Archive for July, 2006

July 31st, 2006

Fitness, what fitness?

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Friend of the motorist and Chief of North Wales Police,  Richard Brunstrom, believes that the police fitness test is too easy and what’s more, should be taken throughout an officer’s career.

You might be surprised that the fitness test is taken at the beginning of  a career in the police but never again (with the exception of some specialist units such as firearms). This means that the only fitness test I ever took in my near-30-year career was so far back I can’t even remember taking it or of what it consisted. I can’t really comment on the current fitness test as I’ve never seen ir and have not taken it, but on one or two of the police forums, a lot of people say it’s, er, really easy.

I did some fitness training when I was on the police support unit, but I stepped aside a few years ago to make space for some younger blood. Even then, it wasn’t a fitness test, merely doing lots of running about in hot clothing carrying large bits of heavy plastic (riot shields).

I find it strange that in a career which is often very physical, there is no means fo testing an officer’s fitness. Now I’m not the fittest bloke at the nick by any means, and hey, I’m in my late 40s so it’s kind of expected that I won’t be as fit as the majority of officers, but I reckon I’m an awful lot fitter than some of the folk out there. Some of the most overweight people I’ve met have been colleagues. I know people who can’t get up a single storey of council flat stairs without having a breather. It’s not pretty.

So what surprises me isn’t that some police chief is calling for higher fitness levels, it’s that nobody, in the last 30 years to my knowledge, has thought about it before.

July 29th, 2006

Welcome…

Posted in Blogging by 200

Just as one or two Police Blogs go by the wayside, so another enters the fray.

I’ve added a link to the newest I found; Belfast Peeler, who appears to be a member of th PSNI. I found it as someone from that site had clicked on his link to me, so I’m happy to return the favour.

July 28th, 2006

Sunday Papers

Posted in Blogging by 200

Any of my fellow bloggers out there get approached by a journalist for a national Sunday paper last week? He was looking for a telephone interview with a police blogger.

I guess he didn’t get one since no article about police bloggers appeared last weekend, not that I could see. Although I did notice two other articles, one about a woman who was sacked for blogging about her work and another about the new blog by the Wales Police Chief.

Perhaps people in this game are more concerned about their anonymity than they are about fame. I wonder why that would be….

July 23rd, 2006

One Comes Back

Posted in Blogging by 200

Some good news for the police blogging community as Cough the Lot reappears.

It seems that he didn’t take the site down because professional standards were knocking at the door but that the site got hacked and he was too busy to sort it out.

I’ve added the link back. 

July 22nd, 2006

Sharp End Resurfaces

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Sharp End Magazine It seems my earlier story about the possible demise of job magazine “The Sharp End” was a little premature.

I had to pop into HQ last week to sort out some uniform and what did I spy on a table near the canteen but a pile of issue 16. The last issue I saw was issue 13 so I don’t know what happened to 14 & 15, they certainly didn’t make it to any police station I’ve visited in the last 3 months.

For anyone who doesn’t know The Sharp End is published by an independant company under guidance & funding of the Home Office. It has a mix of news and articles of supposed interest to us folk at the sharp end. However, many people see it as yet another propaganda tool of those who make the decisions which affect us, much as internal force newspapers/magazines do the same.

One good thing about The Sharp End is that it doesn’t contain any advertisments and is therefore paid for by…. the tax-payer.

You could argue that with Police, Police Review, Police Life, Police Guardian and that other glossy magazine for police managers whose title I can’t recall, we already have sufficient toilet paper in the nicks of this great nation.

July 12th, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust?

Posted in Blogging by 200

The ‘Law is a Donkey‘ in his last two posts has been agonising over whether to continue his blog having received some attention in the local press in Camden and the Evening Standard.

Funnily enough, quite a few people have been Googling ‘the law is a donkey blog’ today, presumably as a result of the articles, and have arrived at 200Weeks (welcome, sorry to disappoint!).

The officer over at the Law is a Donkey was wondering whether Professional Standards might be worming their
way towards him and consequently whether to continue posting. I guess the answer may have come sooner than he thought as the blog is currently showing as unavailable.

Is this another police blog having been closed down? 

July 12th, 2006

Like a Circle in a Circle

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The police are like Tescos in some respects, we have branches everywhere & are open 24 hours. Although, unlike Tescos who are opening more & more outlets, we appear to be closing them.

In Tescos, when you need a service, you join the queue (if you’re not French). You have a reasonable expectation that you will be served in turn as your place up the queue decreases, until you get to walk out of the store with a big satisfied smile on your face and several quid lighter.

This is unlike the service you’ll get at a police station. You can join the queue but you will have no idea when you’ll get served, not even which day, and must expect that people with possibly more urgent problems will push in front of you.

This leads to a situation where people’s expectations aren’t met. It’s the same principle as making a doctor’s appointment; if you need to see the police you want to do it now not in 4 days time when the problem is over.

There are thousands of people every day who have a genuine need to see an officer on the doorstep. On many occasions they are waiting several days while people constantly jump the queue.

Quite often they get fed up & call back to say ‘forget it’ either the problem has diminished in importance or they are so fed up waiting in every day for the police to not turn up. At least when a plumber lets you down you can get a different one from the Yellow Pages.

The problem arises in that they have reported a crime or at least a potential crime. Protocol dictates that once a crime is reported police have to record it. The choice of whether the injured party wishes to pursue it is no longer with the police or the reporting person; rules is rules.

So after a few days of police showing no interest, suddenly when the person wants to withdraw their complaint they’re told ‘you can’t’.

The following conversation is typical, if somewhat abridged:


999 Operator
: Police emergency
Bloggs:    I’ve just been punched in the mouth by this bloke up the road.
999 Operator:    Where is the offender now?
Bloggs:    He went home, he lives at number 47
999 Operator:    Do you need an ambulance?
Bloggs:    No, I’m at home now, nothing’s broken.
999 Operator:    OK, we’ll send a unit to see you, as it’s not an emergency I can’t say how long it will take.

Later that night
….

Police Operator
:    Hello Bloggs, sorry we haven’t been able to attend yet, we’ve had a really busy day. Are you home tomorrow?
Bloggs:    Well I was going to a garden party at Buck House, but I can stay home, what time can you come?
Police Operator:    We can’t make appointments, it’ll be when an officer is free.

Next day

Police Operator
:    Hello Bloggs, sorry we haven’t been able to see you today, we’ve been really busy, what time are you up until tonight?
Bloggs:    I’ll be up until about 11pm
Police Operator:    OK, I’ll try and get the night shift to deal.

Next Day

Repeat above conversation for 2-5 days

Next day

Police Operator:    Hello Bloggs, sorry, no unit, too busy, etc, etc, can you perhaps come into the police station to make a report
Bloggs:    OK, I’ll call in at 5pm after work tomorrow.

Next day

Bloggs:    I’m here about an assault, can you take a statement or something?
Enquiry Officer:    I can’t, I’d need to get one of the police officers to return and do it
Bloggs:    OK
Enquiry Officer:    Er, there’s nobody free, they’re all assigned.

Next day

Bloggs:    Hello, about being punched in the mouth, forget it. I’m fed up waiting. I’ll leave it thanks.
Police Operator    You can’t.
Bloggs:    I can’t?
Police Operator:    No, you’ve reported a crime, we need to see you.
Bloggs:    I’ve been waiting for someone to see me for nearly a week. I don’t want anything done any more. You’re obviously busy and I’ve been inconvenienced too much already, just leave it.
Police Operator:    Well if you don’t want any action, that’s fine.
Bloggs:    Great, bye.
Police Operator:    But we need to take a statement to say you don’t want anything done.
Bloggs:    So you weren’t inteterested in seeing me when I reported it and now your saying I can’t just leave it.
Police Operator
:    Er, no, we’re not allowed to, we don’t have any choice, actually, neither do you.
Bloggs:    OK, can I make the statement now?
Police Operator
:    We’re a bit busy at the moment, I don’t have anyone free.

Refer to the start of the conversation for attempts to take retraction statement.

 

 

 

July 11th, 2006

Still About Turning

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The BBC News website is reporting further on the death of police mergers. 

It seems that Charles Clarke’s brainwave to merge as many police forces as he could get away with has all but been booted into touch, much like the man himself.

It was a poor concept borne of knee-jerk politics (as is so much government policy these days); poorly thought-out & inadequately resourced.

Meanwhile Charles Clarke continues promoting what he thinks is really important; Charles Clarke. Bring your boots next week son, you’ll get a game.

July 4th, 2006

Where are they all now?

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

When I joined the job, the country had something like 115,000 police officers. That’s something like about 1 officer per 486 people.

In those days I worked in an area which had 4 police stations.

During that time, all 4 police stations were open to the public. Three of them for 24 hours, the 4th closing at midnight. They all had a police officer on the desk available to speak to any member of the public who called in.

Each police station had its own shift of officers. They started & ended their tour of duty at that nick.

We had the following resources:

Nick 1: 7-8 officers on the shift, 1 sgt, 1 area car, 2-3 panda cars (manpower x4 to cover the 4 shifts)

Nick 2: 6 officers, 1 sgt, 1 area car, 2 panda cars (manpower x4 to cover the 4 shifts)

Nick 3: 2 officers, 1 car (manpower x4 to cover the 4 shifts but 1x sgt covered all 4 shifts)

Nick 4: 3-4 officers, 1 area car (didn’t work night shift), 1 panda car, 1 sgt. Night shift area car coverage via Nick 3. (manpower x4 to cover the 4 shifts but 1x sgt covered all 4 shifts)

In addition,  each shift had an inspector who covered all 4 nicks (that’s 4 inspectors) there was a rural car at nicks ,2 & 4 covering 7am to midnight. We usually had foot patrols in at least 2 of the 4 town centres. Most of the surrounding villages had a beat bobby and the estates in the towns had neighbourhood officers.

Three of the 4 nicks had custody suites, although we weren’t so touchy-feely in those days; they were called ‘cell blocks’.

Fast forward to 2006.

As the government is so keen on repeating, we have the highest number of police officers now than at any time in the history of the world; some 140,000. That works out at about 1 officer per 428 population.

So that’s an additional 25,000 officers to the time I joined.

Naturally you’d expect the figures related above to have been boosted somewhat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

None of the 4 police stations has a police officer on the front desk. Indeed only 1 of them is open to the public for any significant period of the day and that closes at 10pm. Two may be open for a couple of hours if sufficient civilian staff are around, and even then they have to call a police officer in to take reports of stuff they are not allowed to deal with. One of them is not open to the public at all.

None of the 4 nicks has a custody suite (well, not strictly true as 3 of them still have a cell block, they are just not used). Prisoners from all 4 areas have to travel to the neighbouring sub-division to share their custody suite. (no wonder there are never free cells on a weekend night shift).

Two of the 4 stations no longer have a front-line shift based there. 3 of them are covered from nick 1.

Nick 1: 5-6 officers, 1 sgt, 1 area car and 2 or if lucky 3 cars which must cover nicks 2 & 3 between them.

Nick 2: 0 officers, 0 patrol cars.

Nick 3: 0 officers, 0 patrol cars.

Nick 4: 2 officers,  1 area car.

In addition there is 1 rural car for the whole area (sometimes). There are no village bobbies. There is a community teams which equates to the old neighbourhood officers but they don’t deal with most of the stuff the front-line officers have to. There is 1 inspector per division so the 4 nicks here share the inspector with the neighbouring subdivision. There is no foot patrol coverage except when the community team are in the town.

On a night shift after 2am there is 1 double-crewed car covering nicks 1, 2 & 3 and 1 double-crewed car covering nick 4, that’s 4 officers for the whole subdivision plus a sgt.

The public have never had it so good.

 

July 3rd, 2006

Early Arrests Anticipated

Posted in Not the Job by 200

So, England are out of the World Cup. Police officers on nights or lates up & down the country can breath a sigh of relief.

The surprise is not so much that

England got knocked out, more that they lasted so long given the distinctly average skill levels exhibited on the pitch thus far.

Unsurprisingly, after the defeat the ‘fans’ did their usual & created havoc in most areas of our force. Disorder levels rose almost to the heights of a New Year’s Eve. Police riot vans went from job to job as disillusioned football supporters ran amok overturning bins, ripping up flower pots, smashing windows, walking over parked cars, ripping off wing mirrors & battering both each other & anyone else who happened to be close by.

England might be crap at football but they don’t go out on penalties when it comes to disorder.

Still, I suppose we shouldn’t expect much more when they have the likes of Wine Rrrroooooni to look up to. There’s someone who hasn’t learned a thing about social responsibility.

It’s such a shame the game of football is so popular. It really has nothing to recommend it as any form of social model; it’s a game epitomised by greed & cheating. Players drop quicker & more frequently than the sacks at Tesco’s potato delivery bays. They role around the grass with more  finesse than a bunch of Oscar-winning luvvies & then rise quicker than Lazarus in efforts to get a free kick, penalty or booking.

I find it hard to accept that people with such levels of skill in their chosen sport can think it acceptable to cheat in such a blatant and outrageous manner. Their every move is followed in close-up by half-a-dozen cameras and several million viewers who can see their deceptions played over & over, dissected in minute detail yet they do it again & again.

Given that a match or competition can be won & lost on who cheats best it follows that many millions of cash can be similarly won or lost on a player’s performance. Not only the fame & fortunes of a world cup are at stake, what about all the bonuses in cash, cars & other delights, increased earnings through sponsorship, future wage increases through transfers?

I’m thinking of ringing the local old bill & reporting a criminal deception & demanding the arrest of any footballer who has obtained a pecuniary advantage through cheating (that’ll be most of the premier league and national teams, then).

With the current National Crime Recording Standards they’ll have to investigate, won’t they?