Archive for May, 2011

May 11th, 2011

Smile for the folks back home

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Devon & Cornwall Police are on the front line of a fight to keep secret the locations of ANPR cameras within their force area.

A Freedom of Information appeal was upheld by someone asking for details of the locations of all the ANPR cameras in Devon & Cornwall & a tribunal has ordered the force to release the information within 35 days. Devon & Cornwall are saying that it is vital for the fight against crime for the locations to be kept secret, otherwise presumably, people will just drive round a route to avoid the cameras & their effectiveness will be somewhat diminished. Though I’m not sure how they wold avoid the possibility of bumping into a police vehicle which is fitted with ANPR equipment & constantly films all vehicles it passes.

Two things strike me about this. Firstly, I wouldn’t have thought it takes a rocket surgeon to work out the location of ANPR cameras. How many times have you driven past one & thought, well it’s not a speed camera, it’s not a council or private CCTV camera & it’s not one of those cameras put up to measure traffic flow so the travel reports have up-to-date information on where the blockages are, so I wonder what it is?

Secondly, I’ve not been convinced that the potential for abuse of people’s privacy is totally outweighed by the successes reached. I posted a couple of years ago about the potential for intrusive surveillance and over a year ago about the effectiveness of the information held on the ANPR database. The Guardian reports that the Devon & Cornwall ANPR cameras recorded nearly 79million number plates in 2010. Of those, 255,000 were ‘worthy of further investigation’, or 0.3%. That’s an awful lot of information subject to data protection being harvested every year for such a small return. And most successful ANPR results is pretty small potatos in the overall scheme of things, though I don’t deny there have been some very good results.

Britain is the most highly surveilled country in the world. ANPR cameras are not now just the domain of the law enforcement agencies. Companies like Tesco are using them to record vehicles parking in their car parks. They surround London recording vehicles for the congestion charges. Petrol stations have them on their forecourts trying to identify cars which have previously stoeln petrol from them so they can lock the pump before the driver does it again. How long before the police are paying private operators for a cut of the ANPR harvest?

Have we got it about right, or are we over the top with our obsession to film & record everyone in the hope of catching a few?

May 10th, 2011

One rule for them, one rule for the rest

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

A story I’ve reported on here, here & here reached its climax this week when Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, Graeme maxwell, was formally disciplined for bringing the force into disrepute after he bypassed the force’s recruitment system by giving a close relative a hand to get a job. Sixty jobs were on offer in the force which received over 200,000 expressions of interest. The chief helped a relative bypass the telephone interview thus jumping ahead of nearly 200,000 people.

The nepotist efforts weren’t only the domain of the chief, since Deputy Chief Constable was disciplined for the same matter in December. He received ‘management advice’.

Two other members of staff in the force have already been dealt with for the same thing, they weren’t the Chief or deputy Chief, therefore they were sacked. Maxwell is the leader & should be leading by example, clearly the force believe the matter is so serious as to sack two people. The punishment for Maxwell?

Obviously he received a final warning. His local MP is calling for him to resign.

So that’s all fair then.


May 9th, 2011

Epic Fail

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The Daily Fail is up in arms again about the police. The scandal it reveals today is that police officers are being disciplined in ‘secret’ hearings. It says in one paragraph that ‘hundreds’ of officers are being sacked in secret hearings. We’re not sure about how many hundreds & whether that is per week, month, year or since Robert Peel thought he had a great idea, then in the next paragraph we discover it’s up to 160 a year. Presumably ‘hundreds’ has far more impact than ‘160 a year’.

The Guardian puts its own spin on the story; it’s headline shouts: “Police hold closed hearings to sack 477 officers for misconduct” but then in the smaller print notes this is over the course of 3 years.

How many police officers are there? 140,000? & 160 are sacked or required to resign a year, doesn’t seem like an overly huge amount, especially as some of those sacked are for such heinous crimes as telling a poor taste joke or making obscene gestures to a colleague.

What seems to grab the ire of the Fail is not that 160 officers are being sacked but that their hearings are ‘in secret’, behind closed doors, where the likes of the Fail can’t get their grubby little reporters’ iphones.

Call me old fashioned but I’m not sure why the internal discipline procedures of the police force should be held in public. If criminal offences are involved they will all have been tried in a public court where the world & his wife is welcome to sit, knitting, at the back. If they’re not criminal matters then it is the business of the employee & the employer. Perhaps the Fail is just pissed off it didn’t get a personal invite to the trial.

May 8th, 2011

Whitehouse release proof

Posted in Other Stuff by 200

The White House today released photographic evidence of the death of Osama Bin Laden…

May 7th, 2011

Protect Police Pensions

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Sgt Nigel Thomsett is an officer with Suffolk Constabulary. He is also founder of the Protect Police Pensions campaign. He has around the same amount of time left in the police force as I did when I began the 200 Weeks blog, so with just four years until he earns his pension, he is rightly concerned about what the governemtn will do to ensure he pays more & receives less, so the government can save some money.

Thomsett writes an article in the Police Review this week, you can’t read it on the Police Review website but it is available on the sergeant’s own website as a PDF file and is well worth a quick read.

There is an online petition to Protect Police Pensions, they also have a Causes Page on Facebook.


May 6th, 2011


Posted in The Job - General by 200

So, the ‘country’s top cop’ (the media’s usual phrase, not mine) has come out against the safety culture within the police.

Commenting on the coroner’s verdict on the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said that he wanted police officers to be as safe as possible but they shouldn’t be hampered in their duties by health & safety rules.

These are the guidelines, created by senior officers, that stop officers climbing over fences, checking anything not on the ground  or not being sent to an incident – because they’re not equipped suitably – leaving the public at often high risk of injury or death while a firearms unit comes from the other side of the county.

Stephenson said: “Cops join the force knowing they have to put their life on the line. Thankfully very few pay the ultimate price. Some get injured. They take risks … running across rooftops catching villains. I applaud them for doing that. I don’t want to criticise them or to be doing a risk assessment on every occasion.”

Someone should probably filter this down through the organisation because every night of the week we are failing in our duty due to health & safety & everyone up the line not being the one that has to answer questions if the wheel comes off.

May 5th, 2011

Get out of the overtaking lane!

Posted in Videos by 200

Is this a lucky driver, shown the error of his ways on the move, or should he have been ticketed?

And don’t you hate middle & third lane hoggers?

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May 4th, 2011

May the 4th be with you

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Thanks to the Thin Blue Line for the heads up on this one.

Or not, at least in he case of  six officers from West Midlands Police who were forced to resign as a result of the government funding cutbacks.

Regulation A19 allows police authorities to make officers with 30 years’ or more service retire. West Midlands are one of around 15 forces currently using the regulation to save cash.

Retired PC, Martin Heard, was forced to retire after 32 years’ service. He described the move as devastating after he was left with the prospect of being kicked out of a job he’d given his life to & facing unemployment.

I can imagine how he felt on receiving a letter, a few weeks after his ‘sacking’, asking him to consider returning to the force as an unpaid special constable. Talk about a kick in the teeth. It seems strangely perverse saying that the force had no operational requirement for a fully paid police officer but could replace him with an unpaid officer. Who on earth at west Midlands thought it would be a good idea to sack someone & then ask them to do the job for free?

What a bunch of tossers.

May 3rd, 2011

Keeping on track

Posted in The Job - Experience, Videos by 200

I have no idea where this is or what the guy was doing on the railway line, presumably he wasn’t trying to commit suicide. Unlike everyone else we’ve been dealing with at work this week, but that’s another story.

The first dead body I ever saw was a guy who had laid down on a railway track.

It was one of my first night shifts as a probationer. The call came in, I was foot patrol. The area car got sent to it but the sergeant picked me up as he thought it would be good experience for me.

We arrived at the scene. It was about half a mile from the railway station & we had to climb down an embankment to get to the tracks. In those days the British Transport Police weren’t as proactive as they are now. These days when you get a railway suicide the BTP get there quite quickly & take over from the locals. Back then the locals had the thing done & dusted before the telex arrived at BTP HQ.

Anyway, there were about six of us searching the area the train driver had reported seeing something on the lines as he slowed for the forthcoming station.

It wasn’t long before I saw a crumpled heap of clothes sprawled at the side of the track. Surprisingly there was not much damage. It seemed the guy had laid down with just his head on the track. The wheels had taken off the top of  his skull.

I was given the black bin liner & the task of collecting what human ‘debris’ there was.

An ambulance arrived & he was taken off to the local morgue with me & the sergeant following.

That was the night I discovered the black humour which keeps us sane when we have to do things like this. (But that’s a different, other story)


May 2nd, 2011

A woman scorned

Posted in Videos by 200

I’m not sure if the woman in this film is a shop assistant or shopper, but good on her. I love the way she checks the broom near the end as if she might have damaged it.

May 1st, 2011

Life’s a riot

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I’m no royalist but didn’t it make a nice change to see hundreds of thousands of people all with one purpose gathering in London on Friday, and no rioting?

What does this tell us about the British psyche? I have no idea, to be honest, but what it tells me is what it told me during the G-8/2o – or whatever number it is these days – riots, the student riots & the recent Bristol Tesco riots, hell, even the Poll Tax &  Tottenham riots of the 80s.

The people who riot couldn’t give a flying fuck what the cause is, they just love to riot.  It’s probably even the same people who cause trouble on all of them. Any excuse to batter a copper & they’re there.

Can anyone possibly imagine that anyone willing to violently assault another person has even a passing concern about the demise of the High street & local long-established business?