I’m retiring

Back from Greece and just too too busy in fact far to busy to keep this up with any real meaning.

From the 10th June this blog will cease to exist; my friend Crofty will explain why.

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May 28, 2007. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

CSIs: this weeks heroes

Just once in a while you get the feeling that the battle against evil is not lost. Do you remember the old lady who was conned by the dodgy gardeners? We had some success: firstly the CCTV from the garage identified the van, but not the driver; but the van was stopped in another area when someone reported suspicious gardeners (you must look really dodgy to be a suspicious gardener). The driver was identified as Shane McDogger a well known crook of the travelling fraternity. He wasn’t arrested because he wasn’t wanted for anything – no outstanding warrants, nothing – but there’s more.
While I was mooning about and being generally over- emotional about the poor old lady’s plight, other more professional officers – Crime Scene Examiners to be precise – were reinterviewing the woman, who was a bit more astute than she looked when I met her. She was able to point out that, whilst savaging her garden, the unpleasant pair were smoking and discarding their dimps beneath the bushes; in fact the ace witness was even able to point some out to the scientific sleuths. And you know what cigarette ends are good for don’t you? DNA. Whose DNA do you think was on the tip of about half of the dog ends? Yep, Mc Dogger.

As the officer in the case I have, with great pleasure, arranged for a Wanted marker to placed on his record on the Police National Computer so that the next time an officer comes across him, he will be arrested – I do hope he is stopped by a dog handler and runs away.

It is worth mentioning at this juncture, that our CSIs do not have the glamour of their counterparts in LasVegas or Miami; they are not allowed to waltz all over crime scenes in amazing Armani or Gorgeous Gucci; but with ruthless professionalism they do a marvellous job. They are definitely not as good looking as Jonathon Togo ; but I forgive them.

May 5, 2007. crime, girl-stuff, men, police, TV cops, Uncategorized, vulnerable people. Leave a comment.

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.

Acting tough

OK, public order training: all operational cops – those who don’t wear suits; you know, the ones who turn up at your house when you dial 999 – have to do a minimum of two days a year training for the occasion when the societal wheel comes off and there is large scale public disorder. You’ll have seen the sort of thing on TV: cops dressed in crash hats, dark coloured overalls, looking mean and dodging missiles.

The training takes place at our purpose-built training centre, with a layout of streets, junctions, houses and shops, all there for rioters to riot in and for the police to save the world in. For most of us who like physical activity, it’s two days of fun and frolics, with no paperwork at the end; for those who don’t like physical activity it’s two days of hot, sweaty hell.

The two-day course consists of, on day one: running through the already familiar routines for dealing with crowds; dealing with angry armed people; dealing with brick hurling rioters (wooden bricks – but they still hurt if they hit an unprotected bit); taking junctions with a shield team; forcefully entering buildings whilst having tyres and bricks dropped on you from above; and dealing with petrol bombs. Day two of the course consists of an exercise that involves senior officers tackling a staged public order situation and designing a strategy and tactics that we then fulfil (with varying degrees of success).

The kit is heavy and uncomfortable; the only concession I make to femininity is to ensure that I have sufficient perfume (Issey Miyake is good: nice and fresh) to counter the sweaty, musty smell that lingers around your boiler suit by the end of the first session – I only wish my male colleagues would make the same concession.

Our PSU serial was lead by Sergeant Khan: he has been a sergeant for about 7 years and doesn’t , at the moment, feel that he has to be the best at everything – this makes for a good couple of days. His briefing went like this:

“You don’t have to be the best at this – we can have a laugh and enjoy it so long as, when the chips are down and the bosses are watching, we get it right.”

So that’s what we did; take this example:

A line of helmeted and booted police officers fill the width of a road carrying riot shields; they chant rhythmically to keep in line with each other: “One, two, one, two, one, two”; at a junction the cry goes up “Hold the line” and the wall of shields stop. We wait poised, bent slightly holding our shields, waiting for the familiar drill: the sergeant shouts loudly,
“Shield to the left what can you see?”
“ROAD CLEAR SARGE” comes the over-loud, enthusiastic response from a probationer who is on his first course with us.
“Shield to the right what can you see?”
The reply comes in a voice that is a remarkably good impression of the upper class accent of John LeMesurier,
“There are a number of people in the street sergeant, they look rather cross to me and I don’t quite like the look of them.”
The line of shields wobbles and sways with suppressed mirth until the cry goes up,
“Missile” and the first of a hail of wooden blocks come raining on and over us, bouncing of the helmets of those who haven’t learnt to keep their heads down. We wheel into the junction and disperse the rioters.

Taking off our helmets after defeating the rioters we have a break; the end of the break is something I dread: during the exercise we sweat profusely into the soft padding of our helmets; during the break the sweat cools in the foam of the helmet; after break replacing the soggy cold sweaty helmet is a truly unpleasant experience.

The angry person exercise is quite good, it is meant to replicate the, not uncommon, situation when someone really loses it in a house and we have to don protective clothing and use shields to subdue them in a corner of the room. This is one occasion when the lighter officers (and I don’t just mean the women, because there are some hefty policewomen and some very slight policemen) have a disadvantage. The theory is that you pin the person in the corner with your shields and lift the shields so the they cannot hit you with the weapon – in this case a pickaxe handle or baseball bat. The most successful way is not to beat around the bush in the doorway too long and to ram them quickly, people who hesitate end up with the angry person dodging behind them: you don’t want that. It works well in an empty room; but, I am told by those who have tried it, is a nightmare in a furnished one. As an aside, this routine for tackling a wild weapon wielding person used to be called the ‘angry man’; political correctness intervened and made it the angry person – there are many quips expressing surprise that it hasn’t yet become the ‘reasonably cross person with a justifiable grievance’.

The climax of the first day is the outdoor exercise to deal with petrol bombs. For this we don our flame-proof overalls and all take it seriously. In pairs we have to walk through a wall of flame as the instructors smash petrol bombs at our feet: chins down, shields held in front, you lose all vision as the whoosh of heat bursts over and around you as you step through the flames. It is quite amusing for everyone though, when a probationer has not been before – especially when their colleagues have been winding them up before hand, by telling them that the course instructors expect a smart appearance and will check that their boots are properly cleaned; in short, they are encouraged to ensure that there is plenty of boot polish on their boots. The boots are flame-proof but boot polish is highly flammable. As they step through the wall of fire you can see the momentary panic as two flaming feet dance around in order to extinguish their boots.

At the end of the day we have done well: had a laugh but also ensured that we can all work together at the drills and techniques if we need to for real. Then it’s off home for a long hot bath – a shower just won’t cut it when you feel like this.

April 16, 2007. crime, girl-stuff, life, police, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

More hot news…and I do mean hot!

Check ‘News From the Nick’ for an anecdote from a few months ago that is, I promise, true.

March 23, 2007. gossip, in the poop, man parts, pain, police, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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.