September 18th, 2009

And all because…

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Budget cuts must be hitting hard, Thames Valley Police have been keeping their bullets in Quality Street tins.

In the control room we have training days where the management make up a load of irrelevant cock & spoon feed us so they can say we’ve had some training. Often the people giving the talks are so bored they don’t actually turn up so someone from the training department bores us rigid by reading out their Powerpoint presentations. These are usually on subjects we have had several times before because nobody is imaginitive enough to find out what it is we actually need or want.

One of the regular talks we get is from the firearms department. It’s usually one of the less boring ones, not that we’ve not seen or heard it all before, but we actually get to leave the training room to go out into the car park for a look at all the gear the firearms cars have. We even get to hold a real gun. Fortunately, so far, the firearms officers who have given the presentations haven’t managed to shoot any of the controllers. Which can’t be said for PC David Micklethwaite, a police firearms instructor with Thames Valley, who thought the aforementioned Quality Street tin contained the force’s collection of blank bullets when it actually contained live bullets.

He then managed to point a 44 Magnum revolver at one of the lecturees & shot him through the body, fortunately the hapless victim survived but he probably won’t be taking any 999 calls anytime soon, if ever. Wasn’t the 44 Magnum ‘the most powerful handgun in the world’ capable of ‘blowing your head clean off‘ according to Harry Callaghan?

So let me get this right, a police firearms instructor, mistakenly loads a deadly weapon with live bullets he thinks are blanks, points the weapon at a member of the audience he is giving a demonstration to, and pulls the trigger? I’m no firearms expert, but in the worlds of my dear old gran, fer fucks sake!

The officer & force have admitted breaching health & safety regulations & will be sentenced in due course.

Meanwhile, next time I go to a training day & someone pulls out the chocolates, you won’t see me for dust.

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  1. Tom Gane says:

    Sorry 200, but I wept with laughter. Not at the demise of the poor sod on the nasty end of a fast moving projectile, but at the farce of a instructional lecture.

    I have perversely acquired a pathological aversion to chocolate in tins. I think I’ve been a fan of 200′s too long.

    September 19th, 2009 at 09:07

  2. Fee says:

    Nah, it’ll take more than that to put me off choccies in tins. Mind you, none of our trainers are allowed to hold weapons. Come to that, none of them are allowed anything sharp or pointy!

    September 19th, 2009 at 10:35

  3. Ian says:

    I can just imaging the hoo-ha, If I had said “I was keeping my ammo in a sweet tin” when I applied for my FAC . I had a gun cabinet made from quarter inch plate. It took over 6 folk just to carry it, into place, before it was fixed to the wall and floor. Never mind when it had anything inside it. It was also inspected by three different police officers of different ranks to say they were happy with the thing before, the FAC was issued. So at long last we now see how slap dash some of the police department truly are with there own fire arms and the type of training they think is of the minimum requirement to do the job. They would not have got away with this on any army or civilian range or premises.
    And I’m sure there was some thing a few years ago about a passer by how handed in a bag with Heckler & Koch MP5s in it, of which belonged to a firearms response unit who had left it on the roof of there panda car and drove off, and the bag had falling into the street. The whole thing is just sloppy training practises

    September 19th, 2009 at 12:08

  4. Ned says:

    As a former soldier and current cadet adult instuctor i have a fairly sound background in weapon handling. I can’t believe the actions of the Thames Valley firearms instuctor. One of the first rules for the safe handling of firearms is “Never point a weapon at another person, not even in jest”. That counts for unloaded weapons, blanks loaded (even a blank round can wound at close range due to the hot gasses and particles that result)and especially live rounds! Also, the fact that ammunition wad kept in such a manner is just wrong, each and every person in the firearms unit deserves a severe arse kicking for allowing ammuntition control to become so poor. At the very least I would expect the officer that had the negigent discharge to be srtipped of his firearms qualifications. If the HSE find him guilty coiuld he face criminal procedings and/or dismissal?

    September 19th, 2009 at 12:20

  5. bunk says:

    Katerina McAteer, for Thames Valley police, said PC Micklethwaite had undergone an “extremely detailed” period of training and assessment. “As far as Thames Valley were concerned he was bona fide and safe and there was nothing to indicate otherwise.”

    ^ well if that’s the case, P45s for all concerned.

    Even as a lay person, I wouldn’t be keeping bullets in sweet boxes, know the difference between a live bullet and a blank and know not to point a gun at someone unless to possibly shoot.

    What a fucking farce.

    September 19th, 2009 at 12:22

  6. copper bottom says:

    ned- i was cannon fodder too… i have seen ND’s in the forces but…

    my safety ins- ‘right, there is only one reason to point a weapon at another person- to kill them…’


    ALL weapons are loaded with live rounds- unless you CONFIRM otherwise…

    secure the weapon (fingers away from trigger).
    apply safety – (check).
    by- removing the mag- cocking and re-cocking (at least 3x times).
    INSERT finger into breach- to check there is no round…

    with revolvers its even simpler…
    secure the weapon.
    open the revolving chamber.
    empty the revolving chamber.
    PHYSICALLY look to SEE the chambers are empty.

    I think its nothing more than – familiarity breeds contempt…

    we all make mistakes- but mistakes made with loaded firearms- are often perm…

    i think firearm headline of week is the ‘clearing’ of the firearms team that shot and killed the lawyer in London. After a year of looking forward to being charged and crown courted for ‘murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and conspire to …’ IPCC and CPS say- nah… you were justified in returning fire at a man that: fired at you, fired at members of the public and randomly at buildings.

    only in the UK would those officers face such bullshit.

    September 19th, 2009 at 16:06

  7. Tom Gane says:

    Copper Bottom and Ned remind me of my service, and the drill for clearing a weapon, ending in the immortal words “clear, ease springs.” I also recall threats of death should we not follow range procedure. My brother while serving in the Guards referred to the black asprin (a shiny boot delivered to the head) should a miscreant on the range be identified.

    I think it is the case that familiarity breeds contempt, though like all military (point at the target and shoot the ‘T’), I was taught aim the weapon at a human only if you intend to shoot them, never ever in jest, or any other purpose.

    Perhaps the most difficult item to comment on are the officers who went through the mill after shooting a ‘gun wielding lawyer’ apparently intent on suicide. Surely under the current Rules of Engagement, his conduct warrented the fire team returning fire. In fact it would appear they showed immense restraint.

    There must be an investigation into the circumstances of a fatal shooting by police, but it must never, ever warrent a witch hunt. This is a shameful indictment as to how we treat police.

    Still going to stay away from chocolate in tins though..

    September 19th, 2009 at 17:29

  8. Tony F says:

    I can still remember the safety checks for all the weapons I handled or was expected to handle. FFS I was in the RAF. I have seen firearms officers miss handling weapons before, and to be honest, someone getting shot in such a manner does not surprise me. In fact I suspect there have been plenty of NDs in the police.

    I was taught never ever point a weapon at anything, unless you intend to kill it. All targets were to be treated as live (I know) but unless you had that in your head, then to be honest, you should not be let loose with a loaded catapult, let alone a firearm.

    The best instructors in weapons handling were the ‘Rock Apes’ they took no prisoners, and if you fucked up…well, best you didn’t.

    Funnily in the RAF, the people who least wanted to handle personal weapons, seemed to be the best shots, and were the safest….

    September 19th, 2009 at 20:25

  9. MarkUK says:

    Surely everyone, including gun virgins like myself, know that you NEVER point a firearm at anyone unless you mean to kill them?

    The upper crust even teach their children this in nursery rhymes:

    Never, ever let your gun
    Pointed be at anyone
    That it may unloaded be
    Matters not the least to me

    The whole poem can be read here:

    September 19th, 2009 at 21:29

  10. Brother Random says:

    I’m guessing it was some sort of typing error on the part of the report, but if not then a man demonstrating “the difference between a Pistol and a Revolver” ought to stay away from anything more dangerous than sweets until he gets some firearms knowledge.

    Hell, when I had fire safety training the instructors made a point of us not pointing the things at each other…

    September 21st, 2009 at 14:41

  11. Iain says:

    How can someone who claims to be a ‘Firearms Instructor’ not know the difference between a live round and a blank?

    Even if the round WAS blank was he intending to fire it at the civvy?? (Reason I ask is blanks are also dangerous and more to the point, they fucking hurt)

    I once attended a robbery and recovered the firearm used, an 8mm blank firing automatic. As a good DC, I unloaded it, cleared the stoppage, which is what had prevented the little wanker firing it again, and boxed and bagged it as evidence. 45 minutes later I had to unbox and unbag it as some jobsworth from firearms decided that I wasn’t qualified to clear the weapon. I explained that prior to joining the job I was a qualified Infantry Small Arms Instructor.

    His reply was “and….”

    November 20th, 2009 at 21:19

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