Tuesday 30 December 2008

What Time Do The Fireworks Start Officer?

Oh Joy of Joys I've escaped that annual ritual of drunken anti-climax that is New Years Eve Celebrations. I will not be walking around in the freezing cold this year suffering angst as another "had too many" reveller asks me what time the fireworks start. For us they start usually at about 2am or whatever time everybody is decanted onto the streets. Mrs Stressed has not been so lucky, so I am due to be home alone babysitting. My crime fighting efforts are done for the year, but I shall raise a glass to those who are sat inside a cell this year end due to me. I've had a quiet year due to my injury but still managed to do a few covert ops.

I'm apparently healed but the consultant has said, if he had my injury there's no way he would be out running - that's ever again. I've now seen the X-Rays and there's considerably more metal work inside me than I imagined. This could have serious implications for me career wise but I've decided to keep schtum, as I need the streets, it's what I do. This blog was meant to be my mental jogging to get me through and looks like it will have to continue. I only got back into the running and fitness due to my stress problems and ultimately this has cost me dear. I suppose that's what you call a true "Stress Fracture". On the plus side I'm virtually guaranteed a blue badge when I'm older - so not all bad news. Free Parking for life.

Next year I shall embark on some hippy CBT and am booking up for sessions in March. Can't face it in the winter but am forking out hundred's for this. So that should be something to blog on. Still looking for a new job too.

Happy new year to any readers out there, and my thanks to Damo and others who have contributed. See you in 2009.

Friday 26 December 2008

Christmas Number One

I don’t mind working Christmas Day, it’s not my type of gig and it gives others the opportunity to spend it with their families. I get paid well for it too, which will go towards getting the “Clever One” through another term at university.

There is a lack of pips at my station, and a bit of risk management going on. Nobody wanted to draw the early shift and be Christmas number one. I can understand this, the inspector’s job is really shit and the salary not really worth putting extra in on a Bank Holiday, let alone Xmas day.

I would have hoped for a quiet day, which invariably picks up in the late afternoon. Not really going to happen is it? – I came into work to a serious critical incident so lost officers to cordons straight off. Add another for a hospital guard on a victim of domestic violence and already we’re looking pretty thin. First domestic call came in before 9am and by mid afternoon the Christmas spirit had been truly flowing. There was room at our Inn and a few kids wondering where Daddy had gone on their special day.

I spent some of the morning squaring away a complaint. Luckily I knew the woman, who was upset her son had been arrested on Christmas Eve. She didn’t like the attitude of the officers, who likewise didn’t like the attitude of her son when arresting him for drugs possession and public order. We call it a draw and all’s well until next time.

Work though is a happy place. The core team have organised food and games and in between relieving the crime scene, morale is breaking out. I had to decline a game of Twister on health grounds. Each and every call is responded to without question, which is a fair trade for some fire brigade policing early doors. We run out of officers before shifts end and nights will be busy once the prisoners sober up. Near double figure domestic calls and no officers late turn from the domestic violence unit to deal. Somebody should have seen this coming. Isn’t it the same every year?

And not forgetting the SMT, the Big Boss was in himself till 6am and must have done 12 hours on a call out. They get much flack but he always comes out – and today gave up his Christmas too.

Hoping you all had a peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Last Man Standing

So it finally happened and I was the only one left. All of my team gone due to leave, sickness, duty changes and other reasons. Nobody to supervise but me – Great!

It was like years gone by walking on nights all alone. I attracted a few funny looks as I walked the streets in the early hours but not the looks I wanted. I wanted the shocked, "shit it’s the old bill" look. The one where I know I’m in the right place and he’s in the wrong place. There was nobody around, but those who did appear got a mental once over to see if they were worth a turn. Up and down the same streets and loitering in doorways just in case somebody came into view. This is 3am and I love it, I could quite easily be back at the station but I don’t get the opportunity to do this often.

Just occasionally the radio would burst into life, I wondered if it was heard by any light sleepers. These are the same roads where the naughty boy’s like to ply their trade. They don’t care if you’re asleep upstairs, they are looking for a weakness in your home security and they’ll be in. Tonight I’m on guard and after a couple of hours head back in for a break. Nothing for me tonight, but I was there, when everyone was sleeping – just in case.

5am and some lights are now on and more people appear, the early workers. I’m back at the station and the call comes out at 5.30am, suspect disturbed. I curse my luck, it wasn’t to the roads I was walking but it’s close enough. I walk down and am amazed at how busy the streets are now. A refuse collector is piling up the rubbish bags waiting for the lorry to pick up later.

Units are there already and attending to the caller. Somebody has tried his sash window, and all he’s seen is a pair of gloved hands. He states that this had happened an hour before too, but he hadn’t called us then. That’s a shame as his neighbour’s front door is open. They get woken up to uniformed officers downstairs. They are now lacking a couple of laptops and the husband’s Christmas present. Did he know he was getting a new leather jacket? If the caller had called the first time, I was nearby and only minutes away. Was my patrol worthwhile? Would he have burgled in my roads? Did I prevent crime? Who knows, that’s your luck sometimes. You've got to be in it to win it and another night my luck will be in.

The next night I have to do the midnight throw out in the Town Centre. If all goes well I can walk the streets again later. About a 100+ spill out onto the pavement and decide to stay talking. I get the CCTV put onto the crowd just in case. They are starting to stand in the road, so I stroll over to usher them back. About three yards to my right a lad punches someone full on the head. I’m in full uniform and only have to stretch out to grab him. He’s drunk and cuffed before he realises who I am, for a moment he thought about lashing out – but too late my son. I glance up and the CCTV hasn’t got me, I fend off the lad’s friends until the van arrives.

No more walking that night, and nobody to stand guard. But I have a hunch as to who it might be. I wonder if he's got a new leather jacket.

Friday 19 December 2008

Everything Must Go - And Will

I was out shopping with Mrs Stressed and as she flitted about like a bee from hangers to shelves, could take no more. I only lasted for Mark’s and Spencer’s and by the time we reached Boots I was affecting her enjoyable shopping experience. I took the early bath, having been shown the red card and headed for the bus home alone. She was more than happy so she could spend freely and lie later about how much she’d blown.

I took my seat on the top deck and a plumpish fat bird got on and sat in the seat across the aisle from me. At the next stop a youngish couple got on and the two women obviously knowing each other started chatting chavvy shit.

The fat bird then drops her voice and immediately my ears are interested. She starts telling her mate about her shoplifting exploits and asks if she’s interested. Apparently she’d been targeting Woolworth’s recently as it’s even an easier touch with all the crowds. Last week she’d stolen £700 worth of stuff in one day. She’s prepared to travel too and names four separate town centres.

In the last two weeks she’d stolen seven robot toy’s which are all the rage and retail at £250. Their kids obviously went to the same school, as they made a date for the next day, where fat bird offered to meet her and they could go down to Woolworth’s together. The girl could choose what she wanted and then wait outside and fat bird would go in and steal it, saying she’d do it in two minutes.

Fat bird is obviously a pro and her prices are half the ticket price. She even mentioned how careful she is not to sell to people she doesn’t know. Wouldn’t it be nice if I’d just nicked her for conspiracy to steal – but who’s going to believe me the policeman. More evidence needed to make the offence complete I’m afraid*. Even if she gets nicked in the act nothing will happen to her, as it’s classed as victimless crime – try telling that to 23000 people about to lose their jobs.

She then gets off and heads off towards the local council housing no doubt paid for by hard working tax payers. Some people are doing alright this Xmas.

* Conspiracy is a preliminary phase to the commission of many crimes but it is a crime is its own right. The essence of offence of conspiracy is an agreement. To constitute the offence, what occurs must go beyond the negotiation stage or intention and become a matter of agreement. This agreement could be indicated by letter, telephone, hand shake, nod, bodily movement. Negotiations prior to a conspiracy could involve incitements by the parties to the negotiation. Therefore if a person pulls out at the planning stage before an agreement - no conspiracy.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Wish I Was There

Mike PARRY was on a short break to “celebrate” a mate’s birthday in Dubai and ends up in jail for giving the finger. I’m just loving this article, where poor old Mike states he wasn’t drunk despite having wine at lunch and beers later.

He spent a month in jail before getting released with a £300 fine and deported. People like Mike are too used to doing what they like, and seem surprised that everywhere else isn’t as soft as our country. I’m all for it – what a shame it will never happen here. Just imagine if we jailed the idiots who make our Town Centres virtual no go zones.

I’m assuming they don’t have the same problems in Dubai !!

DJ Grooverider got four years when less than an eighth of cannabis was found in his trouser pocket earlier in the year. No prison place problems either they just fit in as many as they can.

Perhaps this is why Dubai has low crime rates, and it's warmer than my streets at the moment. Very appealing.

Saturday 13 December 2008

So Who Did Kill Jean Charles?

You would have to have a heart of stone not to feel sorry for the family of Jean Charles de Menezes. I remember hearing the news that a suicide bomber had been shot by police, and saying good job. Only afterwards did it emerge that an innocent man had been killed. There's been so much disinformation in the press and from the police that you don't really want to comment, and things are really not much clearer now.

I think the coroner was right to not offer an unlawful killing verdict. The firearm's officers are clearly blameless, given the information they were fed. They are in a sticky position now the jury didn't believe their version of giving a police warning, when compared to 17 other witnesses who didn't hear one. Will they join the list of officers who have "lost the confidence" of the Commissioner?

In other areas things are clearer to me and I can understand where things went wrong. I've been a surveillance trained officer and been in teams who have followed the wrong person, and that's when they've come from a target address. Any identification trying to pick a target emerging from a communal front door is going to be dubious. In this case not having a decent image to start with flags up immediate problems. The initial observation officer missed the off as he was relieving himself. Cardinal Sin in the surveillance world and very slack work.

It would appear they were then playing catch up, trying to get an identification. The surveillance team were responsible for the follow and would have had a controller directing units. This is a very hard job, I've done it and envisage some poor bloke in a car, map on lap trying to sort the follow out on one radio, keeping the command team updated on another with at least one mobile on the go too. A loggist sat in the back will be trying to write all the movements down amongst this chaos. Imagine looking at your map in a job like this and seeing your target getting closer to an underground station.

Meanwhile in the central command post miles away decisions need to be made. Has the man been identified or not? What would you do? They needed answers to questions but also had an eye to that map. I'm certain a Kratos wasn't authorised. If it was, the armed surveillance team would have dealt with the target as soon as that order was given. The order was given to stop the man, but the armed arrest team were unable to reach him before he entered Stockwell tube. These couple of minutes cost Jean Charles his life. I would have hoped that somebody on the ground would have made the decision to stop him before he entered the tube. Surveillance teams don't show out operationally but if there was ever a time this was it. That decision would have saved his life. That's a big call taking it away from the command team.

So is it fair to find somebody to blame? The police operation failed badly and the inquest has highlighted the areas in respect of images etc. I'm not sure promoting senior officers involved in the case sends the right message either, but look at the choices

Make wrong decision - Target dies who turns out to be innocent.

Make wrong decision - Target detonates bomb killing dozens.

Make right decision - Wow that was a close one.

This was the same choice facing the Royal Marines yesterday in Afghanistan when approached by a child with a wheelbarrow. He was either a proxy bomb or a suicide bomber. You don't want to be in a position to make that choice do you? So let's not judge those too harshly who got it wrong. Each officer has to live with the decisions they made, a choice made with the right intention.

Jean Charles was as much a victim of Islamic Terrorism as the four marines yesterday.

Monday 8 December 2008

Crystal Balls

Mark CAMM was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in 2004 after being found unresponsive to questions in an off licence. He was kept in custody for 24 hours and seen 3 times by medical professionals before being taken to hospital where he died from a bleed to the brain. This of course was a death in police custody and there followed an investigation into the treatment he received. This turned up, via custody CCTV unprofessional conduct in the treatment he received in the form of inappropriate comments and lax checks by police.

I recall a very similar incident involving myself a few years back. I was on foot patrol just before Christmas and came across some builders who had just left a pub. They were holding up a workmate who was displaying all the signs of being very drunk. They were all pretty plastered but in order, telling me this was their end of week and Christmas drink. In relation to their mate who had been drinking for 8 hours, they told me that the cold air had affected him as he left the pub. Usually I would leave them to it, but I asked about their drunk friend and who would be caring for him once they got him home. He lived alone and nobody was going to sit up with him, so I suggested it was in his best interests to be cared for at the station. He was walking smiling mumbling and inebriated and nicked for being drunk and incapable for his own good.

I booked him in and had difficulty understanding him as he was Irish but all was well. The custody officer was happy and he was bedded down on a mattress on the floor and subject to half hour checks. We've got a duty of care to individuals even if they are released, and most custody officers will leave drunks to the early turn changeover before giving them a cup of coffee and sending them on their way, with their hangover. Would you like to be thrown out into the street at 4am?

I came in the next day and chatted to the early turn custody who told me that the drunk was in intensive care in hospital. He had taken over and was not happy with the response from the drunk who should have been more with it, and sent him to hospital straight away. At casualty he had been left on a trolley for longer than he should have been, but when they got round to him eventually he was found to have a slow bleed. The story eventually came back that he'd hit his head on scaffolding earlier in the day, and this was the cause of the bleed. He did survive, and I'm convinced by nicking him I saved his life. There was no comeback but I'm telling you there's no way I could tell he needed medical attention.

It would appear that Mark CAMM was arrested because nobody knew what to do with him. If there was no drink involved and no disturbance or risk to himself or others the officers appear to have taken the easy option. I've had it myself as custody officer when a young woman was arrested for being drunk and disorderly after trying to throw herself in front of traffic. She came before me not drunk but obviously mentally ill. I asked why she hadn't been taken straight to hospital under Mental Health powers, but the officers including a sergeant, looking sheepish came up with a feeble excuse. I think they just wanted the custody number, as they were from a unit with arrest figures to maintain.

I accepted her as a place of safety and ensured she was assessed before being sectioned. I don't think the Mental Health procedures are great either, mental health units will refuse people we take in if they are intoxicated as it means they can't assess them properly. Drink and drugs can mask other symptoms.

As the inquest stated Mark CAMM was failed by police and health professionals. He was a victim of circumstance, with a condition that is extremely hard to pick up. I can't however excuse the inappropriate comments by police.

This is why the poor ambulance service now get called for unresponsive drunks in the street.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Plod Bashing

Code B Codes of Practice - Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984


If it is proposed to search premises with the consent of a person entitled to grant entry the consent must, if practicable, be given in writing on the Notice of Powers and rights before the search. The officer must make any necessary enquiries to be satisfied the person is in a position to give such consent.


Before seeking consent the officer in charge of the search shall state the purpose of the proposed search and its extent. This information must be as specific as possible, particularly regarding the articles or persons being sought and the parts of the premises to be searched. The person concerned must be clearly informed they are not obliged to consent and anything seized may be produced in evidence. If at the the time the person is not suspected of an offence, the officer shall say this when stating the purpose of the search.

I find it very hard to believe that the police officers attending the Palace of Westminster did not comply with the above. The Sergeant at Arms is in charge of security and is said to have signed the consent. If I was in charge of this search I would have read from a pre-prepared script to ensure I was covered. So poor old plod is blamed again. Will the yard put their side? and possibly embarrass the sergeant at arms.

Ladies and Gentlemen - that is politics.

Who started this investigation off again?

*Update 4/12 * Police state they did make it clear that the Sgt in Arms did NOT have to give consent. What say you now Mr Speaker ??

Tuesday 2 December 2008


I was reading last year about Jonny Wilkinson and his interest in Buddhism. I could see similar characteristics between me and Jonny, not obviously in a sporting context but in his obsessive perfectionism. He has attracted some ridicule but I understand where he's coming from. The constant self analysis he thinks is affecting his performance and more importantly his life.

He has read up on self awareness techniques that stem from Buddhism. The mantra being the past and the future doesn't matter, just deal with today and whatever it throws at you. To this end we can assume that Jonny has indulged in meditation to reduce his stresses. Would you have had him down as a depressive? I think the boy is on the ball and can see positives in adopting Zen principles to cope with the daily grind.

So it's time to face up to where I've been going wrong for so many years. Perhaps when I attended the birth of the "Clever One" who arrived at 4am I should have taken the day off and not made the early turn shift. It was the same the night before my first marriage, fighting on the streets into the early hours during a late late shift, when the ceremony was at 8am. I was obviously obsessed with the job and not wanting to miss out.

I've been juggling too many balls for too long and when they come crashing down can't cope with the failure. I'm an achiever and not a believer in religions per se - but I've just met me.

Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy was devised by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. The below is a session he did at Goggle, which is interesting if you're into it. (It's over an hour) Of course Macho police people don't do for this meditation weirdo stuff - I'm intrigued.

Thanks to those of you who sent messages of support. I'm better now and raring to go at it full steam ahead, well maybe after Christmas.