Archive for June, 2009

June 10th, 2009

Down, down, deeper & down

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

Things continue to slide ever decreasingly downwards in the control room. I can’t get more than 4 days off in a row in the summer so will not be able to take a summer holiday with my family.

We debated about going away together & me coming home for 4 shifts & then going back for a couple of days but it looks like Mrs Weeks doesn’t want the stress of  spending a summer holiday preventing kids from fighting & arguing while I’m at work. It’s usually the only time of the year she gets to relax while I  do much of the family ‘work’.

I was sitting with Hannah this week. Hannah has been in the control room for 5 or 6 years. She couldn’t get time off for a family member’s wedding & has been refused leave on 20 applications so far his year. She also won’t get a summer holiday & has had enough. She has been applying for other jobs for the last year.

Hannah (unlike me) has lots of friends outside the police force who spend their time taking a day off here or there just because they want to, ringing her up & asking if she wants to join them. They can’t understand how an employer can treat their workers like that. I have no idea whether this is the case; I’ve worked within the police for my entire adult life. I’m guessing that maybe private industry may treat their workers with a little dignity & respect but possibly the public sector, who have been told to save money, and have pared everything down to the bone, don’t.

Hannah asked me whether I’d considered moving to another department where life is a little better & the staff are happier. It was the first time the thought had ever crossed my mind.

The chief has been told to save x-million pounds over the next two or three years. This gets divvied up, how I know not, but the control room has a slice of those savings to make. This means that staff who leave won’t be replaced and those due to have been taken on will get letters saying, due to unforseen circumstances, we are no longer recruiting.

Hannah has an interview for a new job in another department in a couple of weeks time. The sheer irony is that she can’t get any time off to attend.

June 9th, 2009

Surely some mistake?

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Any Metpol readers out there can confirm a story which appeared in the Sun yesterday about Heathrow Police being banned from wearing a Union Jack badge?

The story goes that about 100 of the Met’s armed officers at the airport bought a 1inch lapel badge in the form of our national flag in support of the ‘Help for Heroes‘ campaign. The Sun reports that top brass banned the wearing of the badge because it might be deemed offensive.

Ordinarily, you might get instantly annoyed that anyone might deem the Union Jack offensive & that the wearing of the national emblem shoud be supported (and anyway, isn’t it the flag of St George which we are trying to wrest back from the hands of racists?), but being as it’s the Sun it might be a) not true and b) that the badge has been banned because all badges are banned since they are not part of uniform, in which case there is no story at all.

Having said that, I seem to recall some years ago my own force banning the wearing of badges. I can’t recall what prompted the ban, but there was an outcry from officers & the decision was rescinded but officers were only allowed to wear one at a time. This was in the days when various police departments would make little lapel/tie pins in support of various charities, they became collectors items. I think it was the RUC who started it all with a series of Rupert Bear badges in support of officers killed & injured on the streets of Northern Ireland. I myself used to wear a small American Police badge on my tie which I was given by an American Officer in 1980. It became a kind of talisman & I wore it every day of my career except when I was on duty but not in uniform (which wasn’t often).

So, anyone know the truth of the Sun story?

June 8th, 2009

Good old drink

Posted in Videos by 200

In my attempts to provide you with the best in police-related entertainment, I scour the web looking for snippets with which to fulfill my mission.

Here’s one such example. I can’t help thinking that the police officers were more affected by the pepper spray than Mr T was.

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June 7th, 2009

End of the Tunnel

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I worked with Gail again this week. She changed her shift pattern a few months which has meant her doing more shifts with my team.

I dread it when I have to work with her, not because she isn’t a nice person, but because I never know how long it will be into the shift before she snaps & either starts swearing at people or runs out of the room in tears leaving me to cope on my own for anything between 15 minutes & two hours. (actually, once I think it was longer ‘cos she never came back for the rest of the shift).

Late shifts is where you are so busy with limited resources that you can’t send an officer to all the jobs. Traditionally, it’s the job of the late shift controllers to ring up all the people who we haven’t seen to tell them the bleeding obvious – that we haven’t seen them yet – apologise, & ask them if they’ll be available the next day, if they are we can then suspend the log for the following day so the night shift don’t have to deal with it.

Spookily, because we are so busy that we haven’t been able to send someone, we are usually too busy to ring people up to tell them we’ve been too busy to ring them. So we have to do it as quickly as possible, which is a shame because people often want to discuss the ins & outs of a cat’s arse on the job & recount in every detail, everything that happened to prompt their original call, together with every detail of the phone conversations, of which there are probably already several, from me & my control room staff who have rung to apologise for being too busy to send someone.

Most people are quite understanding but some get really annoyed. I don’t blame them & find it best just to agree with them about how disgusting it is that they haven’t been seen & how I’d feel as pissed off if it was me waiting three days to see someone.

I can always tell when Gail gets one of these calls, the noise level of her voise rises by a magnitude of decibels, there are frequent interrupted blurtings of “Sir, can I just stop you there…Will you listen to….If you’ll just….Can I speak now…..if I can get a word….”, usually followed by the crash of a telephone as it his the cradle with the force only a woman scorned can summon.

Some people really shouldn’t deal with the public. It’s not their fault, they’re not just cut out to deal with the frustrations of someone who feels hard done by.

But good news. Gail has got herself a new job. It’s within the organisation but it won’t involve dealing with members of the public or police officers. I’m not sure exactly what it will invoilve but it’s something to do with filling in forms or logging statistics or something.

The problem for those who are left behind in the control room is that she probably won’t be replaced.

June 6th, 2009

Today I have been mostly…(2)

Posted in The Job - General by 200

D-Day Veteran

… watching the D-Day Landing commemoration services.

I have so much respect for the guys who attend the remembrance services. I try to attend my local one each year and am always touched with a hint of sadness in the knowledge that at the next one there will be less of the veterans than there were at the last.

I am always amazed at the dignity of a group of people who, by dint of acts of others, end up on the battlefield paying for deeds of a small group of individuals who are safe in their beds.

When you are used to dealing with the absolute dregs of society, it is refreshing to know that there were & are people out there who put others far above themeselves. Sometimes you just want to drag people by the scruff of the neck from their Satellite systems & Plasma screens or their dole queues & crack dens & force them to watch Remembreance Services until something, just a smidgeon seeks throughy their greedy, self-obsessed, thick little skulls. But alas, I fear they would be there forever.

I’m sure there were sponging, no-good leaches around during the days of WWII, but I can’t help thinking there are an awful lot more these days.

One of my relatives died recently. He used to attend the Remembrance Day services with his war medals. If I lived to be half the man he was, I’d die a happy man.

June 5th, 2009

Trying to upgrade

Posted in Blogging by 200

Isn’t it funny how much we have come to rely on the internet. The server on which this blog is hosted had a problem today. I don’t know what it was other than the guy who runs it sent me an email saying it was down for a few hours. I guess a few readers noticed it too; hit counter was down and no comments today at all.

I’d planned to update the software for it & had set aside an hour before work when I could just upgrade WordPress. I couldn’t access the site at all, it had dispappeared. My first thought was that someone, somewhere had ordered the site pulled or deleted, hence the email to to person who’se server it is. Thankfully it wasn’t just a technical problem, but it didn’t stop me sitting at the PC pressing the refresh button for a couple of hours. Apparently, I could have fitted a couple of trips to the tip in that time, according to Mrs Weeks. Women have no idea sometimes, priorities all wrong, they just don’t get it.

I never got the software upgraded, I’ll have to do that another time. I don’t suppose anyone will notice any difference as I think it’s only the admin side of things which is changing.

It did make me wonder whether I had slipped down the radar of PSD since I retired (if I’d been on it to start with).

June 4th, 2009

Shocking Decisions

Posted in The Job - General by 200

The chief constable of Lothian & Borders Police won’t have endered himself to many of his officers this week, he has come out against the use of Tasers.

Whilst even the government are encouraging more forces to take up their share of  Taser issue, David Strang stands alone – well, apart form the Metropolitan Police Authority – against wider issue of the equipment.

He says that the suitability of Taser has yet to be proven in Scotland, saying that body armour & CS were adequate defences for officers in his force.

He argues that the use of Taser is a specialist skill which suggests that the majority of British officers can’t be trained to a sifficiently high stanard despite the majority of police forces across the entire world managing to train all their officers with the use of deadly force in the form of firearms.

One of the arguements trotted out by critics of the technology is that wider issue would alarm the public & cause tension on the streets. Apparently, the fact that it offers the  police an excellent addition for defence & reduces the need to kill people by firing bullets into their flesh is of rather secondary importance.

June 3rd, 2009

He’s coughed it

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Incredible story of the day has to go to the former New York Cop, now a private investigator, who is suing for $100,000 compensation.

Robert McKenna, aged 57, says of the incident which prompted the law suit, that he suffered “permanent and emotional pain and suffering” during the incident more than two years ago and was “in imminent fear of losing his life.”

You’d wonder at the horrendousness of the incident which wouold make you fear you were in imminent danger of losing your life, possible a traumatic RTC whilst invloved in a pursuit, or being stabbed during an arrest, or being held hostage, or something pretty damned bad.


He found a bone in his tuna sandwich which caused him to choke for ‘more than a minute’. He now fears going anywhere near a fish fillet sandwich.

One wonders how the hell the man made it through a police career in the NYPD.

June 2nd, 2009

Turn the Music down

Posted in The Job - General by 200

The new Met Commissioner has come up with a plan to make Londoners feel safer; getting his officers to turn off their sirens. He’s asking officers to use their sirens only when absolutely necessary.

Sir Paul Stephenson told members of the Metropolitan Police Authority that the sound of sirens makes an area seem more dangerous than it actually is. He said, “I do think that noise in London as a city can actually add to the whole perception that this is a violent & dangerous place. The policy is we use sirens only when absolutely necessary. At all other times, they should be turned off.”

I can’t help thinking that this may cause some confusion with some officers not knowing whether they should get to a job the safest way possible, with blues & twos, or wondering whether they will risk being stuck on if someone decides their job isn’t quite so urgent as to require ‘music’. This could lead to more cases of this, which may lead to this.

June 1st, 2009

Oh no

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I had some bad news today, I mean really bad. My supervisor is moving on. I don’t generally speak very well of supervisors, particularly not in the control room. They tend to promote people through such a high turnover of staff & consequently, it’s not usually the right person for the job, but whoever will do it. This means the quality can be, shall we say, variable.

My particular supervisor has been doing the job for a few years, and to be fair, is good at her job. She is never petty & when things are busy & she notices an administrative error, she merely corrects it herself, than sending it back to me & making a big issue out of it.

She has also done my PDR for the last times. I mean the whole thing. Anyone who has to do their own apparaisal (as it used to be) will know what a futile exercise it is, particularly if you are not looking for promotion & therefore don’t feel the need to tick all the boxes. My supervisor went through jobs I’d dealt with finding evidence to support her assertion that I can do my job quite well. I didn’t have to tap a single computer key & the PDR was there in front of me to read & sign.

To be honest, I haven’t even read them, merely signed them & she took them away to be filed in a cupboard where nobody will ever read it.

As I’m only in my first quarter in the new job, nobody has mentioned a PDR for me. It might be a real pain now my supervisor is leaving. I just now I’m going to get a replacement who won’t be as kind to me. And they won’t be anywhere near as a good a drinking partner on a team night out.