Tuesday, 30 September 2008
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
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
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
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
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.
Sunday, 21 September 2008
I didn't know Mike TODD the Chief Constable of Manchester who was found dead in the mountains of Wales. I do however recognise that he was in need of help. If the account of his friend Tracy Clarke is to be believed then this tragedy was avoidable.
This man was a popular high achiever, but with flaws. It would appear that his situation was not unknown to his managers whilst in the Metropolitan Police. Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, but why didn't somebody put an arm around this bloke and get him counselling. Yes Tracy Clarke mentioned it to him, but he thought it might be harmful to his career.
This macho weakness thing needs to be addressed by all police forces. The warning signs were all there with Mike Todd, the self driven "work" therapy, pushing himself harder. In reality at times he was falling apart.
I can identify with the mountains of Wales. Been there and done that one in the bad times. A truly breathtaking landscape, where you can find true solitude and do some "stress busting". I can name one force who sold off their facilities in North Wales, in the name of financial prudence. What a shame that they couldn't be used as a National Police Centre for team building.
If something positive is to come of this tragedy then it is to raise awareness of stress. I do hope the opportunity is not missed. Perhaps the former ACPO colleagues of Mike Todd could make this happen.
Thursday, 18 September 2008
"Officers who are perceived in this way are sometimes less willing to use their judgement. Genuine mistakes made by officers and the good intentions of managers have resulted in more and more "just in case" measures, policies and procedures – and, heaven forbid, more doctrine. Many front line officers now adopt an approach of "if I don't make decisions I won't get it wrong". It is time that we conceded that adherence to rigid processes has resulted on occasions in officers hitting the target, but missing the point."
He joins some other senior officers who are finally showing some real leadership - in challenging our inept way way of policing in the 21st Century. Don't you just feel slightly encouraged that things might change soon.
Helen Newlove also spoke at the conference. This is the wife of Garry Newlove kicked to death by yobs last year. Our failure to tackle ongoing "low priority" anti social behaviour led to him bravely confronting a group of youths who then set about him. These are the people we should protect and indeed want to protect.
It's about time we all stood together and just got back to common sense policing. Forget the targets, ignore the broken justice system, let the next government sort it out. We have been acting like sheep blindly following the wrong path for too long now.
I've always liked Paul WELLER a modern day poet genius - He sums it up perfectly in this lyric.
You don't have to take this crap
You don't have to sit back and relax
You can actually try changing it
I know we've always been taught to rely
Upon those in authority -But you never know until you try
How things just might be -If we came together so strongly
Are you gonna try to make this work
Or spend your days down in the dirt
You see things can change -
Yes and walls can come tumbling down
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
The government has announced some pilot schemes whereby concerned parents will be able to access the records of individuals who come into contact with their children. This is to root out paedophiles and will only concentrate on sexual offences. They must see this as a popular policy with those who can't even spell paedophile correctly.
Under the new scheme, police will carry out two tests when approached by a concerned parent.
The first, within 24 hours, will examine the person's criminal history to see if police need to take immediate action.
A full risk assessment will follow, involving more detailed checks and should be completed within 10 days.
Question "Has Paul Gadd got Gary Glitter down as an alias on his PNC Record?" You see the potential problems with police intelligence and data.
At the same time they are putting an extra £60 Million into extra youth measures , which will include street based youth workers and ex gang members. Are these the same ex gang members who "were" involved in robberies, drugs and god knows what? I take it unless they have committed a sex offence parents won't be told about their previous crimes. Of course it's rather trendy to be an ex gang member and good on your C.V. when entering the lucrative world of public sector projects.
Also youth offending team officers will be placed in police stations to direct young offenders to the appropriate service. You can bet your mortgage that won't be Her Majesties Prison Service. The YOT person can no doubt sit reading a book along with the drugs intervention worker.
Don't worry we the police get a slice of the pie too, for extra school patrols and to impose youth curfews on communities. Don't get me wrong I'm all for preventative action - I just don't think the public sector is the best way to deliver it. There will be all sorts of targets and measures set.
Yet again the police are responsible for sorting alot of this out and finding staff to do it. Where will the blame lie if it all goes wrong?
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Some people just can't help themselves. Now even as a serving police officer, if I'm off duty I will always steer clear of uniformed officers if out and about. If our eyes meet in passing I will offer a polite greeting. If there is a situation brewing I will loiter in case I need to offer assistance. This is perhaps due to my upbringing to respect but also fear the police. If I'd had a drink there is no way I would argue, abuse or do anything to generally upset a police officer.
I am at a loss sometimes to explain the utter stupidity of individuals who feel the need to either approach officers and end up getting themselves arrested. On the whole we are fair sorts and will always let it be known how an interaction is likely to end up. A fair warning would be to make firm eye contact before saying –
"You've had your fun mate now move on"
If they don't get the message then it gets made clearer by the prophetic –
"Stop swearing this is your last warning - move on or you will be arrested"
Now most people will at this point get the message. You might be looking for the "sensible" friend to do his mate a favour and take him home. Unfortunately for some this is the point of no return. You are likely to meet with an abusive "Arrest me for what you C*/t you can't do nothing, if you didn't have a uniform" etc etc.
Of course members of the public will be seeing this tirade towards police and depending where you are, will either look shocked and put their heads down and walk briskly by, or if you are in a rough area join in the abuse towards you.
It's a tricky one because you have to weigh up if it's worth being off the streets for at least 3 hours to deal with the arrest. The days of a quick book in (1/2 hour) and straight back out leaving the notes for later are long gone. Forget the PND (Penalty Notice for Disorder) this is only going to be an option on leaving the station.
I was overseeing the dispersal from an upmarket night club, when a drunk idiot approaches. He is a dick and gets ignored. He tells me he is a professional rugby player and earns £200k a year. He is built like a prop and is swearing insulting and tells me how he could mash me into little pieces. He demonstrates by stamping on the ground with his feet. Don't ask me why. I smile at him and tell him to move on. He doesn't and now is cursing and again for some reason tells me how much he earns. Money doesn't buy class that's for sure. He gets the warning and the stare but to no avail. "Go on effing arrest me then and see what happens". In a flash he's handcuffed and immediately the realisation dawns on him that he won't need that cab home after all.
He was no more trouble at all, didn't play up and went through the process eventually departing with a PND. I'm sure the £80 didn't dent his immense fortune. He had crossed the line and dozens of people who witnessed his conduct saw that the Queens Peace had been maintained.
So how do the public feel about police officers being sworn at? I had a face up with a youth on the estate who was effing and blinding at me. I didn't know who he was and although he was a big lad he was still under 18. As I'd approached the group of lads I would have in the eyes of the CPS initiated this interaction so any subsequent minor public order offence would have been discontinued. Don't laugh this has been going on for years - youths flash the finger at police - get stopped and kick off before getting arrested. CPS don't like it if we initiate the stop saying police can't be insulted in these circumstances. Case dropped. They would prefer us to arrest for Breach of the Peace and to dearrest once the breach has ceased.
So I take it and we call it a draw. He's on my estate so we'll play the long game. He trots off and a bloke who had walked past earlier seeing everything came back past. He asked me why I'd let the youth swear at me like he did. I told him straight - if arrested nothing would happen to him as he was a young person. He shook his head - how can we deal with yobs when unsupported by the system? I would have been shown as the catalyst for the whole incident for having the audacity to approach a group of youths.
Still the long game does work. I went to report a missing person. I spoke to the mother who worked for the police in catering. Her daughter had not returned from school. Who comes down the stairs? It was the lad. I tell her everything and he's as sheepish as they come. Knowledge is power in community policing and we make our peace. We now get on fine so perhaps the discretion used was better in the long run.
Friday, 12 September 2008
This is not totally unexpected as I've been lacking in personnel recently. Quite naturally my teams performance figures are down too. I am standing by to attend a meeting where I'll be expected to have loads of ideas where performance can be improved. Forget all the good work non quantifiable that has been done making people feel safer.
Well I don't feel like playing. The local management gave it the billy large one last year about a certain set of figures and I stated at the time they were setting themselves up for a fall. The reduction achieved was apparently down to all the wonderful policing operations and increased visibility. Actually we had done very little to achieve the reduction, because a prolific offender was away in jail for a longish stretch. Since he's been out surprise surprise certain crime is up.
If they were honest at the time and actually analysed why their reduction percentage was so large and perhaps presented a conclusion, we wouldn't have this problem. Crime figures always tend to return to their average. If you get an excessive variation there is always a reason why. We pay analysts to put forward an argument and explain this.
I have just seen some public perception surveys and they are dropping like a stone. Really excessive drops in public confidence with the police when compared to last year. This is not I believe down to local issues but to all the front page press stuff going on with the Greater Gods. Will anyone be brave enough to reach that conclusion and present it to our leaders.
I think they know it already!
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
At least they went through the system and the all important sanction detection was gained. This is the system imposed by our political masters and think yourself lucky they were cautioned.
I was sat in my office when a call came up for criminal damage to car, suspect still on scene. It was that time of day when we'd run out of police officers. As usual I had no staff so strolled down to help out response. I spoke to the victim, nice chap.
He'd been stood on his balcony having a cigarette when his neighbours car pulled up below. He saw his neighbours 10 year old son get out and deliberately key the side of his car. He had gone down and words were said with the parents and hence the call to me. Apparently there was bad blood between his own son and this 10 year old and somehow both sets of parents had become involved. His other car had also been keyed about a week previously.
I looked at the car and there was a monster scratch along the door. I could see the scrapings of paint raised up so it was very recent damage. An open and shut case me thinks. So I go to see the neighbours, who are not British. I put the allegation to the son and mother is ultra defensive in that her son hasn't done it. Apparently it could have been done previously. Then the race card comes out (I've noticed in my past posts how often this happens), where the victim had stated something about going back to your country. Both the mother and father were in the car and had handed the front door key to their son so he could go to their flat, whilst they emptied their car. No admissions so I street bailed the boy to attend the station at a more appropriate time.
Before the bail date I obtain a statement from the victim. It's not his car he just uses it so I have to traipse miles to get a statement from the owner. I can't find a Polaroid camera anywhere but borrow a digital one and take images of the damage. Untold stresses involved now because we can't upload images onto our normal police systems, well not us working officers. I hit the Ops office where a job laptop resides. An officer kindly uploads them and sends them to me by e-mail. More stress in that the images are too big for our system, I can't open them. I have to ring SCOTLAND and beg for increased access. This is denied unless somebody in authority authorises it. QUOTE "otherwise everybody would want it". I bully the civilian IT person to authorise this increased access. All this photo business actually takes 4 hours.
I couldn't make the bail date but one of my officers did the interview. Denials and no comments were order of the day as expected, and mother was a pain in the arse berating us. Now before decisions were taken away from us, this lad would have been charged at this point to youth court. He can't be reprimanded (cautioned) as he hasn't admitted the offence so is bailed again. I get the paperwork together for a file intending to send to the CPS. It would appear the system now is to notify the Youth Offending Team (YOT). I do this and the lady tells me she will contact the mother and arrange intervention. This is where they become involved to interact with the suspect and can do victim reparations if need be. She tells me they will update the victim and deal with everything. If they decide after intervention, they can issue a final warning. I update the victim and leave her to it.
To cut a long story short he finally does his intervention and I look to close the report. I speak to YOTS and ask about the disposal. There is no disposal - NO sanction detection - NO conviction - nothing. He has avoided all responsibility for his actions as we don't want to criminalise 10 year olds. The arrest will be shown NFA. The repair bill was over £500 to that car and the same for the first car where he couldn't prove the lad had done it.
A few months later I saw the victim on his balcony. The YOT had never contacted him and he'd had no involvement with the process during intervention. The last person he'd spoken to was me. I had to break the news and he took it remarkably well. "At least you tried your best" he says. Yes I did but the system failed you.
** Sgt Roy Jennings is a licensing officer so my suspicions were right ** Still a good collar though
Monday, 8 September 2008
I remember the days when policing football was considered a good day out. If you were lucky you might get an inside post to watch the game. You could join in the banter with the crowd and if anybody got ejected it was because they deserved it.
Then we started to charge the football clubs for our services, and we don't come cheap. The upshot is - that on some matches there are no police officers policing inside the ground. The actual fixture will be classified either A B or C depending on the risk of disorder and resources allocated accordingly.
Hence the steward was born with powers to enforce ground regulations. This means he can throw you out for whatever he deems a breach. If PC Plod is policing inside he is acting as an agent of the club and therefore not in the execution of his duty - so if you lay hands on you'd better cover yourself by arresting that individual for say breach of the peace if ejecting. He can be dearrested outside.
Now I have many examples of over zealous stewarding. The police tend to man a staging post where all steward ejections end up. This is for intelligence purposes and also to see if any criminal offences might have been committed. You can't have a sanction detection slipping away folks. Also you tend to adjudicate and make a few decisions.
When stewards eject you would be approached by a whole mob of them with the football fan usually restrained, and his face contorted in pain. Don't forget these are paying customers. I would then listen to how the individual was told to sit down and after a few warnings thrown out. Hapless fan gives his side usually with a steward right in his face winding him up and pleads everybody was standing up - straight ejection.
One of my favourites was when a bloke was presented to me in wrist holds and bent over. I thought he must have done something serious. Head Steward (complete arse) states the bloke was abusive and threatening to him hence the ejection. Now the fan was OK - we're not talking kids here. He was upset and I understood why. Apparently he'd been into the toilets and good man that he was he went to wash his hands. Out of the cold tap came scolding hot water causing him to jump back. Rightly so was a patch of dampness on his jeans. He approached the head steward (mistake) and told him about the tap and that it might be dangerous to others, before being told the steward was busy and to go away. He remonstrated and stood his ground before getting grabbed and thrown out.
Now after years of custody experience you know when somebody is being genuine. All you can do is ignore the stewards requests to have him nicked and tell the bloke to write to the club and complain about his treatment.
I've had OAP's presented for smoking inside the ground and the stewards grab their season tickets with pleasure telling them they're banned. The poor old boy's have to write a grovelling letter in to get their ticket back. The ticket they've pay hundreds for. I know they breached ground regs but come on.
After each duty it became abit of a tradition to complain about the stewarding. On the de-brief I enjoyed presenting my examples about specific stewards and was reassured it would be fed back. But lets tell it how it is folks - these football clubs have money so they have power. So the police will dance to their tune as they pay us huge sums towards policing their games.
I now relieved of that duty, which is a bit of a result. I had a run in with the stewards when presented with another ejection. The steward was telling me what was going to happen to the ejected fan, wanting him nicked. Basically despite being surrounded by ten stewards- not one of them was a witness to what was alleged to have happened. I can't go into the details of the incident but it made the back pages. I says, well unless somebody who is going to give a statement, tells me what happened the bloke isn't getting arrested. I have finger pointing at me and you will do this threats. Nobody was forthcoming to present facts so I got particulars and the fan walks.
I think the actual words used when the club had a debrief with the police were "This officer is no longer welcome at our football club". I heard about this and asked if it was true. There was no denial and I take it we rolled over. It amuses me no end when I am sometimes posted to that duty, as I can say can't do that I'm banned.
Saturday, 6 September 2008
This blogging lark is important and relevant issues are raised. Read this article about police inefficiency and you see I was right to raise this in an earlier post. As long as you stick to the rules and don't bring the police service into disrepute - then no harm done eh!