Thursday 31 December 2009

Goodbye 2009 Welcome Much Of The Same

One thing I can say I've learnt from this year, is to be more open. I therefore read the comments of Jack Straw and think why? You've read my last post where we didn't get the chance to sit around drinking tea in the warm. If it was really quiet we would have done so, but as a one off on what should have been a special day where basic humanity dictates, that even the criminals take a day off. I can't even remember the last time I heard a 99 being called.

I think the truth is that NuLabor have never liked the police service and always seen us as a necessary evil. Perhaps Jack Straw is just having another Pinochet moment !! All the political tinkering has never been about providing a better service to victim's but more creating some sort of centrally controlled arm of the state. If the Tories had attempted to pass half the laws this lot created, the masses would have been rioting in the streets. Instead everybody just let it happen because life was comfortable and nobody cared that it was all on borrowed money. They don't need the police any more as they head to oblivion so resort to type.

It's been a bad year of PR for the police service and maybe that suits certain people. I've heard several rumours about the year's hence. One is that our pension contributions will rise to 14% instead of the current 11%, with no increase on the actual pension pay out. Another is that after 2012 officer's will be pensioned off early. One thing for definite is that there will be cuts in officer numbers. Will it matter to the front line? I think not as we are already working on "less". The community team's are currently red circled but as I've said before those models will be re-visited.

A couple of high profile police trials coming up in the New Year will drag us down more, whatever the outcome. I hear Michael Mansfield might be out of retirement to represent Ali Dizaei, and I've stood up already and hopefully called it right for PS Smellie from the G20.

I usually at Year's End raise a glass to those I've put away. For the past 10 year's or so this has averaged 20 to 25 people a year inside because of me helping out on certain operations. It made all the stresses and long hours worthwhile. This year I've decided to cut back because it wasn't actually doing me much good health wise. I'm not even beating myself up for not doing so much but can still have a slurp to the 5 inside for this year. So sorry Jack you've had your pound of flesh from me and the difference between you and me next year. I'll still be here.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

We Do Art Too !!

Ours was more Arty than this - Really Said something ...

The Christmas buffet at work looked nice laid out on the canteen table, and there it stayed looking like a Tracy Emin masterpiece for most of the shift. I wish I'd taken a picture. The hope of some fire brigade policing never happened, but some did manage to snaffle a sausage roll whilst scribbling out some arrest notes. We tried again the next day but this time the bags stayed on the table with most of it getting thrown away, the chicken drumsticks were by this time looking somewhat dodgy. At least the tea club will be fully stocked with biscuits and chocolates for a couple of weeks.

It might have just been one of those freakish set of shifts, but the Christmas spirit didn't really happen for us this year. We had a full on four days consisting of the expected domestics, but with a few stabbings, drunken fights and usual crime to contend with. Everything got dealt with and the cells were full, the team pulling together taking statements here and there so the job handovers were as complete as could be. We probably cut a few corners but there was always another call to be dealt with. The pressure was on and it wasn't fun. I checked some nearby Division's custody situation and they appeared to be having a quieter time of it.

I think it comes with working a diverse area. Some communities don't do Christmas so it's business as usual for them. I find myself having to build a few bridges after dealing with one of the more serious incidents. Trying to get to grip and handle a scene with hardly any officers is difficult. When a minority group is involved it is a nightmare. We were so short by this stage that even I had to get hands on, literally applying pressure to a wound. Around the periphery were people purporting to be community leaders telling me what I could and shouldn't be doing. I don't like that and my chain was pulled and they got a reaction instead of a response. This didn't help matters but they could do with getting a proper tablet, despite trying to explain our situation they always know best. It would have been helpful if some of the community had actually called police in the first instance, but then they like to pick and choose which laws they adhere to. It could have turned out worse but will still tie up the CID despite no injured parties wanting to assist us.

The team worked their socks off and everybody contributed to the cause. They don't need to be measured by targets, they know they grafted without breaks and did the business. So do I and It's my job to watch team fatigue and give something back. A couple might be sent home in turns next year before the end of the shift if we can spare them.

By then the centre will be back from their Christmas break telling us how well we did over the festive period but still wanting more. I could have done with some more troops the last few days but somehow we made it work, we always do.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Because It's Christmas

Belated Christmas greetings to one and all out there in Blogging Land. My Internet connection was down after a particularly busy Christmas Eve shift where I managed a cup of tea and a Jammy Dodger for breakfast and a Snickers bar for lunch. Must have been the wrong kind of frost on the line but I'm back on now. Funny how, when based in Germany I experienced much worse weather then we have having now and always managed to reach Mr Drinks Bar in Hanover. The roads were OK and the trains always ran, damned efficient those German's. We have totally lost it in this country haven't we?

12 hours of hell today but a quite full custody suite and a substantial quantity of drugs seized with several prisoners attached. So much that even the CID couldn't wiggle out of taking the job on. I think usually the prisoners would remain with us but suspect that financial considerations will take over and bail will be an option as everything has been scaled back for Christmas Day. All departments are closed apart from response who will take on the extra work despite being short ourselves.

I work every Christmas through choice and this year is no different. I only missed one a couple of years ago through toe rag connected injury and this is actually my anniversary of having a massive line of metal staples removed from my war wound. I'm mentally over it and am in a good place at present.

This year I've been fortunate and missed the run up to the festivities through being away on a course and on rest days. I have however got all of Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years day to work. I will only be cheered by those who find themselves in custody through their own stupidity and criminality.

I have been compared to Scrooge but fortunately I don't go in for all this goodwill to all men at Christmas time. I'm actually more consistent then Scrooge who gave in at the end. This may be because on past Christmas Day's I've dealt with murder scenes and too many domestics to mention. All of them result in the same whinge in custody "But it's Christmas".

I particularly loved the representations put forward by a solicitor one year after I'd decided to keep a prolific druggie shoplifter in to prevent him emptying the shops of more goods. I'd explained my position regarding the prevention of further offences due to his offending history and paused for her speech. If she'd offered up some reasonable conditions to prevent his offending I would have considered them, but all she could offer was "It's Christmas and I appeal to your nature to bail him without conditions, the magistrates will only let him out anyway".

She would have been right on the second count but she should have played the game at least. Christmas is not on the list for making people eligible for bail, so one extra customer for us for the night. He should have gone to court the next day which was Christmas Eve but "Couldn't Be Bothered Security Contractors" failed to get him him to court in time so he was still there when I came in for late turn facing a Boxing Day court date. So it fell to me to review his continued detention as custody officer.

I let him out on short bail to court after the shops had shut and would like to point out this was only because my grounds for keeping him in had ceased, nothing to do with the time of year.

Happy Christmas to you all and thank you for those who have contributed to this blog. You have amused me no end and kept me grounded and reasonably sane. I am grateful to you all.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Le Bash

I'm very pleased to report I've survived the Team Christmas Do unscathed and will be a year closer to collecting my full pension. I was in two minds if I should go or not but in the interests of team bonding I made a fleeting appearance before making an early exit. It was rather like an excursion on holiday where you know the food is going to be shite and you'll be ripped off but you must enjoy yourself cos' it's Christmas. I wasn't disappointed, for nearly fifty quid the fare was rather a let down and at 4 quid for a small bottle of beer Stressed wasn't going to be embarrassing himself by rolling about in the gutter afterwards.

I was relieved that nobody managed to show themselves up, but have since heard that things didn't go too well on some of the other team's functions. The thing is with a police party, if anything happens the first people complaints come looking for are the supervisors. I'm not excusing poor conduct but why should I be held responsible for supervising grown adults on a private do when off duty? Wait a couple of weeks and there will be stories of police Christmas Do's going bent. I think we come second to professional footballers in the press attentions and maybe Harry Redknapp was smart in banning the Player's party at Tottenham.

I know people who have lost their jobs through antics over the festive period, and with a bit of careful planning trouble could be avoided. When I worked on a particularly infamous unit our Do's were planned to minimise antics. The party was always above a quiet pub in a private room not shared with other punters and contact with the public was limited . Anything happening out of order would only involve our own people and could be nipped in the bud early on.

The CID party also now appears to be a thing of the past on Division. The yearly free for all was frowned upon for the ensuing naughtiness and gossip. That's a shame because some of them were great. When I used to do some work for the squads I'd pick up a few invites and could really relax into it as a guest. One year I actually took a week off to attend Christmas Do's, and "The Squad" party had the best raffle ever.

Next year I think I'll be giving it a miss. I don't even like Christmas.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Looking Out For A Local Hero

This is the first year in many that I'm not personally dealing with community complaints. As the dark nights draw in, the local kids my way would invariably start hanging out in the communal well lit blocks resulting in calls from distraught residents.

I suppose these residents were no different from Mrs Sick and Tired who has started a blog about her frustrations with police inability to deal with youths blighting a local park. As we are all now citizen focused I'd be surprised if these community problems were not the number one priority in all police areas across this country.

I'm not aware of her specific situation other than groups of youths are gathering late at night, drinking and affecting her quality of life. Her anger is directed towards the police, and one assumes that's a negative point for the local force if she's filled out a customer satisfaction survey.

I know that a call to my force would probably result in no police attendance from response. The call centre would put it out on the radio if the local community team was on, but just print the complaint for a later follow up if they were off duty. Unfortunately as no crimes are being committed it's not seen as a high priority. We are indeed too busy attending the houses of probably the said same youths to deal with their parents for minor domestic squabbles, which are also not crimes but require us to compile comprehensive records. Sorry about that but a non-crime domestic between people scoring points trumps a non-crime gathering of youths making your life hell. I can assure you Mrs Sick and Tired that we'd rather come and help you out.

We would of course be pretty powerless to do much other then move them on or try to. Unfortunately even then it's more down to persuasion and a will of minds. This achieves very little because they're be back the next night. Mrs Sick and Tired wonders why we can't take the kid's home in our cars. I think somebody palmed her off with the old not covered by insurance line. Human Rights legislation dictates that we can only take young people into police protection which is a detention, if they are likely to come to "significant" harm. I doubt that covers a street wise juvenile drinking in public.

I think the best course of action in her situation is for the community team to get off their backsides and show some presence. I would have posted my team there in the park stood right in the middle of the kids. This would have been to identify them and get my message across. They are probably there because the location gives them somewhere to sit and is well lit. I would look to have the lighting turned off so they would be in darkness. The seating could be relocated or changed.

One thing I know is that having improved things for that community the youths would move on to another lit place with seating. My ideal solution would be to find a location away from residents in the park with shelter where they could hang out to their hearts content and not annoy anybody. It would of course need policing re alcohol drinking to keep a lid on things. I'm not suggesting appeasing the youths but sometimes it's better to accept we can't solve everything and should try something different to give everybody a quieter life. I'm sure Mrs Sick and Tired just wants them gone.

Monday 7 December 2009

It's Different For Girls

OK, I admit to hating dealing with drunk women and give them extra leeway. Am I alone in this? I think not. I first noticed this flaw in policing when as a young probationer I was sat in one of those old station vans with the bench seats. The senior PC had arrested a drunken howling aggressive female who was going nuts. She took a dislike to him and ended up kicking him in the face with her high heels. Despite his facial injury she was only sheeted for D and D. He was ribbed by his peers (not me) for this unfortunate incident and it was only because she was a woman and his embarrassment that she got different treatment.

I don't know why but the female of the species when drunk is particularly scathing and abusive to all and sundry. They won't listen to reason or warnings and when the inevitable happens and they have to come, they will kick off screaming that they can't be arrested and you're a bully picking on a woman. The custody officer is never best pleased either, having to put up this conduct until they sober up. Once a bloke hits the cell he tends to get his head down in a drunken slumber. Women will keep up the spiteful comments and door banging for a considerable amount of time.

Only the other week I came across a drunken melee in the street, usual Friday night stuff. I could just about make out who was swinging the punches between the crowd of men and women. I've got a couple of probs with me and get out the car to break it up before trying to see who's started it. Initial fracas over, it starts again with the men squaring up. I arrest one idiot for threatening behaviour and cuff him up. He knows me, I can't remember him but he's nicked and this calms the males, but not the women in the group. I'm this, I'm that, I'm grabbed and I could easily begin to fill up the cell space. As it is we end up arresting two males from one group, which just happens to be the one with the gobby women. At the time I believed we ended up dealing with the trouble making group so we left it at that.

Back in custody the one I've arrested is calm and peaceful and not even drunk. He tells me how one woman in his group started the whole disturbance and that it all got out of hand. He knows he was out of order but was now calm and compliant as was his mate. I think he called it right when he stated that the women in his group deserved to be there. There was some bloke bonding all round and we all instinctively knew we'd prefer it this way. They'd backed up the women and would have been for it if they hadn't. I booked him in and booted him out NFA IM 2:16 applies, on condition he'd have a word with the girlfriends. The mate got a PND as he'd been throwing punches.

Maybe I wanted to readdress the gender inequality on what is classed a crap job and as we're not chasing detections was able to do so, or was it an admission to not wanting to deal with the real catalysts? See we can be sensible and fair sometimes, even when there are offences committed.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Cash Is King

I knew that cuts would be coming but not necessarily this financial year - things must be really bad. A extra 10% hit to an already non existent overtime budget means there is less than 2 hours per officer available each month.

The main savings will be made by scrapping civilian staff posts, those individuals will be deployed elsewhere within the force. Who will be back filling their jobs?, who but my team officers from the front line shift, which means less time off all round to maintain minimum staffing levels on normal working days. It's all to do with different budgets and police officer numbers having to be maintained.

I fully expect rostered days off to be cancelled with more than 15 days notice to save cash too. Not a good week you understand to be hearing advertisements about the Policing Pledge on the radio and watching them on TV. How much money is this all costing? Alright it might be Home Office money but I think they may have been better off channelling this towards improving visibility on the streets and not just promising it. That 80% patrol promise is only for community teams anyway. I worked on community and believe me that's an empty promise. If they were not red circled you just get the feeling up above would like to sacrifice a few PCSO's at 25k a pop.

The bosses are now pushing cash savings and not arrests alongside other targets. The dreaded hand over of prisoners between shift officers to save a few pennies can't be too far away. I've even heard one budget holder talking of bringing his cars in early on the last night shift to avoid the risk of overtime payments into rest days.

I'm not saying the police per se should be immune to cuts. We have grown fat under NuLabor like most in the public sector, but maybe we should be looking at some of the non jobs in existence. We don't tend to have them at the lowest levels.

Meanwhile the CID will carry on as normal, " You can't put a price on justice Bruv !! "