Apologies…

March 29, 2010

I’ve managed to string together a few minutes for a quick post. I just want to say thanks for the support and the comments from everyone. Unfortunately for the foreseeable future I won’t have the time to put together any decent posts, so I’m going to be departing from the blogosphere.

In the words of the immortal Douglas Adams, I’d just like to say, “so long and thanks for the fish.”

Police don’t get prosecuted for speeding SHOCK!!

February 18, 2010

This news article is a few days old, so the blog is a little late, but that’s what you get for working shifts in the thick of it.

Good old Police Oracle (via The Sun) have run an article based on a Freedom of Information request to the police forces of the UK asking how many police officers have been prosecuted for speeding.  The results are, apparently, shocking and indicate some kind of endemic corruption in the police as we don’t prosecute our drivers for exceeding the speed limit.

I don’t know about you but, last time I checked, emergency services have an exemption from sticking to the speed limit if doing so would impinge or otherwise affect the performance of their duties. What this means in layman’s terms is that if some idiot is wandering around a school armed with a machine gun taking pot-shots at kids, or some idiot is using a machete to rearrange his wife’s face, or someone else is bleeding to death at the scene of a road traffic crash, we NEED to get to the scene as quickly as humanly possible.

If we pootled about at 30mph, we’d still get there, but instead of catching offenders and calming down shocked witnesses and would-be victims, we’d be counting the dead, helping paramedics hold someone together or sealing off the scene of a fatal RTC.

Gitso Camera

Gitsos - Catching the unobservant since 1991.

Just one in every 1,800 police drivers who trigger speed cameras on duty gets punished at Britain’s biggest police force, it has been revealed.

Fair enough.  Sounds about right to me as the only police you’ll see speeding on duty are those with blues ‘n’ twos running, for the most part.  Where’s the shocker?

The Met Police stats are among the highest in the UK.

That’ll be because the Met are the biggest Force in the UK, with (on average) about 10 times the number of police officers than any of the rural Forces.

Of 17 areas where figures are kept, 88,536 Gatso incidents involving an on-duty officer were detected last year. But just 158 were convicted – most getting a £60 fine and three points.

I’d be worried that as many as 158 were convicted, not just 158.  100% of Gatso activations should be because the police car is on its way to an emergency.  So there should, ideally, be a 0% conviction rate.  As for the penalty, it’s the standard penalty that any member of the public would receive so they can’t claim unfairness there.

The law allows 999 cars to ignore limits if obeying them would “hinder” duties. Cases are probed by top brass who decide if the officer needed to speed. But the high number of let-offs has raised eyebrows.

It’s only raised eyebrows in the media – the bound-by-no-morals champion of whatever cause raises the most sales this week. Let’s just clarify the reason why so many police aren’t prosecuted for speeding:  It’s because they haven’t broken any laws.

It’s about time the media stopped misquoting and misrepresenting the facts.  I for one am getting sick of it.

Police Pursuit Car

Here's your new pursuit car, but you can't go faster than 30 in it...

P.S.:

Road safety charity Brake said “Speed is the biggest killer on our roads. Offenders need to be held accountable for their behaviour.”

Don’t even get me started on this… I’ve already had to delete three paragraphs of text that I wrote in response to this quote, I’ve decided to leave it for another blog post.

Are the police too scary for you?

February 13, 2010

I stumbled across this piece of news the other day.  It was reflected in Police Oracle too and seems to be a rather pertinent piece of writing from someone whose field of expertise is poker, of all things.

There are, apparently, more armed officers wandering the streets of London these days, and Victoria Coren seems to be more worried about this than ever before.  I don’t know what your take on armed police is, but this is mine:

You don’t tend to see armed police officers hanging around on street corners, or down dark alleyways wearing hoodies, talking ‘street’ and pimping their girls while keeping an eye out for competitive drug dealers moving in on their turf or looking for some rich and easy pickings to walk past.

Perhaps my perspective on life, the universe and everything is poles apart from Victoria’s, but I don’t get scared when I see armed police about.  At worst I might think, “Get your bloody hat on!”  Or perhaps, “What’s going on ‘ere then?”  One thing I can say for sure is that I don’t get scared.  I feel safer, if anything.  Despite what the press would like the public to believe, police officers that routinely carry firearms are highly trained and highly unlikely to randomly shoot innocent people.  (Braces himself for the tide of ‘what about de Menezes’ comments.)

There’s a few points in the Police Oracle version of the story I’d like to address, however:

• 2 January: Armed police and helicopter scrambled to a home in Weymouth where people were preparing for a Fancy dress party.

Slightly misreported, this.  A member of public called saying that a firearm had been seen.  The fact that it turned out to be a fancy-dress prop is neither here nor there – ALL reported firearm incidents have to be dealt with as such until its established that the weapon isn’t a real one, capable of wiping out a school full of children.

• 30 December 2009: Armed police attend comedy show at Bristol’s Colston Hall.

If you can’t laugh, what can you do?

• 21 December 2009: Police admit armed officers stormed into a young family’s home in Oldham, pinned down a father of two and wrongly accuse him of drug dealing.

Don’t know the story behind this one – sounds interesting though.

• 16 December 2009: Armed police swoop on Enid Penny and her seven-year-old spaniel Toby as helicopter hovers overhead. Penny has a dangerous heart condition.

Two thoughts – what the hell does her having a heart condition have to do with anything (did the police know about this BEFOREHAND?!) and secondly, since when has having a heart condition been an offence worthy of armed police and a helicopter?  There must be more to this story.

• 26 November 2009: Armed police and helicopter mobilised in Staffordshire to arrest member of the band Thirst when a man monitoring CCTV mistakes jump leads for a gun.

Well, this is another non-story blown out of proportion.  When will the media realise that if someone reports something they THINK is a firearm, then the police HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT AS IF IT IS A REAL FIREARM?!?!?!  My Force-issue crystal ball hasn’t arrived yet and until it does I will treat ANYTHING that is reported as a firearm as a firearm until it turns out it’s a table leg, banana or Airsoft replica Desert Eagle .45.   The hacks who pump this kind of crap out really are exposing their single-fingle IQ’s with these kind of stories.

• 13 October 2009: Pest controller Graham Simmonds was arrested by six armed officers at a shopping centre in Havant, after he had already informed the police of his contract to cull pigeons.

Communications issue, methinks?  Who did he notify, and how?

• 27 September 2009: A 63-year-old musician has DNA removed from the national database after police arrested him at gunpoint in the street for being a terrorist, stripped him and forced him to put on a “Guantánamo Bay-style paper suit”.

It’s the Guantánamo Bay-style paper suit I take offence at here.  Paper suits are paper suits.  We have them so that we don’t leave suspects NAKED when we seize their clothes.  What would the press rather we do?  Dish out Armani suits to them instead?  Comparing a bog-standard paper suit with what they wore in Guantánamo Bay is a purile attempt at sensationalising the story.

• 25 September 2009: Leslie May’s home in Surrey is raided by several armed officers for a second time after hoax call.

Again – without our crystal balls, how the hell can we tell a hoax call from a real one? What if someone rings up saying there’s a madman with a Kalashnikov running around the local primary school taking pot shots at toddlers?  Are we just going to send a single-crewed Panda round to pop in, do a bit of neighbourhood engagement and apologise for disrupting the kids lessons (“Look! A poweeceman!”) or are we going to take it damn seriously until we know otherwise?  Which would you rather we do – especially if YOUR kids were at the school?

• 25 July 2009: Armed police break into the Poole flat of school dinner lady, 29-year-old single mother Rachel Whitmarsh, as she bathes her six-year-old son.

Sounds like police brutality to me.  Or perhaps the call they received wasn’t that she was bathing her son, but perhaps that something far less innocent was going on, involving a firearm?

• 13 July 2009: Armed police arrest Kenneth Wilson while he is shooting pigeons legally on farmland in Wiltshire.

He may well have been legally shooting pigeons, but until the police can establish that he may also be one bird short of a game pie and, having topped the farmer and his family, is now out taking pot-shots at the wildlife while the police arrive so that he can commit suicide by cop.

I’m not trying to defend the indefensible – there are times when the police do things that are hard to defend, but fortunately these are few and far between.  But it would be nice if the public, generally speaking of course, were not so prone to accepting the drivel the news feed them with – without questioning the facts and having a think about it before they jump on the anti-police bandwagon.

The bottom line is, as well as turning the TV on, turn your brain on too.  As well as opening the paper, open your mind.  Don’t accept the limited viewpoints of the vocal minority such as Victoria who are scared of their own shadows.

Perhaps we should stop pussy-footing around...

Perhaps we should stop pussy-footing around...?

You couldn’t ‘make it up’ – or could you…?

February 8, 2010

Just a quicky, but I thought I’d make an attempt to be first for a change. (You can tell I’ve got my laptop back – The Boss feels like she’s alone in the world once again!) ;)

A bit more information has surfaced regarding PC Fran Croucher - the officer who triggered an outpouring of good-faith messages and not a few Facebook groups baying for the blood of whoever invented this ‘single-crewing’ malarky.

Kent Police have maintained a bit of a media black hole on this one – for good reason given the PR damage it will no doubt cause – and news has been thin on the ground.  It would appear, however, that Fran has been using a bit of artistic licence and may have been using makeup to simulate the injuries she would have received, had her allegation of being beaten up by two blokes from a van she’d stopped held a shred of truth.

Problem is, not only did they photograph her injuries at the time, but also a couple of days later once the bruising had – sorry, would have – come out properly.  The problem with this, it seems, is that Fran forgot where she put the original marks and so, several days later, the second set of photos didn’t match the first in injury placement.

What Fran's injuries MAY have looked like...

Fran's injuries - an artist's impression.

We still don’t know the full truth of what happened and probably never will, but one thing is clear – this whole sorry affair will do nothing but untold damage to our reputation, as the media is so good at putting the blame of one person’s actions against the feet of every single officer in the land.

You couldn’t make it up.

Do you have confidence in the police? How should we measure it?

February 7, 2010

I’ve finally secured enough time in front of a computer to put some thoughts to press, as it were.  Unfortunately this isn’t the blog post I promised earlier in the week – that’s still to come as I need more time to work that one out.

This one, however, is about work and how bloody stupid it can be at times (well, okay, all the time!)

I’ve been running around like a blue-arsed fly this last week (and next week too) because a spurious measure of police performance for our Farce has dropped by a miniscule amount (less than 1 percent.)  This measure is, of course, taken over the last quarter from a sample of the population so small as to be statistically insignificant and not representative of the whole population of Ruralshire*.  I can say that because I have an A-level in Maths and went on to study statistics (amongst other more interesting things) at university.  Then I joined the police, but that’s a story for another day.

Statistical mathematics - FUN!

Statistical mathematics - FUN!

So, 200 people (approximately, based on percentage drop vs total population) have said they’re not happy with our service.  The senior ranks are stomping around like headless chickens discovering KFC are rolling out a boneless bucket happy hour (or their bonuses are on the line) and issuing edicts and directives left, right and centre.  I was unfortunate enough not to duck down into the trench quickly enough and caught an underarm howler right in the chest.  I cannot be any more specific than that, I’m afraid, but basically I’ve been told my next promotion hangs in the balance if I’m not able to complete x within y weeks, producing a z increase in public confidence. Fun!

What alarms me the most about this isn’t the fact that we have this ‘public confidence measure’, or we have specific drives to increase it, but it’s the almost terminal fascination I have with the way ACPO and SMT seem to get in such a huge flap about a measure they genuinely do not have very much control over, at all.  Yet they can’t see that.

PCSO

Working hard - for what return?

Yes, of course, if 20 PCSO’s go out on their beats and do marvellous jobs, deliver excellent customer service, identify a few offenders, prevent offences and perhaps even catch a few criminals in the act, they will still have only had a direct influence over a handful of people who might think they’ve done a good job and be prepared to say that.  Of course, they might hate the police whether or not they do a good job – depends who they are.

Conversely, over the last quarter we have had one of the coldest winters in 30 years or so.  This is has caused chaos on the roads, leading to a number of ‘incidents’ where regular, law-abiding motorists (who’ve clearly been lobotomised at a young age) have done things which has led to police action against them.  Said motorists have then spent nearly a week on the radio complaining and getting fired up by the anti-police radio presenters to the point that a Tier 2 critical incident was on the verge of being called, due to the public outrage being stirred up by the press.

Of course – 20 PCSO’s can do their bit to show their community what a great job the police try and do.

The media, however, can spin a story to millions in front of the gogglebox, radio, newspapers and t’internet – and let’s face it, it’s never going to be a good story about the police really, is it?  Won’t sell.

So who has the most influence on public confidence?  Perhaps ACPO & SMT should think on that before they started wanging off howlers to overworked staff about pointless crusades to try and improve confidence…

* I have to put a disclaimer in here, as kKop’s Ruralshire may or may not be the same one as Inspector Gadget’s.  We’re neither too sure.

Burglars aren’t proper humans shock!

February 2, 2010

Tough on crime, inhumane on criminals.

In a rather radical step (for a politician), David Cameron – in an attempt to consolidate even more votes against NuLab in the upcoming elections – has been quoted as coming out with a rather impressive new idea.

He has suggested something I, and every other copper on the face of the planet, have been shouting about and voicing an opinion on since time began and cavemen first learned how to shape a rather large, clubby-looking piece of wood into a PR-24 baton.

Burglars, he says, should lose any human rights the minute they break into someone’s house.

Mr Cameron said “The moment a burglar steps over your threshold, and invades your property – with all the threat that gives to you, your family and your livelihood – I think they leave their human rights outside.”

My question is, why stop there, Mr Cameron?  Why not include joy riders, thieves in general and any other scrote who decides (implying some element of choice was available to the miscreant) to break the law?

I can say for a fact that if I was woken up in the middle of the night to the sounds of some knuckle-dragging low-life raiding my personal possessions and threatening the safety and sanctity of my family so that they can get their next drug hit, I will endeavour to use the maximum force available to me to subdue them.  If the pondlife were unlucky enough to break into my household, that may even include the use of a firearm if the circumstances called for it.  What if the burglar were killed?  Tea and medals.  Saves a long and costly court case just for the waste-of-oxygen to be given a community sentence, not to mention saving all the future victims of his repeat offences that he would have been able to go on to commit.

My reasoning?  It’s dark, I can’t see and don’t have the time to think about what weapons they’ve got, The Boss and miniKop need protecting at all costs and I know the kind of scum that commit this kind of crime.  It is certainly not unreasonable to expect them to be armed with a knife or worse.  Me? If I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night, the best protection I’ll be wearing will be a rather bad temper and whatever weapon I’ve picked up on the way out of the bedroom.

Unfortunately some people do take it too far – the Hussein’s, for example.  But all the time an offender is on my premises and is resisting arrest, I will make use of the weapons and training available to me to incapacitate that offender.  You don’t break into someone’s house to have tea with them – you’ve only got a couple of things on your mind and none of them mean you’re considering the human rights of the victims.

I was going to sit out of this election as I don’t believe there’s enough of a difference between the two parties, but I suspect Mr Cameron may be swinging my opinion his way with this one.  Suggest bringing back capital punishment for some of the spongers and ‘permanently unemployed’ out there and he’ll definitely have my vote.

Gypsys, tramps and thieves…

January 29, 2010

Okay, so I’m not going to reiterate what Inspector Gadget and other blogs are talking about – instead I’m going to post something slightly different.

Traveller caravans

The Sun are running an interesting article on that much-maligned group of innocents, the travelling fraternity.

I for one am not keen to generalise based on very little information.  But I have to say, anybody is going to have a very, very hard time convincing me that travellers are anything other than the dregs of society.  This one gang were responsible for half of the caravan crime in the entire country.  Nice to see the McDonagh’s are still going strong, though – I had lots of fun as a PC chasing them through muddy fields and dark country lanes, for them to ram my police car repeatedly so that I was unable to follow.  Nice people, really.

There are always exceptions, naturally, but I’ve yet to meet a decent, honest, law-abiding one.

Four members of the gang – Charlie Ward, 27, Martin Ward, 21, John McDonagh, 31, and Martin McDonagh, 29 – face long jail terms after being convicted of conspiracy to steal at Winchester Crown Court.

Remember guys, don’t bend over to pick up the soap.

"Where's the soap?" "Yes it does, doesn't it?"

Common sense wins out…

January 26, 2010

If you’ve read my last post you’ll see that I’ve been watching the inquest into the shooting of the violent armed robber, Robert Haines, whilst he was trying to relieve a bank of £105,000.

It seems that, in a sporadic fit of complete sensibility, the inquest and the IPCC have decided that the killing was completely lawful.

Well done on arriving at the only sensible conclusion to the whole affair.  Personally, I don’t think there should have been an inquest at all – the officer responsible should have been issued a medal for ridding the country of a prolific and dangerous criminal.

Following the inquest, Mr Haines’ brother Burt said: “I don’t agree with why he was there.

“I think he could have been wounded. To shoot him dead, I think is completely wrong.”

Naturally, the media are going to include a soundbite from the aggrieved criminal’s family.  I’m not sure where the confusion lies with Burt, though – his brother had planned the armed raid on the bank, turned up complete with balaclava and loaded shotgun, threatened staff with it, obtained £105,000 from them illegally, then discharged the shotgun at police officers whilst trying to make his escape.  What part of ‘caught red-handed’ is Burt failing to grasp?

As for the second part of his comment, well, that’s just about too ludicrous to even mention.  What would you prefer, Burt?  That your brother was ‘winged’, giving him plenty of time to fire off the second barrel of his gun and kill a police officer or an innocent member of the public?

From the minute the raid was executed, an irrevocable chain of events were set in motion that led to the demise of Burt’s brother.  Despite what Burt and the rest of his clan may think, the only person who had any control over what happened was the idiot behind the shotgun…

The Nationwide Building Society that was subject to the 'violent withdrawal'

Gone in 8 seconds…

January 20, 2010

Kent Online are following the inquiry into the Nationwide Building Society robbery in New Romney on 31st October 2006.

Sadly, one of the robbers armed with a shotgun was shot dead by armed police.  Robert Haines, armed with a shotgun, was trying to make his escape from the building society having just robbed it of £105,000 by threatening the staff at gunpoint – with a shotgun – and wearing a balaclava.  Interestingly, the other two men who were part of the same robbery have since been charged with a string of other armed raids in the apparently beautiful and otherwise scenic Kent.

It never fails to amaze me how the media put a spin on things.  The BBC News article, albeit from February 2007, can’t help but mention the fact that the same police officer who shot Robert Haines – who was armed with a shotgun – was also involved (not sure how tenuously or directly) with the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting in London.  What the heck does that have to do with it?  The facts of this case are that the robbers attempted to steal £105,000 from a building society, using a shotgun as leverage.  One of the robbers, Robert Haines – armed with a shotgun no less – fired at the police.

In a split second, the firearms officer had to make a snap decision.  Do I let the robber get away with his stash and a lethal weapon, which he is quite prepared to use as he’s just demonstrated, or do I protect myself, my colleagues and the public and take him out? The firearms officer estimates it all took 8 seconds – I suspect it may have been slightly less than that when you consider the effects of adrenaline on time perception, but in any case, 8 seconds is nothing when you’re staring at a criminal with a shotgun pointed at you.

Whatever spin you put on it, Robert Haines may well have been a 41-year old father of three as the papers keep pointing out, but he was also a dangerous criminal, with a shotgun (did I mention that?), caught red-handed at the scene of a serious crime.

Firearms Officer

Scary isn't it? Specially if the person aiming at you isn't a police officer, and intends to kill you...

Bringing new meaning to, “We’re short of resources!”

January 16, 2010

Okay, so at 4’10″, PC Sue Day clinches the title of shortest copper in Britain, according to the Daily Mail.  There was an interesting piece on Laptop, the shortest male copper, the other day but as a result it seems they’ve dug deep and found someone even shorter. But they’ve had to think about a new nickname as ‘Laptop’ was already taken, so – sticking with the PC theme – they’ve opted on ‘Mouse’, it being small and a PC peripheral, apparently…

Shortest PC

Little 'n' Large?

This sort of article does raise some interesting arguments about whether the height of a police officer is something that people should concern themselves about, but I have to say, if she can do the job then I wouldn’t mind being crewed up with her.

It’d make me feel taller, for a start. :)

P.S.: Is that her pocket notebook attached to her shoulder?


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