It was back to the grindstone this week. Someone died on the roads. People die on the roads every day. Most are preventable tragedies.
Once something like this happens people spring into serious work mode. There’s little time for personal involvement; there are procedures to go through. Fatal accidents on the major roads is where we earn our bucks in the control room, that & pursuits. Sometimes routine gets in the way of appreciating that the once living body hanging out of the car was someone’s wife & mother.
Shutting the major road network while a road death is investigated has major implications, especially during the day when traffic flow is at its heaviest. The government don’t like it, it’s bad for business & companies lose millions when their business is delayed by a few hours. Not for the first time have I been approached by the officer in charge of the control room to ask me how long the X-road is going to be shut because some government department has been on the phone asking for it to be opened ASAP.
So we’re on the radio dealing with all the demands of the many officers tasked to deal with the RTC, on the phone liaising with other authorities; for instance we need to get Highways out to reinforce road closures which we’ve sent other units to set up. We’re typing everything everyone says on the radio & phone onto the incident log, speaking with the boss in the control room & other members of staff asking them to ring so-and-so on our behalf because there’s only 2 of us (1 sometimes) & it’s enough just to deal with radio traffic let alone everything else expected of us.
We spend some of our radio airtime telling officers we’ve already done whatever it is they are requesting because we like to think we’re professional, have done an awful lot of fatal accidents & have some idea of the requirements before anyone has asked for them. This doesn’t stop them asking for them, several times sometimes, and wasting valuable airtime (especially true on pursuits when the world & his wife wants to make suggestions or tell you what are basically insignificant bits of information when all you really need to do is listen to the officer behind the target vehicle).
You need to sort out road closures, sometimes with little in the way of free resources. If you don’t get a road closed you might end up with thousands of vehicles trapped on a closed motorway or dual carriageway with nowhere to go, for maybe four or 5 hours, or longer. And in the summer you might have to get extra resources to tour the queues with bottles of water you have to source from somewhere. Agencies which monitor traffic flow need to be advised of road closures & delays & alternative routes so they can get the information out to the media for braodcast on traffic update radio stations.
There’s all sorts of people need updating, supervisors both on the road & inside the control room, other departments, accident investigation, family liaison officers, highways. Someone has to do that i.e. us. Garages need to be organsised & briefed, the vehicles need to be examined, if the casualty/fatality(ies) haven’t gone in the ambulance undertakers need to be arranged, hospital mortuary staff need to be told to be on standby to open the mortuary. People need to be rebriefed – at regular intervals.
So things can get quite hectic. This isn’t to say that it’s not hectic out on the road, it is, I’ve done it, many times. But when you’re out there dealing you tend to have a specific task. Once your road closure is on that’s really it, apart from telling motorists repeatedly that this section of road is closed, and no you can’t go down there, and it’s a shame you’re going to be delayed for an important meeting/iminent flight/whatever, but someone died & we have to investigate it. The controllers have to pull everything together, in real time and be aware of exactly who is doing exactly what, where & when. You really don’t have time to fart let alone draw breath.
Meanwhile, a police officer somewhere is preparing to knock on a door to tell someone their wife & mother to their children isn’t coming home, ever.
This time Home Secretary, Jacqui Spliff, has been caught up in an expenses fiddle, I mean, error. Not content with claiming Ă‚ÂŁ100,000 for a free second home, she’s been caught out claiming for stuff not related to her parliamentary dealings. The question is over her virgin status, or should that be Virgin status.
She’s been claiming for porn films on her Virgin TV package. The government are worried that electronic scans of all their receipts for claims of free cash have somehow found their way out of the Houses of Parliament & onto the pages of a Sunday Newspaper. This is causing great distress to many MPs who must fear their dodgy claims will be made public.
In the case of Ms Spliff, she was reimbursed for someone watching two adult films on her Virgin TV package. Step forward her husband, who issued a public apology on TV today. I have some sympathy with him, to be honest. If I was married to the Spliff, I’d be watching as much porn as possible!
Personally, as MPs didn’t bleat about the BNP list being put into the public domain, nor about the way the police sifted the document to find those who may have broken the rules, they can’t complain if their expenses are published & we all see what they’ve been spending our money on. It may even be appropriate for to expect the sacking of people who do things completely immoral, such as being a member of a legal political party or claiming for TV entertainment or for a second house just 11 miles away from their first house; what’s good for the goose & all that.
Anyone who uses IT systems at work will know that you have an individual ID which you input before being given access to any of the said software. This is so they can tell how much porn you download & what secrets & rumours you are spreading by email.
For 30 years I’ve been known as PC 200. Everything I do, everthing I sign, everything I am within the organisation has been defined by this number.
It’s no surprise then that now I have a new ID, I cannot get used to typing it into any of the systems at work. At the rate I’m going it’s going to be bloody months before I stop typing ‘200’ every time I log into any system. It’s like my fingers have some muscle memory which automatically, without any intervention for what passes as my brain, goes to the ‘2’ key. If I’m lucky I realise before the second ‘0’, if not I get the ‘computer says no’ response at the next press of the ‘Enter’ key.
I spoke to one of our clients this week who wasn’t particularly impressed with the advice I was giving him – which was basically that I wasn’t going to send an officer. He, as they usually do, demanded my name & number. Automatically, without thinking, I replied “It’s PC 200 Weeks & I’m ending the call nowe goodbye”, whereupon I put the phone down & realised that I wasn’t a PC any more.
It’s probably safe to assume that Dean Hancock, 29, from Bristol hasn’t learned his lesson.
Hancock, a serial thief, was caught breaking into a trap car which had been rigged with video cameras by the local police. He forced the door of the police-owned Peugeot before stealing a purse which had been left as a ‘honeypot’ trap.
Hancock is either stupid or unlucky – I think probably the second – as this was the second trapped vehicle he has been videoed breaking into. The previous 32 week suspended sentence clearly did nothing to thwart him from his naughty ways. It won’t be any surprise to discover that he’s a druggie who spookily failed to comply with the terms of substance-related offending course.
A six week jail sentence together with an activation of his previous sentence should prevent him from breaking into police cars for, ooh, about 4 and a bit months.
The retirement came to a rude awakening this week when I returned to work as a civlian radio operator in the force control room.
I can honestly say that getting out of bed on the first day was met with mixed emotions; I was quite pleased to be seeing my old mates again but after six weeks away I wasn’t looking forward to getting back in to work mode.
Work itself was pretty much as it always was. It was nice of some of the guys to break with radio procedure when they heard me back on the air & welcomed me back.
I spent a lot of the time just talking to everyone & telling them how much the previous six weeks had been enjoyed back at Weeks Towers, & how depressing it was to be back at work. I can’t say I got an awful lot of sympathy on he grounds that if they are so depressed why should I be any happier?
The old team is pretty much as I left them. Nobody has transferred, resigned or been sacked. I did get a donut from one of the team because now I’m back they can get their leave.
Much of the first day was used up ringing round all the various departments to make sure I was set up on all the IT systems with my new civilian ID & most importantly, that I was included on the pay roll.
If you’re waiting at home for the third day because your local police haven’t gotten round to you yet to take a report that you were beaten up on Saturday night, it might be because we are busy investigating allegations such as this.
Jonathan Ross, on his TV show two weeks ago showed a cute photo of a dormouse sleeping on a flower. He cracked a joke about an animal sanctuary waking it during it’s hibernation, in order to take the pic. It’s an offence to interfere with certain species of wildlife in the UK.
A viewer complained to Avon & Somerset Police who sent out an officer to deal with the allegation in an investigation into whether the Wildlife & Countryside Act had been breached.
It hadn’t. Thankfully, the animal rights of little Dozey the Dormouse hadn’t been trodden over. A spokesman for the Secret World Wuildlife Rescue Centre in Somerset confirmed the police had visited & suggested that around eight hours of police time had been wasted on the complaint. He said, “We rescue dormice and work with experts to care for them. I think people meant well but they should have rung up and got the whole story first instead of getting in touch with the police.”
They’ll be complaining to police about the behaviour of the occupants of the Big Brother house next.
If you need any further evidence ofĂ‚Â MPs mis-using their position to feather their own nests, look no further than former Police Minister, Tony McNumpty.
We all know how much criticisim MPs have been under for all their claims of free cash from the public purse, some justified, others not quite so.
Mr McNumpty has taken the tenuous link between what is right & what is allowed to new extremes. Here’s a man whose constituency is just a few miles fromĂ‚Â the Houses of Parliament. The allowance should be for MPs who live in the far flung parts of the UK to have a second house within striking distance of the work they are required to do in London. (although why they need to walk away at the end of their career in Parliament with a free second home, rather than just having their rent paid while they are an MP, is beyond me)
It seems rather odd that such an allowance would be permissable for an MP to claim for a second house which is a mere 11 miles from his main abode, both of which are just a few miles from Westminster. What’s more, the house for which he is claiming a second-house allowance is where his parents live.
I’m not the only one who thinks it is completely immoral to claim a housing allowance for a house you don’t live in which is just 11 miles from your own home. Liberal Democrat, Sarah Teather, said “It is completely unacceptable that London MPs living within commuting distance of Westminster are allowed to claim money for a second home. Thousands of Londoners travel to work in central London every single day, so why on earth shouldnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t their MPs?”
McNulty is being rather bullish about the whole matter with the usual claim of ‘doing nothing wrong’. He has declined to pay any of the Ă‚ÂŁ60,000 he got for his parent’s house over the last four years. He is the epitomy of that well-known phrase “is that a a gun in your pocket or have you just stuffed them full of tax-payers’ cash?”
Lovelle Mixon was on parole after serving a six year jail sentence for robbery & assault. He was wanted for parole breaches after walking out of a meeting with his parole officer three weeks ago. He was stopped by two motorcycle cops yesterday in a routine check, Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40 & Officer John Hege, 41, were both shot by Mixon, Sgt Dunakin died at the scene, Officer Hege died of his wounds this morning.
After a massive search Mixon was located at a flat by the SWAT team. Three officers were shot as they tried to apprehend him. Sgts. Ervin Romans, 43, and Daniel Sakai died, a fifth officer was wounded. All four officers served with the Oakland Police Department.
28 Law enforcement officers have died in America so far this year.
On Mark Dunakin’s memorial page someone has written:
An Angel In The Sky Must Leave His Place Of Rest,
Gently Tucking His Wings Beneath His Armored Vest.
For Duty Has Called, There Is Much Work To Do
Little Did He Know, This One Is Dressed In Blue.
Arriving On The Scene, He Knows Just What To Say,
“Follow Me, Fallen Brother, I’ll Show You The Way.”
“Your Duty Has Ended, Your Work Is Now Through.”
“Come Hang Your Hat Beside Mine, I’m A Cop, Too.”
When I went to training school back in 1979, I had to learn stuff. I’m not sure that is the case these days, but that’s something for another time. One of the things I learned was the Theft Act. In the days when we had to type our own court files, you had to type out the offence & the act & section, so you pretty much got to know them off by heart. Much I have forgotten these days. I did learnt that if you took possession of stolen goods & used them to your own ends you might be guilty of handling stolen property.
All of which is a tenuous link to the story today that PC Steve Bettley of Merseyside Police has been sacked after his name was found on that BNP membership list from last year. The list that was stolen from the BNP & published on the internet.
The PSDs upĂ‚Â down the land grabbed this stolen property & went through it trying to find police officers who might be on it. They did. They must have been rubbing their hands with glee.
I’ve said before that I have no truck with the views of the BNP but that I hope in due course the ban on membership for Police Officers will be found illegal & a breach of our (I can’t say ‘our’ now, can I?) human rights. I believe we should be judged on our actions not our beliefs. I do find it morally unacceptable that the PSD can use evidence obtained through an illegal source against one of their own. I mean, what would happen in a court of law if the police tried to enterĂ‚Â into a trial evidence which had been obtained illegally?
Ex PC BettleyĂ‚Â has apparently stated his intention to appeal against the Witchfinder General’s – I mean chief constable’s decision. He has his work cut out. His wife’s name was on the same list & he is saying a family member enrolled him in the party without his knowledge. Good luck with that one, the Federation are supporting his appeal.
The soonerĂ‚Â the police get taken to court for this policy the better, as far as I’m concerned.
It seems that in the wake of the recent terrorist murders in the province, there are concerns about the amount of bullet-proof vests available for police officers. If you’re one of the smaller officers over there, you might be worried where your issue vest is because there appears to be a shortage.
Officers have been told “If you are in possession of small armour and are on duties in the district where armour is not required, return it”.
The PSNI has said that it is taking steps to address issues of the shortage of some sizes of ballistic vest. I’m sure that’s a great comfort for those officers who have to patrol the streets of Northern Ireland in the knowledge that there are people out there who want to kill them.
I have a feeling that within the bowels of the PSNI HQ there will be more effort tracing the person who emailed the BBC than sourcing suitable amounts of gear.
On the whole, life is good as an ex-police officer, not that I’ve had a great deal of experience of it yet. Finances have been sorted & my family is now debt free for the first time in umpteen years. Our lifestyle has changed accordingly. We have been out a bit more than we used to, we’ve evenĂ‚Â been known to drop into the local pub for a meal or three when previously, this was reserved for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.
I certainly feel a hand or shadow has been lifted from my shoulders in more ways than one. The trouble is there is a sense of dark foreboding.
I now wish, beyond anything else, that when I planned the end of my old career & the start of my new one (regular readers will understand my new career is actually the same as my old career only wearing different clothes & non-cancellable rest days), that I’d built in a longer time of rest & recuperation.
A month off is just long enough to shed the clutches of the job, just long enough to start t get used to being away from work and doing my own thing, but way too short before going back to work.
I know, from conversations with old mates, that things haven’t improved in the control room, some say they have even got worse in such a short period. It’s getting closer now to returning to everything I didn’t miss when I retired.
Still, I must console myself with the fact that I no longer have the responsibilities & controls I had on me as a police officer. I guess I can have some comfort in the fact that if I get pissed off enough I can just walk out the door.
The latest buzzword to hit your screens, newsprint & senior management conference rooms is the “Policing Pledge“.
As we know, this government seem tro think the answer to everything is to write it down & measure it. So, along with the totally redundant Statements of Purpose we have, where we state on posters the bleedin’ obvious (putting people first, fighting crime, making our community safe & other worthless drivel) we are now writing down more of the bleedin’ obvious, in a pledge to do what we should be doing.
So, some typical things appearing in the new policing pledge (which every force must sign up to) are such illuminations as:
treating you with dignity & respect
answering the phone in x-seconds
informing you of the progress of your crime
yadda, yadda, yadda
oh, and the government are kindly ‘pledging’ that we’ll get to you in 15 minutes if it’s urgent or one hour if it’s not. Clearly, especially with the second pledge, they are having a giraffe; there are many thousands of people who currently have to wait a week or more for ‘non urgent’ jobs so how the bloody hell we’ll get to everyone within an hour is completely beyond me.
You’ll also have local pledges, so if your cul-de-sac is plagued by chavs you might get a pledge to get extra patrols, fantastic, except your town might have a hundred cul-de-sacs with their own problems.
You’ll also get to know who your local neighbourhood team is with details on how to contact them, which will make it much simpler for the police to solve your problems.
There is really nothing in the Policing Pledge which we shouldn’t be doing as a matter of routine, courtesy & duty now or for the last 50 years. I suspect that most of the things we aren’t doing aren’t because it’s not written down on a poster to be displayed at all police stations & discussed over tea & medals back at the Home Office.
It seems that Yousaf Bashir has upset a few people in Luton. You’ll remember Yousaf’s group, they’re the small group of Muslim ‘fundamentalists’ who called the Royal Anglian Regiment a bunch of child-killing murderers who should go to hell.
Yousaf lives in the town with his parents. It appears a group of anti-Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah fundamentalists have been so annoyed at Bashir’s antics that they’ve put a few windows in at Bashir’s home.
Whilst one can probably understand people’s disgust with this particular group, going round their house to put the fear of, er, Allah, into the chap has probably only resulted in smashing up his parent’s home, who probably have nothing to do with Bashir’s views, and have also put fear into every one else in the street who now wonder whether a bunch of errant vigilianties will put their windows in by mistake (they’re probably not the most intellgent folk – the smash-ors, not the smash-ees). Mind you. I suppose it wold be quite hard to mistake the Bashir’s property since seven of his neighbours in the cul-de-sac have put Union Jack bunting out of their windows.
Bedfordshire Police provided an overnight guard at the house after the damage on Friday night, when neighbours reported ‘suspicious activity’ the following day. Only Beds Police don’t call it a free 24-hour guard, they prefer to call it a ‘police watch‘ which doesn’t sound like they are providing any better service to the Bashir’s than they do to anyone else who gets their windows put in (which they actually are – I can’t recall anyone else getting a personal police officers stood outside the house for what in effect amounts to a couple of hundred quid’s worth of damage, even ‘normal’ victims of racial abuse/damage, don’t get this level of service.)
It’s not just in the UK that we have to put up with incredible court decisions.
Western Australia Police were called to the report of a brawl outside a pub in February 2008. The incident was captured on a witness’s mobile phone during which three members of the Mcleod family can be seen punching & assaulting several police officers. As the officers struggle to defend themselves or arrest the offenders, Officer Matthew Butcher uses a Taser on father Robert McLeod. In sickening footage, one of McLeod’s sons is seen launching a flying headbutt to the back of Officer Butcher’s head which floors him out cold on the pavement.
The officer suffered brain damage, is paralysed down his left side & partially blind. The trial concluded this week whenĂ‚Â jury found all three members of the McLeod family not guilty after they claimed self defence. One of them was convicted of threatening to kill the person who filmed the incident.
Two Western Australian police officers have resigned in disgust citing the failure of the system to offer them any protection against attack when attending incidents where they are expected to stop men fighting in public. The officer & the force are now left with the possibility of seeking civil action against the thugs who have ruined the officer’s life and career.
Take a look at the footage. From what you can see, does it look like self defence? And people say ‘only in Britain‘!
With all the calls for mandatory prison sentences for those who choose to take a knife onto the streets, it’s interesting to see someone speaking out against mandatory sentencing. Especially as that someone is one Alf Hitchcock (sic!), a Met deputy assistant commissioner who heads the ‘Tackling Knives Action Programme‘.
He said, “There is a difference between mandatory sentencing for knife crime & the sentencing for gun crime. With guns, someone has to be within certain crime networks & know how to get hold of one.
“With knives, you are talking about a weapon that is easily available – every kitchen drawer has one – & the circumstances under which they are used can be quite varied.
“You might have a 16-year-old carrying out robberies in a gang environment. That is someone who deserves a serious sanction. But there might be a 13-year-old boy who is being bullied at school & stupidly puts a knife in his bag. Under mandatory sentencing, they both would end up with the same sentence.”
To a certain extent he does have a point.
It’s a shame that we can’t just trust the courts to decide on a fitting sentence in each case. The problem being that most people seem to get treated like they are an innocent 13-year-old bullied schoolboy rather than a gangster, with sentences to match.