Archive for May, 2008

May 11th, 2008

Fair or Foul?

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Speed Sign 

This sign is guaranteed to strike fear, loathing or even possibly caution into most drivers on the UK road system at the moment.

Some police forces are getting ever more devious in their attempts to catch speeding motorists. We’ve all seen speed detector vans parked at the side of the roads, usually they are in sections of road which have signs displaying the presence of speed cameras. If you see a stretch of road with these signs & don’t see any fixed cameras, it’s probably because they use detector vans in that area.

Derbyshire Police have been using this van for speed detection work:

Speed Van 

They appear to have their very on version of a makeover show because the van appears to have ended up like this:

Disguised Speed Van? Disguised Speed Van?

You might not be able to make it out at this scale but the index numbers are the same, the ‘workman’s van’ appears to have a towbar added. It’s even got authentic rubbish piled up on the dashboard.

Derbyshire police denied the van’s dramatic makeover was a disguise to snare unwary road users.

In North Wales they’re using a horsebox from which to catch speeding drivers:

Horsebox Speed Detector 

You can see video footage of the horsebox in action below.

So, what do we have here, a useful tool in the battle to reduce road fatalities & improve road safety or a cynical ploy to catch more speeding motorists & increase revenue?

I’m not sure, to be honest; part of me thinks that if you’re out there & breaking the law, then you can’t complain if you get caught, but then part of me thinks that if we’re going to prosecute motorists we should do it fairly, openly & without recourse to devious tricks to ‘out-whit’ the motorist. 

What do you think?

If you’re interested in further reading the ACPO Code of Practice for Operational Use of Road Policing Enforcement Technology can be found >> here << (it’s a 110 page PDF file!)

 

May 10th, 2008

It’s not always what it seems

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

So I’m minding my own business, keeping myself to myself, as I tend to do on my days off when I get interrupted by the local chavs in the street. It’s dark but it’s not late.

There’s 4 lads & 3 girls, the lads are talking in this bloody stupid affected twat-speak which makes them think they sound like a black dude from Harlem but actually just makes them sound like a complete tosser. They’re so used to listening to pumping vibes on their stolen iPods that their eardrums are blown to hell, I think that must be the case ‘cos they always speak to each other like they’re on different sides of the town rather than standing next to each other.

The fence across the road belongs to Stan & his Mrs. They’re always spending their pension on men in lumberjack shirts to replace it because the local chavs think it’s great fun to kick it down of a Friday/Saturday night on their way through to the estate that progress forgot.

I glance out, as I usually do – hey, I can’t afford spare wing mirrors so prevention is cheaper than cure – and I see the group just approaching Stan’s fence. As I watch them expecting the inevitable boot to rise in the sportiest move they’ve done since they played truant during games lessons, & chav a takes out a crowbar from under his tracky top. He swings it high above his head & proceeds to belt seven bells out of 2 panels.

It must have been the day before going back to work or something as I was probably in a bad mood. Rather than picking up the phone I take it into my head to chuck on a pair of trainers & approach the group, stealth like, to voice some displeasure at their high jinx.

It was dark down the alley & they couldn’t see me approach, so Chav A got something of a surprise when he was grabbed from behind, disarmed of the crowbar & put into a Home Office approved restraining hold before he could shout ‘Oh my dayz’.(seriously, when he realised what I was doing he actually said ‘Oh my dayz’.)

Chav B & C get even more mouthy than before & threaten all sorts of things they’re clearly not capable of but a swift kick in their direction with a few chosen words of warning leave them in no doubt what will happen if they come any closer than that. The girls are threatening to call the old bill which sounds good to me, so I helpfully provide them with the number in case they’re too thick to remember 999.

I drag the bBrain of Britain to the local shops just round the corner. If he’s said the old bill won’t do nuffin’ ‘cos he’s got ADHD once, he’s said it 37 times. Sadly, I have to confess that’s about the only true thing he’s said in the last 10 minutes.

I needn’t bother ringing 999, someone from a nearby house has done it. Except not only didn’t they recognise me even though I’ve lived here for over 12 years, they’ve also told the 999 operator that ‘some bloke is attacking a group of teenagers & he’s got an iron bar’. Still it gets the effect desired & the local police are on scene within 5 minutes. Fortunately for me they didn’t wade in without finding out what had gone on.

Mind you, a lift back to the house would have been nice.

May 9th, 2008

A Firearms Expert Speaks

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The armchair quarterbacks are already hot on the case in the shooting of barrister, Mark Saunders in his Chelsea flat on Thursday.

Amanda Platell, in her Daily Mail article "Did police really need to shoot this broken man?" she criticises the actions which led police officers to shoot dead a man who had been taking pot-shots with a lethal firearm out the window of his posh London home, both at neighbours & police.

Showing her astute & intimate knowledge of dealing with deranged men with guns she says, "Why couldn’t they have fired tear gas into the flat? Or used rubber bullets or stun guns instead of lethal force? Why didn’t they allow his wife to try to talk him out, as she desperately wanted to do?"

I’ll give her a clue, because they didn’t want to risk themselves or any other innocent person dying!

She says, "As for speculation that Mr Saunders had sought "suicide by cop", it’s a convenient story."

Someone who lived opposite gave a little more insight into a man who had clearly lost the thread, the witness, named only as Lesley, said: "There was a man opposite my house shooting into my daughter’s bedroom. He just kept on firing cool as cucumber. He didn’t even bother to open the window, he was shooting through the glass. There are bullet holes in my daughter’s bedroom wall. People were screaming at him ‘What the f*** are you doing?"

Reports say that on 3 separate occasions the ‘broken man’ fired at officers. They tried to negotiate but after five hours they entered the house, shots were fired & Saunders was hit five times. There is some criticisms that he was hit so many times by more than one officer. I’m reminded of the time an American Officer was asked something along the lines of "Why did your unit fire 56 times at this man". He is said to have replied "Because that’s all we had." 

It’s tragic when someone is killed in this way, but often they are masters of their own destiny. Whatever the reason he picked up a gun & started shooting at people the sad fact remains that there is a high chance you will be dealt with ‘appropriately’ and sometimes that means being shot dead. The fact that he happened to be a nice, rich & successful barrister is neither here nor there.

May 8th, 2008

Banned

Posted in The Job - Satire by 200

In a Home Office memo leaked to the Sunday Spurt, Home Secretary, Jacqui Spliff said that the government should not rest on its laurels and needs to ban something.

"Over the course of the last 11 years we have a steadfast tradition of banning things. It has come to my notice that we haven’t banned anything for 6 weeks, this is intolerable & we must not allow it to continue. My department will be recommending the outlawing of something with immediate effect. Should other departments fail to come on board with this one, we risk failing to meet our own targets for banning things."

The memo, in the guise of a series of emails between labour Party big-wigs, came to light when a print-out of the contents was found discarded with a pile of used condoms and the contents of the national insurance database in the back garden of South Shields resident, Jack Knob.

"I divvent beleeve it, like," said Jack, "Ah mean, fookin’ porsonal details ah can oonerstand, wah foond  aal the toon’s driving licence noomers roon’ th’ back o’ wor Sindy’s bus shelter joos last week. Ah can handle that, but fookin’ used condom’s? in me back garden?"

Home Office minister Tony McKnobber is seen to reply to the Home Secretary’s initial email seeking further calrification.

"Dear Lady Spliff, whist I can sympathise with the general tenor of your last document, I fail to see what more we can be doing, we have banned almost everything, smacking, smoking, guns, dogs, hunting, to name but a few. what more is there left?"

There have been rumours that the Department of Banning Things has been severely underworked in recent months. A spokeswoman, who wished to remain anonymous, but is in fact Sarah Higgins-Numpty, said "things have been really desperate round here of late. Up until the first quarter of 2008, we were banning things left, right & centre, we haven’t banned anything for nearly five and a half weeks, things are really slack in the office right now, we’re running out of old copies of Heat, Soap & Vanity Fair."

Conservative spokesman, David Tosser suggested a way out of the current dilemma. "When the government relaxed the laws on cannabis, we members of the Tory party said there was an ulterior motive & now the government’s chickens are coming home to roost. The government are so shallow that having un-banned cannabis they will probably re-ban it again soon."

Prime Minister Gordon Pointless said this was "absolute rubbish, we made our decision on cannabis some time ago and would not change our minds for something as simple as votes."

 

May 7th, 2008

Something & Nothing

Posted in Blogging by 200

I got interviewed the other day, not by PSD thankfully, but by another police blogger. You can check out the interview in Twining’s unique style over at his blog, The Twining Chronicles

I got tagged also by regular contributor, Annette, but owing to me not really understanding all this tagging business I didn’t know what to do. Apparently you have to mention 7 random facts about yourself & then tag 7 other people. I hope Annette will forgive me for not tagging anyone else but I don’t have 7 online friends.

 Here are my random facts. 

  1. I have appeared on television in Germany, Russia, Yugoslavia & Poland. (all on different occasions)
  2. I’ve had a general anaesthetic in hospital on at least  9 separate occasions.
  3. I had a trial for the British National American Football Squad in the 80s.
  4. I’ve had articles published in the UK & USA (nothing to do with police blogging).
  5. I don’t like celery.
  6. Before I married, I dated an opera singer.
  7. I’ve performed CPR three times.

I’m not sure what that lot says about me, if anything.

 

 

 

May 6th, 2008

Lesson Learned

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

That paragon of virtue, Pete Doherty is due to be released from Wormwood Scrubbs this week after serving just 29 days of a 98 days sentence for possession of drugs.

The papers often describe him as having "fought a battle against drug addiction". If he is any example of fighting a battle you sure as hell wouldn’t want him in your army.

His sentence is reduced by half automatically, because it makes the judicial system seem harsher if you sentence to double what they actually serve. He also gets 18 days knocked off because the government have repeatedly failed to make arrangements to imprison people & haven’t got room despite being in power for years & the overcrowding problem not having crept up on them. He gets another two days off because of time in police custody.

So despite having a four month suspended sentence for a similar offence last October & re-offending so soon, he still manages to serve less than a third of his latest sentence.

That’ll teach him then.

I was amazed to find a discussion forum dedicated to this waste of space. It’s described as "The best Pete Doherty discussion on the net", you mean there’s more than one?

May 5th, 2008

Action Replay

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if work was like a DVD? 

Sitting in the control room I sometimes wish I could just reach out & press the fast forward button.

Sunday afternoon on a slow channel, ten hours to go. And as for a couple of hours call-taking later on I’d definitely just skip those chapters altogether. I bloody hate taking calls; there’s something about the amount of time I’ve put in to this job so far which makes me feel I’ve done my fair share of talking to drunken numpties.

The x16 slow button would come in really useful for when police officers are resulting their jobs or passing information when they talk faster than I can type. And I’d certainly use the replay or even the pause button when Charlotte from the call centre comes over to discuss one of her calls & pouts over the top of my workstation, which is just the right height for her to rest her breasts on.

Training days I’d use the x32. PDR reviews I’d just skip altogether as they are a complete & utter waste of everyone’s time.

Actually, thinking about it, if my work life was a DVD I’d probably just take it back to Blockbuster & swap it for Speed II or something.

May 4th, 2008

Unwilling Cash Cow

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

News last week that one in three motorists are being caught & fines by speed cameras or parking wardens.

In 2006, 9.8 million drivers received fines said to be worth £800 million. I find this quite staggering really, given that I’ve been driving for 30 years or so & never had a ticket or a fine, there must be loads who have had several.

Apparently, the motorist contributes over £30 billion a year to the government in taxes. Where does this money go? It certainly doesn’t go on the transport system; only £6 billion gets spent on that a year. We pay the highest fuel duty in Europe with almost 70 pence in every pound spent on fuel going to the government. I can remember a few years ago being part of a group who travelled to Eastern Europe. We were able to fill up 6 vehicles for the same price as one vehicle in the UK.

We pay a for a vehicle Excise Licence (Tax Disc) which will increase in several hunded percent in some cases, depending on emissions in the misguided hope that this is actually doing something to take less efficient cars off the roads. And again will increase the tax coffers so the government can waste it on non-transport related matters. What it will actually do is penalise the less well off since those who can afford gas guslers can either afford to pay the increases or can simply buy a different car whereas the poorer motorist will be forced to find the extra money for car tax or just not pay it at all & the government will criminalise them.

We have to pay congestion charges when going into London. Other cities have plans to introduce them. I have no idea whether congestion is reduced as a result of these charges but I suspect that the cash raised is spent on non-transport related stuff as is the rest of the funds the motorist adds to the economy.

Petrol prices have shot up and are at the highest levels. We now pay about £1.10 for a litre. The government could reduce the levsl of tax it takes by a few pence or not raise it with every budget but it is quite happy to take increased revenue.

We paid over £1.2 billion in parking fines last year which equates to £20 for every man, woman & child in the country. And this is not to mention the millions we pay in parking fees to the local councils & hospitals which are simply revenue generators. The government in introducing more surveillance cmeras specifically to target the motorist & make it easier to catch them breaking the laws so they can wring the next drop of cash from them without having to do any actual work.

Toll roads are creeping in so that private companies can have their share of free cash. OK, they build the roads, but they don’t do this as an act of charity, they want profit.

One of the biggest problems I have with all this money-raising through the motorist is because it targets the law-abiding. We are the ones who register our vehicles, pay the required taxes & fees & fines. It’s really, really easy to hit us for more cash.

As a motorist, I expect to pay for the road network I use, I expect to pay towards profit for the fuel companies & motor manufacturers. I also expect to pay towards some of the environmental damage I’m doing when getting to & from work & other essential journeys. I don’t expect to pay towards the myriad of other things my car-cash goes towards simply because I run a car. And I’m fed up to the back teeth of having to fork out left, right & centre.

May 3rd, 2008

Obituary

Posted in The Job - General by 200

It is with sadness & deep regret that I have to annouce the death of a well-respected friend.

‘Sharpie’ passed away with barely a whimper in May 2008. Few will have noticed, even fewer will be concerned. Sharpie came into our lives a mere 3 & a bit years ago & in her short life managed to touch the hearts of practically no-one. She brought joy to literally tens of people, and no more.

I’m talking, of course, of that shining light in the gloomisphere of police publications, ‘The Sharp End‘. The last issue came out this month. After 38 issues – it started in January 2005 – someone has pulled the plug. The magazine itself doesn’t mention why, it just says basically, "so long & thanks for all the fish" (or is that the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy?).

I’ve mentioned this mag before a couple of times. It seems that I’ve been about the only one discussing it because if you put "sharp end magazine" into Google, you come up with my blog entries third & fourth entries down. I won’t repeat my thoughts on the Sharp End, strap-line, "The Real Life Magazine for Real Life Policing Issues", yeah, right. Unlikely Cop did a reasonable review of it in February 2007. But save to say that it never really captured the attention of those of us in "real life Policing" situations and was basically just another managerial attempt to show how well they are policing the country.

It may be that it was designed to only run for 3 years & 4 months, it may be that the Home Office decided to withdraw funding, or it may be that nobody read it. Whatever the reason it has been withdrawn, I doubt many will be bothered.

 

May 2nd, 2008

Wasters

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

There are some people that I really begrudge devoting police resources to. One such group includes parents who can’t control their children & expect the police to go & collect them every time they refuse to come home.

Another is people who engage in drug dealing & then fail to pay their ‘bills’ & want police protection whenever their ‘business partners’ threaten to come round & blow their bollocks off with a sawn-off.

I’m sorry but there are some people who just shouldn’t be entitled to any kind of service at all. If you decide to break the laws of the land by involving yourself in buying & selling illegal drugs & then expect the police to protect you the moment things go pear-shaped, I think you should go to the very bottom of a very long list of people more deserving of a police response than you.

And that’s not even to get into the debate about the fact that you don’t work, don’t pay tax, cause untold misery on the rest of society & still expect a service?

May 1st, 2008

Truncheon, Pocket Note Book, Film Crew

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I was watching Traffic Cops again this week. I know, I can’t help it, it’s like a burger flipper at McDonalds going home & watching Ready, Steady, Cook.

And to make matters worse, I get really involved in it all. When they’re chasing the baddies my heart rate increases, I’m willing them on to box them in & drag them out through the quarter-lights. It’s like being at work only you’re in one of those old World War II RAF control rooms trying to push pieces around the maps on the TV screen before you. I suppose it’s a way of taking part in some of the things I no longer do, like chasing baddies. Being in the control room and assisting with pursuits is all well  good but you can’t beat being out there & doing it.

The thing which came to me though was how many times can these film crews make programmes about Traffic Cops. We used to have traffic cars all over the place. You couldn’t eat an apple at the wheel for want of BMWs & Volvos queueing up to pull you over & issue a ticket.

These days the story is somewhat different. They’ve taken all the traffic cars away. Road Safety & Education is no longer a priority & there are easier targets to be met. So decimate the traffic departments & send the troops elsewhere but that means there are only so many crews the BBC can go out with. I’m not sure how long Traffic Cops has been going but it must be a few years, they’ve done a few forces too and then there’s Nightwatch & the same programmes on the other channels.

There can’t be many traffic officers who haven’t had a camera crew with them.

So if you’re a BBC producer & you need a rather handsome, fine looking & experienced copper to drive a big white traffic car around for a few days, give me a call.