March 31st, 2008
It’s usually swings & roundabouts in this job; what they give with one hand, they take away with the other.
The penalty for having great hand dryers in the bogs at work in Control Room Towers is the piss-poor urinals (see what I did there?).
For those not acquainted with the finer points of public convenience design, there is a definite art to using them if one is to avoid what we in the trade call ‘splashback’.
Splashback is a phenomenon which is almost exclusively a hazard for males & consists of going into the plumbing area with attire which is completely dry but emerging minutes later with tiny splashes down the front of the trouser leg.
What I want to know is which part of the urinal do you aim for in order to minimise the risk of splashback? Do you go for the back wall, do you aim straight for the little hole in the middle of the plug hole which, by the way, appears to be the same circumference as the average stream of ‘product’, Do you aim for a side wall. And as for pressure, do you just let it out under normal gravity-like pressure or do you put some force into it? When I used to play snooker I knew that when you aimed a ball at the cushion it would come off the cushion at the same angle it went in (provided it didn’t have spin), so how come no matter which part of the urinal I hit, with all its various curves & angles, the splashback heads straight for my right thigh. It’s like it’s bloody homing urine.
This only happens at work, most other urinals manage to contain the liquid & funnel it straight down the plug hole. The ones at work must leak about 30% of the content over my bloody trousers!
That’s why going for a piss at work is one of the least pleasurable experiences of my working day.
March 30th, 2008
Someone else resigned this week from the shift.
They’ve joined a growing list of those willing to put up rather than shut up. Fed up with being single-crewed even on late turns, fed up of having time-off refused & annual leave denied, they’ve told the job to stuff it.
Two others have applied for different positions in the force. I suspect the working conditions in the control room had a large part to play in their decision. One of them has been accepted by another department, nothing to do with the control room. It’ll be a refreshing change for her. The other one is a police officer who ants to try something totally different. Possibly he wants to go to a department which treats him like an adult, I don’t know.
I’ve lost count of the amount of people who say that if it wasn’t for the fact that the job is well paid, they’d leave tomorrow. The one thing everyone agress is that there is no fun at work anymore. Fun shouldn’t be a dirty word.
So that’s potentially 3 experienced controllers leaving, definately two. The chances of them being replaced will be slim, judging on the past couple of years. If they are replaced it will be by trainees who have to be taught the job by experienced controllers. This puts more pressure on staff they are sitting with because they don’t perform at the same level which means the controllers have to do even more work.
I can’t imagine how invigorating it must be just to be able to say "I’ve had enough, I’m off."
I’ve got under 52 weeks to go now…..
March 29th, 2008
I had an email from someone who came across my blog the other day. Peter from New York is doing some research and wondered where the phrase "The Job" came from.
For those of you not in ‘the job’ this is a term which has been used for many years to describe police work. I can recall when I joined almost 30 years ago fellow officer asking when I joined ‘the job’ or asking how long have you been in the job then.
I’ve never really thought about it and I don’t have the first clue whether this term is limited to police work. Do teachers refer to being ‘in the job’? or doctors or soldiers?
If anyone has some insight into where this phrase comes from please let me know so I can pass this on to Peter. I’ve Googled (is that still legal in private?) but not come up with anything yet.
March 28th, 2008
The astute amongst you may have noticed a new link on my Blog inks to the right here.
Nightjack is a detective. I mis-spelled it when I wrote this post & used a ‘M’ instead of a ‘N’ which put me in mind of someone considering a moment or two of self-abuse.
It seems to have started in February & if you’ve not seen it yet, check it out, it looks like it’s going to be a great addition to the Police Blogger Community. (just make sure you come back here too!)
March 27th, 2008
A chief constable calls for the ‘stiffer’ sentences available for those convicted of possession of firearms to be implemented fully.
The government introduced a minimum 5-year sentence for possession of a firearm in 2004. This means that anyone convicted of having an illegal gun should go to prison for a minimum of five years. Of course, as everyone knows what this actually means is a minimum of 2 1/2 years since people only serve half their sentence. (isn’t it about time we got rid of this notion of serving half the sentence & either give them half the time & make them serve it all, or stick to the full sentence, at least that way people would know what the penalty was?)
The government have confirmed that most criminals don’t get the bare minimum sentence. In fact in 2005 the average sentence for this offence was 47 months & only 40 per cent of offenders were given the statutory minimum of five years.
You can argue ’til the cows come home whether a particular sentence is a deterrent or not but the fact remains that there is absolutely no point at all in announcing a minimum sentence & then sitting back on your arse & letting judges hand out whatever sentence they they can drag out of the tealeaves in the bottom of their daily beverages, which is what the government does. Actually, I’ve just realised what the point of a minimum sentence is. It’s so the government can announce it’s tough on crime, get lots of headlines and more soujourns back to Whitehall for tea & medals.
Gun crime continues to rise. There are many facets to fighting it, sentencing is just one. There are plenty of people within the criminal justice system who think that 5 years is nowhere near enough of a deterrent to carrying a gun.
A spokesman for the Home Office said that although the minimum sentence was not being used as per the guidelines, the average sentence for this offence had ‘risen sharply’. Well that’s alright then.
March 26th, 2008
You’ve not got to spend much time around the police blogs to see how target-driven policing is ruining a) policing & b) the service to the public & society.
There can be not better example than the one I had today when I was speaking to an officer I bumped into up at HQ. You tend so see some very old faces up at the HQ, either because they work on one of the myriad of offices up there or they are visiting for one course or another.
I’d not seen Greg for a while. Inevitably the conversation revolved around the job & what we were both doing. He’s working on one of the Divisions currently pressing to up their detections with extra operations I mentioned a few days ago. He’s currently on what we used to call ‘section’ or ‘shift’ or ‘relief’, which basically means if you dial 999 & need a police officer, he goes.
Only he doesn’t, not if he can get away with it.
He has targets for arrest, crimes detected & tickets issued. He has a favourite place where you can issue tickets like shelling peas. We all know places like that, if we fancy some easy ‘process’ (police-speak for knocking someone off for minor non-arrestable offences) we can go to one of a number of places where you can guarantee to catch someone out. It might be a particular junction where poelpe are always jumping lights or a section of road where everybody speeds.
Greg’s favourite place is a little junction with a no right turn. If you sit up on the side road you can watch people making no right turns and pull out behind them for an easy stop. You issue a ticket & get to up your quota for the month for little work.
Greg said he might be sitting round the corner from a dwelling burglary which gets reported, (not an "intruders on" because everyone will go to those) but one where the family comes home after a day out to find the door kicked in & the family jewels missing. Greg said that there was no way he was volunteering for the burglary if the call came out for someone to attend "Look, I can get my quota in by dishing out no right turn tickets, that keeps the sergeant off my back, keeps the inspector off his back & the chief inspector off his back. I ain’t gonna volunteer for a burglary when I’m not gonna get an arrest, I’m not gonna get a detection & I’m just gonna pick up a load of paperwork & enquiries which will lead nowhere, not when I’m behind on my tickets."
My initial reaction was ‘that’s appalling’, I mean the nuts & bolts about this job when all’s said & done is helping people. But then I realised that when you’re sitting in briefing getting a bollocking from the local chief inspector because the shift hasn’t made enough arrests or issued enough tickets it’s not easy saying you’d rather be out there serving the public.
Perhaps more of us should do just that. Easier said than done though, I think.
March 25th, 2008
Oh my goodness, 45 minutes to midnight, & I’ve not had time to post today. Again. This is getting harder & harder.
Anyway, time for something very quick & probably not too well thought out.
One of the key initiatives over the last couple of years has been the implementation of a ‘neighbourhood’-type policing. I think the Met started calling it "Safer Neighbourhoods". It basically means that there is a team of officers/PCSOs dedicated to problem solving (another catch phrase) on the neighbourhoods & estates. I don’t know if it was a trial in the Met but it seems the government are keen to roll it out to everyone else.
Everywhere has got to have safer-neighbourhood teams. They’re trumpeting various themes, one of them is ‘a name in every neighbourhood’ where everyone is supposed to know the name of their local officer/PCSO. Vast amounts of money is being spent on making sure their names are known. Gordon Brown is even suggesting anyone should be able to ring their local officer on a mobile phone.
Great, new initiatives, government making bold announcements. It’s all back to Whitehall for tea & medals once again.
Neighbourhood policing. That’ll be like having a local officer on every estate, some of them might even live on their beat, they might have offices where locals can come & see them at designated times of the day rather than going into town to the local nick (which will be closed). Something like we used to have until someone thought it was a waste of resources, put all the neighbourhood officers on squads or retired them & sold off all the police houses.
March 24th, 2008
So there I was driving the patrol car through one of the towns on a night shift. I saw a vehicle on the opposite side of the road coming towards me; a VW Golf. Ahead of the Golf was another car.
The other car had pulled to a halt & was signalling to turn right. It had to give way to me as it was going to cross in front of me, so it was waiting.
The Golf was rapidly approaching the stationary car from behind, as it got up to the car it swerved at the last minute, in a futile effort to avoid crashing into it. The Golf collided with the rear offside of the waiting car then bounced off it, drove round it & continued on it’s way.
I quickly turned round whilst radioing in what I’d seen & asking for another unit to check out the victim’s car. A short pursuit then ensued during which it was obvious that the driver of the Golf was drunk; it wasn’t a very high speed follow & the Golf was swerving all over the place.
The Golf, which just had the driver on board, turned into a cul-de-sac & pulled up. I jumped out of the police car leaving my probationer in my wake, ran up to the car & pulled open the door.
The first thing you notice is the smell of stale alcohol. This confirms what you already know due to the manner of driving. You also note the driver’s apparent inability to runaway.
The next & most surprising thing was that the driver was someone I had grown up with who lived in my street in a town about 20 miles away.
When you join the job one of the initial thoughts & discussions is what would you do if you had to nick a mate? I have bumped into various people from my pre-police days in a number of different situations; for instance I’d seen old mates outside night clubs & enjoyed a bit of banter with them. I’d dealt with an ex-teacher’s burglary, but I’d never needed to nick anyone.
My ex-neighbour was OK about it. I suppose he took the philosophical approach, he’d been bang out of order & been caught. Although I’d known him for the entirety of his 25 years on the planet (I am just a few years older), I had a job to do. He paid the fines & did the disqualification, although I heard rumour he breached it several times, usually when visiting his mother.
I don’t think his mother took the same approach. She’s not spoken to my mother since that event, they’ve lived in the same block for 48 years & this arrest was 15 years ago. I was chatting to my mother the other day & she said did I know that Margaret had been diagnosed with Alzheimers. In a scurrilous moment I said. "She might forget that she doesn’t like you, if you’re lucky."
March 23rd, 2008
Another day, another story abiut the police turning down a potential recruit because of political correctness.
22-year-old Craig Briggs has been turned down by Greater Manchester Police (they’re the ones who are currently at least 1 under strength at the moment) because he has ‘England’ tattooed on his forearm.
Craig has wanted to join the police since he was a child, but was told to go & get some life experience – presumably because he wasn’t black, gay or female – so he joined Her Majesty’s armed forces in the Yorkshire Regiment. He applied to the police after serving 4 1/2 years including a tour in Iraq. He was asked to send in photographs of his tattoo & was later told he had been rejected by the recruitment department.
His rejection letters stated "Home Office policy precludes applicants with tattoos on lower arm, hand, face or neck that are prominent, which may cause offence and/or invite provocation from the public or colleagues.
He was told by the senior recruitment ‘consultant’ "A family who aren’t of English origin who see England on your arm could feel you might discriminate against them."
Presumably these rules have come from the same people who refuse to let people fly the Union jack from their house or office, want all nursery rhyme words changed & want to ban Christmas. The same departments who want us to celebrate diversity as long as it’s other people’s culture & not our own.
The consultant added "we live in a diverse society and try to ensure we give equality to everyone".
I wonder how equally Craig Briggs feels GMP have treated him.
March 22nd, 2008
Footballers are amongst the last people I’d ever listen to for many reasons, some of which are contained in recent posts. However, I was quite impressed this week on hearing one interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live. Unfortunately, I can’t recall who it was. It may have been Gary mabbutt, I know he was talking about something but I can’t remember whether it was this topic or something else.
Basically, it was to do with resepct for the referee. There has been a lot of talk recently about footballers & the way they act on the pitch (& off it, come to that) particularly towards the referee. I think someone who gets paid a squillion pounds a minute for kicking a windbag around a field & diving all over the place turned his back on a referee who was admonishing him last weekend.
There were contrasts between football referees & rugby. I played rugby both at school & local club levels when I was a young PC. I remember that the referee’s word was God. You never argued & if you ever spoke to one or acknowledged him you used the word ‘sir’.
On the rare occasions you did back-chat the ref he would pick up the ball & march your team 15 yards back towards your own line. If you made a comment about that, he’d march you back another 15 yards. Do that once or twice & the rest of the team will make sure you never open your mouth again. As far as I’m aware that is s til the case today; I heard one of the England internationals on the radio this week saying they still called the ref ‘sir’.
Anyway, back to the footballer, Mabbutt or whoever it was.
He basically said that if footballers & managers can’t show the referee some respect & find it acceptable to argue the toss over every decision, swear at them & slag them off at every opportunity then is it any surprise that the rest of society is like this all the time. He acknowledged the important tole footballers have to play as models for a large section of society & appeared to accept that they were letting society down, badly.
Mind you, it was less refreshing today when one of the managers came on the radio to say if referees want respect then they ought to give it to the players. With that attitude form one of the guys who runs the teams, there’s really not much hope.
March 21st, 2008
In the last week there will have been hundreds of burglaries reported to police. Homes up & down the country will have been broken into. Several hundred more people will have been attacked & either robbed or beaten up, some of those will have been at gun-point & many others at knife-point. People will have had their personal property stolen & damaged, communities will have additional adjustments on their route to being trashed. A few ill have been murdered, raped or killed in acts of wanton neglect on the roads of the country.
All of these will have had a varying degree of effect on the victim. All of those victims will rightly be expecting a full & thorough investigation into the circumstances in the often futile hope that someone will be brought to book for the crime.
The residents of Northamptonshire might be wondering, with all this going on around them, why the police have been wasting their time investigating a bloody children’s puppet.
In a recent edition of the Basil Brush show (a small toy fox with someone’s hand up its arse), a favourite children’s TV character for some 40 years, a sketch involving a gypsy woman trying to sell the puppet some lucky heather & wooden pegs, was met by a comment which a viewer found offensive & racist towards the traveling community.
As a result the Hate Crimes Unit from Northamptonshire’s finest carried out an investigation into the matter. They announced today that no further action was being taken.
Have we really come so far in society (& under a Labour Government) that a puppet on TV can crack a joke & the police will investigate this as a crime?? Wasn’t it the case that if anyone was annoyed about the content of a TV programme they wrote to the TV channel & were either told, yep, "sorry we made a mistake, we’ll try to do better", or told that "sorry, but we’ve done nothing wrong", and that was it? I wonder how many tax-payers in Northamptonshire are happy with the time & money an investigation like this has taken.
This is exactly the prophecy of comedians like Rowan Atkinson when the proposals to bring in religiously aggravated offences, to fall in line with racially aggravated offences. Oh no, said the government, the law is not there to limit free speech, this sort of thing won’t happen. Yeah, right.
This is exactly the sort of thing which happens when you bring in legislation which has at its core, the ethos of social engineering. Free speech? Doesn’t exist. No longer are we trusted to hold views & opinions which differ to those ‘in power’. No, we must legislate against anyone who doesn’t agree with current themes & theories. What before, might be classed as ‘bad taste’ worthy of either a bit of advice or a cold shoulder is now a crime which must be recorded, investigated & someone must be sanctioned for it.
The answer, it seems, to everything is to legislate, legislate, legislate.
This is why police officers are no longer trusted to to use discretion. Social change must take place with the agreement of those being asked to change, forcing them to do it will not work. I’d suggest it merely creates more problems than it seeks to solve. What the complainant should have been told when they called this one in is "speak with the BBC Sir/Madam, it’s not a police matter."
Beware, this is a dangerous & evil criminal
March 20th, 2008
You can tell it’s nearly April. The end of the financial year approaches. There are currently no end of special operations throughout the force area dedicated to eeking out the last little detection to make the end-of-year figures look a little better.
We have officers take off regular duties specifically to go out & get detections. We in the control room are told these officers MUST NOT be used for ‘normal policing’ assignments & must be left alone to drive up & down looking for people to stop so they can get what in the trade is known as a ‘sanction detection’, i.e. a recordable offence for which some kind of penalty is paid. It matters not whether the sanction is being locked up, charged & remanded in custody for a really serious offence, or a fixed penalty ticket for possession of cannabis. The only difference being one is much easier & much quicker to detect.
Ostensibly, the bosses can announce that they are targeting burglars, i.e. the people most members of the public want locked up, the truth is rather different. On my last set of lates my units arrested no burglars but gave out 8 fixed penalty tickets for possession of cannabis.
And who said detecting crime was hard?
March 19th, 2008
With sickness being so rife around these parts at the moment I wondered how many people on the shift never went sick.
I’ve not had a day’s sickness in nearly 4 years hence I’ve not been sick since I started in the control room.
I did a straw poll & found there were 3 people who had never had a day’s sick leave. I was surprised it was so many, to be honest. They are all civilian support staff, one has over 10 years’ service, one has 6 and the third has just under 2 years.
I asked them what recognition they’d received for this, not insubstantial dedication to duty.
None. Nada. Nothing. Bugger-all. Not even a word of thanks, neither a letter from a manager or supervisor to add to their portfolio.
Apparently someone had suggested that people who didn’t go sick might be rewarded by maybe a gift token or 1/2 a day’s extra leave or even a certificate, something to recognise the achievement. The official line was that this was not possible because some people complained that it would discriminate against those who were genuinely sick. Incredible.
March 18th, 2008
Every job that the police get a call about gets its own unique reference number in the form of a log on the computer system. This records details such as how the call came in – telephone, 999, from another authority (fire, ambulance etc) from an officer or wherever – telephone number, name & address of the caller, what the complaint, information or request is all about, background information and finally, the response it will receive (none, low, high, immediate).
Not all calls result in a response i.e. officer attending, many are resulted at the point of the call, usually with relevant advice or guidance or a simple thank you for the information.
All jobs have a result code which sums up what happened & what the job was all about. This makes auditing easier for end of year stats & also to assist in planning. For instance, we can tell how many injury RTCs have happened, how many domestics, how many arrests for shoplifting etc etc.
The one code we don’t have but I think could really use is the code for ‘Get a Life’ we could call it the ‘GAL’ result. It can be used for all the calls which people think we should be dealing with but in actual fact would be a complete waste of time. This is different from all the 999s we get asking for a taxi or the number for the local laundry.
- My ex partner told my son I was a useless mother – GAL
- The man across the road flicked the Vs at my wife last night – GAL
- I want to complain about double-glazing retailers cold calling me – GAL
- I want to complain about the police shutting the road (when someone died) making me late for work – GAL
- My neighbour’s CCTV films me when I use our joint entrance – GAL
- I’ve been woken up by the police helicopter – GAL
- My neighbour’s cat poos in my garden & I want something done about it – GAL
If we had the GAL code we might be able to concentrate on real police work & assisting members of the public who actually deserve a better response.
March 17th, 2008
Someone should send the managers on a course. There must be one somewhere where you can find out how to get the best out of your staff.
I bet the following advice doesn’t appear anywhere on the syllabus.
Take a shift of staff, deplete them by at least a third but increase the workload they are expected to do. As a result of insufficient staff, get volunteers to work overtime at enhanced payment rates, every single day. As a knock-on of staff shortages, refuse 90% of leave applications. If anyone mentions the thought of going sick because they repeatedly can’t get leave, threaten to stick them on. If a member of staff needs a day off for something really special, like a family wedding or moving house, make no efforts to accommodate them but make it plain to them that if they dare go sick on that day they will be disciplined.
I’m lead to believe that sickness levels are at an all-time high. I wonder of there is any correlation between sickness levels, workplace stress & the shoddy way this place has been run recently.
March 16th, 2008
What’s great about your job?
I’ll tell you what’s great about mine. The bogs here have the best hand driers I’ve ever come across.
There’s nothing worse when you’re out for a night’s drinking than having to spend valuable drinking time standing around while wringing your hands under a mildly cool wisp of air which comes out the machine with the same force as a mosquito’s fart.
Digressing slightly, but isn’t that one of the worst-used phrases in the English language?; Nothing worse…. nothing worse than, whatever it is. There’s nothing worse than waiting in all day for a parcel that never comes, you say? Yes there is! Having your balls nailed to an oak tree while a tiger chews its way up your penis as the mad axeman of old London town charges at you with a very angry look on his face & an even angrier axe whilst holding two 40 foot steel poles during the biggest lightning storm the world has ever known just after your wife has run off with that bloke round the corner & their new baby having taken your entire Dr Who DVD collection is worse than waiting in for a bloody parcel which never came, if you don’t mind me saying.
Anyway, the warm air blowers in our bogs are fantastic. The air comes out at a speed weather presenters get really moist about. There are some probationers I know who would have serious health & safety issues just standing under one (yes, some of them these days will fit under one standing at full height).
That’s why going for a piss at work is one of the most pleasurable experiences of my working day.
March 15th, 2008
It’s great news that 9-year-old Shannon Matthews has been found alive. There can’t be many of us who thought after nearly a month she would be found alive.
In the biggest operation for quite some time, hundreds of officers & many thousands of man hours have led to her being discovered in the house of an uncle of her step-father. The surprising part is that she’s alive. What’s not so surprising is that "A local MEP demanded to know why Donovan had not been questioned sooner, saying that relatives were often involved in cases of this kind."
Self-appointed expert on policework & missing people, Edward McMillan-Scott, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said statistics should have led police to check all family members more comprehensively. He said: "In more than three out of four cases like this a family member is involved so a thorough search would have included the suspect in this case." These quotes are taken from the Daily Mail, which then went on to say "Mr McMillan-Scott said he would not criticise police without knowing the full facts about the case but had requested a meeting with officers in West Yorkshire." Er, I think you’ve already criticised the police without knowing the facts.
I’m sure the next few days will see others crawling out of the woodwork to blame the police for not finding her sooner. I wonder how many will come out to criticise a family whose lifestyle is such that at the age of 32 a woman has seven children by five different fathers.
I never let my kids walk home alone at the age of 9.
March 14th, 2008
Maybe I’m just turning into a grump old man the closer I get to retirement, or maybe things just are worse than they ever were.
I was driving out of my road today on my way to a DIY store for some essential supplies. The road I live in has a T-junction on to a slightly bigger road. As I approached the junction I could see a couple walking along the main road towards the same junction. I was maybe 20 yards from the junction when they looked at me and just stepped out into the road, walking slowly across & forcing me to give way to them. They weren’t feral teenagers although I suspect they used to be a few years ago. They were well into their 30’s and looked like aging chavs. The guy had his baseball cap on, looked like he’d never lifted a finger for anyone in his life & his girlfriend looked like Waynetta off that Harry Enfield programme.
Normally I’d just make some comment under my breath, let them get on with it & drive off thinking about which size bolt I needed at B & Q. I found myself shouting at them. I can’t remember what I said, to be honest, but he was saying something back so I wound the window down. I then said something about it was lucky I was paying attention & not either pissed or changing my CD player ‘cos they’d have been mown down, but pretty soon realised that this was beyond their level of reasoning so ended with something which went along the lines of "Fucking idiot!"
It was just another in a whole myriad of examples on a daily basis how fucking selfish & arrogant these people are. ‘Me, me, me & fuck everyone else."
When I think back, a lot of street trash used to do that when I was driving the police car. I used to make a point of not giving way, driving towards them and getting really close then dipping the clutch before revving the arse off the engine & sounding the horn. It wasn’t big nor was it clever but it was bloody satisfying seeing them defecate themselves.
March 13th, 2008
… of posting a blog every single day.
Not a bad achievement though I say so myself.
Must be worthy of a post with very little content or effort…..such as this one!
March 12th, 2008
I’m often surprised how people find my little blog.
I’ve mentioned Facebook & Safe Speed recently appearing in my stats. I found a new one this week. I’ve been linked to from IPEP – The International Police Expertise Platform. I have no idea what the site is all about but the name gives it a certain flair. They have an extensive links section including a list of police blogs throughout the world. I’m one of only a few UK Police Blogs listed. I feel so humble, thank you.
Oh I’ve just noticed on the IPEP website that it is a division of the Police Academy of the Netherlands. I can’t see any of the official UK Police organisations linking to the heretics that are us police bloggers.