Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Angry People

Stressedoutcop sends peace and love to fellow Blogger Ian Bone. I don't necessarily agree with what you say but I will defend your right to say it. What say you Ian about the policing pledge? How can I satisfy you?

* BEWARE naughty swear words in video*

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Who Is Russ Hall Anyway?

I like Facebook where I have a profile. I don't go mad on it and collect hundred's of friends, instead using it as more of contact list. You know when you keep meaning to ring somebody to catch up and leave it a week, month or longer, it's sometimes easier to drop a quick comment to let them know you're still around. This I find prevents the months turning into years. I'm on a specialised one too where I keep in touch with old colleagues from the army.

I'm not into joining all those groups or putting too much information into cyberspace. I'm not naive enough to think that security services are not monitoring some people either. I wouldn't have a problem if MI5 have a list of those who subscribe to the group "I think Osama Bin Laden is the dog's nuts" or similar. There are 100's of groups relating to him. I was therefore not surprised to read this article whereby the government are seeking to monitor traffic on social networking sites and legislate for information to be retained.

Police officers have already fallen foul of Facebook during the infamous "Yes I have had a POLCOL?" group. I don't recall if anybody was sacked but strong words were dished out for bringing the force into disrepute in dozens of cases.

I have heard that if you put your occupation as police officer there is an arrangement whereby complaints can view your profile, even if it is closed to outsiders. Don't know if it's true but colleagues have allegedly been caught out discussing cases that are ongoing at court trial. I take it would have come to light after complaints from the defence side of collusion.

How long before these details are requested as a fishing exercise to embarrass officers over their private views? Couldn't happen? Well I'm sure somebody would have joined a group for BNP or against immigration or whatever issue the government have decided is incompatible with being a state employee.

I just completed the "What kind of Police Officer am I" quiz and got the response below. Colleagues have got varying responses from response officer to dog handler. Of course the one you don't want is senior officer. But who or what is Russ Hall? I'm slightly worried that I might be a victim of rhyming slang and might be missing the joke.

Stressedoutcop completed the quiz “What kind of police officer am I?” with the result You are Russ Hall. You don’t give a flying **** what the bosses say, you just want to get some proper police work done. You fly in the face of policy and procedures. You probably like watching “Life on Mars”. You will never, ever be promoted again. You do what it says on the tin.

Clever things these quizzes. I do indeed like watching "Life on Mars", the rest of it I take as a compliment. Of course I might now be identified as a subversive, and there was I thinking it was just a bit of fun!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Are You Ready?

Free Speech at work

Ready for what? I think we know what's coming up next week. Some are going to G20 ready to rumble under the guise of peaceful demonstration.

Of course the police will be blamed for excessive violence and no doubt kicking it all off. This will take place nearly 19 years to the day since the poll tax riots. Different causes some looking for the same civil disobedience. It's those naughty Anarchist people who you need to look out for. Don't want to sterotype but they're not too hard to spot.

Hundreds of tired weary police officers stuck in the middle attempting to keep the Queen's Peace. If you're going as your place of duty for the day keep your head down, if you're going because you're angry try emanating some peace and love, cos' those missiles really hurt!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

And I Thought We'd Had It Bad!

Not a British Prison - Why Not?

Prison should be quite an easy place to keep secure but it would appear drugs misuse is rife inside. Of all places, being in jail should give an opportunity to offenders to get clean of their vices.

I've been to jail on visiting day to deal with allegations of passing illegal contraband. It's just so easy to do and I scratch my head wondering why we don't adopt the American system of no physical contact. A couple of prison guards try to cover the whole visiting time on CCTV but are fighting a losing battle. No doubt there's some human rights angle to this, but it's time to have designated drugs prisons, with more enhanced security. All the rehabilitation services could be concentrated on one site, giving an inmate a guaranteed chance to get clean. It might cost a little bit more but surely is worth it to break addictions and possibly the cycle of crime.

Of course it's not just visiting time that provides the opportunity. Packages thrown over the wall is a tried and tested method. My favourite was this one, where short of having a guard in a tower with a GPMG - you ain't going to win.

I've also heard of a case where a female turned up purporting to be a solicitor to interview an inmate. This was all organised in line with procedures. She was only rumbled when a sharp eyed warden recognised her from another establishment, and believed she'd used a different name. A finger scanner showed her up as bogus and she had lot's secreted, phones, drugs the business.

I imagine being a warder is a shitty job. Wings full of nasty bastards probing for a weakness at every opportunity. One of the jobs I attended involved an inmate I'd actually charged. A warden had seen something get passed to him and when they intervened he kicked off large, and it needed 10 staff to restrain him. We had to deal with the visitors, and there's always a woman present for some reason in these cases. The prison just bans visitors suspected of passing stuff unless they seize drugs. It didn't work in his case as I know months later his girlfriend was calling him up on his mobile.

Of course prison's are no longer places of punishment and one might suspect that the inmate's interests are not best served by ultra liberal policies imposed on prison staff. What is actually being done to tackle this drug epidemic in our secure prisons? or does it suit our government to turn a blind eye and appease the prison population?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Remember Foxtrot One One

Braybrook Street 12th August 1966

I was full of compassion a few weeks back when questioning if Ronnie BIGGS should be released on parole a little bit early. He is rather a unique case of his own making.

There is another who is touted for release, not early but after serving 42 years. I'm talking about the infamous Harry ROBERTS who killed 2 police officers and was complicit in the murder of a third. He is 72 years old and reckons he should be released as he is no longer a danger to the public.

This is a man who shot 2 unarmed police officers in cold blood. This is a man who personally executed both as he was about to be apprehended red handed en route to commit an armed robbery. This is a man who escaped the hangman's noose by 8 months after the death penalty was abolished in 1965.

He is our police equivalent to Ian Brady, who the general public would never accept into their midst again. Roberts should have been left swinging on a rope until the birds picked his bones bare. Football hooligans still revere him, taunting us with his name. Letting him out would bring untold riches as he hits the celebrity criminal circuit.

He was returned to the mainstream prison population as he was involved in all sorts when released into an open jail. Not fit for release ever - Hope you live to be a hundred Harry and spend it all inside. There are cases where life means life, and even if he ends up dribbling like Ronnie Biggs then this one stays in. No compassion to be shown here, just like the compassion he showed DS Christopher Head, DC David Wombwell and PC Geoffrey Fox.

What say the court of public opinion?

The Eyes Have It

Monday, 16 March 2009

Walking The Walk

Lost Skill

I can't help feeling that there is just a hint of reinventing the wheel in new policies about single foot patrols in London. It is all about the public's perception that they see pairs of police officers walking and talking and not effectively patrolling. I would say that most officers where I work have never single patrolled in their careers. I know this is not the case in other forces who just don't have the numbers full stop. In fact most officers rarely foot patrol. It is a lost skill, and we have ourselves to blame. This will form part of local policing pledges and will mainly apply to community teams. I'm not against this and think there are benefits in set foot patrols. Customer Satisfaction is the only target that counts to the bosses but more importantly you do achieve crime reduction.

When I was in charge of taskings I always had a set foot patrol operation at Christmas. It was all set out with instructions to walk an exact route and visit train stations where drunk office workers would return home after their festive do. It was timed to combat robbery offences in the peak period. I had to stress that all I wanted was the route walked, otherwise officers would skive off doing something else. It worked and there would be less crime in that area.

I'm unfortunately old enough to have spent the first two years of my career walking the streets alone. On the occasional night duty I might have been doubled up in a car after the pubs shut, but that was it, posted a beat, get out there and bring a return of work. I still do it - in fact that's what I was doing when I got my injury, and I think alot of officers will use officer safety as an excuse not to lone patrol. I think they have more of an argument over evidential reasons. Unfortunately the CPS still use your word against Joe Slag as a factor in dismissing charges where they want corroboration.

The return of work would show if the officer could be an effective street cop. I'm not going on here about setting targets, but if you are out patrolling there must be an expectation that you are going to deal with things. Stop accounts, searches, meaningful intelligence reports and self generated arrests show you can hack it. I am not convinced that many could actually produce the goods nowadays. A few months back I was on overtime patrolling a large development, and the looks on some officers faces when it dawned I expected them to walk all night was a sight to behold, and that was in pairs.

So common sense is slowly returning to policing. The bosses assume the skills are there that their previous policies have destroyed. I do question if we've lost the art and have the staff to deliver, and I include some supervisors in that too, because they've never done it either. The status of the foot patroller is low within the force, because it's hard graft and there are not too many volunteers to do what I do. It's a shame because it's pure policing and actually very rewarding.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Testing Times

Actually alot has .. you haven't
Condolences to family and colleagues of Constable Stephen Carroll murdered as he was doing his job helping people. We're not talking about the old troubles here. There has been a massive improvement in the situation the last few years.

My first thoughts are that these splinter groups should just be wiped out. Dirty deeds need dirty solutions. They are cowards happy to hide behind the law, BUT that is what they want, to appear oppressed, and a return to conflict.

If peace is what the people want then the Republican politicians should give them up. After all this murder was carried out by their old comrades. Testing times ahead, but if the war is really over they should show their leadership now.

To ex-colleagues and friends in the Police Service Northern Ireland keep your heads down and be safe.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Lay The Secret On Me of Man's Red Fire - Clue Me What To Do

My job search goes on and I've decided to network to see if somebody wants to offer me a nice little number. I know quite a few people who I've worked with and more importantly I haven't upset anybody so this could be the time to collect.

I have worked directly under the supervision of two current chief constables before they made it, and a few colleagues I'd started out with as new sergeants have reached Superintendent level and beyond. Despite two failed attempts in intelligence posts, for reasons I've explained previously, I'm just drawn back to the streets and all that entails. Shit hours shit weather and drunken shit people. My potential networking group is quite influential and I need to use it.

So where did I go wrong? Good people that they are, many of my peers were no better than me and probably couldn't do half what I do, half as well. The answer is they've got the hunger and ambition to fight their way to the top. Whilst I'm quite happy to work the crappy estates and be the king of my little empire, they are swimming in a different pond and looking to be the next big thing.

I went for a drink with an old mucker, who is doing very well. There might be a job going so we met up to see how the land lies. He is going along very nicely and has just reached SMT level. He was really good old bill on the streets and I like him. We had a good gossip about who's done well and who's going no further. He told me how much work he did for his promotion, and he played it right. His portfolio of skill examples was set down and he was mentored by the right people who could put him on the right path. My own boss who is truly hard working dipped this year and the difference was obvious. She has done work that needed doing and used it in examples instead of doing work to fit her career path.

He told me I had talent but was wasting it chasing two bit drug dealers on my estate. Yeah I told him, but my punters love me. "Think of the pension", he says. I counter "I'd give up pips for knowing I've done good on the street". But he's right I need to think about a late dash for world domination. The job? not as good as he made out, and not for me, he knows it but it was interesting to see how things work at that higher level.

The next day I was passing through custody to cancel a bail. The custody officer tells me I've got a fan in cell one who was asking after me. I pull the wicket down to see an old foe. "Fun Time Frankie", who is just out for firearms offences. I'd had the briefest of chats with him the other week-end but got called away to deal with a drunk unconscious bloke before I could do a name check. Of course he would have been wanted, nothing serious mind. He's been inside for several years but wanted to tell me how well he was doing. He is trying to qualify as a fitness instructor and sort himself out. Good for him, hope he gets there, wished him well with encouraging words, always liked "Fun Time". That's what I'd have to leave behind, several years of local knowledge and making a little bit of difference to people's lives, but that doesn't tick many boxes if you want to get on.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Different World's

I'm not one to bleat on about PCSO's having worked with some great and not so great people. I've posted only once on them, but the most recent Employment Tribunal involving PCSO Asad Saeed shows they are still flavour of the month with the press. I'm slightly peeved with the racist culprit being described as a policeman. Let's get it right he's not and wasn't, he was an unwarranted officer, a PCSO.

I usually steer away from posting on this subject, despite several years first hand experience of supervising community officers. I have numerous stories that would make your hair curl and no doubt make good press, but they shall remain with me. Stupid I am not. Suffice to say that I've just disciplined somebody for the first time ever in over 13 years and perhaps should have done the same last year to another staff member. Both would have been dismissed in a private sector job.

Supervision of community officers is something I've found very difficult. You can go out and patrol with them, but you police as a police officer and unless you went out and merely stepped back to observe, would never get a grasp of how they usually behave. When the cat's away the mice will play, and I've always thought some staff would turn it on when the sergeant is there, only to take the piss when he isn't. Police officers are the same, but are generally too busy with taskings and calls and can overall be trusted to get on with it.

From reading up on this case as best I can, we can assume these PCSO's driving about in vans were on security patrols in Westminster. As this has been going on since 2003 we might again assume that all concerned were amongst the first PCSO's recruited. What was it they got three weeks training? The fact is the Met recruited a large majority of staff at that time who were unsuitable for the role. They are now stuck with a large number of people who have hit the jackpot, earning more than a constable in training. They received little training from non police officers which included one day on diversity. No training at all on diversity in the workplace, and yes there is a difference. Plastic Fuzz posted on PCSO discipline in the Met and Westminster were found to commence misconduct proceedings the most.

It would appear that a sergeant to her credit wrote a report that ethnic minority staff felt they couldn't speak out to supervisors. In my experience there is a reluctance in all PCSO's black and white to report misconduct to line managers. I've had to literally sit people down and ask them direct about people having me over or behaving inappropriately to colleagues. They operate in a different world and under their own unwritten rules for some reason. They should let it be known who is letting the side down and giving PCSO's a bad name.

Things hopefully have improved with better quality people coming in, and also better training. PCSO's are here to stay, but I still say wait until after the Olympics in 2012. I suspect many will be outsourced to local authorities possibly employed by private companies doing traffic enforcement and other stuff, but still linked to policing through partnership. It makes financial sense and cash at the moment is King.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Forgotten Victims

There is much career portfolio building going on regarding engagement with hard to reach and minority groups. Young people especially if they're black, faith groups (some more than others - Christian trumped by most religions) and Gay groups are especially favoured and score top diversity points. For some reason the most vulnerable group we ignore. I'm talking about the elderly who must include all of the above targeted "minorities". The elderly are of course an increasing majority and suffer the fear of crime more than most.

They are more likely to suffer poverty and with the debt greed fuelled recession are now seeing their incomes falling as any savings they relied on, produce little or no interest. You would have heard little about them as they are from a generation who get on with life being self sufficient and take pride in not asking for help. I like old people, on the whole they are very pro police and not very PC, telling it the way it is. I therefore get extremely pissed off when people take advantage of their kindly nature.

There appears to be a trend at present where old people are being taken advantage of by their carers. I'm not talking about proper carers but a new type who befriend the elderly vulnerable and then fleece them of money and goods. As these new carers are homeless, they also move themselves in and sometimes bring their dealers with them. I'm now very alert when the usual faces tell me they're caring for a sick friend. They are also plausible bail addresses.

I have known instances when sexual favours have been granted to old boy's who then end up paying for their kneetremblers by being pressurised into giving up their pension cash. One minute he thinks he is the oldest swinger in town and the next he becomes their victim. The money goes on drugs and some elderly patrons have been encouraged to indulge in the wonders of the pipe themselves. Some of these have actually taken place in sheltered housing blocks. These cases are extremely hard to deal with as they can have who they want in their flats as long as they don't cause problems to others. It's strange to see lonely people actually put up with these intrusions but some actually seem to like the company.

Even when they do complain the CPS find it hard to prosecute as money has been "gifted" or "loaned" to their new friends. The only option is for us to conduct welfare visits and bring pressure on the leeches to leave. I'm not adverse to standing my ground. The leeches tell their host to ask me to get out, fair one legally I suppose. I then suggest the host should ask them to leave. As soon as they utter they want them out I've got their coat in hand and usher them into the streets.

This is a good job for PCSO's to be tasked with. They can make regular checks and monitor the situation. They can build up trust with the old people until they decide they want their life back. We can then get the local authority to help with getting injunctions. Unfortunately they always move onto another one, so it's a problem moved not solved.

No indicators in this either but surely this is what we're about isn't it? Protecting the vulnerable.