Archive for August, 2009

August 11th, 2009

All in a day’s work ma’am

Posted in Videos by 200

I’ve just realised I’ve not had a video for nearly 3 weeks.  As I like to vary the content of the blog here’s one;

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August 10th, 2009

Kidnapping Rife in Scotland

Posted in The Job - General by 200

From time to time I get comments on this blog from people who complain about the police not doing their job, not investigating serious crime whilst dealing with trivia. Sometimes this is valdid, sometimes it’s not.

But a recent case should end this meaningless tattle about the police not investigating serious crime.

Lothian & Borders have just cracked a serious case, north of the border. Raids on 3 houses (or more accurately, 3 gardens) in the Woodburn area of Dalkeith have netted some 200 garden ornaments including 30 garden gnomes. Suspicions were aroused when a large number of ornaments started appearing in the gardens of the suspected theives/kidnappers? Five men & two women are on police bail while police continue their enquiries.

Insp John McGill said: “Over the last few months we have had complaints about garden ornaments going missing across Midlothian. “This might seem like a trivial matter on the face of it but when you are talking about a theft of this magnitude it becomes far more serious. It’s not a laughing matter for the people who have had property stolen.”

I’m sure Lothian & Borders don’t limit themselves to the investigation of such crimes. It’s nice to see the occasional crime story which brings a smile to the face.

August 9th, 2009

Unhelpful Questioning

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Shocking news today reveals that the British Police are picking on black children & arresting them willy-nilly when they’ve done nothing wrong.

This is the conclusion which is being drawn by  media outlets & MPs out for a few soundbites in attempts to win a them a few desperate extra votes.

Figures obtained by the campaign group Genewatch show that around 1million kids aged 10-17 have been added to the DNA database since its inception in 1995. Around 45,000 black children have been added which apparently represents 23% of all black children in this age group.

By contrast, 440,000 white children have been added but this only represents 10% of white kids in the age group.

Helen Wallace, director of Genewatch said: “The racial bias in the database is shocking and black children have been disproportionately affected.” Keith Vaz MP, chair of the home affairs select committee, said: “Such disparity in the treatment of different ethnic groups is bound to lead to a disintegration of community relations and a lack of trust in the police force.”

Now, I gave up my mathematics & statistics A-level after 3 or 4 months & swapped to something altogether easier, so my adding up might not be quite up to scratch, but isn’t 440,000 add 45,000 almost 500,000? So what happened to the other half a million kids of the 1 million on the DNA database, surely they can’t all be non-white & non-black?

So, the only conclusion to be drawn is that the police are racist. Let’s not bother finding out what proportion of black & white kids have criminal records or were wrongfully arrested. Nor whether any racial groups have a higher propensity to commit crime than any others.  I’d love to know, for instance, what proportion of the traveller community have a conviction versus any other group, but I suspect it might not do much for social cohesion.

It may be that the police are unfairly targeting certain groups, but before reaching that conclusion I think the awkward questions should at least be asked.

August 8th, 2009

Mind over Matter

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I like my food. You don’t get to be my size without liking food.

I’ve been doing shift work for over 30 years now & I’ve never been one of those people who has trouble eating outside what most people would consider as a normal eating pattern.

Lots of people I work with can’t or don’t eat a meal in the middle of the night. I can’t go through the night without either a micro-waved meal or a man’s size portion if sandwiches & accoutrements.

In the days of police canteens, a slap-up fully cooked breakfast with chips was the order of the day & on late or night shifts I wasn’t averse to a burger or kebab on top of whatever my sandwich box held.

Early turns were problematic sometimes because it got to between 9 & 10 in the morning & the stomach really started to complain, I just had to have something to eat.

So I can’t understand why things have changed so drastically. On an early shift in the control room I usually get a break around 1 or 2pm which is a good 3-4 hours after my stomach would have been taking me to the European Court of Human Rights, and I don’t appear to be suffering from any ill effects.

Apart from an occasional banana or packet of crisps I can make it from 6am to 1pm without any meaningful food. This would have been completely unthinkable out on shift.

It does make me wonder if I’d have stuck to a similar regime 30 years ago, I might still be able to fit into a size 10 dress (but that’s another story)

August 7th, 2009

So soon

Posted in The Job - General by 200

A week after posting that police forces will start losing officers despite the government claims of supporting the police so strongly that record numbers of officers are in post, news of some forces already suggesting unless they receive more funding they will have to cut officers.

Strathclyde is facing a deficit of £34million in 2009-2010 which could rise to £66million by 2013. Lothian & Borders & Grampian police both stated they faced the prospect of staff cuts.

It’s not just Scotland’s forces facing budget cuts. Chiefs up & down the country are being told to slash millions of their current budgets. Since 90% of the force budget goes in staff costs it seems inevitable that enforced savings will mean cuts to the pay budget & loss of jobs.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “(We] are investing a record £23 billion from 2008-10 to ensure that local authorities have the resources they need to deliver local services.”

So that’s alright then.

August 6th, 2009

A Stranger round these parts

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

The control room is split into different units. Each unit or desk covers a division. So each division has its own radio channel with its own set of controllers.

As controllers we tend to stick to a small number of channels. We  might do some shifts one one channel/division & then move to another for a while. If you only do a small amount of changing you build up a more in depth knowledge of the area you are controlling, you get to know the geographical layout, you recognise the street names, you know the names of the local scrotes & ne’er-do-wells.

Often the area you work is determined because you have an in depth knowledge of the area. In cases like me, who have some into the control room from the streets, this is the areas you used to work on the streets, built up, in some cases over many years.

It makes sense to work an area you know. You can provide a much better service to the officers if you actually know where you are sending them.

I’ve worked every division in the control room at some time or another. Several divisions might as well be in a different force. There are a few towns in the area I can honestly say I’ve never visited in my life, so how I can be expected to provide decent service as a controller, I don’t know.

The problem is that in order to build up a knowledge of an area, you need to work it regularly, so you have to start somewhere.

I’ve been working on one of our southern divisions recently. I don’t know the area at all. Despite the millions spent on the new ‘Airwave’ radio systems, the clarity of transmissions is not as good as was trumpeted before it arrived. I therefore spend an inordinate amount of time asking people to repeat the names of streets.

Was what I thought they said Cheadle Close, or could it have been Needle Close, or perhaps Beadle Close? And was it actually Close or could it have been Court?

If you know the town you would know there isn’t  a Cheadle Close or a Needle Close, so it must have been Beadle Close, if the radio transmission isn’t  perfect you can still work out what they’re saying.

With the names of local criminals, you have an even bigger problem if you don’t hear the names correctly.

Most of the time you can get round it by asking them to repeat it or spell it out, or you can check the mapping system or the command & control system – which has all the police district’s addresses on it. But what happens when you get a call for assistance or have an immediate job kicking off.

It’s also frustrating when you are following something on CCTV but haven’t a clue where it is or which direction people are going towards. If you are double-crewed, [& you’re partner doesn’t know the area] you can get your oppo to speak with CCTV for directions or check the mapping system. But when you’re on your own – as we are increasingly these days – you can’t work the radio, update or read the logs & try to find out what’s happening where & where to send officers, it’s a bloody nightmare, I really feel for the officers!

August 5th, 2009

Behind the Mask

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

It often seems like in the police we have a department in charge of coming up with gimmicks.

The South Yorkshire Department of Gimmicks has come up with the fantastic idea that two female police sergeants & a PCSO should dress up in burkhas for the day & go out in public. The ‘experiment’ took place earlier this year & followed a similar on in Barnsley.

Sgt Deb Leonard who took part in the event said:  “I have gained an appreciation and understanding of what Muslim females experience when they walk out in public in clothing appropriate to their beliefs. We are keen to gain a better understanding of issues which our communities face.”

Which is nice.

A spokesman for the force said the exercise, called ‘In Your Shoes Day’, was designed to help officers interact better with the Muslim community across Sheffield.

‘This exercise is just one of many activities South Yorkshire Police have planned with communities and ethnic minority leaders to secure strong relationships, celebrate diversity and encourage integration, working towards a safer, closer society,’ she added.

I often wonder if it really is the job of the police to get  ‘celebrate diversity’ & encourage integration which reminds me of awful similarities with the thought police – you must believe this or that by order of the state!

Unsurprisingly, lots of people feel that this is/was a waste of tax-payers money, after all, that’s three officers wages for a day who could have otherwise been serving their communities rather than spending the day pretending to be Muslims.

Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said:  “I did not know it was the job of police to see how people feel. I thought it was their job to solve crimes. This is a fantastic demonstration that for the last 10 years the British police have been having an institutional nervous breakdown. They do not know what their job or their role is.”

Matthew Elliott of the Tax Payers’ Alliance called it a ‘politically correct gimmick’. Others have gone further, Sid Cordle, of the Christian Peoples Alliance said the burkha was a symbol of the oppression of women, “Are they going to go out dressed as prostitutes or the homeless to see how they feel?”

Is this another example of the police falling into line with the modern government’s social experiment, cow-towing to the demands of another minority, bending over backwards to prove that racism has been left behind? I’m not sure. I would suggest if the sergeants really want to know what it’s customers feel like they might want to dress up as an average householder, stay at home being targeted with anti social behaviour & minor crime & wait in for 5 nights running until a police officer who should have been there within a couple of hours on the first day, if they’re not too busy dressing up as someone else & not doing police work. Of course, if they did it on a rest day, I take it all back.

August 4th, 2009

Angels & Demons

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

One of the inevitable consequences of working on the radio is that someone will be quite rude. In fairness, it works both ways, there is just as much chance that a controller will be rude to an officer as an officer being rude to a controller.

Often this is simply borne of frustration that one party is not doing what the other party wants. Nerves get frayed & people can be somewhat abrupt. Swear-words are usually limited to when the microphone is switched off, but not always.

One thing I have noticed is that it appears easier to be rude to someone you don’t know. I guess this is universally true. Most people would have no problem spouting forth at a nameless call-taker because Sky had failed to fix their Skybox for the third appointment running, even though it wasn’t the call-taker who didn’t turn up at the appointed time, but would be much more conciliatory when taking an item back to a shop they use several times a week where they regularly meet the staff.

Having said that, I’ve just realised another truism on rudeness; it’s easier to be rude to someone over the radio (or in a letter/email) than it is face to face.

Back to the control room, I usually find that if I do get a negative response from an officer, it’s usually one who doesn’t normally work with  my shift, or on a channel I don’t normally work & I get few problems from my regular officers. Either this proves my theory or I work with a particularly angelic bunch of guys & girls. As I read that back I know that can’t be true!

It would be interesting to speak to controllers on other shifts to see if my guys are as polite with them.

Of course, work-wise, you get better productivity if people interact well. Human nature is such that if someone is rude to you, you will spend your next interactions with them in a heightened state of stress, not averse to being unhelpful yourself or maybe even planning your revenge.

I don’t suppose any of this is pretty revelatory, nor what the point of discussing it is really. I suppose managers could do worse than planning that controllers work the same areas more often which might increase the happiness quotient & may even lead to a better working atmosphere between officers & controllers & thus a better service to the public?

August 3rd, 2009

Where did I leave that Humble Pie?

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Occasionally, I get a comment on one of my posts which I can turn into a whole blog entry.

A few days ago I posted about the teenage scumbags who were told off in the cinema by a mother who was watching the film with her husband & two young children. The scum followed the family out of the cinema & waited until they went into a nearby restaurant before going in & throwing bleach over her head.

One of my commenters responded “Unfortunately I will not hold my breath for the police to arrest the perpetrators, it sound like far too much work when there are much simpler ways to earn a detection or two. The most likely outcome will be the arrest of the poor women for “abusive and threatening language” probably with an element of racism / hate crime thrown in to tick a few extra boxes.

“The continued reluctance of the police to target violent young thugs has resulted in the alarming escalation in levels of violence we now see. Thanks to years of inaction people are no well aware that they can carry out hideous attacks like this with next to no consequences.”  This is a typical comment from a blogger who sarcastically entitles his own blog ‘Hero Police & Tough Judges‘ & loves slagging the police off  – he doesn’t like being called bigoted, either, despite the fact that he is 😉

So it is with particular pleasure that the follow-up to this story is that the police arrested the offenders within a few days,  one is on bail & the main offender, a 16-year-old has been charged with GBH with intent, put before the court & remanded in custody.

I’d say the ‘hero police’ did their job, it’s now time for the ‘tough judges’ and for somebody to eat their words.

August 2nd, 2009

Come the Summer Solstice

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Badge collectors, lesbians, car enthusiasts, sportspeople, Muslims, women, etc, etc, they all have their own associations within the police. A new association joins them, viz. one Pagan Police Association.

Neighbourhood officer PC Andy Pardy of Hertfordshire Police has been instrumental in setting up the new association which is aimed at the potential 500 Pagan police officers in the UK. Paganism seems to be upping its game in the UK. Last year the Home Office introduced a Pagan oath for use in the courts.

In my research for this blog entry, I could not find a website for the Pagan Police Association but I did find another Pagan police group, the Pagan Police Group UK, which only formed at the Summer Solstice in 2009. I had no idea the religion was so widely followed among police circles.

In an article quoted in several papers recently one of the benefits coming out as a Pagan in the police is you can have up to 8 annual leave days ring-fenced to be taken on Pagan Holidays, such as Halloween & Summer Solstice. To be honest, I didn’t realise that those who followed a religion were able to do this but it appears they can.

Superintendent Simon Hawkins, of Hertfordshire Police, said: “While balancing operational needs, the force’s religion and beliefs policy gives all staff the choice of re-allocating the traditional Christian bank-holiday festivals to suit their personal faith. This has been very well received from a number of faith groups, including Muslim and Jewish.”

The 2001 census found that there were 30,500 Pagans in the UK.

August 1st, 2009

Milestones & Millstones

Posted in Blogging by 200

As I came to the blog’s admin page to write today’s entry, as is often the case, I don’t actually know what I’m going to write. Blogging isn’t always easy. I take my inspiration from different places, sometimes it’s something on the news or in the papers, something that’s happened at work, other times it’s something from my 30 years’ service. And quite often I haven’t got a bloody clue but still have to come up with something. (these are often days when I post videos!)

Tonight I noticed that I’ve written 900 separate blog entries, this will be my 901st, only 100 more and that’s 1,000 total entries.

It also reminds me of another milestone I shall be reaching in 6  weeks time when I’ll have blogged every single day for two years.

Anyway, that’s another post where I didn’t have to actually do much thinking, which suits me.

Before you go, check out this BBC News clip & see if you can spot the police officer with a ‘wardrobe malfunction’