September 30th, 2005
These days if you are in any kind of police building, you can’t go anywhere without seeing a myriad of very senior rank chief police officers falling over themselves in the rush to prove who has the latest and best ‘diversity’ credentials.
Arresting people and assisting members of the public with anti-social behaviour and, what was it again, oh, yeah, preventing crime, are all a very, very long way down the list.
The latest police initiatives don’t involve special operations to target the latest crime to flood the patch, whatever that may be. They involve setting up ‘Diversity Awareness Units’. These are based at police HQ (aren’t they all!) by nine-to-fivers. They usually involve a couple of inspectors or chief inspectors, a couple of sergeants and a handful of support staff. Apparently they are there to monitor diversity issues and come up with new ‘good ideas’ to promote diversity. God knows what they do for 8 hours a day. They certainly don’t help answer any of the calls that the rest of us have to deal with.
A probationer told me the other day that whilst at training school he had four days on diversity and half a day on theft and burglary.
And so, dear member of the public, you need look no further than that if you want to judge the importance the police place upon the problem blighting your private life this evening.
September 28th, 2005
Custody Sergeants can be a right pain in the arse.
Good ones are fantastic, they can guide, advise and assist and are often a font of all knowledge and someone to turn to when dealing with prisoners. I don’t know if it’s just me, but these are the ones who seem to be getting rarer.
A Custody Sergeant is an essential cog in the wheel of the criminal justice system. They are police sergeants (usually, although more and more they are ‘acting‘ sergeants). Their role means that they are based in the cell block of any police station allowed to take prisoners (long story short, these used to be most police stations but now there are very few). Perhaps it’s because the working environment of the Custody Sergeant often means they are ensconced within the bowels of many outdated police stations, or ‘the dungeons’, that they are so bloody miserable. I actually know of one who answers the phone ‘ Hello, Dungeon Master‘.
They are there to make sure that the arrest and detention of all prisoners is lawful and proportionate. They authorise (or not) the further detention of the prisoner, this is usually to obtain further evidence by questioning the detainee or to put them on the station breath test machine in the case of drunk drivers, or to keep them from continuing their drunk and often violent antics should they be allowed free to roam the streets of the UK. Once lawfully detained, the Custody Sergeant is charged with looking after the welfare of the prisoner whilst in the care of Her Majesty’s finest. They arrange solicitors, make sure the prisoners’ rights are respected, call doctors, etc etc. They also prepare the cheeseboard and show them the wine list.
The sequence goes that you get tasked to attend a domestic, arrest the offender (usually the bloke), call Control Room and ask for a custody space. This is where the so far simple and oft-repeated procedure starts to fall down; if the Controller is a helpful one, they start to ring round the Divisional Custody Suites trying for a space. (if they’re not quite so helpful they provide the telephone extension for custody and demand that you ring Direct via your Airwave (radio) terminal).
The Custody Sergeant at the nearest police station to the arrest answers the phone and says they are full. The Controller (or you) rings the next Custody Suite who says they are full. The controller rings the next one who says they have space but decline to take the prisoner because they are keeping spaces open for prisoners from their own division. This cycle continues until all Custody Suites have been contacted. The first one then says they have a space but while the controller has been ringing round, Traffic have nicked a drink-driver and beaten you to it. The Controller rings the second Custody Suite whereupon the Custody Sergeant, who actually does have space, he just doesn’t like prisoners from outside his sub-division using his cells (it’s usually although not exclusively a ‘he’), looks up the custody display on the computer and sees that actually, the first one does have a space or two (not realising that Custody Sergeant has 3 prisoners in the yard at the nick waiting their turn to be ‘booked in’) and refuses to take your prisoner for the second time.
By now, the Operations Room Sergeant, or Inspector, is starting to suggest calling a neighbouring force and asking them to accommodate your prisoner. Eventually, after several more calls (by you because the once helpful controller is now fed up with speaking to belligerent Custody Sergeants and has definitely told you to do it yourself), you find out the first Custody Suite does actually have a cell spare (which they knew about all along but it’s nice to keep one spare ‘just in case‘).
The trouble is that by the time you get the prisoner to the cell block the Custody Sergeant is so pissed off by having to accept even more low-life scum into his cell block that any vestige of potential future assistance coming your way from him has long since flushed itself down the pan (if the toilets actually work).
And you thought your job was to arrest people and lock them up.
If only someone would tell the Custody Sergeant.
September 24th, 2005
You just know the quality of the intelligence of people before you even get to some jobs.
We had to go and check on a motorist who had broken down and pulled on to the hard shoulder of the motorway. The reason he had broken down was because his car apparently had difficulty dealing with the diesel he had filled up with a few miles further back.
Sometimes these things happen. Cars can be tempramental if you use one brand of fuel most of its life and then change to a cheaper version, it can cause it to run a little rougher, or backfire and stuff.
I’ve never been a car techie so I don’t know a great deal about the workings of the internal combustion engine but I do know that if you put diesel into a petrol car, sooner or later you’re going to be sat a the side of the road.
So he’s sat with two female passengers on the hard shoulder. It’s about 3 in the morning so there is a distincty absence of sunlight, but he doesn’t feel the need to have any lights on. He then sends one of the girls down the emergency phone to ring for assistance. The following conversation is then heard.
“Yeah, the fucking numpty’s put diesel in and it’s petrol…..OI, (shouting), they say put yer lights on, yeah, the lights, they want you to put yer lights on…under the steering wheel… the black button…”
When we arrive they are standing on the offside of the vehicle with the door wide open chatting like they’re in Sainsbury’s car park inches from lane 1. They made Vicky Pollard* look like Stephen Hawking.
It’s no wonder so many idiots get wiped out on our motorway systems.
(* Vicky Pollard – TV Character Chav from BBC’s ‘Little Britain‘.)
September 22nd, 2005
…when the police look really young.
I was in the canteen at HQ earlier this week. I don’t get up there much; it’s nothing to do with the fact that you need to take out a mortgage for a sausage sandwich, it’s just that I try to avoid Headquarters whenever possible. It’s too full of people who are full of their own importance and spend most of their day sitting on their arses telling other people what to do and, more annoyingly, how to do it.
You do get to see all the people on courses. Sometimes they are old mates, people you joined with, people you thought were dead. You get to say hello and swap a bit of news, like who’s been nicked, sacked or found out. Other times they are newbies. Officers who have just joined the job and may be on their two-week induction course.
You can tell the ones who are new; their uniforms are usually very clean and often too large. They regard everyone else except their own group as unapproachable gods, and they are incredibly young. (apart from the obligatory 48 year old appointed so the constabulary can boast their ‘diversity’ credentials).
I joined when I was incredibly young, but I refuse to accept that at the same stage of my career as they are that I looked like I had shoplifted a brand new suit whilst playing truant. I bloody swear that only a few months ago some of these probationers were actually foetuses. I had to resist the temptation to advise one of them that they could get an adult to cut up their pie if they were really struggling.
I joined in a time when there were size requirements. In those days you had to be about 5’10 minimum and of a reasonable stature. These days it seems you have to be under 5 feet and built like a racing snake.
The funny thing is that if you speak to anyone who has applied to join the job aged 18, most of them will tell you they got turned down and advised to go out and get some ‘life experience’, but the evidence I see in the canteens appears to be the opposite. It appears to me that the only requirements for getting in the job now are that you are still at school, know how to handle hair gel and possess hair 3 of the colours of which must not be natural.
You can just imagine the reactions of seasoned wife-beaters when they turn up at the next domestic advising people how to run their lives. “Should you be out this late sonny, haven’t you go to get up for a paper-round?”
September 19th, 2005
Was chatting with a mate at work the other day and he gave me cause for some impending joy.
He retires in a few weeks and has received his commutation figure. For those who aren’t aware, police officers pay a percentage of their monthly salary into the pension fund. I say pension fund, it’s not like other funds where the money is invested for future return, it actually goes direct to current police pensioners. Can’t remember the figure off the top of my head, but it’s something like 11 or 15 per cent. (although female officers paid less, for some reason, I don’t know whether they still do. Doubtless someone more up on ‘diversity’ issues will be able to expalin it).
When you retire you get the chance to commute part of your pension. That is you can opt to have a lump sum but receive less pension per month. I suppose the gamble is whether to take the maximum cash and hope you live long enough to enjoy it on a decreased pension, or trust you will live longer on a pension than the years you actually served and take the maximum monthly payment.
My mate has decided to take the maximum commutation which currently stands at around £85,000 lump sum.
£85,000, that’ll do me nicely. It’ll almost pay off my overdraft - under 200 weeks to go, anyone know if it’s tax free?
September 17th, 2005
It’s not foggy.
It wasn’t foggy yesterday.
It wasn’t even foggy last week. It’s the middle of the bloody summer for god’s sake.
You don’t look cool, you don’t look smart and you drive like a bloody tosser, so why attract even more attention to yourself?
September 15th, 2005
You know me and my colleagues spend more and more time these days saying to people, “Sorry about the delay”. You get met with a variety of responses.
The apologies are due to not arriving at someone’s call within the indeterminate time they deem to be ‘appropriate’. This could be an hour or several days. But delays are always due to one thing – there are not enough officers to deal with all the calls.
So we end up on the rough edge of someone’s tongue through no fault of our own. It’s like when you’ve got a complaint about the bank. You can never speak to the person who actually caused the problem so you take it out on whoever answers the fault as if it’s their personal responsibility that your last cheque got bounced. They take out their frustration on the first officer through the door.
Some complaints are more justified than other. Take a bloke tonight who phoned in to say he wasn’t happy with the response to a call he made 2 weeks ago. His cat was chased across his garden by some bull terrier or another and the person walking in was in his front garden trying to retrieve his dog. He phoned in to complain about the dog. Two weeks later he hears on the grapevine that the person who owns the dog lives in a certain street a few cul-de-sacs away so he gets straight on the phone to Old Bill demanding we get round there and deal with the dog owner. Now whilst it is an important thing in his personal sphere, in the grand scheme of everything we have to deal with it’s pretty small potatoes. (ones which haven’t even made it out of the seed warehouse on route to the farm). He gets told a community officer will get in touch in the next day or two. Within 2 minutes he’s back on the phone demanding to make a complaint as to why we are not dealing with this tonight and treating it with the seriousness it deserves.
I thought that he and others might be interested in knowing why we always have delays in responding, so here is a smattering of some of the shite we’ve been dealing with in the last 2 days;
- 16 year old girl rings 999 to complain that her 13 year old sister has hit her. Crime reported so we have to attend. Turns out they have had an argument because one borrowed some item of clothing off the other who didn’t like it. We get away without further action when it transpires nobody actually hit anybody. Time to deal with job, 15 mins travelling and 15 mins explaining that some people should grow up.
- 14 year old boy at local care home rings in saying one of the other children has hit him. Staff try to sort it out but he refuses to speak with them and demands they call the police. They call the police. Two days later we make it round there. 14 year old boy decides he doesn’t actually want to report anything to police. But, crime reported so we have to take a retraction statement, go back and crime it. 8 minutes travelling time, 20 minutes at care home, 15 mins sorting out crime report and filing of statement.
- Irate parent calls in to complain their 11 year old has been ‘assaulted’ by parents of other child outside school. Ten minutes later irate parent of other party calls in saying their child was assaulted by child of first complainant. Turns out first complainant’s son has sworn at and pushed child of second complainant. Parent of second complainant has gone round to first parent’s house to remonstrate, finding parents out remonstrates with child, returns home. Two allegations of assault/threatening behaviour. Second complainant is out by the time we get there so spend 40 minutes in travelling 3 times during evening to see them on each occasion they are out. First parents only want an apology from child of second parents but as second parents not home we can’t resolve it. Probably means two more crime reports and retraction statements. Time taken, almost 1 1/2 hours so far and still have second family to see.
- Parent rings to report her 15 year old daughter missing. We attend. Daughter is not missing she is round a mate’s house refusing to come home. Mother insists that we go round to the address and collect daughter to bring her back to her mother. Fails to accept that she has some parental repsonsibility in the matter and the police are not a free taxi service. Time wasted, 35 minutes.
This is the sort of stuff which goes on in every town and every police station throughout the land. Next time you want to know why we haven’t got round to your burglary or proper assault for several hours (if we do make it on the same day) it’s probably because we’ve been dealing with shite.
September 11th, 2005
Well, I’ve heard it all. (actually, I haven’t, just when you thought this job has done something so totally ****ing crazy that it can’t get any worse, it comes out and tops itself with all the pride of Eddie the Eagle actually making the end of the ramp).
Apparently the national shortage of sergeants (in our force anyway) which has been going on for years but still hasn’t been addressed by those with the power to address it, has reached a crisis of major proportions.
Either that or the person responsible for decision-making (apparently there is at least one in every force, or so I’m told) has undergone a back-street labotomy. It’s the only reason I can possibly fathom for the decision to promote a certain officer to Acting-Sergeant.
The role of Acting-Sergeant was brought about because senior officers no longer had the balls to promote someone on their abilities as a PC. It seems where, for years, you got promoted once you had shown a potential capacity for coping with the role. Now, you have to prove you are capable by acting for months or in some cases a few years, as if those promoting you don’t actually have any faith in their own decision; if it doesn’t work out, it’s nothing to do with them.
So, they are faced with a shortage and at short-notice, they give an acting role to a PC who is just under six months out of his probation. Not only that but Acting-PC would be a role for which this individual was woefully inadequate.
In a force of several thousand officers they can’t find one who can ‘act-up’ who actually knows what he’s doing? Apparently the only qualification required now is that you’ve passed Part-One of the sergeant’s exam. No other skills needed.
No wonder this job is going to hell in a hand-cart….
September 10th, 2005
Blimey, returning from work up the motorway at 7am this mornng after a night shift, I was stunned to learn of the current efforts of MI5.
Radio 5 was quoting current MI5 chief, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, in a speech in the Netherlands as saying that civil liberties may have to be eroded in the fight against terrorism. In a classic mis-quote the Radio 5 presenter stated that Ms M-B had said that MI5 were “disappointed that they had not been able to prevent July 7th“.
Has anyone told MI5 to perhaps concentrate on preventing terrorism and not the arrival of days of the year? This must rank with the efforts of King Cnut (where where the French Connection marketeers in those days?). Never have so many wasted efforts been made since the government of the day trying to hold back the tides. (or prevent yobbish behaviour, criminal misuse of firearms, truancy, teenage pregnancy, smoking, etc etc etc)
I can just imagine the strategy meeting. “OK, so on the agenda we’ve got illegal phone tapping, review of undercover surveillance, response from Home Office to latest proposals for email interception, oh, and September 23rd is approaching, I thin we ought to prevent it”.
Someone tell Dame Eliza that there is generally only 1 day in the year you can prevent and that’s February 29th. Whilst there is a 75 per cent success rate for this date it never works on a leap year, all other day prevention schemes have met with abject failure and there is no point on spending my tax money on efforts to widen the scheme.
September 6th, 2005
Don’t you just love pompous twats who think they deserve more than everyone else?
The following telephone conversation loosely describes what I’m on about and was related to me by a colleague.
Police: Hello, police, can I help you?
PT (see sentence 1 above): Some kids have just thrown a tyre at my living room window.
Police: What type of tyre?
PT: A bicycle tyre.
Police: Is there any damage?
PT: There’s a small scratch on the glass.
Police: Did you see who did it?
PT: No. I just heard a bang and when I checked the window I saw the tyre on the lawn.
Police: OK. Well it is our policy not to attend minor crimes such as this so I’ll pass your details to the crime bureau who will ring you back & make a crime report.
PT: But it’s criminal damage, aren’t you going to send a patrol?
Police: No. It’s not our policy to send officers to crimes like this unless you saw the offenders or know who it is.
PT: Well, I want you to send an officer.
Police: I’m sorry we won’t be attending for the reason I’ve already explained.
PT: What’s your name?
Police: PC X, why do you want to know?
PT: I’m a member of the Police Authority and I think I should be entitled to see an officer.
Police: Well being a member of the Police Authority you should be aware of the force’s policies since I presume you see them from time to time and assist in ratifying them, and it certainly doesn’t entitle you to special treatment over and above every other resident in the town. We don’t send officers to crimes of this nature.
PT: I’m demanding that you send an officer.
Police: We won’t be attending, as I’ve explained.
PT: I’d like the name of your supervisor.
Police: Certainly, tonight its Sgt X. Would you be so kind as to provide me the name of your supervisor on the Police Authority please?
Police: So I can complain that you are trying to take advantage of your position as a member of the Police Authority.
PT: We’ll see about this…..
No more was heard about this incident save to say that police did not attend.
September 3rd, 2005
Section 165A Road Traffic Act 1988 with Regulation 5(3) Police (Retention & Disposal of Motor Vehicles) Regulations 2002 – be afraid, be very afraid….
…but only if you’re one of the scum-sucking lowlifes littering the roads of this country with uninsured illegal vehicles.
The goverment has come up with something good for all those interested in law-enforcement. I know it doesn’t happen very often, but they’ve actually come up with a useful peice of legislation.
Until now, if you stop a vehicle and the driver has no licence or insurance the most you could do is report them, advise them not to drive any further and then watch them drive past after you’ve parked round the corner. If you were lucky, they’d get summonsed, if you were even luckier, they turned up at court or pleaded guilty, and if your luck hadn’t been completely wrung dry, they got something more than 2 shillings out the poor box and Chinese burn off the magistrates.
Now things are slightly more weighted in our favour. Now you stop Joe Shite in his H-reg Ford Orion and he hasn’t got insurance and guess what mate, you’re walking home and there’s not jack-shit you can do about it.
Regulation 5(3) mentioned above gives us the power to sieze the vehicle on the spot. A police-appointed garage gets called out and takes Joe’s pride and joy into the sunset.
We’ve siezed over a hundred vehicles in the past two weeks and it’s great. The look on the faces of these uninsured or unlicenced (it works just as well if you haven’t got a driving licence!) wasters is priceless.
The best bit is they go through the rigmarole about being reported, summonsed, court, penalty as mentioned above, so you kind of expect them to get a crap penalty even if they end up paying the fine, but now who cares? ‘cos they have a built-in instant fine of £105 to get their car back, plus £12 a day storage and they have to produce a current insurance document for the vehicle before they can get it returned, otherwise the thing gets scrapped (or sold if it’s actually worth more than £105).
Instant justice – result!
Sometimes you just love this job….
September 1st, 2005
Word reaches me about an out of force trainer who attended another force to give instruction on PNC (Police National Computer).
Apparently, during the tea-break one of the officers on the course asked for a ‘black coffee’ which drew the attention of the trainer saying he was offended by the use of the word ‘black’ and said it should be referred to as “coffee without milk”.
What isn’t on record is the trainer’s reaction if they’d have been told to stuff that one up their arse, honestly, some people!