Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Page Nine - Intelligence Unused (Copcast #124)

uA unit to deal please, 21 Sainsbury Avenue, concern for welfare, it’s graded as an emergency call" the radio crackled. George told his probationer to offer up for it since it seemed like a fairly straightforward job and something else for his portfolio. The probationer gave their call sign and they were assigned and committed. Whilst en-route George asked his probationer to obtain more details whilst he navigated through the traffic on blues and twos.

The update came through, "Child Abuse Team has had a call from a neighbour of number 21 who wishes to remain anonymous. States the 13 year old boy is being assaulted". The probationer asked if there were any previous calls to the address or warning markers. “Only a couple of domestics”, replied the controller.

They arrived and informed control then walked to the door. Listening to the door they heard nothing, no shouting or crying. They knocked and heard movement inside; "Who the eff is it?" came the reply. "Police!" George shouted.

The door opened and there stood a man with long wild blonde hair, no shirt and his chest covered in self-harm marks. His torso positively rippled with muscle. George’s heart sank; it was Charlie Lane, local drug dealer and general pain in the neck. Charlie had PNC warning markers for (and in no particular order): Mental Health, Suicidal, Weapons, Firearms, Drugs, Violent towards Police, Escaper, Cage Fighter and all round Grade-A psycho with little regard for the chief constable and his band of merry men.

The radio crackled again, "Is that someone going to 21 Sainsbury Avenue? That’s Charlie Lane’s address" called a concerned colleague. "He’s got warning markers you know". George thanked the officer and silently cursed the controller for doing such a poor job with the intelligence. Charlie wanted to know what they wanted. The probationer, completely oblivious to the radio traffic, tried talking to Charlie who wasn't listening; he just wanted them to foxtrot oscar.

George said to Charlie "Look, we’ve been called to check the welfare of a young lad living here, there are reports he’s been assaulted. We need to check him out". Charlie replied "Eff off" and tried to shut the door but somehow and without any conscious effort, George’s right foot had found its way in the door, stopping it from shutting. Charlie looked down at him and he felt his stomach tighten. "What the eff are you doing?" he demanded. Actually he said much more than that, but you get the drift.

"Whoa, easy tiger, let me check the kids and the we’ll go ". Charlie told them that with the help of the police all but one of his kids had been taken into care only two days previously. George thought “Nice work control, that little nugget of intel should have come from you, not him”. Eventually they persuaded Charlie to let them see the remaining lad, muttering something about a section 17 power of entry to preserve life. Charlie actually growled and called for his son, who came to the door, Charlie kissed him on the side of the head. They chatted to the lad and checked him for any signs of injury; he seemed fine and wandered off, at which point Charlie then lost it. He was very keen to show how much he worked out and asked if they wanted to come in and check the rest of the house, just for fun. They politely declined and left.

They reported to the Inspector and informed him that it appeared to be a malicious call from a neighbour, intent on causing Charlie and the police problems. George had checked the son and he appeared fine. The Inspector agreed with how they’d dealt with the incident.

George chalked this incident up as a perfect example of not only the importance of gathering intelligence, but also how dangerous it can be to not pass it on to the people that need it. In some cases it can literally be a matter of life or death.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Page Eight - Burglar Captured (Copcast #123)

George fears he’s getting on in years and his memory isn't what it used to be. He struggles with the names of people he’s seen around the nick for years and often finds himself having conversations with people who clearly know him and his family yet can’t recollect exactly how he knows them. George blames his badger-like greying side burns, years of shift work, not enough rest days and the constant onslaught of work. What is really worrying is that he can still recognise a burglar from 50 yards away in the dark with his back to him and even give you his date of birth. This can pay dividends when on patrol much to the jealousy of other police officers. He doesn't profess to be an expert 'thief taker' but he does know a ‘scrote’ when he sees one.

The other evening a call came in, “burglars making off from a scene”. Everyone turned out, burglars were always hot potatoes and everyone likes the sport of catching the little … scamps. The force chopper lifted-off, while a dog unit had to forgo refs and high tailed it in from across the other side of the division. There were about six local units scouring the streets and trying to establish pinch points, etc.

Reports came in that the males had split up and the informant was following one of them. Along with his trusty probationer, George was one of those six cars. They carried out an area search, it was dark and it was raining, his vehicle spotlights illuminated side alleys and the living rooms of residents oblivious to the chaos unfurling around them. Now, although he had lived and worked in the town for some years, this particular area was not one George was too familiar with and his probationer lived 39 miles away and had zero local knowledge. There was a map book in the car but of course the page they needed was missing and the radio was far too busy for them to admit they were lost and ask for directions. Don’t even ask about anything technical like SatNav.

There was another update, "Suspect is now walking towards Leicester Road down Jones Close”. George looked at the probationer and she could clearly see the "Where the hell is that?” look on his face. In desperation they turned into a side street and travelled about fifty yards before realising that the road was closed. Reluctantly they started to reverse then suddenly saw the road sign 'Jones Close'. George looked up in time to see two figures in the distance walking towards him. Brilliant they hadn't seen him.

Reversing quickly he parked up at the bottom of Jones Close where they got out and a few seconds later a male appeared, "Hello Mikey" said George. He had instantly recognised him from briefing and had even nicked him before. Mikey stopped, looked at George and said, "Alright, it’s a fair cop, you may as well nick me, I’m in breach of my curfew". George smiled at him just as another male walked around the corner. It was the informant who pointed at Mikey and gives them the thumbs up. George turned to Mikey, "Actually Mikey, my colleague here has something to say to you" his probationer then arrested him for burglary. He resigned himself to the handcuffs being placed on him. He had been running for about 25 minutes, which is hard work for a heroin user and he was grateful for a rest in a nice warm car followed by a police cell. Mikey was presented to custody, his clothing seized, finger prints and photographs taken before being put to bed all cosy in a cell. He ended up being charged and remanded in custody all weekend to appear at court. A good arrest is still a good arrest even if it’s completely by fluke and they were more than happy to take the glory.

George did make a mental note to spend more time in that part of the town to try and gain some better local knowledge of the area while spending more time on his DS, playing 'Brain Training'.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Page Seven - Parking Ticket (Copcast #122)

George went into work yesterday to see a female colleague somewhat miffed and perturbed. This was unusual given that she was one of the few officers in the nick that always had a positive attitude to work even at 7.05 on an early turn.

"What's up?" George asked.

"Got a bastard complaint" she replied without looking up from her emails.

No way, George couldn't imagine a scenario where she would get a complaint for anything, she was such a nice and considerate person. She eventually explained that someone had put in an official complaint against her and a colleague. As most officers know the vast majority of complaints against them are for being 'rude' to members of the public. Most of the time these complaints are malicious and unfounded, however there are of course exceptions when police officers have been rude. George had to admit he'd been a little curt with someone if he thought they were (A) lying, (B) obstructive or (C) both. He know's it's not right but there are times when some people just won't pay attention otherwise.

It turned out that his colleague was called to a detained shoplifter in a very large out of town supermarket. Security had detained a male and he had started to play up, so police were required on the 'hurry up'. Upon arrival, said supermarket car park was rammed full, no spaces anywhere. Given the circumstances and the urgency of the call (the male was trying to get out of holding room and being held down by staff) George's colleague spotted a parking space near the entrance. You can imagine her thoughts now 'Ideal, get the car close, don't want to drag a prisoner across the car park'. So she parked up and ran in with her partner. They did the business, cuffed the prisoner and took him out to the car since by then he was compliant.

Cue three weeks later to yesterday. The Inspector at the local police station had received a complaint from a member of the public who stated that a police car had been abandoned in a disabled parking bay for ten minutes, meaning he could not park. The Inspector looked into the incident and could see that parking in the disabled bay on this occassion was justified. He explained this to the member of the public who admitted that he had seen two officers escorting a prisoner out of the premises to the car, however he still felt that those officers should be spoken to with regards to their lack of consideration.

The Inspector apologised and promised that he would. An informal resolution at it's best although it is still recorded on her personal record. The Inspector contacted the officer by email and reminded her in future to only park in a disabled bay if it absolutely unavoidable.

George's colleague was understandably annoyed over this, but he told her not to take it to heart. She had made a decision at the time that was justified. She was answering an emergency call, a shoplifter was violent and possibly assaulting a member of staff. She had travelled three miles to the store on blues and twos in an effort to get to the incident before anyone got seriously hurt and she had chosen to park at the nearest point to store for the sake of officer and public safety.

Now, thanks to a member of the public who felt it was more important for a police officer to not park in a disabled parking space George's colleague had been chastised by email by an Inspector, she was now a demoralised and very grumpy partner.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Page Six - Juvenile Domestic Caution (Copcast #121)

George criminalised a teenager this week and he doesn't feel great about it. His Sergeant, his inspector and all his colleagues agree that the action taken was 'ridiculous but inevitable'.

Picture this; a 17 year old girl left home to find her way in life. A little young perhaps, but she was fed up with her controlling mother who refused to let her grow up. She arranged to stay at her aunt's and just needed a few things from her mother's place so along with a friend, she attended her mum's house only to find that her mum had locked her out and had dumped all of her clothes, CD's and personal possesions. The girl lost the plot and kicked the front door and made various threats, mum panicked and called the police.

George attended and spoke to all parties concerned and discovered that the girl just wanted her stuff but mum wanted her to come home under her terms. No one had been injured, nothing had been damaged, there had just been a lot of shouting and tears. Anyway a domestic violence form was completed and the girl heeded words of advice given to her to go away and contact her mother when she is calmer.

Mum then poured out all her woes to George explaining that she doesn't want to make a complaint as she doesn't want to 'criminalise' her daughter who has never been in trouble before. George suggested she leave things at that for the time being and wait until everyone had calmed down before speaking to her daughter again. George returned to the police station to finalise the ream of resulting paperwork.

The next day George received an email; 'Mum now wants to make a complaint, she has spoken to her father who thinks that arresting the girl would do her good'.

'Ps the incident has been crimed as section 4a of the Public Order Act'.

Brilliant. Now that meant George had to return and obtain a statement and carry out house to house enquiries etc. First things first, he spoke to the mother to find out exactly what was going on. Mum told George that since her phone call to the police station she'd had yet another change of heart and no longer wanted to prosecute her daughter. Sighing inwardly George informed her that in order to get the incident classed as 'no offence' he would need a brief statement from her, stating that she no longer wanted to prosecute because that would irrepairably destroy their already strained relationship and she wasn't under any duress, etc. Having obtained this he submitted the crime report as 'no offence', with a full screed as to why a prosecution wasn't in the public interest.

Three days later the crime report was bounced back with a note from the Crime Management Office stating 'the crime report has been rejected, you have to deal with this matter positively as per policy'. George spoke to his Sergeant who referred him to the Inspector who in turn said it was crazy but they had no choice but to arrest the girl and put her through the criminal justice system. It's police policy to prosecute any apparent offender in a case of domestic violence regardless of whether the victim wants them prosecuted.

So against the wishes of the 'victim', George invited the girl into the police station on a voluntary basis and interviewed her under caution then issued her a reprimand after she fully admitted what had happened. Although George didn't arrest her the reprimmand is recorded as a conviction and she had her DNA and fingerprints taken. The girl wants to work with children but that isn't going to happen for a while because the reprimand will show up on a Criminal Records check.

George isn't happy because criminalising teenagers for being just a bit gobby isn't what I joined up for. All in all a completely unrewarding experience which has further reinforced his belief that common sense is a difficult quality to find today.