

If I headed up the Met's public order unit, I'd run the next protest along the lines of a barely there presence, letting everyone go and protest as much as they like, because according to the media everyone is a lawful protester just wishing to make their point unimpeded. However, I'd have around the corner a sackload of grumpy riot police in proper kit, none of this poncy yellow jackets and nice beat duty helmets to not appear offensive nonsense- and the moment when it all goes wrong- because it will- send them in. The post event media hand wringing can be dealt with by explaining the protesters had their opportunity for peaceful, lawful protest, and gave it a big up yours.

Although, now I've thought about it, with the exception of the yellow jacket and helmet bit, that is pretty much what happened. Haven't heard it explained like that though.

On a different matter, if I wanted to commit career suicide I'd publish a number I came across the other day as to how much my force is spending on hire cars to ferry various units around. Oh. My. Goodness! I'm not sure if I was supposed to see that number as I was meant to be dealing with something else but it cropped up. I have no idea what the process for acquiring a hire car is (it is almost exclusively CID units who hire cars, I noted) but no wonder they're always moaning their overtime budget isn't enough. Use public transport and you'd suddenly find yourself a lot better off!!!

Back to my first point- posting will be sporadic and not at all regular for some time yet! But every so often I'll pop up and have a little moan here and there, just to keep my toe in :-)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I feel the need

Have managed to get myself in a couple of footchases recently, joys of being let out of custody. Had a right funny one the other night.

Unfortunately can't go into too much detail but it ended up with one chap thoroughly detained, me needing new trousers, and some kind soul catching up with me to give me my sunglasses back.

I did feel like throwing up for at least half an hour afterwards though. Full on sprints half an hour after finishing tea/lunch/snack (whatever you'd call a meal break at 2am) aren't really ideal. Still, it made me happy that I caught and flattened someone younger and if I'm honest leaner than me and who also wasn't carrying all the kit I lug around!

Was a crazy shift. Started off quite dull with a routine traffic stop that developed into an arrest and some decent intel about an up and coming scrote type. It's rare that I'd bring someone in from a traffic stop but I'm glad I did on this one. Fortunately I had spotted him using his phone whilst going along so had a substantive offence to actually bring him in with.

Later on things got really busy with quite a few proper urgent assistance shouts. I was so exhuasted by the end of the night what with the footchase, but mostly because of the level of concentration needed to drive miles at full tilt.

On blue light runs I rarely give it everything I've got. I'm past the "just passed my driving course and can legally exceed speed limit" enthusiasm (if enthusiasm is the right word) and now generally am a lot more sanguine when it comes to blue light runs. Don't ge me wrong, I don't pootle and get fed up to the back teeth of having to deal with the incessant paperwork to bin various speed camera 'offences', but I don't give it 100% and don't take the car to it's limit. I don't bully people out of the way and always try to keep enough in reserve so there's time to deal with something completely unexpected. The way some people react to blue lights in the mirror is completely unpredictable. All you need to do is move over to one side, preferably the left! However, there is often also a reaction of hitting the anchors and being rooted to whichever spot you've ended up in, even if that is the outside lane.

Proper urgent assistances are the exception to the rule where shaving off half a second here and there make the difference between another punch or kick to a colleague. I'll remember one particular run down one of the main trunk roads for a while, thundering down the carriageway, strobes bouncing off the street signs, flashing my lights at cars miles in the distance hoping they'll get the hint and get out of the way before I'm up their backside palm on the horn.

I was back in Custody the following shift after the one above and for once was grateful. Well, at least I was until I sat down in the chair upon which point Police and Criminal Evidence Act Hell broke free.....

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Public Service Announcement

I don't normally think of this blog as much more than an avenue for.... well, whinging about the state of the job, incompetence of politicians and inaccuracy of the media.

But for once I think I just have to use it to ask people for goodness sake wear your seatbelt.

Turned up to an RTA. 6 people injured. Four of them are walking wounded. Sure, they're not exactly bouncing with joy and they'll have a glorious time with compensation lawyers I'm sure. But they didn't need to spend more than a little while in the back of the ambulance.

Two others not quite the same story. One was kept alive simply by virtue of having a PC holding his laceration together to prevent the torn artery emptying its contents all over the tarmac. The other had another ruptured artery. Buried somewhere inside his body.

His last words on earth were to a PC kneeling beside him, who was trying to tell him everything'd be okay.

Utterly, totally preventable. If they'd been wearing their belts, they'd be alive. The accident wasn't even their fault, blame completely lying with the other driver whose little showoff session to his mates went a bit wrong. I wonder if he came down a route where CCTV cameras may have picked him up so we have a realistic chance of getting a death by dangerous driving charge authorised.

This wasn't a high speed accident I might add.

I must admit I had gotten a bit slack with traffic enforcement recently, as I think the team had. But trust me, for the next while, there'll be no discretion going on around Suburbiaville if you or god forbid any child of yours is in the car with no seatbelt on.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sour Grapes

Had an interview the other day for an in-house transfer to a particular role I'm interested in.

The old adage of failure to prepare is preparing to fail loomed large so of course had lots of stuff prepared. I figured it would be logical to be asked questions about my paper application so did a considerable amount to be sure I was ready to expand give a whole load more detail about any particular part they cared for. I researched pages worth of stats and quotes relevant to the role, and had answers prepared for the expected questions about what qualities I felt I had for the role, where would I be in 1,2 or 5 years if successful.

Silly me.

What I should have done is memorise the competency phrases and buzzwords from the Competency Framework. The competency framework is familiar I guess to most police around and probably some corporate types. The competency framework is a list of qualities somebody in an office has decided a particular officer must have to be competent in his role.

My interviewers simply had a tick sheet of these phrases, and if I said one, I got a mark. I quickly twigged this but unfortunately these phrases are often somewhat..... well, random and so I didn't get many.

Anything come up I had prepared for? Did it heck.

Now I can understand there is a need to be objective in your interview assessments. But I don't think solely basing the success of the interview on the number of phrases hit necessarily means the best candidate gets through. It just means the ones who remembered the most score highest. I didn't even get the most simple question of all - "Why do you want to join this unit"??

Still, lesson learnt. Next time I'll simply print off the list they're marking from, and read it and read it until I can quote it back to myself. And then turn up at the interview safe in the knowledge I won't actually need to demonstrate any interest or aptitude in the role I'm going for.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dc Horton hears a who?

It has been the hot topic among the bloggers recently- a Times journalist took it upon himself to out the Nightjack blogger.

Motivations for this remain unclear. The most simple being envy- Dc Horton winning prizes for political writing, having half a million views on some of his posts; the journalistic challenge of finding out who it was; a sense of injustice of how posts about actual cases and therefore the suffering of others was bringing unjust reward. Who knows. I've had enough of searching through the website to try and find out why it was felt of sufficient merit to warrant the expense of going to the High Court. (Having said that, it appears it was an effort to establish that he really was a police officer and not someone faking it, according to their chief leader writer, although that doesn't answer the question of once they found out he was genuine, why they felt it necessary to go through to the High Court to fight for the right to name him)

What is clear is the spectacular backlash at their efforts- link here. This shouldn't come as any surprise to Mr Foster, as his own colleagues would have been able to tell him. I ought to make it clear I don't advocate any kind of harassment campaign though, as meeting one apparent injustice with another doesn't help anyone.

This ruling by the court has prompted the pre-emptive shutting of other blogger sites- Plastic Fuzz feels it necessary to shut up shop, and it would appear to be permanently this time. I sadly think it is a matter of time before Inspector Gadget finds himself unwillingly named.

It inevitably leads me to think, once again, why am I doing this. I think by blogging standards I'm (deliberately) quite tame, and as a result I don't attract the readership levels of Gadget, Nightjack et al, but by the same standard I don't think I particularly want to. I generally use this as an outlet to vent frustrations about what I read in the papers.

I usually stop myself posting about jobs I've been to, as I regard blogging is a bit like what someone once told me about batting in cricket- you will eventually, one day, be out(ed). (although in actual cricket, I would be measuring this in minutes, not hours!) I am therefore just a touch paranoid about what I write. I've a way to go to retirement and something like this showing up on my discipline record is not a good career move.

I usually take care not to mention other officers, even senior ones, by name. Politicians are excepted. I have no issue in lambasting politicians. I'm not allowed to join political parties and probably just as well- I make no attempt to hide the fact I distrust most of them.

I might actually post in full the guidelines I set myself another day. But for now, the rain has stopped and despite my back garden being barely big enough to pitch a tent in there's always a hundred things to do in it....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Taking liberties

I don't know how many people saw this article the other week. I know this old news now but I've been a busy boy!

Families of two persons incarcerated by the fellows over at GMP are suing them over this:

You see, despite all the media coverage of the trial and verdicts, apparently it is one step too far for the families to allow GMP to show mock ups of what these two would look like when they are finally released from prison. Never mind the rights of all their victims, it is a breach of their human rights now that GMP have put up a poster to remind those on the edge of violence there can be long term consequences.

Liberty are supporting this. I think I personally would have a lot more time for listening to Liberty if I was hearing reports from Tehran or Saudi Arabia, somewhere there is a real need for someone to be outspoken and brave on human rights issues, not living a comfortable barely threatened existance with quasi-celebrity appearances on Have I got News For You.

I agree there is a need to keep an eye out on these kind of issues here. But I think there needs to be some kind of acknowledgement too about how actually we do do some things better over here. Perhaps there is, but I've never heard it. Even go to mainland Europe and find yourself in the slammer, you'll be hoping you can afford to pay for your own interpreters and legal fees. And there's no 24 hour limit in police custody over in Italy, I can tell you.

As for the efforts to sue GMP over this poster, I do hope it falls flat on its face. There was wide coverage on local and national media, with the faces of those two plastered all over, but no protestations from Liberty then.

However, GMP are seen as an easy target. At least that what it seems like.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prisoners, Property and Water

Just when you thought the dust was settling, the Met have managed another media headline spectacular. Waterboarding suspects? Handily, the Times point out, in case you were confused with the other Metropolitan Police in the UK, this is London's Metropolitan Police.

There are two branches of this story, one of which I sadly don't find surprising, the other I find incredulous.

Apparently, this all started with an Enfield drugs bust, and it sounded like a good one, with three in the bin for drug importation. Probably even got a mention in the local rag or the Mets inhouse propoganda journal, the cannily titled "The job". However, thats as good as the story gets.

Clearly, something has gone wrong from then on. The DPS, an alternative acronym for PSD, whichever combination of Standards, Professional and Directorate you care for- the Police police, have got whiff of something rotten.

I think I have a degree of understanding for the officers who felt it not fair that an apparent thoroughly illegal lifestyle of drug importation should result in expensive electro gadget refinery and thought of better places for them. After all, the Proceeds of Crime Act does takes a lot of time and hassle through the courts and this was more effective and satisfying.

However, summary justice like that is only ever going to bring you trouble. There's an old mantra that has been ignored- the three Ps that can get you fired- Prisoners, Prostitutes and Property. As unfair as it seems that the criminal element wallow in bling, theft is theft however Robin Hood esque your motives, especially when you're supposed to be the impartial sheriff.

That side of the story I don't find unbelievable, and reading in one article or the other if the DPS were at the covert surveillance stage then this was not the first time this particular band of 7 pound note cops had had a crafty property bonus and frankly had it coming.

But this waterboarding thing is so far out of left field that I honestly don't think I can accept it as true for the sake of my own professional pride of wearing a uniform saying "Police", however remote and distant Enfield is. The cynic in me reads articles about how difficult it is to prove it took place and equates it to being equally difficult to disprove. The state of the Met as it is today post G20 some commentators will never be shook in their opinion that it took place regardless what any investigation, inquiry or jury may say.

For such an event to have taken place the amount of collaboration going on between so many officers is disturbingly huge. It can only have taken place at the place of arrest as there is simply no way on earth anyone would do such a thing at any custody suite, every angle covered as it is in audio and visual cameras, with any random officer coming in or out to ask the exasperated custody sergeant some banal question.

I just hope this allegation turns out to be somehow irrevocably disproved. If the opposite, then frankly I hang my head in associated shame.

Note - 11th July- I read today in the Metro that the suspects are now claiming compensation- why am I not surprised in the least. Furthermore, apparently the torture allegations involve the schoolyard bullying tactic of flushing head down toilet bowls. Bullying, unpleasant, and utterly unprofessional yes, but waterboarding? No. Yet the media still went with the waterboarding headlines. Why?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Nothing much doing....

Ok so a bit of a lack of inspiration to pen anything of particular controversy of late. I've been let out of custody a bit the last couple of weeks and it has been such a refreshing change I haven't even minded standing on a crime scene- I kid you not.

It was bonkers busy when I did get out the other day- a near fatal road accident which we didn't know about until he turned up barely alive in a taxi at the local hospital; a student who said a smart comment to a group of people who were less inclined to settle disagreements by use of constructive debate; a chap who thought his argumentative co-passenger should be silenced by use of a bottle through the trachea.

My one was the middle one. What a pasting he got. How he was still able to stand I'll never know. He looked like he was growing golf balls in his head such were the size of the bruises. He was almost something out of a zombie movie, slurry mumbly speech, shuffling along missing a shoe, bleeding misshapen head and torn up shirt. I have got to admit though I did have a little less sympathy for him as he clearly didn't get the hint that smart sarcastic comments or to be more accurate, insults- don't win you friends, not even from the people trying to help you. The ambulance crew were sorely tempted to leave him by the roadside.

Tell you what our job can be fairly tedious on a weekend night duty but I'd still rather do mine than the ambulance boys and girls. The amount of abuse they must get. At least we do carry handcuffs and have a number of powers to deal with abusive drunken (insert your own adjective here) whatnots. Granted the consequences rarely amounts to much, maybe a night in the cells and a £80 fine when you're kicked out, but at least there is a degree of self satisfaction in slamming the cell door to the insults and waving bye bye through the wicket. Ambulance crews don't get that.

On a different note- we have another Home Secretary? 4th one in 4 years? I can't even remember this new blokes name. I wonder what harebrained idea is going to come spouting forth in what has to be the Labour Party's desperate last stand.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Something that I think will be the case in any police force ("service") across the country is our outstanding ability to moan.

No matter where you are, ask a room full of coppers about what is wrong with their particular employer and/or the role they are currently doing and you will be met with a cacophony of wails, whinges, a wall of swear words and a general environment of grump.

I don't know whether it is I have finally managed to have two undisturbed days off or whether there were was a particularly special mix of additives and chemicals in the chinese we had this evening but I figured there must be some good stuff going on somewhere. Senior types would call this identifying good practice but I think I just felt swimming against the general flow of police blogger malaise for once.

I think what makes the whole police system "work" overall is the people on the front line - and not necessarily old bill- who are dedicated and work around the tape and frustrations. The station I used to work was one of the few left that had a garage hand, whose general job was to look after the fleet.

This bloke was absolutely worth his weight in gold. You'd come in to write a report or have grub or whatever. He'd come and hunt you down, and have your keys off you. When you came back, your car would be sparkling. It'd be vacuumed. Mechanical checks had been done. He was trusted implicitly by all the teams- nobody doubted him when he said something was wrong with a car. He'd sort out all the boot equipment and had fully stocked first aid kits waiting in standby for you to swap if you had to use yours.

All the teams bought him real good stuff for christmas- full meals at decent restaurants for his whole family, flight tickets- not a box of highland shortbreads in sight!

When I moved divisions, I was shocked to find the state of the fleet when there wasn't someone as dedicated as him looking after it. I am still trying to think of ways I can persuade him to move...

There must be some others around who can dredge up a tale where something works right in this otherwise over-politicised, top heavy bonkers system that is 21st Century British policing....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Irrelevant time

It is often with a sense of concealed ironic amusement I book someone in, and the officer tells me his 'Socpa' reason for arrest is for a prompt and effective investigation.

If only. The only thing prompt about anyone in custody is the hurry of all the various squads to think of reasons why it wouldn't be in their remit. The battles I have had with the burglary squad who will stop at nothing to argue that someone who has been arrested for burglary and booked in for burglary has not actually committed burglary before they've even read the officers notes or interviewed the bloke.

I have had it argued that someone who gained access to a roof to steal lead, via someone letting him in through a communal entrance, is not burglary. He entered the building by consent you see, and therefore could not be a trespasser.

Or, how I once caught someone, still inside a flat, having smashed the door in. I was literally on top of this call when it came out and was inside and grabbed him (I'm not sure who was more surprised to see each other) before he had moved anything outside. That wasn't burglary, according to the burglary squad, because he had only committed criminal damage and we couldn't prove the intention to steal!

That last one was the only time I've ever lost my temper at work- with the DC who was trying to tell me I should deal with this prisoner as criminal damage.

The bunfights that go on about who should deal with a prisoner can go on for hours. Meanwhile of course Chummy is sat twiddling his thumbs in the cell whilst clock ticks slowly down. My job as the custody sergeant is to make sure he is dealt with promptly and the entries on some custody logs are simply a procession of calls by me to the various gatekeepers (i.e. those who decide whose unit should deal with what prisoner) haranguing them for someone to come down and actually get on with it.

Of course, prior to any of the specialist squads actually taking a prisoner on the Response jockeys have to do an ever increasing list of minimum requirements before they'll accept the handover- i.e. statements from witnesses, victims, photos, seizure and evidencing. Basically, they're only happy if the only thing they have to do is interview.

It's odd. Every so often we get a really juicy prisoner which one of the super central based squads come out and deal with- the murderers, shootings type prisoners. The contrast is stark compared to our local suit department- they offer to help the response team boys with exhibiting stuff, even volunteer to take statements from witnesses. Meanwhile, just getting our local CID out of their office I normally consider to be an achievement....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Not a good week for the Chiefs

Oh dear. It hasn't been a good week for those higher up the food chain.

Commander Dizaei is off to face Westminster Magistrates.

A Chief Inspector Jones is looking like he's in a great deal of bother.

Meanwhile double trouble in Surrey as both the Chief Super and Superintendent are on gardening leave.

The thing which got me about these three reports is that I have no doubt that each individual is stressing their innocence. Each one is hoping that the criminal justice system is come to the right conclusion. Yet there is a distinctly different tone between one of these reports and the other two.

The fact that Commander Dizaei is president of the NBPA is neither here nor there in relation to the allegations he has been charged with. Yet the NBPA are mentioned no less than 5 times. The Metropolitan Police Authority call on the Met to ensure that he has all necessary support in place and reminds them they have a duty of care to him.

Where was this sentiment at G20? Why does Commander Dizaei get such overt support from the MPA? I understand the TSG sergeant involved in the G20 allegations (i.e. not charged) is a black officer. Where was the NBPA there offering its full support then?

Feel free to try and explain this to me.....!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Highway to.....

Now that the weather has warmed up a bit, I'm getting to really enjoy the rides home on the bike now.

I've been doing some completely daft hours for a while now (not exactly by choice, I might add) which means quite often when I'm either going to or from - or on a really bad day, both- I'm the only soul on the road.

After a long, frustrating, sweaty day I find myself really looking forward to the ride home. There's the familiarity of the bike, and the fact it does exactly what I tell it to do. It it isn't ordered what to do and doesn't ignore criminality for the sake of public opinion. Our senior management are so paranoid in the post G20 climate that in a potential public order situation we have to be facing virtual armageddon before we are actually told to go and deal with something, even when it is blatantly and clearly illegal.

I'd dearly love to divulge more but I can't for the usual reasons.

So yes after a sweaty day I find myself looking forward to the ride, the familiar v-twin thump and buzz through the footpegs, the cool night air rushing through the flip top. I don't scream home, just pootle along, having some wind down time.

I note with irony the recent media hoohah about overtime payments. Already, my neighbours are giving me wry looks when I talk about the most recent debacle of a 16 hour day. Thing is, I'm not interested in the money. Overtime is for young single people, or those who aren't young but want to be single. I have a family and I'd much rather spend time with them. I'm fed up of being told about the latest first thing the little one has done by text message, or watching a video of it when I get home.

I'm earning nowhere £52k! That sergeant clearly didn't have a day off in a year. Crazy fool.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The politician's policeman

If I was a policeman who policed in the way the government do, not as the government say:

I'd work in County A. I'd live in County B, but of course that'd mean I'd have my proper home as my second home, so I can buy some decent furniture, paint, televisions etc etc...
I'd then suggest paying myself to turn up to work in County A, on top of my salary.
I'd only speak to members of the public on a once weekly basis, and then spend the rest of my time speaking to my colleagues about what I think is best for the public, in a grand building the public can't visit the most part of.
I'd vote myself a pay rise every year.
I'd claim charity giving, gardening, cat food and christmas decorations on expenses.
I'd vote myself a bigger summer holiday.

All the while, I'd orate at great length...

"The issue of accountability. This is vital for public confidence"
"People pay taxes and want to know their money is making a difference"
"As a government, we have always been clear that the rights we exercise as individuals must be balanced against the responsibilities towards others"

All the above direct quotes from Hazel Blears, January 2005.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Va va vroom

Happened upon this in the Telegraph Motoring section the other day. Despite all the Subara WRX's, Evo 9's etc floating around in various forces, check out the one they used to showcase the British Police.

It's a comparison between in-service police cars across the world.

The German entrant- a 225mph Brabus V12

The Italian- Lamborghini Gallardo.....

The Austrians have a fairly tame (in this company!) 911

The Americans have some custom made beast with integrated shotgun mounts

And holding up the union jack proudly......

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Briefly back on G20..........

A quick youtube special of one of the lesser publicised G20 events

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good things come in fours

Here's the scenario.

You're outside the Stupid Simian nightclub, a local pit deemed apparently glamourous enough that the local D-list celebs haunt it.

It's just you and one other unit there, as everyone else is miles away dealing with a 20 man brawl the CCTV picked up.

One bloke is sat against the wall, pretty much incoherent, bleeding from his head. Nobody knows what happened to him. Two other drunken pests bleeding from their noses are haranguing you, jabbing at the bouncer the size of a small bungalow. The bouncer has a face of thunder and has a corking black eye coming up.

A girl is wailing and demanding an ambulance.

Someone else now bursts out from the club, pursued by another of the door staff. He is wearing a skintight top and there is no way his muscular state was achieved without a little steroidical help.

You manage to figure out that there is now someone out cold in the club, and steroid boy is responsible. He is now standing in the street with that look in the eye that you know means he is just willing you to dare try handcuffing him.

So here's the question. What would you do? What has priority? And then, do you think the office inquisition the following morning would support or criticise you?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Another grim weekend in the Met.

Not that you'd know it.

If you search hard enough in the news websites, you might be lucky to find out news that another CO19 officer is critical after injuries in the line of duty, and that a traffic cop was killed after leaving work.

There's coverage of how the chief is off sick with appendicitus. Just how pathetic is celebrity culture now that a 'known' face gets front page BBC london website coverage for being ill, but the life threatening injuries of an officer doesn't get a mention.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chocolate and Hugs

More musings on riot policing.

I just want people to imagine for a second what it would be like to be a public order (riot) officer, using the G20 circumstances.

You know that a number of your colleagues have been injured. The persons responsible have simply melted away back into the crowd. You know that somewhere in the crowd in front of you is a person wishing to seriously injure you, but you have no idea what they look like and you know they will give you no warning when they try to.

Exactly how do you feel? How do you interact with the people coming near you?

I see Mr new Commisioner whatsisname has ordered a review into public order tactics. Well part of me is glad of that. The public order training I've had is heavily geared towards full riots, poll tax style. There doesn't seem to be an inbetween option, so if this review can come up with something then maybe it'll be for the good. I've heard various ideas from the troops as to what the end result might be though. The consensus from the ground is that we should offer hot chocolate and hugs in future disorder situations.

On a more realistic note I reckon it's time to introduce (like everyone else in Europe) water cannon. It's more image friendly- no headline pictures of sticks swinging and blooded people- and appears to be quite effective. I have no idea why we don't have it. I think it's because of top level paranoia that we don't want to appear too militaristic. But to me it seems a lesser use of force- one bowser with a fire hose versus a line of 16 ugly mugs wielding batons.

I wonder what will happen with those two TSG guys. Not that there was ever a place for getting away with anything but in modern times any place in public with near every person with a video recording phone do something out of line, you know it is near inevitable someone will have recorded it, and won't be saying no to a nice sum from a newspaper or two.

I've done a couple of things public ordery since G20 and the level of paranoia from top brass is laughable. Actually, from some. On one of them the briefing was by a Chief Inspector with all the charisma of a flannel, and said all the right buzzwords, and took extra time to remind us about the current political situation.

A second Chief Inspector on another day was clearly less career minded and was more forthright in his instuction. He reminded us that was never a problem in the use of force on two conditions, namely that it was justified and recorded (in some kind of notes). There may have been a colourful adjective or two inserted.....

Monday, April 13, 2009


The G20 trial by media rumbles on.

Now this may well be an embarrassing fact for a police officer to admit but I don't mind reading the Guardian. I have even been known to actually part with my own money for it.

Well, probably not any more. Someone on their editorial team is so cock-a-hoop that someone sent them the Ian Tomlinson video that they've taken it on themselves to crusade against this tide of police brutality.

I normally read the Guardian because more often than not they seem to have a balanced reporting, and seem to at least acknowledge there are two sides to an issue. I was very interested in their magazine article about two polar opposite approaches on dealing with London's "disaffected" (insert your own adjective here) youth.

However, their G20 coverage, particularly last Saturday's edition which is the last one I looked at- is all about the police brutality. Rent-a-quote people are popping up everywhere saying how the police were sooo nasty and shouted at them and some people even got a baton.

Now don't get me wrong, if there are occasions when we step over the line then yes it needs to be investigated. But where in the Guardian is the acknowledgement of the issues we faced? The dangerous violent minority, who hospitalised officers (where are the pictures of slumped officers being carried away by colleagues? The officer- not in riot gear- who collected a some kind of pole round the head?) and then melted back into anonymity in the crowd?

I wasn't involved directly at the scene, I was effectively on standby off normal duties at my own nick in case we were called in. Very bored I was. On the Wednesday, I was watching the news in the evening with the wife, when the images came on of the crowd surging against the line of officers, helmets being knocked off heads, little digs and pokes going in.

She looked at me, knowing I was on standby for the next day, and although she wouldn't say anything, I knew she was worried.

Still, it isn't as newsworthy or as an interesting anti-police crusade to bother thinking about the personal aspect of this from the other side of the thin blue line. Hundreds of rent-a-quotes from the innocents but not even a token effort to consider things from the other side.

I suppose thats what prompted me into thinking perhaps I ought to get this blogging lark resurrected. I actually started writing this on Sunday but it has taken me till today to actually finish it because I have spent a barking amount of time at work this week, including the most spectacular waste of a day ever yesterday on Operation Completely Unnecssary Total Overkill, more of which another day.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


So yes this has been somewhat neglected, I know.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the worlds most terrible shift pattern I am still stuck on, which generally means time I spend not at work I really don't want to spend thinking about work.
The second is small, has a heck of a set of lungs, is gaining weight at a very healthy rate, and thoroughly does not believe in lie ins!

Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel as far as the first one goes. I am finally in a position where I am able to apply to go somewhere else, so that is what I am doing. I have been doing response team for a number of years now and it is time to test the waters somewhere else.

So maybe, if things work out right, should get the time and inclination to get something back going on here. Still plenty going on in medialand that winds me up, like the major criticism of the overbearing G20 policing yet the 300 arrests, tear gas and charges going on in France barely gets a mention.

So give me a bit of time, a slightly more regular sleeping ability (that'll be a couple of months yet methinks!) and hopefully will get this old dusty blog a bit more sparkly again.