November 1st, 2006

We’re all By-passers

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

With regards to my earlier comments on people not wanting to get involved, you know, it’s not just in situations which some perceive it may be ‘risky’. People won’t get involved when there is little chance of any problems occuring.

I was in the CCTV control centre recently. Using the excuse of picking up some more CCTV footage for other cases going nowhere, I stopped for a cuppa.

Whilst putting society to rights the CCTV operator picked up a guy lying flat out on his back across the whole width of the footpath in the town centre.

I passed it through to our control via my radio & they arranged an ambulance. We watched on the screens for 7 or 8 minutes until the ambo arrived. In all that time not one single person stopped to see if the guy was OK or even still alive. They walked round him, some ignoring him totally, others staring as they passed. Some even stopped further up the road & watched him. Eventually paramedics roused him, he was worse the wear for drink but was taken in for a checkup none-the-less. He could have been dying, nobody cared enough to see.

Then the CCTV operator was called by police control reporting a missing 3 year old kiddie in the town centre who had wandered off from mum in a busy department store.

Within a couple of minutes CCTV picked up the child crawling across the footpath about 50 yards down from the shop in which his frantic mother was being calmed by store security staff.

Police control, who were also watching the CCTV directed an officer to go straight to the kid, which was just as well because not one person stopped. It was fairly obvious the child was on their own as it wandered along the path, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling & chasing the pigeons. Yet nobody went to the child to see where its mother or father was. As far as I could tell nobody even called in to report a 3yr old wandering through the town.

It just goes against the grain of everything I have devoted my entire adult life as a police officer towards. I can’t believe so many people decline to offer help where help is so obviously required.

I guess people just like to think about number one & put stuff like this in the ‘not my problem’ category. They say what goes around comes around. I think there may be quite a few people who will need assistance in the future and all they’ll get is blank looks and passers-by.


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  1. chairwoman says:

    Things have changed so much, haven’t they? I don’t think it’s a number one issue, as much as fear. We’re all frightened of the drunk lying in the middle of the pavement, and as for approaching a child… everybody’s frightened of being accused of something heinous. You can help, you’re officially allowed to, but as for the rest of us, well these days fear rules.

    November 1st, 2006 at 10:08

  2. Arksos says:

    So true,

    “As for approaching a child… everybody’s frightened of being accused of something heinous.”

    Especially when you’re a bloke.

    I have never shied away from helping someone, in the situation with a body on the deck i would (and have) stop to ask if he/she was ok, call for help, and stay with him or her until it arrived.

    But i am even scared these days to tell a parent that they have a beautiful child.

    I mean even writing it sends images of a witch hunt through my head.

    Sign of the times,

    In that situation, i would probably watch for a while and question a passer by, if they knew who’s child it was, keep an eye on the kid, try and get a woman to help,(always looks better with a female) then approach the child and ask where his/her mom is,

    Then wait for the police/help.

    In situations like the kid one, factors influence your response…

    Modern life has many people living a blinkered existence, with the pace of life; we hurry through with our head down and our eyes forward.

    How busy was the square?

    Were there many kids about?

    What time of day was it?

    Honestly, with my headphones in my Ipod, and with a destination and a time table, i like many people could have missed the kid…

    Sign of the times that my gut response despite my agenda is to look the other way, and try to keep my life simpler…

    50 years ago…who knows, i wasn’t alive, but listening to my parents and grandparents I would think both men and women would have noticed the child much faster then people today, and responded with my more enthusiasm and help…

    November 1st, 2006 at 13:06

  3. bj says:

    Some incidents


    Intervened to stop some teenagers throwing bricks at a neighbour’s roof (they smashed some tiles)

    They threatened to kill me and steal my car

    Friend phones police

    Police turn up and “take the lad in the house to the other side of town, as the lads throwing bricks were upset with him for going out with their ex-girlfriend”

    Police never spoke to the people who had rang them

    That night my car got nicked

    Reporting I was told “sorry their fathers are the local big time criminals we cannot deal with them unless we have many more officers than we have available”

    Police fail to find car

    Few days later my brother and I come across my car (no damage, where had they got the key? probably been in my place that night to get a copy?)

    Car has a parking ticket on it WHILE ITS REPORTED STOLEN?

    We tell the local station where it is, they decide to tow it away for finger printing

    Several days later trying to get car back from police garage, get violent abuse and swearing from garage owner for having the nerve to ask for my car back, have to get local inspector to TELL him to let me have the car, and get charged for having the car towed away for finger printing (hey the police decided this not me!)

    Later front brakes fail, turns out bolts to front brake callipers had been slackened, report this to local inspector, lots of promises no action

    Have to resort to county court summons to get my money back from police for the charge from their garage

    Guy who had tiles broken moved away from the area, as did I

    Teenagers, no action taken

    Local inspector tells me “I don’t have enough staff, do you know how many cars get nicked here every day? I’m just fire fighting, sorry”

    ii) Another time I ran after some lads throwing eggs at ladies coming out of doctors surgery, sadly I fell and cut myself rather badly, ended up in hospital A & E queue BEHIND a bunch of police prisoners clearly fabricating illness and shouting their heads off upsetting the genuine sick folk

    iii) I have jumped in and helped a copper who was being beaten up one night, luckily turned out ok, walked away happy but with no thanks

    iv) Used minimum force together with 3 other guys who I didn’t know to stop a group of teenagers setting fire to a train, had to hit them quite hard as part of this – and to defend ourselves, carriage full of women/kids other than us – incident ends in teenagers leaving the train determined to go to police station and report us for beating them up (luckily they had no idea who we are, although cops could probably have got cctv if they wanted), but sad to reflect I spent a good few weeks worrying about some copper knocking on my door re this incident

    v) Girlfriend gets attacked in front of city centre CCTV, cops are nice enough but CCTV “wasn’t switched on”

    vi) I get a 30-minute lecture for doing 5 miles over the speed limit from a sarcastic lady cop who was a crap driver herself (I’d been watching), and bigger fine and points than any of the criminals in above incidents received

    All just random personal experiences, but really nowadays I really do think before getting involved

    November 1st, 2006 at 16:16

  4. 200 says:


    yes, there are lots of examples of poor response to members of the public’s calls for assistance, that can’t be denied and should be addressed. I have been let down by police officers both on and off duty.

    In fairness though, several of your criticisms weren’t the fault of the police but in such a long list that gets hidden. (parking ticket, garage boss, no evidence re offenders for your car, CCTV not switched on)

    I’d be surprised if you got fine and pints for doing 5mph over the limit because even in a 30 ACPO guidelines suggest that should be the very minimum at which people are put through the system (10% plus 2mph in any limit) but if you say you did then I’ll have to believe you and would agree that is not what proper road traffic enforcement should be about.

    I offer my thanks for your public spiritedness shown so far in these incidents, you are one of a shrinking minority of people who have been willing to help. I just hope you haven’t been put off assisting again in the future, after all, it could be your wife or daughter who is the victim next time and how would you feel if everyone declined to help, for whatever reason?

    November 1st, 2006 at 16:56

  5. bj says:

    thanks for the kind comments

    to some degree you are right

    but you know the abuse from the garage was within the police forces control, it is their garage, they had given such work to them

    at the time i thought the garage owners were friends of the “local big time criminals” who were the lads fathers, i had no evidence, but i wouldnt be surprised

    getting your car back with such a fault after a threat against your life is i am afraid a disgrace

    these are just small examples

    i was upstairs and heard every word as some coppers threatened in very agressive tones to arrest my father for having taken a ball off some local youths who had been kicking it against his very expensive window (broken previously the same way) again its such a simple everyday incident but the police are way too far on the side of the yobs kicking the ball and so badly against the householder, i considered it nothing other than minimum force to prevent a crime (criminal damage to window) and if the cops took a similar line these kids would not grow up thinking they can do what they want versus adults

    had various traffic stops and NEVER once been impressed with the attitude or reason, I dont think I am perfect, but come on we all see crazy things on the roads a million times worse, 85 on a motorway is not dangerous and most cops drive like that themseleves off duty – does it really merit such a long pointless lecture?

    and the police force on the whole joining the politically correct crowd and taking on drivers, while doing nothing about dangerous cycle riding for example, is not fair

    the system is a little out of balance out there

    but thanks to the good foot soldiers of the police force who do their best

    November 1st, 2006 at 18:01

  6. Doktor Jon says:


    Yours and others comments are so sadly and depressingly familiar, you do wonder where it all went wrong.

    I had a situation a couple of nights back where having returned home, I was turning my car around in an unlit garage area, when the headlights picked out a 6 foot youf with a young girl bent double in front of him.

    Having stopped to ask if she was all right, the rather one sided conversation was interspersed with an occasional ‘yeh’ or ‘nah’. I went off and parked the car a 1/4 mile away (bless the local authorities controlled parking zone!!), and decided to go back on foot to see if the obviously very young girl was o.k.

    I struck up another full and open dialogue wiv sed youf, and then realised that lurking in the dark were the rest of the crew, trying to keep quiet but not very effectively. It was at that point that rather than being sick as youf had suggested, it was more likely an understandable reaction to too many ‘Breezers’.

    From concerned member of the public enquiring after the welfare of a distressed but mute child, I suddenly realised that it was me and about eight kids in total, with all sorts of potential outcomes going through my head.

    I politely requested that in the interests of their safety, he and his friends should make a move and get the young lass home in the next few minutes, pointing out that I’ll be back out again in ten minutes to make sure they’re on their way.

    Fortunately, they actually took my ‘advice’ and the last I saw they were staggering their way up towards the road, and hopefully home.

    I must confess, if I’d known that there was a gang of them, I would certainly have thought twice or even three times before intervening, and I know from past conversations with serving officers, that many would also be very reluctant to go in alone, especially if not in uniform.

    The world today is a very different place, and whatever our wishes for the future, I regret we’re just going to have to learn to live with it.


    November 2nd, 2006 at 10:24

  7. Driftinonby says:

    Give me the right to defend myself from an agressive drunk, the right to kneel down and ask a distressed child where mummy is without being interviewed under caution (yes its happened to me!), and I will happily act as a responsible member of society, all I ask is society treats me responsibly.

    Too many human rights, not enough personal responsibilties. Dont want to work, fine the taxpayer will pay for you. Dont want to save up for a new TV, thats ok, drive a stolen van through the nearest comet after all you had a deprived childhood.

    I was a regular visitor to the southern US, despite all we hear of terrible crime over there I found joe public was far more inclined to be involved because most legislation is very localised, senior police officers who do not address local concerns dont keep their jobs and “special units” are almost always tasked with pro-active duties, thegangs unit go out and for want of a better word harass gang members, seize their cars, stop and search every opportunity and similar methods of policing. I had a car broken into at the local supermarket (a rare eventbelieve it or not in that area), no cctv, 2 police cars on scene within minutes, 1 immediately left to just drive around and immediately did a stop and search on a group of known locals, 7 witnesses all of whom were more than happy to give statements, end result, within 24hrs I had my property back, 3 people arrested, charged and detained, 1 month later 3 in prison for 12months each for a 30 quid radio and a side window.

    November 6th, 2006 at 02:03

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