Wednesday, 17 February 2010

You Keep Calm - I'll Panic For You

It probably creates a little bit of fear in you when the security status raises. For me I run to the books to ensure I'm as up to date as I can be with the latest contingencies. That's because I could be called upon to coordinate the initial response to any major incident.

So how much training have I had for this? If you have visions of me moving imaginary hoards of police units around a large table you are in for a big disappointment. It boils down to a bit of knowledge around command and control. If you are a regular reader you might just pick up on my concerns around lack of bodies to deal with the demand we have to currently cope with.

It's relatively simple in theory, an incident happens and to deal with it you break up the jobs and delegate somebody to sort them out. For example securing the scene with cordon tape to ensure you can then deal with any casualties. Theory is OK but without proper training, how do we know how we'll react under the immense pressure of an ongoing incident. I don't know how I'd react but hope I could detach myself from trying to be hands on and put in place the building blocks needed.

What I do know is that for that initial 30 minutes until resources start arriving from surrounding Divisions and Central Reserve it will be total chaos. In amongst all the chaos I would be expected to record every decision and consideration in a written log of events. I'm supposed to do that on smaller incidents too and I can assure you it's easier said than done. It would be easier to record these into an MP3 player for later dictation.

There's no substitute for experience and I have been used on the cordon's for major incidents. You would think that people would realise that with police tape across a road and a uniformed officer stood there, it is a hint not to proceed further. Not the case I'm afraid as they quite happily lift the tape up to try and continue in to the sterile area. The reaction towards you is often hostile and downright rude.

If the worst does happen here's hoping everybody does keep calm. It was rather humbling to see how the public reacted to the 7th July bombings in London and just took all the inconvenience on the chin. Makes you feel proud to be British, which you can't say too much these day's.

I'd prefer some more realistic training for all of the team, but somehow think it isn't going to happen - let's hope it's the same with the security threat.


Hogday said...

Training? Are you nuts? Do you know how much that costs?

Stressed Out Cop said...

Mr H

You are the ideal person to comment. What say you re this? We train public order so surely this is important too in a realish scenario.

You trained in realistic situations all the time so it must have merit.

Sod the cost .. cancel the diversity training this is vitally important, and it worries me a tad.

Anonymous said...

25 years ago I was standing with 12 soldiers and their 2 Army Landrovers (nose to nose) blocking a road in sunny Northern Ireland. In front of this was the obligitory white tape and a borrowed road sign stating `ROAD CLOSED` written in white on a red background.

The first ripost from a motorist trying to get across the border into Ireland, and looking at the physically blocked road and road closed sign was: "Is the road closed?" From there it went downhill.

A day or so later, still there with the same soldiers (all of us in the same clothes) I managed to get a complaint.

Never ever say to a member of the public that I am only doing this diversion for a laugh and that the specalist levitation unit from Belfast will be here shortly to get you and your car over the crater what was my Police Station yesterday so you can go to visit your mate.

Metcountymounty said...

Since working in London I've been amazed how many people ignore the 'do not cross' tape and wonder right on in to a sterile area sealed off for a crime scene or a sus package/vehicle. I've found a nice remedy though that works rather well - "as you've just crossed into a crime scene and as you've walked outside of the designated entry/exit routes, them I'm seizing your shoes to preserve any potential evidence" they won't do it again in a hurry and most hangers on around the cordon start to thin out quite quickly. And if they kick off then they get nicked.

Nice and easy, I'm having your shoes.

Blue Eyes said...

Whatever you do, however well you do it, you are guaranteed that - when the lawyers and human rights people go through all the paperwork with a fine tooth comb in a warm office three years later - they will find something to criticise you for.

Dandelion said...

MCM - I think that might be partly to do with the reputation of the Met.

SoC - I can't say it creates fear, no, when our idiot slimeball Home Secretary wants everyone to know that a terrorist attack is "highly likely", yet goes on to admit there is no evidence to suggest an attack is imminent. The "security status" as publicised is worse than meaningless, has been shown up as such last month. It's like they haven't heard of the boy who cried wolf. What's unforgivable is that this cynical manipulative posturing places *everyone* in danger.

I know it's nice to feel important, but the last thing the public needs is for the police to panic, SoC. I am sure that if there were any credible intelligence relating to your locality, you'd have been drilled on contingencies long ago. Otherwise, your police force would not be fit for purpose, and would be legally responsible for any resulting deaths...

Blue Eyes said...

"The "security status" as publicised is worse than meaningless... It's like they haven't heard of the boy who cried wolf. What's unforgivable is that this cynical manipulative posturing places *everyone* in danger."

Wow, I agree with something you wrote!

"I think that might be partly to do with the reputation of the Met."

Or maybe to do with so many people thinking that their lives are more important than anyone else's...

Metcountymounty said...

Yeah ok, the 'reputation of the Met' makes people think they have the right to walk on right through an obvious crime scene? or to disregard cordon tape that might be there to protect THEM? What are you talking about?

Dandelion said...

MCM The reputation of the Met makes people not trust a word they say, let alone have any respect or regard for the institutionalised shitty attitude they have towards MoPs. Simples.

You may not like it, but that doesn't make it any less true. As demonstrated by the type of behaviour towards "crime scenes" that you yourself describe...

Blue Eyes, you make me smile :-)

Stressed Out Cop said...

I don't think it's a Met Thing - the security status is a National Alert and nobody would tell me anything around iconic sites . until it happened anyway ... in the interests of security see.

It's almost a get out if anything did happen because they could say they raised the alert.

The point of this post is about lack of training to respond and even if I had that training I'd have minimal people to deal in the first instance anyway.

I think most people would have a wobble over that.

I can see why the general public don't believe the government/police, what with weapons of MD - End of Boom Bust - whiter than white etc.

Time to make your own judgements - but don't cross my cordon please!

Metcountymounty said...

funny how you put crime scenes in commas Dandelion, the last bloke I seized shoes from walked right through a GBH scene (with a huge puddle of blood on the floor and up a shop window) I'd heard him moments earlier having a go at the PC on the cordon about him not being able to walk to his bus stop "because of this so-called crime scene" and the second the PC spoke to someone else he nipped underneath and went through.

It's an obviously too much of inconvenience for people that they may have to suffer the horror of crossing the road or - god forbid - having to take the next street instead.

How would you feel as a victim knowing that forensic evidence might have been compromised because some selfish ignorant prick decided they were just going to go through a crime scene cordon for a laugh or because it would be slightly inconvenient to go another way?

I've scene rape scenes, serious assault, murder and bomb scenes compromised by people too ignorant or selfish to go another way, it has bugger all to do with not believing anything the Police say because of lies and spin from the commissioner or the Home Secretary.

Dandelion said...

MCM yes, I put it in quotes. Like I said, people know the police are full of so much ego and bullshit, they don't believe a word they say. And yes, that's sad, but you can see how it's come about.

Your attitude seems fairly indicative of the type that I mention - the arrogance of expecting MoPs to know or care what a crime scene is or why it must be preserved really doesn't help. Yes I'm sure it's tiresome having to explain to people over and over, but if you don't do it politely and respectfully, you get the type of public image that makes your job even harder.

So much of what the police are seen to be doing appears designed to wank their own egos and bully the public instead of doing any actual good. Meanwhile good people get victimised and abused by the police with impunity while criminals go free. Look around you, for goodness sake!

Dandelion said...

Hi Soc

Yes, I'm sure it would be a get-out. The public threat level is a load of bollocks, so I wouldn't worry. Also, no disrespect, but if they wouldn't tell you anything, it's probably on a need-to-know basis.

I get why you might have a wobble over lack of preparedness, but raising the national threat level shouldn't make you any more anxious - treat it with the skepticism it deserves. Can't you see, they're trying to engender a climate of fear. I'm sure you wouldn't want to be a part of that? Or would you?

Metcountymounty said...

You think we put cordons in for a laugh and to boost our egos? Having to explain to every other person why we're doing it is annoying but it is necessary and we all know that which is why we all try to be polite. Pretty hard though when they are drunk though but again you get used to it.

Explaining to the same person over and over again, when they could have gone around in the time they spend arguing and THEN to see them try and go through the cordon the second you turn you back or try and speak to someone else just takes the piss.

You are exactly the kind of person who would heap criticism on the Police for losing jobs or risking convictions by being cavalier with crime scenes (especially rape jobs) and losing evidence, and yet when we put them in you defend other peoples selfish ignorance in compromising them by saying it's our fault for having a reputation so they are justified in going through them. You're a joke.

Stressed Out Cop said...


Of course it suits their agenda to set perceptions and impose more powers. We've woken up to that one, even us plods.

I don't have raised fears of terrorism because whatever will be will be .. but don't forget I might be the poor sod who has to respond, and with all my perfectionist faults my fears are about not being able to do a 100% job - anything less is failure.

Where you been?

MTG said...

MCM - I look at the 'runes' and see occasions when you arrested citizens for no more reason than taking an instant dislike to them. You provoke the inevitable glimmer of protest and exaggerate this as 'disorderly' conduct, or worse.

It would be bad enough if such abuse were contained and not prejudicial to the good done by reasonable people in uniform.

Blue Eyes said...

I would put it the other way, Dandelion. Not caring what a crime scene is or why it should be preserved is the arrogant attitude.

If the tape says "police line do not cross" which part do people not understand? Try to put yourself in the shoes of the officer who is tasked with not letting people into a scene and who will be criticised if people do come in. Try to imagine how difficult it must be for a small number of officers to secure a line against a crowd if the scene is in a busy area.

It's a shame that you can't be bothered to think about what you are saying before you say it, because you clearly aren't incapable of intelligent thought.

Metcountymounty said...

Nice try Melv, although you forget to chuck in the bully in uniform line for the full cliche. If I arrested everyone I took a dislike to, even a tiny percentage in fact then I'd never leave custody, it's my job to deal with people who don't want to be dealt with, if I wanted everyone to like me I would sell ice cream for a living.

MTG said...

I like your analogy MCM; it would be no catastrophe if police thought as ice-cream sellers must. I am also grateful to be spared the generous colourful police language reserved for critics.

I hesitate to open the violin case - but once upon a time my Village had some very exceptional and charming policeman. These officers were only rough and tough when it was required of them. Villagers trusted their police and both sides got on very well.

I cannot insist that you imagine yourself selling ice-cream but before you next descend heavily upon my fellow citizen, try to imagine how you would sell to him the concept of working with and trusting police, again.

Metcountymounty said...

Melvin, try re-reading a bit of Machiavelli if you haven't done so for a while. You can't please everyone all the time, and to try and do so just leaves everything you hope to achieve that much weaker. Thanks in no small part to the Labour Government making it policy that we have to be nice to everyone - especially those who don't care about anyone but themselves or criminals who abuse the rights of a free society - we're in the position we find ourselves in that we're seen to have failed at everything. An incredibly weak judiciary and sentencing policy over the last 13 years hasn't helped a jot either.

It's a fact of my job that I will deal with more violent and needless confrontation in a weekend of nights than most people in this country will deal with in their entire lives. As a direct result of those confrontations I've dealt with more crime scenes than I care to remember, so being told by people who have no experience of policing how we should be doing our jobs grates a little after a while.

Some people need to learn that no means no, that they can't do everything they want all the time (and I do acknowledge that that includes some Police officers every now and then) and that occasionally there are much bigger and more important things going on in the world than anything in their selfish little lives.

Anonymous said...

And here endeth the conversation.

Sierra Charlie said...

We had some critical incident training a while back. I left the classroom thinking "why on Earth were we not told that at training school?".

Hogday said...

Stressed Out: I've just come back to this post after a few days away. I see you bit on my opening comment. I should have made it clear that I was being very sarcastic/ironic and in fact I have always seen training as an investment. As for all the diversity training I had to sit through over the years, I could have stood up and in 30 minutes given that classroom more useful information than the diversity contractor could've ever have done in several lifetimes.

I blame myself for accidentally winding you up. Please re-read my opener in this light and come back and start talking to me again ;-/

Hogday said...

PPS: My peace offering ;)

Stressed Out Cop said...

Mr Hogday - No bite from me? I do get irony and sarcasm.

I know that you were the man .. and could add a great perspective.

Which you have in your peace offering - Thanks