Duty – an old fashioned word

The comment from Grateful in my last post set me thinking about some of the reasons people give for being in the police and some of the qualities – if I can call them that – that are a prerequisite of being a cop. Grateful pointed out how the police had responded to an incident with professionalism and without judging any of the parties involved. I guess what they did was to carry out their duty without fear or favour. When you start to unpick that old fashioned clich√© you see how that works in practice. For example I helped to police a demonstration against the war in Iraq a while ago. Marching alongside older people and young families, as well as the usual smattering of grubby anarchists, I found myself feeling that, inside, my views and feelings were such that I could just have easily have been out of uniform joining in the procession; but I didn’t, neither did I give any hint of my views or opinions even when goaded by the black flag waving types who assumed that I was only one step away from being a member of the third Reich: without fear or favour.

On another occasion I dealt with the victim of a vicious assault; this was different because the people who attacked him were members of his own community who felt that the law and judiciary had failed them. He was an alleged paedophile who, in the absence of forensic evidence and faced with a victim too young to give a detailed account had, as they say, got off with it. A community had decided that they would ensure that he did not get off with it and taken the matter into their own hands. No matter how distasteful or abhorrent his alleged crimes I still had to simply see a man who was suffering horrific injuries: without fear of favour.

Interestingly, it is often people who feel that they deserve being favoured who try to influence the way in which we do our job; a number of my colleagues have dealt with incidents involving celebrities – premiership footballers or soap stars – and been faced with “do you know who I am?..” and taken great pleasure in responding “No…should I?”

There is a world of difference – at least in today’s world – between some poor lonely chap far from home becoming the victim of the theft of his wallet out of his back trouser pocket by a young lady positioned in front so as to – ahem- reach into his pocket unnoticed; and the same thing happening to a premiership footballer – sigh – we could make a fortune…damned sense of duty!

April 29, 2007. crime, life, philosophy, police, Prostitutes, sex, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Bank Holidays: a time for family, friends and fighting

There are recognised trends that, pretty much, give the cops an idea of the types of incidents they might have deal with in a particular tour of duty. Bank Holiday weekends, for instance, often combine families, friends and alcohol; add sunshine, barbecues and neighbours and you have a heady mixture. In our house when we have a row we cross swords with sarcasm, spite and verbosity; other families’ lack of education, failure to have learnt adequate social skills and poor communication skills make their techniques for resolving family disputes more limited.

The radio message we received, early yesterday evening, filled us with dread:
“We’ve got a report of a large scale disturbance in Jade Goody Way – can you attend, over.”
This wasn’t really a question but an order,
“Roger, show us to it – any back up?”
That was a real question; Jade Goody Way is a hell hole where some of the worst families in our city uneasily rub shoulders with each other. Sirens on, to alert people of our impending arrival, as much as to get us through the traffic, we made our way with haste, though our insides screamed at us to run away, rather than face fighting with these hard bitten people.

Pulling into Jade Goody, apart from the usual thud of an object hitting the side of the car – in this case a chicken leg, we were met with an eerily silent scene of mayhem. Burger buns strewn across the street, blood or ketchup splashes on the road – and no we didn’t dip our finger in it to test- a sherry trifle apparently flung at the front of a house, a glass topped table splintered in the street and fence panels kicked out of a number of scruffy front gardens. At the centre of it all a ’03 black Range Rover with its door open and engine running. We approached the car and were joined by a skin headed man aged about 35yrs wearing a smart brown suit and cream crew neck sweater; around his neck was more gold than I could afford with six month’s wages – but not nice gold: thick garish kerb necklaces and the like. If he had been a dog he would have been an Staffordshire Bull Terrier, I recognised him as Terry O’Neil a National Crime Squad target criminal:
“Can I help you officers?”, his voice an amused, feigned, interest in us,
“We’ve had a report of a disturbance in the street here – it looks like there’s been quite a scrap” I said,
“No problem here miss” he replied, using the term of address of people who have spent time in prison.
“All the same, we’ve got to investigate, I’ll knock on some doors”.
“Help yourself miss, but nothing has happened, you’ll see.”
He leant against the Range Rover and casually lit a cigarette, watching as we picked our way through the debris towards the trifle-attacked address. The door was open so we shouted and entered, there was nobody in the house, but at the back was a group of two women and a man; he was nursing a bloody nose; the gas barbecue was incinerating forgotten chicken legs. Our inquiries were met with stone-wall denials of any incident; we met the same response at each of the houses we visited. At the houses that seemed to have escaped involvement, there was no reply, at the others the best explanation we were given was that it had been a ‘wild party’.

Frustrated we left, O’Neil nodded consiprationally at us as we left, our tyres crunching on crockery; he strolled over to the first address we visited as we pulled away. We had spent 30 minutes for what?

Later, I bumped into one of the Jade Goody alcoholics leaving the off licence with three 3- litre bottles of White Lightening; I asked him what was at the bottom of the dispute. To save face for him I made it look like I was turning him over – not that I had cause – he emptied his pockets as he told me that O’Neil’s brother lives in the close and had revealed, in a drunken state of O’Neil family invulnerability, that he had been shagging women at three different addresses in the street. Not unexpectedly it had kicked off and O’Neil had been called by his brother, whisked away somewhere and O’ Neil had returned with compensation – though how much you get for having your girlfriend/wife/lover shagged by the brother of a big league crook goodness only knows.

I had some useful intelligence for the National Crime Squad (who, for all I know, could have O’Neil under surveillance and been watching it all); but I find incidents like this madly frustrating. In this climate of targets, we – the police – can not afford to spend time investigating incidents and crimes where we are not welcome. What did I have to show for this? No crime recorded, no victim identified, no suspect arrested: no tick in the box.

And on another level, are there communities that, with people like O’Neil in them, live outside the rules and morals that govern the rest of us, I felt superfluous on that street: O’Neil was the man sorting it out, not us.

April 9, 2007. alcohol, anti-social behaviour, crime, Easter, life, philosophy, police, sex. 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’ve just got to tell you this…

I started duty earlier than usual this morning; our pro-active policing team asked me to go with them to execute a drugs warrant. It is quite common to ask female officers to go along, in the event that there are female suspects to be searched – this team of five officers were all male. The target house was a typical local authority town house, flanked on either side by, what looked like, decent people’s houses. This one had sheets at the windows instead of curtains and the small front garden had no gate and was overgrown with long grass that, so it transpired, was full of dog shit. Some of the intelligence that led to the raid had come from neighbours who were sick of the disturbance caused by the activities of the couple living in the house – proof that tenants of a house are involved in drug dealing strengthens the case for the local authority to evict them; though this helps the neighbours it simply moves the problem somewhere else. Anyway that’s by the way.

We parked the cars around the corner so as to approach quietly on foot, which was just as well, because the front bedroom window was ajar. We assembled at the front door, with the lead officer wielding the Wham Ram – or universal key as it’s fondly known – ready to smash the door in. As we waited in the quiet, we heard unmistakable moans coming from the upstairs window – whoever was in the front bedroom were obviously ‘at it’.

We stood struggling to stifle our giggles for a moment as the moans became shouts:

“Not yet, not yet, not yet” shouted the female voice,

“I’ve got to, I’ve got to” replied the male.

The lead officer stood with the Wham Ram ready.

“Yes, yes yes” shouted the female voice,

“Ohhhhhhhh” shouted the male

Smash! went the perfectly timed Wham Ram, “Police” shouted the pro-active team.

We didn’t find much, a bit of cannabis and a few Es’ but there were scales and notebooks that the team took away; it looks like there had been dealing going on there. At least the neighbours might get a bit of peace for a while now that the dealers know we are on to them; and in any case we found that the electricity meter had been tampered with so they got charged with abstracting electricity too – an interesting fact that: you can steal gas but not electricity; gas is tangible property, electricity isn’t.

The female prisoner was quite easy to search in the event, her being (horribly) naked and all.

March 7, 2007. drugs, police, sex, working women. Leave a comment.