Monday, 14 September 2009

Protecting The Truly Good

Another set of nights is out of the way. It was relatively quiet .. I can say that now I've got a few days off. Quiet means we didn't get wiped out by any major jobs and actually met our Immediate graded call time targets. We only dealt with 30+ but they didn't end up with too many arrests. There were the same drunken fights from outside the usual drinking hell holes. The participants not being too bothered to take things further and going their separate ways relatively unscathed. We still ran out of units though, meaning I got the chance to attend a few calls by myself.

I was met by ambulance crews on most of these who rarely have a quiet night. I feel sorry for the ambos who have to deal with alot of crap from our shared customer base. It makes me feel rather angry when they get abused and their time is wasted. My old man was an ambulance driver when he first left the army but that was the day's of scoop them up, patch them up and get them to the nearest casualty which was never far away. Today these people are dedicated health professionals and highly qualified. Their pay should be on a parity with ours and I along with all other police workers respect them for the job they do.

One of the calls was to assist the ambos with a collapsed drunk male refusing to leave a bus. There were two ambulance vehicles present, a lone responder and a double crewed unit. I trudged upto the top deck to find a prone individual on the floor. He was conscious speaking and basically playing the dead weight game. They had already completed their checks and deduced there was nothing wrong with him medically. He was intoxicated but more I suspect from chewing khat than alcohol. After much persuasion which failed, he was just lifted unceremoniously by a joint services move and carried off the bus down the stairs and placed on the pavement still pleading illness and claiming to have lost the use of his legs.

Now we had a predicament, who was taking him. I was all for just leaving him there convinced that as soon as we'd left he'd get up and go home. The ambos quite rightly said that they'd receive further calls to a male collapsed in the street and have to come back. If I'd arrested him it would be the same result with him getting booked in and claiming an immediate medical condition that would have needed him going to hospital. Our police surgeons under a new scheme are not as accessible, so we are having to use A + E on a more frequent basis.

I was solely tempted to resort to methods of days gone by. This might have involved a police van and a drive to more scenic surroundings where he could be dropped off. I am of course more professional than that .. we all knew he would be wasting the time of the NHS tonight to cover everybody's backsides. So he was strapped up to see the doctor in casualty as he wanted to, just in case .. duty of care and all that.

I saw later that the same waste of space was in one our custody suites. The doctor had refused to treat him due to his conduct and he'd spat at one of the ambos, so backs having been covered he ended up in the right place after all.

The courts are supposed to take these type of assaults on NHS staff more seriously. I don't know if they do - or like us in the police it's seen as part of the job. It shouldn't be that way, I can live with it as a policeman but the ambos and nurses should be protected more by the law, because they are truly good people.


Metcountymounty said...

I'm with you 100% although personally I think there should be a higher offence of assaulting an emergency worker on a penalty par with gbh, aggravated if the person is intoxicated. I hate it when people attack ambos and a&e staff and we should be absolutely back them up and arrest their attackers every time. I watched a rugby playing consultant put a pissed bloke in his resus unit on his arse after he took a swing at one of the nurses who was just putting a line in his arm. Everyone in there looked at us, probably expecting us to nick the doctor and all looked relieved when I just shrugged and complimented his punch. Some people in our job really have forgotten who we should be protecting. As far as I'm concerned they are my colleagues just as much as the guys and girls I sit next to in briefing.

Stressed Out Cop said...

I too would like to see it as a different offence similar to police reform act and assaults on PCSO's.

However other legislation is already there and the gravity or aggravating factors are already in place re sentencing. I think it stated start at custodial .. ain't going to happen as we know.

I would like the ambos to be able to walk away and make similar decision as the doctor to refuse treatment due to conduct.Of course it only takes one bad decision and both of us get slaughtered and bad press all round. They could sign a slip saying too violent for treatment and we could book him a cell and wait for the FME.

The days of taking many of these idiots into custody are gone .. with PACE dictating emergency treatment MUST be given .. so we have this stupid situation continuing. The reality is the ambos now have to take most of the bodies we used to lock up. It's not really right or fair.

Maybe the old solution was best .. after a previous scenic drive, on seeing the van he might have jumped up and buggered off. If of course that ever happened !!!

Metcountymounty said...

I always thought that the drunk person who ceases to be an arse and apologetically sees the error of their ways is a candidate for de-arrest and dropping off in a deserted area, even within the vicinity of their house or nearest tube. If anything it frees you up for the next one anyway.

I do know of a few people who were de-arrested for operational reasons miles from anything but I've never done it of course...

We can't arrest for D&I on my borough any more as they won't allow them through the door so very annoyingly the ambos are called every time. That is unless they show ANY violence or aggression (especially to the ambos) then it's a D&D and straight to the bins where they should be.

Rach said...

I was out Saturday night and walking past one of our local haunts on the way home they where kicking off as usual, two women pulled up straight into the middle and sorted them out.

In the meantime a rather large female landed quite unceremoniously on the floor, no one was anywhere near her she was just pissed, she tried to get up but couldn't so her mates tried to drag her up while she screamed she needed am ambulance.

One of the police women walked across checked her over and tried to stand her up which she succeeded in doing, only for her to scream for an ambulance again.

I believe she probably got her ambulance in the end but how wrong is that!!??.x

Metcountymounty said...

Rach - it is completely wrong but so common that if it wasn't an appalling situation it would be hilarious. They ran a story in the papers a couple of days ago about the government trying to plug a £25billion gap in the NHS by cutting out staff, personally I think they should charge people the actual cost of their care when they require care as a direct result of self inflicted injury such as getting so wasted they can't stand up.

It would be obviously wrong to charge everyone in hospital who was drunk such as assault victims, but the "woman" you mentioned would be a classic case in point.

It would sober them up quick enough to see a £2500 bill the next morning, especially if they actually got a custodial sentence for not paying it. The fire service already do it for call outs that aren't emergencies or are self inflicted (such as locking yourself in a shop or deliberately setting of an alarm) so why not the Ambulance services?

Rach said...

Hi Met County, yes I am aware as I work for a PCT so know the figures the last ones where 85% or something stupid for unnecessary call outs over the bank holiday weekend.

But you could guarantee if they decided to charge people they would be on some kind of benefit and therefore exempt from payment....


Metcountymounty said...

85% sounds about right, same as us really with calls that we really shouldn't be dealing with. It would work if they took it straight out of the benefits or out of pay in the form of additional tax/NI at source, after all everyone else would have to suffer the loss of money so why not those who get it for doing nothing and choose to get rat arsed and cost everyone else in wasted time, money and depletion of valuable resources.

Dandelion said...

Interesting admission in your last sentence there SoC... :-)

I rest my case.

Hibbo said...

They certainly are truly good, I have huge respect and admiration for ambos and A&E crew, in fact all medics in general.

I do have to take issue with MCM's first comment though, are you really trying to tell us that you didn't arrest that Doctor? You, a police officer, had a chance to arrest someone who you knew would immediately admit that he'd punched someone, would cooperate fully as he thought you'd be decent with him, thus you knew it would be an easy detection, and it also would've enabled you to probably finish his career - and you didn't? Sorry mate, I don't believe you. I bet he was in cuffs faster than you could say 'cheers easy'.

Nice work.

Stressed Out Cop said...


Give us a steer on how much this impacts on A + E financially if it's in your remit to do so.

MCM - With you 100% re the charging .. same for use of the FME whilst in custody.

Hibbo - Discretion is / has been a lost art. It's making a comeback and where I work I'm encouraging it. All the troops have to do is record their reasoning why they made that decision either in their notebook or on a crime report, which would be no crimed at the outset.

I for one can then back them 100%. Many newbie probs have never known any different and play safe by arresting. I set my stall out re performance on team a few months ago - we are top in most indicators that matter. That is getting to calls promptly .. The SD is dead on my team. I will post soon about some I've thrown away. If the Dr had found his way into my suite he would have been interviewed and NFA'd. MCM is a sensible officer and dealt with it properly .. Well done MCM

Stressed Out Cop said...

Sorry Dandelion

Not an admission per se.. but an acknowledgment of what used to happen.

I doubt it happens today .. We couldn't spare the time for a scenic drive.

Hibbo said...

Glad to hear that some discretion and common sense (are they naughty words nowadays) are occasionally used by the police.

I really can't understand why people attack the ambos and water-fairies, I can understand why people attack the police (I'm absolutely not condoning it) - if you are a criminal then the police are the enemy - but the other emergency services exist purely to help people.

PS. SOC, can I ask what rank you are? I've not been reading your blog for long and would just like an idea of what position you are writing from.

Dr Emil Scuffhauser of Vienna said...

MCM squanders the gift of speech to hide our thoughts in favour of overt fascism. The consolation is to encounter him during an obscene-free phase.

Police who choose to operate a multi tiered service do so unofficially. Most civilians will (thankfully) continue to deny these methods any legitimacy. I find it abhorrent to discover public officials debating proposals for 'socially aggravated' offences as much as I find absurd the claim that more virtue must exist in public services. It reminds me of a porcine debate on concessions to equality.

Stressed Out Cop said...


I am a policeman rank means little to me - however I am now in a position to make decisions for others and if challenged from above be big enough to stand by it. My team my rules - which means firm but fair policing with empathy.

I've had a varied year and am now on my third different job, finding myself back on a response team.

Where I work the senior management is good. You might note from my blog I've never ever slagged my SMT because they are sensible and don't like the target thing either.

I might have worked where I think Gadget works and have experience of other forces too from a specialised skill. I would pull my hair out with what he has to put up with.

Basically I've made a decision to ignore the diktats and play it as I see it - much less stressful for everyone and do i feel better for it!! Policing is relatively simple but some non police people have made it complicated. It can't be measured.

Most criminals don't see us as the enemy. They know the score .. and understand firm but fair and respect that. The system is stacked in their favour and they know it .. it's the way it is. I relished telling the piss takers behave or I'd get you .. they can't grumble when I did.

I'm not perfect and I've made mistakes over the years - my job is to pass that experience onto others. I don't like the them and us - I'm a street slag made good but believe in right and wrong.

I too can understand why some attack us but can't understand why they whinge when they get the same back. It's like that Man City footballer abused all game and gives some back only for the Gooners to throw a hissy fit. See it's all reactions leading to escalations.

Regards SOC

Dr Evil

Maybe it's because MCM cares. SOC has always preached Respond don't React and that's what this blog is about. We shouldn't try and press each others buttons in comments should we!!

Blue Eyes said...

This is quite an interesting debate. Surely the law on assault should cover everyone rather than having difference offences depending on who the victim is. The "punishment" should then vary depending on the circumstances i.e. whether the attack was unprovoked or an attack on a vulnerable person etc... It seems unlikely that a paramedic would ever provoke an attack.

I think there is a separate offence for assaulting a police officer, but am I right in saying it requires the assault to be an attempt to prevent the police officer from carrying out his or her duties/powers? Which is rather different from a paramedic attempting to give medical assistance. After all, if you don't want medical help that is your look out.

Blue Eyes said...

"We can't arrest for D&I on my borough any more as they won't allow them through the door so very annoyingly the ambos are called every time"

I don't think that being incapable in itself should be an offence, so it seems quite sensible to me that you cannot arrest for it. The danger to others only comes when someone is behaving aggressively through drink (and then of course there are public order or assault offences). If someone can get themselves home then they should do so without recourse to medical help. If they can't physically move then of course they need an ambulance, but should perhaps be sent a bill for the cost!

Metcountymounty said...

BE, The point of having D&I as an offence isn't because of the risk to other people, it is because of the risk to the individual and then the obligation forced on others to look after them caused by their own inability to look after themselves by drinking responsibly.

Hibbo, the whole point of an easy arrest is you have to do as little as possible for the same result and get little or no grief, would you agree? Well, that's why a burglar, robber or drug dealer is always going to be my preferred option because I nick them then someone else takes over as soon as I'm finished in custody. The chances are that most won't actually fight when they realise they won't get away, unlike the vast majority of drunks who decide to act up. As for easily accesible arrests all I've got to do is leave the station and have a bit of patience, rather like fishing. Drink drivers, stupid robbers and people wanted on warrant have a knack of presenting themselves on a plate so there really is no point in going for what you think are easy targets or normal drivers. I know I can speak for everyone I work with when I say I and we have not and never will arrest someone for what I see as an obvious act of self defence or what I consider to be reasonable force in detaining or protecting someone, especially as I know exactly how difficult it can be. As I said in the first comment some people forget who we should be protecting and I include in that other police officers who don't, or don't think they can, use common sense and a bit of discretion.

Blue Eyes said...

MCM, surely you would have a duty of care anyway, even if it was not an offence? You would still call for an ambulance and you would not arrest. Or am I missing something?!

Metcountymounty said...

BE, that's exactly the point, we would (and still do after being told we recant arrest for it) still have a duty of care even if it wasn't an offence and so to discourage people acting irresponsibly and passing on the need to look after their own welfare to other people it's a criminal offence. If we left it all down to Darwin we would probably lose a large proportion of those people who drink to excess with no concern for their own safety rather quickly. I just wonder whether or not drinking to excess with impunity and knowing that the police and Nhs will be there to look after them when they can't look after themselves has contributed to the huge increase in alcohol related disorder and disproportionate use of A&E and regular hospital time and resources?

Stressed Out Cop said...


It's to prevent physical harm to one's self.

The staggering drunk swaying into the road comes into the same area. In days gone by we took the lot - and because we didn't look after them properly (15 minute roused) a lot of drunk prisoners died.

That's why they now end up in A+E. Alot of street drinkers are never fit for detention because they are a DIC waiting to happen.

I feel sorry for the NHS staff getting clogged up but we are not doctors and unable to make a medical assessment.

On the plus side Death in Custodies are less because of it.