Archive for October, 2005

October 31st, 2005

Same Old Same Old

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

One of the major roles of a constable, after the protection of life, is the prevention & detection of crime. This may come as a surprise to the suits who run the show because in order to detect crime it’s a kind of ‘given’ that you will need to arrest people.

Actually, you might be forgiven to think that arresting people isn’t what the suits had in mind when they introduced ‘street bail’. This is a method of dealing with people on the street who otherwise would be arrested but are bailed to meet you at a  pre-arranged time at a police station some time in the future, which avoids having their sorry arses through the cell door at a time when it would probably have the most effect on them; i.e. there and then.

Anyway, I digress. A usual weekend of mayhem and drunken violence with said people doing what they do best, get drunk and being violent, and her Majesty’s boys & girls in blue running from one domestic to the next and from punch-up to another brawl and back again.

Pretty soon the cells are full up, that’s all the cells, in the whole county, every one. (at least what’s the Custody Sergeants said and they are the keeper of the keys). So we’re faced with ‘alternative arrangements’. These being a broadcast over the radios that all custody spaces are now taken, which is a kind of warning that if you arrest someone having been told there is nowhere to put them ‘it’s your own damn fault’ if you have to wait until Christmas to get them booked in somewhere, anywhere, including another county. Secondly, anyone who is arrested should, if at all possible, be ‘street bailed’. So you have the prospect of some lout who thinks it’s good sport to punch a PC in the head, being offered street bail because there is nowhere to lock him up. I love it when a plan comes together.

The reason there are no cells at weekends is because someone thought it would be a good idea to close all the police stations, well, most of them.

Time was, not so long ago, when almost every main police station had a cell block and even a custody sergeant to staff it, and every prisoner you had was dealt with at your own nick. That has several benefits; firstly it’s quick. You don’t have to drive 15 miles (or more) to the next town to use their cells. You know where all the paperwork is so you don’t spend hours searching around a strange police station looking for statement forms and the myriad of other forms which you will spend the next 3 hours completing. And finally, you know the staff and importantly the Custody Sergeant.

This means you get a better service from them. After all, it’s human nature that it is far easier to be rude to people you don’t know, and that includes people in the same job. That’s why NTL ‘Customer Services’ are so bloody good at it; they haven’t a clue who you are, don’t care and will probably never speak to you again much less meet you face to face. It’s the same in the job.

Other ‘givens’ when it comes to lack of custody space is that those on the gound will complaint to anyone who will listen that every weekend this situation happens, they will do this for several years, the bosses will talk management bollocks about better service, more officers on the street, future plans, things take time, etc etc all of which will amount to there being no cell in which to put your drunken wife-beater next weekend.

Apparently, closing police stations and cell blocks allows you to provide a better service. A better service to whom I am yet to be made aware, it’s certainly not a better service to me, nor the people I arrest. Perhaps it’s a better service to bean counters who have to count beans from less police stations.

October 29th, 2005

Work of Great Importance

Posted in Not the Job by 200

This is a story of animal-loving folk, well one animal loving folk (is there a singular of “folk”?) An eight year old lover of animals, well one specific animal really, an amphibian, Latin name lupus frogus paininarsus or, to give it its more common name ‘Crazy Frog’.

Actually, truth be told the story probably involves two Crazy Frogs.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, a 9-year-old boy was at home in the unduly warm October weather we’ve had this week when his neighbour overheard him singing. Nothing to interest us in a policey-type story stakes  I hear you say – wrong! The boy was singing the “Crazy Frog” song, the bloody annoying one which goes along the lines of ding-ding-ding-ding –diiiiing-ding, ding-ding-ding-ding –diiiiing.

Unfortunately the lad concerned did not take into account that his neighbour happened to be a female of French origin, who, on overhearing the young songster, promptly rang her majesty’s constabulary to report that her neighbour’s child was being racist towards her!

With due speed a patrol was despatched, as they are on all allegations of racist incidents, to speak with the indignant ‘victim’ of such blatant racist abuse. The officers followed up with a  visit to the boy’s mother (the boy was not spoken to by officers who decided no further action was necessary).

Under current Home Office crime recording rules this incident must be recorded as a racist incident (why? because someone, anyone, thinks it’s a racist incident) and all the usual forms completed, it might even go down as a detection once again proving that no stone is unturned in the police’s endeavours to rid the playgrounds of this country from such evil and despicable examples of racist filth, or something.

October 27th, 2005

Home Office Performance Figures

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The Home Office today released its list of best & worst performing police forces. To save time and more importantly, effort, by way of an explanation about what these figures represent, I’ll just quote what the Home Office website says:

In 2004/05, police forces have been assessed in seven key performance areas: Reducing Crime; Investigating Crime; Promoting Safety; Providing Assistance; Citizen Focus; Resource Use; and Local Policing

I have so far heard three chief constables from forces named as amongst the worst performing forces on both TV & radio. Without exception none of them agreed that their force was a bad performer. All of them said that the figures represent a snapshot some time ago, the force has moved on, radical changes since, unfair comparisons, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I haven’t heard any of the top performing chiefs today but I bet none of them are saying the same things.

Next time you get hauled up in front of the inspector and questioned about your performance, tell him or her that actually his evidence for such is out of date, was unfairly compared to everyone else on the shift and anyway, you’ve made improvements since he came to that conclusion, see how you get on.

Home Office Report

October 24th, 2005

That’ll Learn ‘im

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

It seems the Metropolitan Police have found it necessary to  issue an edict to its senior officers. It’s in relation to driving of police vehicles, particularly at speed. Apparently some senior officers have forgotten what every other member of the road-using fraternity have all known this since the first day they picked up a  Highway Code.

The report reminds all officers that it is not acceptable to exceed the speed limit when late for a meeting – well no shit, Sherlock!

The matter arises because Chief Supt Les Owen apparently forgot that small detail when being chauffeured to a meeting by a PC when their vehicle was clocked at 82MPH in a 40 limit.

The driver has already received a £250 fine and 3 points on his licence at Redbridge Magistrates Court in January.

Who caused the vehicle to go at this speed is not a matter of public record but given the fact that a PC is driving a Chief Superintendent and the Chief Superintendent is late, the conversation from one to the other will be a matter for you to guess, I know what I and majority of colleagues I’ve discussed it with think.

So the PC gets the court summons (and rightly so). You might be entitled to think the old boss might be in for a bit of a drubbing somewhere, and you’d be right; if your definition of drubbing includes getting a written warning letter from the Professional Standards dept.

Well, that’ll teach him then!

October 21st, 2005

Check Your Mobile

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The latest techniques for controlling unruly youths havn’t gone down too well in the lofty corridors of the Metropolitan Police.

Coming across a youth in a London street, a plain clothes police officer in an unmarked vehicle was so incensed by the anti-social behaviour of the youth that he stopped his car in the middle fo the road, got out and picked up the 16 year old.

The officer then carried the lad a few yards to a nearby litter-bin and dropped him in it before returning to his vehicle.

The whole event was filmed by the lad’s mate on his mobile phone and broadcast to the world on the BBC News.

The matter made its way to the aforementioned lofty corridors whereupon the IPCC* was called in and the officer suspended from duty quicker than a senior officer cocking up a whole department (oops, my mistake, incompetent senior officers aren’t suspended, or much else come to that).

Anyone with any experience of police procedures might be a little surprised at the swift and vehement treatment of the officer. Under normal circumstances someone might expect an apology to the youth concerned, a bollocking from the officer’s sergeant or inspector and a few words of advice without tea and biscuits; it is highly unusual for an officer to be suspended from duty and the IPCC called in.

That is, except when the ‘victim’ is from an ethnic minority…


Link to BBC Story & Video

* IPCC – Independent Police Complaints Commission

October 18th, 2005

Tory Numpty

Posted in Not the Job by 200

Did anyone see prospective Tory Party leader and possible future leader of the country, David Cameron on TV this week?

His minutes of fame have rocketed since his entry into the contest for leadership of the Conservatives and it seems, this week at least, his face is never out of the news.

He was captured in glorious Technicolor on the BBC teatime news cycling into the Houses of Parliament – well, not literally, through the gates from the road outside, to be precise.

I was quite impressed to see a politician cycling to work, even more so to see a cycling helmet.

It was a shame that Cameron’s helmet (cycling variety otherwise I would have been impressed!) was hanging from his handlebars.

It kind of begged the question of why he bothered to have it with him in the first place of he wasn’t gonna wear it. I know he’s young (for a politician) but he doesn’t quite look fit enough to do a double salco over the handlebars, grab the helmet and affix it to his bonce in time to soften the blow of skull on tarmac. I dread to think what would have happened if he’d have gone head first into one of those large concrete security blocks put up to prevent terrorism at the Houses of P.

It then dawned on me that perhaps he had been wearing it for the majority of the journey but took it off on his approach to the office for the benefit of the phalanx of cameras awaiting his arrival.

It’s sad that road safety is so unimportant that a good photograph takes precedence.

October 13th, 2005

Tomorrow’s Customers

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

I was out cycling today. Just a little 7 miler at a reasonable pace.

About half a mile from the house I went under a railway bridge. I could see before I got there a group of people hanging around under the bridge.

My first thought was that they were some of the usual crew who were waiting for a gap in witnesses before adorning the walls of the bridge with their usual brand of  poorly written grafitti. I was wondering what I’d do if they actually sprayed while I was there and remembering that my mobile was on charge back at the house.

As I got nearer I could see two boys aged no more than 5 who were standing on the railings looking towards me. A drunken women in her early 30s was crouching beside them with an open bottle of red wine in her hand. I think she was trying to have conversation with them but was too drunk to form any kind of coherent English sentence.

Further under the bridge were two women, I use the term loosely, in their mid to late 20s dressed like Essex Chavs.

As I got within a few yards, the boys, one white, one mixed-race, started saying ‘pig, pig, pig’ at me.

Just to make it clear, it wasn’t the ‘pig’ as in they knew what I did for a living, it was ‘pig’ as in they know it’s pretty offensive to call someone a pig but they don’t quite dare use the same language as their mothers.

The women I took to be the mothers were doing the “she goes, he goes, she goes, do you know what he said next, like, yeah right” only it took them three times as long to say it as it just has for you to read it because every other word was an f*** or a c***.

I guess I’ll be retired by the time those boys start getting arrested, but my younger colleagues will meet them sooner or later – guaranteed.

October 10th, 2005

Parking

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

If I hear another government minister say “there are more police officers now than any other time in our history” I’ll bloody  scream.

We all know that factually that statement is correct, yet without exception, said government ministers never go on to actually complete the statement; “there are more police officers now than any other time in our history, but there are less police officers on the street than ever before.”

Twenty five years ago I paraded a large town in our police district with 2 sergeants, an inspector and about 12-14 PCs. The same station today has 1 sergeant, an inspector they share with 5 other police stations and they parade 6 or 7 PCs.

You might therefore be drawn to ask ‘where is everyone then?’

I don’t know for sure, I guess a lot of them are on ‘not our remit’ squads. These are the ones who were set up to support the front line constable by providing manpower to take over front line jobs from the front-line officers to allowed them to get back onto front-line jobs but when asked for that support usually say “sorry mate, not our remit.”

One clue as to where they all are can be gleaned from the burgeoning car parks. These car parks are not at front-line police stations (they’re being taken away, sold, used for other purposes). No, the car parks which are growing at alarming rates are all at police headquarters.

Many forces have massive amounts of land, some of which was once used to encourage sporting facilities to assist officers in keeping their fitness levels up. Not any more, they’ve all been laid waste to provide acres of tarmac to provide for the growing staffing levels at police HQ.

Everyone is working at an office at police HQ, that’s where all the extra officers are. They’re also working 9 to 5 and weekends off and yet every one of an equivalent rank is getting the same pay as the front-line troops who work bloody awful shifts, get about 1 weekend in 4 or 5, and have to park in a public car park half a mile form the police station because their car parks have been downsized.

If you want proof, just visit any police HQ at about 9.30 on any Monday. You’ve got more chance of being hit on the back of a head by a zeppelin than finding a parking space. Now go back at the same time on Saturday and it’s like some wasteland from a modern western movie with tumbleweed blowing from the forgotten boundaries of once green fields to the empty Diversity Unit office.

October 6th, 2005

Thus Spake the Custody Sergeant

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

You spend a lot of time down the cell block, well, you do if you are one of the few ‘front-line’ officers these days.

Some days it can go:

  1. Turn up for work, cup of tea, get turned out of readup for a job (or ‘shout’)
  2. Get to job, make arrest
  3. Get to cell block (or ‘Custody Suite’ as the touchy-feely people have renamed it)
  4. Spend ages waiting for prisoner to be booked in
  5. Quick report
  6. Get turned out from arrest reports to another shout
  7. Get to job, make arrest
  8. Get to cell block
  9. Spend even longer waiting for prisoner to be booked in because the Custody Sergeant now has at least one extra prisoner from your last arrest and has to show him the wine list before booking in your new prisoner.
  10. Quick report
  11. Get turned out from arrest reports to yet another shout
  12. You know the rest…

You pretty much see it all, from the outraged at being incarcerated, to the fighters, escapers, people who just scream, people who pretend to faint. Some people will do anything to avoid suffering the consequences of their illegality.

We had one such the other day, one of the more vocal ones. Everything he said was at 195 decibels and usually involved veins on the side of his neck doing their own light show.

After booking him in the Custody Sergeant announced to the officer which cell his man was to be taken. Slight physical encouragement was required to remove the ‘customer’s grip from the custody desk, along with the usual ranting about human rights, police state, wait til I see my solicitor, you’re gonna lose your job, yadda, yadda.

The look on his face when he actually saw the cell was a treat, after all, some of them don’t appear on the hotel 5 star lists.

You can’t keep me in there, now way, get my solicitor, you can’t keep me, what’s the charge?”

And from the depths of the custody suite came an age-old repost from an age-old Custody Sergeant, “There’s no charge, it’s absolutely free”. emoticon

October 2nd, 2005

Some People (3)…

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I guess it’s just another symptom of the ‘me’ society we seem to be living in these days; so many people & so little time for others.

As a police officer there are certain ‘givens’; you won’t get off on time when you’ve arranged to attend an event after work, when you get called out on a shout at the start of the shift the previous shift won’t have refueled the car, when the shite job of the day comes in you’ll be the only one who hasn’t got an ‘urgent’ statement to work, and lots of people will complain that you’re getting in their way.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who take personal offence to us shutting roads and personally attacking their freedom to travel to work/school/an urgent appointment or the airport.

The first thing that happens is that they’ll arrive at the roadblock and throw their hands in the air as they see the police car and cones across the road, they might drive round the roundabout once or twice to give themselves some thinking time, then park up and walk over. The more thoughtless will just stop in the most dangerous and inconvenient place and shout across as if summoning a waiter.

Their opening line is usually pretty predictable yet always somewhat surprising all the same. Bearing in mind there is usually one (or even more) police cars, fully marked, blue and/or red flashing lights, at least one police officer in a bright yellow jacket waving traffic on, cones placed strategically across the road spaced such that a normal car couldn’t squeeze between them, a couple of reflective blue signs displaying the word ‘Accident’ or pointing in a direction away from the blockage, possible an ambulance, fire engine and associated staff plus some other vehicles in the distance some way past the road block and they still walk up and say, “Is the road blocked?”

Is the f***** road blocked, no of course the road isn’t blocked, I’m standing here because they told me you were coming and I was to stuff your journey up today as a practical joke from all the guys in the office!

People sometimes haven’t got a clue and don’t stop to think about why we’re standing in their way. The only thing they are worried about is the fact that the ‘Old Bill’ is stopping them doing what they want to do. I often wonder how their attitude would change if I said ‘”well actually, that’s your wife/husband/child splattered across that windscreen over their and the road is closed so we can fully investigate how and why she died and make sure that any evidence which could assist in the conviction for the person responsible for them dying is preserved, but hey, if you wanna drive through their so you won’t be inconvenienced, then go straight ahead.

It’s the same when we get the helicopter out late at night. No matter what town or what time of night, someone will ring in, usually on the 999s, complaining about the helicopter keeping them awake and asking if it’s really necessary. Well actually, madam, it’s your daughter who has just been raped in the park, but we can’t significantly increase our chances of catching the guy because the people on that estate are all asleep, so let’s hope she knows who it was, eh?

It’s enough to make my blood boil.