Friday, May 19, 2006

Another bag of shit job

The officer over at 200 Weeks lists the standard fare of jobs that any police officer is likely to get, and on being passed immediately say to his or her colleague "God, another shit job". He gives four good examples on his site, which are absolutely nothing new or unusual, and are recognised fare of the crap that we have to deal with. We can expect one a day, three if we've really annoyed the dispatcher! I'll add some of mine from my last set:

1 - "My neighbour keeps letting my dog piss on the street in front of my house"
2 - "My ex-boyfriend is telling our children that I caused our break up when he looks after them and trying to make them hate me"
3 - "My neighbour called me a slag so I punched her in self defence and she hit me back. I want her done"
4 - "I've been assaulted by bouncers who threw me out for no reason, I want them done."

Every single one of the last four jobs I was sent to, as part of a double crewed car. Now, I'll admit, I'm a risk taker. When I get sent to an obviously shit job, I'll do my best to deal with it as quickly as possible, without wasting our time taking a ridiculous crime report about a situation which SHOULD be dealt with simply by saying "Grow up" or "Take some responsibility for your actions." This is major risk-taking on my part, because I could get into real trouble with supervision if I didn't treat the above jobs in the following way:

1 - Consider criming matter as harassment if the 'victim' feels the neighbour is delibrately doing this to annoy them. Crime report. Statement. Arrest neighbour. Interview neighbour. Bail neighbour for CPS advice. Full file (for the unitinitiated, think of a full file as a file that will take about four hours to put together, if you are lucky and have all the info you need.)
2 - There were no offences that I could see in this one, but we got sent anyway as it had the 'domestic' tag. I was comfortable to easily write this one off, though I'm expecting the standard email asking me to justify why my name is on a log marked as domestic with no arrest. (This is standard course of practice at my station)
3 - Crime report for assault on 'victim'. Statement from 'victim'. Arrest neighbour. Hear obvious counter allegations. Arrest 'victim'. Put up with abuse from 'victim' for arresting 'victim'. Put up with abuse from custody sergeant for making arrests in this shit job. Interview 'victim'. Interview 'offender'. Tell custody sergeant result of interview, knowing before you start its going to be no further action. Release both no further action. Explain to 'victim' the procedure for making a complaint against me for arresting her.
4 - Crime report for assault. Take details of bouncers on the door (our station policy is not to arrest bouncers on door for any assault that would be charged as a Section 39 (minor) assault, but to interview and arrest at later date. Seize CCTV. Arrange for unit to visit 'victim' in morning when sober. 'Victim' visited, statement taken or more likely no compliant made as hes reflected on his actions and accepts that he wasn't kicked out 'for doing nothing'. Either way, that magic crime report has been taken, so arrest offender. Interview offender. No further action if no complaint. CPS advice if complaint, then no further action (unless independent evidence such as CCTV other witness available, in which case bail for full file).

My god, its taken about twnety hours just to write what I should have done, so God knows how long it would have actually taken to do that! Heres what I actually did.

1 - Wrote off job as "Caller is annoyed at neighbours dog urinating in public street. Explained no offences, but advice given to neighbour anyway."
2 - Wrote off job as "No offences disclosed. Domestic referral form to be completed as per policy."
3 - I would have explained to the victim that if she made a complaint she would also have to be arrested for her part, which would have doubtless made her decide not to complain, in which case I would have written the job off as "Verbal altercation between neighbours. No offences." (Theres the risk I was talking about, because as explained we did techinically have two or three offences). However, neighbour had told the operator over the phone the whole story, including the assault on her and the assault she committed, so I did this one by the book and followed the above route two. It took two officers five hours.
4 - Attended, spoke to 'victim' who had no injuries, but a torn shirt. He stormed over stating "That f*****g fat c**t there threw me out for no reason. Thats assault." I asked "Whats actually happened?", throwing in a section five warning (no swearing or get arrested). 'Victim' explains that he was asked to leave by bouncers. He told them to 'f**k off', because he 'Hadn't done nothing'. I resisted the tmptation to point out the double negative. They asked him again to leave, he refused again, so they 'grabbed me and they had to drag me out off there, which ripped my shirt, and they battered me' I explained to 'victim' that bouncers can ask you to leave the premises for any reason, and he should have left. I add I can see no injuries of any sort on him let alone any consistent with a 'battering' and that their actions were a lawful ejection.
Ended up writing off log as "No offences from club. Lawful ejection, no injuries to caller just a ripped shirt due to the fact that he refused to leave when asked. However, caller has been arrested for a section 5." (On explaining the above to the caller, it resulted in about three further warnings, me being called a c**t and the inevitable arrest after the "I'll f*****g sort it out myself then, you don't know who I know".

The government who introduce a 'Common Sense' or 'Return of Discretion' bill to allow the police to actually use common sense will win my vote, and the vote of almost every serving police officer for life.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Acting like animals?

A post from Cough The Lot has made me want to put a quick plug in for something I believe in. I know this is opening me up for a possible flaming on the comments, but I believe in animal testing, and in the considerable advancements made to science by it.

I also think that Laurie Pycroft, who set up Pro Test is a very brave individual who earns my respect 100 times over. He doesn't deserve the death threats he inevitably got for puting across his point of view. Animal testing saves lives.

Please remember the usual blurb - these are my personal views and are not the views of the police as a whole.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fighting Talk

Another Constable tells a tale of abuse from a prisoner that every single officer will be well aware of. In fact, its likely that we've all locked up a prisoner who read from pretty much the same script as his.

The threats Another Constable got are standard fare. To say that you don't get annoyed by prisoner like this would be a lie - of course you do. It would take a very strange person to honestly say that they could take the amount of abuse he describes without any emotion. You just don't let it get to you though, and its really not worth flaring up over it, or shouting back. Now, the truly professional officer would of course sit back, ignore it and take it, however I have to admit that there are things I've overheard in my time which not only shut up the abusive prisoner, but made me smile too. I'm not in any way condoning them as good practice(!), but for amusements sake heres some of them:

1) A prisoner locked up on a Friday/Saturday night, mouthing off, general abuse. PC reading out list of property to the custody sergeant for the custody record. "Two condoms sarge, expiry date 2002."

2) A Scottish prisoner with a particulary thick accent, screaming "I'll f*****g f**k ya, ya c**t, I'll f**k ya mum, c**t etc." In the first small pause while he catches his breath, the arresting officer says "Don't worry mate, we'll get you an interpreter as soon as we get to the cell block."

3) A prisoner brought back in on a van, offering abuse to his arresting officer the whole way, most of it centred around the fact the officer is overweight. On arrival at the cellblock, after being put into the cell, the prisoner shouts "How the f**k did you get so fat you p***k?". Officer replies "Every time your girlfriend has sex with me, she brings me a Mars bar."

4) Two prisoners in a van arrested after a football match for public order offences. One has APAC tatooed on his knuckles. The other has four dots tatooed on his. An officer asks "What does that stand for?" pointing to the APAC. The prisoner snarls back "All Police Are C***s". The officer politely replies "Ah, I see, I see." The officer turns to the second male and point to the four dots. "What does that stand for?". The male snarls back "All Police Are C***s". Officer replies "Oh I see, its just that you can't spell is it?"

5) Prisoner in van yelling at arresting officer "You f*****g like me or summat? You put these handcuffs on cause you wanna f**k me? Come on then, f**k me! F**k me up the arse! You know you want to! S**g my arse, you know you're gay!" Officer "Yeah I am actually." Prisoner falls silent then murmurs "Don't f**k me" before remaining silent for entire of trip back.

6) Prisoner place into caged van handcuffed to rear. Shouts out on way back "I can f*****g get out of these handcuffs no problem." Officer shouts back "Don't be silly, no you can't." When rear van cage opened at nick, sheepish prisoner waddles out and into the nick in a crouching position, arms firmly stuck behind his knees. He'd tried to step through the cuffs, got them past his bum but wasn't flexible enough to get them past his feet, or back to where they were :)

As I said, I'm not advocating any of these 'tactics' as useful in any way, or to be used. But they made me smile :)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cough it up

The editor over at Cough the Lot recently put in a post complaining about the lack of action over a local drunk he has had to arrest a number of times recently. He comments on how this particular 'gentleman' has breached his bail conditions 15 times, and yet every time he is only released with the same conditions again.

The editors says "I am ignorant of the ways of the court but would somebody please explain to me how this lunatic can regularly break the law on a weekly, sometimes daily basis and still be allowed free?"

Well, I would have replied on the site, in the comments, but theres some silly system meaning I'd have to register somewhere and then log in first, so I couldn;t be bothered with that ;)

The answers a simple one. People who have absolutely no regard for the law, justice or (more importantly) prison cannot be dealt with by our systems. The worst penalty we can impose is prison. If this is something which you have absolutely no regard for, treating prison in the way the honest member of public may treat going to work, theres nothing our justice system can ever do to stop you. This is noticed, recognised and so eventually the justice system gives up, as why bother filling the prisons with people like this? Please don't bring up the sensible reason of 'protecting the public', it'll only be swept under the carpet.

The message the courts seem to send out to me is "Oh, sod it. Prison doesn't work on you because you don't care about it, just ignore him and lets move on. He'll only be back tomorrow anyway, let the magistrates tomorrow deal with him."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The honest answers

Lennie Briscoe recently had a post in which he posted some quotes from his boss, asking questions and commenting about the police. I'd decided to answer all of these as honestly as I can to aid him, and any others with the same problems.

1.If we [the police] spent less time hiding in bushes with speed cameras then we would catch more criminals"
Ok, at our station we have (counts in head, this many shifts, this many on each shift adds up...) about 130 frontline officers. I'm not counting any "police officers" who are not frontline. About 10 of these are traffic officers. These are the only ones allowed to play with the speed laser guns. From what I can tell, they set up speed traps approximately once every two to three months. Could we really spend less time?

2."If we [the police] didn't spend so much time putting up speed cameras to catch the law abiding we could catch more criminals"
We (the police) don't put up the speed cameras. Perhaps some high up Chief Constable somewhere has some say in the matter, based on government suggestions, but the standard police officer has absolutely nothing to do with them and hate them as much as you do.

3. "Do you know that when PC Sharon Beshenivsky was murdered, a caller on a radio program told listeners that he refused to cooperate with police asking for information on her killer because he no longer trusted the police and didn’t care to help”
No, I didn't know that. But I'd put my entire mortgage on the fact that the caller didn't trust the police because he was a criminal that had been caught by them. And I'd place that bet at odds of 1/1000 if you offered them.

4. “Tony Martin the farmer who shot the burglar should be awarded a medal”
Some police officers would agree with you. We are bound to act as is the law. If you want the law changed, complain about the government. It currently says you cannot shoot someone who is running away from you after burgling your property. Therefore we can't just ignore someone doing this, whatever our personal feelings on the matter.

5. “The hit and run driver who recently killed a medical student and only owned up after the media publish photos of her deceased body 8 months later got 18 months. This isn’t justice.”
I agree. I've done a fuller post about driving problems like this, but in this particular case my personal feeling are to agree wholeheartedly with you. I may have felt slightly differently if he had stopped to try and save her. Slightly.

6. “The current socialist government [Labour] don’t understand that when the prisons are full, we need more prisons not shorter sentences or more community punishments.”
You are 100% smack on the money. Completely right. Absolutely, and you won't find a single police officer who will say to you "No, prisons not the answer". We are out of space now, and yes, it may take three years to build more prisons - but we'll still be out of space in three years.

7. “Why do some police drive round in BMW 5 series?”
Because they are part of a smaller, highly funded department (firearms, traffic) and are the envy of every frontline officer driving about in his 1.0d Austin Rover.

8. “The public simply do not trust the police any more”
If that is true its a shame. However, some of the police no longer trust the public either. Honesty and good manners are not a part of todays society, and the police can't be blamed for that.

Why we don't use common sense

In response to a post of mine, anonymous* said "It is time that the Police stopped taking these frivilous complaints seriously, they should start using common sence."

Here a story of how things could have gone...

CMOP - Concerned member of public
CSupt - Chief Superintendant
Sgt - Sarge
PC - PC Sense, our hero

(Phone rings in PC Sense's office)
CMOP: Hi I'd like to register a complaint. I've seen a gollywog in a shop window. I think they are racist and I want to complain.
PC Sense: Hmm, its only a toy - are you sure you want to complain?
CMOP: Yes. I find them racist
PC Sense: Ok, I'll create a log about this, but theres really nothing that we can do about this. They are only toys after all, and I am investigating 3 assaults, 1 domestic and an harassment at the moment.
CMOP: (Hangs up)

(Approximately 30 minutes later)
Sgt: PC Sense? We've had a complaint about you. Apparently you refused to take a complaint of racial abuse earlier.
PC Sense: (laughing) What, the gollywogs?

(stunned silence settles in the busy office)
Sgt: What? What did you just say?
PC Sense: (scared now) I was just asking if it was about the gollywogs...
Sgt: (leaning over, stern, all eyes in office now looking on in horror) The TERM, Pc SENSE, is GOLLY.
PC Sense: Sorry sarge.
Sgt: Why didn't you crime this matter. Are you racist Sense?
PC Sense: No sarge! But, lets use common sense sarge, theres no real offences there!
Sgt: (shouting) Common sense! Common sense?! This is the LAW boy, under home office counting rules if someone tells you about a crime you have no choice but to crime it! NO CHOICE! (calming down) Ok, I can't get you out of this one, I'll have to put a report in to the CSupt.

(Approx 30 mins later, in the CSupt's office)

CSupt: SO PC Sense, I have here a serious complaint from a CMOP and your Sgt of racist corruption. What do you have to say in your defence?
PC Sense: Erm, aren't I allowed a fed rep with me?
CSupt: Aha! So you are a racist! Why else would you want one?
PC Sense: No, no! Um, I don't want one I've done nothing wrong.
CSupt: You didn't crime it.
PC Sense: Ok, so _technically_ I did that wrong, but I was only using common sense.
CSupt: You do what the home office tells you to!
PC Sense: But I only didn;t crime it because if I crimed it we'd have to investigate.
CSupt: Nonsense, the home office only says we must crime the offences, the choice of the investigation we undertake is ours.
PC Sense: But sir, a racially aggravated section 5 is a racist violence offence, and so we'd be forced to investigate and detect it to stop our figures looking bad, regardless of what was obviously the right way to deal with it, which in this case would have just been to inform the shopkeeper about it and leave it with them. We'd be forced to find an offender and either charge or caution them to get the detection. Theres no CHANCE we'd be allowed not to investigate it.
CSupt: ...

Headlines next day: Racist Police Officer fired!

* Ok, seriously guys, can no one think up a funny pseudo name? I'm getting so bloody bored with all these anonymous's!

Death Penalties?

The Magistrates Blog has written recently regarding penalties given to drivers who, through little other than simple bad driving have ended up causing the death of someone else. In most of these cases quoted, drink was not an issue, nor was malice - it was simply a mistake, that cost someone the ultimate price.

So what of the sentences? Lennie Briscoe, the very well written special constable felt that 2 years for the driver mentioned was too lenient. You can see his point of view - through that womans actions she caused the death of 3 children and one adult. It was entirely her fault for chosing to drive the way she did.

But is she inherently bad? Is she a criminal? (Forget for a second the technicality that she has been sentence for a criminal offence, you know what I mean) Shes never going to appear on police briefing systems as 'Most Wanted'. Prior to her accident, police weren't desparately looking for her car as her driving was bad enough to kill.

The simple fact here is that cars kill. They are lethal weapons, and people are given access to them with very little training (3 months average for what, 60 years at the wheel?). You can pass a test in a 1.0 diesel Mini Metro, and instantly have the right to jump into a 3.0 litre Subaru Impreza. You only have to demonstrate adherence to the laws for a 30 minute test with an instructor before you develop your own driving style.

The average driver sucks. They really do. The first thing I realised when I took my police driving courses was quite how bad I was at driving - and I thought before then that I had been pretty good. The only way to actually prevent these sorts of fatal road collisions is for everyone to drive as you would be taught to on an advanced driving course - unfortunately thats never going to happen.

I always remember something I was once told - the best deterrent to speeding would be to outlaw seatbelts and put a large spike on the middle of the steering wheel. People would drive a bit more carefully then. I am almost tempted to suggest that if someone is found to be at fault for two road traffic collisions, they lose their licence automatically for s short period (3 months), and have to take an extended retest including an advanced driving course. Hell, charge em for it - the government can made it self financing like most of the road penalties!

To come back to my original point, I don't know where I stand on the sentence of 2 years for the driver in question. Anyone taking our lives by any other means would be looking at five to ten times that amount, but simply because the average driver is a danger behind the wheel, people have sympathy for them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Copper's eye view

I saw the news recently highlighting the use of a new piece of equipment for the police - a 'head camera' which an officer wears on his head, which will then record images and sounds from his perspective. The news item hihglighted how useful it was in a domestic violence case, with some convincing clips also. We've been told about this camera at our station also, and a couple of them have been bought. There has been mixed views from my colleagues. Some are whole heartedly for them (promotion chasers), some are to busy to care either way (front-line officers), and a small minority hate the idea of them (better remember not to swear at your customers!).

Personally, my view is that they are a good bit of kit. I don't like the idea of them being permanently on, without being able to switch them off, otherwise for an entire 10 hour shift no one will talk to me, leaving me alone to wander about in silence! I wouldn't particularly want to wear one - but thats only because I think it'll make me look like a tit! Mind you, I have the same feeling about the ridiculous design of our police custodian helmets, and I have to wear them. :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

PCSO - Every Little Helps!

Plenty of my fellow bloggers are speaking about PCSO's lately (Lights, Sirens, Action and The Monkey) and in particular the government's plans to introduce another 10,000 of them.

When PCSO's were first mentioned, the public were assured that they were not "policing on the cheap", but just a dynamic, pro-active, re-active hyperwhatsisface way of dealing with modern crime. Yeah right...

They ARE policing on the cheap - theres no argument there, and most of the PCSO's that I know acknowledge this happily with us. However, that doesn't mean they are a bad idea: like most things, there are the positive and negatives to PCSO patrol. On the positive side, they do the job they are employed to do very well, they are excellent for hi-visibility public policing, they reassure the public by showing more police officers on the street. They know all the faces of the local criminals, and submit the neatest encounter forms you've ever seen!

The main problem with PCSO's is the fact that they have no actual powers. This means two things 1) The government pays them less than they would an officer, as they are "non-confrontational" and 2) If a PCSO actually spots something happening which can't be dealt with by a smile and a stop, they call for a police officer to join them.

Thus, you regularly get the following problem. All ten response officers on duty are tied up with their shoplifters, domestics, drunks etc, with no units available. All ten PCSO's are wandering about the town centre. Two PCSOs spot an assault in progress, shout up over the radio - and theres no one to turn out. Two more find a well known criminal, and shout up that they think an officer might be needed to search said youth (on what grounds you'll never know until you get there!). Two more are approached by someone reporting a crime - can we have an officer here too?

PCSO's look good on paper, and as I said before, do what they are paid to do very well. Its just unfortunate that a side effect of their actions is to stretch out a response shift which went well past snapping point two hours into the shift. Whats the solution to this? More police officers would be a start. Unfortunately, thats unlikely as the budget just got blown on 10,000 more PCSO's - who will also all be calling for more officers to deal with the job they've found...

In summary - PCSO's would be a tremendous benefit to the police, IF we had enough actual officers first. Unfortunately, we don;t have enough police, and so the governments solution to this is hire more PCSO's, as you can get more of them for your money.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Channel Four-go a fair hearing...

Thanks to The Policeman's Blog for this one. If you've already seen footage of Olufemi Ijeeboude's arrest, then the rest of this post won't work for you. But if you haven't, I urge you to take part in the following test for me. Hell, try it even if you've seen it.

Switch off your speakers first, and then click on the link above and watch the news footage without sound. Watch it carefully. Decide what you think happened. Now rewind it, turn the sound back on and watch it again. Did it change your mind?

I'm not going to say much about this, other than the following: thanks to Channel 4 for destoying any chance of a fair and just hearing for that officer. What you have done ensures that if he WAS guilty of anything, he'll worm his way out through being 'misrepresented by the press'. If he was innocent, he'll forever bear the weight of 'guilt by public declaration.'

I don't know the full facts of this case, so I choose not to comment on the case itself. I wish Channel 4 had shown the same common sense.

What I will say is that Mr Ijeeboude's quote of "Theres an offence in this country which is not on the statute books. Its driving whilst black" really, really pisses me off.