Saturday, 30 May 2009

Beautiful Day

The sun is shining and the rich green from the garden is a sight to behold, with the gentle swaying of the trees from a touching breeze. I'm off to a wedding and the happy couple are indeed blessed with good weather.

But why oh why is is it this day of all days? FA Cup final !!

Come on the real blues and make it a special day for me too.

Thank God for my Sky Plus Box.

Did Jose really invent it?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Time Is Up

I don't ask much from the staff who work for me. Turning up on time is one thing that I would expect to be in any person's must do's in any job, but in the policing environment it is vital and tells you alot about an individual.

Everybody is late from time to time when circumstances are out of their control, be it car accident or train cancelled. I freak about it and on early turn will be awake prior to the alarm clock going off because I fear being late and crashing it. I'm usually into work an hour before my shift starts leaving time for a shower, a quick e-mail scan and getting the postings ready. I can't remember the last time I was late. Of course this is ingrained in me from the army when you would only ever be late once. I never was, but still had to take part in dress parades when somebody let the side down.

I also witnessed people being sent to the glass house when standards dropped. I say witnessed, but as a regimental policeman I was one of those either side of some unfortunate being double quick marched by the duty corporal. I was knackered yet it was his beasting. I only rested when he was undergoing some strangely thought up sadistic punishment, and boy there were some.

I'm not advocating that we should do this to errant constables or PCSO's but we are supposed to be a disciplined service. Some people just take the piss all the time. I've rung people after parade who haven't had the good grace to ring in saying they're going to be late and they've been in bed still. No apologies, no concern just a yawn and " Yeah OK I've overslept I'll get in as soon as I can ". They then hang up before I've even had the chance to say anything else. They then wonder why two hours later they are in my office and I detect actually think I'm out of order for even speaking to them.

I've done the chats, performance interviews and bollockings with one individual and still he can't sort his life out and turn up for my parades. I think there's only one option left .. standby for accusations of overbearing conduct OR worse. For what challenging a piss taker? Bring it on says I.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Above The Clouds

I have been blogging for a year now and have dribbled out well over a 100 posts. This started out as a cathartic outlet for me after a crippling injury on duty prevented me from pounding the streets and raising my endorphin levels. I really can't believe I'm still going. I don't plan any posts and just bang out my knee jerk thoughts. Of course these have to be somewhat restrained as even blogging brings out responsibilities towards the job I do. I could have broken stories before they hit National but that would have been unprofessional and against the policies set down by my force. It also would have been unfair to individuals. It will stay this way.

I have to thank NightJack who was the first to link to me for most of my visitors. He even commented once .. the man himself here .. Great blog mate, we are all proud of you for what you achieved this year .

I've not been the most social of bloggers because of my dark moods. This has really been done for me and for my own benefit. Rather selfish perhaps but there you go .. along the way others out there have popped in and contributed. You are all welcome and I hope some of you stress monkey's have taken solace that you're not the only one feeling the way you do.

I started out in my profile questioning if the diktats imposed on us are responsible for high stress levels, they don't help, but I think the answer lies within me. Quite simply this job has ruled my life for over 20 years and I haven't been living. I've let these things stress me out without just recognising it and letting it go. I think I now get it and have found a way to live. I'm above the clouds and back in the zone where I want to be. I've still got perfectionist tendencies but the chilled me is actually even better .. and a nicer person to be around too. I might let you in on the secret but it did cost me money, it was however worth it.

So onwards we go. Things are changing in the country and the policing will change again too. How will it affect you? Me I'm going to do what I want and ignore any diktats I think are crap. I'm actually going to put policies in place on my team and run it the way I want. I know it will produce better results, so who's going to pull me up about it? I'm quite happy to fight my corner and fight for the officer's on team to provide a good standard of policing for the paying punters.

I'm up for a bit of world domination. We'll see how my legs hold up !!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Winners And Losers

I don't know much about politics in Sri Lanka other than there's been a civil war taking place for over 25 years involving the Tamil Tigers and Government forces. There have been reportably huge casualties over these years on both sides and of course atrocities - it's the nature of the beast - War and conflict equals pain and suffering.

For several weeks now Tamil supporters have been protesting in Parliament Square contrary to the law. When it has suited them they have blocked the roads causing mass inconvenience to everybody else, including the only person legally allowed to be there and protest, Brian HAW.

Of course these Tamil supporters are mightily upset as their side lose out in Sri Lanka but what has it to do with us. The cost of policing these "illegal" gatherings since the start of April must be immense. The officers have to come from somewhere, and they are actually abstracted from the streets where they should be dealing with local issues.

I'm actually getting rather pissed with minority groups pushing their overseas causes onto the streets of this country. By all means put your point peacefully and lawfully, but enough is enough. Once again poor old plod is criticised for clearing the streets for others to use, and sustained injury in the process.

Meanwhile in Sri Lanka thousands protest against US as they perceive we are Pro Tamil. They may well have a point in that there are thousands of Tamil asylum seekers here, many of whom were funding the Tigers through organised crime and other means. How did we feel when the IRA received funds from NORAID fund raisers in the USA?

It's simply a case of Winners and Losers - The police and the tax payer were never going to be seen as winning. Can't help but compare the softly softly approach on this to G20 - I wonder if that will come up today when Sir Paul is grilled by parliamentary committee.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Christmas Come Early

I've been busy and am trying to add up the hours worked. I've clocked up a 22 hour day followed by a 19 hour day followed by 2 hours off before a recall off nights and another 12 hour shift later in the day. There's still more work to be done. Sleep has been a stranger to me and my body and mind are weak, hanging on in there.

I suppose I would be entitled to claim a host of expenses for extra meals and subsistence, but the coke and chocolate machine's don't give out receipts. They are also dearer than anywhere else I've seen. 65p for a can of drink, ridiculous! I've been living on shite when I've been able to grab some food. Thank God for the Golden Arches and The Colonel, you've sorted me out this week and kept me going. There was a green thing in my Big Mac meal, no five a day this week. Don't judge and tut when you see me trudging back from the fast food outlet, that's the only hot food I'm getting today. I won't fill out any expense claim forms, just like everybody else those are a thing of the past. I will swallow the expense myself - There is no charge to you and no paperwork for me - a fair trade.

Of course I've incurred overtime payments, but even then I've done a deal and have worked outside of police regulations, saving the job some cash. Half of the extra hours I've done go in tax anyway, but what's left will go towards a new bed for the little man, who is getting bigger. I furnish my own house at my expense through hard graft.

I don't have a second home or even the luxury of an office where I could get my head down, but I have benefited from the taxpayer funded cell as I never made it home one day. Should I declare this anywhere? Will others see the inside of a cell when they did better than me over the expenses thing? I doubt it.

It's not about the money, any extra I get usually goes on university fees anyway. Every year in December I raise a glass to those I've put away in jail. That's why I do it.

Christmas might be coming early this year.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Ever Been Had ?

The latest expenses scandal really must be the death throes of this government. Remember the broken promises "Whiter than White" "Things can only get Better". If you believed it, don't you now feel a tad mugged off?

Colours to the mast, as one of Maggie's babies I was never going to be a lover of NuLabor but you've got to hand it to them, they have set their agenda and definitely changed this country. For better or worse? you can make your own mind up on that one.

I remember attending the Police Federation open meeting at Wembley Arena when the Tory Sheehy proposals were discussed in 1993. It was my first sighting of the Rt Hon Anthony Blair who was shadow home affairs minister at the time. I was in the overflow hall and watched him on a big screen. He basically spouted alot of oratory which was well received in the main hall. The general consensus in the overflow was that he was a smarmy git and just playing to the audience of the day. Funny how things turned out and he ended up as Prime Minister. Sheehy sort of half came in and we were shafted, and the inevitable happened, that with the loss of allowances some new constables found themselves on income support. Maybe we needed shafting, millions of pounds were saved by freezing the housing allowances and abolishing it for new recruits. It would have been worth about 800+ pounds today per month based on 2009 rental values.

Are we supposed to be grateful for all the extra money that has indeed gone into policing? Well first off Nulabor did introduce some new allowances, but this was through necessity as people were pitching up on their first day at training school and resigning the same day. The Macpherson report also followed and bought with it bureaucracy gone mad and morale battering recommendations. The reality is, that as resources were taken away from response policing to cover the squads there is actually less uniform on the streets to meet demand. It's a fact, at my station there are less bodies paraded than in 1997.

There has been a brave attempt to reintroduce Neighbourhood Policing. People forums showed increased public satisfaction where community police team's were deployed. The cost has been astronomical and must be weighed against the outcomes. Has crime decreased that much? It's a difficult one as it can make a difference locally, however one size doesn't fit all. Quieter areas get the same size team as a busy one. With a PCSO costing about 30k a time most managers would sacrifice one to use that money operationally elsewhere.

Things tend to go in cycles. A change in government is inevitable and police reform will be coming too. Just as NuLabor can't help but spend, with little to show for it, then the Tories can't help but cut, but not until after 2012.

Remember what Blair said in 1993, 'The case for reform is whether it helps to cut crime, whether it makes our communities safer, not whether it allows the Treasury to cut corners or satisfies some mistaken political dogma.'

Shame he never stuck to that !

Friday, 8 May 2009

Tragic News

I was most saddened to hear the news that young Jack Brown passed away on 3rd May after a long battle against cancer. He is well known to most in the policing family and many colleagues have organised events to assist with his treatment in America. I've always followed his story and supported friends who have put themselves through physical pain to raise funds.

Thoughts with his police officer parents and the rest of the family. The little lad fought well.

We all share your grief and pain at this time. Rest In Peace Jack

Click the link and go to updates. If you are not moved by the last entries you've got a heart of stone.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Girl With Sad Eyes

Dealing with death is part of the job. I'm usually not too bad with keeping the feelings in check with the run of the mill sudden death. It's the waste of life stuff that tends to get to me. The only real training is to dehumanise us, usually in the first few weeks of reaching your first station. I still recall my visit to the morgue and seeing the technician ladling out blood from the chest cavity of some recently departed and revelling at the horror on the faces of us new probationers. The jobs I hate most however are suicides.

The first one I dealt with was a bloke who killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning as he sat in his car and let the exhaust fumes send him to the other side. He left a Dictaphone on the dash, which were a relatively new technology at the time. That's my excuse anyway for wiping out some of his last words, and an early lesson learnt not to touch things you don't understand. It was relatively straightforwards but I didn't have any relatives to deal with, and that does make a big difference.

A suspected suicide is a suspicious death and warrants a full investigation until the coroner's court reaches a decision. This means a steady stream of supervisors to attend and ensure everything is done correctly.

You don't know what to expect when asked to attend the scene of suicide. It could be any method, any age and a variety of residences. This one was different, in that the road was rather exclusive. You try not to assume because the very rich often live right next door to houses split into local housing association flats, but on turning up my first thought was nice house. A unit was inside already and I went to the front door. Everybody was speaking in those hushed respectful tones, trying to keep it together. Introductions and explanations and I was up the carpeted stairs in this house that went on forever.

I eventually came to a landing and on the walls were several large studio photographs about 2 feet by 2 feet square. Mother and daughter with mother smiling proudly. The daughter was about 10 years old and beautiful with a dark complexion and Mona Lisa smile. In each of the photographs the child's dark eyes looked out and had a look of sadness. It's said the eyes are a window to the soul and it was like I was intruding by looking into them. There was a door ajar and I looked in. I could see a clothes rail in a cupboard opposite with a green ribbon tied to it and a length hanging down. A female officer came out and briefed me. The girl with the sad eyes had locked herself inside and when her stepfather knocked on the door there was no answer. He thought she might be out and later became concerned, eventually forcing his way in to find her hanging. He cut her down but it was too late.

I enter and see the girl laid on the bed, eyes half open, the rest of the ribbon is tight around her neck The ambos had obviously been as there were discarded bits of medical kit strewn nearby but they couldn't save this soul. Everything was in hand I don't need to see any more. No notes? No medicines? usual suck egg questions to the officer who knew what she was doing. I leave and speak to the stepfather on the landing. He tells me his daughter was eighteen and back from university. I immediately think of my daughter who was the same age and also at university. This was totally unexpected and he tells me what she was looking forward to doing later in the week. I suspect there might have been previous issues, I've seen sad eyes like that many times before. He was keeping it together better than I would. He tells me that the mother works and is getting a cab home from work. I can hardly speak to him but utter out the procedures that now have to take place.

The mother in the photographs arrives back and rushes up the stairs. 'Where is she? Where is she?" She already knows the worst and wants into the bedroom. I have to bar the way and explain, we have things to do. I don't want her to see her daughter the way she is. We have to photograph and secure the ligature for the coroner. I feel bad, it's her house, her daughter but fortunately the husband calms her and says we have to do our work. She will get her time with her daughter in a short time. I get a moment to ask the officer if she's OK, none of us are but it's what we do.

The duty officer turns up and I tell him what I know. He offers condolences, again in hushed tones. I leave and gulp the air outside, and I'm holding back the tears. A few minutes longer in that house and I would have lost it. They'll be plenty of crying in that house for years to come, because suicide isn't painless, not for those left behind anyway. I often wonder if they kept the photos up with those sad eyes looking out, maybe they just saw the beauty instead. I do hope so.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Books And Covers

I was more surprised that Scotland did not have any transgender officers, when reading that Jan Hamilton formally Army Captain Ian Hamilton is reputably joining a Scottish police force. Is this meant to be a copper shocker story?

This blog as regular readers are aware has always supported the recruitment of ex military personnel into our profession. Jan Hamilton would appear to bring with her considerable experience and skills. I've worked with trans-gender officers and quite frankly they are treated exactly the same as everybody else, and are judged on their ability to do the job. As long as Jan Hamilton has a sense of humour and is a good team member then good luck to her. I just hope she is not subject to some kind of political correct tokenism.

You've got to have grudging respect for somebody who puts themselves through gender realignment surgery and then elects to subject themselves to the great British public on a Friday night after closing time. Of course Jan used to be a paratrooper so I'm sure can handle herself.

My first contact with the paras was on my first foray into town having just started basic army training. A small figure wearing desert boots and green bomber jacket approached down the street with a case of beer carried on each shoulder. He stopped and looked at me saying "Oi crap hat want a fight?" Oh happy days - they are indeed different people those paras.