Archive for August, 2010

August 11th, 2010

Incredible, update

Posted in The Job - General by 200

In September 2008 I blogged about two Swedish sisters who featured on an episode of Traffic Cops back in 2008. You may remember they were being filmed in the hard shoulder of the M6 when they ran into the path of traffic & were run over.

A few days later, further information came out about them.

Almost two years later the BBC have done a follow-up on the story which contains all the information that wasn’t braodcast back in 2008. It made very interesting viewing. If you didn’t see “Madness in the Fast Lane” after the Ten o’Clock News last night, you can catch it on the BBC’s iPlayer for the next 7 days.

August 10th, 2010

A worthy winner

Posted in The Job - General by 200

MarcKnightThis is a photo of particularly worthy winner of the 200 Weeks ‘Scum of the Week Award’, Marc Knight, 25.

He was befriended by 87-year-old retired vicar, Kenneth Ward, who allowed Knight to sleep on his sofa when he had nowhere to live. He also lent Knight money. Over a period of four years, Knight visited the Rev Ward & his wife, who has since died.

In February this year, whilst visiting, Knight saw some money & told Rev Ward that he was going to take it. When Rev Ward refused to let him have the mney, Knight began a viscious & sustained attack, during which he punched the elderly man twice on both sides of his face breaking his jaw in two places. He had other injuries to his face, head, arms & hands.

Knight then left his victim lying, bleeding in the hall while he ransacked the house stealing jewellery, alcohol & the vicar’s father’s Ă‚ÂŁ800 watch.

Knight was later arrested & charged with robbery. He pleaded not guilty in April this year claiming self defence & was bailed for trial at Northampton Crown Court where he appeared this week. He changed his plea to guilty on the day of the trial & has been sentenced to 9 years jail.

Rev Ward, who is the National Chaplain of the D-Day Normandy Veteran’s Association, said: “My wife and I had befriended him for four years. We had spoken to him first when we were out in the garden. He visited us regularly. We gave him food and drink and he slept on the sofa once. We gave him small amounts of money, but he never repaid them. When my wife Peggy died last year he called to say how sorry he was. In February he saw the money on the side and said he would take it. When I said “No” he attacked me. It lasted for an hour.”

August 9th, 2010

Cut the crap & give us the evidence

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

I reported recently about some local authorities deciding to scrap speed cameras now that they have to save millions, like everyone else, & the government are cutting funds available for speed cameras by a third, or something.

I see today that the info is starting to filter through to the chiefs. They’ve probably spent the days between everyone else finding out about it & them announcing anything, trawling through their corporate guidelines working out what they can & can’t say.

Julie Spence, Chief of Cambridgeshire, probably has less to worry about than most as she’s retiring later this year & doesn’t need to worry about renegotiating her contract. She just says that speeders are middle class louts who think they should get away with it.

I don’t mention Gwent Police for years & then do it two days running.

Mick Giannasi, Chief of Gwent is in the media today saying that the funding cuts for speed cameras will have ‘unintended consequences’. These consequences, he says, will be a rise in the number of road deaths. He was on the BBC News today saying that if speed cameras are removed, they should be replaced with something as equally effective.

Here’s an off-the-wall suggestion for Mr Giannasi which might even have legs. Stop redeploying your traffic officers to other roles, duties & squads. Stop getting those that still exist going out to do meaningless arrest enquiries which boost your ‘success’ figures & have nothing to do with increasing safety on the roads. Stop getting them sitting under ANPR cameras so you can get  a small percentage of arrests from all the wasteful & out-of-date intelligence held on ANPR systems, and go & get them driving up & down the roads of the UK, educating motorists & catching the idiots who are more likely to be a greater menace on the roads than Mrs Blessington-Smythe who drives at 37 in a 30.

And while you’re at it, please provide some definitive evidence that the roads are safer with speed cameras than with police officers because wherever I look everyone seems to have different ‘proof’. It’s no wonder people think so poorly of speed cameras, nobody believes they are anything more than easy revenue raisers. If they do a job successfully, you have not & are not doing a particularly good PR job for them.

August 8th, 2010

Show us the video

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Like a scene from Road Wars, we see another pursuit come to its end in glorious technocolor in the leafy lanes of Wales.

As if on cue one officer leaps from the pursuing squad car, runs to the drivers window  & proceeds to batter it with gusto, hitting it at least 15 times. Another officer leaps onto the bonnet & kicks at the windscreen.

The driver is led away in handcuffs, another successful pursuit brought safely to an end by officers of Gwent Police.

Except Robert Whatley wasnt your average drugged up joyrider.

In an effort clearly designed to garner maximum impact, papers have described the 70-year-old as a pensioner, retired businessman, someone who had suffered a stroke &  a man who took tablets for a heart condition. As if any one of these were reason enough for our initial sympathy, put together they must be proof absolute of the man’s inability to be aggressive, violent or belligerent.

What is clear is that police had stopped Mr Whatley for traffic offences & were in the process of issuing a ticket for no seat belt, when he drove off.

Whatley stated when he appeared at court recently that he thought the officers had finished despite not being hold anything to that effect. He said he thought the reason they were then following him with blue lights &  two-tones was because they were escorting him home.

True, this was not your normal high-speed, reckless pursuit. It was brought to a halt when another officer used a Stinger to puncture Mr Whatley’s Range Rover tyres.

So what prompted the officers to attack his windows?

Anyone who has watched Road Wars or Traffic Cops or any of the seemingly hundreds of derivative shows will have seen this technique used in almost every show. It is a well-practised distraction & disorientation technique. It is designed to distract the driver from either trying to escape or preparing to attack the officers trying to arrest him, shock  & awe. It’s usually used on people who have clearly demonstrated , by their actions in the previous pursuit, their keenness to avoid capture & willingness to put others’ lives at risk.

Mr Whatley says that, ten months on, his life has been ruined & he suffers flashbacks. It seems only the payment of Ă‚ÂŁ100,000 will lessen the effects of his experience.

Gwent Police say they are investigating take the matter extremely seriously.

Don’t get me wrong, it may be that the officers were over the top – they jave been suspended. But perhaps if they showed the footage of the actual stop check it might go some way to explaining the actions of the officers when they eventually forced Mr Whately to pull over or it might show he was perfectly amenable & just misunderstood the situation. I suspect they never will since senior officers are more concerned with showing how sympathetic they are to the IPCC & comlainants than they are to their own officers. They never stamp on false information at the earliest opportunity because it is always “inappropriate to comment”.

August 7th, 2010

Dedication, that’s what you need

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Did you know the world record for handcuffing people is 562 people all cuffed together?

Neither did I. The record is held by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Garda in Ireland are attempting go beat the record this weekend by handcuffing up to 750 people together. Off duty cops from the Irish police will be joining members of the public together with Garda reserves on the seafront at Bray. They aim to raise money for three charities.

What a fantastic idea. I can see this working in a couple of divisions in my own area. Except it wouldn’t be volunteers, and if we happened to lose the keys there would be a lot of grateful residents.

August 6th, 2010

Checklist

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Handcuffs – check, baton – check, stab-vest – check, pepper spray – check, torch – check, case containing all the forms – check, Sheewee – er…what?

August 5th, 2010

Damn!

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I couldn’t believe it this week.

I’ve posted many times about all the days where it goes completely manic & we are run ragged in the control room. Jobs piling up & nobody to send.

This week we started the shift with about 15 jobs which needed sorting. With 2 hours to go we had three! And this was after midnight. We’d had a steady stream of jobs through the evening, but they were jobs which didn;t take officers off the streets for hours at a time, which meant that as they came in they were dished out & dealt with.

Now this is completely unusual, we rarely find ourselves in that situation. It was so good that we managed to get the jobs right down.

At one stage we had just one job & that had been dealt with but couldn’t be resulted until the officers dealing with it had made some further enquiries. In all the time I’ve been in the control room both full time & covering, I’ve never had zero jobs on the box. To be fair I don’t think I’ve had just one either. Even on the rare occasions when there aren’t any active jobs going on – maybe the hours before 7am on a night shift – you usually have jobs held over from the day/s before which need to be dealt with the following day.

I can’t tell you how much me & my colleague were willing the officers to call in with the final result, just so we could say we’d reached the holy grail of having no jobs to deal with.

I went home at 2am & bugger me, the officer still hadn’t finished his enquries & the only job we’d had for about 90 minutes was still there.

It might be years before I come across the chance for zero jobs again.

August 4th, 2010

Thank you Mrs W

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I bumped into an old colleague in the corridors of HQ this week.

We used to be PCs years ago. As is so often the case in the job, your closest mates are the ones you work with & you lose touch when you or they move on to other shifts or other departments.

Sam ended up going into CID, as it was a few years ago, they all have different names now, all new squad-type things. Whereas CID used to cover anything more serious or complicated than your average theft or assault, they have different squads to cover different areas & never the twain shall meet, remit-wise.

Anyway, Sam has a few years service less than me so is still grinding out his career in a suit in the major crime department.

I was saddened to hear that Sam had split up with his wife a couple of years ago. We reflected that of the 10 of us on the shift in the good old days, not ten years ago, 2 were single, 2 were living with their other halves & 6 were married (though 2 of them had been divorced).

We counted up that one was still single, one was recently married & 6 were divorced, 2 of those had married & divorced in the last 5 years.

I gave Mrs W an extra kiss when I got in from work.

August 3rd, 2010

Zzzzzz

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

You’d have thought with around 25 years’ experience being married to a police officer who spent 100% of those years on a full 24-hour shift system & 1 year of being married to a  civvy who still works the same shift system, that Mrs weeks would have some appreciation of the requirement for her grumpier half to have some sleep on a night shift.

So why she organised builders to come on the week that I’m doing night shift, I have no idea.

Suffice it to say that the sound of angle grinders & sledge hammer whackings have not enhanced my quality of life this week.

I can out up with the kids being on holiday. I can even put up with the occasional stirrings to  fish-wife reminiscent strains of  “WILL YOU BE QUIET, YOUR FATHER IS SLEEPING!!!”  which wake me where the kids’ arguments have not.

But even one so experienced to sleeping through most things cannot compete with an angle-grinder outside the bloody window.

Roll on the weekend.

August 2nd, 2010

I agree with the last speaker

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

So police chiefs are saying that they accept that there need to be a cut in police numbers as long as police officers are freed to get on with policing & not following centrally issued guidelines & targets.

Well welcome to the club Mr Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers. Some of us have been saying that publicly for five years. This is the same Association that has for the last five years & more bent over backwards to accept every target & every dictat spewed forth from the Home Office like a puppy lapping up  someone’ else’s sick & then gone running to the high street to bank the generous bonuses for achieving their targets.

“I was only following orders.” Where have I heard that before?

August 1st, 2010

Would you shut the …

Posted in Blogging by 200

I went out for a nice meal with the family this evening.

We went to a pub which has become quite familiar to us since my retirement. We chatted, joked & laughed & discussed our forthcoming holiday, & the arrangements we need to make between now & then.

I doubt anyone in the pub paid any attention to use, & though there were 5 of us, I doubt anyone heard anything of what we said, because we speak in the normal voices of people who want the conversation to be restricted to those taking part.

Unlike the bloody bloke 2 tables away who spent the entire night regaling the entire bloody pub with the ins & outs of his banal life because he couldn’t talk at anything under 118 decibels. He wasn’t even pissed, just bloody loud.

I now know that his brother was arrested for offensive weapon when all he was doing was picking up a snooker cue from the gutter so nobody else used it. I know the operation on his dog’s front paw cost Ă‚ÂŁ650 & maxed his wife’s credit card out. I know all about the trouble he had with the builders who were clearly just bloody lazy & taking him for a ride.

It was just non-stop, like really bad tinnitus.

What is it with people that feel they need to talk like they’re in the front row  at a Led Zeppelin concert?

Half-past three last night some neighbours said goodbye to their guests. I heard every bloody word & their house is 4 houses up from mine.

Can’t people just shut the fuck up?