Thursday, December 04, 2008

On route to violence

PC (Ex-PCSO, not WPC) Bloggs has sent me an email questioning the emotions that go through your head en route to a violent shout. I was going to send an email reply but I'd thought I'd share it with the world.

A word of warning though- in doing so I am breaking two of my rules of blogging- i.e. don't post after a shandy or two, and don't blog when you've been awake over 20 hours. Oh well. So forgive me if this goes a little sideways here and there.

And now, right on cue, Scrappycat (one of two small beasties I own that treat the Simon residence as a hotel) has decided to lie down right in front of the screen, so I'm having to crane my head one way then the other to see what I've written.

Anyhoo in response to the question. In the manner of a true politician I'd have to ask what kind of "violent" shout it is. Usually, the response is apathy. More often than not, a call which comes out as depicting violence is nothing of the sort by the time we get there. Blue lights and sirens invariably have an amazing fight stopping (and run provoking) effect by the time we are out of the car. Most of the time the uniform does have an effect and will stop the majority of street type fights.

Domestic violence jobs are by far the most dangerous. More often than not, there is very little information to go by and the fact that it is the first call to the address can mean absolutely nothing in terms of what has and is going on behind the door. Two colleagues had a nightmare experience at one a few years back- one got knocked out and the other only saved herself from asphyxiation by managing to wrestle an arm free and squeezing and twisting his balls with every ounce of strength she had. (I have yet to see this technique in the Home Office Approved Restraints manual)

In short, there are very few situations we know we are going to where we know there is going to be violence. I've learned not to try and second guess whats happened at a call because no two are ever the same. I just worry about a) where the call is and b) getting there without stacking it. Then think about what I've got to do with the job when I get there.

The exception though is the emergency activation button when an officer presses their little red button. This invariably means "I need help now" and anyone who has access to a car with a fleet number will be on their toes.

But what goes through my head? Well, actually pretty much the same thing. Where do I go, and don't crash. The only difference now is I have no mechanical sympathy for the car and rag seven bells of hell out of it to get there. I'm mature enough (!!!!!!!!!) to not feel the need to drive like a tool to every call whether shoplifter or domestic- but I leave the minimum in reserve for the urgent assistance shout. The adrenaline tends to get going on this kind of call too, especially depending on what the officer in trouble manages to transmit across the radio, and there is a definite buildup of tension as you get nearer the scene. I can best equate it to the build up to kickoff in a rugby match- you know its about to get physical and you may well get bashed around but if you're going to be any use you keep your head and chose your moves carefully.

Right... that will do. Tis now well past my bedtime and I shall suffer if I don't get moving. PCSO Bloggs, I hope this has been of use!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gathering dust

Evening all.

Apologies for the continual lack of updates here. Unfortunately at the moment blogging is somewhat on the back seat. I'm not under any pressure from anyone to stop, I don't have senior management asking awkward questions, nor am I getting any funny looks from my Pc's.

Well, none more than usual, anyway.

Personal circumstances at the moment mean I just don't simply have the time to put a proper effort into this and I don't like doing a half-arsed job on things. Maybe one day, (if the senior management finally relent and change this frankly terrible shift pattern we're currently burdened with) I'll find myself with more time and will get motivated to starting shouting out again from this corner of blogdom.

In the meantime I'm currently looking to get off response team. I've said that before but this time I actually am. I've been doing it for several years now and I need a break from all the politics and scrutinisation to the nth degree. I'm just coasting at the moment, not really wanting to get stuck into anything.

I'll come back, I know I will. Uniform response work is all I ever joined to do and despite the opinions of practically everyone else in the job, everything else plays second fiddle to the boys and girls taking the 999 calls. If you lost one office based department or other there'd be varying degrees of hassle and whinging but should the 999 team collectively decide to call it a half day and clear off down the pub it'd be total chaos.

I'm looking at a number of things- going into one of the specialised uniform units like traffic (should they still exist, as unpopular as they are) or armed response (if the wife will let me). I may go back to old grounds if a position pops up in the street duties unit. I did enjoy that when I last ran it- still out and about, but with a lot more flexibility. I wrote the shift pattern for the troops when I last ran it and yes I made damn sure there were weekend night shifts in there. I don't get it when street duty units do 10 weeks of early turns. Pointless.

Got to admit tho I am somewhat of a closet rat (job parlance for traffic officers) and there's where I'd go if I had the choice. I've even starting nosing around neighbouring forces to see if they've got any positions going.

So we'll see what happens. I'm not going to be fussy and whatever comes up first I'll apply for.

So, in the meantime, if anyone is still reading, thanks for the patience. I'll be back one day.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Politics Racing

Well it's all going a bit wrong down in the fine capital of this island. Blair out, Ghaffur on gardening leave, Dizaei suspended and the NBPA taking out adverts in the press saying don't go anywhere near the Met.

I don't know if I work in a bubble or what but the environment the NBPA talk about is one I don't recognise. No-one is forced to sit on a different table. Either I'm blind to it but I can honestly say I've never seen any overt racism in my job. Ever.

My force has a policy, as do most forces across the country, of positive discrimination. What this means in essence is that persons of a certain skin colour are given extra help and training to achieve promotion and selection for specialist roles. Could you imagine the outcry if this skin colour selected was white? I can understand the reasons for it, but to tackle discrimination with discrimination is a dead end road.

Every black (or VEM, as my force brackets those eligible for said extra help- visible ethnic minority) officer I know has refused to accept the help from the "positive discrimination" unit. I can clearly recall a time in training school when this positive whatnot team introduced themselves. One girl clarified she was eligible for this extra help by basis of one of her parents being of a particular foreign origin. I can remember her storming out of the room in disgust that she was eligible for help solely on the basis of her parents origin. One I know refused to join the NBPA and then found himself ostracised by his colleagues who did join. How messed up is that?

An asian colleague tells a story of when he was at a diversity seminar. The trainer asked everyone to give an account when they suffered discrimination as a result of their skin colour. He thought, and he realised he couldn't think of one. The trainer refused to believe him, and when he stuck to his ground she put in a racially aggravated complaint against him. I kid you not.

I'm not saying the police is perfect. Perhaps I'm lucky that I joined recently enough so that the racism of old (or not so old, by the tales of the 80's I hear) has gone. I would be an idiot to think that we're doing fine. My asian colleague above I would assume would be the exception to the rule, and there does remain the issues that we predominantly don't represent the communities we represent. Thats one of the few things I do agree with Boris Johnson about, although I would point out to him that how about he considers the ethnic proportionalities of parliament too.

But I don't think it's as bad as the NBPA would for some reason have us believe.

In the meantime, if all else fails I'll can the job, get busy with the wife and move to Ealing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Motorway Cops

You know, I like to think I generally try and keep (for when I get the time to post!! ha) things topical and serious on here. There's a still unpublished musing on the whole Mark Saunders affair loitering in the draft posts section- just what is up with the Independent On Sunday?- and I'm sorry but I think this whole Tarique Ghaffur shambles rumbling on in the big smoke is little more than grown ups acting juvenile and throwing their toys out of the pram, with this whole racism malarkey as a smokescreen. I hope I'm right, but won't gain any pleasure at all to be proved so.

But I've just watched Motorway Cops on the beeb and thought nah balls to high brow blogging lets be populist! Poor wifey has retired early to bed suffering with this cold that everyone has either had or is closely related to someone who has had it (it was my turn last week)- so I've got a bit of time to spare.

So just what were those two Danish girls on? Must have been cocaine if you ask me, to be that plain barking bonkers and aggressive on the carriageway (I've got to admit, I did not see that coming) to relatively normal in custody. Heh I did sympathise with the custody skipper asking the standard issue question of "Have you ever tried to harm yourself" with the mumbled afterthought of "apart from running into moving motorways (twice)!"

What got me though was those two illegal immigrants picked up off the motorway. What kind of ridiculous policy is not arrest them but just send them off to the immigration centre? I acknowledge that should they be arrested, immigration officers would do exactly the same thing of taking no further action, and would simply tell them to attend a walk-in immigration centre. However, entering the country illegally is a criminal offence which means that if they are arrested and sent off toHome Office centres from custody we can get their fingerprints and DNA first. This would help catch out in future the odd one or two who come here with less than honest intentions- and get a concrete date for when they were in the country!

Those two who walked off happy as larry from the two motorway cops, should they ever get stopped again- if they've got any sense at all they'll say they've only just entered the country. That other bloke arrested on the programme had overstayed his visa for 10 years for goodness' sake.

Immigration whinges aside, I would quite like to join traffic and one of these days may get round to making serious enquiries about it. No custody, a decent job car, and the science of accident reconstruction interests me. It's really rather frustrating traffic departments (I still refuse to call it roads policing) are out of favour with politicians and top cops making my chances of joining their ranks somewhat slimmer.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Treading Water

I know, I know. No updates for weeks on end.

I'd like to put some funny or humorous slant on it, but there isn't one really. I am fed up with the job to the extent that time away from it I don't want to think about it at all. I am actively searching the jobs pages (internal, I might add, it's not that bad) for something else- I feel at the moment I simply have to get off response team.

I can't pinpoint precisely why, but its a combination of a few things. A new performance target obsessed governor certainly doesn't help. If it doesn't tick one of his boxes, he simply doesn't care. Actually, that's not true- he actively discourages the troops to do anything that doesn't contribute. Unlucky for you, Suburbiaville residents, if you have a road accident, have a relative who dies, or have cause to call police for anything other than an incident that will require you or someone to be arrested or searched. I don't agree with it all, my PC's know I don't agree with it. They know as long as they're doing their jobs properly I don't care what the final outcome is. But when it's the governor who signs off their applications for courses or promotion, he only looks at the league tables, so I can't blame them for playing the game.

Shift pattern- at least every other month I don't have any weekends off at all. Football season will probably put paid to the other 1 in 4 weekends I'm not at work soon enough.

I think the thing that saddens me most of all is that I am seriously fed up with the laziness of some of the PC's across the teams. I have put a lot of effort into trying to help out with their kit, sorting out supplies, making sure everything is there available that needs to go with a response crew. Yet I go away for a week and find everything in complete disarray. With a few exceptions, the PC's are selfish and either keep stuff for themselves, or expect everything to be sorted out for them. For them, it seems, everything is always someone elses job- yet actually they all have the collective responsibility for it. I've even had some of them come up to me and say "but this isn't your job sarge!" to which I've replied "I know, it's yours". However, the message still hasn't got through and I've had enough doing it for them. Especially when really in theory I should be disciplining them for not doing it in the first place.

So, I'm actively seeking to get off response work. Perhaps I just need a break from it, a change is as good as a holiday and all that. I'm not that fussy as to where I go, just as long as its not office based!

So apologies for the lack of effort on here. I take my hat off to the other bloggers who get almost daily updates on theirs. Hopefully, in a few months, I'll be doing something different and getting myself a bit more zested up. Not just - to quote Mrs Simon who happened to read this whilst in progress- "all you're doing is moaning!"

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Carrying on from post below there is a linked article to do with discipline, where once again skippers get lambasted for not, well, disciplining enough.

McNulty says he is doing lots to ensure police sergeants are getting more training and support. Really?

If he means this "leadership" course I had to go on some time back, then that spectacularly failed to address any of the issues mentioned in the Wail report- i.e. discipline and dealing with incidents. Of the three weeks, one day was spent how to deal with a major incident. Most of the rest of it was spent in group discussions and role plays about resolving staff conflicts.

At least a day was spent debating whether we were "leaders" or "managers". The difference may seem petty at face value but despite being told we were leaders the course was very much geared towards us managing staff, and working around rules, not applying them. I think the job even offered to pay for us all to join the Chartered Institute of Management. That might explain the frequent mailshots I get from them.

The general gist I got was that the job is trying desperately to align itself with business models, with talk of customers, clients, partners et al, improving management. All well and good, but at the end of the day policing simply is not a business. If someone messes up or has a bad day, it doesn't mean a late delivery or a refund, it can mean deep, irrevocable personal consequences.

Talking of discipline. I had cause to discipline someone about them not submitting paperwork- not routine stuff, but something that was actually essential, in fact a legal requirement for them to do. Simple discipline issue, you'd have thought? But no, before I could formally do anything I had write a veritable essay of the circumstances- why this form needed submitting, when I told the Pc it must be submitted (despite their knowing in theory it must be submitted), and what further opportunities, assistance and reminders I gave the Pc to help him submit it!

Its no surprise that minor things like rudeness and not wearing a tie are ignored, when it is simply so much hassle to do something about it. Sort that out Mr McNulty, don't send me on another pink and fluffy management course.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Time well spent?

Well, of the things to get me posting again, I'm surprised its a Daily Mail article. I'm even more surprised I find myself agreeing with it.

But an article dedicated to police sergeants? I couldn't resist.

(Graphic courtesy Daily Mail website.) According to their report, I spend roughly 10% of my time on patrol. And you know what? I think thats a tad optimistic. Lets look at a recent four shift spell:

Day 1: Entire shift in custody. Ridiculously busy. Leave suite with my head swimming. A hell hole of a shift with extremely violent schizophrenic prisoners (deemed to be quite sane by a mental health assessment team??!?), people unconscious after genuine fits; and spitting, clawing drunk females.

Day 2: Entire shift in custody. After previous day, not in the mood for doing anything other than bare minimum.

Day 3: I'm allowed out! However, I have a considerable amount of paperwork relating to a Pc who has "performance issues", a load of stuff to get signed to justify my own existence, plus a mountain of emails I've ignored the last two days in custody. The time I spend out and about is almost solely to give myself a break from the computer screen.

Day 4: First half of shift first aid training. Second half- a meeting relating to my own performance, targets and evidence.

So from the last four days- 32 hrs at work- about 3 hours out of the station? Yep, about right. But only just.

I don't know what sergeants spend only 8% of their time in custody, (are you one? what force are you in? Tell me!) but it's much nearer 50% for me.

The police unsatisfactory performance process is such a long, drawn out and tedious affair. The PC with "performance issues" is currently midway through this, and demands a completely disproportionate amount of my time. I have had to apologise to the other officers I report on as I really haven't spent a lot of time with them at all in 6 months (although I'm not sure they're complaining that much!!). I have my suspicions that this one is going to go all the way, so I have to make a note of every single conversation and instruction I give out, to prevent accusations down the line of "But I was never told that".

I'll spend roughly half an hour a week going through the outstanding crime reports the rest of the team have. I hate it, but I have to deal with them by a series of memos and emails, as I only rarely get a chance to actually sit down and speak to them about it.
If I want to spend time out doing proper police patrol, as in being out of the nick, being free to take calls and go directly to jobs with the PC's (and not just be on the other end of the phone or radio), I have to plan in advance. I generally try and work it so that I do all my paperwork on early or late shifts, so I can actually get out when we're on nights, when the thin blue line is at its thinnest, and I don't spend half my time patrolling a traffic jam.
Sometimes I actually get a bit jealous of the PC's, who each day (well, a lot of them) are free to actually get out and do stuff, while I wave at them out of the window from my computer.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Morning all.

A word of explanation. I know for a while now I have only been posting inconsistently. This is mostly do with a new, frankly terrible shift pattern where I seem to never have any time at home, and that time at home is spent not wanting to be anywhere near a computer desk nor thinking about anything job related.

I am also a bit frustrated that I can't blog about what I'd really like to, like the barmy amount of paperwork I have to do to evidence a particular PC isn't up to the job and the sheer length of time it takes to kick someone out of the job for not being up to scratch. Unless you commit criminal offences or are overtly phobic or 'ist' in one way or the other then it is bleeding hard to be fired in this job.

Perhaps I'm being excessively paranoid about being found out, but I know if I talk about some of the embarrassing moments this Pc has put himself in anyone on my team, and some of the more senior management involved, will suddenly have a very accurate idea of who I am.

I don't know, I seem to have lost a bit of motivation or direction for what I'm doing here. I stand in awe of the like of Bloggs and Gadget et al who are always updating with topical stuff with a good degree of wit and / or sarcasm thrown in, but I find myself thinking I'd rather be out in the garden or polishing the bike or something.

I apologise if anyone has sent an email to the one I have to the right- I haven't checked it in ages and now I look at it with a good degree of guilt, particularly with regard to one person whom I promised I'd do something and I never have got round to it- particular apologies to you.

I think this will be the status quo for some time, methinks, or at least until I get on a different pattern. I've reached a point where I am now actively looking for something to get me off response team as I figure if I'm going to put up with rubbish shifts and far too much time in custody, I might as well clear off somewhere else where I still may have rubbish shifts but can bin the time in custody instead. I can't remember the last time I was able to driven a pursuit standard car for anything other than 15 minutes and Traffic (yes, Traffic, not Roads Policing), always in the back of my mind as a career option, is coming more and more to the fore.

I'm not saying I'm going to fold this site. I just wanted to explain why I have been so sporadic in updating, and say that unfortunately that'll be the case for a while yet.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Anyone else see this coming?

Old news now I know but I've only just found the bit of newspaper I saved, as it made me laugh in a highly ironic way.

Recall a while ago I posted in a mildly disparaging way about the government's "tough on crime" policy with regard to paying £3000 to those of foreign shores convicted of a crime here? The £3k being an incentive to take voluntary deportation?

I think I said something along the lines of what a load of rubbish.

Well, it is a load of rubbish to anyone except the criminal of foreign extraction, who must be laughing all the way to their home country having been released from prison early, and then having the UK taxpayer fund their journey straight back home. Possibly even business class.

Except that this isn't actually a hypothetical situation any more.

I am not in the least bit surprised he came back the following day. After all, what kind of punishment is he going to face? No judge will give him the 10 year sentence the Theft Act allows him to mete out.

I heard a rumour on one TV news programme or the other- I can't remember which one, I had only just fallen out of bed, I really wasn't paying attention and thus I have no idea whether it is true or not- but I heard that there was a proposal for suspected terrorists detained over the 28 day limit, to be paid £3000 per day of continued incarceration? Anyone confirm or (surely) deny this?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Well I never

Last Saturday, I did two things I normally never would do.

I bought something from a motorway service station, and it was a copy of The Times. I did the mental equivalent of a handbrake turn when I saw the headline article though, and I had to buy it just because I didn't believe it.

Top police to boycott official police paperwork? Turns out the headline is a touch misleading as Surrey police and their compatriots are not boycotting the official paperwork, but are giving a suitable finger to the target driven culture that has the bane of every front line PC, and a great deal of dissatisfied "customers".

Well halle-flippin-lujah. What this and countless other blogs have been saying for ages, in fact is the root motivation for many a blogger- has finally been noticed at the top of the policing tree.

I still have some reservations though- I put chief constables in the same bracket as politicians most of the time, and I will be curious to know if any front line officers from Surrey, West Mids, Staffs and Leics police will actually find their day to day jobs any different. Not that I'm suggesting that Chief Constables are all talk and no action, or like their league topping position a little too much to really follow through with this once the media isn't listening.

I hope I'm wrong. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times that target driven policing is a shambles to the detriment of the police and the public. So much front line work either cannot be measured - e.g. how you go about dealing with the family of a road death victim- or is ignored all in favour of the big two: total recorded crime, and total detected crime. Nothing else seems to matter come the end of the financial year.

Come March this year I had to laugh as suddenly bucketloads of cash were released from their hoarding sites as 1) it had to be spent else there'd be less the next year 2) everything was being thrown to try and keep the total recorded crime figures less than the previous year. I kid you not, up to three minibuses a day full of old bill on overtime, dragged out from every which corner, stuffed in a yellow jacket and told to do "high viz anti burglary patrol".

So I hope that Mr Rowley, Sims et al are true to their reported word, and really have decided that focusing and driving towards being top of the sanction detections table at the cost of losing common sense and discretion is to end.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Knife Crime

Well I'm only away barely a week and all sorts go on.

So the government will solve knife crime by a multi million pound poster campaign? Well, that'll work.

I am fed up of people asking me what we're going to do about it. I normally now just simply turn the question round and ask what they think we should do. This usually provokes a bit of a bluster and one of two responses- "I don't know, just something", or an indignant "I don't know, its your job to figure it out".

Well, no. It's everyone's job. Especially parents. Especially government and local authorities who need to give schools the proper resources- and I don't mean posters- to speak to these kids who look like they're certain to end up through my custody suite doors. I have relatives in the education system and the potential to stop a lot of children and youths going feral is clearly there, but the government and the Daily Mail readership is only obsessed with the three R's to the exclusion of everything else. Difficult kids are invariably seen as a drain and a diversion of resources and it is rare to find a school (through no fault of their own) prepared to put the time and effort into these kids to stop them becoming one of my regular customers.

So what would I personally do? Well, nothing more than I do at the moment. Legislation is sufficient and is actually fairly common sense. To not quote exactly, to have a pointed or bladed article without lawful reason is the offence, but the lawful reason is not specified and is open to interpretation.

It's a cliche but it isn't the knife thats the problem, it's the person carrying it. I have on my kit belt a multi tool with not one but three blades that should I ever decide to use it that way would cause horrible injuries, and is easily strong enough to penetrate far enough to be fatal.

Carrying it on my kit belt at work is fine. I've used it for a number of things including fixing door frames and sawing the tops off plastic bottles.

Take it down the pub with me, different kettle of fish.

This may be controversial, but police don't need to do any more. We could search more people, but that'd need the removal of the reasonable grounds to suspect clause out of the search legislation. At the moment, when we find people with knives, or screwdrivers, or anything else in circumstances we find dubious, we bring them in.

They go to court- and herein lies the problem. What deterrent is a £50 fine. Spin a yarn about they forgot it was in the car door or they left it in their back pocket after fixing a loose screw and off you go. Unless you are daft enough to talk in interview how you planned on using it against anyone whether self defence or not you'll never get a punishment bigger than a big saturday booze up.
Knife crime is one of those things where prevention is far far better than the too-late time when we happen to search them. However, the government is ploughing money only into something visible and something people can see and talk about. Utterly unsurprising. Putting the money where it'd be useful won't have the instant, visible, talk-about-at-the-next-election results the government quite clearly crave.

Next post- what's this I hear about Chief Constables officially going against the government grain and binning sanction detection targets?

(Useful website I came across: )

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I predict a riot

Funnily enough, I did just do that. I said to a colleague, "If Rangers lose, it'll kick off".

I wasn't quite expecting several hundred of them to kick off because their giant TV broke, though. Still, thats what happens when you let several hundred people drink all day.

Still, at least the cup final was in Manchester, not Europe, where the police take less kindly to being chased down the street and would've used water cannons, CS gas at concentrations double what we're allowed and several dozen more gratuitous baton charges.
I did laugh at one outraged football shirted woman captured on some news reel, thinking how the police were soooo brutal because they pushed her over. Well, lets think about this. You've a rather hacked off police force (15 injured, plus that cctv footage we've all seen) who are ordered to clear streets, usually to allow ambulances access to one of the dozens of injured supporters. You don't move, you get shoved out of the way. If anything, they were restrained. Riots aren't a spectator sport.
In major public disorder, we don't usually have the time to stop and explain what we need to do and why. Awfully sorry.
Noddy has posted his views from north of the border, but you'll need a scottish translator to read it :-)
Lets see if the supporters this weekend take their cue from Manchester... hum...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I know I haven't been posting much recently. A lot of time at work means not a lot of time thinking about work when I don't have to, combined with most of the stuff that I'd really like to whinge about would unfortunately make myself far too identifiable, and a couple of garden projects underway, all in all means not much time spent on here.

In the meantime, here's an article for Ms Chakrabarti to consider next time she stands on her pedestal to whinge about how corrupt and abusive the police here are- her last whinge I found being about they were preparing to take legal action against the Co-Op for being prepared to use that terrible tortuous device known as the "mosquito" (a high pitched sonic gadget designed to be immensely annoying to young people, so that they clear off).

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the ideals of Liberty et al, but lets have a sense of perspective?

Friday, May 09, 2008


The last post reminded me of something I meant to post about a while back.

Some time in April, I was off visiting the folks, and I had been saved a glossy leaflet dropped through the letterbox trumpeting the success of their local force in the last performance year. 4500(*) crimes reduced! 7000 more crimes detected! Healthy satisfaction levels across the board in all communities! We are safer than 12 months ago!

The problem is, I don't believe a bleeding word of it. I still know that if I have to call 999 when I'm there I'll consider myself highly fortunate to have a response car within 10 miles of me. The statistics trumpeted I consider with utter disdain, knowing the majority of it will be down to dubious crime recording methods. I am having regular run-ins with my own crime management unit where they even go to the extent of recording something as a no-crime until certain tasks are carried out.

Following a time year where my folks had occasion to call their local police, their (and most certainly my) opinion of them has taken a nosedive following the way they dealt with the call. Don't get me wrong, it was highly compliant with the priorities blared out, but as an "end user" left a very sour taste in the mouth. So much for high levels of satisfaction.

So I thought if I consider this performance news with the gravity I would with a steaming cow deposit, what chance has everyone else got.

(*) All numbers made up of course.... but along those sort of lines

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Random Thought

Tootling home the other day from what felt like an interminable shift in custody and my mind was wandering.

For most uniform sections of the police, arrest figures are king. I was speaking to some traffic colleagues the other day. Their senior management have set them targets of a certain number of tickets and arrests per month. The (to my mind) absolute core function of a traffic officer- don't ask me to call them roads policing officers- surely has to be to reduce the number of serious and fatal car accidents. Job parlance for that is KSI's- Killed or Seriously Injured. Yet a target to reduce KSI's doesn't actually feature in the performance indicators set for traffic officers.

I simply just don't get that at all.

This led me on. Senior management, led by the government and whatever authorities they answer to, by the way they have determined performance figures obviously feel that the more arrests = more productive = more good.

Surely though, would the most effective police force would be the one that doesn't find it necessary to arrest anyone in a month. I admit I'm slightly in the realms of fantasyland here as while there are people in the world, some of them will always be up to no good. But do you see my general point? The most effective police force will prevent crime, not simply turn up afterwards to claim arrest points.

But we are orientated completely and utterly to the latter. Not the former.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A TV review moment

Had one of those rare things yesterday, an evening free to watch the box, and happened to come across "Traffic Cops" on the beeb.

The wife doesn't understand me at all. I whinge about how much time I'm spending at the job and then when I do have some time off, I spend it watching a tv programme about the job.

To be fair, she has a point.

Anyhoo I still do find it interesting to watch stuff about UK police, if only out of a curiosity to see how other forces deal with various things, and generally have a debate with myself to see if I'd do the same thing.

Following on from my previous posts below, I definitely do share their sense of frustration with the traffic people about the lack of ability to deal with pursuits. The little oik who crashed an old dear's Micra? I can safely say he won't learn any lessons at all from being caught, and being disqualified from driving. Oh no, I'm disqualified from driving, when I don't have a driving licence in the first place.

Putting my sense of annoyance at the personal characteristics of pint sized scumbag aside, I can understand why the pursuit was called off. Barely 13 years old, haring round in a stolen motor, around a residential estate, in the daytime after school is out is a recipie for disaster. I think the greatest source of frustration is in our apparent inability to deal with pursuits, and a lack of willingness from senior management and home office to seriously invest money into researching safe alternative means of pursuit termination.

But while our options remain limited to stinger, with the odd brave force continuing with TPAC, then this will continue to be a story repeated. TWOC will continue to be common with bored teenagers with little fear of reprisal even if caught. The alternative is to commit your crimes on a motorbike, and give the finger to every passing useless patrol car.

In other news- I'm a fan of Mrs Justice Rafferty! Finally a proper sentence for two definitive scumbags who kicked a man to death in a half-robbery, half for-the-hell-of-it escapade. 28 and 26 years. Now that's a sentence that might actually do what it's supposed to do and serve as a deterrent to others.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fulfilling the criteria

I am now happily able to type with both hands again after slicing the fingers jumping over a fence the other day! At work, not at home, I might add.

Anyhoo as promised another sad tale of the mental health system at its finest. Myself and a couple of others turned up to an assistance call from the ambulance service. We met the man in green at the bottom of the stairwell who chuckled as he saw us. He told us we'd been here before.

I understood this as we got to the front door, and saw the distinctive red circular marks across most of the door and barely there door frame, and understood that this place had been visited by someone with the 'big red door key'.

The source of all this was inside the flat. The ambulance bods had withdrawn after getting stuff thrown at them, and called us in with our highly trained negotiating skills (note- sarcasm) to try and talk to the clearly imbalanced chap inside.

Lionel, aformentioned imbalanced chap, was up and down like the proverbial yoyo. One moment he was tearful, knowing something was really wrong, wanting the voices to stop- next extremely paranoid, yelling abuse, face contorting. Some of the insults thrown at us were in all honesty quite spectacular in their originality and vulgarity. Packets of medication are all over the place. He manages to tell us he hasn't taken any of them. Which is the root cause of his now unbalanced state.

To cut a long story short, Lionel actually did want to go to the hospital, and as a courtesy to the ambulance peolpe a couple of PC's went with them in the ambulance.

Once we got the hospital, once again, things got political.

Lionel has had a drink. So, despite him being clearly not the full ticket, the mental health wing refused point blank to have anything to do with him until he was fully sober. Which meant we had to take him to A&E. Who are totally inequipped to deal with a volatile, paranoid, abusive man.

And so start the rounds of "it's not my problem". Mental health / 136 department won't have anything to do with him because "they can't assess him". We were only there as the ambulance had called us, and have not invoked any powers and so don't need to be there. The A&E have nothing to do with him as he doesn't need any "normal" medical treatment.

Meanwhile, A&E tell us we can't go as the bloke has the potential for violence. I say to them they've a quarter of my response team babysitting them whilst he has committed no offences and is not 136'd.

I hate this. I know that Lionel has the potential to kick off, and I always try to help out A&E and ambulance staff, underpaid and overburdened as they are. But now I've gone up a rank I have to say that if there's no real reason for someone to be sat somewhere, then I need them back out on patrol. If I had dozens of officers on patrol, not so much of an issue. But I have 8.

So nobody wins. I tell the hospital they have until the hour to sort out their security as I have to have my officers back out by then. If Lionel kicks off, they'll have to call us back. I'm not happy telling them this, but patient security, and their lack of security staff, is something they have to take up with their management, it isn't something we can guarantee to help them with. Of course, Lionel is free to go when he pleases as he isn't sectioned or under arrest.

I don't know what the answer is with people like Lionel. I don't advocate locking them up and going by the "out of sight, out of mind" principle, but this "not my problem" problem is just as bad. The only thing that surprises me about this story is that it hasn't happened before.

Ideally, we need a comfortable, secure suite that someone can wait safely in until sober or not under any influence. But that would cost money to build and staff. So, it doesn't happen, and every time someone who is clearly mentally ill but has been taking substances to try and cope with it, they are ignored by the system.

It is only a matter of time before Lionel, or someone just like him, becomes another statistic like the Leicestershire link above.

I don't know what the final outcome was with Lionel, whether he walked out or managed to stay long enough for the psych teams to say yay or nay. We weren't called back in any event.

Even if he was admitted, it'll only be a matter of time before he's out again by himself, forgetting or ignoring his medication.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Time waits for no man

Ridiculously busy at work at the moment. Unfortunately, it's not the "good" busy. Its the busy that keeps me tied to a computer most of the time. I've actually reached the point where I'm emailing stuff to and from home to keep on top of things.

Unfortunately for a response team sergeant, I don't really have the option of turning off the radio and cracking on with all the reports. Well, I rephrase, I could, but I don't, as I'd much rather be out there dealing with stuff than remotely directing people via the radio. So I guess the backlog of tedious stuff is kind of my fault.

As for hoping to have a quiet hour or so in custody to do this, forget it. I gave myself indigestion the other day eating my lunch so fast in the one 5 minute gap where I didn't have to do anything immediately.

When things do calm down a bit, expect a post that is yet another frustrating indictment of the mental health "system".

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stop or Not

When I initially read this report, I must admit I laughed and said "doh" on behalf of the Hampshire police officers who managed to take out three of their own cars whilst chasing a stolen car.

Now I've had a chance to think about it, it did make me think (again) about the whole police pursuit business. Three teenagers driving a seriously powerful car- a Bentley Continental- clearly having no intention of ever stopping for a roadside chat.

I think the news report would be quite different if one of the three died in the crash.

At what point does the risk of someone getting seriously injured, including the thieves themselves, override the need for them to be arrested?

This country will never follow the American example of trying to induce a "controlled" crash before they lose control (see the sidebar vids for examples) to terminate a pursuit. We only have stinger (ineffective against runflat tyres) and TPAC, or boxing in, and a number of forces don't even authorise that as its too much of a risk of someone getting injured, or too expensive to train officers, or they don't want the repair bills. A lot of forces will never authorise a pursuit of a motorbike, mainly because noone can think of a way to end it without the motorbike crashing, which obviously means the person riding it will be injured.

Its another of those which shoulder to listen to questions- pursue no matter what the risk to the person failing to stop, or stop as soon as its clear that it'll likely end in tears? I'm only thinking of the night time pursuits like the example here, where the person failing to stop is the one most at risk of injury. If someone is pursued into a town centre or through residential areas half an hour after school closing time, then the pursuit should be called off, period.

Personally, I'd like to see some of the American ideas brought in. If the suspect can be forced off the road in a reasonable safe manner as soon as possible, then I think we should before he or she gets the chance to really get the speed up and put other people at risk. All police cars should be equipped with stinger, but again to cut training and equipment costs, only traffic officers are trained. And seeing how we only usually have one traffic car on nights, for a vast swathe of Suburbiaville and its environs, it usually is never available. No pursuit I've ever been on has a traffic unit managed to get in front for a stinger deployment.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Poles Apart

Had the joys of dealing with a group of Suburbiaville's economic migrants, or whatever the current favoured term for the swell of East European fellows currently residing here for purposes of plastering and plumbing are.

These people ought to have a photocall with a government minster, as they have clearly have embraced traditional british cultural activities during their time here, but have cannily updated it with a twist appropriate to their cultural origin.

What this actually means is instead of themselves getting completely inebriated with Stella, they use Smirnoff.

However, the traditional British activity of then beating seven bells of hell out of each other remains unerringly familiar.

None of this is lost on me, being a suitably citizen-focused officer, as I survey the scene of blood spread across two streets. At least I don't understand the what I am assured are genuine ethnic swear words being yelled at me.

Chap in back of ambulance with bits of cheap wine bottle sticking out of various limbs, and the owner of most of the blood spread across the pavement is doing his best to cheerily tell us not to worry about what happened. His emotions suggest somewhat otherwise and I am grateful that this is our last night shift, so we won't be on when he's stitched back together and released to sort this matter out on his terms.

His friends are bordering on downright contemptous. They are adamant we are not required to intervene in their minor argument. One in particular doesn't bother to hide his contempt at us trying to tape off pools of blood left right and centre. I can see he thinks we're quite pathetic.

Whats the point, he calls out, it was an argument between friends. Its all over now. He feels we should therefore adopt his attitude, and as such the crime scene is therefore all a pointless exercise he can walk right through it.

Unfortunately for him, the Pc who happened to be the first on scene trying to contain all this mayhem is now just about on top of things and the crime scene is under his command. He also happens to be 6 foot 5 and the size of your average house extension. Our friend is given suitable advice that although he might think our rules our daft you start breaking them then we're not so useless after all.

I kind of wish that he tries to re-enter the scene after being assisted to leave in the manner a disobedient puppy is moved from where he is not supposed to be. However, he decides not to.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Who to listen to

I was having a chat with a colleague from a different force the other day. I can't remember why the conversation started but once the usual pleasantries and regular comparisons were exchanged (crap shifts? yep. At work the whole time? Yep. Hours of work seen wasted by judges afraid or advised not to use decent sentences? Oh yes) the conversation turned to a recent incident he had been dealing with.

Billy the Burglar and one of his equally criminally inclined friends had had a little prang in the nice motor they had recently relieved the lawful owner of. No other cars involved, and no it wasn't a pursuit, or even a sniff of one. Just them, a crash barrier and some road signage.

Unfortunately, Billy was driving fast enough and not wearing enough of a seatbelt to be able to survive.

Herein lies the copper's moral maze.

Devil on one shoulder is almost glad of this. My colleague tells me Billy was a right piece of work, and as a result of him no longer partaking in this world they will now see a significant percentage fall in their residential burglaries. A lot of people will no longer suffer their houses being broken into as a result. The devil whispers to consider this as evolution in action.

Angel on other shoulder counters with it's still a waste of a young life, he was still someone's son, and asks what failings there have been in the system so Billy got to this stage of prolific burglar who steals for fun.

Who to listen to?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Under 18 = incapable of crime?

I would hazard a guess that Chris Sidoti is a liberal.

Now, I have nothing against liberal politics per se, but something caught my eye that I could barely believe.

Chris Sidoti is the author of the UK's first written bill of rights. Apparently, this will be enacted in Northern Ireland, according to the Observer. Good luck to the PSNI is what I say!

You thought the Human Rights Act was bad enough in letting criminals claim that criminal proceedings were against their human rights? Well get a load of this.

Mr Sidoti proposes that the age of criminal responsibility should rise to 16.

Wait, there's more.

The plan is that it should be 18!!!!

I'm sorry, Mr Sidoti, but GET REAL. Under your plans, the two teenagers who deliberately drove at the two armed cops in London would get away scot free. Crime levels would rocket, its the only way to describe it.

My old patch, nearer the centre of town, had a particular issue with cannabis dealing. Almost without exception, the dealers were 16-17. Most vehicle crime- particularly TWOC or "joyriding", is by kids under 18.

So Mr Sidoti would empty out the YOI's across the country because they're all misunderstood little darlings. Well, yes, at one point there may well have been an intervention available to deter them away from crime. But by the time they get there, it's pretty much too late. Giving them this get out of jail free card is out of touch, fantasist, and frankly dangerous.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Family Connections

I happened to browse over someone's shoulder today (well, I wouldn't buy it myself) an article in the epitome of unbiased reporting, The Sun. I noticed this article.

Some bloke is given eight points on his licence for driving like a tool at 130mph plus.

Not normally a cause for a story, there must be dozens of people going through the courts on a daily basis on speeding cases that never get a sniff at the Sun's editorial desk.

Yet this is news. Why? Because he's an ex-cop's son. Not even a serving officer. In fact, he's a PCSO. But that isn't the blaring headline.

The whole article has a somewhat unsubtle bias, and it is clear to me the person writing the article either believes, or wants you to believe, he only got this lenient sentence on the basis of him being an ex-cops son.

Sure enough, the first commenter "makes" the connection, saying how we all look after our own.

This whole article annoyed me because of the snidey anti-police connection made when there frankly is none.

For what it's worth, he should have been banned. £200 fine driving a V6 Alfa Romeo? He's got more cash than that. A non-police friend of mine, no previous motoring offences, got that fine (and the rest!), plus a 6 month ban for 105mph on a motorway.

It should be the judge that gets the criticism here. Not making unsubtle hints thats its only because his old man used to be a policeman that he got off lightly.

Investigative journalism at its finest.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Double Standards

Want proof that setting targets is a helpful method of improving performance? Ask the senior NHS man who's just been sent down for a year for trying to make his results meet government targets.

Okay so he falsified some documents to fiddle the figures, but two questions I have:

1) Is that really a million miles different to the crime classification games the police play to make certain crime types appear not as prevalent as they really are? The over emphasis on sanctioned detections, where a 5 pound shoplift carries the same statistical weight as a murder or rape?

2) How come this bloke, on a first conviction, without any personal gain or injury to any other person, gets sent down for a year, whilst violent drunks, car thieves and burglars get (barely) supervised community orders?

All of this, of course, whilst the government themselves are desperately trying to not make themselves accountable, and have all their generous expenses claims kept secret from the people who fund them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Show me the.....

Well, a couple of days a long way from the grey walls of Suburbiaville, where by some terrible mistake of planning I forgot to take the phone, and I'm feeling a bit better about actually going to work.

It's surprising (read: not at all) to find that after a bank holiday weekend the email inbox barely registering anything new at all. As crime doesn't happen on bank holidays, not least in offices within police stations, there has been nobody in to send force wide emails on minute (but god help you if you don't implement it) changes in policy, or the unneccessarily detailed breakdown of the last so many hours crime patterns. I shall wait for the deluge upon my next non-bank holiday login.

Before I get criticised for criticising people not working the bank holiday- I know, I wasn't there for all of it either, but it was only my second weekend off this year that just so happened to be a bank holiday weekend. I did get calls to ask me to work various days within it but I balanced it up and thought the ire of the duties office was a better bet than the wrath of the wife.

Anyhoo one thing has caught my eye. Ever eager to clamp down on expenditure on every public sector (excepting, of course, within their own unaudited, mileage-claiming, second home owning, self-pay-rising, family employing walls) the government has put forward the suggestion that PC's and Sergeants should have overtime payments abolished in favour of a higher basic salary.
The details are in the most recent Police Review, for those who are able to log in.

I can hear Inspector Gadget's hollow laughter already. Inspectors and above forfeited their right to overtime back in 1996 for a higher basic salary.

Now, this higher basic wage would be a fantastic idea for anyone office based. An extra 3 grand a year for doing precisely nothing more. For muppets like me still flogging out rotating shift patterns and the unpredictability that response policing inevitably generates, we'll probably lose out. There's been at least two or three occasions this year already where circumstances have dictated I have had to stay at work long enough to work into a rest day. Things like this aren't planned, and are generally actually an inconvenience, but at least the following month when you've forgotten all about the extra tiredness and rapidly rearranged childcare stuff there's an extra couple hundred quid to play with.

I don't want to see overtime scrapped in favour of a higher basic rate. I'm no overtime bandit unlike some other safeguard-aholics I work with, but I still wouldn't want it on principle. However, it worries me that if it went to a vote, there's a lot of Pc's and skippers working in office based units, with no intention of being in a situation where they could end up being late home, who would vote yes if it came to it.

I think policing would suffer, too. Don't pay the overtime and there's a real risk that an hour before the shift end, every car is going to be parked up in the back yard with the log books shelved. At least now, if you're late off, there's extra money to be had off it. Be late off with no recompense at all, and especially if your finishing on time colleagues will get exactly the same cash, then there will be a real motivational issue. Coppers generally are decent people who want to help the people who call 999, but we're not complete fools and we all have bills to pay- and if we get the same money for whenever you finish what's the point in taking the last minute shoplifter that'll make you 4hrs late home.

But of course, McNumpty et al don't care about this, they only see the pound signs, and if they think they'll go down, then it'll be worth it whatever the price, if you catch the irony.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Coming up for air

I know I've been rubbish about doing anything on here on a regular basis at the moment, but it's somewhat lower down the list of priorities at the moment. At work the whole time it seems at the moment, a relentless movie on repeat of custody desks, perpetual sanction detection plea emails. The force has found a huge reserve of money from somewhere and is throwing everything they have at scraping a few more figures before the end of the month, so custody is more busy than usual with top brass sniffing around. Combine that with days off cancelled here there and everywhere, a frankly quite horrible job the other day and when I get home I'm much more inclined to sleep or go and do something completely job unrelated with the missus.

Hopefully, normal service to be resumed in April.....

Monday, March 10, 2008

My remit is everything

I've had it up to here with the job at the moment.

You'd think policing is in essence a simple concept but somehow it has become a convoluted twisted political game. Maybe it's especially worse at this time of year (i.e. three weeks before the end of the financial year) but it's just pathetic at the moment.

Couple of things have highlighted this to me. Having spent an entire day doing a pointless paperwork duplication exercise for someone in HR having a strop (It doesn't matter that you've got all this record of supervision in this format, it has to be done on this one) I went out with a bunch of my lot the other day. I even got to drive for a bit before I had to give up to deal with my phone going incessantly about some other pointless political wrangling:

One of your team is driving our squad's car!
Do you need it? You're going off duty now.
You're not on our squad, you can't use our car.
Tough, I've got permission from your governor.

(repeat several times.)

I was saddened to see one of my Pc's, an Irishman the size of a medium oak tree, become near jubilant over finding some cannabis, which meant his sanction detection targets (also now known as "Saccy D's", I found out) were now met for the month.

I wasn't saddened because he met his target (not that I take any notice of the targets anyway, as I am quite aware the capability of a police officer is not measured by a tickbox list) but because we have reached the situation where a reliable, capable PC, damn useful in a pub fight, is reduced to this.

I ought to add the reason for his jubilation was that now, having achieved his target for the month, he was free to dealing with jobs in the most appropriate way, not the way the statisticians want.

As it is now the end of the financial reporting year, all the various squads are desperately trying (as in even harder than usual) to avoid being given any new jobs that could impact their figures. Whilst I was in custody the other day the domestic violence unit were desperately trying to cling on to the ACPO definition of a domestic incident because the female victim, who lived with her less than charming other half who had given her a thumping, was a few days under the age of 18 (ACPO definition being a domestic incident can only take place between adults over 18, you see). Unfortunately for them, the arresting officer wasn't a PC, slightly more susceptible to being out-talked by squads- but the duty officer for the day.

Half an hour later two grumpy detectives mooch into the custody suite. I did chuckle to myself.

Of course, response teams have the remit of everything. I love the gadget quote- remits are excuses used by lazy officers to avoid doing work. Or to avoid doing unglamorous work.

Another day, a different squad from a neighboring division in the custody suite, as their own custody suite is full. There's four of them dealing with this one prisoner. Force doctor says that the chap needs a constant watch and so they approach the desk with this news, expecting to use one of our PCs. Their faces when my colleague tells them where a chair is so they can do it. With the duty officer behind him, agreeing with it. Sorry chaps, you're already using our facilities, you're not diminishing our team strength with your problem. I did chuckle. Again. I could see their thought process on their faces- "but I'm on a squaaaad!"

I think I'm just especially frustrated with response team work at the moment. We are the easiest to blame for any failure to meet squads targets, we get criticised for failing to reach our corporate team targets, never get any thank you for dealing with crappy jobs well. It is so easily forgotten how I have a quarter of my available response team sat cold, bored and immobile on crime scenes, and much easier to point out how so many percentage of calls weren't answered in the chartered response time.

Response team is the dumping ground for anything that comes into the too difficult box for other departments. I spend at least 2/3 of my time when I'm not in custody doing reams of paperwork relating to an officer that came into the too difficult box for the training unit, and who got farmed off to response team to "develop".

I'm coming increasingly to the conclusion I need a break from response team. It's all I've ever really been interested in the job, but I'm getting to the stage where I've had enough. I'd like to be able to play more than one rugby match in a month without having to take leave to do so. It'd be nice to have a shift pattern that doesn't include night shifts. I'd like to have a team with PC's where I don't have monitor every single thing they do.

I think I need to be on a squad.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

As Tough as Usual on Crime

The latest hare-brained scheme from Central Office? Lets give our foreign prisoners £3000 in the hope that they'll agree to go home??!

Am I alone in thinking that this is an incentive to commit crime?

Yes I know the argument about how it saves the taxpayer money by them not being in prison any more... but how did we find ourselves in the situation where the only way we can deport foreign nationals is to bribe them?

I'm all for migrants who come here, work and pay their taxes. A hell of a lot of them do immeasurably better than some of our own home grown workshy types. But if you commit a crime serious enough to warrant incarceration, then it shouldn't be an option, you will be deported on the completion of your sentence if deemed appropriate.

Not on the condition you accept £3000 to do so!!

Here's an idea (thought of the following day): how about we take the £3000, minus one one-way ticket, and give the rest to the victim of their crime? That sounds a little more like justice to me, rather than pay your offender a barrowload of cash

Monday, March 03, 2008

I feel the need......

Feel urged to write this post having had a couple of conversations with people over the weekend.

I do not, have not, and most likely will never have anything to do with speed cameras. I don't have anything to do with where they're sited and I certainly never see any sniff of any "revenue" generated from them. If I did, I might have a fleet car capable of setting one of the things off without a 200 metre run up.

In fact, from photo to court summons it is more likely than not that no police officer will ever have the slightest thing to do with it any point. Its all dealt with by civilian officers from "Safety Camera Partnerships".

I'm sorry, it's a speed camera. Calling it a safety camera is merely trying to rebrand it into something its not. It can only ever deal with speed and the myriad other factors (drink, drugs, bald tyres, leaking fuel pipes etc etc) that have a significant impact on road safety are excluded. The following Top Gear video sums it up nicely.

Should I ever make Chief Superintendent, I wouldn't get rid of speed cameras, for they can have a role. However, I would have the following rules.

1) The relevant speed should be posted on the back of the camera.
2) The camera can only be sited where-
i) There is an accident blackspot
ii) Local residents have requested one, backed up by a speed survey
iii) worker safety (I know someone who works for one of the firms who do engineering work etc on the motorway, who has a few fruity things to say about people who speed past him whilst he's standing protected by nothing more than cones)
iv) a high density pedestrian area, by which I mean town centres and schools. I've never seen a camera in a town centre or by a school.

The reason for said speed camera should be posted on a plate below the camera.

I get just as hacked off with cameras as the rest of you. I have heard a rumour that SPECS cameras are going up on a A road near where I live, on a national speed limit 2/3 lane dual carriageway that I often use to go into work. In the last 4 years or so, I've never known an accident on that road. When I head in to work at 5 am on Sunday when I quite often don't see another car at any point, I don't have an issue bimbling down at 85, or possibly faster if I had a car capable of not sounding like the engine is about to come through the bonnet at said speed. If I was in a job car on a shout, I'd have no problem topping the ton.

But now I'm going to have to constantly monitor the speedo, consider getting flowery non-ANPR reading numberplates (there's never a traffic officer around these days to tell you off, after all) and quietly see nothing at all when I see things like this:

Small print: blah blah I'm a police officer and speeding, and most particularly the wanton destruction of taxpayers money manifested in the form of a speed camera, is highly naughty and illegal and expect to get prosecuted.

(Note- for some reason the comments tab isn't appearing, I have no idea why, hopefully it'll show up again)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lies and Damn Lies

This news article talks about drug related crime. The following two quotes are direct lifts.

Labour: "[we have] reduced drug use to an 11-year low and drug-related crime by 20% in the past five years."

Conservatives: "Labour's failure to tackle drugs has led to an increase in drug crime by 43%"

So which is it? Down by 20% or up by 43%? No idea.

Whichever is right, it doesn't really matter. All that will happen in that whatever pointless home office sourced initiative is implemented, all that will happen for me is that there will be a new compliance or performance indicator imposed on us to monitor our implementation of said scheme. It won't make any difference to victims, and may inconvenience a suspect or two. With the current drug testing scheme in place those found to be users of class A are required to attend drug treatment programmes already. If they don't, the courts do absolutely nothing about it apart from tell them to start it all over again.

This initiative by Labour is merely a rebranding PR exercise in a sad attempt to keep up their tough on crime posturing.

They'll never get the seizing assets on arrest proposal through the house of lords (bypassing as it does the assumption of innocent until proven guilty) and as the Tories do point out existing legislation covers it adequately under the proceeds of crime act.

But it sounds good to say we'll seize a drug dealers assets. Nobody likes a drug dealer.

"We want communities to be free of drug-related crime and we want see tough enforcement of the law"

Good strong words Miss Smith. This of course in contradiction to Mr Straw, asking the courts last week to not jail as many people.

Politicians. Bunch of self-serving, self-interested, self-expense-paying hot air merchants.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oh the hilarity

Following on from the last post- here is the link to Haringey's Autumn 2007 newsletter! The Met are decent enough to publish it online for us all to bask in the hollow words of the senior management team,. Haringey of course is the locality that Superintendent Mawson worked in, and subsequently moved his residence away from as he had some troublesome youths nearby.

It's all on a PDF file and I'm not computer literate enough to be able to copy any pictures of those across, but please follow the link above while it's still there.

Check out the headline articles:

Chief Superintendent: "We've all got a part to play in battle for safer streets". But only from the Ivory Tower offices for Superintendents.

Thie is the best article by a country mile, oh so inappropriate now:

"Making a difference in your neighbourhood".

By leaving!!!!!!!!!


My thanks to Nightjack for alerting me to the fact this was online.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Led by example....

Well, if ever anyone wanted proof senior police management have evolved (or should that be devolved) into political beasts it's here.

Superintendent Mawson would have made many a speech in his climb up the greasy pole about how important the community was, how things must be done in partnership with the community to tackle issues that adversely affect the community.

So here is Mr Superintendent, now part of the community, and adversely affected by a problem. So what does he do, someone in a position of power and authority?

He does what any good politician would do. Talk a good fight, and then move somewhere so that he doesn't have take part in it. If only the rest of us earned over £70K a year and could afford to be choosy about where we live!

An aside. Community is a liberally espoused but often completely meaningless word. Senior management are utterly devoted to making sure everything we do is supported by the community. Being part of any group which can have the community tag attached to it seems to mean instantly that any government funded service think you're a good thing.

"Community" conjures up images of village fetes and retired people chatting over garden fences, but in reality means any group with a common purpose or origin, but whose values can be completely opposite (and on occasion violently so) to those from a different community.

No real point to this last bit, other than I wish politicians and senior police officers would actually be more specific about which community they talk about, rather than the undefinable catchall terms they currently speak about....

GMP: "extra officers- right into the heart of communities"
Met: you can call their "Community Reassurance Team"!
West Mercia- their local police teams "engage communities and partners"

Its such a vague term to border on useless.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Motivation: 0

Sorry to those expecting for some reason a scintillating witty topical post today (as if any of you were) but I am too tired even to comment at the governments latest plea to magistrates not to jail people.

I've just had my only weekend off next month cancelled; I have my "issues" probationer calling me on days off now (thank heavens for caller ID); I have a mountain of paperwork to do (its coming up to PDR time, in addition to issues probationer and if I ever get the chance some self-development stuff!!) which of course I never am able to get on top of as I am hardly ever let out of the custody suite. This has a double impact as on the rare days I am let out of the dungeon I have to spend the day going through said mountainous volume of paperwork.

This really hacks me off as funnily enough I actually would rather like to get out and do some proper police work, which for me involves actually dealing with people, not computer screens.

So I'm off to watch a recently borrowed copy of Long Way Round, and get thoroughly jealous of people with the spare time, money (and a fully kitted TV backup crew) to do such a thing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Straws and Camels

Usual weekend custody suite nonsense for me, where everything blurs into one constant flow of the same questions again and again, swearing at NSPIS, drink drives at 7am (the adverts are true about the morning after the night before) and a general sense of not really having as much idea as I should about whats going on.

Its a strange existence in custody, no natural light for however many hours I'm there, emerging blinking like a surprised badger in daylight when I'm finally allowed home.

Anyway nobody died or was illegally dealt with, which is the short summary of my custody life- so have a tale from when I was allowed out the other week.

Domestic incidents are the bread and butter of police work. I honestly could not tell you how many I've been to.

In years gone by, domestic incidents between partners were largely ignored by police- it was generally accepted by us - and the courts, CPS and everyone else- that matters between husband and wife were to be kept private.

Today, things are quite different, and rightly so. If there is a domestic incident, a whole roll call of procedures are implemented. This is but one of a hundred standard operating procedures for different types of calls, most of which are designed either for appeasement for a particular "end user" group, or to give the "specialists" who should end up taking it on the minimum amount possible to do. Some of these SOPs are completely useless and make no concession to the realities of response policing.

However, the domestic violence policy is one I actually agree with wholeheartedly and make sure the PC's do their jobs properly, and aren't tempted to revert to the "good old days" of a suggestion that they keep the noise down next time.

I went to a middle aged lady the other day. It took her 16 years to call us.

As I sat round the coffee table with her 4 children at 3am, she recounted how within a year of their being married, the abuse started. Nothing ever major, the occasional backhand, a constant stream of denigrating abuse. She left him once, twice, but always came back after the extended family got involved, put pressure on her to go back and keep things proper and not bring shame. They'd have words with him too, and he'd promise he'd change.

Of course, he never did. But having given up work to bring up the children, she was now dependent on him for income.

In terms of what happened for them to call us, again it was nothing "major"- no broken jaws or stab wounds, both of which I've seen before- it was a slap, hairpulling, typical bully stuff. But it was the fear factor which finally prompted her to call. A day of silent treatment over husbands's new girlfriend led to him going for her in the evening.

It might have been much worse but for the intervention of their eldest son who burst into the room when it was still at the hairpulling stage. He was still a boy really but finding himself as he grows up his first steps as a man are standing up to his own dad, stopping him attacking his own mum.

What really made me mad was his attitude when I called in later to custody. Arrogant, confident. Couldn't resist a couple of derogatory comments about how ungrateful she was and how much he gave her.

I didn't say anything to him. Custody suites are covered with audio recording cameras, after all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

....and the winner is

Well, a combination of the previous comments comes in to the right answer.

It is of course, as Pc PurpleHelmet (nice name....) pointed out, the annual drive towards the superintendents bonus... I mean sanctioned detection rates.... I mean 21st century policing.

Every office based unit has got to make efforts to chase up those last niggling possible sanctioned detections and go out knocking on doors. I've already been told I'm in custody that day!

But the part which really made us laugh (us being the 24hr response jockeys) was the part that mentioned even if these arrest enquiries are fruitless or none can be made, then high viz patrol will be undertaken in order to offset the impact the one extra day of unwanted crime a leap year brings!

So this therefore even includes the desk bandits in ivory towers who normally work comfortable office shifts sending out snotty emails and memos about how a certain crime report or case file wasn't quite completed according to requirements. I hope they deal with an abusive violent drunk and get a reality check beyond their warm secure offices and tickbox checklists.

Once I finished chortling at the sense of outrage and desperately grasped excuses of the office brigade I thought there could be a serious lesson here. The Super wants all the extra people out to offset the impact of the leap year's extra day.

So what if it does? All the office dwellers and stat-checkers get their uniform back on and go out on the streets, and crime sharply falls. Do you think anyone will draw the conclusion that it might be a good idea for them to permanently back out on the streets? That all these abstractions from response team to all the various units whose function is to quality control reports, monitor and increase sanction detection rates actually results in an increase in crime?

I can but hope, but somehow I don't think so. Furthermore, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those people would go "sick" with "stress" if they were told they had to do more than a day in uniform interacting with the public every four years.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

What could it be?

Some fairly disturbing rumours floating round the fiefdom of Suburbiaville this week which were proved to be true.

The Superintendent has issued instructions that on a particular day this year, no further leave is to be authorised. Every office based unit is to ensure they are up to date on their first aid and safety training. Every officer who has a shoulder number is to get out their uniform. All of it. Every detective is going to ensure they have body armour.

On this particular day, the offices are to be stripped bare of all but one or two people and they are all going to get out on the streets. Officers in high viz, detectives in plain clothes. Only those signed off as incapable of operational duty by Suburbiavilles HR department are exempt.

So just what can have caused such consternation that all hands are called on deck? I haven't been aware of such a mobilisation of Suburbiaville police in a long time.

I'll tell you next week. Please have a guess in the meantime.....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I tell you what, no matter how manic the day, an oversize mug of tea and an unhealthily sized slab of chocolate don't half make things feel better. Well, particularly so when you're at home and the custody desk which has been the bane of your existence for the best part of the day is now several miles away.

There was at least a couple of times today when if I happened to have a lump hammer close by I would have mildly redecorated the suite with bits of computer and telephone. Had to get people to go to a completely different end of the building to print off bits of paper from the printer 3 feet behind me; people kept ringing up with the most inane, useless questions; people who were supposed to be on "help"lines were utterly useless (4 times I rung up about not being able to print, 3 times I was told it was being resolved.... it never was); solicitors got stroppy; prisoners wailed incessantly when I politely declined their requests to be released forthwith; my lunch sat sadly abandoned in my bag; people coming and asking for quick favours when "I get a minute", governors coming in and getting a bit stroppy when I don't know the precise latest up to the minute details on whichever prisoner he's taken an interest in.

I love custody! Really. And I am now asking myself the question why am I sat down in front of another screen? I'm off outside to wander aimlessly, and simply enjoy the fact I'm able to be outside wandering uselessly.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Targets to nowhere

There's a whole lot of target related pressure in the job at the moment, because we're coming to the end of the financial year.

This has resulted in a deluge of emails regarding attachments to various squads who have been given a bucket load of public cash by superintendents worried about their private performance bonuses, and who now need extra pairs of hands to grab every single last piece of performance indicator pie before March 31st. It isn't just happening round here either.

I treat these pleas with the disregard they deserve, and carry on each day dealing with each job as it comes. This won't have hit any performance indicators for Dorset. Neither will this for North Wales.

Neither did this job.

Alfie (obviously not his real name, but it suits him) is a teenager, and if you know what I mean looks and sounds like one. He is scrawny, has the short spiked hair with every strand gelled in just the right place, the chunky necklace, that immensely annoying london-mockney-ali G inspired (or inspiring) "accent" and a colourful use of language. He'd be the kind of kid that would be your first suspect if you found a recently tagged wall or bus window.

Except that Alfie is the only one trying to keep his family together. Dad has had enough. When it happens he turns the tv up and has another beer. He sits on the sofa staring blankly, his mind wandering back to good times, better times, any time but the present. Younger brother Carl is dealing with it in a different way. He's angry. He's controlled enough not to show it while we're around, but I can tell straight away.

Every once in a while, mum has a turn. The eldest child, the only daughter, died last year in miserable drug related circumstances and she simply can't deal with it. Most of the time she's ok and copes but every so often another little bit snaps and she loses it. This time, she lost it bad enough the ambulance guys refused to go in until we got there.

She's inside in a scarlet dressing gown. She sees us and is a shrill shrieking woman, ranting that we haven't washed our hands, and refuses to speak to us until we do. I note the broken bits of ornament missed in the quick clean up undertaken before our arrival.

An overweight labrador dog pads around wagging incessantly at all the new people in the house.

Dad is not being helpful. He tells her to shut up, daft woman, and tells me she's gone a bit mad. Really. I suggest dad goes outside for a fag and a chat with a colleague. He seems glad of the opportunity and is off.

Mum needs to go down the hospital. Its no guarantee she'll get the right help and a weekend night is not the best time to go down hoping to see a psychiatric specialist, but she can't stay here. Even an outpatient appointment would be a start.

I try talking to her but get nowhere fast, getting sworn at at full volume. Alfie starts pleading with her. I step outside the room. I'm no use, I'm just antagonising her. I hear the conversation played out at full, shouted volume.

"Please mum, she's dead. You've got me and Carl now, you gotta think about us".

After a while that feels like an eternity Alfie comes out. She'll go down the hospital. Alfie's eyes are wet but he's still holding it together. I radio my colleague to let him know, and advise him to keep himself and dad out of the way. I don't want the sight of our uniform or a comment from Dad to upend all this.

I see Alfie in the bedroom, putting some of Mum's stuff hurriedly in a bag. He's lost it now, tears flowing down cheeks as he puts various pink things in a pink holdall. What do you say to a kid barely in the second half of his teens who's the only one trying to stop his family disintegrating even more?

I kind of grab his shoulder as he goes between dresser and bed. I tell him he's doing a great job, a f###ing great job. It feels completely pathetic.

Alfie pauses, looks up.

"Thanks officer."

He manages a sort of smile before returning to packing mum's things into a pink holdall, shooing the ever curious hound out of the way.

I dart out and hide the police car round the corner. After an age Alfie appears, coaxing mum out with an arm around her shoulder. She gets into the ambulance and has second thoughts, and Alfie again goes through the shouting match. Alfie wins again, kind of by default as I hint unsubtly at the ambulance man to drive off as everyone who needs to be is in the back of the ambulance already.

We trundle down to Suburbiaville hospital behind the ambulance. By the time we get there, Mum has changed. She's calm now, laughing and joking with the crew. I don't know if they gave her anything!

There's nothing left for us to do now, and the usual weekend night nonsense is building up on the radio. Alfie comes over and shakes our hands. I tell him best of luck. He'll need it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Community unsentenced

A while ago I posted about how community sentences properly enforced could and should be a viable alternative to jail.

Unfortunately, articles like this are the reason these sentences are treated with understandable contempt. Which until this is sorted out, I have got to admit I find community sentences a washout. I wish I didn't, but I do.

And Jacqui Smith blabbering on this morning on GMTV about how Labour are so much tougher on crime. How she can say that with a straight face is beyond me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Horses for courses

I am in a bit of a quandary.

My team has been offered a particular training course. At least 3 of the PC's want to do it.

Although the final decision is the governors, he's asked us skippers to say who we think should be top of the list.

How do we- how do I- do this? The governor's forwarded on all the latest stats for the team- the usual stuff of whatever the statmonkeys can access via their IT systems- so arrests, stop searches etc.

Now this is total anathema to me. I hate statistical comparison. I reckon that the available statistics that can be measured may equate to roughly 20% of our police work. The list of things that aren't statistically compiled is endless- death messages, accidents, sudden deaths, court appearances, spending an extra half an hour having a cup of tea with a victim. All this counts for nothing in the team performance indicators.

But now I'm in a position where I have to give someone a sought after course and be able to justify why. Suddenly, it becomes very easy to jump on the stats bandwagon and justify it like that.

But if I do, I suddenly become part of the system which I hated as a PC and do still now.

Any suggestions for alternatives gratefully recieved. Names out of a hat isn't really an option. One of the PCs who would like to do this course isn't really suited for it, certainly not as much as the other two, and I need to be able to justify somehow him not being the the first name.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Coming Soon

I've actually been allowed out from the custody suite by some accident of planning and have ignored the paperwork side of things to actually go out for a few days. (I'll suffer for it later!)

Was a bit rusty on my roadcraft.... as I went to one of the assistance calls, I realised that despite knowing the ground and bends very well, every so often some utility company comes along and digs the road up in a place there weren't no digging before.

One sobering new-pants-please moment later I switched my driving head on, remembered what I was actually taught, and decided I would rather like my unsullied police driving history to remain in that condition.

Someone once told me the key to advanced police driving was when you mess it up, give the impression that you planned it the whole time....

Car incidents aside, coming soon are a couple of highlights from actually going out and doing stuff, if highlight is the word. Makes a change from whinging about MPs embezzling money or assaulting kids.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Random things

I've had 5 minutes to spare, so I've had a look at some of the stats I've got for this site. Weird search engine results that have somehow ended up here include:

- "female blogs handcuff him". I bet they were disappointed when my page turned up.
- "deactivated guns price". I bet they were even more disappointed.
- "how to make round stairwell post". I have no idea. Go to B&Q.
- "how to make a warrant card". Go to Toys R Us, thats where our ones feel like they're sourced from
- "I'm a PCSO". How nice for you!

...and the best one by far- and I kid you not, somehow someone stumbled across this page after googling the following:

- "the average size of duck flippers".

Note from the 5th March- What are you lot like! This has now jumped up to the 6th most common search engine referral!!!


Good Stomp

I know I know, I was going on about it for ages and then I double booked myself with something I really couldn't get out of, and so my involvement in the march ended with a sheepish apology to my local fed man, who took good advantage to shower me in various muppet themed compliments. Had no respect for the rank that man I tell you.

Anyhoo sounded like a good turn out. Good to see there was no rowdiness and no-one threw any eggs at any MPs (which I have to confess to being a teensy bit disappointed by!). If I'm honest, my main concern would've not been the march itself but the inevitable almighty piss up that usually follows a jolly down town- thank you, totally un-sober.

Whether or not the government listens is another thing. The whole point of this march has been the government has not been fair. This could easily be dismissed as comparing the police to little more than a child not getting his way and having a strop, and in a certain way it is, just multiplied by 144,000. Except I would tell a child that if someone wasn't being fair, then you should stand up to it.

The government has for the first time not accepted independent arbitration's decision on our pay rise. We have to make it clear from now, from the first time, that this is not acceptable. I don't want to go on about how jobs are unique and all that for the 1000th time but we have no means of communicating our displeasure with the government in a way that really makes them listen.

I don't want to strike. I could only strike on a rest day, if you know what I'd mean. I'd love to have a stick-a-finger-up-at-government-targets day, where we could deal with stuff in the most appropriate way and ignore the bleating emails from office jockeys about our sanctioned detection rates and our failures with PND's. (Although I do kind of do that most of the time anyway).

Good luck to prison officers too. Instead of dealing with their concerns, the government instead tries to make it illegal for them to strike.

And has anyone else noticed a quietly introduced report which suggests Police pay should be determined by skills and performance?

Hmmm. Will have a closer look at that when it's fully published next month.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Downhill all the way

The Sun is following Gadget and others lead in decrying Britain as a descending into anarchy as feral youths roam the streets looking for innocent people to randomly assault and murder, etc etc.

Whilst I would take any appeal by the Sun with more than a pinch of salt I have got to agree with their letter writer who derides politicians as doing little more than giving sad eyes and soundbites. Couldn't have put that better myself. Whilst I would normally avoid the Daily Wail like I'd avoid the back end of a cow with digestive problems, I did enjoy their dig at Jacqui "one doesn't mind popping out for a kebab with my own personal armed policeman" Smith.

So what do I think? I've talked before about prisons. My opinion hasn't changed much- Prisons only work in the sense of whilst someone is inside they can't commit futher offences (except against other inmates and the occasional warden.) However, the populist press can not let go of the Victorian idea of that if someone has done something wrong they must be punished, and that the only way to properly punish someone is go to jail. "Community" sentences are derided as soft.

I'd disagree. Prison costs a fortune and rarely provides any rehabilative capability. For those who were sent to jail with a job and rented accomodation, they will rarely have either when released but services to deal with rehousing offenders are overstretched beyond any capacity to deal with any effective number.

I'd agree community sentences are ineffective but thats mostly because the services to monitor these sentences are again underresourced and overstretched and people frequently get away with avoiding them. I have yet to confirm the story I heard that one person appealed his community sentence of clearing rubbish as degrading, and under the human rights act some judge or other was compelled to agree and changed his sentence.

Properly funded and monitored community sentences, with the threat of a non-playstation equipped jail as a motive for compliance, where persons keep their jobs or studies going but losing their spare time to something beneficial to a local area- something like clearing litter, clearing graffiti, whatever- would be better for the minor offences rather than clamouring to throw everyone in jail.

The nasty unprovoked beatings like what Nicolas Hague showed himself capable of- our prisons are frankly too good for him. We should have a prison sharing agreement with Estonia (apologies to any Estonians, I have no idea what their jails are like, but you get my drift).

One thing which certainly doesn't work is the youth justice system. This whole situation is so spectacularly ineffective I simply have no idea where or how to start even thinking about where it has all gone wrong. But the end result at the moment is young adults have a system where everything is geared towards bending backwards for them- we're not even allowed to wear our belt kit into youth court in case the little darlings find it too "oppressive". Tell that to the victim of their knifepoint robbery. They have absolutely no respect for authority - i.e. us, courts etc- because they don't need to. Some little burgling so-and-so I arrested after he crashed the car (after pursuing him, ha ha) he had stolen from the burglary he did 2 hours managed to persuade the judge big nasty evil bully men were making him steal these things despite not providing one hint of a name or evidence, and so got acquitted on the burglary charge! He only got convicted for driving offences! Nuts.

Despite what the government believes and will probably do, no amount of target setting for getting youths into court within 2 days or new proposed legislation will make any difference. Not while we have parents who instead of giving their offspring a bollocking for shoplifting, give them a bollocking for being stupid enough to get caught by the police. Yes, I witnessed this myself. I was actually speechless, and had to leave swiftly before my mouth caught up with what my brain was thinking. Not while we have a culture that encourages all disputes have to be sorted out by someone else, because no-one wants to take on any responsibility on themselves- it is always someone else's fault.

And in the meantime politicians continue waffling out the soundbites, and people seem to accept them, despite it being proved time and again they are at best half truths and occasional outright lies.

It winds me up when I read about the stories like Gary Newlove. I get fed up with the lack of balls (apologies to Bloggs) from anyone in a position to do anything about it apart from order yet another inquiry.

I just get back up at a stupid time in the morning, and go back to work and do the best I can with the rules I've got.