Archive for April, 2009

April 30th, 2009

Squeezing it dry

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

The motorist has a long & fine tradition with governments of providing a source of funds for things which have nothing to do with using your car on the road. Road tax, petrol duty, speeding tickets etc.

The latest idea to raise even more cash from the motorist for non-related fund-boosting is to stick a surcharge on to fixed penalty tickets.

Currently, courts are able to add a “victim surcharge” of £15 over & above any fine. The cash is designed to go directly to victims of hate & sexual crimes, organisations supporting families in murder cases & services helping domestic violence courts.

The surcharge is currently only handed out by the courts but Justice Minister Jack Straw wants to add it on to fixed penalty tickets. A speeding ticket, for instance, would rise from £60 to £75.

The victim surcharge started in April 2007. In the 9 months from April 2008 it raised some £6.6million. If added to fixed penalty tickets it would raise many millions more, £45million from speeding tickets alone. A mere drop in the ocean when compared to the many billions the government have lost in the banking fiasco, but hey, those bath plug expense claims have got to be funded from somewhere.

I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for people caught speeding, after all, you do the crime you do your time, but I do get increasingly annoyed at the goverment’s insistence that the motorist has to fund everyone else.

April 29th, 2009

Welcome

Posted in Blogging by 200

Just taking a few minutes to welcome new readers.

There have been quite a few new readers in the last week. It’s usually nothing that I’ve done, but someone, somewhere links to me & I get an upgraded hit rate on the back of someone else’s popularity.

This week I’ve done well on the back of some literary success for Nightjack. He won something called the Orwell Prize. I don’t follow the Orwell Prize so don’t know too much about it but congratulations to Nightjack for winning it. My hit rate doubled overnight as a result of people checking out his site (or Googling it – I come second for the term ‘Nightjack‘).

For those who don’t know me, I’m a recently retired police officer. I did my 30 years, most of which were on the front-line doing full shifts. I ended my career in the relative comfort of the control room, where I returned to life as a civvy just a few weeks ago.

The 200 weeks of the title is in reference to how long I had to go until retirement when I started the blog, so whilst I might not be the most popular police blogger, I’m certainly one of the oldest (in terms of life of the blog, not my age. Although, thinking about it, I’m probably one of the oldest police bloggers age-wise too).

I don’t have the literary prowess of Nightjack nor the popularity of Inspector Gadget, but I was quoted in the Guardian two weeks ago! And whilst the majority of my posts are police-related, I do wander off into political & social comment, together with a little humour & satire from time to time.

For the last 18 months or more I’ve had a little project to make a blog entry every day. Come September I’ll have blogged every single day for two years. Not easy, I can tell you. You won’t find a more productive police blog than 200weeks.

I like to think my blog is a triumph of content over quality. If you’re a new reader, welcome, I hope you might stick around; company is so important when you get old and grey.

April 28th, 2009

Self respect?

Posted in The Job - General, Videos by 200

In often hear reports that the British public have lost respect for the police, or how they are losing respect almost on a daily basis. The recent G20 publicity has done nothing to alter this veiwpoint.

We have always been pretty poor at letting people know of our successes, about our bravery, about things we do well. We repeatedly fail to negate bad publicity with information which would squash inuendo, rumour & plain lies.

I wonder how much of this is to do with the fact that we don’t really respect ourselves.

I know this is one of my pet subjects that I mention from time to time, but the way we honour our dead leaves something to be desired. Check out the two websites below to see what I mean.

Police Memorial – UK

Officer Down – USA

Here’s how they do it in the States:

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April 27th, 2009

Reel Life

Posted in The Job - General, Videos by 200

By way of a change from people accusing the police of killing someone, here’s a short video where they actually do. This was in the USA. Following a pursuit, a felon runs from police with a gun in his hand.

It’s not graphic but does show what might happen if you mess around with a firearm.

BLUtube is powered by PoliceOne.com

April 26th, 2009

Pass the Sicknote

Posted in The Job - General by 200

So the Met chief, Sir Paul Stephenson has pulled a sickie.

It seems he had his appendix out last week & returned to work after 3 days, but was advised to go sick again after he became unwell. Someone else is now covering for him. I’m guessing Stephenson might have preferred to have his appendicitis a couple of weeks earlier, say around the time of the G20 demo.

Going sick is a bit of a hot potato round where I work. Nobody seems to realise that when you cut the staff back so that nobody can get time off, when you increase the workloads & stress levels for individuals, the chances of having a happy staff is pretty bloody slim.

They seem to have problems grasping the fact that more people will go off sick, whether because they’re sick or just fed up, when they’re pissed off.

So, the obvious management answer is to lecture people about how guilty they should feel if they go off sick & leave their already strapped colleagues to pick up the tab. Yeah, that’ll work.

I don’t suppose the Met Commish is under any such pressure from his staff not to go sick, I’m guessing there’s a lot of people celebrating, judging by his early lack of support for his troops shown over a number of issues.

April 25th, 2009

Another Bunch of Tossers

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Apparently, some people are up in arms because the police asked someone to give them information in return for cold hard cash.

An undercover agent from the protest group ‘Plane Stupid’ – which sounds like a description of it’s members – secretly recorded two conversations with members of Strathclyde Police during which they attempted to get her to turn into a paid informer.

The Grauniad headlines their article “Police caught on tape trying to recruit Plane Stupid protester as spy” which suggests that trying to get informants is something you can be ‘caught’ at, like it’s illegal or wrong or something. I can’t believe people a) think this is somehow astonishing, new or wrong & b) don’t know this has been going on since the police first came into being.

People get paid for giving information to the police, they’re called informants. Sometimes people don’t just pick up the phone & ring Crimestoppers out of some sense of duty, but they will do it for filthy luker.

Maybe the Grauniad & the Plane Stupid member are appalled by the fact that the police could possibly want information on such an august law-abiding body as Plane Crazy, after all, they are a lawful protest group (who just happen to do unlawful things like trespassing on other people’s property, taking over a transportation barge which was moving an aircraft wing, damaging the perimeter fence & breaking into Stanstead Airport causing the shutting down of the airport when they camped on the runway, blocking East Midlands Airport runway, barricading travel agents, handcuffing themselves at Manchester Airport check-in preventing the public & businesses going about their lawful activities, chucking green slime at members of parliament (Mandelson) – actually, I’ll forgive them that – shutting down Aberdeen Airport while they set up a mini golf course). They are quite bullish about it all really. If you visit their website, they list all their illegal activities with pride.

The running of police informants is an established & perfectly legal method of policing & plays a great part in the fight against crime & disorder. There are many rules & regulations on how to run informants. It should not come as any surprise that one of the ways of gaining informants is to ask people.

Plane Stupid said in a statement, “Our civil liberties were invaded and our right to peaceful protest called into question simply to defend the interests of big business.” Like they give a fuck about people’s civil liberties & rights, except their own!

April 24th, 2009

At the sharp end

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

I don’t know what it is about knives at the moment but it seems that every other job in the last week has involved a knife.

There must have been a dozen jobs where at least one of the parties has had a knife in the last 2 or 3 days & that’s just on my channel, on my shift.

Domestic incident between husband & wife? One of them will storm off from the house with a knife. We then have to decipher whether they are going to harm themselves or someone else. If the latter, then we have to find out how many people the one still at home has been shagging – the shag-ee – to decide which houses to go round & protect the shag-or/s.

Teenage female shoplifters? One of them is bound to have a small kitchin knife in her back pocket.

The flavour of the month is self-harming with a knife. We’ve had 2 girls & a bloke cutting their wrists with a knife. Of course, most times this happens the cuts are no more than paper-cuts, presumably designed to make someone feel guilty about something. Although one guy did have a pretty sterling effort at slicing his arms off.

The upshot of all these jobs is that, because the British police are not generally equipped to deal with people with knives, unless you class the ability to let them stab you in a vest while you try to hit them with a thin metal stick as ‘equipped’, the first thing people call for is the firearms car, who are probably busy frightening some teenager who has a BB-gun in public on the other side of the county.

You then, according to the rules, have to give the officers a warning that they need to be in posession of their personal protective equipment. What essentially they are saying (they, being the people who design protocols) is that because we don’t give everyone the right tools for the job, if we at least tell them to wear their vests & be careful, if they get stabbed it’s not our fault, hands neatly washed.

They are also saying that officers who are issued with a vest, pepper spray & a stick, cannot be trusted to have this gear on them when they are sent to the report of a person with a knife. Neither do they trust the controllers to have passed on the message, so it has to be written down & documented that they were given the warning to wear the equipment which most of them wear all the time anyway.

To nick a similar well-known phrase or saying, it’s arse-covering gone mad.

April 23rd, 2009

So soon

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Just two days ago, I blogged about the death of PC Gary Toms in an incident in London.

Last night the Met lost another officer when PC Chris Dent was involved in a road traffic accident whilst riding his motorcycle home from work. He was involved in a collision with a VW Passat, the driver of which ran off.

Two females in the Passat were arrested on suspicion of obstructing police & later bailed. Three men were later arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

PC Dent was 37 & worked as a traffic officer with the Met. Officers on their way to work or home from work are considered to be ‘on duty’. PC Dent is the 7th officer to die on duty this year & the 4th from the Met.

R.I.P.

April 22nd, 2009

Communication, that’s what you need

Posted in The Job - General by 200

We in the British police have  a lot to thank modern communication systems for; we have the fabulous ‘Airwave’ which solved all our poor radio communications problems at a stroke (yeah, right) and if it wasn’t for Facebook & mobile phone texting facilities we’d only have half the amount of work we do now.

It’s so much easier now to threaten & abuse people than it used to be. You can do it from the comfort of your own home, the pub or the dole queue, all without having to go anywhere near your victim. You don’t even have to bump into them in the town centre or go to the expense of a piece of paper & a stamp.

Just fire up the PC (it’s always a PC, Mac users don’t waste their time threatenign people on Facebook, nor I suspect, do Linux users) & you can be slagging off someone to your heart’s content within minutes & have your threat delivered within seconds. If only Pizza Hut could tap into that technology we’d really be onto something.

Most of these jobs invariably involve 15 year old girls, either as the victim or the offender (usually both), or unemployed people who have nothing better to do than spending their unemployment benefit on broadband access; those 500 free text messages with every top-up don’t send themselves. The messages are usually sent to other unemployed people who demand they want something “done abaaat it, naah!”

If you’re on your third day of waiting for the police to take a report of a proper crime, it’s probably because we’re dealing with utter shite like Facebook threats.

April 21st, 2009

Thoughts for the day

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Just a few little thoughts today.

I see Gordon Brown has announced that minister’s second homes allowance is to go. It’s nice to see that, for a change, the government have had an attack of guilt. Sounds like an admission that they’ve been on the take & got found out. We will have to see wether whatever replaces it is open to as much abuse.

If MPs had paid as much attention to their own fraudulent antics as they have to a few private emails suggesting that someone might call someone else a horrid name or say they smell or something, they’d have done themselves a lot more good.

It was good to see today that someone has  a bit of positive press for the police. Michael Winner, writing in the Mail, of all places, asks people to remember all the good done by the police, both at G20 & generally.

It appears that the impartiality of the IPCC has been called into question after their chairman Nick Hardwick launched a stinging attack on the police handling of G20. He seems to have forgotten that it’s his job to gather evidence & enquire into complaints before announcing the result. Glen Smyth of the Met Federation has likened Mr Hardwick to the “Witchfinder General“. Harsh, but fair.

Quote of the week has to go to someone on one of the police forums this week. When responding to a comment that the IPCC had received 90 complaints (or whatever it was) they replied  to the effect 90 complaints at an event which had thousands of police officers & many thousands of protestors? “We get more than that when someone farts on Big Brother”.

April 20th, 2009

R.I.P Brother

Posted in The Job - General by 200

PC Gary Toms joined the police service in January 2002. His life support system was switched off on Friday following an incident in which he was trying to capture robbers who made off in a vehicle in London last week.

He died doing his job, serving the people of London.

If you search Google for “Gary Toms” you will find around 6,090 links. If you Google “Ian Tomlinson” you will find some 718,000 links. (you don’t need to, by the way, I’ve done it for you if you follow the links).

Gary has not yet been added to the National Police Officers’ Roll of Honour, I’m sure he’ll be added to the other five officers who have died on duty so far this year.

R.I.P., borther.

April 19th, 2009

New trial system set to launch

Posted in The Job - Satire by 200

The judicial system was rocked to its foundations today with the announcement from the Lord Chief Justice that England & Wales is likely to abandon trial by jury.

Lord Trumpington Outloud said that following secret government trials the right to trial by jury would, from May 15th 2009, be replaced by a new system slated to be far more popular; trial by YouTube. In a speach this morning to the House of Lords, he said, Britain has, for many thousands of years, & long and proud tradition of the concept of trial by peers. Far from ditching the concept,  we are enhancing it. No longer will people be judged by just 12 men good & true, they will be judged by potentially millions of their peers. This is just extending the trial by jury concept, not abandoning it.”

A government white paper sets out the new system. Members of the public will no longer need to go through the long & laborious process of reporting a crime to the police, waiting months to make statements with a roll of the doce as to whether the offender sees the inside of a court. Instead, they will just film the crime & post the video on YouTube. All visitors to the site will then be able to view the footage & select their choice of three boxes; “Guilty”, “Not Guilty” or “Your having a fucking giraffe”.

A new unit set up at the Home Office will be responsible for counting the votes & publishing the verdicts via the new www.stitched-up-like-a-kipper.gov.uk website.

Home Secretary, Jacquie Spliff  said, “The government has long been a champion of new and innovative ideas and we are proud to announce this new initiative which should see conviction rates soar. If it saves the need for just one trial it will be enough to buy me a third holiday home on the sea-front at Weston-super-Mare. I signed off the directive this morning using a biro purchased from Messrs W H Smith, cost 49 pence. Can I have a refund on that now, please.”

Sham Chakrawanki, president of Libertas said, “It’s about time police officers were held accountable for their actions. Hopefully, with the removal of the CPS and court process, convictions will rise & police officers can be taken off the streets and put where they belong, in prison. What, this is for members of the public as well? Oh shit, no comment.”

The new scheme hasn’t gone down well in all quarters, however. Robin Shite, senior partner of London law firm Sue, Sue and Sue said, “This is an utter disgrace. We have a long tradition of squeezing every last penny out of the legal aid system. Why, only last month I earnt 2 squillion pounds on a trumped up robbery charge which I persuaded to go not guilty even though he done it, after we got it adjourned 64 times at £2,564.46 an hour plus VAT. If this system comes in how can shysters such as myself be expected to earn a crust? The corridors of every court in the land will be full of suited gentlemen weeping into their portfolios. Those Lexuses don’t buy themselves.” He added, “To whom shall I make the bill for this quote?”

YouTube confirmed they had been approached by the Home Office & were ramping up their systems to cope with demand. Jonathan Richbastard said “It’s only natural for YouTube to branch into judicial systems. We welcome developments with open arms. This is merely another arm of Google’s efforts to take over the world.”

He added, “There are measures in place to stop abuse of the system, for instance, only a certain proportion will be allowed to vote not guilty. The exact forumla is kept secret by the Home Office but we can say it is linked to whether the defendant is a police officer & is tied in with government satisfaction levels.”

April 18th, 2009

Man tries to kill ex-wife

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Just a quick vid today as I’m off out doing lovely things in the sun.

BLUtube is powered by PoliceOne.com

April 17th, 2009

Cash only causes pain

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

So, the woman hit by the Met TSG Sgt at G20 is seeking a massive pay deal to have her story published with the opportunity to try suing the Met for even more money.

You can see Nichola Fisher’s story at the Grauniad website. She seems to have forgotten what her behaviour was like before she was told to ‘get back’ by the officer, preferring everyone to believe that she was just standing there picking daisys & singing ‘we shall overcome’.

Of course, she is now having panic attacks & difficulty sleeping, not that those symptoms would add anything to the compensation, you understand.

Described in some quarters as an ‘anti-capitalist’ she appears to have grasped the capitalist ethos with both hands by using publicity guru Max Clifford to get the maximum amount of publicity & capitalist cash for her plight. £50,000 for the story has been talked about, not to mention all that lovely  compensation lolly. She’s probably heard you can get £400,000 for cutting your fingers in the Met, so a viscious assault which made her ‘feel like she’d been whipped by the Taliban’ must be really making those pound signs flash.

Do me a favour, “whipped by the Taliban”? Maybe she should spend her time going across to Afghanistan to enrich her life by discovering exactly what it is like to be mistreated by the Taliban, ah, but I donlt think they give much money in  compensation out there.

I;m not a doctor but I do have a suggestion to help Ms Fisher with her sleeping problems & panic attacks; stop thinking of free cash & you’ll find those symptoms will just melt away.

April 16th, 2009

Jus’ doin’ our job Ma’am

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Here’s a video of cops doing what cops do every day. It’s from Ohio in the US of A but happens with regular frequency throughout the towns & motorways of the UK.

You seldom hear about this kind of work. Officers often put themselves in danger in order to stop people killing themselves. I know colleagues who have stood on the wrong side of a railway bridge parapet holding onto each other’s belts to stop someone jumping onto the overhead wires or tracks below.

It’s not on the news very often.

Backhand a screaming female in the middle of a riot & you’ll get more news footage than you can shake a stick at. Save someone’s life and nobody wants to know.

C’est la vie.

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April 15th, 2009

More G20 Tomfoolery

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

I hope you’re not getting bored of this. I picked this up another website & thought it deserved another airing.

The below shows the kind of thing the police have to put up with. The ‘brave’ freedom fighters who only want to save the planet charging a thin line of officers as they bravely throw bricks & bottles. Note the particularly brave one with the long stick who bravely tried to batter police officers over the head – and succeeds in one case.

Clearly, everyone in this shot is either a police officer or a social studies teacher all clamouring to shake each other’s hands & shoot the breeze over how each is being shafted by Mr Barclays, RBS & Mr Lloyds.

In another vid, another brave crowd who face maybe 30-40 officers. Note how they bravely lob barricades into the police line & promptly run away when faced with the prospect of having to face their actions.

But let’s not jump to conclusions, perhaps the guys with the barricades were merely assisting the police in the relocation of a system to assist in the queue for the toilets. The fellows with the long poles perhaps were merely taking part in a public art demonstration of peaceable Japanese Kendo.

After all we wouldn’t want to convict anyone by merely watching some dodgy YouTube clips…unless they’re a police officer, of course.

April 14th, 2009

Truly Shocking

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Welcome if you’re visiting this blog as a result of clicking on a link from the “Police Brutality at the G20…” Flickr group.

I’m touched that the organisers of this insignificant little bunch (10 members) think my blog is so “shocking” that they need to link to it to point out to the world the truly shockingness of it.

I don’t know much about Flickr other than it is a good example of a truly appalling design & user-interface. I think that if you are a member of Flikr, you can join & post your photos of Police Brutality for all the world to see how truly appaling the British police is.

Only I think the 10 members of this august group have missed the point. I looked through all 47 photographs, there are shots of police officers with batons raised, there are 4 shots of members of the public with some blood on them, there are a couple of shots of policemen with angry faces. I can’t see many which demonstrate ‘brutality’. We are none the wiser as to how or by whom any of the injuries were caused, nor the circumstances. One person seems to have totally missed the point of the group, unless showing a photo of some musicians talking to a bunch of protesters without a police officer in shot is true evidence of police brutality.

There are some great journalistic shots on there, but I’m not convinced the IPCC will be calling for ‘exhibit A’ from the Flickr group.

If you’ve visted from the Flickr link, were you shocked? If so, my work here is done…

April 13th, 2009

Name Your Price

Posted in The Job - General by 200

In an age when you can get half a squillion pounds for having your tit groped in the stationery cupboard, suffering horrendous injury to your feelings for being called a rude name or getting £400,000 for cutting your finger, it seems ever more difficult to get any kind of compensation for a just & proper cause.

Kevin Johnson was 22 years old & the father of a baby son when he confronted a group of youths outside his house who were keeping his baby awake.

As a result, he died from a stab wound to the chest. This was in Sunderland in 2007.

His father has been trying to get compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency ever since.

He has been turned down three times. He is trying to claim £11,000 for the loss of his son’s life. The reason given by the CICA for denying any compensation is because they have ruled that by leaving his home to confront the group he contributed to his own death!

Dean Curtis, who was 18 at the time, Tony Hawkes, 17 & Jordan Towers, 16, were all given life sentences for murder with a minimum tarif of 17,16 & 13 years.

A CICA spokesman said “We consider all available evidence in reaching our decisions, including relevant witness statements. If this evidence shows that a victim’s behaviour contributed significantly to the incident they were involved in, then we have to take that into account.”

This country truly has gone mad.

April 12th, 2009

Heads or Tails

Posted in The Job - General by 200

If I were a  detective in Hertfordshire at the moment, I’d be making some strong contacts in the media. The current mystery unfolding in the leafy lanes of the county is a stone bonker for a two-part murder-mystery on a Sunday night on the BBC; these programmes don’t technically consult themselves.

It’s getting so you can’t take your dog for a countryside walk without stumbling across a bag full of discarded body  parts.

Yesterday, a torso turned up, a few days ago a leg surfaced & a few weeks ago the first leg was found. A head was discovered some distance away in Leicestershire.

I don’t know much about murder investigations; I’ve never been a detective (I don’t drink enough) but I bet there is a sweepstake running in the incident room on which part will turn up next.

Wherever the next part is discovered, I bet the arsehole turns up in the Home Office.

April 11th, 2009

A Nice Little Earner

Posted in The Job - General by 200

It’s nice to see public money being spent wisely. It’s also nice to see good work being recognised. What could be better than actually getting to combine the two?

Step forward the London Crown Prosecution Service who have just spent the princely sum of £56,000 by giving 224 of their staff a bonus for, er, turning up for work.

Back on Monday 2nd February only 224 out of the total of 1,400 CPS employees in London made it in to work. You’ll remember this day as the day the UK recieved the largest amount of snow in the entire history of the earth. As usual, the country ground to a complete standstill as people were forced to spend the day sitting on their arse or getting harassed by the old bill for taking photos of kiddies frollicking in the white stuff (surely that’s a whole different website? – Ed)

A spokesman for the Criminal Protection Service said the money from public funds was a reward to members of staff who had “gone the extra mile.” They got a £250 bonus in their March pay packets.

If you happen to be from the CPS outside London & turned up for work through the worst blizzards the world has ever known, then tough shit; you get bugger all. Clearly London CPS employees are more valuable than in the rest of the country.

The spokesperson didn’t say whether any wages were docked from those who couldn’t be arsed couldn’t make it in to work.