Wednesday 29 April 2009

True To Form

I had completed all of my annual staff appraisals prior to submission date. I'd done the lot form and interview and then just had to wait for the centre to decide how they wanted them submitted. Once said new submission policy was decided off they went .. Goodbye and Goodnight!

Oh if it was so easy. They all came bouncing back with a missive stating they were on the wrong form. I looked up the new form, which probably wasn't in existence when the Personal Development Review (PDR) was opened last year. It was 99% identical to the old one with two irrelevant questions that somebody in an office has decided are important.

I could have just added these questions to each form. Somebody else who was in the same boat told me that he'd already made enquiries and offered to add the questions, but NO , submissions would only be accepted on the new form.

I have therefore spent the best part of 4 hours copying and pasting each part of each box onto the new form and resubmitting the whole lot again. This will no doubt replicated across the whole force area. Some people have twice as many as me to do.

Not a good use of time. If somebody just made a decision to allow the questions to be added to the existing form hundreds if not thousands of hours would be saved.

Saturday 25 April 2009


Change is one of the things that sets me off on that journey I don't want to take. I like my routine and recently things in my life have been changing. I have mentioned a change at work and after much uncertainty over the past few months I have started in a new role. This means I have left my community post in an area I have policed on and off for well over a decade. This was a funding thing, but there are other reasons for me going too. This may explain the severe sleep disturbance with me waking each day at about 3.30am, not including night shift of course. So I've been rather washed out of late, going into work with that heavy eyed fatigue I usually get coming the other way after nights.

It was rather a long goodbye, but it didn't make things any easier, I really miss it dreadfully. The gratitude shown and best wishes from my residents, not just the law abiding has humbled me. I've seen young kids turn into men and women with kids of their own, and have tried to be consistent in my approach taking more than a passing interest over the years. People have even stopped their cars to come and chat to me as I've walked down the street. I have left previously and went back because I liked it too much, it's what I do.

My new role is very unsexy, but only temporary setting up a new team on a new project. I did ask to go back to response team but there are no vacancies at present. The management have hinted that there might be some positive payback for me helping them out, but already there are organizational changes coming with the loss of posts to save money. I won't hold my breath for any favours, I know how things work. Even being off nights has thrown my routine at home and caused child care nightmares over the school run. I've decided to get all changes out of the way at once so have revamped the blog, to freshen things up.

I think that there might be some other changes coming soon with policing as well. The G20 public order review should have some interesting recommendations. We the police are not exactly flavour of the month at the moment, and I've not seen much leadership from the top over this. There should have been more support for the officers concerned, pending the outcome of the IPCC investigation. Haven't these people been in the line? I expected better and they should be allaying public concerns with pledges of firm but fair policing, instead of throwing teddies about shoulder numbers.

Police officers don't like change, I think there's a management model called the resistance curve that shows the impact it has on performance and morale. Change is coming soon anyway, and hopefully we can tear up some of the damaging policies imposed by this government. That's not to say they've make a complete cock up. I think the Crime and Disorder partnerships with local authorities have had a positive impact on local issues and joined up working. I recall years back considering the local council as the anti-christ and very much against us, but now after several years it makes sense to work together. The next stage is to link in the public to play their part in taking policing forwards. We all want policing by consent but some of the legislation being passed is even making me uneasy. Maybe the G20 review will provide an opportunity. I understand that we need to change in many respects too.

Not had any music for ages so it has to be some Bowie.

Friday 24 April 2009

Deserving Causes

I do like to indulge in some plain clothes work. It provides the opportunity to really see what's going on. I'm not a jeans and trainers sort of guy and am somewhat blessed with "street" features. Oh yes, you know you've got it when you go shopping off duty in Marks and Spencers and at every turn there's a security guard within 10 yards looking your way.

I got chatting to a newspaper seller, I say newspaper but really it's one of those publications where he gets a gets a cut of the money. Great idea for the homeless, I think that was the intention and to keep beggars off the streets. Only I didn't get offered the paper, being asked for spare change instead. The drug ravaged features sort of gave away his life choice problems and his girlfriend was definitely the low end of the market if you get my drift. He wasn't homeless either, telling me he lived in a hostel down the road. He has to do it, he grudgingly slurs due to his ASBO preventing him from begging and street drinking. This was between slugs of his 9% Skol super strength. I assume he would have been on benefits and can guess where the cash he "earned" goes.

About an hour later I was sat on a bench and a bloke in his forties mumbled something to me. He wouldn't look me in the eye, and I asked him to say again. He then looks at me and very embarrassed asks me if I've got change for a cup of tea. I invite him to sit and we talk. He's clean and reasonably tidy with a rucksack on his back. Now he doesn't know who I am, and he wasn't spinning me a line either. This was a street chat.

He'd lost his job about 6 weeks ago, as a brickie and has since found himself on the streets living rough. He'd looked for work, and obviously worked on the cheaper sort of contract before getting laid off. I asked about benefits and accommodation. It appears he'd lived off his savings for a bit hoping to get work quickly and didn't sign on, and actually lived in a private place and had to go when he couldn't pay the rent. No address makes it harder to claim benefits, so I asked why he didn't get a hostel place off the local authority. There's two in the area because he's asked, but to get a place you have to have drink or drug problems. This bloke had neither, because he was a grafter.

I think you know who got Stressedcops cash. The final word must go to the brickie whose comment about the hostel situation was "It's Political Correctness gone mad". All I know is it's very wrong and hard working proud people should be getting the help if they need it.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

My England

I love my country and don't care what colour you are, if you can kiss the flag and feel "it" then you're alright with me. Being English and proud today is somewhat frowned upon by Nulabor, and their attempts at changing our society are thank (your choice of) God coming to an end.

I was away the other week in Yorkshire and visited the town of Malton. It has a beautiful old market place with little independent shops. Mrs Stressed and the kids were off looking at something in an old fashioned Pet Shop, so I sat on a bench and indulged in some people watching.

The old people looked different, more relaxed, and well happy. This is very different from where I work, and see them shuffling along to get their business done quickly. I still had my police radar on and noticed a car parked up with the Sat Nav clearly on view still stuck to the windscreen. This would have lasted about 5 minutes where I'm from, but they probably keep their doors unlocked in Malton. Not one druggie did I see all day.

Old fashioned proper pubs decades old, not some crappy themed named changed over priced shit hole. They even had the old red telephone boxes. I didn't see any Ruralshire Constabulary either. Just one glimpse of an officer on foot patrol in tunic walking tall would have put me into a contented ecstatic mood.

This was not a diverse scene my eyes feasted on, it was a vision of England, a thing of beauty. I don't believe in multiculturalism, preferring the French way of Nationality, but still swearing allegiance to the Crown. I want everywhere to feel like Malton.

We are in a mess - Please Nulabor call an election NOW and let's start again. We can have this if any party had the balls to put it in their manifesto and brought back common sense in public life.

I'm posting this early for St. George's Day as I've got some big work on this week. Have a Proud one.

Friday 17 April 2009

Flipping The Coin

Again it could have been anyone of us. Gary Toms has paid the ultimate price for performing his duty. The full details are not known at present, but this officer came to work to fight crime, not knowing what calls awaited him. He was just doing his job, no doubt making split second decisions, and sadly he never made it home.

RIP Constable Gary Toms - Thoughts with Family Friends and CO19 Colleagues.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Putting It Together

Always play the long game is an old policing adage. No matter who pisses you off an opportunity will undoubtedly present itself so you win out in the end. It’s upto you to keep an eye on things and piece the little bits and pieces together. I’m still waiting to get some people, they know it because I’ve told them, but at least they keep out of my way. God forbid upsetting me too much, because then I’ll come hunting for you. Upsetting me includes:

· Dealing in my area when I’ve told you not to .. or sent a message via addicts
· Being extremely rude to me, without good reason. Don’t Diss Me.
· Pissing off the estate residents so I get ear ache.. and then not stopping said conduct when told. We all like a quiet life after all.
· Getting off at court with a NG and laughing at me about it afterwards. Bad move.

I’ve had a relatively dealer free estate for some time. It still goes on of course, but not in your face. How do I know? Easy, the inhabitants will let it be known. They won’t get on the phone and ring me, never ever, that’s not the done thing on my estate. It is however accepted practice to mention in passing that it’s going on. They then know it gets dealt with – eventually. I say eventually because you’ve got to dig every little bit of information out of them to give yourself a chance.

Location and times helps, a known name lovely but unlikely, a description will do for starters. A long open pathway was propped up as the place to score, and a good spot it was too, plenty of time to see approaching police and make good your escape. The man arrives on a bike so I know what to look for. I patrolled for weeks and this was always on my watch list, but nothing, not an addict in sight. Not unusual because word soon gets around that it’s “Hot” and there’s plenty of other places to trade.

See my people again a few weeks later and apparently it’s still going on.

“Not caught him yet Stressed? Don’t know how you miss it; you should come out in plain clothes”

“Great idea but everyone knows me, it’s not like The Bill you know!”

I think they almost revel in my discomfort. They are however good people and I promise it will get sorted. Forget your policing pledges about answering the phone after 10 seconds, this is where it’s at, and where it matters.

Even the junkies weren’t helping me out with this one. Just the usual mobile numbers when I turned them over. The local caretakers chipped in by telling me the man on the bike always had a Green woolen hat. Couldn’t tell me what colour he was, but everything helps.

It comes together at the most unexpected times. I was walking a couple of old girls back to their sheltered housing. They were chattering away and suddenly I’m interested, not in their conversation, but in the two druggies loitering at the end of the block. They’ve seen me and my mate. I try not to let on I’ve seen them, after all, just a dumb plod me, so I continue in with my elderly charges. I know they’re waiting to score and they’re worried. Maybe the Old Bill have gone in for a cuppa with the grannies? Wrong, I’m in the stairwell three floors up watching you as you’ve moved to the opposite end of the block. And when you move back to the other end of the block near the start of the long pathway I’m in the other stairwell two floors up listening to your phone conversation, telling somebody that the Old Bill is around.

I’ve been here before, who knows what will happen? I know it will be quick and would love it to happen just below me, where there’s a fire exit. Me and my mate can just jump out and grab everybody. Be sensible Stressed, last time you did this you knackered yourself. I call up for any available units and luckily there’s a plain clothes robbery car nearby. I plot them where I think is the best place.

I’m right above the junkies sat on my arse just chadding the low window. Is this it? A black youth arrives, in street gear, yeah he fits the profile. He walks up the path and they watch after him. They still haven’t moved and the minutes tick by, I’m a racist after all and mentally chastise myself. It was just a bad call but you know what I mean. Then their scrawny bodies jerk into action, a figure appears on a bike and he’s wearing a Green Woolen hat. STANDBY. He disappears up the path and finally they are after him doing the druggie shuffle. I can’t see them and run down the stairs. I burst out of the fire exit hoping they’ll be under the light but they’re not. I can see them forty yards away at the next block surrounding the man on the bike. There are two or three other figures as well now walking off away from us. The deals are nearly done.

I stride towards them as there’s a star burst and grab one coming towards me. Bike boy rides off casually away from us. I cuff mine immediately and am glad to hear the bike has ridden straight into the Robbery boy’s who debike him. See those residents were right after all, he didn’t realize they were police.

I trawl my man round to the Robbery car. An initial search reveals nothing on mine. It appears that Bike Boy has already put his hands up to having gear on him. Two strip searches back to the station then. My addict was an Eastern European who insisted he was not an addict despite the burnt foil in his pockets. I could hear a lot of bumping from the next door room; Bike Boy is not giving his gear up easily after all. Mine was clean so was kicked on his way after declining to give a statement, Bike Boy had 20 wraps of Crack and Heroin. The Robbery boy’s offered me the body, which was a nice touch. I declined as they’d earned it by coming to help me out in the first place.

Bike Boy had a better TV then I’ve got when we searched his flat, and it was really quite nice and clean. In fact it belonged to his addict girlfriend who was the tenant. He actually put his hands up in interview to Possession with Intent to supply, with mitigation that he was just a runner. He was an addict himself but people don’t work for their own addiction nowadays, the going rate is 80 pounds to deal all day.

I let it be known to the estate that Bike Boy was history so we can do no more, unfortunately he will be replaced by somebody else. When does it end?

Friday 10 April 2009

DI Vorce

I was coming home from work the other night and bumped into an old school friend. I've known him since we were five and we used to play in the same Sunday football team when I first came back to the UK. He lives near me and I noticed there was a For Sale outside his house. I asked him why he was moving as he'd just had a load of building work done. Poor bloke goes onto tell me he'd just split up from his wife and if he couldn't buy her out, the house would be sold and he'd end up in a little flat somewhere. Over twenty years down the drain, gutting.

I tried to cheer him up as I've got the Tee shirt on that one, and know just how depressing divorce is, especially if kids are involved. I don't think the policing profession has a good success percentage rate on long lasting marriages. There is an attitude of get the first one out of the way and move on. Other stressful occupations with high divorce rates are doctors and firemen. The impact on family life caused by long hours and shift work contributes to conflict in relationships, and it's only now, on marriage two that I'm trying to strike a balance. Poor old wife one had been told early on that I was married to the job first and I grafted non stop to provide only to lose half of everything.

I was left with just the cat for company, who she loathed anyway. It's far too easy to hit the bottle and feel sorry for yourself. You are where you are so accept things and get on with life. My first marriage was rather too complicated to go into, but would've made even the most far fetched Eastenders story line look tame. Another thing with shift work and long hours is that it gives the deserted spouse opportunities to play away. There was infidelity in my first marriage but not by me. Once it finally dawned on me that my marriage was done, which was five months after she'd left and two weeks after I found stuff out, I was OK with life. I met somebody else through work, but was then divorced by wife one, for adultery. Work that one out?

Her solicitors were right anti and wouldn't even speak to me on the phone, even though I was sorting out all my own legal stuff. Imagine my delight when my newly ex wife then did a bunk and didn't pay their bill, prompting them to ring me all nicey nice to try and trace her. Yeah right tossers Click Brrrrrrrr.

So the positive is, I've been able to take my experiences into the workplace. When I've had staff going through marital difficulties I've cut them some slack. Sod work, put your own house in order. Time given if needed, you know the sort of thing. Always willing to lend an ear or give advice, like to my mate who was caught over the side shagging his next door neighbour. "You're going to lose half of everything at least - and you're an arse". Solicitors made about 15k from that job.

I was thinking it would be wrong to go on holiday this year, what with all this credit crunch thing. I mentioned it to Mrs Stressed who said two words, "We're Going". This was said in such a way that I think my life would not be worth living to discuss the matter further. So we're booked for the same place as last year, with my two daughters from marriage one and Bam Bam from my second marriage. So get your priorities right, take it from me it's expensive otherwise.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Anyone Of Us

I've only just seen this video about G20 and Ian Tomlinson. I was in a similar situation a few weeks back when asked to move a hostile crowd back after a huge kick off outside a night club. At one point my stick was out as the crowd came forwards. In the end I ended up walking some lads away with my arm around their shoulders. It's a tough call - We are personally accountable for any force we use, and in the finest traditions that means writing it up. That includes just getting your stick out, not just using it. I'm definitely mellowing out with age and experience, but I will still meet you head on if the need arises, with what I deem to be reasonable force.

Don't want to write anything else. That could have been me there in days gone by. In fact it could be me tomorrow, who knows. I was thinking of applying to be level 2 trained again because the doctor said I could, but now I'm not too sure. I think I know what's coming. You now understand why I preach Peace and Love, not a bad mantra to keep to. Sometimes this is a shit job.

Monday 6 April 2009

He's Back .... The Gene Genie

As I've been outed as a Gene Hunt lover on Facebook there's good news, the new series starts soon. Standby for a breakout of morale in the ranks and leather jackets in the CID. New hook trailer above and favourite scene below to wet your appetite ... Gene and Lord Scarman. Enjoy or despise, it's your choice.

Friday 3 April 2009

Apathy In The UK

Let me make clear that this post is my personal opinion about the events of the last two days for G20, and I do have considerable public order experience. In fact I have policed real riots and seen anarchy in the UK. I also have the scars to prove it. I do not have personal knowledge of the big picture plan or have detailed knowledge of police numbers involved.

My first observation is that this event was over hyped by the press, and potential comparisons to the Poll Tax disturbances were well off the mark. They even pissed off the anarchists by infiltrating one of their meetings. I don't know if this had an impact on numbers attending but as things turned out things were relatively calm bar a couple of windows at the Royal Bank Of Scotland. Apologies if you were in the line at Threadneedle Street but I'm trying to put things in perspective. The City was not in full lockdown and premises were not boarded up, including RBS which was right on the plot. In fact take out the photographers, reporters and legal observers and the main event outside the Bank Of England would have been rather bland. Still the press got what they wanted in the end.

Those naughty anarchists obviously had better things to do and the small groups who did turn up made more of a fashion statement rather than a political one. Of course it only takes a couple of idiots to set off a crowd and I'm confident that the intelligence teams have some lovely images of troublemakers who should expect a visit soon. The environment was well suited to the policing operation and the event was well contained. A low level approach was taken until it went bent but why flat caps and not beat duty helmets on the line? Didn't see any chin straps either or am I getting old?

This is the first point for discussion. The tactic was obviously to contain the initial demonstrators and prevent latecomers from swelling the numbers. Outer cordons kept others back from the main event. This containment means no leaving at all, so no toilet facilities and no sneaking off to the Climate Camp in Broadgate for a peanut butter sandwich, organic of course. This is a recognised tactic used in the Capital for several years and very effective. I don't know if discretion was permitted but hope that common sense was used to allow some out who were obviously peaceful demonstrators who'd made their point. It must be said that this tactic prevented worse trouble in reducing the crowd numbers and a break out. Once a crowd gets a taste for action even peaceful people will get swept along and mob mentality takes over. It happens at football all the time, crowd sticking together and directing venom towards what's in front of them, usually a police line. We are tribal creatures after all and two of the seven sins came to the fore to cause this, Greed and Wrath.

When the crowd was released the troublemakers were more mobile and intent on causing damage. Everybody else obviously headed for the nearest loo. Another containment down the road after swift policing split the crowd preventing damage to HSBC and the small violent mob were held despite attacking police lines. More police than naughty people game over before rush hour.

The Climate Camp in Broadgate had made their point and it was time to pack up and go. It might have been a peaceful protest but the road was blocked and it was time to leave. I understand that this was not cordoned all day and people were free to leave. Those who chose to stay were going to be moved otherwise they'd still be there. Don't fight battles you can't win - it was cleared no doubt because it could be. It leaves a little bit of a bad taste in the mouth as these were more the party hippy people, but life had to be returned to normality. I would had suggested a police/camp chill out dance then joint meditation before calling a wrap. They would have got better publicity and peace would have prevailed. If the camp had remained it would have taken huge resources at even more cost to police it. It would also have provided a focus point for other groups. I'm disappointed at reports people were held there for several hours before being let out if that's the case. And yes I've seen the videos on youtube.

So lessons to be learnt on both sides here. This was a police success operationally in the land of the giants, but shows how much aid will be needed for the Olympics in 2012. Fatigue and long hours takes a toll and the blue line was stretched for this. Nice touch on day two closing down two Anarchist squats.

Are we going to see a Summer of rage? On this showing I would say no. It would take a massive demonstration that extremists could turn to their advantage. It really does boil down to numbers on both sides and how many police we can put out to control it. There is just a feeling of apathy across the country and people just can't be arsed to get out on the street. In fact European agitators had to show ours the way.