Wednesday, November 28, 2007

PCSO Steve?

Was floating round the guardian unlimited comment is free website as I occasionally do and nearly fell off my chair when I noted PCSO Steve is a contributor! Whether or not the guardian's PCSO Steve is the one and the same as the Met's PCSO Steve is a different story, and whether the Met PCSO Steve is aware someone has nicked his name is one for the Met's Professional Should-Have-Better-Things-To-Do-With-My-Time Unit to investigate.

I ought to clarify he is an author, not a commenteer like myself.

The age old post that I have regarding PCSO uniform- that continues to attract hits from google searches- is the subject of his most recent post.

He comments, in apparent contradiction to what happens when police officers go beyond their training and call of duty (reference Totally Un PC), that PCSOs often get commendations for such. That and they are the centre of neighbourhood policing.... hum...

Thought you might like to know. I will keep an eye out!

For my previous musings on the rights and wrongs of PCSO's, click on the "PCSO's" label on the sidebar, or click here

Monday, November 26, 2007

Too late for a lecture

I look at the scene. We couldn't get close enough to be sure anyone was in it until the fire brigade had been at it for a while damping it down. But even with the heat and the force of the crash, there's still an unmistakable outline in the charred, melted cabin.

I look back down the road . I've heard the accounts from the witnesses who don't know whether to be angry or sad, and just stand there continually rubbing their eyes and running their hands across their head. His friend is just up the road, customised car with aftermarket alloys now sat quietly by the side verge. He saw what happened in his mirror and turned round, but too late to help. There are small pools on the carriageway from where he's thrown up.

I can picture the last moments. What was a bit of "fun", a quiet road with no-one else seemingly around. A friend in the car next to you, having a bit of a race up the road to see who's got the faster car off from the roundabout. You've got dads car, you know its a good one. You've had a good night, no drinking involved, you never do that. You're feeling good. Can't lose.

Except that that gentle curving bend isn't so gentle when you get up to speed. That traffic island you didn't see round the bend is coming up quick, bloody quick. But the road is wet. Suddenly at this speed with heavy panicked braking and slipperiness the road camber plays a crucial part. You're on the wrong side of the road. That slight slope engineered into the tarmac is now a deadly factor in the laws of friction and physics.

The back end's gone. This suddenly isn't fun any more. You're off the tarmac. Onto wet, slippy grass. Don't matter what you do with the steering wheel now.

You look up and have just enough time to take one last sharp breath in as you realise that its all gone so terribly, terribly wrong.

Not a single panel of the car is left untwisted or buckled. Parts of the car are spread over dozens maybe hundreds of yards. The fuel tank is split open and with a disintegrating red hot engine all around the spark is soon a consuming fire.

A single branch, barely a big twig, is knocked off the tree. In a weeks time, the only clue to the tragedy will be the blackened bark. Come a few months, only those who were there and those who have lost will know the horror that tree has seen.

I walk over to the smouldering wreck. I want to reach in and shake him, shout at him not to do it, don't race, as though I can go back through time and change what has happened. But I know I can't. The governor is here barking out orders. I wander back down the road to make sure all the cordons and logs are in place, witness details are registered, make sure people have got warm clothes as they're going to be there a long time. I start thinking where I can go and get some hot drinks for the troops later. They'll need them.

There's nothing we can do for the driver. The ambulance crews find something to do looking after the shell shocked witnesses. Its now a case of preserving every piece of scattered metal and plastic, each furrowed track on the verge, waiting for the time when every piece will be documented, logged, and meticulously photographed.

I want to take the mental image I have, somehow transfer it to paper and show it to the next one stopped for driving like an idiot, who thinks it acceptable nay encouragable to show off, to drive a car to its limit, and who surrounds himself with people who think likewise. Somehow make him understand that the driver of this one thought exactly the same thing 10 seconds before his final inglorious end.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Now that I've got over the personal indignation that the overpaid football muppets couldn't qualify for a pub 5 a side tournament I'm actually quite glad, as it means I am now much more likely to have a less rioutous time next year. (But as an aside, I can't quite believe they are now getting paid up to another £150K each for failing to qualify- as far as I'm concerned you should not be paid to play for your country)

Anyhoo I noticed a while ago something that made me raise an eyebrow. The NPIA has issued an edict that local diversity is to be discouraged. The fact we have different ways of saying things across the country is downright dangerous.

Regional variations in how to say things like "yes" are to be stamped out because too many lives have been sacrificed, apparently. I joke you not, quote unquote from a Cambridge University Linguist. It also takes up too much time, according to the NPIA....

I've never seen anything as a result of this 25 grand either. Probably spent it all on lunchtime conferences buying a rent a quote to justify spending the 25 grand.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Overpaid and underachieving.

No, not ACPO.

Footballers. Some of them earn more in a week than I can look for in 4 years. And they are sufficiently incompetent as a group to fail to get to the European Championships.

Steve Mclaren? Yeh lets sack him. I'll bet he's really upset, being paid £2.5 million. I'm so in the wrong job. Be completely hopeless, still rake it in and get paid a fortune when you get fired.

Except I'd want to knock em all out.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another good job

A job from a while back, on one of the rare occasions I was free of paperwork and able to go out and get stuck in. Not a job of any great spectacle, but a fairly interesting one I thought.

It was a fairly routine night shift and I was leaving the petrol station when a call came out across the radio about an RTC, road traffic collision.

Any RTC that comes in at 3am the instant thought is: this could be serious. This time of night people tend not to crash their cars unless they're drunk or stolen.

I start running along, as does the other (sole remaining) response car. As I'm going, another update comes in that the occupants have made off towards the road I'm currently running down, blue lights reflecting back at me off the street signs. Well, at least it isn't a serious one. But why make off?

We take the left turn into the road the crash is on. Clock middle aged bloke walking along the pavement. We're still some distance off the RTC so we leave him and keep heading towards where it is when someone jumps out between two cars waving at us. The RTC is still nowhere in sight and my operator is about to tell him where to go (again- early in the morning, people quite often tend to talk drunken nonsense at us) when he breathlessly tells us middle aged chap we just saw, now just approaching the junction was in the car that crashed. He's followed him from the crash and is waving so animatedly he throws his phone 10 metres down the road. I see the other cars blue lights approaching and shout instructions down the radio.

One detained, just a touch tiddly. As in not actually able to stand up straight for more than about a second, complete with a swaying routine as though there's a snake charmer playing just the right tunes in his head.

Someone else has turned up to the crash scene. Theres a large head shaped hole in the passenger side of the windscreen. By now other calls have filtered through the 999 system and the passenger of the car was seen to head off covered in blood, again towards us.

We only have seen the one person here but I look down on the floor and sure enough theres a blood trail, a fresh spot every few metres. I call for the assistance of a furry land shark as he's going to do a much better job of following the blood trail down dark alleys than me floundering with a torch.

People at the scene have found some paperwork which seems to confirm boozy middle aged bloke detained, not sober enough to be able to think about giving a false name, was in the car. He can't be the passenger as he would have rather large cuts on his sweaty forehead, and the blood trail is on the opposite side of the road. Combine that with the first witness and he is coming with us to answer questions about drink drive and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

He proceeds to get a bit lairy because we won't let him go to the toilet. Sorry old fruit, you've been nicked for a drink drive offence. What you've got in your bladder could be evidence.

I heard he decided to not wait until custody and released his pressure whilst inside the back of the van. Which pleased the driver no end.

The dog van is now here and we're searching for the passenger. Our concern now is mostly welfare as by all accounts he's wandering round with a chunk of his head missing. We don't want to wait for a call in the morning from an alarmed resident finding a collapsed or worse dead man in his front garden.

Hairy canine follows blood to a path leading to 4 flats. Not sure which exactly which one our injured chap could be in though. We don't have a great deal of choice and start knocking on all of them. I was most impressed that people answered their doors at 4am. Not sure if I would. Anyway 3 of the 4 residents stumble bleary-eyed to the door.

Which leaves one.

Again, not a great deal of choice in the matter. One size 11 key later and we're in. And find chap lying in his bed with a mess of dried blood all over his head and covering his bed. One quick request to the ambulance people and we try to rouse him. Well, he got roused all right.

Talk about not being pleased to see us! I think anti-police would sum it up in a mild manner, especially after I told him I unfortunately had to kick his door in. Needless to say, he refused to tall us how he got this cut to his head and he advised the ambulance crews of his feelings for them with a range of adjectives that tended to start with the letter f.

Once he's signed the ambulance disclaimer we get his details and tell him we'll be in contact when he's sober.

As I somewhat doubt he would be the type to give a full and honest account of the events leading up to the injury causing incident (namely his even more pissed mate, in a car of dubious legality of ownership, drove straight into a parked car at about 35 mph) I now head off to find the original callers to get statements from them to put the arrested driver with now presumably quite uncomfortable trousers in the driver seat.

We return to the nick (via a coffee from the one 24hr place we have) to collate it all the statements, accident reports, damage reports etc for the morning shift to take on the case. The driver blew high 90s on the breath machine but needs to be interviewed about the failing to stop and that can't be done till he's sober. Which'll take about 10 hours, in the doctors estimate. Theres also questions about his legitimacy of driving the car.

The chap in the flat made me laugh. You've been seen to stagger away from a car crash where you've nearly put your head through the windscreen, but you have nothing but abuse for the people concerned enough for your health to track you down. Oh well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quiet Life

Apologies for the lack of posts recently about actual jobs I've been out and about to. I've been anchored to the custody desk for a while with only the odd day out.

Custody can be ok. I generally prefer as a rule being out and about but there is an awful lot of responsibility on your shoulders as a custody skipper and getting it right isn't always straightforward and it can be an utterly exhuasting job.

The video below isn't anyone I know. But it illustrates it isn't always a safe, calm environment....

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clueless Politician Alert- Again

But this time its the police minister!

Tony asks: Do you think I'm a muppet?

Police tell him that we're focusing on government imposed targets at the expense of not being able to focus properly on more serious crime.

Response of police minister? Not to state how he is concerned at these statements being made across the country and how its the result of a 6 month review by the federation; not how he feels he should examine these claims to see if there is any substance.

Instead, we get "'I respect their views; I just think they over-egg and exaggerate to make a point, sometimes to the detriment of the members, and that's not in their own interests"

What? I got that quote from the Metro's coverage of the "Tonight" programme (haven't actually watched it to confirm he said it) but if it is, isn't that just a completely arrogant statement? Look, Tony. Bloggers, Panorama, Tonight, The Federation- we're all consistently saying the same thing. But you brush it off as though we're making it up and completely fail to grasp the point you think we're "over-egging".

Minister for Police? What a joke. Minister for Imposing Political Will On Police and Turning A Deaf Ear to Officers slightly more accurate, if a mouthful.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Clueless Politician Alert

"Everybody is worried about the rise in gun crime and violence in this country at the moment, and the destruction these weapons cause is terrible"

What is this referring to? A debate regarding the reactivation of deactivated guns? The latest set of statistics regarding youth crime? A speech about the import of eastern european weapons?

No. The mayor doesn't want rifles on a rememberance day parade.

The only saving grace is that the other councillors of Chepstow have their heads screwed on right in at least this respect and told her where to go.

Click to see the article here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A song dedication

It's a touch naughty, but I can't resist it: Here's one for you, Mr Blair:

For those looking for a more sensible viewpoint from me, I've started posting things over at the guardians "comment is free" website.

One thing that has annoyed me from the multitude of postings on that article is the way nearly everyone labels the police as "the police", i.e. a collective of autonomous zombies unable to question anything for themselves and unwitting slaves of government and chief police.

I hope this blog and others remind people that actually, we're not hardwired blank faced drones. We question policy just as much, and sometime more so, and get just as frustrated when things go wrong.

I get really frustrated when I see some of the ignorance of how the police really works- one of the comments is that we will now shoot anyone we reasonably suspect of being a suicide bomber and we are revelling in this shoot to kill policy.

No, no, no and No.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Media Monkeys

Regular readers here- should there be any!- will know that it is not unusual I get a bit irate about the media and the way things regarding the police are reported.

We rely on the media a great deal for information regarding things outside our own day to day lives and people most of the time tend to take what they read as fact, give or take the odd pinch of salt, depending on which paper you read. You assume journalists are objective and neutral.

Well I was not too impressed with the Guardian on Saturday. Blaring headline shouting "Embattled Blair faces new armed police allegations".

Except when you read through it, he's not. The two brothers from Forest Gate have popped up again. Apparently those horrible armed bullies from SO19 said rude things to them. The way it is reported would suggest they were deliberately targeted by them. Until you read at the end it was because there was a report that a firearm had been seen and two imitation firearms were recovered. The SO19 officers it would seem didn't even know it was the two brothers until they were already stopped.

And then there's the bit which really made me question why the Guardian reported this at all, let alone across the front page. They aren't making a complaint. This is quite crucial! The Guardian completely fails to address the question why. Why aren't they complaining? They've got the lawyer, the public profile, any complaint they make will be properly addressed, trust me (instant referral to IPCC methinks! Can't see me or the duty officer trying to deal with this locally). To me, there's something missing.

I wonder how much their lawyer charged the two brothers (on legal aid?) an awful lot of money to write a snooty letter to the commissioner saying how armed officers are "flagrantly and flamboyantly endangering the citizens of london".

Whatever. I'd like this lawyer to spend a shift away from her million pound house (well, its got to be hasn't it) in a nice neighbourhood with regular let alone armed police, as she clearly has got no idea, or is breathtakingly arrogant.

Only the Telegraph mentioned the officer fighting for her life after being run over by a suspect trying to escape. Best wishes to DC Corbett.

I've got to admit, I normally find the guardian a touch more reliable than the others, but this article has got me questioning what agenda they've got.