Wednesday, September 26, 2007


More on pursuits (not that I'm obsessed).

Our force doesn't have any tactical options for dealing with motorbike pursuits. The end result of this is that a criminal on a motorbike or a moped knows a pursuit is not going to be authorised unless he (or she, of course) has committed a serious crime. And then what happens is that we follow like blue lighted sheep until a) he crashes or b) we lose him through a width restriction, like a footpath.

B is the more common, by the way.

Here's a spanish tactical option for ending a motorbike pursuit.

Should that be an option available to us? Honest answers please. Police readers, who might be be more inclined to say yes- would you be prepared to be the driver of the car that does it? Non-police readers: do you think that the above is excessive? Your politicians and police chiefs certainly say so. Do you agree?

Note (27th Sept): I know this is a fairly extreme example in terms of the crime committed, and am not suggesting this should be employed on someone for evading road tax or parking on a double yellow. But at the moment this would never be considered regardless of the crime committed, and I am asking- should it be an option available to us, even if only as a last resort?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pursuits continued

Finally managed to read through the bulk of the IPCC pursuits review.

Shockingly, most of it actually makes sense. It mostly calls for the existing guidelines to be more consistently and properly adhered to- i.e. only advanced drivers should pursue etc; fit data recorders to cars (something I wholeheartedly agree with); and a whole load of stuff to do with reporting it when it goes wrong.

The recommendation that did have me shaking my head is number 13- namely that if there are no tactical options available, there should be no pursuit.

And here lies the problem. My force no longer has TPAC- we (the drivers) are not trained in it, and it is not authorised. Apparently, it is felt it poses too much of a risk to the suspect. Therefore the only tactical option we have is Stinger.

Only traffic officers have stinger.

Last set of nights I was on, there was one traffic car across the whole district.

The end result is that despite me being an advanced driver, I effectively still cannot pursue. I have no tactical option available- and so according to the IPCC I should therefore not engage in the first place. (I tend to anyway of course, and usually end up waiting for them to crash whilst the traffic car comes from miles away, correctly second guesses which road they're going to go down, and then successfully deploy. Haven't seen it happen for a while.)

And of course, Stinger won't work on run flat tyres. Anyone else see that 5th gear show where a BMW went round their racetrack on flat run-flat tyres, and was only a few seconds slower than the properly inflated ones?

It frustrates me my force doesn't allow TPAC. A glance at the IPCC report shows the majority of pursuits happen at night. Empty roads work for TPAC, even in the suburbs. Top brass seem to wring their hands at the thought of even a suspect in a vehicle pursuit getting injured as the result of police action, and so once again the "rights" of a suspect outweigh the rights of everyone else to have a dangerous scumbag put somewhere where he can't do anyone any harm.

Which I think is what really hacks me off. I've mentioned before about the one character- a prolific burglar, I might add- on our ground who shows off how he will never stop for police, how he knows our tactics (or lack of) and knows he just has to drive as dangerously (I'm talking red lights at 70+) as he can and we'll call it off. What I'd do to be able to knock him off the road in the first few seconds of a pursuit, just to see his face.

I can but happily daydream.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Not good.

Once again PCSO's are in the headlines for the wrong reasons- the sad tale of the drowned 10 year old who had sunk beneath the surface. Apparently, two PCSO's were on scene quickly, but did nothing apart from radio for police officers.

Two things strike me from this.

One: why were they dispatched there in the first place.

Two. It is sad that litigation culture has grown to the extent that people appear exempt from criticism because they haven't been trained to do something, and their employers have to defend them because of this.

There may be more to this. Perhaps the PCSO's couldn't swim. I don't know, they didn't give evidence at the inquest.

Distinctly sour taste left in mouth after this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Okay so I heard on the news today how we take unnecessary risks in vehicle pursuits.

I haven't read the report in full yet, but I will.

I nearly fell off my chair when I discovered Tony McNulty said something which both made sense and I agreed with- namely that chases only happen when a suspect refuses to stop!

However, for some reason I have only just skim read the BBC report and already I can feel my hackles rising and can feel myself getting defensive.

Hum. I'm off to the gym. Will come back to this at some point for a more measured response. I think I'll do another of those poll things asking- Whose fault is it when a vehicle being chased by police crashes- the suspect, or the police?

Here onwards

Well if there's ever going to be a day when there is renewed interest in police blogs it is today. The original candle bearer has gone and told the world about the state of policing culture, where the priority of the police is to meet performance indicators, rather than use common sense and deal with situations in the best way.

I guess that leaves myself and the other bloggers left to try and keep the world aware that despite what the government says this is what its really like. But there is an inherent risk in writing these blogs. I started because of someone else I knew who wrote a police blog (a good one at that), but got found out and got hauled in front of the Chief. There can be real discipline brought against officers writing these things.

As for Tony McNulty. Am I the only one who thought he gave the impression that he regards the front line police officer with contempt? That they should do what he says because he's the police minister? I'm sorry Tony. I know several officers who have been in the service far longer than the Labour government have been in power, let alone before anyone had heard of you. I know who I'll listen to.

So where from here? Two things, I guess. One, to carry on on here, posting now and then about what I see. I'll be the first to admit I don't post about half what I see for fear of being recognised by a colleague. How Stuart Copperfield-Davidson managed for 3 years I don't know (but am impressed).

The other, more difficult thing will be to start making more of a stand at work. We have a new governor coming next month who the rumour mill has is very stats driven and expects 1) the Pcs to have a certain number of arrests, detections, stops etc per month, 2) myself to reinforce this.

Its one thing blogging about how crap this is and another to start doing something about it. But perhaps it might be time to start. It hasn't been a problem recently, my old governor happy enough with us doing our jobs properly and as long as policy wasn't breached then didn't mind us dealing with jobs appropriately. This looks like it is going to change. Might be time to put myself to the test, can I practice what I preach.

Last word today ought to go to Mr DC- click here for his summary of his experience of writing the blog.

Monday, September 17, 2007


The inspiration behind myself and many others has revealed himself.

Pc Stuart Davidson, aka David Copperfield, we salute you.

Best of luck over there. Don't send a postcard, I'll only get jealous ;-)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Performance, Stats, Targets etc

Carrying on with this performance v policing debate.

I was talking about our teams performance with another skipper today. The ethos on our team generally amongst the skippers and PCs is that on response teams, response work should take priority. (The governor is trying to get us to push more the other way, towards stats, more on that another day.....)

We had a look at the response times of the top performing team. They are pretty poor. For some reason, response times to calls are not one of the team performance comparisons given any weight.

And herein lies the dichotomy.

The top team have the best or at least high statistics for arrests and stop searches /stop accounts and detections. This is because they are quite happy to arrest people left and right and centre for minor crap. They are in fact encouraged to do so. The usual tales of "its not drunk and disorderly, its section 5" and all that.

So- they can be said to performing well and are providing good value for money for the public. The statistics say so.

And in a certain way, that may be the case. Unless you're one of the unfortunates who's called 999 to find that the top performing team is on duty and they're all already busy dealing with (on the whole) more minor stuff.

Broad generalisations here but the overall picture is accurate. A police team that is performing the best on paper is more likely to be providing a worse service if you're the one actually calling us.

But how do you measure the performance of the police? Its your money being spent on us lot. I wouldn't accept just being told "We're doing a good job, just believe it". But the current system isn't exactly working, nor accurate.

Suggestions welcome.....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Too many targets? Surely not?

Well its a day old news now (sorry, been busy, blah blah) but the prize for the least surprising news article of the year so far goes to the BBC.

Despite the reams of bloggers telling the world for months and even years in some cases that we have too much paperwork, and discretion comes a limping second place to government imposed targets and directives, it is now official. The HMIC say so.

The Home Secretary comes up with the usual pseudo-enthusiasm about how they will listen to this report and suddenly free up 400,000 of police hours by engaging his recommendations.

Forgive my unabashed criticism but my arse you will. I'll believe it when I see it. The trumpeted reports about how many forms have been discontinued is a sly move as they completely fail to mention that the old forms have in the majority of cases simply been replaced with a newer version that is not necessarily better or quicker.

I can remember the old version of the stop / search forms. The size of half a piece of A5 paper it recorded the essential details- who, where and why (what power) and that was it. However, the new version is half the size of A4, has codes for why someone was stopped and then a different code to enter for what they've been searched for (to help statistical compilation), has a space for you to explain why they weren't given a copy of the form at the scene (the office brigade get very uptight if that isn't completed, and I get sent them back with red pen and highlights). And we have to fill out one of these every time we ask someone what they're doing.

"Excuse me sir, would you mind telling me what you're doing? Its 2am, a residential area and you seem in a bit of a hurry".

"My mate's just dropped me off, and I really need the toilet, and the wife'll kill me because I'm this late".

"Fair enough, on you go..... oh no, hang on wait, I need all of your personal details, date of birth, current address, self-defined ethnicity, clothing description, height, distinctive features, hair style, and offer you a copy of everything that I'm writing including why I felt it necessary to ask you to account for your behaviour."

"Do I have to wait?"

"Er no but......"


"Dammit. I've still got to write this thing out in its entirety and now additionally add why I failed to give him a copy of it. Oh and transfer all the details of it onto a computer database. Best get myself a cup of tea then".

I was about to write this is a fairly extreme example, but it isn't. Seriously, if I or any other officer asks someone to account for their presence in any particular place, we are required to fill out a form detailing just that and why.

The logic behind this is to keep the individuals concerned in being asked to account for their behaviour an opportunity to understand why, and to have a record of it if they are feeling victimised.

Noble ideas. But the end result is we don't ask as many questions of people we think are up to no good as perhaps we should. For if one does complain that he's been victimised, and you haven't filled out your stop form, then you shall face discipline.

Yet from personal experience the only ones who really get targeted are the ones who we know are up to no good, but don't always have the level of proof required for a conviction. Amnesty would therefore say they are innocent and perhaps in some cases they are right.

But not always.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Guns and hot air

Well apparently a room full of 200 people who often seem to feel actions aren't often as appropriate as a carefully considered collection of politically approved words are having a chat about guns.

Yes, its the ACPO firearms conference.

I did think about engaging in a reasoned debate about the rise (or apparent rise) in gun crime and the media sensationalism about it- drink drivers still ruin more lives than guns, but I don't see that all across the papers. Tragic as the Liverpool lad's story is, I wonder if it would be national news for a fortnight if it was a drunk driver who killed him. (Note thats a criticism of the media, not meant as any kind of lessening of the impact on Rhys's family). It is no less tragic and no less wasteful and pointless when a life is ended because of someone else's irresponsibility with a car. Like here. Or here. Its not hard to find these kind of stories.

But then I thought I'm on nights, anyone sane would be sleeping now, and the idea of a reasoned debate arguing about firearms-enabled crime trends kind of fell into the "forget it" box.

I will, however, concede I might have felt a bit more affinity with the so-much-stuff-on-my-epaulettes-I-can't-stand-straight brigade when I read the end of this report, about their reaction to a video of a shopkeeper chasing off an armed robber with a baseball bat:

"And perhaps the greatest applause of the day came for a speaker with neither a police nor a political background.
There were cheers and shouts of approval as delegates watched a video of Jagdish Patel, a brave shopkeeper from Rochdale who saw off an armed robber with a baseball bat.
Not an officially-approved response to a potentially lethal situation. But an encouraging example of a member of the public prepared to take a risk to stop gun crime.

Maybe, just maybe they are cops at heart after all.

(Edited slightly the next day from original post after a bit more sleep!)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

One for Which End Bites

May his fluffball rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Organising etc

Rightyo have fiddled with sidebar links now to have all the other job bloggers ordered in the length of time that their page has existed. As usual if you want your link in let me know via comments or email.

Have added a couple to the graveyard, too. Dogberry has disappeared without a trace. I have added a new rule that if your page hasn't been updated for 6 months without explanation then it goes down in the graveyard too.

Following on from previous rambles about PCSOs and whether their uniform should be more distinct from regular sworn PC's, I've added one of those poll things to the sidebar. Please click your thoughts in, just to satisfy my curiosity.

In the meantime in the news here's a tale of two trains. First- ordinary member of public is prosecuted for having a her feet on a seat. Second, here's a train guard sacked for telling a youth to get his feet off a seat (ok, so there's a bit more to it, but thats how it started). Bonkers eh?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Taser taser

Well apparently some of us across the country are getting more tasers.

I just noted some of the headlines across the media.

Trust the Daily Wail to get completely hysterical and sensationalise an issue that wasn't really there. (Can anyone tell I'm not really a fan of this paper?)

I mean, for goodness sake. To read their headline and leading line- "Police will be allowed to shoot children with Taser stun guns despite concerns it could trigger heart attacks"- conjures up images of officers swanning down the local play park and randomly electifying little Joe on the swings, laughingly telling mum "because we can".

Well, no. I have never heard of any child (I note the mail give no definition of what age you're still a child) but I cannot recall either in my force or reading about any incident where a taser was used or even threatened on someone under 16. The level of justification for using a Taser is at such a high level that there has to be serious risk of serious injury before it can be contemplated, and when lesser means are exhuasted.

Despite the temptation I might often feel when booking in one of our regular juvenile crime waves for the umpteenth time in a month I can't just Taser him because the government haven't expressly forbidden it.

At least the BBC are a little more... well, journalistic about it, questioning the level of training that the new taser recipients are to have.

My own opinion? I certainly don't think all officers should be armed with them. I do think more officers should be armed with them, and they should be more readily available for immediate use on the front line, and not dependent on whether the areas firearms car is tied up with something else and you have a half hour wait for the nearest available one to arrive. For example. I turned up first a domestic the other week to be confronted with the household equivalent of the Marie Celeste- door wide open, things still cooking on the stove. Slightly more disturbing was the evidence of a struggle with things hurled over the floor. Even more disturbing was the unsheathed Samurai sword lying in the middle of the floor. If we had arrived but a few minutes earlier then chances are we'd have found a rather hostile and angry male resident armed with 3 feet of sharpened steel. Baton isn't much use against that.

Taser doesn't even have to be fired to be effective. Its laser sight (I've seen this, and so have others) parked ominously on a suspects chest has been enough to calm him and subdue him to where he follows our requests (usually to get on the floor and be handcuffed).

I am interested to see what the taser training is going to be like for the new non-firearms offcers being equipped with it. I have no idea what it'll be, as the first I heard we were getting more tasers was on the news!