Archive for October 4th, 2009

October 4th, 2009

First hurdles

Almost every time we get a job involving a report that somebody has a knife, our response is an admission that we are inadequately equipped to deal with it.

We get jobs where the ‘k’ word is mentioned every day, on every shift, quite often several times per shift.

These jobs come in a number of forms. Firstly, there are the self-harmers. Often the call will come from the ambulance where they have a report of someone cutting themselves or threatening to cut themselves. Invariably, they don’t have a knife, but you never know.

Secondly, there are the reports of fights, usually in the street or in a pub. You’d be surprised how many people reporting a fight think they have seen a knife, or someone told them that someone had a knife. It’s difficult to know how many of these fights do actually involve a knife because we rarely find one, but you never know.

Then there are the cases where someone says to someone else that they are going round to so-and-so’s to stab them. This usually involves a partner or ex-partner as either the stab-ee or stab-or. If the stab-or gets traced they usually don’t have a knife, but you never know.

The response to all of them is the same. The control room inspector is made aware & takes personal charge. If you are lucky enough to have local Taser-trained officers & they are available, then the control room inspector authorises them to attend & deal. Depending on how true we believe the info about the knife to be, the inspector may also despatch firearms units; the threat level could be so high as to have deadly force available.
‘Unarmed’ units will be told not to approach anyone suspected of having a knife & possibly told not to attend at all or to wait at an RV point some distance from the scene.

The armed units may have to travel from the other side of the force, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, and that’s if they’re not already on some other spurious search for a knife-wielding ghost.

So, by not sending police straight away to a report of someone with a knife – or other weapon – we are in effect saying that we are so inadequately equipped to deal with such a threat that the public are put at further, & probably unnecessary risk, until such time as we can assign someone adequately equipped to deal with a threat which happens several times a shift in every force up & down the country.

The health & safety concerns are obviously what happens if you send an unarmed officer to a job & they end up getting stabbed, hurt or killed. The powers that be apparently see this as more important than the question of what happens if a member of the public gets stabbed, hurt or killed while the only people empowered to protect them – police officers – are waiting round the corner for an armed officer. This appears to be an easier to accept risk than the only solution – arming the police adequately.