Were you in London today, and if so, did you call 999?
If you did you’d have got through to a control room where 90% of the civilian staff had gone on strike.
According the news reports the Met had to take officers off the streets to man the emergency telephone lines. Quotes of over 300 staff on strike have appeared. Instead of shouting at the lackeys to answer the 999 calls, the supervisors had to do it themselves today. I bet that came as a shock to the system.
I’m pleased to report that nobody went on strike in our force. Well, to be honest, I’m not that bothered whether they did or didn’t. I don’t think there was ever any mention of it by our Unison so perhaps nobody is bothered about their pensions in my force.
I was an officer during the last strike & civilian staff did take part though nowhere near as many as would have made much difference to the running of the room. There was a picket on the gate of HQ but not many people paid any attention to it.
Maybe my colleagues aren’t militant enough to bother striking, or perhaps they realise that it won’t do a blind bit of good. It was interesting to note that while there was a demo in London, there didn’t appear to be a great desire to smash shop windows or chuck rocks at police. I wonder why that was…
We closed most of our ages ago. It’s nice to see one of the biggest forces in the country following suit.
GMPÃ‚Â ChiefÃ‚Â Constable, Peter Fahy said that this was OK because nobody ever uses them and they cost too much money. My force used this same line when they wanted to do away with night shifts in one of the divisions, except it was total bollocks. I have no idea whether what Fahy says is also total bollocks as I don’t work in GMP, but being as he’s a chief officer, I’ll err on the side of total bollocks until proved otherwise.
I often get to speak to members of the public in my role in the control room, far too often, if I’m honest. And whilst they have been quite vocal on their thoughts about how the constabulary is performing, I’ve never spoken to one who said they were thankful that their local police station closed and they could take the opportunity for a lovely 15 to 20 mile drive to the nearest town with a front desk.
Doubtless, somehere in the chief’s spin will be something about ‘improving the service to the public’.
As law and order continues its inexorable slide down the pan, the Met are doing their bit to undermine the role and position of the police by issuing newÃ‚Â guidelinesÃ‚Â to its 32,000 officers.
TheyÃ‚Â haveÃ‚Â issued a handy, wallet-sized memo card telling it’s officers to ignore foul-mouthed abuse directed at police. They say the the courts no longer accept that police officers can be caused harassment, alarm or distress by people who, for instance verbally abuse them with foul language. This is a chestnut which crops up every decade or so and in the 30 years that I was policing was always regarded as a non-starter. If you came up to me on the street, called me a fucking wanker & declined the words of advice I’d give you in your shell-like, you could find yourself with a one-way ticket to the cells.Ã‚Â Strangely, despite using the same laws that the Met are saying no longer apply, I was never sued for wrongful arrest or my had my prisoner denied the hospitality of the local custody suite.
Only this week my officers have been arresting people on the streets of the country for public order offences in similar circumstances to those the Met are saying are no longer valid.
The job of the police is really hard enough without having the bosses abandoning its officers. The only protection offered to police is the power of arrest, a baton soÃ‚Â unwieldyÃ‚Â most officers will never ever use one in anger & some pepper. Handcuffs are provided to assist in protection once someone has been detained.
Coincidentally, on the same Ã‚Â handy advice card issued by the Met is a section telling officers they can no longer handcuff anyone for the safety of the arresting officer alone. What? I’d have thought that the best reason for handcuffing someone was for the safety of the officer, never mind what other reasons there might be, (like not wanting them to escape).
The Met’s card gives examples of the words that members of the public are now allowed to use in anger against police officers. For the record, theseÃ‚Â appearÃ‚Â to be fuck, cunt, bollocks and wanker. Though, in a moment of supreme irony, the card spells out with asterisks, presumably in case anyone is offended, alarmed or distressed about being told they must now put up with being called a fucking cunt-faced bollock wanker.
Why is that every other country in the world gives its officers the powers and equipment to do their job as safely and effectively as possible, but in the UK we seem to be hung up on the rights and sensibilities of yobs and criminals?
Well that’s that then. Not that I’ll have any time off around the Olympics to be able to attend anyway, but the family wanted to go.
What a fucking cock-up that was. If hear that jumped up little toffee-nosed squirt (Coe) come on telly another time and say how ‘fair’ the whole system was, I’ll check the TV through his bedroom window.
Of course it’s completely fair that Ã‚Â hundreds of thousands of people get fuck-all while one knob who happens to have Ã‚Â a lot of money gets Ã‚Â£11,000′ worth of tickets out of a Ã‚Â£30,000 request.
It’s completely fair that people we know got all Ã‚Â£1,000′ Ã‚Â worth of ticketsÃ‚Â they applied forÃ‚Â while everyone else we know, including family Weeks, got zilch.
It’s completely fair that the British have to go through some stupid bloody system which means you have to take a complete financial leap in the darkwith absolutely no idea how much to bet , what you’ll get,if anything, nor how much it will cost you, while everyone else in Europe can go and buy the exact tickets they want when they want to pay for them.
And completely fair that the people who will be competing in the games can’t get tickets for their own family to see them in the pinnacles of their Ã‚Â careers.
Long time followers of this blog will chuckle at the irony that the only tickets left if the Weeks family want to see the Olympics are bloody football!
Fairness? Coe doesn’t know the meaning of the word.
A female student has been spared jail despite rioting during the tuition feesÃ‚Â demonstrationsÃ‚Â in London last November.
Hanita Dadswell was seen throwing sticks and stones at police officers for at least 15 minutes. She was arrested and slipped her cuffs before spitting in the face of a police officer.
During interview she said she thought it was acceptable to throw projectiles at police officers because they had helmets to protect them.
I think I’d rather have someone throwing rocks at me than spitting in my face; I can’t think of Ã‚Â anythingÃ‚Â more disgusting than spitting at someone. It appalls me when I see someone gobbing in the street, fuckingÃ‚Â Neanderthals.
I’m not surprised she received a suspended sentence (six weeks’ worth), to be honest. I’d have been more surprised if she was sent to prison. Protecting police officers with adequate punishments has never really been important to goverments for many years.
Dadswell’s solicitor said: “She is utterly remorseful and bewildered by her own behaviour.” I think I probably would be if I got caught, too.
She added:Ã‚Â ”She is a young woman with a very bright future.” Not unless her future is in professional football, she isn’t.
I’ve not seen much about this but I noticed a flag flying on my way home from work this week & looked it up when I got home.
Saturday 25th June is Armed Forces Day. This is a day to recognise and support those in the armed forces of the UK. The central event to mark the day takes part in Edinburgh Ã‚Â bit there are event sup and down the country, you can see details on the website on the previous link.
I was struck by this story which appeared in the Currant Bun this week.
David Hart, aged 23, a Royal Marines Commando, was killed in Afghanistan a year ago, he was the 101st soldier to die in the Sangin region of the country. He had previously taken out a life insurance policy for Ã‚Â£250,000 shouldÃ‚Â anythingÃ‚Â happen to him.
His wishes stipulated that should he be killed, Ã‚Â£100,000 Ã‚Â should be used to pay for his friends & their girlfriends to go to Las Vegas for a huge party in his memory. They set off for the party this week.
David also left Ã‚Â£50,000 to a charity supporting injured marines.
Most of them are children playing with the telephone who seem to have no problem dialling 999 but never seem to reach all the people you’d just love to piss off with spurious silent calls.
Then there are all the calls made from the pockets & handbags of people who don’t seem to have grasped the technique of locking the keypad before putting the phone away. A few years ago all these calls were put through to the police and we had to log them and look into it to make sure it wasn’t someone who had been tied up and gagged & were dialling 999 with their toes, having kicked the phone off the wall. Yes, I have been to one of those calls before.
Then someone realised that these silent 999 calls, along with audible alarms, were a waste of time and effort in 99.999% of all cases so we agreed that BT would only put through calls which genuinely sounded like the police, or another emergency service, might be required. (I’m talking from mobile phones, not residential landlines)
I had one this week. BT sent through a silent 999 call. Apparently, it was the 4th or 5th call they’d received from this mobile within 30 minutes. I got the emergency operator to play the call back to me. It sounded like there was traffic in the background and there was a regular pulsing sound. I thought it might be the sound of a train on the tracks.
I rang it back several times over the next 20 minutes – bearing in mind it’s a mobile so we don’t know who or where the owner is – a lady answered the phone, she sounded somewhat on the mature side.
“Hello, it’s the police here, your phone has rung 999 several times, is everything alright?”
“On no it hasn’t, I’ve only rung once.” I was slightly taken aback as most people say “Oh sorry, it’s my baby”, or, “sorry, it was in my pocket”, or “sorry, my mate’s been mucking about with it, he’s a twat.”
“Well, the BT operator said your phone has rung 999 Ã‚Â about 5 times in 30 minutes.”
“I beg your pardon young man but I rung once, and once only. You can take me to court and I’ll swear on oath that I only rung once. I don’t lie.”
“Er, Ok, but what’s the problem?”
“I had to speak to the paramedics because I fell over in the garden.”
“Oh dear, are you OK?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â have they arrived yet?”
“Oh yes, they were marvellous, they checked me over, calmed me down, such lovely young men.”
“Oh good, are they still there, can I have a word with them?”
“Of course they’re not here, it was 2 months ago!”
“Ah, but your phone dialled 999 this morning, just now, several times.”
“Oh, sorry dear, my phone’s been in my bag I’m just coming back from getting some bread from the shops.”
Every year someone suggests it’s about time police undergo fitness tests.
It was always something of a surprise that throughout my 30-year career, the only fitness test I had occurred before I joined the job. I never had another.
Being on the Police Support Unit meant to you had to do a certain amount of running around with a riot shield, but it wasn’t a formal test. Although I played rugby through my career & kept a reasonable level of fitness, I was never fitter than when I was at training school. We used the gym most days & I stayed at weekends when most people went home. There wasn’t much else to do at the weekends other than sport.
Of course, in those days, there were no ‘human rights’, it was a disciplined service & if the drill sergeant told you to run the premister of the training school backwards whilst doing 20 pushups every 100 yards, you did it.
Nowadays, there is no discipline, and if you don’t want to reach a certain level on the bleep test during your riot training, well so what?
The Daily Fail are talking about a new annual fitness test being introduced as part of the review on pay and conditions. If it comes in it won’t be a year too soon but will probably be a couple of decades too late. The amount of Ã‚Â people who can’t even walk up the bloody stairs at work is amazing.
There was a time when keeping fit was encouraged. Officers could represent their force in inter-force competitions on job time. Every other police station had a multi-gym. Things have changed. Time off for sport ended years ago. The multi-gyms were ripped out t make room for bean counters. Nothing was said if you quickest move you ever made was getting your Maccy-D from the police car to the canteen.
It remains to be seen whether an annual fitness test will be introduced and how each force will deal with the lazy, fat & uninterested. They’ll either make the pass so low as to make the whole process a waste of time, or just let people do it if they want, otherwise they’ll get a rash of unfit officers suing them because they feel humiliated for not passing a basic level of fitness.
I’ve lost count of the amount of time I say I’m always amazed how much worse this job gets.
It’s almost like someone in one of the officer who run the joint (the control room, that is) is sitting back in a large reclining director’s chair, elbows poised on the arm rests, tips of fingers lightly resting against the opposite hand’s fingers whilst watching a bank of large flat-screen monitors with cameras pointed at all the controllers.
A fluffy white cat purrs loudly on his lap.Ã‚Â An evil smile crawls across his face as he chuckles to himself, ‘now, what can I do today to make one of them break? come on, who’s going to snap first?’
Chuck out the working time directives on maximum working times without a break from the screen? done that. Take away the ‘privilege’ of being allowed to eat hot food at the desk? old hat. Make them wait 7 hours for a break in a 10-hour shift? nobody blanched. Take 25% of their staff away from radio control but leave the same workload? Easy peasy. Show support by suggesting that if they don’t like the changes they can get a new job? Send random messages around the room asking them to hurry up what they’re doing & answer the phones when they’re at their busiest so it really winds them up? Do it all the time. Cut their wages & make them sign new conditions of service otherwise they’re out. Simples. Send emails to everyone blaming extra work on people who go sick? Kindergarten stuff. Reduce staff so the number of ‘spare’s to help out when things get really really busy is zero? Child’s play.
Let rumours circulate that there will be amalgamations with other control rooms & people will lose their jobs (especially anyone who finds the current conditions ‘difficult’),
Yeah that’ll keep them in their place for a while longer.
Three or four of the jobs I had to dish out today included the phrase ‘threatened on Facebook’. I’ve posted many times about how much police work these days involves the misuse of social networking.
Today we see another use for Facebook. One has to wonder what on earth the juror in questionÃ‚Â thoughtÃ‚Â she was doing firing up a conversation with someone involved in a trial for which she was expected to deliver a verdict. Then again, given that the juror service has to take what it can get from all the people who manage to find excuses not to serve, I guess it’s not a real surprise.
At the end of the day, if the trial collapses, the only thing people will remember will be that the police dealt with the job and failed to get a Ã‚Â conviction.
After years of discussion the government have finally decided to implement a national police non-emergency telephone number.
They decided that a huge number of 999 calls are not emergency & presumably came to the conclusion that this was because most people who ring 999 to report a non-emergency don;t know the local police number, or more probably, can’t be arsed to look it up.
So some time in the next year you’ll all be able to dial 101 & be connected to your local police force. Don’t try it now, unless you work in Wales, Hampshire & the Isle of Wight or Sheffield, because it only works there currently.
Over the summer other forces will be trialling the number to iron out any problems before it goes live nationally.
It must have been one hell of a text message that got Chief InspectorÃ‚Â Mark Ling suspended on full pay this week.
TheÃ‚Â ChiefÃ‚Â Inspector works for Sussex Police who are now investigating the officer while heÃ‚Â sitsÃ‚Â on his arse at home drawing a Ã‚Â£54,000 salary. That’s Ã‚Â£147.94 of tax payers’ cash for every day he remains under investigation – and we all know how many weeks, months & years it takes to deal with a discipline matter in this country.
Sussex aren’t releasing much information, except what you would normally expect when a PC is in the sticky stuff. They said:Ã‚Â ”This was not a decision taken lightly, but the nature of the allegation – the sending of an offensive text message – was such that it was felt that the force needed to take immediate action pending an investigation.Ã‚Â It should be stressed that the allegations are yet to be fully investigated and the suspension reflects only the force’s view of the seriousness of an allegation of this nature.”
I’m not a supporter of senior officers who drop a bollock but one really has to wonder whether the residents of Sussex are best served by suspending soemone over an alleged text message. I can’t wait to find out what the message was.