Tuesday, 30 December 2008

What Time Do The Fireworks Start Officer?

Oh Joy of Joys I've escaped that annual ritual of drunken anti-climax that is New Years Eve Celebrations. I will not be walking around in the freezing cold this year suffering angst as another "had too many" reveller asks me what time the fireworks start. For us they start usually at about 2am or whatever time everybody is decanted onto the streets. Mrs Stressed has not been so lucky, so I am due to be home alone babysitting. My crime fighting efforts are done for the year, but I shall raise a glass to those who are sat inside a cell this year end due to me. I've had a quiet year due to my injury but still managed to do a few covert ops.

I'm apparently healed but the consultant has said, if he had my injury there's no way he would be out running - that's ever again. I've now seen the X-Rays and there's considerably more metal work inside me than I imagined. This could have serious implications for me career wise but I've decided to keep schtum, as I need the streets, it's what I do. This blog was meant to be my mental jogging to get me through and looks like it will have to continue. I only got back into the running and fitness due to my stress problems and ultimately this has cost me dear. I suppose that's what you call a true "Stress Fracture". On the plus side I'm virtually guaranteed a blue badge when I'm older - so not all bad news. Free Parking for life.

Next year I shall embark on some hippy CBT and am booking up for sessions in March. Can't face it in the winter but am forking out hundred's for this. So that should be something to blog on. Still looking for a new job too.

Happy new year to any readers out there, and my thanks to Damo and others who have contributed. See you in 2009.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Number One

I don’t mind working Christmas Day, it’s not my type of gig and it gives others the opportunity to spend it with their families. I get paid well for it too, which will go towards getting the “Clever One” through another term at university.

There is a lack of pips at my station, and a bit of risk management going on. Nobody wanted to draw the early shift and be Christmas number one. I can understand this, the inspector’s job is really shit and the salary not really worth putting extra in on a Bank Holiday, let alone Xmas day.

I would have hoped for a quiet day, which invariably picks up in the late afternoon. Not really going to happen is it? – I came into work to a serious critical incident so lost officers to cordons straight off. Add another for a hospital guard on a victim of domestic violence and already we’re looking pretty thin. First domestic call came in before 9am and by mid afternoon the Christmas spirit had been truly flowing. There was room at our Inn and a few kids wondering where Daddy had gone on their special day.

I spent some of the morning squaring away a complaint. Luckily I knew the woman, who was upset her son had been arrested on Christmas Eve. She didn’t like the attitude of the officers, who likewise didn’t like the attitude of her son when arresting him for drugs possession and public order. We call it a draw and all’s well until next time.

Work though is a happy place. The core team have organised food and games and in between relieving the crime scene, morale is breaking out. I had to decline a game of Twister on health grounds. Each and every call is responded to without question, which is a fair trade for some fire brigade policing early doors. We run out of officers before shifts end and nights will be busy once the prisoners sober up. Near double figure domestic calls and no officers late turn from the domestic violence unit to deal. Somebody should have seen this coming. Isn’t it the same every year?

And not forgetting the SMT, the Big Boss was in himself till 6am and must have done 12 hours on a call out. They get much flack but he always comes out – and today gave up his Christmas too.

Hoping you all had a peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Last Man Standing

So it finally happened and I was the only one left. All of my team gone due to leave, sickness, duty changes and other reasons. Nobody to supervise but me – Great!

It was like years gone by walking on nights all alone. I attracted a few funny looks as I walked the streets in the early hours but not the looks I wanted. I wanted the shocked, "shit it’s the old bill" look. The one where I know I’m in the right place and he’s in the wrong place. There was nobody around, but those who did appear got a mental once over to see if they were worth a turn. Up and down the same streets and loitering in doorways just in case somebody came into view. This is 3am and I love it, I could quite easily be back at the station but I don’t get the opportunity to do this often.

Just occasionally the radio would burst into life, I wondered if it was heard by any light sleepers. These are the same roads where the naughty boy’s like to ply their trade. They don’t care if you’re asleep upstairs, they are looking for a weakness in your home security and they’ll be in. Tonight I’m on guard and after a couple of hours head back in for a break. Nothing for me tonight, but I was there, when everyone was sleeping – just in case.

5am and some lights are now on and more people appear, the early workers. I’m back at the station and the call comes out at 5.30am, suspect disturbed. I curse my luck, it wasn’t to the roads I was walking but it’s close enough. I walk down and am amazed at how busy the streets are now. A refuse collector is piling up the rubbish bags waiting for the lorry to pick up later.

Units are there already and attending to the caller. Somebody has tried his sash window, and all he’s seen is a pair of gloved hands. He states that this had happened an hour before too, but he hadn’t called us then. That’s a shame as his neighbour’s front door is open. They get woken up to uniformed officers downstairs. They are now lacking a couple of laptops and the husband’s Christmas present. Did he know he was getting a new leather jacket? If the caller had called the first time, I was nearby and only minutes away. Was my patrol worthwhile? Would he have burgled in my roads? Did I prevent crime? Who knows, that’s your luck sometimes. You've got to be in it to win it and another night my luck will be in.

The next night I have to do the midnight throw out in the Town Centre. If all goes well I can walk the streets again later. About a 100+ spill out onto the pavement and decide to stay talking. I get the CCTV put onto the crowd just in case. They are starting to stand in the road, so I stroll over to usher them back. About three yards to my right a lad punches someone full on the head. I’m in full uniform and only have to stretch out to grab him. He’s drunk and cuffed before he realises who I am, for a moment he thought about lashing out – but too late my son. I glance up and the CCTV hasn’t got me, I fend off the lad’s friends until the van arrives.

No more walking that night, and nobody to stand guard. But I have a hunch as to who it might be. I wonder if he's got a new leather jacket.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Everything Must Go - And Will

I was out shopping with Mrs Stressed and as she flitted about like a bee from hangers to shelves, could take no more. I only lasted for Mark’s and Spencer’s and by the time we reached Boots I was affecting her enjoyable shopping experience. I took the early bath, having been shown the red card and headed for the bus home alone. She was more than happy so she could spend freely and lie later about how much she’d blown.

I took my seat on the top deck and a plumpish fat bird got on and sat in the seat across the aisle from me. At the next stop a youngish couple got on and the two women obviously knowing each other started chatting chavvy shit.

The fat bird then drops her voice and immediately my ears are interested. She starts telling her mate about her shoplifting exploits and asks if she’s interested. Apparently she’d been targeting Woolworth’s recently as it’s even an easier touch with all the crowds. Last week she’d stolen £700 worth of stuff in one day. She’s prepared to travel too and names four separate town centres.

In the last two weeks she’d stolen seven robot toy’s which are all the rage and retail at £250. Their kids obviously went to the same school, as they made a date for the next day, where fat bird offered to meet her and they could go down to Woolworth’s together. The girl could choose what she wanted and then wait outside and fat bird would go in and steal it, saying she’d do it in two minutes.

Fat bird is obviously a pro and her prices are half the ticket price. She even mentioned how careful she is not to sell to people she doesn’t know. Wouldn’t it be nice if I’d just nicked her for conspiracy to steal – but who’s going to believe me the policeman. More evidence needed to make the offence complete I’m afraid*. Even if she gets nicked in the act nothing will happen to her, as it’s classed as victimless crime – try telling that to 23000 people about to lose their jobs.

She then gets off and heads off towards the local council housing no doubt paid for by hard working tax payers. Some people are doing alright this Xmas.

* Conspiracy is a preliminary phase to the commission of many crimes but it is a crime is its own right. The essence of offence of conspiracy is an agreement. To constitute the offence, what occurs must go beyond the negotiation stage or intention and become a matter of agreement. This agreement could be indicated by letter, telephone, hand shake, nod, bodily movement. Negotiations prior to a conspiracy could involve incitements by the parties to the negotiation. Therefore if a person pulls out at the planning stage before an agreement - no conspiracy.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Wish I Was There

Mike PARRY was on a short break to “celebrate” a mate’s birthday in Dubai and ends up in jail for giving the finger. I’m just loving this article, where poor old Mike states he wasn’t drunk despite having wine at lunch and beers later.

He spent a month in jail before getting released with a £300 fine and deported. People like Mike are too used to doing what they like, and seem surprised that everywhere else isn’t as soft as our country. I’m all for it – what a shame it will never happen here. Just imagine if we jailed the idiots who make our Town Centres virtual no go zones.

I’m assuming they don’t have the same problems in Dubai !!

DJ Grooverider got four years when less than an eighth of cannabis was found in his trouser pocket earlier in the year. No prison place problems either they just fit in as many as they can.

Perhaps this is why Dubai has low crime rates, and it's warmer than my streets at the moment. Very appealing.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

So Who Did Kill Jean Charles?

You would have to have a heart of stone not to feel sorry for the family of Jean Charles de Menezes. I remember hearing the news that a suicide bomber had been shot by police, and saying good job. Only afterwards did it emerge that an innocent man had been killed. There's been so much disinformation in the press and from the police that you don't really want to comment, and things are really not much clearer now.

I think the coroner was right to not offer an unlawful killing verdict. The firearm's officers are clearly blameless, given the information they were fed. They are in a sticky position now the jury didn't believe their version of giving a police warning, when compared to 17 other witnesses who didn't hear one. Will they join the list of officers who have "lost the confidence" of the Commissioner?

In other areas things are clearer to me and I can understand where things went wrong. I've been a surveillance trained officer and been in teams who have followed the wrong person, and that's when they've come from a target address. Any identification trying to pick a target emerging from a communal front door is going to be dubious. In this case not having a decent image to start with flags up immediate problems. The initial observation officer missed the off as he was relieving himself. Cardinal Sin in the surveillance world and very slack work.

It would appear they were then playing catch up, trying to get an identification. The surveillance team were responsible for the follow and would have had a controller directing units. This is a very hard job, I've done it and envisage some poor bloke in a car, map on lap trying to sort the follow out on one radio, keeping the command team updated on another with at least one mobile on the go too. A loggist sat in the back will be trying to write all the movements down amongst this chaos. Imagine looking at your map in a job like this and seeing your target getting closer to an underground station.

Meanwhile in the central command post miles away decisions need to be made. Has the man been identified or not? What would you do? They needed answers to questions but also had an eye to that map. I'm certain a Kratos wasn't authorised. If it was, the armed surveillance team would have dealt with the target as soon as that order was given. The order was given to stop the man, but the armed arrest team were unable to reach him before he entered Stockwell tube. These couple of minutes cost Jean Charles his life. I would have hoped that somebody on the ground would have made the decision to stop him before he entered the tube. Surveillance teams don't show out operationally but if there was ever a time this was it. That decision would have saved his life. That's a big call taking it away from the command team.

So is it fair to find somebody to blame? The police operation failed badly and the inquest has highlighted the areas in respect of images etc. I'm not sure promoting senior officers involved in the case sends the right message either, but look at the choices

Make wrong decision - Target dies who turns out to be innocent.

Make wrong decision - Target detonates bomb killing dozens.

Make right decision - Wow that was a close one.

This was the same choice facing the Royal Marines yesterday in Afghanistan when approached by a child with a wheelbarrow. He was either a proxy bomb or a suicide bomber. You don't want to be in a position to make that choice do you? So let's not judge those too harshly who got it wrong. Each officer has to live with the decisions they made, a choice made with the right intention.

Jean Charles was as much a victim of Islamic Terrorism as the four marines yesterday.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Crystal Balls

Mark CAMM was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in 2004 after being found unresponsive to questions in an off licence. He was kept in custody for 24 hours and seen 3 times by medical professionals before being taken to hospital where he died from a bleed to the brain. This of course was a death in police custody and there followed an investigation into the treatment he received. This turned up, via custody CCTV unprofessional conduct in the treatment he received in the form of inappropriate comments and lax checks by police.

I recall a very similar incident involving myself a few years back. I was on foot patrol just before Christmas and came across some builders who had just left a pub. They were holding up a workmate who was displaying all the signs of being very drunk. They were all pretty plastered but in order, telling me this was their end of week and Christmas drink. In relation to their mate who had been drinking for 8 hours, they told me that the cold air had affected him as he left the pub. Usually I would leave them to it, but I asked about their drunk friend and who would be caring for him once they got him home. He lived alone and nobody was going to sit up with him, so I suggested it was in his best interests to be cared for at the station. He was walking smiling mumbling and inebriated and nicked for being drunk and incapable for his own good.

I booked him in and had difficulty understanding him as he was Irish but all was well. The custody officer was happy and he was bedded down on a mattress on the floor and subject to half hour checks. We've got a duty of care to individuals even if they are released, and most custody officers will leave drunks to the early turn changeover before giving them a cup of coffee and sending them on their way, with their hangover. Would you like to be thrown out into the street at 4am?

I came in the next day and chatted to the early turn custody who told me that the drunk was in intensive care in hospital. He had taken over and was not happy with the response from the drunk who should have been more with it, and sent him to hospital straight away. At casualty he had been left on a trolley for longer than he should have been, but when they got round to him eventually he was found to have a slow bleed. The story eventually came back that he'd hit his head on scaffolding earlier in the day, and this was the cause of the bleed. He did survive, and I'm convinced by nicking him I saved his life. There was no comeback but I'm telling you there's no way I could tell he needed medical attention.

It would appear that Mark CAMM was arrested because nobody knew what to do with him. If there was no drink involved and no disturbance or risk to himself or others the officers appear to have taken the easy option. I've had it myself as custody officer when a young woman was arrested for being drunk and disorderly after trying to throw herself in front of traffic. She came before me not drunk but obviously mentally ill. I asked why she hadn't been taken straight to hospital under Mental Health powers, but the officers including a sergeant, looking sheepish came up with a feeble excuse. I think they just wanted the custody number, as they were from a unit with arrest figures to maintain.

I accepted her as a place of safety and ensured she was assessed before being sectioned. I don't think the Mental Health procedures are great either, mental health units will refuse people we take in if they are intoxicated as it means they can't assess them properly. Drink and drugs can mask other symptoms.

As the inquest stated Mark CAMM was failed by police and health professionals. He was a victim of circumstance, with a condition that is extremely hard to pick up. I can't however excuse the inappropriate comments by police.

This is why the poor ambulance service now get called for unresponsive drunks in the street.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Plod Bashing

Code B Codes of Practice - Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

5.1

If it is proposed to search premises with the consent of a person entitled to grant entry the consent must, if practicable, be given in writing on the Notice of Powers and rights before the search. The officer must make any necessary enquiries to be satisfied the person is in a position to give such consent.

5.2

Before seeking consent the officer in charge of the search shall state the purpose of the proposed search and its extent. This information must be as specific as possible, particularly regarding the articles or persons being sought and the parts of the premises to be searched. The person concerned must be clearly informed they are not obliged to consent and anything seized may be produced in evidence. If at the the time the person is not suspected of an offence, the officer shall say this when stating the purpose of the search.

I find it very hard to believe that the police officers attending the Palace of Westminster did not comply with the above. The Sergeant at Arms is in charge of security and is said to have signed the consent. If I was in charge of this search I would have read from a pre-prepared script to ensure I was covered. So poor old plod is blamed again. Will the yard put their side? and possibly embarrass the sergeant at arms.

Ladies and Gentlemen - that is politics.

Who started this investigation off again?

*Update 4/12 * Police state they did make it clear that the Sgt in Arms did NOT have to give consent. What say you now Mr Speaker ??

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Mindfulness


I was reading last year about Jonny Wilkinson and his interest in Buddhism. I could see similar characteristics between me and Jonny, not obviously in a sporting context but in his obsessive perfectionism. He has attracted some ridicule but I understand where he's coming from. The constant self analysis he thinks is affecting his performance and more importantly his life.

He has read up on self awareness techniques that stem from Buddhism. The mantra being the past and the future doesn't matter, just deal with today and whatever it throws at you. To this end we can assume that Jonny has indulged in meditation to reduce his stresses. Would you have had him down as a depressive? I think the boy is on the ball and can see positives in adopting Zen principles to cope with the daily grind.

So it's time to face up to where I've been going wrong for so many years. Perhaps when I attended the birth of the "Clever One" who arrived at 4am I should have taken the day off and not made the early turn shift. It was the same the night before my first marriage, fighting on the streets into the early hours during a late late shift, when the ceremony was at 8am. I was obviously obsessed with the job and not wanting to miss out.

I've been juggling too many balls for too long and when they come crashing down can't cope with the failure. I'm an achiever and not a believer in religions per se - but I've just met me.

Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy was devised by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. The below is a session he did at Goggle, which is interesting if you're into it. (It's over an hour) Of course Macho police people don't do for this meditation weirdo stuff - I'm intrigued.

Thanks to those of you who sent messages of support. I'm better now and raring to go at it full steam ahead, well maybe after Christmas.


Friday, 28 November 2008

Officer's Sifted .. Public Shafted

We all moan about the mountains of paperwork needed for case file preparation but we as a "service" waste countless hours on internal bureaucracy. I was at a retirement do and at the jolly speech, which was quite amusing the Inspector produced an application form from years ago, when my now ex-colleague applied for a new role. Apart from his name, the application actually consisted of about 6 lines of text about why he wanted to join that department. All on one sheet of A4 paper for a role involving firearms.

The system worked well then, you would have been interviewed and they made their choice if they wanted you or not. I'm getting a little sick of the process nowadays. A massive form where the individual officer has to provide examples in the skill areas required. This all takes time and as a supervisor seeking to develop your officer's careers you try and accommodate them where possible. This means off the streets filling in the form, because the cut off date is only two or three weeks away.

Now for some sought after posts this will be replicated across the force area. There will literally be dozens of officers typing away hoping to get through to interview stage. After it's completed you as the supervisor will look at the form and add your remarks. Now it's their application, but to be absolutely honest I could rip every one apart and send them back suggesting they add this or that just to get through the paper sift process. I've done this and have been happy with the application, highly recommending the officer as he/she is a bloody good sort and suitable to the role they aspire to.

I've been left scratching my head on numerous occasions when they get paper sifted. I like to think I know what I'm talking about. I've been through promotion processes and know when an application is sufficiently strong to get to interview stage. The feedback is usually vague and very subjective, like "not a strong example in this area despite hitting the skill areas". So what's the point of filling out the form if they hit the skills wanted and are still dipped? Perhaps I should be writing off my staff for two weeks to complete it to the standard that is obviously required. All it's proves is an aptitude to fill out the form and maybe bullshit well. If you've got somebody digging a tunnel to leave it's not unusual to have four applications in a year. That's a lot of form filling and time off the streets.

This is so unnecessary and should be trimmed down. There are plenty of systems where your work is recorded so maybe all that's needed is a brief application and people look at your previous work and experience. Dare I suggest that there might be a little bit of exaggerating being done on application forms, ranging from gilding the lily to outright lies, making them dubious in any event.

I was in a specialised department years ago and the list of applicants was read to us. Everybody was invited to speak to the Chief Inspector if they wanted to bring anything to his attention either positive or negative. A sergeant was then assigned to check the officer's workload and make enquires at the station they worked. They also expected candidates to come for at least one day's attachment. This weeded out the chaff. They then boarded the remainder and used the sergeants checking of their work to select the best candidates. This functioned perfectly well and ensured the best people were selected. On your first day the Superintendent welcomed you sitting behind the desk in his office smoking his pipe and told you what he expected from you. He always added that if things didn't work out then he would guarantee you got posted to the Division of your choice. What's wrong with that? Everybody knowing where they stood.

This was obviously prior to the formation of Human Resources Units or personnel as they used to be called. Why shouldn't this process be used today? - I thought it was fair. Don't even get me started on the promotion process and how much time is wasted.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Death By Barry

You've got to hand it to American judges who are free to dish out punishments as they see fit. I don't see why they picking on poor Barry Manilow who is actually a fantastic songwriter. It could never happen in the UK, where no doubt some miscreant would be granted legal aid as this would be made out to breach the poor loves human rights, the state inflicting humiliation.

I used to have my own punishments, which you'd never get away with today. There was a 24 hour bus lane, where I used to work. In the rush hour the law abiding would queue up in the adjoining lane, whilst extreme piss takers would zoom up the inside. It is annoying don't you think if you are in that law abiding lane and somebody gains an advantage? Anyway, there was a handy layby at the end of the bus lane ideal for pulling in the piss takers. I'm not a process king and I see traffic stops as a way in to greater things.

If he response of the driver was "Why aren't you out arresting burglars and murderers?", they'd failed the test and got a ticket. If they looked wrong a turnover took place, and if nothing else came to light, thrown back for another day. The majority were OK people who just took the chance. Of course a quick verbal warning would have them away but those waiting in the queue would see them having no punishment. The correct punishment was 10 minutes in the "Sin Bin". I would often have four cars lined up at a time and not one person moaned about it, because it was a fair punishment and saved them a fixed penalty. Everybody wins !!

I suppose that's called discretion. I exercised this a couple of months ago too, when my PCSO's caught a young lad writing graffiti on a wall within my estate. He was 11 years old and I knew the mother well. A knock on the door to collect mum and a bowl of soapy water, saw the lad scrubbing away for 20 minutes to learn his lesson. No writing took place at all, contrary to policy. This is because it was sensible and common sense to deal with it this way. If a complaint came in, then of course I'm in the wrong and I know that, but what are they going to do to me?

Make me listen to what? Check this out, it was going well until the rap bit.




Monday, 24 November 2008

Accidents Happen - But For The Grace Of ..

There, but for the grace of God, go I

Terrible news and condolences to the families and colleagues of four officers killed in Northern Ireland. They were reportably going to the aid of an officer, when the police vehicle crashed. It's a tragedy and the timing just before Christmas makes it even worse. Details of the call have not been made public yet, but most police drivers will put on that extra 10% effort to an urgent assistance.

These were on duty police accident deaths and they join a long list of officers killed in accidents, many of which occurred either coming in or going home from duty. Research has shown that 17 Police Officers have been killed in England and Wales since 2003 coming home from night duty.

West Midlands police have come up with a scheme to offer a taxi home to officers. This at least recognises there is a problem. I know myself that after a 12 hour night duty it's an effort to drive home sometimes. Some officers have quite a journey in comparison with me, so I don't think the taxi option is viable where I am.

I believe the research number of 17 is perhaps too low. We have discussed this where I work and I've learnt of an officer who nodded off and found himself in the central reservation. He was injured in the collision and off work for a while. Another told me he actually fell asleep on his motorbike en route home, luckily he had stopped for the red light before drifting off. I know of another who fell asleep driving his police car in a High Street in the early hours crashing it.

Most police officers will know of colleagues killed in accidents this way. Of course there is no definite way of knowing if sleep deprivation plays a part. There is a tendency for core shift to go for a 12 hour pattern. It cuts down on the travel days, supposedly with more days off, so is popular with those living excessive distances from their place of work. The bosses like it too because it saves them thousands in overtime payments. When you're busy it can sometimes be a long time to wait for the Cavalry to arrive in the form of an incoming shift.

At my place I remember when it came in. There were promises that drivers would only have to drive for half a shift and somebody else would drive the second half. Empty promises that they could never keep to. It lasted a short time and only went because the management wanted something else instead that suited their needs. They also started to cancel officer's days off with notice on a regular basis. We now work a mix of shift times, including the 12 hour night.

I've just turned down a move to an unpopular busy Division, but only because of the shift pattern. It's 2 days on 7am - 7pm 2 nights 7pm - 7am and four days off. Your first day off is spent sleeping. Not good for me so I'll have to look elsewhere.

So forgive that officer having a quick power nap if you see them parked up in an industrial site in the early hours. I'm not saying it's right - but the chances are your colleagues will catch you and do your wiper blades. He might need that moment before driving at speed to an emergency, and it might get him there more safely.


Been There Done That - but needed to




Friday, 21 November 2008

Crime Crunch

I know it's probably only the calm before the storm but the current financial turmoil in the world is actually making life easier at work. The drunken lunacy which accompanies the "Cafe Culture" licensing legislation has almost disappeared where I am. How I managed to keep a straight face when the manager of the local "Hell Hole" told me how much his takings were down I'll never know.

I'm loving it standing on the door and monitoring the queue as they "have to" turn away the drunken ones. It was even safe to venture inside and check out the toilets - oh what was that powder on top of the toilet roll holder? All written down in statement form for the next hearing when please God we curtail their hours which puts them out of business.

The bosses will be happy too, their detections are OK for the year and they fancy a few less Total Notifiable Offences (TNO's) .

So now we can actually do some police work. Last year we were doing very well on Burglary - we hadn't done much really to boast about the lower figures. The management however made the mistake of doing just that in a press release in November. In the lead up to Christmas we were hammered. We couldn't react as "Hell Hole" was in full anarchy mode and needed us there. It's already been decided we can do burglary patrols every day in December. They might even pay us on some rest days, so even better news.

Everybody is feeling the pinch. I decided to do my patriotic duty after interest rates were slashed and sanctioned Mrs Stressed to splash out on a new bathroom. In the Summer builders were not turning up to quote - but post crunch, sensible price and could start the following week. Great Stuff. I'm fortunate in that I've got a tracker mortgage and didn't go mad in the Labour "Never Had It So Good" spending frenzy. I don't believe in excessive debt - it's common sense to live within your means. I drive a shitty old banger and am saving hard towards my daughters university fees and loans. That will be nearly 30K as students are encouraged to be in debt from the start of their working lives. Very Wrong.

Not everybody is as fortunate and the people affected will be decent folk who just over stretched themselves. I know of two police officers who sold up their houses prior to the crunch to pay debts. One now lives with family and the other in social housing. I've got a welfare meeting coming up with a staff member re debt issues too. I feel sorry for them all.

The one group is doesn't affect are our normal "customer" base. They operate in a different economic way than most. Housing all paid for - able to drink in pubs - plenty of smokes and money for me "narbis" to chill me out. Contrary to popular belief not all live in scum holes unfit for habitation. The other economy is where the smokes are always duty free, the joint of meat is from the alternative supermarket. Usually some local entrepreneur with an extra chest freezer full of stolen meat. Their kids are dressed in stolen designer gear hoisted from nice shops. They do all right and this crisis will pass them by. There will be a little less out there for them to steal this year from the decent folk.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Pan Pipes Every Time

Just coming out of a dark mood period. Lasted about a month and I've been pretty ineffective at work. Not been able to concentrate so am currently behind on my paperwork. It's been hard to even contemplate posting much here. The plus side is, I've managed some foot patrolling out by myself. Not much going on work wise, usual seasonal problems with kids loitering in stairwells annoying residents in the blocks. I missed Halloween and firework night but the yobs apparently ran riot. My self enforced time out has done the trick and I can plough on till New Year.

I'm much better at dealing with it now. I will never need counselling again. If any of you stressed people popping in are wondering what it's like. I envisaged chilling out, laying down on a raised bed with essential oils massaging my nasal channels. I believed the counsellor would then tell me where I was going wrong, as pan pipe tunes relaxed me into a near slumber.

It doesn't work like that. You'll be stuck in a waiting area with leaflets about premature ejaculation and bad posture. I don't think the two are linked. You're there so you might as well get it sorted. My counsellor was a lovely lady but didn't say a lot. The first session is just an assessment and I talked for an hour. She just nodded and prompted but didn't give me the answer to life.

She told me weeks later she initially thought I might be on drugs. Of course I wasn't - but you do display similar characteristics.

The answer to your problems lies with you. If you've overcooked it then you need to make a few changes. Work therapy does not work. The bosses will love you as you toil away producing and performing minor miracles - but will they pick you up when it all goes wrong? Women prefer retail therapy, which is a more expensive consequence of the same problem.

Ultimately if it's home stuff affecting you, face up to whatever it is and try and reach a conclusion. That's what they do, making you understand that your unusual behaviours are just a reaction to your particular situation. The worst thing to do, is to do nothing.

I had a thing about my toilets. I'd been working really excessive hours and one thing that had been annoying me was lime scale around the toilet bowl. It wasn't minging but I'd scrub for ages with bleach trying to remove it. It was really obsessive and I only resolved this by discovering Harpic. It really does remove limescale 100% and as an added bonus kills 99.9% of germs. This was because I needed to work all the time and couldn't switch off.

I would also, not cut corners at work. My systems that I ran at the time had to be be just perfect. A bit of OCD never hurt anyone did it? - annoying if you've got a touch of it. A perfectionist personality is a bind. You find it hard to delegate because who could do it better than you !!

I've mentioned previously the stress rants and other stuff I went through. I believe you can actually come back stronger from this. Don't think me weak - if you knew me you'd be surprised about all this. I'm seen as an achiever at work - I think the term is a "goal scorer". Unfortunately I'm no longer going to be in the running for the golden boot. If you're in the job look at your "performers" and build in some down time for them. They won't want it - but give it anyway - see it as an investment.

And remember there's always somebody who's got more reason to be down than you. Let them be your inspiration.



Ben Parkinson - Inspiration

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Mother Cops

I think that about 50% of new recruits are female. Has anybody in the forward planning department actually recognised that the majority of these new female recruits end up in operational policing in the early stages of their careers? Alot of them also get pregnant.

Corporate risk assessments state that expectant mothers should be removed from operational roles straight away. Thereafter any public contact should be strictly limited to things like partner meetings. In reality this means that an officer is lost from the streets for about a year, assuming they return after maternity leave. No replacement, unless they are temporarily removed from your strength. This is also the same for PCSO's.

I am full of praise for those woman officers with children who manage to juggle the demands of family life with a police career. I don't know how they do it, especially those on response. If the political diversity quota gurus want a police service visibly reflective of society in percentage terms then perhaps they should be recruiting 60% females, because alot of the present 50% disappear pretty quickly.

I just got my team back together after being short all year. This lasted about 4 weeks. I've now lost another one for a year. There is no way I can achieve results without staff to do the work, so I have decided to move on and look for another role elsewhere.

I don't want this to sound like a sexist rant, it's not, I've contributed to the problem myself in the past. It's an operational rant at my level because my team is now ineffective and no jiggling in work force planning will take place to change the situation.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Blame Game

This is one game you don't want to be a participant in. Three convictions today for causing or allowing the death of Baby P. Not for murder because there were probably three no comment interviews.

Now will begin the real hunt for who failed the baby. Is it social services, the police or even the CPS who did not proceed with assault charges against the mother? The usual suspects.

After the Victoria Climbie case several recommendations were made, including the sharing of information between agencies. Of course everybody will have an audit trail attempting to cover their backs.

One of my officers dealt with a missing 14 year old boy several years ago. The boy eventually returned home himself and the PC went round to see what the score was. This was in the days prior to misper debriefs. What the lad told him was quite disturbing about him feeling suicidal and depressed. The officer a good sort who heard the alarm bells ringing decided to write the whole story down on the relevant form. In the finest traditions there was insufficient space on the form so he typed out a continuation sheet on plain paper. This I supervised and he faxed the whole lot to the relevant department. This would have been disseminated to social services and beyond.

The original form with the fax receipt was placed in the Grid OB, a folder where there was a running reference number. Unbeknown to us a few weeks later this lad committed suicide.

I think at the inquest questions were asked about police involvement. It would appear the fax went astray or was not acted upon. Luckily the officer could produce the original copy and fax receipt. I think they were looking to pin the blame on him by first off saying he never completed the form and then that he shouldn't have typed up a continuation sheet because it wasn't the right format. He had done all he could and more but something went wrong with the system. Somebody was definately looking to shift the blame his way.

Nowadays everything is computerised and we have to input all dealings with children. The problem being we put on so many reports that somebody has to read them all and make a judgement call. My worry is that something is always going to slip through the net.

I went to the cemetery on the anniversary of the death of one of my grandparents. They turn the pages of a book and there is a memorial inside with the name. I wandered into a public side room where they kept the ashes of people. On a shelf were the ashes of the lad with a name plague. It was a family tragedy and who knows if he would have gone on to kill himself if the form had been disseminated. I always remember this one and how the PC covered his back. If he'd cut corners the buck would have stopped with him.

So systems have been improved but these deaths are still occurring. We'll have to wait for the inevitable enquiry to see what happens and what recommendations are made. The blame game will remain the same.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Thursday, 6 November 2008

"Good" Bad Guys?

I bumped into one of the drug dealers I put away earlier in the year. He's the first one to be released, as he only got 18 months. I think he actually served 8 months behind bars. He will be known as "D" as that was his dealing name.

We had a "no hard feelings" sort of chat, and he actually shook my hand, saying he was going to sort his life out. I've known "D" since he was fourteen years old. He's had a few run ins with us over the years but I like him, you would too if you met him. I was disappointed in him and told him so. He was never the main player in the dealing and probably ran the errand for his mate, who got a four stretch. His 18 month sentence was a fair one in light of his involvement.

I reminded him of the conversation we had last year, where his mate had avoided me as I entered the estate. I knew there was drugs stuff going down. I'd told "D" that if he was dealing on my estate I'd get him eventually. He told me he was one of the good guys and wouldn't be so stupid.

Well he was stupid and I hope he has learnt a lesson. He'd made a decision and had to pay for the consequences of his crime. "D" could now become a committed criminal or turn his life around. I genuinely hope he chooses the right path. I will be around to nudge him the right way.

As he walked off he nodded and said "I'll be seeing you".

You could take that two ways couldn't you?

Monday, 3 November 2008

Frankie Was Right ..


Just loved this article about a relaxation room where just 15 minutes chilling will put you in a positive mood for the rest of the day. It only costs £1000 to set one up and can go anywhere. Imagine if we could get one in every station. Of course it will never happen. In my station every facility for the troops has disappeared, to make room for people who need offices.

Snooker room - including our table paid for by us gone.

TV room - relocated to the busy canteen.

The sleeping suite - which was basically a large cupboard to kip in if you got stranded at work on a quick change over gone. Became a milk expressing room - don't ask !

Even the all important tea room was deemed surplus to requirements and became a plush office for the "volunteer coordinator". The kettle now sits in the constables writing room.

I would of course not be surprised if a stress room was made available for prisoners in the custody suite. They already get first rate attention as it is. Want a doctor? No problem - be one here in 15 minutes to soothe your toothache or whatever invented illness you have. Cup of tea or coffee - straight away Sir - I've stirred it for you. Yes we even give out nicotine patches because the poor dears are not allowed to smoke now.

We had a problem with street drinkers a few years back. Enforcement and everything was tried without success. One of our "partners" actually paid for a report where some consultancy firm came in and interviewed all the street drinkers. They were paid £50 each for their trouble and gave their life history and what they wanted to happen. I wonder what they spent that £50 on?

I read the report with the usual stories broken homes, abuse and falling in love with the bottle. This don't come cheap and was about £8000 spent in total. This was tax payers money. The conclusions and recommendations were pants. Loads of liberal shite like giving them Indian head massages.

In the end it was decided to build the problem out. There was a delay until they could find the money to do the works. And no this wasn't in the consultancy report.

I thought we were about investing in our people. Making the working environment a better place increases productivity (this might get them interested) and reduces sickness levels. I think alot of the troops would just settle for a break - impossible on many shifts.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Perspective



Justice for one victim - but no comment from PM as early release prisoners go on to kill

The prime minister no doubt thinks it's so important that naughty Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross are brought to book over their calls to actor Andrew Sachs. Of course naughty Russell has previous for this type of comedy, which went unpunished last time. Don't recall the PM saying too much then. It depends who you dis' I suppose. Following his comments both have been suspended pending a BBC investigation.

Meanwhile in the real world evidence emerges that three murders have been committed by prisoners released early as part of the government proposals to reduce the jail population. I would rather the PM comment on this scandal.

Not all bad news, it was good to see the appeals of youths involved in kicking to death Sophie Lancaster, who was a Goth' have been dismissed. With the exception of one who achieved a 9 month reduction in his life tariff, the appeal court threw the whole lot out. So well done to Lord Judge and the other two appeal judges - It would have been nice to see all four tariffs increased but you can't have it all.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Welcome To The Pleasure Dome

Reading through the police blogs I get the impression that the constabularies appear to suffer most from the performance culture and general management pettiness. Is this because of senior officers having to prove their commitment, just to climb the promotion ladder in an arena of limited opportunity? There must be a reason.

I consider myself fortunate to work in the metropolis and a relatively busy bit too. We have been inundated with refugee police officers that have transferred from apparent madness out in the country. I am talking dozens of them. This must be causing massive problems in their old force areas, as these are top people, experienced and skilled that they can’t afford to lose.

They haven’t come for the money, so they tell me, although that is an added benefit. They have just got so pissed off with the working conditions and lack of bodies on their teams that the metropolis seems more attractive. I know some of the towns they come from, and when told what they were putting out on a night shift I was shocked. They must like what they see here, because a few months later their old work colleagues turn up too.

Although there is always pressure to perform, with a few exceptions most of the metropolis bosses let it be known that the target thing is a load of bollocks. That is until they start to get their backside kicked by upstairs or the centre.

The constabularies are trying to think up incentives to improve retention, but still the losses continue. Of course they are now trapped in a vicious circle of trying to squeeze out more from less. The remaining officers left, might just succumb to the lure of better resourced teams, with £400 extra a month thrown in too.

How much of this has been due to free rail travel paid for by the metropolis? I personally don’t think it’s all down to free travel. This came in years ago, but give credit, somebody played a blinder creating this scheme just as the metropolis was suffering losses itself due to the high cost of living, when housing allowances were cut. I might be wrong. Is there anybody out there in a position to comment?

Perhaps more officers on the response front line would solve their problems. There has been an explosion of niche departments everywhere that monitor and quality control without contributing much. They just create more actions and local directives for the hard-pressed troops on shift to complete. They are not missed at the weekends so I’m sure a few could be disbanded and staff returned to shift.

Why can’t we just go back to massive reliefs where everything is done in house and the job gets done? It used to work didn’t it? In fact I used to rather enjoy it.

* We are somewhat flush when compared to what the constabularies can put out on shift, but we paraded more in years gone by.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

I'm Here .. But I'm Not All There !

I can actually do this .. when fit



I'm back but it's not just my computer that's been on a go slow. I've felt absolutely rinsed out for some reason, and struggling to get anything done.

I'm not the greatest sleeper but a few wide awake nights before early shift has really taken it's toll. Throw a few night shifts into the mix and working three out of four rest days and to tell you what day it is requires some thought. I've actually been fatigued driving into work, feeling the same as after a 12 hour night shift.

I've been snappy and irritated and probably not very nice to be around. My body actually feels tense and my skin feels itchy. Worst I've felt all year and it's come out of nowhere. I had a full on September and actually cleared everything I had to do work wise. I was ready to push on with some new projects and operations but have somewhat stalled on the grid. I think that now my team is back together for the first time this year the body is taking a time out.

The injury has relapsed so still not running. Attempted a posing dive when on holiday in the Summer and my knee gave way causing me to collapse into the pool. Would not have scored straight sixes for that one and swam underwater resurfacing yards away from the scene of the crime hoping that nobody noticed. From the sly smiles everybody obviously did.

A few more days to push then I'll get some leave and put myself back together. It's all self inflicted. I'm a Mug !

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Big Fish Little Fish …. Cardboard Box

I got grabbed literally to deal with a shoplifter detained as I walked down the road. Only too happy to oblige and I asked immediately what had been taken. A chocolate shake drink to the value £1.35 as it turns out.

The shop detective (obviously new) had to be prompted to provide some evidence, and the miscreant threw his hands up. Then I ask what is the policy of the store in cases like this. The manager was already holding a banning notice and was eager to serve it. He doesn’t want to waste our time or his over £1.35. I ask him to hold on whilst I do some checks. The shoplifter was a drug addict with lots of previous, living in a hostel. I think he was a genuine “help yourself” case if there can be such a thing.

I could have issued a ticket for £80 if I’d had one on me. You really do need a personal “Sherpa” to carry all the forms and paperwork required. The bloke was OK, safe in the knowledge he was walking, so a stern talking to was administered before he was kicked on his way. Years ago this would have been shown as a “Clear Up”, as the guilt of the offender was clear. We got them to sign a little slip, which was handy for old people nicking a bit of cheese etc. Clear Ups used to be all the rage until replaced by the new religion detections.

So there it was one undetected crime report created - naughty me!

I had a good chat with the manager. The stock loss at this store was 10% or £3500 a week. I was surprised – it’s only a little mini market for a national chain. They’ve also got a security guard. We had a walk round and he tells me that much of the loss is meat. He was losing packets of sliced meat and joints by the shelf full. This was happening from opening time at 8am mainly through till 11am, when the guard starts work.

This is a typical junkie crime where the goods are sold on to feed a habit. They had static CCTV, which didn’t really cover the counters very well. This could be a nice little operation to deal with the stolen meat. There is already talk of the store closing down due to the losses. Now call me a cynic, but a lot of this will also be down to theft employee by staff. He thought that perhaps 3 or 4 individuals were targeting them and I tend to agree.

So what is required for me to help them out? Officially:

Problem Solving Proforma - long form several parts
Proactive and Tasking Proforma - long form to justify resources
Risk Assessment Form - long form re Health and Safety and Human Rights
Attend Weekly Intelligence Meeting - for bosses blessing
Directed Surveillance application -as a pre planned operation
Deployment update reports - daily
Closure Reports

It would probably be authorised, as we would be expected to issue loads of fixed penalties for the petty stuff. Then again, I could just deploy some plain-clothes patrols in the area and when I see a junkie enter with a large bag take it from there. I like fishing but only for the bigger fish. We’ll see …

Computer has gone again and needs serious work so limited posting until further notice. I'm sat in one of those internet cafes surrounded by strange people.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Roll Over Roll Over .. So They All Rolled Over AND !



Wise or Toothless?

2.65% and tied into a three year deal with less the next two years. The Federation are pleased with this as they appear to have saved the PNB (Police Negotiating Board). They also have a binding agreement to renegotiate should recruitment levels fall.

OK times are hard but the Federation has given in again. I think we did the same in 1995 and kept to the Tory governments 1.5% pay freeze accepting 3% and losing alot of conditions. The dental allowance went then - good business for them as I've just paid £425 for a new crown !!

I said in August don't fight battles you can't win and we would not have won. The government will be pleased as WE will be on the front line when everybody else exercises their industrial rights.

I would have least insisted on having our "stolen" £200 paid on top. We wait with baited breath to see if the right for industrial action continues

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Running Away From Justice

One of the things that bugs me most is people running away from police. It might be exciting on all the cop shows, but in reality there is little deterrent for the suspect or offender. You just "might" get an obstruction under the misuse of drugs act if you'd managed to start exercising that power. However in most cases there is no charge. So you might as well go for it.

How often have you seen on TV the decamp from the stolen car, with all occupants bomb bursting. Any passengers caught after the chase always seem to have no charges laid. The old "offered a lift and didn't know it was stolen" defence.

You would have thought that this government, which likes making laws - What is it 3500 and counting? could have covered this loophole.

Don't forget I sustained my injury chasing after an offender and am still below par despite being back on full duty. I am still somewhat pissed off and bitter. OK I know I had him for supply already but if I hadn't he would have had no penalty.

Danny was a prolific burglar and was well wanted. A few enquiries gave me his signing on day and times at the dole office. I got permission from the office to conduct the arrest and agreed to do it in the foyer, where I was observing from a side office with a young constable.

True to form he arrives with a friend and goes in to sign on. The friend remained in the foyer possibly as a look out. As he came to leave, we appeared and the friend shouts a warning. Danny boy comes running at full pelt and I grab him and we fall heavily. His head smashes into the lower panel of the front door, which has thickened glass reinforced with wire. It must have hurt as it left an indentation in the panel but Danny bounces up and is away with me giving chase. He runs straight across the main road, and I follow with the "red mist blinkers" on. I hear the screech of tyres and stop transfixed like a bunny in the headlights. I'm going to get wiped out, and close my eyes waiting for the impact.

I love black taxi drivers. The front bumper stops about 6 inches from me - shit! very close one. I continue the chase but Danny is now well away. I traipse back to the dole office and take solace in nicking the friend for obstructing police. He saw my near death and pleads to the charge. This was obviously Pre CPS charging. The dole office were not best pleased about their glass panel and I think that involved some paperwork from me too.

Danny eventually got caught a couple of weeks later after another chase. This time he ran into somebody's house and kicked his way through the roof tiles, before getting arrested. He was charged in custody but of course was bailed by the court.

I was chatting to him a few years later and we had a good laugh about this. I made a comment about the police always being on the receiving end. He pulled up his top and showed me his back which was badly scarred. He'd been chased by police during a commercial burglary and fell through glass getting badly speared by shards. He nearly died and it was only first aid by his police pursuers that saved his life.

So on my wishy wanty list for new legislation is, "Running away from a police officer when told to stop " carrying the maximum sentence of 6 months. Sometimes evading police is a death sentence.




Sunday, 12 October 2008

Road To Nowhere

This road rarely leads to jail


A result in court recently. I only had to wait around for three and a half hours. An hour of this was waiting for the defendant to bother turning up. I think there is some ingrained arrogance in them, that means if they turn up on time they are somehow weak and bowing to the system.

This was a not guilty trial date. Said youth had been photographed by a member of the public in the drivers seat of a stolen car outside in the street. It was a great shot of head and shoulders. When it appeared on our daily briefing I recognised the culprit immediately. Slightly gutted as well, I'd only spoken to him the day before so missed out on an easy collar.

One of my team arrested him the following week and he was charged and bailed. At the same time he was charged with a theft from vehicle, where he'd screwed a police sting car. There was fingerprint evidence and video of this offence. That was listed for a different not guilty trial the following week.

He was obviously bang to on all these charges. As I see him on a near daily basis, I asked him why the "not guilty" pleas. All on the advice of his solicitor it seems.

Anyway as all prosecution witnesses have turned up, including the victim, person who took the photograph and three police officers the defence solicitor now indicates his client will be pleading guilty. He is even copping a plea to screwing the sting car. So we can all leave after he's done his bit in court. This is all a game - he will get credit for pleading guilty - but if one of the prosecution witnesses had failed to turn up - he would be "not guilty" and apply for a case dismissed.

He won't get jail despite a lengthy list of previous convictions. He knows it and we know it. I had the opportunity to speak to the sergeant from the vehicle crime squad. He tells me of one youth who has been caught four times in a year screwing their sting cars. He is still to serve a custodial sentence.

So if your car is screwed when you leave your Sat Nav in view, and you blame the police as car crime's out of control, and you rarely see a police officer in your street you know why!

Friday, 10 October 2008

What's In A Name

You know of my dislike of Dogs from when I posted the other week. Imagine my rage reading this on the Sun newspaper site.

A Cross Pit Bull called "ASBO" ran amok in Mitcham dragging a child fifty yards across a green before members of the public bravely intervened. One got badly bitten and had to jump in the back of a passing lorry to get away. ASBO was not going to give up and chased after the lorry. Luckily no really serious injuries.

It then continued to run wild before getting cornered and shot. ** Not for Liberal dog lovers **(Click this video link). This could have had more serious implications. Not only could the child have been killed, but there is a rumoured previous report to police about ASBO biting someone. How would the police have come out of that one. Lawsuits all round I guess.

ASBO's owner has been rightly arrested and the Social Housing Landlords are not best pleased. No doubt endless excuses will be offered up as to how ASBO escaped from her garden. I wonder if she'll blame the landlords for not maintaining her fence?

These people are just downright anti-social through their existence. They want you to be scared of them and having an illegal dog called ASBO just reinforces that.

Why can't all these "ASBO'S" , "TYSON'S" and "KILLER'S" be shot on sight?

Lot's of form filling on this one - I hope they didn't forget the property damage form for "ASBO".




Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Nothing To Celebrate Week


Why do we have to celebrate something different every week? It's stressing me, just at that lower niggling level to keep receiving e-mails about politically correct things. Black History month is upon us - All of October. Nice to see the Black Police Association are "celebrating" this by declining to assist the Met with recruitment drives.

OK I recognise and respect this event but why do I have to celebrate it as part of my job? Plenty of government money goes into these awareness campaigns, money that could be better spent elsewhere.

I've not even heard about alot of these things. Most of the e-mails are just forwarded for distribution by senior managers. Usually there is a comment attached -

"Are we doing anything re this ?"

This assumes we already know about it, and should reply along the lines of :

"It just so happens we have been working on an event for months to celebrate this, please read the attachment"

In fact they get the reply, "What a shame it's at such short notice - maybe next year"

What you really dread is " Good Neighbours or whatever week is coming up in two months time I want you to organise an event to celebrate it".

Damn and drat expletives emanate from the office as it dawns, that you've got to plan an event so the organisation can be seen to be inclusive. The planning all takes time and that's patrolling time folks. Great for those looking for Diversity evidence for promotion, but not really my cup of tea. I have done some though, but it goes with the job.

I don't mind if it's something I'm into, but if I'm not it's a right turn off. However as I recognised Roma Traveller Month with the Gypsy Kings, it's only right and fitting for Bob Marley to be added to the Music Wall.

Did I mention my uncle was from Jamaica? It doesn't matter they still patronise me.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

We Need YOU !!

Great image of Phil Armitage returning home from Afghanistan to be met by his daughters. With all the doom and gloom going on I found it rather uplifting to see and read about this soldier. He left school with no qualifications and got married young, but has purpose in his life serving the country well, achieving a career to boot.

It throws up the question of National Service, especially with forces recruitment suffering at present. Army life is not for everyone but there are benefits in being part of a disciplined service.

Since the police forces did away with saluting and proper parades, standards have slipped. Perhaps they both need to come back.

Where are the squaddies coming into the police? I can't remember seeing an ex forces probationer at my station in several years. We've got loads of ex PCSO's and students but are rather lacking in Phil Armitages. He looks like he could cope with life on my estates and be effective in the fight against crime .

I would have thought that people with their life skills and aptitude would be most sought after. Of course they would receive no favouritism and would have to "prove" their commitment to diversity. There are recruitment quotas for everything else - I'd have a quota for ex forces.

Come on Squaddies - We Need You Too

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Dear Diary - What a Day !!




Legs Taken - by whom ??

I do feel sorry for Sir Ian Blair as I don't like to see anybody get their legs done. He has been correct and honourable in offering his resignation today. I was somewhat shocked how quickly this came about, but not totally surprised. It was only a matter of time in light of the drip drip bad press and poison at the top table.

You can't blame the mayor who has made a decision, that he couldn't work with the commissioner. It's just a shame that Sir Ian couldn't do the same with his management team. Something had to give and unfortunately the top man has paid the price. Somebody at the yard has blood on their hands.

Let's hope somebody gets a grip and a few more from the top table are moved on too. Whoever get's the job and I hope it's Sir Hugh ORDE (Top Bloke), they should be allowed to build their own team around them.


Respected - Sir Hugh

Out Of Nowhere


Bugger Me !!

Don't Mention The War



I have resisted the temptation to post on the Race War saga at the Met, other than the obvious damage this is having on public satisfaction levels. This is because I don't know the facts, and the leaks and half truths were just both sides lining up for battle.

Well informed rumour control doesn't paint Commander Dizaei in a favourable light, however he deserves to receive a fair hearing, now he's been suspended.

It would appear this subject is now off limits within the force, and any enquiries and comment meet with the "get on with the job" response. It has been stated that the suspension of Commander Dizaei has nothing to do with the pending Employment Tribunal of Assistant Commissioner Ghaffur.

I should imagine the fact that he gave a character reference to Mr Dizaei at a previous criminal trial, put the Senior Met management in an uncomfortable position.

I suspect this is the calm before the storm.


Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Taking The Strain

My daughter was coming home the other week on a train. There were a group of rowdy youths, under 16's, drinking and generally being arses. One of them started to pick on a passenger and this quickly escalated into a "situation". The yobbo takes his belt off and threatens the passenger with death by shanking. He didn't have a knife, or at least didn't produce one. Unfortunately for him, he bit off more than he could chew and the passenger ended up chasing him down the train.

At this point my daughter gets up and tries to split them up. She's not stupid and stands back as the passenger smacks the yobbo a few times before getting between them, telling him it's not worth it. Fortunately they were all off at the next stop and she could return to her seat. She recited this, slightly pissed off that everybody else was sat in their seats hardly daring to look up from their papers.

I was slightly surprised myself. Was this the same shy girl, who would have cried her eyes out in the same situation a year ago? It's down to military training and discipline. She's just back from 3 weeks of field exercises with the US Rangers and they've sent back a self assertive monster.

I can't really blame anybody else for not getting involved, it's a personal choice, but letting a girl sort out a fracas by herself, come on !!

Yet again there's been another example of a good Samaritan getting involved, and paying with his life. We should all salute people like Frank McGarahan . The best our elected leaders can manage is to advise us to jump up and down.

I'm glad my daughter didn't listen to Tony McNulty the police minister. She's been brought up to recognise right and wrong and acted correctly. She's an occasional reader having "busted" me months ago, and I'm proud of her.

The family of Mr McGarahan should grieve and then be proud too.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Not My Best Friend



I don’t know why it is, but I’ve never liked dogs. There’s something about them and I think the feelings mutual. It might stem from when I played football on Sunday’s and slid into their mess on a regular basis on the park pitch. They are of course clever creatures, detecting my dislike and expressing theirs in return.

One of my first encounters with dogs was as a keen probationer. I’d found a couple of untaxed cars and having completed a check knocked on a front door to speak to the owner. This duly opened and I saw two dogs bound down the hallway towards me, a Collie and an Alsatian. What do you do? I think just stay still you’ll be all right. Wrong decision, the Collie sinks it’s teeth into my thigh.

The owner is very apologetic and promises to get her cars taxed. I return limping to the station to examine the damage. I’ve got a couple of puncture wounds and have to get a tetanus injection in my backside. Amuses the team no end, still the nurse was nice.

I started to get a complex a couple of years later, when policing a big event. We were chasing skinheads around who were having a thing with the Anti Nazi League. Police dogs were deployed as we put a cordon in. They were snarling and the police line began to move forwards, except me. A police dog had hold of my trouser leg and then shakes his head ripping the bottom so a large lump of cloth is flapping around. By way of explanation the handler says that they train the dog to grip using old police uniform, so it probably took a liking to the serge.

It didn’t get any better when the same day chasing after the BNP, a vagrants dog came chasing after me, perhaps they too are trained on the police serge, or was the flapping trouser leg that tempted him.

Of course things appear to have worsened over the years. I bumped into an old colleague at another station. He was good old bill and I asked what he was doing with himself. "Oh I’m the licensing officer". I raised an eyebrow, slightly confused. "You haven’t heard have you?", he says and pulls up his sleeve to reveal a disfigured and scarred forearm. He tells the story of how a Pit Bull locked onto his arm and had to be prised off a couple of years previously.

So that’s how it is nowadays. Dogs are used as weapons or at the very least a deterrent by youths and drug dealers. If it’s vicious you will not find me anywhere near a dog. Only last year I tried to seize a dog from a known drug dealer. I kept my distance but he still let it off the collar and it came towards me. I had to take evasive action leaping over a 4 foot high wall. I just had the picture of my mate’s forearm in my head.

We eventually got that one seized and it sat on “doggy death row” all year, pending a court case. We executed a warrant at the same dealers address a few months later and seized a pure bred American Pit Bull. It was massive but nobody claimed ownership so it too met a suitable end. Now there are suspect dogs everywhere. You don’t see the pure bred ones like above. They tend to be mixed Pit Bull and mastiff types. When seized they go off to secret kennels and the cost is about £10 - £15 a day in storage, whilst the matter is investigated. I believe we have almost reached capacity in my force area.

You can't get the dog destroyed unless the court orders it or the owner signs a disclaimer. So we are now in the position where we will seize a dog and return it, on condition that it's chipped, muzzled and kept on a lead at all times. Is Joe Slag really going to comply? I think not. It's time for some common sense - sign the disclaimer or we prosecute and Joe Slag has to pay all storage fees on conclusion. In any event the process needs to be simplified.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Mind Reading

Did you see it on TV last night? Traffic Cops on BBC catch it on the BBCiplayer. This is a reality show, usually the same mundane policing stuff.

Last nights was a copper shocker. Two Swedish sisters stopped walking on the motorway before running into the traffic and getting wiped out. The one who was not seriously injured then gets up, thumps the female officer before running into the other carriageway. This caused a 15 mile tailback as the motorway was closed for 2 hours. Much inconvenience to thousands and the punishment? a day served when she appeared in court for hitting the officer.

They followed this up with two immigrants from Iran again wandering on the motorway. They had it appeared, been dumped out of the back of a lorry. In our modern Britain we don't arrest illegal entrants any more. They get advised to go to Liverpool or London to register. Of course these two didn't.

There was a Czech citizen driving on his international licence. He was insured but had been economical with the truth with his insurance company, saying he held a full UK licence. The cop rang the company who were still happy to cover him. So he too was sent on his way. All this after the expense of an interpreter.

Then a chap from Estonia speeding at 112 mph - uninsured with no licence and still over the drink drive limit after consuming a litre of vodka the night before. He was less grief as he spoke fluent English.

Then another chap who gave false particulars. He turned out to be an overstayer, who'd gone undetected for 10 years. Another no insurance job and don't ask if he was deported. The Home Office wouldn't say.

I'm not going to say anything, because I think I know what you're thinking.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

You got FAITH?




Our Georgie has caused outrage again with his recent arrest for possession of crack when searched in a public toilet near Hampstead Heath. For this he received a caution. And the outrage is over what exactly? If charged to court I doubt if he'd got more than £200 fine for possession of Class A. This is the reality of our world today. There is little deterrent for the drug user.

I'm rather disappointed with him. I went to one of his concerts on his last tour and this boy can sing. Why would he want to risk his voice by taking crack cocaine. Young Miss Winehouse is not exactly a glowing advert for this type of drug, he should know better.

Now I'm not for making examples of celebrities, they should be treated the same as everybody else. The days when Mick Jagger got 3 months for possession of drugs are long gone. It does however reinforce the message that you can take drugs and nothing will happen to you.

I used to go to some high powered partnership conferences, where the great and the good mingled. We are talking influential people who can make big changes happen. Nearly always I would get asked my views on legalising drugs. I think over the last 10 years the punishments have been so downgraded that they've almost got what they wanted. They would invariably conclude with "How much is a Henry nowadays?" Yeah they've all smoked themselves and can't see no wrong in it.

As a street cop, I've always been against the cannabis experiment. I can see the wrong in it and I'm in no doubt it's a gateway drug. All these teenagers stoned on skunk are numbing their brains and a percentage of them will progress up the drugs chain. I could show you the ones who were cocky teenagers always spliffing up, who are now on their arses due to crack and heroin. I preached to them when they were younger and I don't feel smug when they tell me I was right.

So we have the ridiculous situation where you can smoke cannabis in the street and get a warning, but if you smoke a cigarette in the pub you can get a penalty ticket from the local authority.

Now I'll be controversial. I would have no problem with heroin addicts being given their dose in controlled circumstances. I think the methadone substitute hasn't worked and nearly all addicts still use when on it. If some would be steered away from committing crime then medicinal heroin should be prescribed.

I can't see us doing policing operations targeting users, we hardly target the dealers as it is. They do this in the USA. I saw this tactic on a cop show where a cop posed as a dealer, and users approached and tried to buy drugs before a door opened and the user was yanked in and arrested. They were getting 100+ at a time on this sting. It could never happen here with all our bureaucracy and form filling.

* HENRY = Henry the eighth or 1/8 oz of drugs

Above clip shows reverse sting used to target users in the states and clean up neighbourhoods.


Monday, 22 September 2008

And Finally

The Police Federation has woken up and will seek the right for police officers to take industrial action. I'm really quite saddened it's come to this but there is little other option, now that the government is looking to do away with the Police Negotiating Board (PNB).

It's not greed people - we just want the existing agreement that's lasted since 1977 (until last year) to continue.

It puts each and every one of us in quite a position. I never became a police officer for the money. The money and allowances were OK but it really was a vocation for me. So why did I join?

I think it goes back till when I was just 16 and working in the big city. I was a naive lad and spent alot of time in and around what is and has always been a dodgy area. One day I was passing through a busy underpass. There was a scruffy bloke having some sort of altercation with a smartly dressed middle aged man. I don't know exactly what was going on but the middle aged bloke shouted "Somebody help me". There were dozens of people walking by, as the pass was connected to a train station. I stopped to see what was going on. I observed for several minutes and didn't know what to do, I was only a kid. Everybody ignored this bloke and kept on walking with their heads down. Eventually I too drifted away. Now, it might have been some over aggressive begging but this event worried me greatly. I should have intervened.

Obviously I needed to toughen up and would have been too immature to be a policeman. I'd been told that unless you were a police cadet you needn't apply until you were in your twenties. So a couple of years later I joined the army, always intending to apply for the police force. This was the best thing I could have done. When I left I was mature and grounded and able to deal with anything and anyone. I wouldn't walk away again.

You see my dilemma, the police are now being taken for granted and pushed into a corner. We are playing for high stakes. I don't want to strike, it goes against everything I've worked for over the years. I am however incensed with this dishonest government, who have done a very good job in dismantling what was a good institution. The same thing is being done to the armed forces, where the military covenant has been ignored.

It is therefore time to make a stand. If we win the right to strike I will support the federation and walk, to stop our policing tradition being totally destroyed.