Rob from the rich and sell to the poor (at very reasonable prices)

Picture the scene: a Transit van trundles from an early morning call at the inner city wholesalers heading to a small shop on the rural outskirts of our glorious city. The beautifully crafted Lindt Easter eggs are intended to make a profit from weekend tourists to the expensive village craft shop. The yokel driver pulls into the local all night garage for some cigarettes and is offered tea and conversation by the kind and lonely local garage attendant. Whilst the van is on the forecourt, parked where directed – so as not to obstruct the pumps – another Transit van, this one rather scruffier, reverses up to the rear doors of the egg laden van and in a matter of moments liberates the contents intended for the rich into the back of a van of the poor.

We role up in response to the shocked call of the attendant who is consoling the van owner; in any case I need to visit the garage because, going off topic for the moment, I’ve been told that the van used in last week’s bogus official incident went there for petrol and there is a CCTV tape waiting for me. Anyway, blow me if the small area of the forecourt where the van was directed to park isn’t the only bit of the forecourt not covered by CCTV; would you believe it?

I take details from the bitter eggless van man and speak to the shocked local garage attendant who is stunned that such a thing could happen on her watch – after all, how did the thieves know to pick that van? At police school they teach you about body language, it is uncannily telling when someone is being less than honest, but evidentially useless.

I guess that local enquiries will reveal that Lindt Easter eggs are popular in our inner city community this year; and I guess that they will all have been bought from Asda or Tesco (“…but I seem to have mislaid the receipt officer…”); and I guess, in a week’s time all the evidence will have disappeared – a modern Easter miracle.

April 4, 2007. Chocolate, crime, Easter, life, night duty, police. 3 comments.

More News from the Nick

I realised, during last night’s unusually quiet shift, that I hadn’t shared my latest snippet of news with you as I promised. It also gives me the opportunity to introduce one of the latest additions to our shift; this one particularly notable because he is an new sergeant and particularly hunky; that said there are reasons, as you will gather, that he might not make the ideal future partner for a girl…not that I’m in the market you understand.

I’ll write more about the weekend night in the next couple of days; today I’m taking advantage of the lovely sun and the fact that, in view of the quietness of last night, I was able to take 2 hours time owning and got to bed at shortly after 5 am.

There are many theories about the best way to recover from night-duty, mine is that you should get out of  bed after as little sleep as you can bear, make good use of the day and then collapse into bed at a normal time later thus getting back into a regular sleep pattern quickly; others sleep late and go out on the lash till late…a not unattractive prospect but only delaying the inevitable struggle to return to normality, in my view.

April 2, 2007. alcohol, girl-stuff, gossip, night duty, police. 2 comments.

Getting it out of your system

I could not get the old lady victim of the other day out of my system. Sometimes it’s like that, things go round and round your head: what difference will it make to her if I catch the bastards who attacked her? How many other lives did they walk all over the same day? My dad says you just have to put things to the back of your mind; in the old days drink was the answer (even for my dad) – now we are a little more enlightened, at least some of us are. I went for a long run, then a sauna and then treated myself to a facial at the gym: my skin had gone blotchy, probably with stress so the lovely Babor face stuff they have there was more than justified in my view.

This question of incidents sticking with you is interesting; I had a conversation with my dad not so long ago: he claimed not to be troubled by some of the things he’d seen; but when I pushed him he could dredge up, in great detail, memories of suicides, murders and fatal road traffic accidents – I think he was a bit surprised by the way some of that detail had stuck. It makes you wonder about the ‘hard-man’ attitude of some of the lads when it comes to things like post-traumatic counselling after serious incidents like child death.

I’m on nights this weekend, should be action packed and full of things to tell you. I already have a little snippet of news from the nick, but will try and do that one afternoon after I get up.

March 30, 2007. Babor, girl-stuff, life, make-up, night duty, vulnerable people, working women. Leave a comment.

Domestic Bliss…not!

I realised the other night that I hadn’t told you anything more about last week’s night duty; what reminded me was a Channel 4 programme about domestic violence. Domestic disputes are one of our most common incidents; you can almost guarantee at least one on each night or evening shift and many of my colleagues are cynical about them (oh come on Sarah, I thought you were going to be honest. Oh all right then, I too am sometimes cynical).

On night duty I was working with Gary; I don’t particularly like Gary , he is chauvinistic and, after an acrimonious divorce, cynical about women. His idea of ‘down-time’ patrolling is to take a detour into the nearby City Centre to leer at scantily clad women half his age, which makes me uneasy, not least, because they are my age – what does he think about? Don’t get me wrong, Gary is a good cop, experienced and hard working, brilliant in a violent situation and a good thief taker, but I think life has made him hard and he seems to have little compassion.

On Thursday night at about 2am we received a call to attend a domestic dispute, the radio operator told us that the address had a Domestic Violence marker – these are tags placed on the computer system to show where there is a history of domestic violence. The call had come from an anonymous neighbour who reported the sound of the couple fighting; we put on the ‘blues and twos’ and hurried to the address – we used the vehicle’s emergency equipment not to get through the traffic, there wasn’t much of it, but rather to give advance warning that we were on our way, that sometimes has the effect of stopping violence taking place – we wouldn’t have used the equipment if we were hoping to catch a thief.

Gary hates domestic disputes, all the way there he gave me his rant about what a waste of time it was helping these women, when all they do is end up going back to their abusers. And he’s right – about them going back – many women return again and again to men who mistreat them (it is predominantly, but not exclusively, women who are the victims).

I dislike domestic disputes for different reasons, they make me nervous: always volatile and charged with emotion, you can never tell what they will hold. Often you end up in the kitchen of a house, I don’t know why, and that is the worst place: full of potential weapons.

We knew, when we arrived, that it might be bad. As we pulled into the street there were two or three women stood at the front of their own houses, arms folded looking in the direction of the address. As we pulled up they turned away and went inside, not wanting to be involved. We could hear shouting from a man inside and shouting/crying from a woman, but couldn’t hear what was being said. Gary banged on the door loudly, I stood to the side holding my Asp hidden behind my forearm. The shouting stopped, Gary banged on the door again, the curtains flicked momentarily to the side and we got a glimpse of a male face.

“Get in there, it’s the ****ing law”, shouted the male voice. The door opened a crack, into which Gary inserted his large Magnum boot.
“What’s going on mate, people are phoning us saying it’s world war three in here…” said Gary,
“****ing can’t have a conversation with your bride these days can you. We don’t need you, it’s sorted”, came the reply through clenched teeth, from a face contorted with anger.
“We need to come in, where’s your wife?”
“She’s inside, doesn’t want to speak to you”, each word virtually spat out.

I could feel the knot in my stomach tightening as the inevitable approached,
“You know the score, we need to come in and make sure everyone’s alright.” I said,
“Oh the woman speaks does she, want to check on your sister do you? I told you we’re fine”, sneered the male.
“So you’re both OK then”, said Gary, his tone lightening,
“Yes, we’re fine” said the male attempting to reassure us. I was becoming anxious that we hadn’t made sure the female was OK.

“Right then,” said Gary. The male visibly relaxed as he thought that we weren’t going to force the issue, at which Gary heaved all his fifteen stones through the door and in a second pinned the male into a corner of the porch.
“As my colleague said, we need to come in, …” explained Gary very close to the cursing males face.

There was already evidence enough to arrest at least one of the parties to prevent a further Breach of The Peace from what we had heard outside and by now the van had arrived to back us up. The male was cuffed and taken into the rear of the van while we established what had taken place.

The female was stood in the kitchen with defiant expression, long hair stuck to her face with sweat. She had a burst lip and a red mark on the side of her face, she also looked like she was holding her ribs on the left side. It was clear she had been assaulted, I passed this information to Gary whose response was,
“We’re wasting our time, she won’t make a statement.”
I replied,
“He’s coming in for Breach of the Peace anyway, if you book him in I’ll see what we can do here.”
“You’re wasting your time; shout me up when we you’re ready, I’ll come and get you.”
Gary went off with the male to the custody office; I stayed, the female had still barely spoken a word and was stood, her back to the sink, arms folded staring at me with resent and anger.
“You look like you are in pain.” I said,
“You know nothing,” she replied through gritted teeth, “Why does it have to be like this, he’s so good with me, and I just wind him up. Now you bastards have taken him it’ll just make it worse”
“It doesn’t mean that it’s OK for him to kick shit out of you when he feels like it.”

And so it went on almost predictably, she refused to give an account of how she got her injuries, despite it being as plain as day, and refused medical treatment. The background of the couple was a sorry tale of violence, drink, depression and prescription drugs: she always having him back in a tearful reconciliation, he dodging prosecution for violence against her.

In the event he was detained overnight for a Breach of the Peace based on our evidence of what we had heard and seen. He went to court the following morning when, if all went to plan, the Domestic Violence Officer (DVO) would get round to see her in the cool light of day before he got back. The DVO would have another go at convincing her to support a prosecution, if nothing else to get him into some sort of sentence that features Anger Management training or similar work.

The incident was a perfect example of what the Channel 4 programme was trying to demonstrate, that men who commit violence against women are often manipulative and create a dependency that makes it even harder for women to escape their situation.

On the face of it Gary seems to be right, we do often seem to waste our time but I think that’s a very superficial view. We, the police have a role to play in dealing with domestic disputes but we, not necessarily the police – society as a whole, have a role to play in breaking the hold that these bullies have on vulnerable women.

March 20, 2007. alcohol, Domestic Violence, drugs, night duty, police. 6 comments.

Why am I awake?….

…You might well ask. I should be asleep; I need to sleep; but next door have a man with a pneumatic drill in their garden digging up the patio. I don’t know how these serial killers get away with it – burying bodies beneath patios – the amount of noise they make must surely draw the attention of every night-working Police Officer for miles. I think what I shall do is spend an hour or so browsing the internet, reading a book and then go back to bed; I’ll leave a note for mum to tell her I will be up later, the joys of still living at home; I don’t know how people with kids do it.

The week, so far, has been quiet – nothing out of the ordinary, the usual range of domestic disputes, a couple of short car pursuits – not alas, involving the car I was in, but we did get to chase one of the offenders on foot after the vehicle was abandoned a couple of streets from us; the fool simply ran in the wrong direction straight towards us.

We did have an inconvenient tussle last night. We went to make our contribution to the city’s night time economy by getting a chicken tikka on nan bread from our favourite kebab shop. The cops are always welcome at the Sajan and get discount; this works well because the discount encourages cops to buy their food there, which means the kebab shop has a greater than average police presence during the night.

While waiting for our kebab we heard a loud bang and a female voice shouting and swearing a short distance up the street. Running out of the shop we saw what looked like a wild woman flinging herself at a man wearing a business suit. She was wearing a very short skirt, no tights and one ridiculously high heeled shoe (the other seemingly lost in the tussle, she hadn’t had the sense nor opportunity to realise that she would have found the whole business of attacking the man easier without both shoes), her top was bright pink and, what has been described unkindly in the media recently, as a muffin top: a ‘muffin’ of fat flesh, revealed by the cropped top, hanging over the waste band of her skirt. The side window of the shiny red BMW beside the couple was smashed and the conversation we heard was as follows:

“Get off you mad bitch, you are getting no more off me, f*** off while you can the law’s here now.”
“Slimy two faced bastard you owe me twenty quid.”

I grabbed the female’s arms from behind but she objected and tried to head butt me with the back of her head, as she did this she lost her balance and slipped off her remaining shoe causing both of us to fall to the floor. I fortunately landed on top and managed to pin her arms before cuffing her. Realising she was beaten she did what many of our regular customers do: asked for a spare cigarette and asked whether she would get bail.

After shouting up for a van and placing her safely in the back we spoke to the, very reticent, man. He claimed to not know the woman who had attacked him, she had obviously mistaken him for someone else; he added that he felt sorry for her as she was clearly mentally ill and out of the goodness of his heart did not want to press charges for the broken car window.

He declined to provide his personal details, so we PNC checked his car to make sure it wasn’t a supect or stolen vehicle – it wasn’t, in fact it was from a very respectable part of town – we then let him get on his way.

At the nick, as expected,  it transpired that she was a ‘working girl’ and he was a client who had short changed her. We charged her with a public order offence and bailed her to attend court in a week or so. We will be the only witnesses to the incident; she will, in all likelihood, plead guilty, get fined and have to have more shags to pay the fine.

By the time we had finished sorting the prisoner out it was too late to go back for the kebab so I ate two packets of cheese and onion crisps, a Mars bar and a Kit Kat (chunky) from the all night garage.

March 14, 2007. anti-social behaviour, life, night duty, police, Prostitutes, sex, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

I’m going to be so tired…

Waiting for night duty to start is horrible, I always end up doing the same thing: treating the first day as a day off, doing loads of stuff and then being absolutely shattered when it’s time to go to work. Today, for example, mum and dad have been out all day so I’ve walked the dog twice and been in to town to shop for some new gym clothes this afternoon; I’ve resisted the temptation to actually go to the gym; that would have been madness.

I hope I’m working with someone decent tonight, you can’t always guarantee who you will be working with on nights. We don’t walk our normal foot beats but double-up in cars. You never know what will happen during a week of night duty, it can be dead or the world can go mad, just no way of knowing.

On our big night out on Friday I was chatting with Jacqui and Tracy about writing this blog; they think I’m mad – neither of them did English A level like me and neither of them write anything they don’t have to. What they did like though, was the idea of having a gossip/news column to report on the intrigue that goes on in the police station. Admittedly this was after several WKD (blue) and based on the fact that we had seen one of my Superintendents (young, talented, tanned, slim, dark-haired and handsome) schmoozing a girl my age, wearing far less than me (just), with far too much make-up; and she was being far too full on with him for my liking, the tart…and how very indiscreet.

Anyway, the task of producing a gossip column seems more difficult now I’m faced with it; I’ll have to be very careful about names, dates and places for fear of me getting in trouble. I’ve created the page but not wrote anything yet.

Watch this space because I do quite fancy being a gossip columnist!

March 12, 2007. girl-stuff, gossip, life, night duty, police. Leave a comment.