Monday, October 30, 2006

Wishful Thinking

I've only been off response team a week or so and I'm already wishing I'm back there. I know I whinge like a good un about the monumental piles of rubbish we spend most of our time dealing with and how policy z says various reams of paperwork must be filed according the precendents in policy y, but every time I hear a siren I'm like a little kid again, wanting to look out of the window, wondering what's going on, and frustrated that I don't know!

The only things I respond to these days is emails. I only get out of the nick to go to meetings. Should change next week when I get the Pc contigent to my particular unit (I've spent the last fortnight arranging everything- hence few updates on here) and I might be able to get out and go play.... I shall keep a close eye on the duties so I might be able to blag a car to go out in and do what someone should do with several grands worth of taxpayer money, go and do some bloody police work.

New chief culprit of overuse of the word "community": Hampshire Police, whose corporate logo is "working towards safer communities". I can't stand police corporate slogans. Its a case of how many buzzwords can we fit in down the side of a police car. Case in point: the Met. One of Mr I Blairs first things in office was to change old corporate logo "working for a safer london" to "working together for a safer london". Well, doesn't that little change give you so much more confidence should you be unfortunate enough to live in London? (I can say that, I did once).

Or am I wrong? Does a change in a logo like this really make a difference? Please prove my cynicism wrong....

Friday, October 20, 2006

What is a community

This is a bit of a philosophical post this, bear with me.

I get a bit frustrated every time I hear a politician or SMT blather on about "we will work in partnership/consultation/togetherness/ with local community groups". Its all the rage with Safer Neighbourhood Teams. To quote right from the Met's website: "Safer Neighbourhoods teams are dedicated to your community and are additional to other policing teams and units in London." Greater Manchester Police are at it too: "Neighbourhood policing pilot schemes in the Hall'i'th'Wood and Oldhams Estates have started to successfully engage these communities in the setting of local policing priorities and support in their fulfilment"

Well what the heck is a community?

Apparently, according to the Wiktionary (who makes these names up?)
1) a group of people sharing a common understanding who reveal themselves by using the same language, manners, tradition and law
2) acommune or residential/religious collective
3) the condition of having certain attitudes and interests in common

Who decides what community are to be listened to. Shall we go to Bradford? Where locally elected councillors are members of the BNP? The local community there (or at least, the ones who voted) have displayed what they think. Should the local police therefore pander to the whims of the BNP?
Funnily enough, despite West Yorkshire police having "Community policing for the 21st century" there's no mention of the BNP that I can find on their web page!

So what the hell is my point in all this. Don't think for a minute I'm suggesting West Yorkshire should pander to the BNP.

I think its just that I'm fed up of being treated like an idiot by Senior Management who seem to think that they have to say "community partnership" in every press briefing, assuming that therefore everyone listening will have a percieved sense of ownership of "their" police. Where I live, in a different area from where I work, I'm a member of a community. I'm a member of several. My immediate geographical community, I'm a member of the car driving community, bike riding community, public transport using community, rugby club community. Just within my fairly staid home life, the different community groups I am in have differing and not necessarily compatible priorities. So when SMT talk about setting policing objectives in consultation with local communities, which ones do they mean. They can't mean all of them. The local right wing group aren't going to have much in common with the local Jewish residents.

I think they just mean politically acceptable communities. But who decides this? When I hear SMT say "we want to hear the local communities views" I want to say back "no you don't!" They only want to hear the ones that agree with their idea of who should be in their local community.

No real point to this post, I think. I guess I just object to being pigeonholed as a member of a community to which I don't feel I really am a member of. Where I live and work I hear SMT (and local politicians) talk about how they've consulted with local communities to come up with the latest plan. And I think (for where I live) "Well I haven't been consulted". No, they've consulted some association or other where I wouldn't go if you paid me, as everybody is twice my age and they talk mostly about allotments.

So, lets put this out to debate. Do you think "community" is an overused word that doesn't have any real meaning? Or does it work for you where you are. Tell me, I actually am interested in listening to the police blogging community!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Due to the incompetence of someone else in my wonderful command unit, I've been taken told that I am immenently leaving response team in order to take over another department. Not particularly happy, not got a lot of time to sort a lot of stuff out. It was my fault for informing senior managment of the problem in the first place, as it appears the reaction has been "well, you've obviously switched on enough to be concerned about the problem, so you can go in and take it on".

Which is kind of nice, its a new challenge with a few things I haven't done before, but I can't say I'm particularly happy about the circumstances in which I've ended up there. If I can't manage to sort things out, I really won't be happy if I get blamed for it.

Because this should've been sorted out 4 months ago. 4 months is a lot of time to prepare. The time scale I have is not.

Posts will be probably at a minumum for a while I'm pulling my hair out..... I'm beginning to understand why quite a few skippers have well developed bald spots....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Morale & Morality

As I said below, the last few shifts, things have been completely hectic. And I mean hectic. A few highlights of some of the things my lot have had to deal with:
- Burst water mains (like need to close a 3 lane trunk road burst water main)
- Child kidnap
- Sexual assault
- Missing children
- Deceased people
- several ABH's
- several robberies and thefts
- drink drivers
- burglaries
- firearms incidents
- several domestics, some of which involving one or more of the above
About the only thing we haven't had is a serious RTA. It was particularly busy on night shift. Usually, calls start tailing off in the early hours, 3-4am or so. Not the last few shifts. Calls kept on coming right through till 6am.

Things are made worse because of the lack of numbers on response team. Across the whole division we had perhaps fifteen cars on. The problem is, as nearly every police blogger says, we can't just turn up at a call and deal with it in 15 minutes and move onto the next one. Oh no. If someone has been assaulted, then people need to be arrested, crime reports created, witness statements taken. As per posts below this takes hours, especially if someone has been arrested.

I can't really comment on why my team is persistently running at minimum strength. Here's the paradox. Neighbourhood Policing Teams have been introduced in my area. Now whilst they can focus on things that 999 teams usually don't, that is offset by the fact they are invariably staffed by officers abstracted from 999 teams- or officers who were supposed to go to 999 teams. Which means the 999 teams are left short. Has my service's ability to respond to 999 calls been diminished by safer neighbourhood teams?

One thing for certain is the boys and girls on my team at the end of these shifts, are shattered. This is where the concept of police morale comes in.

Police officers by and large want to do their job. Even when they're griefy and time consuming, as usually jobs like this don't come along too often, and most days you can finish on time or thereabouts. But recently this has become the exception, not the norm. Numbers are few enough so that most days its likely you'll be late off.

Now for the non-police readers you may say so what. But remember that we have families too, and we have lives outside this job that are invariably affected enough with the shift patterns we have.

The end result is these calls that come out towards the end of the shift- the ones which you know will take ages to sort out and are likely to result in arrest (you can always bank on a minimum of 4hrs work when someone is arrested) then you can see the faces fall. They don't want to go. This is a bad sign. That is what low police morale is.

So when morale goes, the officers morality tends to go too. What I mean by this is their sense of pride and wanting to do the job goes. They start not caring about what calls come in. On one of the last shifts, one of my lads came in to the nick with about an hour to go, dumped his bag and logbook to the floor and said in no uncertain terms whether he was going back out again. He still had a load of paperwork to do from the missing child (who had gone missing from a location way out of our sector, at the opposite end of the ground- but there was no one left down there) and had been late off twice in the last 4 days, with one of them being a really unpleasant sudden death.

Now if a call came out, I should tell him that he will be dealing with it. But would I? Not bleeding likely.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Future foot patrols

Firstly, an apology for a lack of any updates with any substance to them. The last few shifts have been absolutely raving bonkers. I have barely a day at home to catch up on a million things (I am currently avoiding opening 6 days worth of post) and to be honest the last thing I want to do is think about more policey stuff. I've had enough for the moment.

However, in the meantime, Nutville (my new name for where I work) Police experiment with a new prototype fast response foot patrol.......

Saturday, October 07, 2006

....I'm special?

Having gone through the various links I have on the right I have discovered the Extra Special copper's blog has disappeared.

This is a big assumption but I find blogs just don't disappear without warning. Unless they've been identified. <or their link changes without notice!>

The blog police have done for him as well (well, not yet). And this guy was someone who actually did this work and didn't get paid for it.

A reminder to all. No-one is safe from the powers on high that don't like their rank and file painting the picture contrare to the idealised world they would like to present.

What an absolute bleeding joke this stalinist attitude is. I am very tempted to re-title this blog "IT'S NOT 1984 YET" (Unfortunately, this still remains the same for if we are identified, we still get a rocket and the blog goes)

<<Ok so I'm a tad paranoid. My thanks to you who have pointed out that he has changed to the new whizzy blogger format and his url has changed. Look, I'm on nights and updating this having just fallen out of bed at some time in the afternoon. I'm allowed to not be quite switched on just yet.....>>

Friday, October 06, 2006

Blog Links

Have given up on sleeping, upstairs are having new carpets fitted. I'll be an interesting picture come the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Anyway, have been updating the links bar on the right. Special mention to the parking enforcement (enfarcement! Get it? Ha ha ha. I crack myself up sometimes. Hmmmm. I wish I was in bed) blog who I didn't know existed until the To Park Or Not To Park post below. Political Police is somebody somewhere west of Oxford who is another officer driven up the wall by home-office sourced priorities, and is forced to have some release by telling the world about it.

Have a good weekend all. If you meet a zombie in a police uniform the next few nights, it'll probably be me...........

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Don't do it kids

I am getting fed up with calls to scumbags within inches of their lives having injected some part of their body or inhaled some godknowswhat and then having your certifiably insane pal call 999 and so us and ambulance crews turn up and get a load of abuse thrown at us from certifiably insane pal, and then the icing on the cake get thrown around by said druggie who is unpleasantly surprised to have been awoken from his comatose state.

It is not a pleasant task to have to give mouth to mouth rescuscitation to a purple faced near-zombie desperately trying to keep them alive until an ambulance can arrive laden with syringes full of some potent anti opiate which gets swiftly expunged into the nearest available piece of flesh. And then once again get a load of abuse, and as an added bonus, projectile bodily fluids.

Or then when we get called too late and we find you arse in the air, trousers round ankles, nose in carpet, hand still tightly wrapped round needle implanted firmly in place needles shouldn't go. Glorious final moments on earth.

Sometimes I wish I could take videos of these things into schools and say look kids. This is how it can end up. No stats, no medical flip charts of heart rates etc. Just videos of things like the above, or the guy high on crack having one hell of an argument with himself on a train platform and scaring the hell out of everyone.

But of course that probably wouldn't be allowed as it isn't statistically proven that usage of A leads to usage of B yada yada yada. Nuts. The intention is to scare them from even considering taking stuff. Statistical likelihoods can be shoved you know where.

Sorry, a bit of a rant. There's a a whole word of debate of how people get themselves into the state where they're taking class A which I have neither the time or energy to get into. But I am fed up with seeing the end result and seeing people who are trying to help them get abuse and injury. All the above examples happened far too recently for my liking.

Must keep sense of humour! Drugs are funny here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

To park or not to park

One of the best things the job ever did was to civilianise parking offences. It means when I get called to yet another parking dispute I can honestly say "Sorry, this isn't a police matter" and advise them to see solicitors, Citizens Advice Bureau etc. For when I see articles like this, I am reminded how profoundly grateful I am!

Monday, October 02, 2006


I saw this on the news the other day- an article about shoplifting.

In it, the British Retail Consortium, after surveying over 10000 retail outfits, found that shopkeepers feel abandoned by both the government and police for not treating shoplifting as a priority.

I am not in the least surprised.

The BRC director is quoted as stating "Attempting to hand shoplifters over to the police has become time-wasting and futile. Too often they are not interested and even when there is a successful prosecution the penalties are derisory"

You may be surprised to hear I agree. Hearing a call come out on the radio of "Shoplifter detained" you can hear the collective groan.

If you take on a shoplifter, it means that's your shift finished with. If it's late in the day, you can forget going home on time.

Things that need to be done:

Custody procedure with prisoner. Depending on the time of day, no less than an hour, sometimes up to four.
Crime reports and arrest notes justifying arrest of said prisoner: depending on your speed of writing and typing: you're looking at an hour.
Taking full evidential statements from the store staff and any witnesses at the store: at least 2 hours. Some stores "train" their own staff to write statements but they are invariably shocking and have to be rewritten anyway.
Seizing, viewing (if, of course, your police station has the suitable equipment to view it- and it works) and exhibiting CCTV statements: 1hr.
If your prisoner is adult, mentally competent, speaks english and does not require a solicitor then game on, you can get on with an interview straight away. Otherwise you have to wait until a solicitor arrives, and/or an appropriate adult, and/or an interpreter. If you happen to arrest said person outside of office hours then you will be waiting hours for someone to turn up.
Once all the above is done, then you have to either speak to a representative from the CPS (however- see above about office hours) or email them the circumstances and wait for a reply.

You can then charge your prisoner. If, indeed, that is the advice from CPS.

If your prisoner is bailable, then thankfully thats it done for that day. If not, then terribly sorry you now have to spend another couple of hours preparing a full case file for the next available court hearing.

By now you've probably missed the last train home and every second word is an expletive.

So. Shoplifters are not very popular with response Pc's. They require a lot of unglamorous work which quite often, as the BRC director says, only results in some poxy £30 fine in court.

So what's your problem you might ask? This is, after all, our job, to deal with criminals no matter how big or small.

I agree.

However, I do believe shops should take on more of the responsibility of dealing with shoplifters. At the moment, my perception is that we turn up and we are expected to magic them away and do absolutely everything. Perhaps the BRC don't realise just how time-consuming it is to deal with a shoplifter. As it stands at the moment it takes forever and its no wonder shopkeepers wonder why grumpy coppers turn up.

What I would like to see happen never will. I'd like to follow what I understand to be the US system, where the role of the police over there is pretty much to verify the details of the suspect. Everything else is done by the store: the whole process, from gathering evidence, interview to presenting the case at court.

That'll never happen here, but I think there should be a compromise.

Stores providing proper training on how to write statements would be a start. It really is not that difficult. Just saving those 2 hours would be a huge bonus. The workload needs to be shared out. To use the SMT's favourite tagline, we need to "work in partnership".

At the moment, if I have 5 cars out and 5 shoplifters come out- not unheard of- I would lose the entire response capacity for my area. Surely nobody would say that is what should continue to happen. Police are not an unlimited resource!

In the meantime, my force (sorry, service) established a Prisoner Handling Team, with the objective of taking on the time consuming aspects of interview, case files etc and getting the response cars back out. However, the team is staffed by officers abstracted from response team. Give with one hand, take away with the other.

Conclusion to this rant? shopkeepers feel abandoned (I know some store managers don't even bother calling us, or state that the suspect is violent in order so the 999 call handler grades it higher priority); Officers dread dealing with them. The only winner is..... the shoplifter.