August 30th, 2009


Posted in The Job - General by 200

You can often tell the seriousness of a job by the tone of voice of the officer on the other end of the radio, except for one or two officers in particular who always sound like they need urgent assistance even when they’re just booking arrival at their grub break.

So I’m working the channel this week, steady would be the word to describe the shift so far. Then you get a voice on the radio, you recognise one of the officers and his voice is about half an octave higher than normal & a little louder.

“Foxtrot Six, go ahead, over”

“Vehicle failing to stop…..” Immediately you kick into another gear. Your partner, if you have one, creates a new log & starts typing everything everyone says from here on in. It might last 20 seconds, as most of them do, or it could last 30 minutes or more & end in the death of someone, you have no idea.

You hope it’s in an area where you have some geographical local knowledge, it makes it so much easier to direct resources. There is so much arse-covering these days, that you have to document all the thought/decision-making processes along the way. At some unspecified time in the future, someone in a suit in an oak-panelled room will be grilling us on the ins & outs of a cat’s arse on every microscopic detail hoping to eek out some grain of evidence that the job was done incorrectly & whatever the outcome, the fault was the police’s. So you run through a list of pre-determined fact points which need to be documented; was the police officer of sufficient training to pursue, was the police vehicle a suitable vehicle, what are the road & traffic conditions, what’s the reason for the stop in the first place, is the driver know, is there a baby on the backseat,  how dangerous is the driving, it’s a rolling process which affects the decision on whether to continue to pursue.

So you’re trying to coach the relevant information from the police officer, who, hopefully, is the passenger in the pursuit vehicle leaving the driver free to concentrate completely on the job in hand. You’re thankful that Foxtrot Six is an experienced traffic officer & you know the information will be correct, concise & relevant (so many inexperienced officers in pursuits feel they have to talk constantly giving irrelevant info). This means you can use moments of silence in the commentary to muster resources. You want to get 3 or 4 traffic units to catch up/intercept the pursuit so there is enough for a potential forced stopping of the ‘bandit’ vehicle, but you want others heading to strategic points to ‘head them off at the pass’.  If it’s night shift you might not even have 3 or 4 traffic units available. Luckily it’s the afternoon, so there are plenty & most of them want to get in on the act.

Foxtrot Six doesn’t ask for a helicopter, hopefully because he’s worked enough with you before that he knows he doesn’t have to ask because that’s already been done in the background. It doesn’t stop Foxtrot Two-One asking if the helicopter’s been advised which a) isn’t necessary because it’s already been done, b) wastes precious airtime that I could have used to send Hotel Sixteen to the dual carriageway 3 junctions up the road, and c) really winds you up because of a) & b).

It’s been five minutes and the vehicle is still failing to stop, the helicopter has an ETA of eight to ten minutes, 3 traffic units are now following the target vehicle, another has stopped to pick up some packages which have been discarded by the target vehicle’s passenger. A dog vehicle is heading for a junction 3 miles up the road where another traffic unit is already waiting.

It’s a straight bit of road, dual carriageway, you know for the next few minutes he can’t go anywhere. Tactical Pursuit and Containment tactics are being considered, you’ll recognise it from  ‘Traffic Cops’ & the like, where the target vehicle is boxed in and brought to a halt.

The helicopter arrives, which is great because they can turn their cameras on & send the view back to the control room, it’s just like watching Traffic Cops except the voice on the radio is mine. The helicopter takes over the commentary while the traffic units organise themselves to bring the pursuit to a safe conclusion.

The neighbouring force, by now, are also monitoring & waiting at the border; sometimes these things cross several force boundaries. You kind of hope your guys can conclude business before the next force area; it’s so much simpler dealing with your own troops & procedures.

The target vehicle shoots past the next junction. Foxtrot Two-two & Foxtrot One-seven join the road ahead of the  procession & suddenly there are 5 traffic cars ahead & behind the target with a chopper above. It’s great when a plan comes together & the TPAC goes as smoothly as I’ve seen them go, there is not even any damage to any of the police vehicles which is a bonus, and the car owner will get the vehicle back without a scratch on it.

Two males in their twenties are arrested & a quantity of drugs & stolen laptops are recovered from the boot. They get dealt with in the fullness of time & get handed to another force who want them for a string of dwelling burglaries.

I soooo miss those jobs out on the streets, it’s one of the few facets of police work I do miss. It’s nice to think that you contributed to a success, especially when the traffic sergeant calls you on the phone at the end of the shift to thank you for a good job.

Despite what I write  here from time to time, sometimes I love my job.

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  1. rafanon says:

    What a brilliant read!

    I have been known to watch a few of the reality police programmes but reading it from your perspective was fascinating!

    Thanks to all police everywhere, I appreciate it.

    August 31st, 2009 at 12:37

  2. pchawkeye says:

    Team work, works best when everybody involved does what is expected of them and nobody has to ask.

    August 31st, 2009 at 15:31

  3. copper bottom says:

    In my force the pursuits go like this:

    Mike 27 – ‘Xray we have a vehicle failing to stop…’
    xray- ‘ok, thanks. Cease pursuit and pass obs please…’

    there – nice and simple eh?

    what? you are disbelieving?

    well its like this… we dont do pursuits. you see after a couple of fatals – the PCA and the ‘management’ decided that the only people allowed to pursue are:

    grade one drivers-in the traffic car.

    err… thats it.

    this is reduce the amount of money paid (opps… no … ) I mean – this is to reduce the amount of fatalities from reckless Police drivers that kill innocent mops when trying to stop ‘johnny idiot’ in his stolen 106…

    I was told (really..) ‘look -its not open for discussion… you WILL NOT put peoples lives at risk for £200 quids worth of stolen metro…’

    gotcha… still, i cant help but think that it kind of negates the reason to have police in the first place- you know… to arrest thieves… recover stolen property…

    August 31st, 2009 at 16:08

  4. copper bottom says:

    oh i forgot to mention- since we only have a couple of traffic officers – and we work shifts- it means we mostly have NO PURSUIT capability. Period.

    quite comforting though eh mops? knowing that your upset, frustration and inconvienience of having your only method of transport stolen by some stupid chav that cant be arsed to work and buy his own- will not be compounded by the Police killing someone trying to get it back…

    the mind set of this country is – shockingly odd…

    in the USA if ‘johnny scrote’ doesnt stop for officers- and there is an accident – involving injuries- guess who gets it in the neck? yes- the villan… because- he CAUSED the problem by stealing the car…

    if you have a bump in a pursuit here- (even if you only saw the car for a few seconds- lost it 10 mins before the bump) you are likely to face suspension- and criminal charges for dangerous driving.

    i am not making this up either… IPCC were called in just last week to a bump in a next door force- because- a stolen car collided with stationary vehicle- causing injury to passenger- and…. the control room had DIRECTED (not actually SEEN OR tried to stop said car) a vehicle to the area to engage it…

    thats what we are up against…

    I will not pursue ANYTHING now.

    no offence- but i have 4-kids, wife and a mortgage… not worth going to prison for your car.

    August 31st, 2009 at 16:16

  5. copper bottom says:

    i also forgot to mention-

    if you have an collision and someone killed or seriously injured- the chances are you are going to Crown Court …

    In the news a couple of weeks ago – a motorcyclist failed to stop for officers – he obviously wasnt that good because he wrapped it around a lampost..

    their reward for risking their lives?

    suspension; IPCC investigation; ban from driving Police vehicles; charges for causing death by dangerous driving…

    I have to tell you- if it was up to me- we would not pursue ANYONE…

    Just tell criminals on tv- ‘steal what you want- do what you want- we wont stop you’

    may as well

    August 31st, 2009 at 17:58

  6. Tony F says:

    200, 10/10.

    copper bottom, as a mop, if my local force failed to at least attempt to stop my motor if it had been stolen I would sue someone. So There.

    Failing that, the local chief would find an immense pile of fresh cow shit in his parking bay.

    September 2nd, 2009 at 17:00

  7. copper bottom says:

    sorry- we dont and we wont…

    because other MOPS dont want us to…

    and the snr management have no spine…

    I repeat… any accidents or collisions as a result of a pursuit- the officers end up in court- and if someone is injured- the officers are off to prison.

    would you risk prison -at the very least – the sack for your piece of metal? or putting johnny scrote in front of court so he can whine he is an unfortunate etc… and for them to get a community sentance?

    no f***ing way…

    September 2nd, 2009 at 22:24

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