Archive for August, 2008

August 11th, 2008

Free Money!!

Posted in The Job - General by 200

We’re not very popular in the press this week, again. People don’t like it that some of us are getting extra cash.

The payments come in the form of three types  of additional ‘bonuses’. One of these is for carrying out duties whi are, for instance, particularly gruesome. We used to get an extra allowance for fingerprinting dead bodies – to try & ID them – this, along with several other allowances was the  taken away when the government wanted to save a bit of cash.

Payments range from £50 to £500. It was introduced for a wider range of duties & the payment amounts are at the discretion of the chief.

Then came Special Priority Payments. This was in the form of an annual grant to each force of a set amount of extra cash. The chief could use it to top of the wage of a limited percentage of its officers. That percentage is fixed by the government & restricts payments to less than 50% of the force. The chief decides how to split this amount up & what amount to give to each individual department or specialism. It’s typically used in role which are either hard to fill, dangerous or onerous, or where staff are disappearing to other forces, for instance the Met, who can offer a higher salary due to the London allowances.

It’s a very divisive payment & there is a lot of anger & argument from departments which feel they ought to receive it but don’t. It often goes to firearms officers, senior detectives, CID & not usually to front line 24-hour shift officers.

The third payment scheme is Competency Related Pay & is for officers over a certain amount of service who are at the top of their pay scale. It’s a payment you can claim if you evidence the fact that you are good at your job. This basically means copying someone else’s report saying how good you are & changing the name to your own.

I’m not that certain about the validity or requirement reasons for these payments, to be honest. I only get the third one which amounts, I think, to an extra amount of about £80 (taxable) per month.

Mike Craik, chief constable of Northumbria is more forthright. He described the payments as “an inapropriate way of rewarding public services” but went on to say he’d prefer to see a better pay scale. He criticised the bonus payment scheme by saying “I have seen the most grisly things you could ever come across, but that is the job I signed up to”.

His criticism of the payments didn’t stop him trousering a share of a £47,000 bonus payment to him & 4 of his senior staff.

August 10th, 2008

Cop Trumps

Posted in The Job - General by 200

So Hampshire Police & Portsmouth City Council have come up with a radical way to get down with the kids; they’ve released a set of Top Trumps featuring members of the local policing team. The cards have a photo of the officer/PCSO together with facts & figures with which kids can play the Top Trumps game, measuring, for instance, pedal power, agility, problem solving & strength against other cards.

I’m not sure who was first but Merseyside Police also have a set featuring the Mounted Section.

West Yorkshire Police clearly don’t feel photos of their own officers will go down quite so well so they offer a set of Top Trumps on their website which feature local Rugby stars.

Northamptonshire Police have a set of 24 cards featuring local officers.

Amazingly innovative, these cards, except we were doing them maybe 20 years ago. They came in sets & all the local schools were encouraged to approach officers to ask for the cards to complete their sets. We were encouraged to patrol near schools at chucking out time so that the kids would speak to us. We handed them out during school visits. I must see if I can find a set, I’m sure there must be a set or two in the loft.

Perhaps I can get them on the Antiques Road Show.

August 9th, 2008

More Madness

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

More proof, if proof were needed, of the ludicrous situation the legal system finds itself in.

An illegal immigrant has been jailed for 9 months for failing to comply with a removal order which should have seen him returning to Georgia, that’s as in ex-Soviet, not American state.

Shamil Shakirar does not fit the criteria for automatic deportation (including having been jailed) so he could only be deported by a removal order which, amazingly, requires his signature. He refused to sign the document so has been jailed for failing to comply with the removal order.

A Home Office spokesman said they would seek his removal on his release from prison.

So someone who has no right to remain in this country can only be removed if he agrees to go? The country really has gone mad.

How much does it cost to keep someone in prison for a week again?

August 8th, 2008

Woof, woof

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

More doggy capers in the news recently.

The ACPO guidelines on the use of police dogs are being re-written. Peter Vaughn, deputy chief constable of South Wales Police is the mouthpiece on them.

He is quoted as saying, “The draft guidelines outline a general principle that forces should consider what steps can be taken to avoid offending people. This might include different categories of people such as those with a fear of dogs, for example, or asthma sufferers who may be sensitive to dog hair.”

The response in the national press is unsurprisingly one of piss-taking & derision. The Express sums it up with their headline “Sorry Sir, is it all right if we set our police dog on you?”

I’ve not seen the guidelines so I have no idea if the DCC’s comments have been taken out of context. Either the press are picking up on an element & extrapolating it to the nth degree for a story – the press doing that, surely not – or someone really has forgotten that the job of the police is to police

August 7th, 2008

Make mine a Gallon

Posted in The Job - General by 200

It had to happen; with people selling their second cars, hauliers going out of business left, right & centre & me walking twenty miles to work in order ti earn enough cash in a day to pay for a teaspoon of petrol (that last bit was a lie, I actually use a 3litre turbo to get to work). The police are being told to cut down on fuel bills.

Apparently, the Met’s fuel bill has gone up £1.5million to £12.2million. It’s 6,500 vehicles cover 63million miles a year.

Devon & Cornwall’s fuel bill has risen by £500,000.

Some forces are advising officers of ways to use less fuel. Driving at 50mph rather than 70, turning the engine off at traffic lights – which reminds me of a chap who was also low on fuel, rather than turn his engine off at the traffic lights, he turned it off on a hill, so he could coast down the hill into town. Sadly he forgot that by doing so, the hill was on a bend, he managed to engage the steering lock & the 3p he saved in fuel costs was somewhat wiped out by the £3,000 repair bill for his car & the £6,000 his insurance had to fork out for a lady’s rebuolt wall.

What else was there, oh yes, to turn the air conditioning off. Air conditioning? I never had air conditioning in my police cars.

In fairness, these new guidelines, which apparently will form part of the new police driving manuals, are not designed to restrict going like a bat-out-of-hell on emergency shouts.

I remember in the early 80s we had restrictions on petrol. The panda cars were restricted to 30 miles a shift, traffic cars had a bit extra. Woe betide anyone who went over their limit per shift. There were inspectors whose job it was to go through the vehicle log books each day just to check nobosy had done more than 30 miles. There were apocryphal tales of people jacking the rear axle up & sticking the car in reverese for an hour or so to wind the clock back.

There’s nothing really new in modern policing.

August 6th, 2008

It’s PC gone mad, again

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The Social Engineering & Political Correctness Department of Humberside Police are using the taxpayers’ money to great effect in Humberside with the latest hair-brained scheme to train its officers. (actually, there isn’t such a department in Humberside, or any other force, as far as I’m aware, but you’d be forgiven for thinking there is).

One of the Constabulary’s finest has recently undergone a sex-change. Chief Superintenden Kevin Sharp has written to every member of staff in the area advising of ‘Lauren’s’ new status saying “As from today, Lauren starts her new life and over the next few weeks you will receive awareness training during which you will be able to read a personal letter from Lauren”. The letter went on to say “I trust you will have the same determination as I have to help Lauren return to work with as little fear and trepidation as possible.” The Supt called on his staff to treat Lauren “as we would expect a close family member to be treated”.

All 334 police officers & 166 civilian staff are to attend a half-day training session, during which time, presumably, they will not be available for any policing duties in the community.

Police forces – and all other public bodies – are required by law to provide their staff with training to prevent discrimination. Hence the reams of utterly useless ‘diversity’ training we’ve had to endure on a regular basis for the last few years. I have no doubt that this most recent example has absolutely nothing to do with creating cohesion & understanding within the ranks, but everything to do with being able to say they’re not responsible should Lauren sue the force the moment someone makes an inapropriate comment.

I can’t help thinking that the residents of Humberside might imagine a better use of their taxes & police officers’ time than sitting in a hotel conference facility for half a day learning about how transexuals feel. I can’t help wondering whether the information the Supt wanted to pass to his staff could have been equally well transmitted by an email, or indeed a couple of extra paragraphs to the letter he sent advising of the training.

August 5th, 2008

That’s Rubbish

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

The government’s answer to everything these days seems to involve legislation & ‘cracking down’ on the citizens of the UK.

The latest wheeze to stamp its authority on the masses & get a bit of extra free cash at the same time, is to fine people who infringe ‘wheelie bin’ legislation.

The Flycapture Enforcement Manual (no, I didn’t make that up!), drawn up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has ordered local councils to fine residents for refuse transgressions. The fine will be "not less than £75 & up to £110". It suggests a ‘standard’ fixed penalty sholud be £100 & states that if the fine is not paid it is "essential it is followed up".

The offences for which householders will be fined will include leaving the lid of a wheelie bin ajar, putting out a bin the evening before collection or leaving the bin in the wrong place.

I’m reminded of the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch from the 80s when a Constable Savage is admonished for arresting one Vincent Kodogo for such made-up offences as ‘wearing a loud tie in the built up area’, ‘walking on the cracks in the pavement’ & ‘looking at me in a funny way’.

It’s interesting to note that if you walk into Tescos, steal £200-worth of booze, use it to get pissed up & damage a few streets signs or pull up someone’s prize begionias, you’ll probably end up with an £80 fixed penalty ticket, and nothing else. If you leave the lid open on a wheelie bin you’ll get a £100 fine.

If you fail to pay the fine, you could end up hundreds of pounds in debt to the magistrates court.

Bloody crazy.

August 4th, 2008

Catfighting

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Being a police officer, I find it very satisfying to hear about different sections of society advancing equality with us white, heterosexual males.

It was with great pleasure that I embraced the news that females are doing their bit to catch up with us blokes.

To show how much deserved progress they are making one needs only to check out the figures for violent attacks which shows that those done by females have doubled in 5 years.

Last year, 87,200 women & girls were arrested for violent attacks, about 240 a day, way to go girls!

Critics say that there are clear links between an increase in females attacking & increased drinking opportunities which they say has been fuelled by 24 hour drinking (if there ever was such a thing).

I have my doubts that the relaxed licensing laws have anything to do with it really. I mean, let’s look at the stats;

2002/03 – 42,200 females arrested

2003/04 – 53,500 an increase of 11,300

2004/05 – 66,800 an increase of 13,300

2005/06 – 78.900 an increase of 12,100, this is the year the new drinking laws came in

2006/07 – 87,200 an increase of 8,300.

I’m no statistician but the increase year on year was not so great after the law changed as it was before.

Perhaps if pubs really were open 24 hours instead of a few extra hours in some of the pubs then we might follow the pattern and even get a decrease in the amount of female violence. But what would that do to embrace equality?

 

August 3rd, 2008

I’m Free!

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

When the government took the easy option to ease the prison crowding problem, which incidentally, snook up on them over a period in excess of 20 years, they decided it would be a good thing to let prisoners out of prison 18 days earlier than their scheduled release. This is notwithstanding the fact that they only get to serve 1/3 – 1/2 their sentence in the first place.

Don’t worry,. said government said this would only apply to 25,500 offenders a year. It’s called the "End of Custody Licence Scheme".

Freed convicts are alleged to have committed 1 murder, 1 rape & 5 other serious sex offences & 500 other offences during the time they were free but should have been in prison.

So how many have the government released in the first year of the scheme?

I’m glad you asked. 31,000, 6,000 more than that originally claimed.

I’m sure society is all the better for it.

August 2nd, 2008

Rehabilitation

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

I meant to mention this a few days ago, but no matter.

Longer-time readers will know of my dislike of football & the modern day ‘ethos’ which seems to surround the game. I see this week that Wayne Rooney has been interviewed on suspicion of spitting at a photographer outside a restaurant in London. I don’t know about any of you lot but I’ve been spat at a few times over the years. It’s absolutely disgusting & I think I’d rather someone throw a punch at me than spit at me. Anyway, this entry isn’t about this overpaid little yob.

It’s about another overpaid yob, one Joey Barton.

Barton was released from prison on Tuesday having served (just) 74 days of a six-month sentence. He’s on a tag & must do 200 hours community service as a condition of his early release. He also got a four-month prison sentence for assaulting a colleague during a training session. Sadly, that sentence was suspended for two years. These are the last two violent events in Barton’s career.

Barton is on about £65,000 a week as a Newcastle United football player. The team’s manager, Kevin Keegan is welcoming Barton with open arms, back into the fold at Newcastle. He was heard on the radio this week saying he was willing to give Barton another chance.

What a fantastic opportunity for football to stand up & be counted. What a wonderful example it would have been to football fans everywhere & the wider community had Keegan stood up & said that there was no place for violence within the sport, that Newcastle would not condone anyone to do with the club being involved in such horrendous violence as that which Barton found so acceptable once he’d necked a few beers. How refreshing it would have been had Keegan announced that nobody who exhibited the kind of behaviour like Barton’s would be welcome within the confines of Newcastle’s stadium.

The truth is that Newcastle don’t want to lose out on their precious £5.8 million investment in the player. They could sack Barton for gross misconduct but if they were to do so they would lose all financial interest in Barton & any other club would be free to sign him at no cost. Of course, if the FA backed up this action & banned the player from the sport this would negate that possibility but Newcastle would still be out of pocket. And Barton can probably help Newcastle win games, which is far more important than the morality of the dilemma.

It’s ironic that a fan can shout out some socially unacceptable insults on the terraces & receive a life ban from the club, but a player can receive 2 prison sentences for violence & walk back into a £65,000 a week job.

The only glimmer of hope is that the FA appear ready to take disciplinary action over the incident for which Barton received his second prison sentence (suspended) for his attack on Manchester City team member Ousmane Dabo. He could be fined two weeks wages (big deal) & be banned for several matches.

August 1st, 2008

Beware, Terrorists!

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting very close to being one of those ‘pain-in-the-arse retired coppers’ we all know that I find occasion to criticise my fellow officers. Or maybe because I’ve always been a reasonably laid-back kind of guy who doesn’t get too wound up about everything. I’d like to think it’s because I have a balanced view of things & can appreciate it from both the police perspective & the public’s.

Take the following photograph:

Terror Car

It’s something you see every day in thousands of streets throughout the UK. (OK some people would like to see many more of them in their street, granted). It’s a photo of a police car, it happens to be parked on a yellow line & is, in fact, parked at a bus stop.

Some people get awfully excited when they see police cars parked ‘illegally’. It is, of course, quite legal for a police car to park almost anywhere provided it is for emergency services related reasons. I guess people would get awfully upset if they were getting seven bells kicked out of them while a police officer drove round looking for an empty parking space.

The above shot was taken by David Gates, a 42-year-old resident of Portsmouth, on his mobile phone as he thought the car was parked illegally. The two officers – who had been dealing with a domestic nearby – came out & saw him. They then questioned him about why he was taking a photo of their car. He was told that the officers could question him under powers conferred by the Terrorism Act 2000 because he "could be a security risk".

It would be glib of me to say that a terrorist probably wouldn’t be standing in the middle of a Portsmouth bus stop taking photos of passing police cars on his mobile because most of us actually don’t really know what terrorists get up to in their spare time. But it does stretch the credibility of the police when we use legislation designed to stop people blowing us to smithereens to question people who wind us up by taking our photos. It’s no wonder there is so much trouble getting the 42-days detention through Parliament.

You’d have thought that the Hampshire Police might want to take the opportunity to defuse the issue, but no, to stretch credulity even further Hampshire Police spokesperson, Liz Hanlon denied the officers were overzealous by saying: "We have absolutely no idea what that photograph could be used for. We were not saying “you are a terrorist”. The picture could be a security risk because it shows the car registration and we don’t know if that could be used for any sinister purpose later on."

A picture of a police car is a security risk? You mean we drive these things up & down the roads of the nation & all this time people seeing the number plate has been a security risk?  Why hasn’t anyone told me?

Someone better tell all those people who’s hobby is taking photos of police cars, like this group or this or this or this. Let’s hope real terrorists don’t have video recorders while sitting at home watching Police, Camera Action!, Traffic Cops, Chopper Coppers, Police Stop! & just about every third programme on tele these days, & to think we give broadcasters permission to film & show police cars with their number plates still visible. I expect Liz Hanlon doesn’t have a television.

Superintendent Neil Sherrington, deputy commander for Portsmouth  said: ‘"Officers are given powers under the Terrorism Act to stop and search. The act states that "this power can only be used for the purposes of searching for articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism, and may be exercised whether or not the constable has grounds for suspecting the presence of articles of that kind. It is therefore reasonable for the officer in this case to have made reference to the act and been suspicious about why the photograph of the vehicle had been taken."

FFS!