Archive for March, 2010

March 31st, 2010

Good News all round

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Two top police news stories today.

In the first, the Met have finally sacked that disgraceful blight on modern policing Ali Dizaei. Good news, anyone know what happens to his pension?

In the second, again Met related, Sgt Delroy Smellie has been aquitted of assaulting Nichola Fisher at the G20 demo. The judge said she found no evidence that the Sgt’s use of his baton was not measured & correct. Which was about the only conclusion she could come to as the complainant had no intention of attending court & giving evidence.

Of course, everyone is up in arms about the decision – well anyone who reads the Guardian, judging by Dave Hill’s London Blog, most of whom appear to have little understanding of the concept of evidence. Nichola Fisher didn’t lose out,  I commented almost a year ago that her main motivation would be the money. I read she got £26grand for her story. Only she knows the real reason she didn’t want to give evidence, theories abound in the blogs & comment sections of the press.

I’m glad the Sgt was not convicted, on so many levels.

March 30th, 2010

And so it goes

Posted in Blogging by 200

Last week I passed the milestone of posting a blog entry every single day for 2.5 years. I’m well on my way to completing 5 years of blogging. I was reading only yesterday of another police blogger who is giving up the blogging lark. He’d only been going since October & had 20 entries.

Inspector Gadget posts today about an official police blogger down Avon & Somerset way who is also giving up. Some people just have no stamina or committment.

I don’t suppose, when I started back in August 2005, I gave any thought about how long I’d do it for. After the last 2.5 years it has become a habit.  Most of my posts are done on the couch at home some time after the Ten o’ Clock News & before midnight. I still don’t know anyone who knows I blog, at least if they do, they’ve never mentioned it to me, & that includes Mrs Weeks & the Weeklings.

I sometimes wonder whether I’m doing it out of habit or whether I still  enjoy it. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the two apart.

March 29th, 2010

It’s OK it’s not my cash

Posted in The Job - General by 200

You know that bosses have got a skew-wiffed attitude to their job when they spend £30 million a year on public relations.

PR budgets have rocketed 40% in five years as forces try to improve their image. Some forces are paying PR staff up to £80,000 a year, three times as much as a starting constable.

Mind you, it’s not all the chief constables’ fault. The government have said they are taking away targets but say police must raise their public satisfaction levels from 46% (of public satisfied with the police) & have introduced a new, er, target of 60%. So we have the ridiculous situations where forces are trying to win PR awards in completely inappropriate cases.

In the last few years the PR budget at Kent has gone from £205,700 to £805,000, it doubled in Dyfed Powys, Gwent, Humberside, Northumbria, North & South Yorkshire. The Met’s spend went down last year to £5.8million. At least 6 other forces spent over £1million.

Chiefs have been told to cut over £540million from budgets over the next 3 years.

March 28th, 2010

Over there too

Posted in The Job - General, Videos by 200

It seems that policing in Canada is similar to policing in the UK & policing by YouTube exists there too.

The following case surfaced this week in Victoria, Canada. The video shows the aftermath of a scene in which 8 men viciously assaulted one man culminating on him lying flat out on the deck having been kicked in the head. Three officers have to use pepper spray to disperse the offenders then eventually arrest 6 of them.

March 27th, 2010

What a Donut

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I loved the heading in today’s Mirror so much that I nicked it.

I can’t imagine the kudos & bragging rights some Australian police officer now has after nicking former World Champion Lewis Hamilton for acting like a boy-racing muppet outside the Grand Prix circuit in Melbourne yesterday. It seems he couldn’t keep his racing accelerator foot in his shoes as he left the circuit after practice & wheel-span his way into the sports, and other, pages of the world’s press.

He’s likely to be summonsed for ‘improper use of a vehicle’ and, how cool is this, he’s had is car impounded for 48 hours.

What a muppet.

Go Jenson!

March 26th, 2010

I have some spare cash, now where’s the drain?

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Oh dear, we shouldn’t be surprised at the Home Office’s inability to get something right. Or rather, we should be surprised because it should get most things right, all the time, but we’re not surprised when it doesn’t.

Most police blogs, including this one, have mentioned the Policing Pledge, that triumph of glitz over substance, in which the government have kindly pledged that the police will arrive at certain jobs on time & be visible on the streets. There has been lots of announcing & tick-box chart preparation to bring it in. The government have spent £5million on an advert to feature on TV announcing how wonderful it all is.

Except it isn’t

The Advertising Standards Authority have banned the advert on the grounds that it is factually incorrect & misleading. The advert says that 80% of police time is spent on the beat & advises that local communities will be seeing a lot more 0f the police “and so will the criminals“.  The ASA said they were concerned that there wasn’t sufficient explanation that the advert was only referring to neighbourhood officers, who make up under 1o% of all police officers. The ASA said it breached part of its code which relates to an advert being “legal, decent, honest (and) truthful“.

A recent report by the HMIC concluded that officers spent an average of 36% of their time in the community.

The advert must not be shown again in its current form.

So that was 5 million well spent, then.

March 25th, 2010

For goodness’ sake

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

Sometimes you just have to put your head in your hands and wonder why…

A woman from Melksham, Wiltshire has been reprimanded by a local school & council for ‘trespassing’ on school property after she got a child down from a tree after staff left him up the tree for almost an hour. Kim Barrett was told in the letters that she had entered school grounds without permission after she became concerned for the child’s welfare, coaxed him down & took him back into school.

Wiltshire Council, who clearly have a policy for everything, said that when a child ventured into a tree ons chool grounds it was their policy not to approach them in case they became distracted & fell.

A spokesman said: “If he or any other child was in any danger, or was unable to get down from the tree, he would have been assisted either by a teacher or the fire brigade, depending on the circumstances. The only danger as far as the school was concerned was that a stranger came onto the premises and talked to the child, who was being observed.”

Hmmm, I’d have thought that the intentions of the stranger who came into the school would have become pretty clear when she brought the child back into the office. Staff said that the child was “under observations” all the time. Doubtless the risk of the child getting tired after an hour & falling out of the tree was not as great as a member of staff actually dealing with the incident rather than sit back & do nothing.

March 24th, 2010

More Tea & Medals

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

People who work in offices  at police headquarters up & down the land love awards. There are awards for all sorts of things which the police can win, most of them are nothing to do with preventing & solving crime or preventing anti-social behaviour.

Northumbria Police have won a PR Award issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. The award, which Northumbria nominated themselves for, was for the way they handled the case in which one of their officers knocked down & killed 16-year-old Hayley Adamson, while the officer was following what he thought was a stolen vehicle. The police car didn’t have its blues & twos on & the officer was later gaoled.

Judges for the award said they were impressed by the ‘professional & caring way’ in which Northumbria dealt with a ‘sensitive issue’. Northumbria’s objectives in dealing with the aftermath included; “To minimise the risks to Northumbria’s reputation, to minimise any inappropriate, speculative, or inaccurate reporting, & to demonstrate Northumbria’s empathy with the victim’s family and community.”

They may have done a good job in a very sensitive situation, but I can’t help thinking it was totally inappropriate to self-nominate for an award which was basic damage limitation.

March 23rd, 2010

Rip-off Merchants

Posted in Not the Job, Videos by 200

Regular readers will know of my disdain for the professional game of football. Here’s one of the reasons I hate the game so much…

March 22nd, 2010

That new Parliamentary scandal, in full

Posted in Other Stuff, The Job - Satire by 200

The world of politics was literally not rocked to its foundations this week at the revelations of the Sunday Times & Dispatches programme that washed up government ministers were prostituting themselves to any company with some spare cash.

Literally nobody was surprised at secret undercover footage of Labour MPs offering to do favours for three grand a day to potential clients willing to bribe, er inves,t their way to privileged access to key decision-making government departments.

Sir Sydney Freedosh, acting chair of the Parliamentary Privilege Whitewash Committee said: “Of course we are aware that Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon & Patricia Hewitt have offered to give a leg-up to certain companies in exchange for cash, but in the current climate businesses need all the help they can get. Frankly, what did surprise us was the particularly low rates they are charging. Three thousand pounds for a day’s hard work, ringing old mates & getting them to amend laws in favour of struggling businesses seems very low indeed. At least Byers was touting for up to five grand a day. Way to go!”

Secret footage, due to be aired on Channel Four’s Dispatches, shows the MPs boasting about what they’d previously managed to get away with for cash.

Matthew Isitmyturnagain, from the Taxpayers Alliance, said: “We weren’t in the least bit surprised at the documentary’s revelations. MPs lining their own pockets is nothing new. It’s what they do. At least this time it’s business footing the bill, not the taxpayer.”

Stephen Byers has sought to clarify matters. In a statement released when he realised hed been caught, he said: “I wish to make it clear that when I told the very attractive undercover journalist that I had ‘facilitated a better deal for National Express by speaking to the Transport Minister’ what I actually meant was ‘I have never lobbied ministers on behalf of commercial interests’. When I said I ‘was like a cab for hire’ – at between three five thousand pounds a day – this was taken out of context. What I really meant was that’ in the light of recent revelations about corruption in Parliament the furore of MPs expences, it would be totally inappropriate for me to accept or even seek more free cash to carry out sleazy Spanish practises, please pick up your hidden cameras microphones be gone’. I trust this sets the record straight won’t delay my elevation to the Lords unduly.”

Gordon Brown was unavailable for comment as he was attending to important matters behind his desk at number ten with his head on his hands.

March 21st, 2010

One Year On

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

It dawned on me recently that I’ve reached another milestone in my career; one year as a civvy – or should that be support staff?

So that’s also one year of retirement from the police.

One year on how have things changed?

Well, I don’t try to enter my old police warrant number onto the force computer systems anywhere as much as I used to. I still do it from time to time but I’m now more or less used to my new identity.

I frequent the occasional police forums &  can’t get out of the habit of saying ‘we’ when referring to police officers.

The job hasn’t changed; I’m basically doing exactly what I did when I was a police officer. There’s no real difference now that I’m a civvy except that I don’t have to do personal protection training’ or baton-twirling as its sometimes known.

Despite what you might glean from reading this blog, I still actually enjoy the work I do. I think I make a genuine difference, its just all the shite – largely unnecessary – that pisses me off.

My standard of living has gone up massively. It’s almost like going from a single-wage family to a dual-wage family like we were before the kids came along. It’s happily coincided with my youngest going to senior school & my wife being able to earn a little money a few mornings a week also, though the recent letter from the tax man saying I was being taxed at 40% on my pension wasn’t quite so welcome.

All in all, one year after retirement, life is good at Weeks Towers.

March 20th, 2010

No job’s too small

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

In the control room we spend our lives in a never-ending battle to reduce the number of jobs that we have to send officers to. How aggressive we are in doing that is often down to how much leeway & help we want to give our officers. More leeway to get on & do their thing, less jobs get done.

At any one time you might have between 10 &  40 asignments on the box which need to be dealt with.

How many you can actually get rid of depends on how many troops you have to play with how complicated the jobs are. You have a whole range of jobs. A simple message for delivery might take 5 minutes including travelling time, while a person threatening suicide who ends up getting sectioned &  taken to hospital might take 8 hours or more.

The mythical ideal, as a controller, is to have no jobs.

I have never had no jobs, at any point during a shift, not even for a single minute.

I was present when one of the other divisions did have no jobs, for about an hour.

Earlier this week I came back after 2 rest days to find the division I had been working had just 8 jobs on the box. Three of those were deferred for later on the day. This was pretty much a record for me.

The day went Ok, we had a usual amount of jobs to do & managed to reach the end of the shift with a similar amount of jobs that we started. Good times. We had a reasonably full shift. Nobody scarfed off to do arrest enquiries or scene guards. Nobody doing endless reports from the days before & everyone available to be assigned; controller heaven.

I came back the next day & we had 7 jobs. Amazingly we didn’t have a run on new jobs handed over about 9.

When I came on the next day I was amazed to see that we only had 9 jobs again. Could I get away with handing over under 10 for the third da running?

No, was the resounding answer. Two police units scarfed off by one of the office-dwelling senior officers to do non frontline tick-box stat gathering & we were back up to nearly 30 jobs by the end of the shift. The follow-on will probably take days to resolve. The end of the shift was filled with ringing people back to apologise for our non-attendance. Bad times.

March 19th, 2010

Fetch the Teddy

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Another day another story from Kent Police.

Hot on the heels from yesterday’s story about Kent Police not allowing to comfort victims by putting their arms around them, it appears they are coming up with alternatives.

Presumably, they will introducing protocols to deal with victims across the whole age range. They start with 6-years & under.

Trauma Teddies.

One officer has got a local manufacturer to donate 100 cuddly toys to be given to young children who are caught up in a road traffic accident. PC  Darren Chapman said: “It’s more difficult when young children are involved in a collision because you can’t always explain what is happening to them. Fear and confusion can overwhelm them and sometimes all they need is comfort and reassurance rather than the type of explanation you would give an adult.”

Presumably the traffic officers in Kent will be leaving the teddies at a safe distance for the child to collect themselves, lest they inadvertently touch the child or say the wrong thing.

March 18th, 2010

More Bollocks…

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

…in the form of Kent Police’s Political Correctness (or do they call it ‘Diversity’?) Department who have upgraded their list of words & phrases police officers should no longer use.

The latest guidance to Kent Police’s 7,000 staff is that they should no longer ask for people’s Christian name in case it offends people who aren’t Christian. They are now told to ask for someone’s ‘personal name’ or ‘family name’. They are also being told not to use phrases like ‘my dear’ or ‘love’ when addressing women in case it causes embarassment or offence. Also being banned is comforting someone by putting an arm around them which they cite as being ‘unprofessional’. Presumably, it’s more professional just to keep your distance & do or say nothing when you’re showing a mother the body of their dead child in the mortuary, for instance.

I’m a non-Christian and would not give the the most fleeting of second thoughts at anyone asking for my Christian name. I really do wonder whether there has been a big outcry from people offended at being asked their Christian name. I suspect it’s more to do with the current trend for people to sit in an office somewhere in a small focus group, made up of people who are just out of touch with society, whose job it is to come up with ideas that they think might offend people, and then put a stop to it, just in case.

If someone asked me what my ‘personal’ name was I would wonder what the hell they were talking about as all my names are personal to me, “which one to do you want?”

What a total load of bollocks.

March 17th, 2010

There goes another one

Posted in Videos by 200

What better way to liven up a slow mid-week than with another US of A pursuit, courtesy of my old friends at BluTube.

BLUtube is powered by PoliceOne.com

March 16th, 2010

Talking of numpties

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Being in the police should mean that nothing surprises you yet I never cease to be amazed at the intelligence of some motorists.

They leave their engines running while the car defrosts or as they nip in the local newsagents for a paper & wonder why their car gets nicked. They leave laptops & handbags on the seat in their unattended cars & are surprised when the window gets smashed & their goodies disappear. They buy watches & laptops at motorway service stations off complete strangers & are shocked to discover the items are fake or non-existent.

Every winter you see drivers easing their way down the roads with a few square inches of ice or snow rubbed off their windscreens, peering through the tiny hole which affords them their view of the road, too lazy to clear their windscreen properly.

Dorset Police have been running a road safety campaign recently in which they have targeted motorists for bad & dangerous driving. They have picked up nearly 2,500 offences including dangerous driving, using a mobile phone at the wheel & no seatbelt. Their best example is a 53-year-old female driver who was making her way along the road with the bonnet fully up. She was peering through the gap under the bonnet at the bottom of her windscreen & explained to officers that the bonnet catch was broken & she was driving to a garage to get it repaired.

bonnet

Some people…

March 15th, 2010

Time warps

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

We get a lot of complaints from people who are not satisfied with the time it took police to get to them. Quite often someone will ring 999 to report something & will ring back 5 minutes later to ask where police are. I expect that on some occasions it can be quite frightening & disconcerting thinking the police are taking their time, but unfortunately, no matter what is happening, we in the control room aren’t yet able to teleport officers to the scene a la Star Trek.

Sometimes when you get a log complaining that the police took too long, you go back & check the details of the original job to check the times. Someone might complain that it took an officer 20 minutes but the reality was that they actually arrived within about 7 minutes. People find this hard to believe.

I think it is something in the human psyche which elongates time under times of stress. (it’s probably why an 8 hour shift seems to last 12 hours)

I was once called to the scene of a road traffic accident. A motorcyclist was wending his merry way through the countryside at quite high speeds. He went round a bend & hadn’t reckoned on line of traffic queueing to get into a car boot sale on some farmer’s field on a road between two rural towns.

I was on my own & we were about 15 miles from the nearest town. The motorcyclist’s leg was badly broken. The shin bone had snapped & the bottom part of the leg was dangling at an unfeasable angle. He had a really bad gash on the top of his thigh & blood was literally pumping through his jeans.

As I ran back to the car for the first aid kit, I called up control to make sure an ambo was on route (& some other help). I got back to the motorcyclist who was thrashing about & unbelievably trying to get up. I had to get some of the car drivers to hold him down. I applied some wound pads with bandages to his leg but it was like sticking a cotton wool ball in a swimming pool. I exhausted the contents of my first aid kit & had tied probably 5 or 6 wound dressings on. In the end I just packed them all as tight as possible & pushed them against his leg with my hands as hard as I could. Stemming the flow of blood with one hand & operating the radio with the other is an art.

The ambulance took about 3 weeks to get there. I probably called up 2 or 3 times to check when it was going to get there, as if calling on the radio would speed it up. Time just seemed to elongate completely & what in all probability took 12 or 13 minutes seemed like half an hour at least.

Thinking back there are a couple of occasions when I’ve needed immediate assistance & waited for an age. There is no finer sound that the old police sirens when you’re lying on the ground fighting with someone half your age, believe me, two minutes is long enough.

March 14th, 2010

‘kin nanny state

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

I went into a supermarket today. Mrs weeks isn’t very well & she has used up her supply of paracetamol, in fact she used up the last of my supply of cheap ‘Anadin’ ripoffs. She prefers paracetomol but I find that those ones made of exactly the same constituents as Anadin Extra but costing a tenth of the price do me really well.

So I popped in to get a Sunday paper, a bottle of wine for tea & some headache tablets.

I got Mrs Weeks a box of 16 paracetamol & I picked up a similar-sized pack of the supermarket’s own brand pain releif tabs. Then I remembered that I had used the last in the box I have in my work bag only a few days ago. I like to keep headache tablets with me at work since sometimes it is one big bloody headache.

So I had 3 packs of tablets.

Whenever I go with one of my kids, they love doing that self-service thing where you swipe your own purchases, put them in your bag & pay. I hate it & avoid them when I can. I just feel so guilty using them. I can’t help thinking that the girl who stands at the end monitoring the computer displays is just waiting for me to nick something. And what the bloody hell do you do with stuff like grapes which hasn’t got a barcode on them?

Anyway, the girl swiped all my bits & when it came to putting the pain relief tablets through she swiped two boxes & put the other one aside, “You can only buy two of these at a time.”

“What?”

“You can only buy two packs.”

“Is that in case I top myself?”

She smiled  nervously but didn’t answer. I didn’t make a fuss though I felt like demanding to see the manager to get him to explain why I couldn’t be trusted not to rip open the boxes & shove the contents down my neck there & then. I expect my family could sue them for providing me the means to cure a really bad headache. If I paid for my goods, walked back into the shop & bought another 2 packs who’d have stopped me? Do they have undercover headache detectives just watching for anyone who looks like they may buy more than 32 headache pills? What if I wanted to restock my cutlery drawer & bought half a dozen 10- inch kitchen knives? I bet nobody would stop me buying 3 bottles of whisky & drinking myself to death.

All this went through my mind as I packed my bits & pieces. By the time I walked out the store I was so depressed I felt like doing something really stupid, but I only had 32 paracetamol, so well done Sainsbury’s, another life saved.

March 13th, 2010

The long road home

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I’ve been working night shift, man & boy, for 31 years. I believe that it’s not the healthiest option. I recall some 25 or more years ago being told there was some research that working a full shift pattern over an average working life was likely to knock 5 years off your life expectancy. I have no idea if there’s any truth in that or not, knowing my luck it’s increased with inflation by now.

I dont mind nights, I’d probably rather work nights than lates. Lates just blights your home life, at least on nights you can still do stuff in the evening even if you have to leave early.

My last set of nights was awful. I started off having to get up early on the first day of nights. Normally, the night before nights I’d stay up until around 4am. This means I can sleep in longer so that I’m not so tired by the early hours of the first night shift.

Last shift I had workman round which meant I was up at 7, stayed up all day then went to work until the next morning, eventually getting to bed after some 26 hours. That’s a long time without sleep. I wondered how I made it home.

Part of my journey involves a fair few miles up a long & very boring dual carriageway. I often get part-way up the road & realise I have absolutely no recollection of the preceeding 15 – 20 minutes of the journey.

I know there are lots of examples of police officers being killed on accidents on their way home from night shift. I wonder how widespread this problem is amongst other shift workers.

March 12th, 2010

Scum of the Week

Posted in The Job - General by 200

scum-taylor

Another entry in my Scum of the Week awards appeared in the mirror in glorious technicolor captured on a police-fitted CCTV system.

Unusually, this week’s Pondlife is a female. Step forward 37-year-old druggie Claire Taylor. She befriended 90-year-old dementia sufferer Margarete Kileen in Hampshire &  used to scrounge cash from her for drugs. When Mrs Kileen’s daughter found out she put a stop to it informed police who installed a camera at the lady’s home.

Taylor was captured on video breaking in & threatening the 90-year-old, who was dressed in only a towel, with a knife before stealing  jewellery  & cash & tying her victim to a wardrobe.

She was jailed for an indeterminate sentence at Portsmouth Crown Court this week &  must serve at least three years 265 days.