Archive for November, 2009

November 30th, 2009

Police are to blame – fact

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

After the tragic death of a four-year-old killed by a dog in the family home in Merseyside, the Telegraph knows who is to blame. It’s headline today reads “A four-year-old boy was mauled to death by his family’s bull terrier-type dog at his grandmother’s house, which police had been warned was allegedly being used for dog breeding but failed to investigate“.

Police were called to an address where they shot the dog. John-Paul Massey, the boy concerned had been mauled & killed by the dog which was described as a ‘bull terrier-like’ dog. The boy’s grandmother was also bitten when she tried to stop the dog.

It turns out that the local housing department had rung Merseyside Police in February with concerns that the household was being used to breed dogs. There had been no mention at that time of any danger.

Now, the crux of the matter is whether the complaint in February had suggested the dogs being bred were one of the banned breeds. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans only four types of dog. This means that basic possession & breeding within the UK is illegal. Those breeds are the pit bull terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.

The breed of the dog involved in this incident hasn’t been released though news reports suggest it has been sent for forensic tests to determine the breed. This suggests that it may be a pitbull, these are notoriously difficult to identify as they are similar to other breeds  of bull terrier. Some police dog handlers are suitably trained to identify pitbulls, otherwise an expert is usually called upon to determine the breed.

Chf Supt Steve Ashley said: “We have had one complaint in February this year from a housing officer that the house was being used to breed dogs.  The operator decided it was not a police matter, that is not Merseyside Police policy and as a result that will form a separate police investigation. The words `dangerous dog’ were not used in the call to police.  A qualified officer should have called the complainant back to ask for more details why this was a cause for concern.”

If the intial complaint was that someone was breeding pitbulls, then he is probably correct & the police will be be to blame for the child’s death. The owner, who breeds pitbulls & deems it safe to have them around children will receive less vilification.

If the complaint wasn’t that the household was breeding pitbulls, then the Chief Superintendent is talking ouf of his arse.

November 29th, 2009

R.I.P. American Brothers & Sister

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Years ago I used to be friendly with police officers from Europe & the USA. I was a keen member of the International Police Association & used to be in regular contact with foreign police officers, either through my various trips to Europe or via regular contact in writing. This was before email was popular (or even known about) & people still had ‘pen pals’.

Over the years I hosted quite a few officers in my home. Several of them were American. Their stay usually included a tour of the police station & maybe a patrol or two. Some of them were totally unaware that we are unarmed. Most of them said they wouldn’t do out job without going on duty with at least one firearm. One, a firearms instructor, didn’t even go out to his local shopping mall, off duty, without a handgun.

There are times when I’m glad I’m not doing the job out there.

Four American police officers have been shot & killed whilst they prepared for the start of their shift sitting, in uniform, in a coffee shop outside the McChord Airbase near Tacoma, Washington. A lone gunman is said to have targeted them by walking into the shop & gunning down 3 male & 1 female officers.

The Officer Down Memorial Page lists 107 officers (not including today’s four) killed on duty so far this year, including 38 killed by gunfire.

R.I.P.

November 28th, 2009

Scum of the Week

Posted in The Job - General by 200

This week’s Scum of the Week Award goes to hospital security guard Daniel Wills, aged 24, who was jailed for 20 weeks at Plymouth Crown Court this week.

Wills used to work at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital when he was filmed by CCTV stealing £1,200 cash which had been donated to Macmillan Cancer Research. Breast cancer paitient, Kerry Barker, raised £1,000 for the charity, the money was placed in an envelope & locked in an office safe. Wills, who was off sick on the day of the theft, entered the hospital in the early hours & stole the envelope & other cash from the safe. He also admitted stealing £70 cash from a drawer in a unit for the terminally ill.

The judge in the case, in a great example of understatement said the offences were “disgraceful”. The prison sentence was suspended.

November 27th, 2009

In Memoriam

Posted in The Job - General by 200

bill642

PC Bill Barker, who was killed in the Cumbria floods last week, was laid to rest in Egremont today.

A touching report appears in his local paper, the News & Star.

Bill was a keen tie tac collector, as so many police officres are, he designed & sold tie tacs to support charities, & was a keen fundraiser for the Great North Air Ambulance. The above design is a new tie tac to be released in December, the proceeds will go, in Bill’s memory, to the air ambulance. You can order a badge via the Police & Military Tie Tac Service.

November 26th, 2009

Is it lucky or unlucky?

Posted in Videos by 200

Ah, bless…

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November 25th, 2009

Wrong target

Posted in The Job - General by 200

It was revealed this week that taxpayers had to fork out £143,000 to pay for security to protect BNP leader, Nick Griffin, during his appearance on the BBC’s Question Time.

Police figures showed it cost £109,000 in police wages with a further £13,000 in overtime pay. The helicopter, transport costs, barriers & sign posting for road closures added another £21,000 to the bill.

Critics have said the BBC should foot the bill. Labour MP Andy Slaughter, whose constituency covers the Television Centre, said: “It was a decision by managers  to put him on the programme so maybe they should put their money where their mouth is. People will be horrified to find out that so much money has been spent giving a fascist party their best ever publicity.”

Anti fascist groups organised a demonstration/picket of the BBC Television Centre & many individuals forced their way through police lines in efforts to breach security & disrupt Griffin’s appearance on the show.

So critics of the show are demanding the BBC pay for an operation to stop people using violence to silence free speech in pursuit of, er, free speech?

What about sending the bill for protection of someone’s safety & possibly life to those who threatened that safety; the people who tried to break the law in order to stop Griffin? Those anti-fascist groups & all the people who tried to get into the BBC might be a good start. If they hadn’t decided to attend in the first place there would not be a requirement to send in the police to stop them tearing Griffin limb from limb.

November 24th, 2009

47 people shot in 11 minutes

Posted in The Job - General by 200

While we’re lon the subject of policing in the States;

It seems that current training & tactics on dealing with armed sieges in the States is under review with a new trend of immediate intervention. Current practice suggests that law enforcement hold back until they have sufficient resources in terms of a SWAT team etc, much like the UK where we sit round the corner until all the firearms trained officers in the county are available to deal.

Things might be changing….

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November 24th, 2009

Facilitate this!

Posted in The Job - General by 200

The Facilitated Returns Scheme is a government innovation started in October 2006 to persuade foreigners with no right to stay in the UK to return home.

Specifically, it aims to get convicted foreign criminals to leave the country. One might have thought that getting them deported after serving their sentence might be a simple case of transporting them from the prison gates to the airport, but not so. It seems that getting rid of convicted murderers, rapists & other criminals is rather problematic as some of the blighters just don’t go.

The scheme aims to bribe offenders to go home once they have served the part of their sentence after which a UK citizen would normally be released. It is designed to avoid lengthy & expensive legal battles against deportation & can result in inmates being given up to a £5,000 resettlement package  including £500 cash.

In 2008 1,350 foreign criminals were paid an average of £2,500 to leave the country. This was about 25% of the total amount of criminals ejected from the UK that year.

This scheme is morally acceptable to the government, that is unless it is proposed by a party such as the BNP, in which case paying foreigners to leave the country is morally repugnant & inherently racist.

The total amount spent in 2008 was some £3.4 million.

Meanwhile, the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire which commemorates the deaths of thousands of servicemen & women who have died since W.W.II, will fall into disrepair unless it can find £8 million.

The Future Foundations Appeal is trying to raise funds to sort out the memorial & asking the government to match any money raised.

I have a suggestion, the government pays all the money to fix the national memorial to our war dead & saves £3 million a year by not bribing criminals & just booting their arses out of the UK with the advice that should they desire to appeal the decision to repatriate them they should seek the assistance of a lawyer in their own country.

November 23rd, 2009

Police are Lazy – Official

Posted in The Job - General by 200

According to figures obtained by the Daily Mirror – who don’t appear to have a grasp of English grammar if their headline is anything to go by: Police may not have been fully investigated up to 1.7 million crimes – the police fail to investigate, er, 1.7 million crimes a year.

18 of the UK forces have a system of ‘screening out’ crimes where there is little chance of a detection & a further 15 forces mark up certain crimes as being suitable for ‘no further action’. Basically, this means that once a crime is reported – often over the phone – if there are no apparent lines of enquiry, the crime is recorded & then nothing further is done with it unless someone miraculously confesses it at some unspecified time in the future. This leaves officers free to investigate crimes which do have a line of enquiry to follow. (in theory)

How does this balance with what the public want, I wonder, is it just common sense?

November 22nd, 2009

No reply to repeated knocking

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Disclaimer: I have no figures to back up any of the following, just personal experience of working in a police control room every day.

If anyone tells you the target culture in the police service is changing, don’t believe them.

Every early turn we take over from the night shift with a whole list of jobs which they & the shifts previous haven’t been able to deal with. Often these are jobs that our shift the day before couldn’t deal with either. Sometimes they are several days old.

Occasionally, the reason we haven’t been able to deal with it is because the caller hasn’t been available; they might be working & only have a narrow margin of time they are at home which we can’t meet, or perhaps they are one of the group of callers who dial 999 in the heat of the moment & then realise that they don’t actually want to see us &spend days ducking & diving & failing to return our calls in an effort to pin them down because our policies determine that once certain words are recorded in history on our log we have to see them whether they want is or not. But overwhelmingly the reason we don’t see people it’s because we don’t have enough officers to cope with the demand (despite having more officers now than in the entire history of policing).

So you’d think that having a full shift of officers available at the start of the shift would be a bonus. We can start to dish out all the jobs & get some of the people, who do actually want/need to be seen, sorted so we can at least provide some level of service to them. Wrong.

What happens at the start of every shift is that all the arrest enquiries are dished out. Arrest enquiries are our attempt to make us look more efficient than we are. Someone goes through a list of wanted people & the officers who should be coming to you have to go & knock on Mr. Wanted Person’s door. These are usually people who have failed to appear at court or not answered their bail at a police station.

Arrest enquiries are done at the start of every shift, earlies, lates & nights since the start of the shift is the only time the officers are available.

There are two problems with arrest enquiries; firstly, if they are successful it means the police unit is off the road from anything between about 40 minutes & the rest of the shift depending on how much post arrest work they have to do. The second thing is that most arrest enquiries are negative. Usually there is no reply, when there is a reply Mr. W.P. has either gone to work or never came home the night before or hasn’t lived there for six months. Some sergeants will task one of their units with several arrest enquiries knowing full well most, if not all will be unsuccessful but other sergeants let their units share them out such that 4 out of the 5 available units are doing arrest enquiries for an hour or 2 & nobody is available to take yesterday’s jobs or the inevitable burglaries & other crimes that the populace is waking up to.

You know you have an uphill battle when you ring the sergeant to ask why he’s letting 80% of his troops do arrest enquiries when we have 24 outstanding jobs & 2 high response burglaries & the reply is, “I don’t worry about that when this shift has the highest arrest rate on the division.”

Over three days last week we did around 16 arrest enquiries for a success rate of 1. This took up 60% of our resources for around about 20 police-officer hours & we banged up someone for failing to appear at court who was taken to court & re-bailed.

But at least the arrest figures increased.

The ridiculous  thing is that if we hadn’t spent those man-hours chasing stats we could have attended 3 assaults, 2 domestic-related threats & a breach of bail allegation all of which could have resulted in an arrest for a ‘plus 6′ on the figures, and several families would have been pleased with a response, but we had to pass them on to the next shift as ‘no unit available’.

November 21st, 2009

Scary

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

You work with a whole variety of people in the control room.

There are your regular colleagues who you sit beside day after day, some of them you’ve known for years, & some of them you can class as friends.

Then there are usually new people knocking around, trainees learning the job.

You also work with regular staff from other shifts. They may be working at times when there is more than one shift present, or might be doing rest day working because we are short – we always have overtimers – or they might be part-time workers or ones who for ‘work-life balance’ issues don’t work a particular shift, usually nights, & so fit in their hours with different shifts.

Sue is one of those who don’t work nights. She’s not on my shift but every few weeks she does a few days with us.

Sue is quite forthright. She doesn’t mind calling a spade a spade & uses some of the more industrial language. She’s one of the, er, larger ladies in the department & with her rather brusque nature can appear quite intimidating.

She wasn’t in a good mood when I worked with her recently. This only magnifies the aura which surrounds her. Every other word rhymes with ‘ducking’ & you can see every sinew in her body railing against lifting her hand to the transmit button with a half mumbled “what does he fucking want now?” The transmission from the unit on the other end of the radio is then met with the standard response “twat”, which by some miracle hasn’t actually been broadcast yet, though the law of averages suggests it’s only a matter of time before Sue fails to take her finger off the button which limits the expletive-sodden audience to just her & me.

I kind of work on the principle that I’m sat on my arse earning a couple of thousand pounds a month to provide some kind of service to anyone on the other end of the radio, therefore it’s not actually a chore to hit the transmit button, answer reasonably cheerful & polite & do what’s required of me.

Nothing can be further from the reality when Sue’s in a bad mood. I’m not sure what the beef was this week, you learn not to ask lest you be caught up in an ever increasing spiral of hell & damnation as she tirades against someone or something with the audacity to refuse Sue something or other.

It’s amazing that a full shift of reasonably competent police officers that I deal with can suddenly transform into a group of ‘prats, twats & lazy fuckers’ at the hands of Sue in one of her moods.

A couple of hours of constant moaning & bitching is as much as any man can take. It’s hard to keep  a dignified air when an officer’s request for a PNC check is met with the same warmth as an invite to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, backwards, with a medicine ball up your diddly-doodah. By the end of a ten hour shift I feel quite drained & it’s all I can do on the drive home not to pull into the first field entrance & connect a Hoover hose up to the exhaust pipe.

November 20th, 2009

To another brother

Posted in The Job - General by 200

BillBarker

Rest in Peace, brother.

November 19th, 2009

Go ahead, over

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

This week I worked on one of the many ‘operations’ our force runs. They all have operational names like ‘Operation Protect’, Operation Guardian,’ ‘Operation Centurian’, all names which suggest strength & forthright policing. In fact all these operations are exactly the same. A group of police officers choose an area & spend the day stopping hundreds of cars in a lottery to see if they can come up with some figures at the end of it to justify stopping hundreds of cars.

Usually they get a couple of no insurance siezures, where the driver’s car is taken off him on threat of being crushed & he gets to walk home,  a couple of hundred quid’s worth of seat belt or mobile phone tickets get handed out & we arrest 1 lad who should have been in court 3 weeks ago. We don’t arrest many burglars or rapists which is what the majority of the people we do stop think we should be doing.

It can be quite soul destroying working one of these ops as a controller because basically you sit there for 8 hours doing meaningless PNC checks. You can do a few hundred, one after the other. None of the officers give you time to record the information on the log from the last check before blurting out the next check despite the fact that you ask them constantly to give you a few seconds between each check & because you’re on your own you can wait 3 hours for a pee. At least those doing the stop checks can go behind a bush.

The people who create these operations have to document everything. The operational order usually runs into several pages, it includes the officers working, where they will stand, sit or wait, what time they have their breaks, what vehicles they have & what roles they will perform. Soemtimes we do it in company of  ‘partner agencies‘ like VOSA who check HGVs for safety, or the Immigration Service, or Trading Standards.

Our powers & procedures are documented & we have to evidence that we will run the op in line with human rights law. The bit that always makes me laugh is the section where we have to document the reasons for the operation. One of them is always to increase public confidence.

Increase public confidence, in the police? You’re having a laugh. Stopping motorists going about their lawful business, noting down all their details & running checks on them incase they are Jack the Ripper or Lord Lucan  just pisses most of them off as they usually have to be somewhere.

November 18th, 2009

Another Milestone

Posted in Blogging by 200

200weeks is one of the longest running police blogs in the UK. I’ve been posting for over four years, for over two of those years I have posted every single day, non-stop, without missing day.

Last week I reached another milestone, one which I didn’t actually realise until I logged on for today’s entry.

Last week I posted my 1,000th blog entry.

November 17th, 2009

Fighting to get in

Posted in The Job - General by 200

You get some funny people in this job. Alan Pepworth, I guess, comes into that category. For some reason he was determined to be locke dup by polic ein his local town of Ayr, Scotland. It seems the local police weren’t too obliging & denied him his wish to spend the night in the cells.

Some people go to great lengths to get locked up. I once nicked a guy who, already being locked up for punching his wife, decided he wanted to be locke dup for something a bit more serious so he punched me in the face on the way to the car. His reason genuinely was that he thought getting nicked on a domestic was a bit petty so it would look better if he got nicked for assault on police.

He got done for both, he never did pay the compensation.

Young Mr Pepworth was so determined to get locked up that he went into the local nick at Ayr & set fire to the foyer in the police station. He had his wish when the Sheriff imprisoned him this week.

November 16th, 2009

This week I have been mostly…

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

…ringing people before I finish my shift to tell them what they’ve already worked out for themselves, that we haven’t had anyone free to go & see them yet.

Well, that’s what I usually do on a late shift, but this week was a slightly different matter. For 2 days I didn’t have to ring anyone. I can scarcely believe it myself as I sit here & type the words, but for 2 days we had loads of officers. We must have had 10 patrol cars available for most of the shift. This meant that when we got the usual shite that takes ages with no real resul, we still had other officers to attend people’s burglaries & assaults.

It was quite a busy few days on the division. When I sat down to the terminal at the start of the shift we had probably double the amount of jobs we normally have during the week. We had a steady flow of jobs throughout the shift, which was unusual as often they come in fits & starts. We had a full shift for a change, nobody was off sick or on leave or a course. We also had a couple of the night shift come in early able to take out a couple of cars.

I was able to get almost all of the jobs where people were actually available to be seen assigned to a unit to deal with. We managed to decrease the amount of jobs to a level lower than it was when we took over which is quite unusual since the bulk of our calls come in during the evening.

It lasted two days, on the third day we were back to ‘normal’ staffing levels, and guess what, we started the shift qith about 20 jobs on the box & ended it with about 36. I had to ring a good dozen people to let them know we wouldn’t be attending today. I have no doubt that the controller who took over the next day would be ringing several of the same people putting them off for another day. When I go back in 2 days time I guarantee I’ll speak to at least 2 people I spoke to yesterday to apologise once again.

To my simple reckoning I think that with more officers we just might be able to provide some kind of service people might be a bit more pleased with. We don’t need thousands of brand new recruits, just a few more of what we’ve got driving patrol cars, that’s all.

November 15th, 2009

Shock Footage

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Not all prison inmates are total scum.


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November 14th, 2009

Robocop’s Car

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I remember back in the eighties a police car demonstrator being loaned to us for trial. I think it was a Peugeot or it could have been a Renault. The company were thinking of designing a purpose-built police car but the go ahead was dependent on a large majority of the UK forces placing orders. I can’t remember the specs of the car other than it had a perspex shield between the passenger & driver compartments & the rear section was a solid hard plastic bucket seat affair where prisoners could be held safely.

Naturaly, nobody could agree to show any interest so the project failed. Other than perhaps uprating the brakes or electric system to cope with all the extra lighting equipment, we don’t have any specifically police designed vehicles.

So, anyone fancy a Carbon E7? This American company is on a mission to sell an eco-friendly purpose-built police car.

CRW_2829

November 13th, 2009

Police are Rude & Sarcastic – Official

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

It seems that police officers are rude, sarcastic & overbearing. According to stats from Greater Manchester, over a fifth of all complaints about police are about rudeness. GMP officers & staff are being sent on courses to improve the way they talk to members of the public, and being told to stop being sarcastic, rude & overbearing. It seems the worst offenders are call takers, drug teams & riot squads.

200 officers are undergoing retraining. A superintendent from the force’s rubber heel squad said: “It is not about officers shouting and swearing at the public, it is more than that. It is about deportment; how that officer stands at a person’s door, for example.”

I’m sure the riot squad & drugs teams will now know exactly how to stand & to say please when they are battering down the door of some drug dealer at 5 in the morning. I feel completely left out now as my 30 years’ service didn’t see any complaints about incivility & I’m sure I told a good few people their fortunes over the years.

Apparently the course has had some success with complaints about invicility reducing. It must be one hell of a course which can deter people from being short with members of the public after a 10 hour shift in a busy call centre with few breaks, a target culture to end the call so that the next can be answered within 10 seconds, speaking to some of the most highly stressed or objectionable people in the country.

I expect the drop in complaints is because everyone attending the course has a shift or two less a year to try being rude to someone because they’re on a course.

November 12th, 2009

Business is good

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

Don’t you wish that some senior officers had been to the establishment below before implementing some of their new fads/policies?

Without a Paddle