Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Back when George was a probationer himself, a lot of things were different. They had personal radios back then but there was only one channel to communicate on and the radios were pretty basic. There were three volume settings, louder, louder and deafening; and the only way th turn the thing off was to drop the battery out of the bottom. If you were with another officer when you stopped someone in the street and you called the Control Room for a name check, it meant that the reply "Are you free to speak?" was an instruction for every one else to remove their batteries and allow you to receive the information in confidence.
In addition to his radio, George used to have a truncheon and a pair of handcuffs on his belt, the truncheon sat in a purpose built pocket down the outer thigh of his uniform trousers. You don't want to upset the public do you? All of his report books along with his pocketbook, were distributed among the pockets of his jacket. These days, when George steps out on foot patrol he looks more like an armoured gadget bag on legs. His body armour has pockets stuffed with books and his belt carries a radio, rigid handcuffs, extendible baton, and pouches filled with first aid kit and search gloves along with yet more report books and pens.
Some things haven't changed over the years, one of those things is the people George deals with. He recently stepped into the Custody Office and came face to face with a local character called Burglar Bill. George found himself going back to the first time he'd met William, getting on for fifteen years earlier.
Probationer George was the radio operator on a response car on a weekday Late Turn when his driver accepted a call to a suspicious male in a back garden. When they arrived there was no sign of anything amiss so the driver posted George at the front door while he trotted round the back to check things out there. George was disappointed because it meant his driver would nab any wrong-doer at the back of the house, no burglar ever used the front door, everyone knew that.
While he stood sulking and idly kicking stones along the path, the front door to the house opened and a middle-aged man in a shirt and tie stood there, clutching a bag in his hand and staring at George.
"Good evening officer, is everything okay?" he asked.
"Yes sir, we're just checking out a call, do you live here?" George replied. He noticed the bag in the mans hand was in fact a pillowcase that seemed to contain a few bulky items. Somewhat suspicious now he planted himself in front of the man and asked "What do you have in the bag sir?"
The man's shoulders slumped and he sighed as he said "Okay, you got me, I was screwing the place, okay?"
George almost stammered as he said "You're under arrest for burglary, you don't have to say anything but anything you do say will be taken down and used in court."
The man smiled slightly and said "It's a fair cop guv', you've got me bang to rights". George gawped in horror at the man, knowing that no one would believe his prisoner had used the legendary words. When he asked the man if he was sure he wanted to say that, the man just smiled and nodded.
Coming back to the present day George smiled and said "Hello Bill, what are you up to now, I haven't seen you in ages?"
William turned and grinned at George, accepting George's outstretched hand and shaking it, "Oh I'm working with youth offenders these days, keeping them honest and on the straight and narrow you know. Someone has to keep them bang to rights don't they?"
Maybe everything does change after all.
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
There are so many reasons why people become police officers, probably as many reasons as there are officers. Beyond the reasons for joining though, there are the unexpected reasons for staying. For instance there is the heart-stopping moment of excitement when a call comes over the radio for units to assist with a call to 'suspects on premises'. Those calls often seem to come in when everyone is in for refs and the canteen is packed. After the briefest of pauses during which you could hear a pin drop, there is usually absolute pandemonium.
Resembling a scene from a World War Two film, set in a fighter squadron ready room, everyone suddenly scrambles for the doors, grabbing their kit on the run. Once outside, bodies will hurl themselves into every available vehicle and no one cares who is supposed to drive; if you end up in the driver's seat, then you drive.
One late Turn, George and his team were in for dinner when just such a call came through followed by the mad dash outside. George found himself squeezed into the back seat of a Panda with three other lads. Now a Panda is a small patrol car, what would be called a sub-compact in the US and squeezing four fully grown adult males and their kit inside is something close to impossible. Still, they made it and with Mack behind the wheel, the little car even managed to start moving, under protest. Mack was originally from Glasgow in Scotland and his thick Glaswegian accent was perfectly suited to the tirade of threats and curses that he hurled against the Panda as he urged it to accelerate out of the rear yard and through the back gates. Once outside he threw the steering wheel hard to the left ... and slammed the car head on into the front of the armoured police public order carrier that was now parked on the roadside. It hadn't been there earlier and Mack hadn't expected to find it just outside the gates to the yard.
There was dazed silence for a moment and then Mack's door suddenly burst open and he was out of the car, running as fast as he could along the street. The handful of passers-by stopped and stared at the uniformed police officer, the front of his white shirt stained red from blood that flowed from a cut to his forehead, running away from a marked police car. The three officers left in the car could only watch in dumb amazement.
Mack was almost out of sight when he eventually slowed, then stopped before turning reluctantly back to the crashed car and his colleagues. Once he got back to the others, George grabbed him by the collar and hissed in his ear "What the bloody hell were you thinking mate?"
Mack looked embarrassed as he quietly explained, "Mate, you know I grew up on a council estate outside of Glasgow don't you? Well it was a bit of a rough old spot and we couldn't afford a car, so I didn't exactly have driving lessons until I joined the Army. You see, if you ever managed to get hold of a car to drive it wasn't likely to be yours so if you ever crashed it was best to run away from it as fast as you could before the police arrived."
"Okay," said George, "but that still doesn't explain why you just made off on your toes, away from a pranged police car."
"Ah well," replied Mack touching his still bleeding forehead. "When I banged my nut just now on the wheel, I was confused for a moment and I kind of panicked I simply reverted to old instincts. You know, crashed car, run like hell."
Wednesday, 3 December 2014
George was sitting alone at the team table in the canteen, catching up with two weeks worth of paperwork, when half of the Relief piled in for refs. They greeted him in the usual boisterous round of "welcome back" and "how was the holiday?" A couple of his colleagues noted that he hadn't been his usual chirpy self since he'd got back and wondered if everything was all right.
George put down his pen and pushed his papers and files aside as he looked around the familiar faces of his Relief, mostly tucking into their breakfasts but almost all had their eyes on him. As he paused a moment before continuing, a hush actually fell over the gathering, then he said "Spain was okay, apart from getting nicked that is."
George put down his pen and pushed his papers and files aside as he looked around the familiar faces of his Relief, mostly tucking into their breakfasts but almost all had their eyes on him. As he paused a moment before continuing, a hush actually fell over the gathering, then he said "Spain was okay, apart from getting nicked that is."
Suddenly there was uproar. His team threw a torrent of questions at him about what had happened while a couple of others howled with laughter, one poor soul slipped sideways and fell off his chair, taking a bowl of cornflakes with him that ended up over his uniform. Gradually order returned and the flood of questions subsided enough for George to be heard and, as one cornflake and milk covered officer reclaimed his seat while brushing his uniform futilely, he began to tell them the events of his holiday.
George and his family had gone to Spain for two weeks of sun, sand and sangria, the flight was fine, the hotel was comfortable and the unwinding had been going well. A week into the holiday and everyone was in high spirits and enjoying themselves relaxing doing pretty much nothing more strenuous than moving from the poolside to the bar and back again. George suggested they hire a car for a couple of days and explore some of the local area and perhaps visit a few of the tourist attractions.
The family agreed it was a good idea and the next day they collected an unremarkable saloon car from the local car hire office. Carefully at first but with growing confidence, George became accustomed with driving on the wrong side of the road, in other words on the right hand side. One car in particular caught his attention, an open top Jeep behind them, occupied by four or five excited youths that seemed more interested in standing on their seats dancing than the road and other cars.
Sure enough, despite giving it extra room and time for braking, the Jeep tail-ended the Saint family car to the accompaniment of squealing and smoking tyres, as George came to a stop at a set of red lights. George checked his family were safe and unhurt before he got out and walked slowly back to the Jeep that was now embedded in the back of his rental car. Actually the damage wasn't so bad and it didn't take long for George, using a mixture of broken English and Spanish, to do the necessary exchange of details with the other driver. Both vehicles then continued their journeys in different directions and George's family enjoyed a day among vineyards and small market towns before returning to the hotel in the evening.
When George told the man in the car rental office what had happened he didn't seem unduly concerned, especially since no one had been hurt. He only asked that George fill out an accident form with a sketch of the accident scene. George decided he would include photographs of the accident site as well, so the next morning he drove back to the junction alone with a camera. He had managed to take shots of the approach to the junction, the junction itself and the skid-marks on the road surface left by the Jeep, when he was suddenly joined by a marked car complete with flashing lights and sirens. George had time to notice the words 'Guarda Civil' painted on the side of the car as four burly, uniformed and armed officers burst out of the car. He didn't even have time to think to himself "that's odd" before he found himself face down on the road surface with an MP5 muzzle at the back of his neck.
Very slowly George reached for his warrant card and pulled it from his back right pocket, a booted foot pinned his wrist to the tarmac as the warrant card was snatched from his grip. Almost immediately he was hauled to his feet and dusted down by his captors, one of whom handed him back his warrant card with a smile and an apology in perfect English. The Spanish officer continued to explain that they had been called because a suspicious man had been seen taking photographs there. George looked confused until the officer pointed out that the building they were stood beside was a bank, the bank staff were sure that George was doing the preparation work for an armed robbery there.
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
The New year is a strange time, for some people it is a celebration of hope while for others it can be a time of hope for better times to come. For a few though, the New year is a reminder of how bad things can be and a time of loneliness and misery. Through all this there are a very small number of people who can be found working the night away, doing everything they can to keep the rest of us safe; these are the police patrols, ambulance crews, hospital staff and firefighters.
One New Year's night will stay in George's memory for all the worst reasons. He was posted with an old team-mate called Jack, a deeply caring individual who wore his heart on his sleeve and George loved working with him for just that reason. Jack would literally do anything for anyone, whether that was an old and trusted friend or a stranger who was in need.
George and Jack responded to countless calls to alcohol related disturbances, fights, injuries and disputes, as did the rest of their team, over the next four hours. By three in the morning they were exhausted, they hadn't had a break and the emergency calls were still rolling in.
"Will this ever slow down?" asked George, not expecting an answer, as yet another call came through. They were tasked to check the welfare of a man who had apparently threatened to kill himself. The man lived locally but had called his family who still lived in the north of England, he was very depressed and he told them he was going to hang himself. His family were obviously distraught and rang their local police who passed the details of the call to George's area, all of which took time.
By the time Jack and George reached the address, it was more than half an hour after the original call was made. The two officers hammered on the door and shouted through the letterbox but there was no answer from within. The lights were on inside but no sign of life. Then Jack noticed a stool lying on its side at the bottom of the stairs and told George. George didn't say a word as he kicked the door in, the lock shot off down the passageway. Sure enough looking up to the top of the stairs, just as they had expected, they saw a pair of feet hanging about twelve inches above the top step.
Staring slack jawed in disappointment for a moment, George began to go through the list of what the detectives in CID would want done, the first would be for the ligature knot to be preserved. Then in unison he and Jack shouted "The hell with it" and ran up the stairs. George lifted the man's weight while Jack slashed at the chord with a pocket knife before easing the man's body to the floor. They could see now that he had lashed a rope to a rafter above the open loft hatch, tied a noose around his neck while standing on the stool then kicked the stool down the stairs.
George tore at the chord around the man's neck where it had sunk into his flesh, while Jack was giving him chest compressions. Suddenly the noose came free and George was able to get a breath into the man before calling for help on his radio. There were no ambulances anywhere, they were on their own.
Now an ambulance in the UK has an extremely distinctive engine sound and at that moment they heard that sound going past outside. Jack looked up at George, then took off down the stairs and out the front door without uttering a word. George went back to artificially resuscitating the body in the house on his own. It felt like he had been alone for hours when suddenly he was joined by an ambulance crew and Jack. The paramedics took over and found the man had a very weak pulse, he was alive and they quickly had him loaded into the ambulance on his way to hospital.
Once they left Jack apologised for leaving George but explained that he had heard the ambulance and decided he was going to stop it, he hadn't had time to explain what he was going to do. He had to chase the ambulance up the road on foot for a good quarter of a mile before they realised he was behind them and stopped. They had then had to wait another minute before he could speak after his mad sprint.
The hospital casualty staff worked hard on the man before transferring him to the Intensive Care Ward, after a couple of weeks the man was physically recovered and released from hospital.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
A hunch is all it takes, there's no logical reason why a one particular vehicle attracts the attention of an alert copper while another doesn't. It may be something obvious like a minor moving traffic offence or just their manner of driving. Sometimes though you just 'know' something isn't right and pulling over a vehicle for a driving documents check can reap rewards and make for a good collar.
Last week George was on mobile patrol with another probationer. Not much was going on, so he decided that it was a good opportunity for Jeremy, the probationer, to practice a much needed bit of traffic process for his development. A short while later his attention was drawn to a black Ford Fiesta a couple cars ahead of them. There was nothing particularly interesting about it, if anything it looked in good order. George relayed the index plate to Jeremy and he ran it through PNC, the Police National Computer. The MOT had expired so it was worthy of a stop. Just before he did though, George asked Jeremy to check Intel to see if there was anything interesting about the vehicle. You never know, it may have been used by a known drug dealer.
Intel suggested that the occupants of the vehicle had been seen recently by a member of the public showing off a black handgun. Interesting, to say the least, the Intel had come anonymously from a concerned member of the public via Crimestoppers. George called up the Control Room and asked for some backup as he wanted to stop the vehicle safely. An ARV (Armed Response Vehicle) offered up and advised they were going to put the stop in due to the Intel. As frustrating as this felt, George knew it was the correct procedure and he really didn't want a gun pointing in his face, real or not.
The ARV quickly caught up and tailed the suspect vehicle while George had to drop back. His role was to stop traffic behind him at a safe distance in order that the ARV could put in a safe, hard stop. A few moments later the Fiesta stopped at traffic lights, the ARV boys jumped out, guns drawn and barked out orders at the occupants of the Fiesta to "get the EFF out of the car". Two bemused eighteen year olds were unceremoniously forced to the floor with their hands spread as far as they could, under the muzzles of a pair of MP5s. George watched as the ARV crew searched the men, then the car. An officer indicated that he found something in the driver's seat back and held it up so that George could see that it was indeed a black handgun. A few tense moments passed, then the ARV officer proudly announced he had secured a water pistol. It was unloaded into the gutter, proved and 'made safe'.
With no identifiable witness or victim of an incident involving the gun, there were no offences so the pistol was 'seized' for destruction and the driver and his mate were given some very stern words of advice, oh and of course a ticket for the expired MOT. If nothing else it is very unlikely that either of them will ever think that waving a replica gun around in public, even a water pistol, is an entertaining past time after finding themselves on the business end of the real thing and the ARV got a workout after a mundane day patrolling in Sleepy Hollow. George had to admit his adrenaline had been pumping too ... and Jeremy the probationer was positively speechless.
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
At ninja skills training, sorry Defensive Skills or Officer Safety Training, they bang on about using tactical communications, officer approach and stance, the conflict resolution model, how your behaviour affects others, the reactionary gap, etc. All very valid and if you want to avoid getting the odd punch on the nose then it's worthwhile paying attention. The biggest problem George often encounters however is being crewed up with a probie who's been watching too many episodes of Street Wars or Police Interceptors and is a little 'punchy'. It's quite often these younger ones who prefer wearing the uniform to actually getting stuck into the paperwork. On a Friday Night Duty you can almost feel the testosterone brewing in the office prior to jumping on a carrier.
Recently they were on the Public Order Carrier on a Friday night and were called to reports of a female making off from a criminal damage at a pub. Clearly she didn't like the cocktails and had demonstrated her frustration by throwing a bar stool at a window. The fact it was a female made George sit up and listen. Fighting girls is not one of his favourite past-times; they kick, scratch, spit, bite and have a natural ability to target the soft, fleshy, sensitive parts that men need to procreate. They also have their own soft fleshy parts that men can get themselves into trouble for touching, even inadvertently.
A further description came in of a white female, chubby build, shoulder length curly hair wearing a short white miniskirt. "Sounds like Wanda" he muttered to the five probies on the bus, who were oblivious to the information and were hypnotised by the two tones with mad grins on their faces. Wanda is a known troublemaker in the town, she has numerous public order offences to her name and will generally fight most coppers if they get hands on with her. George relayed this information to the probies and they all nodded in unison. They soon found Wanda kicking a telephone box, the probies jumped out and approached her while George secured the carrier.
Five probies now surrounded Wanda who was beginning to show signs akin to that of a cornered rat. "This is going to go very wrong" George sighed as he approached. At that point Wanda tried to push herself away and one of the probies grabbed her by the wrists. He was now less than one foot away from her face and shouted "Get ba-" as Wanda head-butted him to the ground. To their credit the probies jumped on Wanda and wrestled her to the floor, various probies spilled out from the mêlée only to jump back in. George jumped in, holding Wanda's head to ground with his left knee whilst his right knee sat on her rib cage, pinning her to the floor, right hand trying to hold onto her flaying right arm.
"Cuffs!" he shouted. One went on but the other wouldn't go near the other hand. Wanda was snarling by now and trying to bite and one of the probies used another set of handcuffs and joined them in front of Wanda. "Brilliant, now she's got a weapon" thought George. He ordered the probationers to cuff her to the rear before Wanda was eventually placed in limb restraints and carried into the back of a caged van, still swearing, still fighting. George looked at the battered probationers who were now all very dishevelled, the one who had been head-butted was nursing his forehead. It wasn't a major injury, and it surprised him more than anything else, still he needed checking out by paramedics.
It turns out that Wanda had sworn at one of the probies, who had then sworn back at her. Wanda in her drunken state didn't like being cornered or being sworn at and had tried to get away. This resulted in said probationer getting head-butted and Wanda being taken to the floor by six police officers in full view of the general public and CCTV. Public perception? Use of force? Approach & stance? Tac comms? All of their very recent defensive skills training was put to the test and no one had passed. A lot of valuable lessons were learned by the probationers at that job, one of them had a painful reminder for a week afterwards.
George too learned a valuable lesson get out of the bloody carrier first.
Wednesday, 5 November 2014
George hates foot chases. Aside from the obvious that it knackers you out if it goes on for more than five minutes, you also have to contend with street furniture, mums with buggies, jeering youths and cars that absolutely and categorically will not stop to let you pass. The bad guys are normally half George's age, light on their feet and wearing Nike air trainers whereas he's wearing a stab vest, belt kit and running in size 10 steel toecap army boots.
He only has a dozen years left in the job, so tripping over a bollard and smashing his pelvis on a kerbstone is not high on his agenda. He's seen it happen and you can take his word it isn't pretty or funny, especially if it's one of your colleagues. For this reason one of the first things he asks any new probationer is "what are you like at running?" Most eager ones tell him they are trained to an Olympian standard. That's that sorted then, they chase on foot and George'll back them up in the car. Well that's the plan at least but it never quite works out that way.
The other day George and a probationer were taking a statement from a shop owner when the CCTV Control Room called up to say they had a wanted person on camera, not far from otheir location. Various units called up, two PCSO's had eyeball on him but were holding off and an unmarked unit were coming in from the top end of town. George looked at his probationer who was in the middle of his statement and told him it was okay, other units were nearby they'd get him. Best finish the statement.
A few minutes later CCTV called up again, the suspect was moving off on his bicycle. The PCSO's were told to hang back for health and safety reasons and the unmarked unit still some minutes away. There was no one else nearer so George told his probationer that they would try to sneak up on the suspect as this lad had warning markers for escaping. As soon as they got to the door of the shop they spotted him - and he spotted them. In fact he was staring right at them. A second's pause and George shouted "Right, get 'im!" The probationer launched himself out of the shop, the bad guy started to make off on his bike, the lad made it to the road and was gaining momentum fast.
The probbie stepped up a gear and chased the suspect on his bike up a busy main road, car drivers stopped in awe and passers-by just stared. Why does that never happen for George? He was like a gazelle and was catching up with the cyclist fast; George on the other hand was way behind calling for back up in between gasping for breath. The lad seemed to be getting away when all of a sudden two plain clothes officers jumped on him, or rather he cycled into their arms. The probationer was on him in seconds, slapping handcuffs onto the protesting teenager before George caught up, clearly worse for wear and puffing like a steam engine. After a few minutes recovery he asked his probationer what he had arrested him for, other than making a police officer run.
"What me? I haven't arrested him for anything yet" was the answer.
"Best nick him for something then" was George's reply and eventually the words were said once they'd remembered what offence the lad was wanted for.
After the foot pursuit up a busy main road, members of the public took their time to take the mickey out of George once the bad guy was driven away by another unit. He thanked everyone for their kind comments, given that he hadn't even warmed up he thought he had done rather well and besides he was extremely proud of his probationer at that point. That was his third arrest in the one day. His probationer later received an email from the controller stating she was impressed; George on the other hand, got a message of commiserations.
Wednesday, 29 October 2014
The Radio Telephone or R/T Car tends to be the flagship on a Borough and the crew of the car are therefore looked upon to provide the lead in pretty much any day to day incidents that don’t need a supervisor. The driver of the R/T Car is also the most highly qualified driver on the Borough having attended and passed the four week Advanced Driving Course including pursuit management. As such, the ‘Driver’ is usually the oldest and most experienced PC on the team.
Obviously this means that it is an honour, no a privilege for a lowly probationary constable to be allowed to act as the Radio Operator on the R/T Car. There is however a price to be paid for such a privilege. The Operator must ensure that the car is cleaned both inside and out, fit to be seen in public.
The Operator must carry out the car’s Daily Inspection, making sure that all the fluids are correctly filled, the wipers work, the warning equipment including blue lights and sirens work, the tyres must be inflated to the correct pressure and have no damage or visible sign of wear. The headlights, sidelights, tail-lights, brake-lights, reversing lights and indicator lights must all be working and bulbs replaced if needs be.
Finally the Operator must ensure that the Driver has a cup of coffee, with milk and one sugar, before he is expected to move the R/T Car from the rear yard of the police station.
One of George’s probationers, John, was posted to the exulted duty of Radio Operator on the R/T Car for a gruelling four weeks and had just about come to grips with all the responsibilities. On his final day however, disaster struck.
He had done all the checks and washed and polished the car to a dazzling shine before trudging wearily upstairs to make his driver’s coffee before sitting obediently and politely listening for about an hour to all the stories about how the job used to be on the old days.
Eventually John and his driver made their way downstairs and climbed into the R/T car, the driver inserted the key into the ignition and turned it. Nothing. He took the key out again and reinserted it and turned it, but there was silence, not even a click of a relay. The driver turned to John and looked at him a moment before asking “When you checked the lights, did you turn them off afterward?”
John was horror-struck, his eyes widened in panic as he leapt out of the car and frantically opened the bonnet to check the engine was still there. It was but it was dead. He immediately called the Control Room on his personal radio asking that they call for a Traffic Unit to see if any jump leads were available. Sadly, due to Health and Safety restrictions, banning the untrained use of jump leads, none were available.
Next he turned to his driver and, almost pleading, said “I’ll push you. You can bump start it, can’t you?”
His driver, now slightly amused by John’s desperation to make the most of his last day’s posting to the R/T Car, was tempted to let him try pushing the car. A tiny shred of decency stopped him and forced him to point out to John that the R/T Car is the only car on the Division’s fleet with an automatic gear box, you can’t bump start it.
Utterly frantic now, John was almost running in circles around the car when he suddenly stopped and cried, “I’ve got it,” before disappearing back into the police station then moments later reappearing in the yard and tearing off through the gate towards the nearby petrol station. A few minutes had passed when John returned with a triumphant grin plastered on his face, in his hands he carried his trophy, a set of jump leads. The young officer was so intent on spending every possible moment in the Big Car that he had bought a set of leads out of his own pocket and was now hooking them to his own car to restart the R/T Car.
When George was later told the story he paused a moment before replying “When was the last time you were so keen to get out there and do your job that you did something like that?”
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
The snowy weather may have reduced most of the UK to a post apocalyptic state but the movie 'The Day After Tomorrow' doesn't even come close to reflecting the effects. Who could imagine it, snow ... on a workday? The schools were all closed, milk was turning sour in the farms because the tankers couldn't get through and anyone living more than five miles from their place of work was guaranteed a day off. Except for anyone employed by the emergency services of course. Families still have domestics, shoplifters still try their luck, drug dealers still push their gear to finance the pit bull terrier and a brand new 50" plasma screen TV. It never stops and as a result the police and other emergency services still have to find some way of getting into work.
For George it wasn't too difficult though. Thermal underwear, a beanie hat, two pairs of socks and an iPod got him through an hour's hike to his police station. At the station the Inspector had decided that only emergencies were to be attended to reduce the risk of police officers denting the cars, getting them stuck or, even worse, denting somebody else. Imagine the paperwork. So given that emergencies were being covered by one solitary 4x4 unit, everyone else was told to get walking. They donned their full compliment of wet weather gear and set off for a nine hour shift in blizzard conditions.
Now George didn't mind, it was something different and as long as you are suitably attired the weather isn't a problem. What is a problem is having to drag yourself up a hillside street by using a handy garden fence because the pavement under your feet is slick with ice, then being met at the top by the local scum-a-razzi armed with ice balls and looking for some wooden-top fodder.
George and his colleague put up a brave fight, even though they were ill-prepared, he only lost his beat helmet once, and they managed to beat the kids slowly back towards their own turf. It is entirely possible that this was only because one of the hooligans knew he'd been recognised by George. George laughed like a drain, his sides and face were hurting from so much tomfoolery. His laughter stopped however, when he heard the local CCTV operator having to give the Control Room a commentary of the location details and status updates on the snowball-fueled disturbance in the street, between fits of giggles.
George had to admit it was him on the radio, the CCTV operator had been placed in an awkward position as he knew who George was and could only pretend he didn't recognise him for so long. Upon his return to the police station an hour later George was met with jeers and a round of applause from his team. The governor on the other hand had clearly had a sense of humour bypass. There was a very uncomfortable meeting in the Inspector's office, without coffee, but George's face still ached from the laughing and somehow the effects of the dressing down didn't last as long as the giggles.
Unprofessional? 'Fraid so ... fun? Absolutely!
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
In this crazy world where it is perceived that the bad guys get more rights than some victims,George is always at his happiest when he feels he's got 'one over' on a defence solicitor. Like most police officers who interview their own prisoners he views the defence brief as a necessary evil. Given that the UK Criminal Justice System is deemed as one of the fairest in the world and a model that even the US built theirs on, he accepts them for what they are.
How they sleep at night however is beyond his comprehension but then he might guess that someone has to do it or the system wouldn't work. For the most part defence solicitors know how to play the system and are reasonably well behaved. Like everyone George has had a few stroppy ones who have decided that his line of questioning was inappropriate. He has even had occasions where a solicitor has hijacked the interview, answering questions on behalf of the prisoner. That's no problem though, he just stopped the tapes and ejected the wayward brief from his interview.
Anyway there's a line drawn in the sand as far as George is concerned, a clear one and some of them decide to try and cross it.
Take new years eve. As a result of a routine traffic stop George arrested a disqualified driver for taking a motor vehicle without owners consent or TWOC. Also known as Taking and Driving or TDA to some among you. The prisoner coughed to it at the roadside, and then again at the custody desk. He didn't want a solicitor so George decided on a quick taped interview because he'd admitted his wrong-doing twice already and he could have him charged and released from custody in very short order
Prior to and during interview he was offered the services of a legal representative, which he declined and then he sang like a canary, admitting to both offences while being tape recorded. On the way back to the custody desk with his prisoner George bumped into Jan, a duty solicitor who was there on another job. She recognised George's prisoner, obviously not a good thing for the prisoner, and asked if they had been into interview already. The prisoner replied 'yes' and that he was 'bang to rights' which he was.
At this point the duty brief erupted like a banshee, she shouted at the prisoner and then turned her attention to George, accusing him of tricking her client, being unethical and unprofessional. Of course George reminded her that she was in a police custody office and who she was speaking to. He also pointed out that if she continued to shout in the custody area, causing a disturbance, she would be removed.
Jan wasn't happy with this at all and demanded to speak to the Inspector. Fortunately he was already in custody carrying out prisoner reviews and had heard the entire commotion. He took Jan to one side and reminded her of the process, a prisoner had just as much right to not be advised by her or any other legal representative as they did to get it. Just as the police could not force the prisoner to give up the right to independent legal advice, she could not force him to take it. Her erstwhile client had been offered legal advice on three separate occasions and she should wind her neck in.
Nice one guv, good to have the support of the boss. George went home a happy bobby and looking forward to his next encounter with Jan.
'Right Click' and 'Save as' to download the audio version
'Right Click' and 'Save as' to download the audio version
Wednesday, 8 October 2014
It was a cold sunny day in town; George and his probationer were in the middle of a routine vehicle stop-check when a report of a road rage incident, involving threats and a weapon of some description, came in from not far away from their position. A female driver had been threatened with what appeared to be a baseball bat, or large stick, by another road user following a verbal argument over parking.
The local CCTV operators had been alerted and were scanning the town for the offending vehicle. After a few minutes a vehicle matching the description was spotted queuing to get into a town centre car park. George called up, allocating his call sign to the incident, as did a number of other units. Then CCTV called up on the radio "Control, the vehicle has one male occupant. We can see into the vehicle and can see what looks like a long stick on the back seat".
George asked the Control Room for clarification. He was told again that apparently it was some kind of stick. He was then informed that given the lack of information and no positive sighting of a bladed weapon, Armed Response Vehicles or ARV's would not be attending the incident. This was the Control Room Inspector's assessment from 30 miles away in a nice toasty office. Thanks for that, thought George.
"Received Control, We’ll just have to see what we’ve got when we get there then." Thirty seconds later and they we were calling up to be shown on scene as another unit pulled in next to the suspect vehicle. George approached the driver’s door and something about the cold expression of the man behind the wheel, along with the information in the call, had his instincts jumping. He drew his CS spray and pointing it at the driver through the open window he instructed him turn off the vehicle. The driver glared at George, then at the three other police officers with him. Without saying a word he turned off the engine and got out. He leaned towards George who stepped back and held the CS up toward his face. Under his breath the man muttered "I know Kung Fu, me." This made George step back another pace, while thinking 'What? Who is this guy? Does he think he’s Neo from the Matrix?'
Trying to hold his nerve George replied "Well, jolly good for you sir, but you’d better be pretty good. You see, me and my three mates here have all got batons and CS spray and we’re more than willing to use them to protect ourselves, if you fancy a go." The man simply looked at George then smiled.
One of the other officers chanced a quick look into the back of the car and blanched as he told the others that he could see what appeared to be a samurai sword and nun-chucks. The smiling man was subsequently arrested for possession of offensive weapons and a public order offence. He remained quiet and was carefully handcuffed and very closely watched by the arresting officers. In custody he refused to give his name or answer the questions posed by the custody sergeant. He was strip searched and placed in cell for safety. He never protested once.
Whilst booking the weapons into property George’s curiosity got the better of him. He decided to see if the sword was real and not imitation, like many are. It cut through a sheet of heavy paper like a hot knife through butter. Makes you thankful for stab vests and gut feelings doesn't it?
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.