December 21st, 2005
Christmas, what a fantastic time of year.
Everybody sitting round together extolling the joys of peace & harmony until the morning sherry wears off and they start battering each other with half eaten legs of turkey and bottles of unopened sherry.
The guv’nors have already got their festive spirit; they’ve stopped anyone from taking annual leave during Xmas and New Year in 2006.
Not long until we get the usual bout of festive sudden deaths, suicide and general mayhem.
There always seems to be an increase in upset around Christmas in the world of policing. Maybe it’s the time of year where people traditionally think of their loved ones & just get pissed off and top themselves, I don’t know.
Anyway, I’m reproducing the below, with permission, from an article which originally appeared on Police999.com. For me, it kind of sums up what Christmas is all about….
It sparkled, in the distance on top of the town’s imported Norwegian Spruce, resemblant of something from a winter scene two thousand years before. Beneath, the lights glistened blue and green in the morning air, blue, green, gold and red. In the opposite direction something else glistened red. But this was not man made, nor did it appear on any Christmas tree we had ever known. It was getting bigger as we watched. How still we see thee lie, we and every one of those who stopped to stare.
While shepherds watched we stood and listened and caught short but clearly recognisable snatches of an annual message sent from on high via the speakers of the local shopping precinct.
When we joined, we were so proud long, long ago. Creases sharp as shears down our pristine shirts, we stood in our blue finery, our suits of battle ready to wage war and fight the cause. We were Sir Gawain, filled with the hopeless hopes of a quest at which only we could succeed. With heart and soul and voice we proclaimed our message throughout the land, loud and clear. We were the new centurions. How short was our reign, how tiny our empire.
Our message was lost in translation or perhaps no-one wanted to hear. Time and time again we took to the skies, our white silk scarves untainted from our many previous battles. Merrily on high we soared, dived and fired. Constantly and inevitably we were shot down and each time we bailed out or crashed and burned only to climb back into our machines once more to fly towards the sunset, only to run into snow, on snow.
As the pool of red grew cool then cold we put another blanket on. We shielded the sight and protected those who gathered from a scene not pictured on any Christmas card.
We turned people away in their hundreds. They shouted, they screamed, they protested. They just wanted to go to work. They needed to take their progeny to school. We stood in their way. Arrogant and deliberately. Nothing better to do. Good will to all men.
Close by and covered in splashes of Christmas red lay the twisted monument to freedom, inscribed with an ancient rune from another land which, loosely translated, read “Kawasaki 750”. A steed of once shining silver who’s knight had ridden his last joust. And the angel of the lord came upon him. Twenty nine years old. Plucked from his family four days before a star once more shone brightly in Bethlehem. Why did it always seem so much more tragic at this time of year? His children will still question long after the last snow has fallen crisp and even. His wife will weep as deeply when the rolling of the stone is celebrated. His mother will mourn as greatly in summer as now. At least in heaven the bells are ringing.
What went through your mind when you heard the last triumphant trumpet’s blast? The radiator, one of our number replied, for that is our privilege. Some believe that in order to be born another soul must die immediately before. Will you be reborn? If the messiah comes back in four days time on a motorcycle only we will know.
Our message was lost in translation or perhaps no-one wanted to hear. Perhaps we should have set it to music.
Merry Christmas, one and all, merry Christmas.
December 11th, 2005
In a triumph for truth and justice a Norfolk Inspector has accepted an out-of-court settlement of £30,000 after he initiated proceedings against the force for alleged homophobic bullying and discrimination.
Apparently his original claim was for a mere £400,000 for future loss of earnings and pension rights. The force & police authority denied the claims – but settled anyway.
The cash has been given for ‘injury to health & feelings’. Well that’s alright then, £30,000 of tax-payers money towards ‘hurt feelings???? I know police officers who have been stabbed who havent been paid that.
What I don’t understand is if the full claim of £400,000 was for future loss of earnings, how come he has agreed to carry on working for the police authority. Either he’s fit to do the job or he isn’t or was it a case of ‘I want 400 grand because I’ve been so traumatised over my treatment that I’ll never work again, but if you give me 30 big ones, I’ll be back next week?
Norfolk Police’s solicitor is quoted as saying “We can report we have reached an amicable settlement at £30,000 and the provision of ongoing support to (the Inspector in question).” Amicable? I’ll bet it was bloody amicable. So that’ll be 30 grand on top of the 45 grand, pro rata, that he’s been on long term sick because of his treatment.
I know several officers who have suffered managerial bullying and discrimination, sadly for them, they don’t form any of the groups who are entitled to special protection. One in particular had some horrendous treatment from a senior officer over a period of months which after being fuilly investigated bestowed upon him the grand total of an apology.
What annoys me more than anything is that this happens up and down the land, both with police officers suing their own chief or members of the public. Blame is always denied but rather than go to court the force takes the cheapest option and makes a payout. The evidence of any wrong-doing is never tested because once you raise the matter of litigation and have a handy federation solicitor or state-funded lackey to take it through, the police are gonna pay, one way or another, better to pay the lower amount and save the tax-payer some money.
You know, if I’d suffered some discrimination or inappropriate treatment, I’d want the matter brought to everyone’s attention, and I’d want procedures put in place so that it didn’t happen again. What I wouldn’t want is huge sums of cash, but then I’d like to think my morals are somewhat higher than certain Inspectors.
I’d be interested to know how many Norfolk police officers, seriously injured in the course of their duties, have received compensation of £30,000 or more.
You can read the story here
December 7th, 2005
So there you are sat at the side of a busy motorway behind a BDV (Broken Down Vehicle) wondering why people still can’t fathom out that in order to get to the end of a journey one must have sufficient fuel at the start of that journey, and checking the rear-view mirror like a man with a nervous tic, waiting for the HGV with the specially chosen-nodding-dog driver to veer off the carriageway into your rear-end, when some other numpty pulls up on the hard shoulder behind you.
You get out and walk back carefully monitoring the oncoming traffic and direct the driver to the nearside of the hard shoulder as he seems to want to stand inches away from the 40 ton artic thundering past at 60mph (have you seen the damage one of those wing mirrors can do to a human skull at 60mph?)
Turns out he’s got a slow puncture, hasn’t been arsed to fix it and continues driving on it. He’s seen your patrol car and assumes you have a foot-pump. We all carry them, right?
a) Explain politely that it would have been better for him to have changed his tyre as soon as he realised it had a fault as driving on such rubber for three weeks could be hazardous to his health?
b) Explain politely that the hard shoulder of a motorway is not the safest of places to conduct a conversation on the ins and outs of why he can’t afford a new tyre due to a recent loss of job and new pregnancy in the family and that he should pull off at the next junction?
c) Retrieve said foot-pump from the limitless supply of various tools kept specially to assist motorists who can’t be arsed to pay for a subscription to a breakdown service?
d) Notice the vehicle is untaxed, do a PNC check and find the vehicle is also uninsured, sieze the vehicle, call a garage and have it removed from the motorway leaving the motorist to get out of the recovery truck back at the garage’s base and walk the 75 miles he’s travelled, on a dangerous tyre, back home?
Someone told me years ago that it is often better to keep one’s mouth closed and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.
December 4th, 2005
We just had our SOCAP training. SOCAP is the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 and brings in the most significant changes to the way we deal with people since the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. That’s 21 years, a long time in a police career
This basically does away with the old arrest conditions for various offences and replaces them with the power to arrest everyone, for anything.
The Government have been trumpeting the new legislation as proof of their ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ ethos. That’s the ethos which they’ve been promising to switch to for years but nobody has seen any evidence of it yet. It gives the police the power to arrest for any offence. The streets will be swept clean of the dross who blight the lives of Mr & Mrs Miggins every evening on the estates up and down the land. Hurrah for the police and the long-sighted caring government, lock ‘em all up and back to the nick for tea and medals.
Er, not according to the small print. You see every arrest will now be subject to a ‘necessity test’. “Officer, was it really necessary to arrest my client for chucking a banana skin up the High Street?” The upshot is that not only won’t you arrest for offences you didn’t arrest for before, but you’ll not arrest for some of the ones you did because it ‘won’t be necessary’.
Another case of the Government giving with one hand and snatching back even bigger fistfuls with the other yet giving the appearance of actually doing something?
By the way, I think I said something about the biggest changes in the ‘way we do business’ (management bollocks-speak) since PACE in the first paragraph. So how much training have we had in it?
Yes, 30 minutes and we’re the lucky ones. Some forces so far haven’t had any training at all. “SOCAP, what’s that?” can be heard ringing from the dusty corridors where front-line officers are queuing up for the photocopier in nicks up and down the land. It appears we were lucky to get 30 minutes. It should have been two hours but the trainers took all the unnecessary stuff out. But we did get a 7 page hand-out, so that was nice.
Contrast that to the two hours training we did get on the Disability Discrimination Act the same week. Apparently it’s more important for me to know that people who build police stations have a duty to put in wheelchair ramps than it is for me to understand my powers of arrest. And to prove it there is a mandatory 12 question exam on the Disability Act which everyone in the force, police and civilian, must take and pass. It’s not in case I ever become part of some future police station building planning team, it’s to stop the Chief Constable from being sued if I muck-up. That’s two hours of public-funded wages for about 5,000 people…. No wonder there are no new traffic cones in my boot.