Archive for August, 2009

August 31st, 2009

Gently does it

Posted in Videos by 200

Wouldn’t we have less use for the IPCC if all pursuits were as gentle as this one?

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August 30th, 2009

Satisfaction

Posted in The Job - General by 200

You can often tell the seriousness of a job by the tone of voice of the officer on the other end of the radio, except for one or two officers in particular who always sound like they need urgent assistance even when they’re just booking arrival at their grub break.

So I’m working the channel this week, steady would be the word to describe the shift so far. Then you get a voice on the radio, you recognise one of the officers and his voice is about half an octave higher than normal & a little louder.

“Foxtrot Six, go ahead, over”

“Vehicle failing to stop…..” Immediately you kick into another gear. Your partner, if you have one, creates a new log & starts typing everything everyone says from here on in. It might last 20 seconds, as most of them do, or it could last 30 minutes or more & end in the death of someone, you have no idea.

You hope it’s in an area where you have some geographical local knowledge, it makes it so much easier to direct resources. There is so much arse-covering these days, that you have to document all the thought/decision-making processes along the way. At some unspecified time in the future, someone in a suit in an oak-panelled room will be grilling us on the ins & outs of a cat’s arse on every microscopic detail hoping to eek out some grain of evidence that the job was done incorrectly & whatever the outcome, the fault was the police’s. So you run through a list of pre-determined fact points which need to be documented; was the police officer of sufficient training to pursue, was the police vehicle a suitable vehicle, what are the road & traffic conditions, what’s the reason for the stop in the first place, is the driver know, is there a baby on the backseat,  how dangerous is the driving, it’s a rolling process which affects the decision on whether to continue to pursue.

So you’re trying to coach the relevant information from the police officer, who, hopefully, is the passenger in the pursuit vehicle leaving the driver free to concentrate completely on the job in hand. You’re thankful that Foxtrot Six is an experienced traffic officer & you know the information will be correct, concise & relevant (so many inexperienced officers in pursuits feel they have to talk constantly giving irrelevant info). This means you can use moments of silence in the commentary to muster resources. You want to get 3 or 4 traffic units to catch up/intercept the pursuit so there is enough for a potential forced stopping of the ‘bandit’ vehicle, but you want others heading to strategic points to ‘head them off at the pass’.  If it’s night shift you might not even have 3 or 4 traffic units available. Luckily it’s the afternoon, so there are plenty & most of them want to get in on the act.

Foxtrot Six doesn’t ask for a helicopter, hopefully because he’s worked enough with you before that he knows he doesn’t have to ask because that’s already been done in the background. It doesn’t stop Foxtrot Two-One asking if the helicopter’s been advised which a) isn’t necessary because it’s already been done, b) wastes precious airtime that I could have used to send Hotel Sixteen to the dual carriageway 3 junctions up the road, and c) really winds you up because of a) & b).

It’s been five minutes and the vehicle is still failing to stop, the helicopter has an ETA of eight to ten minutes, 3 traffic units are now following the target vehicle, another has stopped to pick up some packages which have been discarded by the target vehicle’s passenger. A dog vehicle is heading for a junction 3 miles up the road where another traffic unit is already waiting.

It’s a straight bit of road, dual carriageway, you know for the next few minutes he can’t go anywhere. Tactical Pursuit and Containment tactics are being considered, you’ll recognise it from  ‘Traffic Cops’ & the like, where the target vehicle is boxed in and brought to a halt.

The helicopter arrives, which is great because they can turn their cameras on & send the view back to the control room, it’s just like watching Traffic Cops except the voice on the radio is mine. The helicopter takes over the commentary while the traffic units organise themselves to bring the pursuit to a safe conclusion.

The neighbouring force, by now, are also monitoring & waiting at the border; sometimes these things cross several force boundaries. You kind of hope your guys can conclude business before the next force area; it’s so much simpler dealing with your own troops & procedures.

The target vehicle shoots past the next junction. Foxtrot Two-two & Foxtrot One-seven join the road ahead of the  procession & suddenly there are 5 traffic cars ahead & behind the target with a chopper above. It’s great when a plan comes together & the TPAC goes as smoothly as I’ve seen them go, there is not even any damage to any of the police vehicles which is a bonus, and the car owner will get the vehicle back without a scratch on it.

Two males in their twenties are arrested & a quantity of drugs & stolen laptops are recovered from the boot. They get dealt with in the fullness of time & get handed to another force who want them for a string of dwelling burglaries.

I soooo miss those jobs out on the streets, it’s one of the few facets of police work I do miss. It’s nice to think that you contributed to a success, especially when the traffic sergeant calls you on the phone at the end of the shift to thank you for a good job.

Despite what I write  here from time to time, sometimes I love my job.

August 29th, 2009

Hip Hip Hurrah!

Posted in Blogging by 200

Happy Birthday to me,

Happy Birthday to me,

Happy Birthday dear 200,

Happy Birthday to me.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of my humble little blog. That’s FOUR YEARS of blogging, the last two of which have involved a post every single day.

If you’re reading this blog, your reading one of the longest-lasting continuous police blogs in the UK, you’re also reading the most prolific UK police blogger.

Thank you to all my regular readers, especially the ones who continue to support me by posting comments on my articles!

Here’s to another, er……. year or two.

August 28th, 2009

Resilience, what resiliance?

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Resilience is the latest buzzword flying around the corridors of HQ. There appears to be a law which states the latest buzzword must be mentioned as often & as widely as possible. So we see it in emails, on the intranet & in any publication worth its salt.

Mentioning it appears all that is necessary for the Department in Charge of Making up Policies which sound great but nobody follows, to have fulfilled its brief. Actually doing something about it is immaterial.

Hence in the control room, we have no resilience, at least not where staffing issues are concerned.

We’ve got less staff in the control room than we’ve had in the history of the force. On night shifts the place is like the Marie Celeste.

I remember a few years ago when I was out on the street & one of my colleagues raised the issue of single-crewing radio channels with the chief. We were all told how important it was to have two people working the channel – if one was busy on the phone it was important for officer safety to have someone else permanently listening to the radio in case an officer had problems – the chief said no radio channel would be routinely single crewed. Perhaps policy changed without anyone telling us or the frontline troops because it’s not u usual to have between 20 & 90% of the channels single-crewed.

That’s the state of play when we are ‘fully staffed’.

It will be interesting to see how our ‘resilience’ will be affected once people really start to go down with swine flu after the summer.

August 27th, 2009

Poetic Justice

Posted in Videos by 200

Don’t you love it when some higher force administers the justice?

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August 26th, 2009

Sometimes it serves them right

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

No matter how many posters you put up, leaflets you print or guidance you give, there are some victims of crime who simply won’t help themselves.

Every year thousands of vehicles have items stolen from them when the cars aren’t even locked.

A new scheme in Richmond, London aims to point out to the hapless owners of such vehicles the errors of their ways. Local police are patrolling car parking spots, checking car doors & removing goodies from unlocked cars. They then leave a message for the owner to collect their property from the local nick.

I don’t suppose in the great scheme of things that it will do an awful lot of good, but there is a sense of ‘serves you right’ when they have to go to the trouble of going down to the police station to collect the stuff they left in open display in an unlocked car.

One of my favourite crime prevention tactics was to wait in a doorway near the newsagent around 6 or 7 in the morning & wait for drivers to pull up, leave the engine running & pop into the shop for their daily paper. It was great standing back & watching them wonder what they’d done with the keys when they came out to find the engine turned off & the keys gone. Even better was when some anonymous police officer got in the car & drove it round the corner & then stood back in a nearby shop doorway. Funnily enough I never heard of any complaints when the aforementioned officer suddenly appeared with the car keys & directions to the location of the car. I assume embarrassment played a large part in the decision-making process of the potential car-theft victim.

Of course, you couldn’t do that these days for fear of being sued or arrested.

August 25th, 2009

LEAP of Faith

Posted in Blogging by 200

I was contacted this week by the guys who run Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organisation in the States who support the legalisation of drugs. They blogged about me on Sunday saying of  the 200weeks blog:  “In a post titled “The Biggie,” he tackled the subject of drug prohibition. It is a detailed,  fact based analysis, and I would encourage you to read it.

So welcome, if you are visiting this site from LEAP!

I’ve added their blog to my list.

August 24th, 2009

Divided by Reason

Posted in Videos by 200

Take a look at the following video. It involves the fatal shooting of  someone in America by a police officer (it doesn’t actually show the shooting but you see before, hear the shot & see after – nothing gory).

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Now take a look at the news article linked at the Quad City Times which, less than a week after the shooting, reports that the County Attorney comes out in support of the officer saying he was “fully justified“. Spot any differences between the States & the UK?

August 23rd, 2009

Good luck with that one

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Australian Police are calling for mandatory jail sentences for those who assault police officers.

The Victoria Police Association have made the call following an assault on an officer in Melbourne which left him with a broken nose & fractured eye-socket.

Bruce McKenzie, the Association secretary said:  “Are Victorians going to just watch police officers and members of the community continue to be killed and seriously injured in our streets at night? We hope not,”  he said. “In our view the solution is simple. More cops. Cops on every street corner just like they have in New York. Mandatory sentencing. Zero tolerance.

Sen-Sgt Davies said there was a prison term of up to two years available for assaulting police and it should be used.  “And none of it should be served at home in mum’s knitting room. People are entitled to go to work and not come home via a hospital,” he said.

It seems they have similar problems in the land of Oz as we do over here. McKenzie said: “It’s just ludicrous that our members are having to – in a so called civilised society – patrol in threes because of the lunatic fringe that we’ve allowed to take over our city, our provincial centres and our suburbs.”

It seems the way society views assaults on police officers is also very similar – the Victorian Government said it has no plans for mandatory sentencing.

August 22nd, 2009

Arm, arm ye brave

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

One of the perennial questions for the police is the question of arming officers.

The Police Federation told me, throughout my career, that I didn’t want to be armed. This was despite the fact that they never actually asked me. I think the surveys they did must have been handed out round the bar on one of the Federation’s annual jollies, otherwise known as the conference, ‘cos I think I only ever saw one in 30 years.

We often hear comments that gun crime is out of control. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I do know that since possession of handguns was banned – in the wake of the Dunblane Massacre, the only people who can’t get hold of guns are people who enjoyed shooting holes in cardboard targets down their local shooting club. I’ve lost count of the number of BBC reporters who can get hold of a gun before their programme finishes.

One of the biggest problems in relation to the low amount of firearms officers is that when a job comes in requiring an armed response, unless you are from a major metropolitan force, your nearest firearms unit may be the other side of the county & with the best will in the world & a following wind might be half an hour away. And that’s providing there isn’t more than one  ‘firearms’ incidents at the same time.

The issue of Taser to non-firearms officers does help to a degree, so if someone was reported as armed with a knife then you could send Taser officers – if you’re lucky enough to have a couple on your shift. But to jobs when someone is reported to have a gun, or worse, used a gun, a firearms unit is the only option.

We have the situation now that on the report of someone being shot, no unarmed officers are sent straight to the scene. This is because health & safety dictates that an officer unable to protect himself or others against the effects of a small metal projectile entering his body at supersonic speeds isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle. So they have to wait round the corner with the ambulance crew while someone bleeds to death.

The answer, you might think, would be simples; just arm more officers, but the people who might allow this don’t like the idea of lots of coppers running round with guns; it doesn’t look good.

People throw their arms in the air, you can’t possibly arm the police, not unless you want them putting bullet holes in grannies, babies & their own big toes. Some firearms officers subscribe to this theory saying they are so highly trained it simply would not be possible to train everyone up to that level. This is despite the fact that seemingly every other country in the entire world seems to train all it’s officers in the safe use of firearms without filling their local morgues with evidence of their incompetence.

There are less trained firearms officers now than there ever have been. When I joined the job, and for some considerable  time, if any job requiring a firearm came up, suitably trained officers could return to the nick, collect a gun & go & deal with the original job.

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, officers could go back to their nick, select a firearm & take it out on patrol – provided it was a nightshift.

We’ve advanced to having fewer albeit highly-trained officers with other officers sitting round the corner while the victim risks bleeding to death.

August 21st, 2009

Safe at the Factory

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Senior officers in West Midlands Police in Birmingham, presumably with an eye on current fiscal restraints & budget cuts, agreed for a group of offenders to to their community payback work clearing the gardens of one of the police stations in Birmingham.

During their lunch hour the ‘cons’, including burglars, drugs dealers & muggers, were allowed to use the facilities of the police canteen. As a result all the undercover cops based at the station were seen diving out of fire exits, hiding behind pot plants &  looking through issues of the Daily Telegraph with eye-holes cut out in a bid to keep their ID secret from some of the criminals they are likely to be surveilling any time soon.

An un-named detective wrote in Police Review: “We have got a covert observation team who are meant to be incognito. We do not want them coming around the corner straight into people they are supposed to be doing surveillance on next week.”

Another added: “It’s ludicrous – how are we supposed to move around in criminal circles under cover only for a couple of them to recognise us as dining partners. Whoever came up with this plan needs their head read. They moved freely around the station – I saw undercover officers trying to avoid being recognised by slipping out of side exits.”

You might have thought that those who sanctioned the idea might have thought about the consequences of letting current & convicted criminals inside an area of the police station where officers relax, and probably discuss their work. Or at least, hearing the complaints afterwards might have had a ‘Doh!’ moment & realised it might not have been the best idea. But no.

Supt Surjeet Manku, of the Queen’s Road police station, said: “The programme was risk assessed and all access to canteen facilities was supervised. While I understand concerns from a few officers I also believe in treating everyone with dignity, fairness and respect.”

Hmmm, not sure how much dignity, fairness & respect was offered to the officers who didn’t want to be face to face with their clients in their own canteen.

August 20th, 2009

Another tale of everyday American Policing

Posted in Videos by 200

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August 19th, 2009

Serial Offenders

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

In the control room, we operate on a system of being able to go home once your relief has taken over. You might work an 8 – 4 shift, for instance. You get in at quarter to eight, liaise with the previous controller to find out any ongoing jobs or enquiries they need to pass on to you, then they go home.

You hope the same arrangements pertain at the end of the shift &you get to go home 10 minutes early, albeit that you’ve actually worked a full shift just displaced by 10 minutes.

There are some people who come in maybe 20 minutes early, these are the ones you hope are taking over from you.

By some dint of fate, I never seem to be covered by the super-early controllers, no, I get the ones who are always late.

I’ve blogged about them before, they come in bang on four o’clock or even a couple of minutes late. Only if you are really lucky do they appear at a couple of minutes to the hour.

What’s even more annoying is that instead of coming into the room, relieving the previous shift & then going to get a cup of tea, thus being available a few mins before their duty time, they go & get their cuppa first meaning I get relieved at 1 minute to.

Now I’m not on duty when they get relieved but I’m guessing they get relieved, on average, around 10 minutes early.

This means, on an average shift, I work 8, 9 or 10 hours & 10 minutes while the work 7,8 or 9 hours & 50 minutes, i.e. 20 minutes a day less than me. That works out at around 35 hours a year, or almost a week more a year that I’m working over them.

I think they must just be pig ignorant because telling them doesn’t meet with much change, complaining to their supervisors meets with an email to them asking them to play the game – if we’re lucky they come in earlier for a few days, but they soon go back to their old ways.

The biggest frustration is that you can’t get your own back because of the way the shifts work; their shift always takes over from us, we never take over from them.

August 18th, 2009

Police are incompetent – fact

Posted in The Job - General by 200

They are according the Magistrates’ Association today.

Chris Hunt Cooke, chair of the Association’s road traffic committee spoke out regarding new powers which may see police officers able to dish out £60 fixed penalty tickets & 3 points for careless driving.

Proposed new powers will allow officers to decide between sending a bad driver to court or handing them an ‘on-the-spot’ fine. Officers have had the powers to hand out fines for traffic offences such as no seatbelt, for many years, latterly they have also been able to fine people for low-level drunkenness & disorder.

Police chiefs argue that the new fixed penalty system will free officers from having to spend time preparing court files when they report drivers for careless driving.

Mr Hunt Cooke said: “Regrettably, recent experience with out-of-court disposals shows that the police cannot be relied on to use them appropriately or as intended. Once they have been given these powers, the police will misuse them, that is a certainty, and careless driving will be generally treated as a minor offence, unless serious injury is involved.

“This is a proposal that places the convenience of the police above what is right in principle, may coerce innocent drivers into accepting a fixed penalty, and is certain generally to downgrade careless driving in terms of offence seriousness.”

Hunt Cooke further says that only magistrates are truly capable of deciding how serious a bad piece of driving can be, presumably because these unpaid people usually with no skills or knowledge of any particular aspect of the law, will be truly versed in what is good, bad & terrible on the roads of the UK, while police officers, many of whom are experts in the field of driving are not. Strangely, when I was handing out speeding tickets I was quite capable of deciding who should be cautioned, who should have a ticket & who should go to court based purely on the evidence I had seen first-hand with a lifetime of policing the country’s roads. They used to call it discretion (OK I know the government did away with this when they brought in the target culture).

The Department of Transport is currently considering whether to extend police powers to hand out tickets for Careless Driving & will report back later this year.

August 17th, 2009

Police Prove they ARE Racist

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

In news which came as a shock to no-one, the police proved beyond all doubt that everything everyone said about them being a bunch of racist thugs is all true.

In the leafy lanes of Essex this week a motorist was stopped driving his Ferrari in an area where lots of houses had been burgled & high-power, high-value cars had been stolen.

Inspector Knacker-of-the-Yard, said, “In an attempt to solve crimes where high-powered, high-valued cars are being stolen by criminals who break into high-value homes & nick the car keys, we have been patrolling the area of the burglaries trying to catch these evil crooks stealing these high-powered, high-value cars. Unfortunately, a black bloke was driving a Ferrari and as most black blokes in Ferraris are drug-dealing gangster-thieves, we naturally stopped said car.”

He added, “We will, of course, be paying an undisclosed sum of cash to the gentleman in question as we realised after we had stopped him that he was not a drug-dealing gangster-thief, just a simple multi-millionaire who thinks he should be allowed to break the speed limit & not be banned because he is famous. Clearly, an error was made & we are sorry that we tried to solve some crime & catch some car thieves when really what we should have been doing was attending Black History seminars.”

The gentleman in question’s solicitor,  Nick Freeman said: “At worst, it smacks of something far more sinister, which can only add weight to growing concerns that they are being vindictive and my client is being harassed. Mr Defoe was stopped for no reason after leaving his mother’s home. Coming as it does, just three days after announcing he is to claim damages from the same force, it leaves the police with some serious questions to answer.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Police in the Epping Forest area have been running Operation Phobia, which is aimed at tackling domestic burglary in affluent areas, and the theft of high value cars. As part of that operation officers stopped a black Ferrari in Manor Road, Chigwell, at 2314 BST on Sunday. They satisfied themselves that all was in order with the car and driver, and it continued on its way.”

So, that’s the serious question dealt with, next?

Background:

The driver was Tottenham footballer, Jermaine Defoe who drives very fast & gets caught. He had a driving ban suspended while his solicitor tries to get him off with it but was arrested on suspicion of disqualified driving before the ban was put in place. He said he had decided to sue Essex Police three days before the stop-check mentioned above.

What I would give for Defoe to have his mansion broken into & his Ferrari to make off past the entire traffic department who later announce that they didn’t want to stop it in case they were accused of racism.

August 16th, 2009

Just doing the Job

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Sometimes you just wish the police would just concentrate on catching criminals & locking up bad guys with a little bit of protection of life & property thrown in.

I suspect a large portion of society feel exactly the same way, and not all of them are Daily Mail readers.

A few years ago, someone decided that an important role of the police was to encourage society to accept  what became known as ‘diversity’. Different cultures, religions, races, sexual persuasions. No longer was it acceptable for people to ignore or criticise things with which they didn’t agree. It went further; we had to openly ‘embrace’ these differences. And it was somehow the job of the police to engage in this social engineering.

Millions of pounds of tax-payers’ cash has been spent on this experiment. I don’t know if it has worked or not, or indeed, how or if any success is measured. I d know that it has caused much resentment both within the police & in the wider community. I’ve reported before on similar issues & I suspect I will be doing so for some time, until someone actually stands up & says that the police should concentrate solely on it’s core functions & those functions don’t include telling people how they should think.

The latest story in this trend is around the National Trans Police Association which is recognised and supported by both the Association of Chief Police Officers and the National Policing Improvement Agency. The aims of the group are to support serving and retired Police Officers, Police Staff and Special Constables with any gender identity issues ‘including, but not exclusively, Trans men, Trans women, people who are Transgender, androgyne or intersex and people who cross dress‘. The organisation currently has around 50 members. They recently opened a mobile police station handing out leaflets & balloons at Manchester’s Gay Village, a three-day trans-gender event.

It follows some criticisms of police officers being allowed to march in uniform at several Gay-Pride events in the last few years. Some forces are falling over themselves to get special gay-friendly employer awards from militant gay support group Stonewall.

Critics have accused the police are wasting time & resources on ‘politically correct’ initiatives. Tory MP Philip Davies said: “I don’t care if a police officer is gay, straight, trans-gender or whatever, I just want them to catch criminals. If they get any funds out of taxpayers’ income, that would be completely and utterly unacceptable. Everyone a few years ago said the police were institutionally racist. Now they are institutionally politically correct.”

Institutionally politically correct…I like that phrase.

ACPO said:  “Diversity staff associations play a key role in helping forces to effectively police our communities. Although ACPO regards its relationship with these staff associations as hugely valuable, ACPO is not responsible for the setting up or the running of staff associations.”

Joanna, a Daily Mail reader from Tunbridge Wells said: “The Brits need you to police our streets and do what you are paid for. Forget your sexuality and do the job“.

For once, I can’t help having some sympathy for the views of a Mail reader.

August 15th, 2009

Returning to Work

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I got the idea for today’s entry from Stressed out Cop, who was basically saying  that he was envious of officers who found they weren’t enjoying the job as much as they once were & basically told the job where to stick it before buggering off to something more satisfying.

He mentions something which a lot of police officers experience. Basically you reach a stage in your career where you feel you can’t chuck the job in because you will lose too much in pension rights.

Stressed out Cop feels he’s in that stage. I don’t know if he is the same as me, I joined more or less straight from school so if I had of left I’d have had no skills with which to aid in the search for a new career, and I had a wife & kids with no other income; it’s not easy to walk away from a job with real security & a decent wage.

Stressed out Cop ends his piece with the words “One thing I will not be doing (hopefully) is returning to the fray in any guise whatsoever on the civilian side as 200 Weeks did. Unless it’s as a consultant on 500 pounds a day.” Which is how I come to today’s entry really.

I often get asked how I’m finding life as a civvy or why I came back. Apparently there are lots of people who you couldn’t drag kicking & screaming back into the job. To be honest I sometimes wish one of those people were me.

The trouble is that I still have kids at home. With luck & a following wind, they’ll want to go to university so they can start paying back all the love & nurturing invested in them as they grow up by looking after me in my old age with the assistance of buying their good old dad a nice open-top sports car or sending me on frequent bouts of respite care to foreign lands with strange names & lots of sun.

At the moment I am faced with university fees, bills & expenses which look to outgrow the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Lichtenstein, with the gloomy prospect that my future sports-car fund will be rapidly diminished by regular payments from my kids’ bank accounts into the rear trouser pocket of one Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Sure, I would have loved to have been able to settle back on the couch with Mrs. Weeks & live off the pension, but the reality is far less idyllic.
I did consider other avenues for employment but the nuts & bolts of the situation were that coming back to the police control room was a job I know almost backwards, it’s a job which has its own stresses & strains, but nothing I’ve not been able to cope with. But more important than that was the money isn’t half bad. Without giving too much away, with the pension & civvy salary it was like walking out the door one month for a holiday break & returning the next month to find someone had sneaked a 30% pay rise onto the system, and you didn’t have to do anything extra to get it. Now I don’t care who you are, in the current financial crisis, there aren’t many places you can get a pay rise much above 2%, lots of people are taking pay cuts or being laid off, so coming back, for me turned out to be a no-brainer.

What has this meant to me? Well my family’s lifestyle has changed dramatically. We are able to afford things we never could before. Simple things like going out for meals, we’ve been out more times in the last 5 months than probably the last 3 to 4 years.

If something breaks down we can go out & replace it without putting it on a credit card or taking out a loan. Speaking of which, we don’t have anything on credit, if we use our cards the bill is paid when it comes through the door. If we buy something for the house we don’t have to buy the cheapest, we can do our research & get the best.

I might moan about my working conditions, but the truth is, coming back as a civvy has opened some rather pleasant doors for me & the Weeks family.

August 14th, 2009

We know where you went

Posted in The Job - General by 200

An essential crime-fighting tool or a case of the state snooping too far?

Figures released in the Daily Telegraph suggest that the average motorist has their car photographed 100 times a year by the ever-growing web of ANPR cameras.

Automatic Number Plate Readers are cameras linked to a massive database which records every vehicle which passes it 24-hours every day of the year.

In split seconds they are able to interrogate the Police National Computer to find out who owns the vehicle & whether it is stolen, insured, taxed & MOT’d or of other police interest.

‘Of police interest’ could be any number of reasons from driver wanted for murder, number plates from it reported stolen to driver reported missing or involved in crime.

Within a second or 2 of the vehicle passing an ANPR camera, a warning is sent through to the local police control who can circulate details to any nearby patrols to get the vehicle stopped.

A photograph of every vehicle which passes the camera is recorded on the database which in many cases is clear enough to identify the driver & any occupants.

A profile can be built up of the journeys of every vehicle recorded so in theory, the police could be waiting for you on your regular journey to or from the pub or could find out which towns you were in at what time on what date.

There are currently some 34million vehicles in the UK, estimated figures based on enquiries with 27 UK forces show that around 3billion number plates were recorded last year.

ANPR has been a highly effective tool in the detection of crime & criminals, thousands of stolen cars are found as a result of ‘pinging’ ANPR cameras. However, it not only records details of ‘vehicles of police interest’ but all vehicles. A photograph of you on an illicit journey with your  bosses wife sat next to you could be sitting on a police database right now (only if you have been in such circumstances, obviously).

Tory MP, Charles Hendry said: “There is a balance that needs to be struck between fighting crime & infringing the freedom of the law-abiding public. Law-abiding people should feel they can go about their business without being snooped on by the state.”

So, an essential crime-fighting tool or a case of the state snooping too far? You decide.

August 13th, 2009

Grist to the Mill

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Regular readers will know of my disdain for footballers (yes, I am bigoted against them*), so it’s nice to report when they cock-up.

Tottenham Hotspur have been in the headlines recently for events off the pitch, as their players fail to understand the road traffic law in relation to driving their high-powered, very expensive vehicles on the roads of the UK.

Jermain Defoe doesn’t appear to know the meaning of speed limits after being convicted twice in he space of a month for exceeding the speed limit in his Ferrari. He was convicted of driving at 45 in a 30 near his home town in Hertfordshire & given four points & £970 fine (isn’t that about 4 seconds’ worth of earnings?). As he was convicted of speeding on the M11 in Essex the month before, he was given a six-month disqualification which was suspended pending an appeal. (He’s been arrested for disqualified driving since & is considering legal action for wrongful arrest, but that’s a different story).

In the early hours of today Defoe’s team-mate David Bentley was arrested & charged with drink driving having crashed his Porsche into a lamppost near his home in Hertfordshire. He will be appearing at magistrates court later this month.

All this comes a couple of months after another Spurs player, Ledley King, was arrested on suspicion of ABH outside a nightclub in London.

Harry Rednapp must be so proud.

* I don’t actually believe that all professional footballers are violent drunks who can’t stick to the rules of the land, just a lot of them.

August 12th, 2009

Inspiration

Posted in Blogging by 200

I like to vary the type of entries to my blog, if you’re unfamiliar with it, you’ll find I talk about many different things, not all of them to do with the police.

I take my inspiration from various sources; of course there are experiences of 30 years of policing, from my times as a probationer a generation ago to tales of my time in a police control room both as an officer & a civilian which are much more recent.

I never speak about anything which has happened on the day it happens (at work, that is) & I remove details which keep it as generic as possible. You won’t find much on here which has only ever happened to me.

I like to make the occasional post humorous, but that takes a lot of work for the old grey matter.

I’ll post on political matters & comment on what I refer to as society’s ills.

Because I set myself the goal of posting an entry every day it can be quite difficult to come up with a topic every single day. This is often when I wish I just blogged when I thought I had something worthwhile to say like all the other police bloggers; sometimes the last thing you want to do – or have time to do – is sit down at a computer & type up some deep philosophical argument (not that you actually get any of that round here). That’s often the time I just post a quick video, variety being the spice & all that.

I’ll get inspiration from the Google & BBC News websites, from the national TV News – but never from the BBC local news, lest my location is narrowed down. That’s not to say I won’t comment on local issues, but only if I come by them through other means.

I also check out several police forums to see what issues of the day are being discussed. I try not to get stories from other blogs, but inevitably there are issues that we police bloggers want to talk about when they rear their heads in the meeja. That’s where posting every day gives me an advantage; I can often get to a story before some of the other blogs.

I often wish I wrote more down during my police career. I suspect I have what might commonly be known as a bloody awful memory, which means that most of my memories  are lost to history. If I had one bit of advice for new recruits, it would be, write it down, we work such an extraordinary job there will always be people fascinated to hear about what we do, just look at all the police reality programmes we have currently.

Sometimes I don’t have any inspiration at all. That’s when I adopt the approach I took with  my motorbike; I set off on a journey with no idea which way I’ll go & just see where the road takes me. Much like as has just happened with this entry.