Archive for February, 2011

February 28th, 2011

He shoots, he scores

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Another day, another overpaid jerk shoots himself in the foot, or is that shoots someone else in the side?

When trawling around the memory banks or Google News section fails to come up with something for the old daily blog, you can always rely on a professional footballer to come up with something.

Ashley Cole, serial shagger & Chelsea star, apparently took a new air rifle to work. The .22 rifle, fitted with a muzzle & night scope somehow got fired at close range at one of the club’s interns at Chelsea’s training ground in Surrey. (I have no idea what a football intern is but I’m guessing it is someone employed by a multi-million-pound business on wages not dissimilar to the minimum wage). 21-year-old Tom Cowan was treated by the team’s medical staff.

The Guardian reports that Cole didn’t realise the weapon was loaded. Police are deciding whether any charges should be brought against Cole. Cole has been fined two week’s wages for breaching club rules about bringing weapons to work. That amounts to a paltry Ă‚ÂŁ250,000 fine, or about ten years’ wages for a police officer.

What a tosser.

February 27th, 2011

Simple advice

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So Thames Valley Police are to go proactive on Facebook with cyber-bullies. Apparently, they’re going to start messaging people reported to them as bullies advising them that they are very naughty & must stop it at once.

I hope the scheme works, Facebook complaints account for about a squillion reports a day in our force area. The amount of time we waste dealing with people who sit around on their arses all day threatening one another over Facebook rather than spending that time going out to look for a bloody job is incredible.

Most of these problems can be solved by the following methods:

1) block the person saying horrible things about you,

2) don’t go trawling round horrible people’s Facebook accounts,

3) get a life.

February 26th, 2011

A quick road safety message

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…from America

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February 25th, 2011

Hurry up and wait

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On a  typical late turn we may get between 1 & 5 S136’s across the force area

These are people that either us or the families cannot deal with by any other means than to take them off the streets under the Mental Health Act. Dealing with them this way is usually a last resort because the officer who makes the decision to detain someone under the Act knows they will spend between 6 & 12 hours (sometimes more) babysitting the person in a room at the local A&E while social services & the psychiatric department  fail to turn up at anything possibly resembling a reasonable amount of time.

What happens is that either someone calls 999 & threatens suicide, or they kick off at home & self-harm. They are not suitable for arrest & due to the fact that everyone else can wash their hands of any action & the butt end of everything ends up on the doorstep of the local constabulary, we don’t have the  option of saying it’s someone else’s responsibility so we have to ‘do something’.

We had three 136’s this last set of shifts. When I took over, two officers from the previous shift had already been at the hospital for 5 hours. They were still there 3 hours later waiting for an approved social worker & mental health professional, whose role is to examine the ‘patient’ & determine if they are a risk to themselves or others. If they are a risk they have t0 be taken to the local psychiatric ward for further assessment & treatment.

I don’t have access to any figures but I guess that something over 80 per cent are deemed fit to be released. Some of them go home & cause no further problems for the rest of the shift. some go home & within an hour we are called back because they are doing exactly what they did to get them detained in the first place. Some leave the hospital & walk straight to the local motorway or railway line & the whole process starts over again.

Out of the three we had this week, none were detained. The longest we had officers waiting for an assessment was 11 hours, the shortest was 6 hours. When the mental health professional eventually arrived, she examined the ‘patient’ for under 10 minutes & released her.

I couldn’t help wondering that if it only takes 10 minutes to carry out a mental health assessment, how come it takes 11 hours to arrive to actually carry it out?

February 24th, 2011

Going for a Song

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I love a good football story.

Arsenal star, Alex Song, managed to get his car seized last week after he was stopped for speeding in Hertfordshire. The BBC News story reports that he allegedly drove off from officers after refusing to give details. The officers pursued & stopped him.

Song was unable to prove that he was insured to drive the car & so it was seized.

Normally what happens is that the PNC database will be checked, this will show whether there is any current insurance on the vehicle & can be done within a few seconds of identifying the vehicle. Though no foolproof, there are occasions when a vehicle is insured but this does not show up on the insurance database, officers usually make other checks at the roadside. This may involve checking the insurance of another car to see if the policy covers the driver driving the car they are currently using, or ringing up an insurance company from the roadside to see if the driver actually does have cover. When these checks fail the car is seized.

I expect there will be a suitable explanation why Song failed to be able to provide evidence of his insurance, after all, it’s not like a multi millionaire would ever have a problem paying his premiums.

February 23rd, 2011

And another one

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Thoughts go out to a police officer from Dorset who was stabbed twice as he carried out his duties in Bournemouth on Monday.

Craig Bartlett was carrying out an arrest when he was attacked. A man has been charged with attempted murder. The officer is currently in hospital with what are described, thankfully, as non life-threatening injuries.

There but for the grace of God…

February 22nd, 2011

Prison fail

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If only all prisoners were as helpful…

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February 21st, 2011

We are all individuals

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When the government spent millions looking into the mergers of police forces in the UK a couple of years ago & then promptly abandoned the idea, I don’t think anyone believed the matter would simply lie.

So gradually, and by the back door, we are seeing mergers by a process of osmosis. Forces are banding together to share departments. We have some sharing traffic departments, some sharing scenes of crime, dogs, technology, purchasing. Gradually,  department by department, well merge two or three forces into bigger forces & then tose will merge again until we have a national police force.

Thames Valley & Hampshire are just merging their IT departments. I’m surprised it’s taken so long to combine things like IT, uniform & vehicle fleets. There must be millions to be saved in bulk buying our vehicles, uniforms & IT.

I am still amazed that we use a command & control system (which is completely outdated BTW) which is different from the forces on our borders, meaning we can’t access each other’s incidents. Or that we drive different vehicles to the force next door. Or that the force next door still wears ties while the force the other side wear different coloured shirts to ours, and have different headgear. That’s three sets of uniforms from probably three different manufacturers.

I don’t really care what we drive, wear or see on our computer screens, but it would be nice to think that it was the best & that everybody else used it too.

February 20th, 2011

Of ethical quandries

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

News today which will make people feel a little uncomfortable, it certainly makes me that way.

PC David Rathband, the Northumbria officer who was shot & blinded by Raol Moat last summer, is reported to be suing the force for Ă‚ÂŁ1million. The grounds appear to be that officers did not receive sufficient warning immediately after Raol Moat made his intentions to harm police officers known.

In these days of health & safety & risk assessment, it is clear that we should make every effort to safeguard the health & welfare of everyone we can. I have no idea the exact information the police were in receipt of nor what they told their officers so it’s really difficult to understand what’s going on in this case. I have very mixed feelings about blame & the culture in our society that something is always someone else’s fault. But at the same time, if there was a way he could have been protected with more knowledge of what Moat had told police & he wasn’t offered that protection then someone must be at fault. I’m really torn.

I once went to a domestic situation where a teenage lad had gone off the rails & was smashing the house up & threatening his parents. It was one of those calls that comes in most days & usually ends up with a few forms filled out & a sulking teenager in a bedroom.

As we drove to the address, the lad himself rang 999, having been told that his father had rung us, he told the calltaker that if the police came in he would stab them. We were not told this.

As we walked up the stairs he charged out of his bedroom with a broken bottle & tried to attack me (I was ahead of my colleague). It was only some quick wrist action in releasting the PR-24 btton from the belt that prevented either of us getting harmed. He was duly cuffed & carted off to think about what he had done.

If he had injured me, or maybe inflicted life-changing injuries, would I have sued my force?

Perhaps I would.

February 19th, 2011

Chickens looking for a roost

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Some Doh! moments around the Foreign Office this week as certain officials realise  the consequences of previous actions.

Over the last few years there have been increasing ‘partnerships’ between the British Police & various Arab nations. The National Policing Improvement Agency have arranged for various forces to have contacts in the Middle East by which officers from here & there visit each other, largely for the purposes of us passing on our expertise to them.

We’ve been involved in training the police in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Libya & Qatar. We have provided tear gas, firearms & ammunition & in a superb twist of irony, given that we do not allow our own force to use water cannon lest it upset the civil rights evangelists, we have exported vehicles equipped with water cannons to Libya.

Now we’re finding out just what all that equipment we happily sold is actually intended for as the police & military of the Middle East gun down protestors armed with no more than a loud voice.

I heard some talking head or other from the government calling for a limit on the use of this equipment & expressing mild disillusionment that it was being used. Someone will probably write a letter, or something. Now we hear calls for Britain to cease sending tear gas & related items to the Middle East.

Call me old fashioned but given that there is only one use for tear gas, one wonders what the person who signed the export licence thought they might want to actually use it for?

February 18th, 2011

Taking the Panda for a spin

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The one thing I do miss about being a police officer, is the driving…

February 17th, 2011

99% couldn’t actually give a ****

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We have people employed to ring our ‘clients’ up & ask them what their experience of their police service was like. I’m guessing that every other force has something similar because there are apparently tables about ‘public satisfaction’ & the chiefs fight over each other to get to the top of the table.

I read some stats that we had really good satisfaction levels. I cannot believe they are so high, not judging with a lot of the people I deal with.

Part of the satisfaction stats involve asking people at the end of the call if they’ll take a survey. I can’t believe that most of the people who are completely disillusioned – rightly or wrongly – with the service they have received – are either offered the chance to tell us what they really think, or if they are offered the chance, actually bother to take it; they’re more likely to just slam the phone down & tell everyone else how fucking useless the police are. Just check out the comments section of the Daily Mail & Sun whenever there is a story about how hopeless we are.

I wonder how many of these bean counters will be losing their jobs in the cutbacks this year.

February 16th, 2011

That’s the life for me

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

I had to do a stint down the call centre this week (or whatever public-friendly name they’re calling it these days).

Just kill me now, someone…

February 15th, 2011

This job’s a joke

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Because we cannot attend everything the public want us to attend, people are getting quite cute about the way they phrase their request for police.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of fights we go to where it turns out there is no fighting just a drunken, noisy party going on, or the amount of punch-ups where weapons of many & varied descriptions are sighted, only to be completely absent on police arrival.

I’m sure there are lots of occasions of people assaulting each other who have the temerity to lie to the police & say that they were merely having a discussion & don’t want to press any charges, but there are probably lots also of people genuinely just having animated discussions where the witness has been a little less than forthcoming with the actuality of the raw facts.

We had several noisy parties this last weekend. We don’t attend noisy parties any more, not unless people are fighting. I was reminded of the following joke.

A man was going to bed one night when his wife told him that he had left the light on in the shed. She could see the light was on from the bedroom window. As the man looked for himself  he saw that there were people in the shed taking things.

The man phoned the police, but they told him that no one was in the area to help him at that time, but they would send someone over as soon as they were available.

He said “OK,” hung up, and waited one minute, then phoned the police back. “Hello” he said, “I just called you a minute ago because there were people in my shed. Well, you don’t have to worry about them now ’cause I’ve shot them.”

Within five minutes there were half a dozen police cars in the area, an Armed Response unit, the works. Of course, they caught the burglars red-handed.

One of the officers said: “I thought you said that you shot them!” The man replied, “I thought you said there was nobody available!”

February 14th, 2011

This man is a DRUG DEALER

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His name is Luke Walsh-Pinnock – such a posh name for a common druggie – and he is currently serving four years for dealing Class A drugs, heroin & cocaine, after police raided his flat & caught him in the act of cutting up half a kilo heroin. A safe in his flat was found to contain more heroin and cocaine.

He is trying to sue the Met Police for a breach of his human rights, after they notified his neighbours that he had been locked up for drug dealing. The met printed 1,500 leaflets & distributed them to the area of Kilbrun, West London, where Walsh-Pillock lived. The notice said “Individuals dealing drugs will be arrested and prosecuted, the above (Walsh-Pinnock) is a prime example of police intention.”

A friend of his mother is quoted as saying: “Luke’s been humiliated in his local community, which is against his human rights. We’ll take this to court. He’s a good boy who is kind to his family.” A bit like saying Hitler was kind because he stroked his dog.

Chief Superintendent Matthew Gardner said: “We constantly target offenders and put them before the courts but often local people don’t know what has been done. It is important that they are aware when criminals are put away and will no longer be blighting their communities.”

February 13th, 2011

End of watch, September 2010

Posted in Videos by 200

Footage of a robbery at a McDonalds store in the USA has been released this week.

Rosco, a K-9 German Shepherd was shot & killed during the raid in Florida last September (the shooting is not on the footage). Officers returned fire & shot the gunman, the other robber was arrested.

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February 12th, 2011

And is if by chance

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Today’s entry touches on yesterday’s & shows part of the reason why I never gave my DNA sample when I was a police officer and why I don’t agree that innocent people’s DNA records should be kept when they are not convicted of an offence; I simply don’t trust the authorities to keep my data safe.

Gwent Police are up in front of the Data Commissioner for breaches of the Data Protection Act when a member of staff emailed the results of 10,000 CRB checks to a journalist. The email with attached Exel spreadsheet was meant to go to colleagues within the police but one had a similar name to a journalist the staff member had previously emailed & the email software helpfully offered the journalist’s address in the autofill mode.

This is just one in a long & glittering record of stupidity which has lead to personal & private data being released. Laptops being ‘lost’ (GCHQ have a record of 35 laptops going missing), data sticks, CDs with all sorts of info being ‘lost in the post’.

I posted previously about misuse of intimate samples when one force illegally tested a blood sample for HIV & the prosecution inadvertently released the information during a trial about a witness in the case who did not know he had HIV & another case where someone’s family relationship to another person was revealed in court when the subject did not know of the relationship.

Is it really any wonder that many people don’t trust the government to keep secure data actually secure?

February 11th, 2011

At the end of the tunnel?

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I’ve posted several times over the last few years about the way the UK takes & holds DNA samples from innocent people. I posted my thoughts on the matter in August 2008.  Whilst no fan of the European Courts I was pleased in December 2008 when they ruled the holding of unconvicted people’s DNA samples was wrong.

In May 2009, I was cheered that the government appeared to be acquiescing with the ruling & were set to destroy 800,000 samples. Then in October 2009 I was disappointed that the government decided to ignore Europe & stated they would keep innocents’ samples.

In April 2010 I was pleased that the Scots decided keeping these samples was not right & they would go against what England & Wales were doing.

So another story in the see-saw tale of the DNA Database as the government reveal their intention to change their mind again & delete the DNA samples of innocent people. The new Civil Liberties legislation is set to come into force later this year which will change the way we record & keep DNA samples. It will also address issues relating to the use of ANPR, CCTV & surveillance.

Perhaps, for those of us concerned with such issues, this really is light at the end of the tunnel, unless they change their mind again.

February 10th, 2011

Everyone gained

Posted in Videos by 200

Nothing to do with policing in the UK, but something of an inspirational story I came across this week about some teenage prisoners in the States.

February 9th, 2011

Would you Adam & Eve it

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As police drag the bottom of even more barrels in efforts to save money, several forces have hit upon another spiffing idea to save some cash.

Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire Police are to do away with personal visits for firerams certificate renewals. For many years, when a firearms certificate is due for renewal, the gun-licence owner has received a visit at home from a firearms licencing officer who makes sure no circumstances have changed which would  make the police withhold the licence renewal.

The forces reckon they can save money by not visiting licence-holders, instead they will give them a call on the old dog & bone & renew the licence over the phone. Presumably, the word of the gun owner to say that everything is hunky-dory, the gun is still afe & secure & that he hasn’t had a raging mental breakdown, will be good enough to let him keep the gun/s for another five years.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police said that only 0.2% of visits lead to a certificate being withdrawn.

Essex Police will do things differently, they’re gonna renew the licences by writing to people.

Should save a few quid & they can sack some firearms staff. Let’s hope the 0.2% that would have had their certificates removed don’t include another one of these.