Wednesday, 1 October 2014
It was mid-December when George’s team celebrated Christmas together by gathering at a pub before going on to a restaurant. They chose one of the small rural towns on the edge of their constabulary where there was a pleasant little inn only two or three doors away from the local police station.
The mood of the team was extremely buoyant, not only were they celebrating the beginning of the festive season and looking forward to all the excesses and fun of Christmas with their families, but also a recent successful operation. As the result of hours of scanning CCTV recordings, surveillance operations, statement taking and an enormous amount of written work, the team had managed to arrest, charge and convict a prolific local pickpocket. The sentence had been announced that day and the dipper had begun a custodial term that would see him behind bars through Christmas and well into the New Year.
Everyone was in high spirits and congratulating themselves on their eagle-eyed detective prowess and boasting about their highly developed policing skills, when their Duty Officer, Inspector Brigstock, joined them. Mr Brigstock was keen to show off his latest acquisition that he told everyone was an early Christmas to himself, a brand new iPhone which at that time had finally just been released in the UK. Having spent several minutes guiding his audience through the myriad of functions available on the device while being at great pains to prove to the assembled team that he wasn’t the technological dullard that many had accused him of being in the past.
Following the demonstration the drinking began in earnest then on to the meal where the gathering continued to revel in their recent success. Some of George’s colleagues went so far as to suggest that any thieves around the Kenton area would think twice before daring to pick anyone’s pockets while the top team were on the plot. After three or four hours consuming copious amounts of food and beer, George and a couple of the others decided it was time to make their way to their respective homes.
“Hold on boys,” cried Inspector Brigstock, laughing aloud, “I’ll call a cab for you on my new iPhone, wait while I find the blessed thing.” He then fumbled through his pockets, then patted them down, then searched his pockets again, a look of dismay spreading over his face.
“Bloody hell, it’s been nicked. Some bugger’s picked my pockets and had my blasted phone away,” he howled. There was silence from the team.
George had to bite on his tongue to prevent him from making the obvious comment that had just entered his thoughts, despite the disruptive effects of the alcohol he had consumed. He realised the irony of the situation, that not only had his Senior Officer been the victim of a pickpocket but also that he had been surrounded by police officers that had been congratulating themselves for their thief-taking abilities and only two doors away from a police station.
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Once upon a time, long, long ago, police officers used to decorate their vehicles with tinsel and lights at Christmas in keeping with the festive spirit of the season. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, this is a practice that hasn’t been allowed by senior officers for a very long time.
Back in the early days of George’s career there was an R/T Driver on his team called Tim. He was over six foot six inches tall and weighed in at a magnificent 20 stone, or 280 pounds for those of you outside the UK, who went by the name of Tiny. In those days, George’s team worked a four-week shift pattern that included a full week of Night Duties, which meant that they worked Night Duty on Christmas Eve for six years on the trot. Tiny saw this as an opportunity to spread a little festive cheer and so each year he paraded for Night Duty dressed as Santa Claus complete with hooded red robes and breeches, spit-shined black boots and an enormous white beard. His generous girth meant that he had no need for any additional padding under his tunic to create the jolly persona of Saint Nicholas.
He thought that on what should be the happiest and most peaceful night of the year, his appearance would help bring a little light and possibly a smile to anyone that had been unfortunate enough to find themselves the victim of a crime. After parade he would climb into his R/T Car accompanied by his radio operator who often joined in with the celebrations by dressing as one of Santa’s elves. The car would then drive majestically out of the rear yard, bedecked with tinsel and mistletoe and begin its patrol.
One year, as luck would have it, Tiny and his operator responded to a ‘suspects on premises’ call at about 2am and after a short stand-off, they took two teenage lads into custody on suspicion of burglary. George arrived with the van just in time to see Santa Claus, resplendent in red robe and flowing white beard, stroll out of the premises with a handcuffed burglar tucked under one arm and dragging the second behind him by his collar. Tiny heaved the two thieves into the back of the van and slammed the door on them before picking up his elf and returning to the police station where the booked the failed thieves in.
A few days later the instruction was handed down from the Divisional Commander through the Duty Officer that all police vehicles would be stripped of Christmas decorations and that in future uniformed police officers would not wear any form of costume while on duty at any time of year. A member of the public had complained to the Division about a police officer dressed on duty as Father Christmas that had upset his two children. Apparently the family had been driving home in the early hours of Christmas morning and had passed the scene of the burglary. The two young children in the back of the car had been confused and reduced to tears after seeing Santa Claus dragging the two struggling prisoners out of the house, surrounded by police cars and blue flashing lights.
They didn’t understand why he was helping the police when by rights he should have been flying around the world delivering presents from his reindeer drawn sleigh.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
George thought to himself “If I were ever to write this as a story, no one would believe me. They’d say I made it up”.
The day had started so well, his team was in early and was all in plain clothes and the covert radios were all working, that in itself was a minor miracle. The unmarked cars had all been arranged and parked in the yard and the battered old plumber’s van with the dark windows was out in the street. George had given the briefing, grateful that one of his team mates was so handy with Powerpoint and it had been so complete there hadn’t been any questions. Everyone knew what they were supposed to do and where they were going to do it.
The mission was actually fairly simple, Billy the burglar had been released from prison two weeks earlier and since then wouldn’t you know it, burglaries had sprung up all over the area. An operation had been planned and authority for Directed Surveillance had been authorised without any hesitation at all, another minor miracle. All they had to do was to plot up around Billy’s home covering every likely route out and, as soon as he emerged, follow him. As soon as he did something naughty like climb up a drainpipe of a house that wasn’t his, the team would be all over him and he’d be arrested for an attempted burglary. If all went well he’d also put his hands up to most of the recent spate of break-ins as well and George’s team would be able to add a list of Clear-Ups to their tally.
All that would remain would be to agree on a suitable venue for the medal presentation ceremonies.
Even though it was still early, the sun hadn’t even begun to lighten the horizon, George and the team were in good spirits. The unmarked vehicles were crewed and driven away in ones and twos then finally the rusty old plumber’s van lumbered off with George at the wheel. As everyone called in one after the other to say they were in position, George turned the heavy van into Billy’s street, the only thing that could go wrong now would be that he wouldn’t be able to park within sight of Billy’s front door and so not be able to see him leave.
George’s jaw dropped as he pulled to a halt in front of the young lad wearing a day-glo vest. Behind him there were dozens of people milling around under the bright glare of powerful floodlights. Television cameras on trolleys rolled along the pavement and thick power cables crisscrossed the road.
“Sorry mate,” called up the lad in yellow vest, “We’re filming an episode of The Beat and it’s going to take all day I’m afraid. You’ll have to find another route around.” George looked up again and realised that there were at least a dozen people wearing police uniforms wandering around and there were three marked police vehicles. The TV Company was recording an episode of their weekly Police drama series outside the front door of the area’s most prolific burglar.
Realising that the team was more likely to be able to carry out covert surveillance of the street if they went back to the police station and changed into their uniforms and brought back a couple of marked response cars, George sighed and picked up the radio.
Keying the tansmit button he said “Listen up everyone, you’re not going to believe this, but ...”