Thursday, 24 September 2009

Choir Practice

When you think how much time is spent working with drunks and people with a host of issues, you would think we would be quite good at spotting those officers with the same problems. I've obviously worked with people who like a good drink, but have never been able to see when the alcohol and work thing has gone too far.

I should know better having come from the army with a massive peer group drinking culture. In that environment the pressure to consume and hold your drink was immense. Every night would involve massive drinking sessions and I rarely took to my bed without the ceiling spinning. Of course returning to the UK on leave meant I could show off my new found drinking capacity. It was stupid considering the drinking culture continued on exercise and we were in charge of some dangerous kit. I used to rebel against this by going on fitness drives, and keeping out of the bar for 6 week periods especially when I started getting the shakes. I still keep in touch with my old comrades on specialised army reunion sites. Many who stayed in for the full term make no secret of their alcohol problems.

I can't speak for the CID but my general feel is that we in the uniformed police have moved away from a drinking culture. The days of the team drink after early turn are gone but I have heard of a few brave souls who manage to get out straight after their last night shift for an early morning session. As a supervisor I tend to keep clear just in case some inappropriate conduct from others gets me in the shite. I'm a firm believer in police, drink and the public not mixing unless it's a tried and tested establishment.

I do miss going to the police local where we had one side of the bar and the general public had the other. It worked well and the landlord (old fashioned pub) did very well out of the arrangement. Shift pattern changes and people travelling from further a field really saw the impromptu drink consigned to history.

I don't know what people get up to in their own time. A few of the single officers who lived in police accommodation were of course at risk of getting caught up in a drinking culture similar to me in the army. I don't know where a good drink becomes a drink problem and then alcoholism.

I bumped into a friend the other day who has had his problems with drink. He was an ex squaddie and never really got out of that lifestyle. His problems were known to the job who didn't really know what to do so they did nothing. He was working in the CID environment at the time and I wonder if that was the reason. It wasn't until he nearly lost his job that he started to sort himself out. He is now dry, attends AA meetings and is doing well in his job, a specialised role. He is helping out as a mentor to those with alcohol issues within the job and told me of the stigma attached to alcoholism.

Under the new misconduct regulations he would have been dismissed from the job, without any doubt. They would have lost a good police officer. I do wonder if every case should be treated on it's merits with regards to those with obvious alcohol problems that exist within this job, where people have missed or ignored it. Of course ultimately the person concerned has a responsibility to seek help too.

Loved The Choirboys film and this scene a good example of a team drink going wrong !!! It was made in the 70's so excuse the obvious stereotyping of both police officer and gay member of the public!


Officer Dibble said...

I think the various changes in shift rota's had a lot to do with the move away from regular team drinking (and for single officers the closure of Section houses on Division).The old 4 week system was very rigid and the drink after earlies before the long weekend before nights began again was a natural vent for relaxing after a busy month.

Not sure if the uniform/CID divide made a difference. On observation both could put it away in large quantities when they want.

Agree about the The Choirboys film Great but it didnt do the book justice.

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Were it the case that women always preferred a vomit stained, legless hunk to sober, able geek - I might have better understood the drinking culture.

The relevance of the homosexual scene ecapes me - especially when something so funny must stand alone. This one is undoubtedly on par with the great Roger de Bris scene from The Producers.

Metcountymounty said...

Most of the peeps on my team are in long term relationships or are married so after the 12 hour shifts we don't really do the post shift drink that often bar special occasions, but the early house is a different matter!! There is something quite novel and extremely destressing about finishing a set of night shifts, especially a mental one, and going for some really good breakfast and a few drinks at 7 in the morning. It can get messy if you carry it through to the afternoon and evening but that rarely happens thankfully because you're all shattered! You should give it a try SOC, seriously, by the time we all finish it's usually only coppers and A&E teams there so it's a nice place to relax without some dick ruining things after overhearing your conversations!

Stressed Out Cop said...


CID win hands down from what I see


Oh I have - Steak and eggs and pints of lager for brekkie. As you get older there's something that happens to your bladder that just says no.

I much preferred the "beer club" whilst employed in another place, ideal for a wind down especially after a big job.

All in moderation you understand..