I’ve worked quite a few New Year’s Eves in my time, including the last few on a night shift. I have to say that ion all the years I have, and most of them have been on the street, the most stressed I have ever been was in the control room.
So it is with some pleasure that I am currently at home and intend to partake of a few sherberst over the course of the next few hours.
I’ve posted many times about the seedier side of Facebook and how it now accounts for 20% of calls to police.*
It seems police officers are not exempt from the Ă‚Â troubles that Facebook brings.
A story on the BBC today reveals that at least one officer has been sacked and 150 disciplined regarding their behaviour on Facebook. Some have used it to harass ex-partners and colleagues. One officer from Hampshire was sacked for posting a racist comment. Others have been stuck on for talking about the job. I know officers who have been sanctioned for, would youĂ‚Â believe, complaining about control room staff on jobs they’ve been sent to.
I know a few people personally whose sole input into Facebook appears to be to boast about how pissed they were, are or are going to be.
Whilst I thing that police officers should have a right to privacy whilst off duty and freedom of expression, you have to wonder at the common sense, or lack of, that some officers use when posting on the likes of Facebook.
* I made that statistic up, I have no idea what percentage of calls to police are Facebook -related, but it’s bloody disproportionate.
News yesterday that police fatalities across the pond rose by 13% in 2011.
This year, so far, 173 officers have died in the line of duty in the USA compared to 153 last year. Sixty-eight of those officers were killed by gunfire, this figure is up 15% on the year before.
Here in the UK we lost nine, only one, PC Ronan Kerr of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, was murdered, two were killed in road traffic accidents on duty, the others died of sudden illness or in accidents travelling to and from work.
Whatever the causes, it’s a sobering set of figures.
So, in an effort o save Ă‚ÂŁ50million quid the latest money-saving wheeze in Sussex is to ban officers from charging their mobile phones whilst at work.
I have to say, this wouldn’t bother me greatly on a personal level because I always charge my phone at home and have never had it run out no matter how many games of Angry birds I play on it. But if I was using it at work – as many officers do, we’re forever calling them on their mobile phones when their radios don’t work, as they don’t muchly – I’d be pretty pissed off to be told I couldn’t recharge my phone at work.
When Airwave first came in we were told to charge our sets at home whilst off duty, as compensation we were allowed to use the mobile facility on the phones to make personal calls. They told us that the actual cost of charging an Airwave set over the course of a year was just a few quid. I duly charged mine at home and used it to ring Mrs Weeks, and others, Ă‚Â if the need arose.
I handed my set in a few years ago so I don’t know if the same terms still exist.
The one thing missing in all these penny-pinching schemes is the simple fact that you get better production from your workers if they are happy. If everyone is pissed off they won;t work as hard for you. So when you take away any little perks on a drip, drip basis, it can;t come as aĂ‚Â surpriseĂ‚Â when the workers say ‘fuck you’ when you need the stops pulling out.
I can remember a few years ago when Christmas Day was spent sitting in the nick, playing cards and watching TV and responding to 999 calls. We didn’t used to get many and if any did come in we took it in turns to go. We called it ‘fire brigade’ policing. This was because, generally, not much happened on Christmas day and if it did, people didn’t report it, not until at least Boxing Day or after that.
How things have changed.
Our Christmas Day was really busy. There was no sitting in the nick, no TV, no fire brigade policing. it was just like any other day. I’m not sure whether it was because more things happened or that people’s attitude to a day of peace and goodwill to all men has changed.
Of course, the people that run the police haven’t changed their attitude, so we have about 60% of control room staff on duty, 50% of the front line and about 1% of the non-front liners on duty, because Christmas means double-bubble and double-bubble means lots of cuts need to be made.
The trouble is that nobody tells the public. We had people demanding to see officers for petty car crime, (this is crime that we don’t normally attend on the other 364 days of the year), not only that but they called up at regular intervals throughout the shift wanting to know when they were going to be seen. We had almost a normal days worth of petty domestics, except instead of throwing furniture, orĂ‚Â householdĂ‚Â items at each other when the ex turned up, they were throwing Christmas presents at each other. They were still assaulting each other andĂ‚Â becauseĂ‚Â we only had around 5 officers for the whole division (no neighbourhood or PCSOs), they had to wait all day too.
Time was when it was really unusual to ever see a Christmas Day arrest, I think we had Ă‚Â six or seven throughout the shift. And that wasn’t to mention the sudden death or the suicidal mother who took a relatively short couple of hours to locate in her car at the back of one of the shopping centres.
We didn’t have anyone toĂ‚Â relieveĂ‚Â us for our breaks which meant going single-crewed on a reasonably busy shift for a couple of hours, this goes hand- in-hand with the added stress trying to provide some kind of reasonable level of service.
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung on the doorknobs with care,
But something was missing, my dad wasnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t there.
Out in the night parked under a star,
My Dad was there watching in his traffic car.
Now out in the snow, where nothing had stirred,
the radio crackled, the big engine purred.
Dad adjusted his cap and straightened his tie,
Got out of his vehicle and looked round the sky.
He turned up his collar and looked all around,
And listened so hard for that wonderful sound.
And sure enough soon through the cold winter night,
My Dad on patrol saw the wonderful sight.
There up in the distance so vivid and clear,
A light getting brighter it soon would be near.
He called on the radio “Tango-one-oh,
“I think I have contact out there in the snow.
“IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve got him on mapping, itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s him thereĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s no doubt,
“IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m off the to R.V. point, Tango-ten, out!”
Dad jumped in the police car & looked to the sky,
Just getting closer but ever so high,
Bathed in the glow of a deep yellow light,
He finally saw the wonderful sight.
First Dasher then Dancer then Prancer and Vixen,
And Comet and Cupid then Donner and Blitzen.
Then out in the front of the beautiful sleigh,
Was Rudolph the Reindeer leading the way.
Santa looked down at the police car below,
Grateful once more for a guide through the snow.
“This is Santa, come in Tango-ten,
“It really is good to see you again.”
“Roger that, Santa, your message is clear,
“This really is the best assignment all year.”
The police car revved hard as Santa flew by,
Then magically lifted up into the sky.
Over the County they flashed blue & red,
Santa behind and my Daddy ahead.
Landing on rooftops and climbing inside,
Then off to the next, my Daddy the Guide.
They finally finished their job in the sky,
Daddy saluted as Santa flew by.
“Same time again, Santa, next year once again?”
“You bet, and my thanks go to you Tango-ten.
Into the distance Dad saw Santa fly,
He took off his cap and loosened his tie.
And feeling quite pleased with himself, as he should,
He knew he did well, he did fine, he did good.
When I open my presents although I am sad,
I know Santa leaves me a kiss from my Dad.
And although I miss him I know in my soul
Though DadĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s up in heaven, heĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s still on patrol.
Dedicated to theĂ‚Â nine officers who lost their lives on duty in 2011:
PC David Donald McPherson – Lothian & Borders Police
DS Terry Easterby – Kent Police
PCĂ‚Â Ronan Kerr – Police Service of Northern Ieland
And some of us wonder why nobody ever lifts a finger to help, why everyone ignores things, why everything is always someone else’s problem. The signal that this will send to anyone who doesn’t give a fuck how they behave or what impact their behaviour has on others will be massive.
I hope this country is satisfied that it is reaping what it has sown.
So the civil libertairians are up in arms that aĂ‚Â leadingĂ‚Â QC has suggested that one of the powers open to police officers in dealing with rioters is the use of live bullets.
This is a non starter for several reasons, firstly, there isn’t much chance of finding a police officer who has any bullets within Ă‚Â thirty minutes of the need to use them. Secondly, there is no way on God’s earth that MPs would run the risk of allowing police officers to fully protect members of the public or themselves, with the right tools for the job.
The thought does have some attractions though. Rioters are free to break into anyone’s property, loot it and set fire to it even though there are people asleep in the flats above, because they know the UK police do not have the resources to deal with them. The thought that they might actually be stopped and arrested is one so far divorced from reality that they must laugh at it.
I wonder how many of them would have set fire to buildings knowing that they could be shot by a police sniper on a roof down the road?
I was talking only yesterday about deaths around Christmas time seeming so much worse than during the rest of the year.
The family of a New York Cop will be feeling the same right now after they buried DetectiveĂ‚Â Peter Figoski, a 22-year- veteran with the NYPD after he was shot in the face during a robbery last week. He leaves behind four daughters aged 14 to 20.
More than 10,000 officers attended the service. I wouldn’t normally recommend reading the Daily Fail, but check out their article and see the amazing photos from the service. Say what you like about the Yanks, they know how to honour their dead.
It’s funny but whenever Christmas comes around and I see the fun and glee of people outside work, I always remember dealing with death and sadness. It always seems so much worse when people die at Christmas.
I recall the lonely old folk who just seem to give up and pass away on their own surrounded by Christmas cards, the people killed in accidents. We had to deal with a cot death a few days before Christmas last year and everyone seemed more affected than usual.
I’ve been checking out some Christmas posts over the last few years and came across this one back in 2005. It’s not a 200weeks original but it kind of summed up what some of us have had to do at Christmas while most people are tucked up safe and well at home and digging into presents and roast turkey.
It sparkled, in the distance on top of the townĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s imported Norwegian Spruce, resemblant of something from a winter scene two thousand years before. Beneath, the lights glistened blue and green in the morning air, blue, green, gold and red. In the opposite direction something else glistened red. But this was not man made, nor did it appear on any Christmas tree we had ever known. It was getting bigger as we watched. How still we see thee lie, we and every one of those who stopped to stare.
While shepherds watched we stood and listened and caught short but clearly recognisable snatches of an annual message sent from on high via the speakers of the local shopping precinct.
When we joined, we were so proud long, long ago. Creases sharp as shears down our pristine shirts, we stood in our blue finery, our suits of battle ready to wage war and fight the cause. We were Sir Gawain, filled with the hopeless hopes of a quest at which only we could succeed. With heart and soul and voice we proclaimed our message throughout the land, loud and clear. We were the new centurions. How short was our reign, how tiny our empire.
Our message was lost in translation or perhaps no-one wanted to hear. Time and time again we took to the skies, our white silk scarves untainted from our many previous battles. Merrily on high we soared, dived and fired. Constantly and inevitably we were shot down and each time we bailed out or crashed and burned only to climb back into our machines once more to fly towards the sunset, only to run into snow, on snow.
As the pool of red grew cool then cold we put another blanket on. We shielded the sight and protected those who gathered from a scene not pictured on any Christmas card.
We turned people away in their hundreds. They shouted, they screamed, they protested. They just wanted to go to work. They needed to take their progeny to school. We stood in their way. Arrogant and deliberately. Nothing better to do. Good will to all men.
Close by and covered in splashes of Christmas red lay the twisted monument to freedom, inscribed with an ancient rune from another land which, loosely translated, read Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Kawasaki 750Ă˘â‚¬Âł. A steed of once shining silver whoĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s knight had ridden his last joust. And the angel of the lord came upon him. Twenty nine years old. Plucked from his family four days before a star once more shone brightly in Bethlehem. Why did it always seem so much more tragic at this time of year? His children will still question long after the last snow has fallen crisp and even. His wife will weep as deeply when the rolling of the stone is celebrated. His mother will mourn as greatly in summer as now. At least in heaven the bells are ringing.
What went through your mind when you heard the last triumphant trumpetĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s blast? The radiator, one of our number replied, for that is our privilege. Some believe that in order to be born another soul must die immediately before. Will you be reborn? If the messiah comes back in four days time on a motorcycle only we will know.
Our message was lost in translation or perhaps no-one wanted to hear. Perhaps we should have set it to music.
I got reminded today by Mrs Weeks that I ought to have sorted out my Christmas shopping by now. Mt daughter remarked that actually, I didn’t have to do any shopping, not until Christmas Eve, because all i do is go to Tescos and buy some chocolate oranges for the kids and Ferrero Rocher for the wife. She is, naturally, quite correct.
Being a bloke of habit, I have, of course, done bugger all. So I’ve spent the afternoon on Play.com, as I usually do. I then spent a while on Argos.co.uk looking at laptops. (second child is off to uni next year).
I’ve placed an order at play and used their special delivery option, so I hope they come good before next weekend, and I have chosen a laptop and given the catalogue number to Mrs Weeks who has promptly popped into town and purchased said item.
What more does a man need to do at Christmas?
The job has kindly fucked up my Christmas again this year so they have changed my late shift on Christmas Eve to what is basically a night shift only I leave an hour earlier than the real night shift, and then I have to be back at work by the time the Queen opens her mouth. Consequently, we have cancelled Christmas and will be celebrating the festivities on Boxing Day.
When I retired, and knowing that I’d come back as a civvy, I had thisĂ‚Â naiveĂ‚Â idea that it was the end of working at Christmas and Bank holidays, more time at home with the wife and kids and an end to having my shifts pushed and pulled at the whim of those working the spreadsheets. I should have known better.
Still, it’s always nice eating fresh roast turkey when everybody else is having turkey sandwiches.
So the latest idea of Home Secretary Theresa May is to create a new professionalĂ‚Â policingĂ‚Â body, to which all police officers will pay between Ă‚ÂŁ50 and Ă‚ÂŁ250, depending on rank, to be a member.
It’s not clear whether it will replace the Police Federation, or run alongside (or should that be against), but May says that theĂ‚Â purposeĂ‚Â is toĂ‚Â “develop policing as a single profession” and “act only in the public interest.” So nothing about acting in the members’ interest, then?
InitialĂ‚Â reactionĂ‚Â from some colleagues is rather muted, though one or two are saying that if she expects police officers to pay Ă‚ÂŁ50 of their hard earned, she can go poke it up her arse.
Apparently, part of the ethos for setting up such a professional organisation – for which officers will need qualifications to join – is the reduction of bureaucracy. I love it when in order to reduce bureaucracy you haev to create something which in itself creates more bureaucracy.
I know that some other professionas have ‘professional bodies’ to which they must belong in order to get a job. I can’t see this one for the police coming in without a lot of pissed-off-edness.
I mean to post about a programme I heard on the radio on the way int work the other week.
I think it was Victoria Derbyshire’s slot on Radio Five and they were discussing government proposals to limit the amount of free cash they give to spongers families on benefits to an amount which stopped increasing at four children. I can’t remember which government mouthpiece was fronting the idea but he or she said that there was a limit to free money and if people wanted more than four children they should not expect the government (you an me) to pay for it.
I recall a woman with ten children on the phone sayingĂ‚Â thingsĂ‚Â like ‘how dare the government dictate how many children she can have’ and ‘what’s next, a China-like law preventing people from having kids?’ She made the point that her husband had always been in employment and she was not subject to any additional government handouts, thus completely missing the point that the suggested initiative didn’t actually apply to her. As far as the initiative is concerned, she can have as many kids as she wants, as long as she pays for them.
There isn’t much I agree with the Conservative Party, usually on principle, but I have to agree on this one.
When Mrs Weeks and I decided to have children, we made the responsible decision that even if my wife gave up her job, which paid more than my police wages, to look after our children full time, we would still be able to bring a child or two into the world and fund them off the back of a single wage. When we had a second, we made the same decisions.
Of course, if you don’t have any wages, you don’t have to make the same careful decisions, because the government will fund the kids for you. And guess what, the more you have the moreĂ‚Â fundingĂ‚Â you’ll get, and here’s a bonus, the more kids you have the bigger theĂ‚Â houseĂ‚Â you can have too.
So it’s like a bit of a breath of fresh air to think that someone is talking about putting a stop to the kiddy boom gravy train. Not that the people who are the biggest spongers in this department have the common sense to think about limiting their child-creating opportunities.
If you have loads of kids but pay for them through hard-earned wages, I’m not talking about you. If you are unemployed, watch Jeremy Kyle, smoke and drink, have kids who play truant, have several children each with a different father, are regular customers of the old bill, or just expect the tax-payer to fund your sorry life, I am talking about you.
The following video was posted on YouTube a few days ago and already has over 1.2 million hits. It has appeared on the national TV news today also amidst questions of whether the man who came to the aid of the ticket inspector was in the right or could be arrested.
AĂ‚Â belligerentĂ‚Â student is confronted on a train for not having a ticket. He uses foul and abusive language and refuses to leave the train when the inspector has it halted at a railway station.
Another passenger steps up and ass the inspector if he would like some help ejecting the lad from the train. He then picks him up out of his seat and throws him off the train, the lad immediately tries to get back in and is thrown off again.
News reports suggest that the man may get arrested for assault after the lad and his parents made a complaint to police.
The man who filmed the incident has said that the incident started five minutes before he decided to film it. Five Ă‚Â minutes in which the lad had plenty of opportunity to explain his position, buy a ticket, pay a fine or leave the train. It is claimed that he a) gave the ticket inspector the wrong ticket and that he did have one and b) that he had been given two single tickets for the same journey instead of one each way. If this is true, he had lots of opportunity to check which tickets he had bought when he bought them. He had opportunity to explain fully in a calm and collected manner without telling the ticket inspector to fuck off. He had lots of opportunities to leave the train at the request of someone lawfully authorised to request him to leave. He could have left when the ‘big man’ took him by the shoulder and told him to get off the train. He could have remained on the platform rather than trying to force his way back onto the train which then saw him being forcibly ejected again, which apparently is when he fell and grazed his cheek.
In other words, he is the author of his own destiny.
My hat is well and truly off the the ‘big man’. If more people were like him and regarded it as their civic duty to jump in and assist people having trouble with arseholes who think they can behave however they please, we would not have half the problems we have to put up with these days.
It is because people have gotten away with the ‘me, me me’ attitude and the couldn’t give a shit for anyone else that we have a generation or more of people who behave like this. Nobody is willing to draw a line in the sand and say ‘enough’ any more and there will be consequences.
He found out what the consequences were, perhaps he’ll think twice about travelling on trains without the correct tickets in future.
We had an accident on one of the major roads this week, at work that is, not personally. It wasn’t particularly serious but one of the drivers sustained a head injury.
An ambulance was called. After about 20 minutes we called ambo control to find out an ETA for said ambulance to be told that they didn’t have one available.
The officer continued on with their dealing, making things safe, putting on lane closures, moving vehicles out of the carriageway, calling garages, taking details from those involved. Another 15 minutes later we rang the ambo control again, they still didn’t have a free ambulance. They rang us 10 minutes later to say they now had a free ambulance.
The ambulance arrived on scene 65 minutes after they were called. This was a head injury on one of the busiest roads in the force area and the guy had to wait 65 minutes. I’m not aware the ambulance control ever knew what the level of injury was, they don’t take many details and apart from asking of someone is conscious and breathing every bloody time you call them, I don’t think anyone knew the level of injury when they were called.
Anyway, I’ve noticed over the last few months that this is happening more and more. In my first few years in the control room it never happened. I can’t recall ever being told that there was no ambulance available. So when it happened for the first time earlier this year it was quite a shock. Then it started happening more often.
We had another case this week where someone was quite badly injured. We didn’t want to move them prior to a paramedic checking them out, again no ambulance was available and the officers took the decision to put the victim in the police car and take them to hospital themselves. Who knows what position they’d be in if their actions caused further injury or worse.
I have no idea about the internal machinations of the ambulance service. I can only presume that they are being subjected to similar cuts in service as the police. Doubtless, if they are, the ambulance senior managers are spouting forth about how they can manage without affecting front line service, at the same time as front line service is being affected. It can’t be a coincidence that we are getting more and more calls from ambo control saying they don’t have anyone to send.