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30/06/2010

May Day



As has been widely reported, our fresh out of the box Home Secretary Teresa May has been speaking at the ACPO conference. She has claimed an end to The Policing Pledge amongst other things. I did enjoy the adverts. Two stereotyped 'yobs' stole a sign. The PC wanders by some time later, and is invited into the homestead. He then wanders away afterwards. You were supposed to feel reassured that you could share your tea with a member of the constabulary. I feel the immediate thoughts of most people were 'why isn't he chasing the yobs?'

An end to performance indicators has also been announced. This has been met with cynicism in many of the lower orders of the police service. Senior police officers cannot function without spreadsheets and pie charts. This is a fact. Last year it was announced that the only performance indicator the police would be measured on was 'public confidence.' How we all celebrated! Except the bosses. They kept all the other measures and added that one on top. The new broom will make no difference. Police rank puts the big C in conservative all right.

Teresa May has demanded that the police service reduce crime. This must have woken up a number of the ACPO representatives, the majority of whom will not have seen an offender since they were forced to confront an elderly shoplifter in their probation. This is an admirable aim, but what exactly does it mean?

The majority of crime goes unreported to the police. Of the offences that are reported, the majority are 'screened out' ie deemed unworthy of further investigation. Of those that are 'screened in' only a small number lead to arrests. Of these, in partnership with the CPS, a smaller percentage lead to a charge and subsequent court appearance. A number of these lead to 'not guilty' verdicts. As you can see, those unfortunates who manage to get themselves convicted represent a tiny proportion of those members of our society who are taking part in crime.

This has two ramifications. Should the police work towards having more crime reported? Efforts are made to increase the confidence of certain groups, which I won't bore you with naming, but I'm sure you can guess. The police cannot cope with the level of crime reported as it stands. This can only be abated by reducing the amount of trivial rubbish on the statute books, and re-empowering the police to take no further action based on the opinion of the officer dealing with the incident. Police time is hugely wasted by individuals who cannot comprehend the rights of others, and see only their own satisfaction as a desirable outcome.

Example: White youth on a bus is asked to leave by ticket inspectors for fare evasion. He is verbally abusive and threatening, and police are called. The inspectors do not wish to take any action against him, merely wanting to be allowed to go about their business. The white youth alleges they are racist. There is absolutely no evidence for this. None. A crime report is completed however, naming the white youth as a victim. This is because he said he was. That is what the guidelines demand.

The second ramification goes much deeper. It involves society taking more responsibility for what goes on within it. I do not believe in the concept of community in inner city areas. The default position for most law abiding people in these areas is to keep to yourself. Society must demand that people take responsibility for their own actions, and recognise the impact their behaviour has on others. Empathy. Currently the country is infested with a culture of blame. There is always someone else, or a public agency to blame. Without a sea change in this attitude, crime will not be reduced.

I appreciate that the Home Sec will only be interested in the offences reported to the police. We should not be.

29/06/2010

So Just Who Do You Think You Are?

For those of you who have only a passing interest in the police service, it may come as a surprise to learn that there is an obsession with race within the ranks of the premier law enforcement agency. I admit to a certain personal obsession. The powers that be, primarily the Home Office and ACPO (PLC) use the broad brush of diversity to sugar the pill, the admirable effort to represent the community we serve. Diversity includes disability, sex, and sexual orientation along with race, however race is the only issue that truly causes significant consternation. The corridors of power echo with allegations and cross-allegations of racism, the curse that cannot be countered. Racism is the one true guarantor of promotion negation.

The efforts of the police service to meet the Home Office set criteria in this area are a wonder to behold. Positive discrimination becomes 'positive action'. The police have invented an 'Emerging Leaders Programme' which uses positive action. The exact criteria for this, and the real selection process are mired in mystery. The desperation to have people of colour in senior ranks is remarkable. It pays no account to ability. As I have noted many times before, such activity dissuades good candidates who have no wish to be promoted purely on the basis of their skin colour to meet targets. Only the mercenary will take advantage. Senior officers have no conception of this, and if they do, they keep quiet about it to prevent their own promotion chances being tarnished.

Outside the police service, 'the community we serve' also suffers. 'Self-Defined Ethnicity' is another fascinating concept. For many years, the police service have used Identity Codes (IC) to refer to a person's skin colour. These are six options used to assist identification of suspects. IC1 is white, IC2 dark-skinned European, IC3 black and so on. Simple.

The Self-Defined Ethnicity model takes this one step further. No longer are the police to be trusted. The person themselves is to chose their own identification code. From a choice of 16. So, whenever a person comes into contact with the police, either being stopped in the street or arrested, they are asked what colour they think they are. Interesting concept, and one which does lead to some animosity. As you would imagine.

The attempts to eradicate racism from society is admirable, but dictates from ivory towers help no-one and actually inflame the issue. If a police officer is a racist, and disproportionately targets individuals based on their skin colour, it is that officer's perception which causes the problem. The victim's personal opinion is not relevant. For example, if an officer hates black youths, his actions are not going to be changed should the youth claim to be white Irish. The recording of the fact that a youth who claims to be white Irish has been stopped or arrested offers no useful statistics. Who gains from this? Nobody. Lies, damned lies and statistics indeed.

23/06/2010

In a Lover's Cliche


I have a love / hate relationship with crime fiction. I appreciate that I really should be more concerned with environmental catastrophe, civil war and the world cup, but please bear with me. Anyone who has had their profession dealt with on TV or in book form will agree - it is very difficult to watch / read without picking fault. I understand that for some reason the TV viewers of this country appear to be obsessed with nice clean death and detectives with issues. I understand that dramatic licence negates the use of paperwork and performance indicators. I agree that some police techniques remain covert so must become entirely fictional on TV (surveillance on The Bill!) BUT...

Please. A plea to all crime writers from an old sweat. Criminals have never called detectives Mr. Never. This is an urban myth. I promise. Please stop this now before I have a heart attack.


The Moral Behind the Story is This...


Word comes to me from the sunny Metropolitan Police Service that the world of senior management is not always rosy. It seems that a Detective Superintendent has been relieved of his command.

This person has spent every waking hour of the last seven years trying to get promoted. This included a stint outside the Met and a posting to Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary. This was his downfall in my humble opinion.

Having worked for HMIC, this officer believed himself to be the expert in every field. He knew best. In every area of policing. Having moved back to the Met he instigated a culture of bullying, blame and risk avoidance. His borough became the worst performing in the Met.

The moral? You can use and abuse your juniors all you like buddy, but when the shit hits the fan because they don't go that extra yard, you only have yourself to blame.

I decree today that life
Is simply taking and not giving
England is mine and it owes me a living
But ask me why, and I’ll spit in your eye, no
Oh, ask me why, and I’ll spit in your eye
Look, we cannot cling to the old dreams anymore
No, we cannot cling to those dreams

16/06/2010

If I Could Dream of a Brighter World...


It is a little known fact, but in early 1962, Dr Martin Luther King Jnr addressed the Metropolitan Police Force training centre at Hendon, North London. This is an excerpt from the speech he gave.


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal except members of ACPO."

I have a dream that one day in the police canteens of London the Irish, the blacks and the dogs will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood eating a 999 breakfast.

I have a dream that one day, even the borough of Barking and Dagenham , a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where the UK police recruitment process will not judge by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

A remarkable man. He concluded his tour with a go on the skid pan, watched a demonstration by the Detective Training School in beating suspects without leaving marks, and got caught in the girls block. He was given perimeter security duties overnight to set an example.

15/06/2010

The A-Z of Senior Police Officery

A few years ago, a police constable in the Met Police produced a guide to diversity. This was a hard backed booklet issued to every officer in the Met, listing, in alphabetical order, every major minority group in London, and how to deal with them in a respectful way. I seem to remember the default position was, if in doubt, take your shoes off.

This officer earned a Commissioners Commendation for this. The only higher award in the Met is a Commissioners Higher Commendation. You better have lost a limb or forged one serious partnership to get one of those babies!

The above mentioned booklet obviously filled a need. I have identified another. What would be more useful to new members of our Senior Management Teams than a pamphlet for being senior and so much better than everyone else? I have produced the below which I am hoping to publish for issue at Bramshill amongst other places. It will obviously contain footnotes and so on. This is the rough draft. The A-Z of being a Senior Police Officer.


A - Achieve the Next Rank. There is no other objective.

B - Blame. Do not accept this. This is for other people. You have at least three ranks below you for a reason! Adversely, everything that happens has someone else to blame. This is your job.

C - Community. Everything must relate to this, however never, under any circumstances, put yourself in the position where you may come into contact with members of 'The Community'. Please be aware that 'Community Leaders' are a different issue. Members of this group nominate themselves, and tell you what to do.

D - Deny. It is never your fault. Case study: He was wearing a bulky jacket and vaulted over the barriers at the tube station. I was not informed. I sit in the House of Lords. This man is your role model.

E - Exaggerate. You are important. You bring value. Without you, all would be lost. You have a very large penis.

F - Fear junior officers, aka the Ian Blair school of leadership. They scare you don't they?

G - Gardening leave. Bugger.

H - Hate the public. They get in your way. They make demands about things they know nothing of! The nasty version of 'The Community'

I - Ignore criticism from below. You are a Senior Officer. Do not countenance any suggestion that those below you have opinions of worth. You are an intellectual colossus!

J - Jettison old ideas. Whenever you take over, re-invent the wheel and claim credit for forward thinking. Use focus groups. You know it makes sense.

K - Knowledge is power. Otherwise known as spreadsheets, pie charts, and PowerPoint(tm) presentations.

L - Leave. At first opportunity, or suggestion of personal progression. Please note: Should anyone of a junior rank attempt to leave and progress, they must be accused of disloyalty and betraying 'The Community'.

M - Meaningless directives...I think I've just come.

N - Narcissism. I don't think I need to explain this one do I! You gorgeous thing!

O - Orlando Bloom

P - Promote the ideas of others as your own. They are junior to you after all.

Q - Queen: 'Under Pressure' aka when you've been caught with a rent boy...(Really bad, sorry....)

R - Responsibility. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES TAKE THIS. Never. EVER.

S - Staff Associations. Do what they want, and what they tell you. Note: Failure to follow this simple directive will result in lack of promotion. If in doubt, sacrifice junior officer who is not a member of a Staff Association or a fellow Lodge member. (For those of a certain vintage)

T - Telephone. You have other people to use this for you.

U - Undecided. If in doubt use terms such as: 'Stop him at all costs.' Then take trinket from the Queen.

V - Victory (Escape To) The greatest film ever made.

W - Wait for successful result then take credit in front of TV cameras. Watch the news! The better the job the higher the rank!

X - Xpenses (sorry again but it needs saying...) Yes you have them too! Travel First Class! Have a driver and vehicle (make of your choice!)

Y - You're Worth It!

Z - Z-list. What you really are. Joking aside. Really. But then you don't care what I think do you?

08/06/2010

Thanks!

Over 10,000 hits since I started blogging again. Thank-you to you all! Too pissed to write more at the moment...

07/06/2010

Senior Officer Falling Off a Bike

UK Police Are Scum


Welcome to the person who found this blog using the terms 'UK police scum' on Google! 

Maria Maria oh Maria

This is the final part of my 'Maria' trilogy of short stories. The first part can be found here, and the second here


Any feedback always gratefully received....



She still had hope, a warm cocoon that gripped her mind at times like these, easing and soothing, buffering against the darkness and anxiety. Each day she delved deeper to summons and remember, the bright hazy sunlight that seemed to come with every memory fading away the harder she tried to remember. And when the darkness came, shrouding those memories, she fought and fought so hard she felt her head aching with the effort. And the fight became physical, when he was not there, she pulled at her hair, dug her nails into her wrists, screaming silently into the clothing bunched in her fists, in the place she normally went, at the end of the garden, on the bench under the tree. 


Maria moved, suddenly, as she heard the gravel crunch on the driveway outside, moving towards the kitchen door, unwrapping the tea towel dappled with tiny spots of blood from her wrist. Overlong grass impeded her feet, crossing the lawn, stepping across the patio, listening first for the sound of the engine dying, then the car door with that rattle of keys and he would be home from work. She made it onto the darkened lino floor, the tea towel shoved with shaking hands behind the washing machine by the door as she moved into place behind the ironing board, steam rising from the iron as it rested. She reached for a shirt, white with pockets on the breast and cotton epaulettes buttoned onto the shoulders. Easing the shirt across the paisley pattern of the ironing board, she heard the lock turning, and the keys being dropped into the bowl as he came into the house. 


Her hand gripped the handle of the iron, as, with haste, she sent a fine spray of water across the shirt. She could feel the fingers of her other hand, the nails digging into the underside of the ironing board, pressing back into the flesh underneath. Flinching, she heard the door to the front room open, the handle banging against the thin partition wall that separated the two rooms, and the sound of a football match begin. Carefully she rested the iron upright, winding the flex around the base as she did so and released it, her fingers retreating into her palms. She stood, the ironing board feeling like some sort of defence, a metal structure lying between her and the open kitchen door that led out into the hallway. 


Maria shuffled back, moving instinctively away from the gap, stepping back from the ironing board and sitting on a chair that stood next to the kitchen table. Her hand eased open, lying on top of the table cloth, laundered, immaculate. Her eyes looked down at the red moon shaped marks left by her fingernails in the flesh of her palms. She could hear him moving back from the front room, and could hear as his keys were dragged from the bowl. Deep down somewhere inside, she hoped he was leaving again, believed she could imagine the sound of the front door creaking open and slamming shut. Wishing that he would be away somewhere, to the pub, the off-licence, back to work, anywhere. Away. Away from here. As quickly as her vivid imaginings passed through her wounded mind they were cut short and forgotten in the instant she heard him move back into the front room and heard the rattle of the keys in the cupboard he kept there. The cupboard where he locked the phone away, unplugged whenever he was out, and locked away to stop her doing whatever he believed she would do. 


She heard the movement as the phone was taken out, the sound of the cupboard closing, locking, and the grunt he made as he bent to the socket, then silence. A silence she joined him in, as both sat in their respective rooms, the phone alive again, as both sat waiting as though they expected it to ring straight away, for that urgent call to come through, for the call to make everything better, to make it all go away. But the only ringing was the ringing in her ears, as the silence brought it's own fears, and she waited. 


Some kind of time passed, and Maria looked up towards the clock hanging above the calendar. She noticed the dried blood marks across her wrists, covering the old scars, merging with the new. She pulled at the sleeve of her dress, alternating hands, stretching the material to cover the evidence of her weakness. Her own weakness, the sign that she was letting him down, causing him to do what he did, no matter how many chances she had been given. Water gushed from the hot tap as she forced first one wrist then the other under the stream, scrubbing at the marks, washing away the dried blood as steam rose from the bowl. but still scrubbing, forcing the scourer into the scars until the blood came again and swirled into the water. 


She stopped with a suddenness, turning the tap closed, as he hailed her from the front room, calling for a beer to be brought, a can to be taken from the fridge which he expected to be there, and to be cold. She could feel the anxiety rush up through her body, heat rising behind her neck as her hands, shaking, pulled kitchen roll from the dispenser, wrapping it around her lower arms. He called again, louder, as her dress sleeves fought against her efforts to cover what she had done, to do just enough to stop him noticing. 


The fridge door opened, and she saw the one can of beer standing alone on the shelf. Looking behind, she saw the case sitting on the side by the window, the rest of the cans, the ones she had got that afternoon, still ensconced in plastic, warming under the last light of the day. The wave of trepidation came from the back of her throat, the fear she could taste so familiar to be like a recurring nightmare of childhood, but without the escape of a loving parent to promise her it would all be alright and that it wasn't real. 


His bellow echoed from the hallway, a third request that she knew would his last. Reaching into the fridge she opened that last can, pouring the contents into his favourite glass, washed and polished, the badge of the local football team highlighted against the amber liquid flowing behind. She caught the foam as it began to ease over the sides, mopping up, and wiping it away from the rim. Picking up a coaster from the table as she passed, Maria walked from the kitchen and towards the front room. 


She stood in the doorway, her figure between the light and the darkness of the room in front of her, the walls reflecting the colours and sounds of the television in the corner. He sat sprawled across the sofa, eyes fixed on the glow, the telephone cradled in his lap. She moved carefully into his lair, heading for the table positioned in front of the sofa, exchanging her delivery for the empty can of lager already in place. She noticed two more cast into the waste paper bin, and knew that he had brought home lager of his own. The fourth would have been gripped between his thighs as he drove home from work, from the job that he hated, and the job that hated him. 


She stopped her retreat as his eyes turned from the TV and squinted up towards her. "What you doing now?”


She stood still, the sleeves of her dress held in place by her fingers turned into a fist. She could feel the padded kitchen roll pressing at the material, sure it could be seen. "I was just going to finish the ironing.”


He watched her, almost rising up onto one elbow, then thinking better of it. "Hurry up with the bloody beer next time." 


She stood silhouetted in the doorway, waiting for his implied consent to leave, which was given as he eased back into the sofa, eyes turning back to the corner of the room. She stepped into the hallway and silently fled back into the kitchen, tearing at the plastic around the case of beer, a feeling of nausea revolving in her chest as she felt the warm metal. Carrying the first four, she tore open the freezer door, pulling packed meat onto the floor to make way. She forced the cans into the freezer door, and pushed the door shut. Thoughts rushed from her head as she willed the cans cold, the clock ticking getting louder and louder until it echoed inside her head. Putting the remaining cans into the fridge, she folded the cardboard in two, pushing it into the bin as she flicked the switch to bring the iron back to life. 


She pulled another shirt across the ironing board, and began the smooth methodical movements across the material, a semblance of normality, an actor in her farcical efforts to engineer the home life she had always imagined. A slight smile touched her lips, the lines beside her eyes creased, as she remembered her games as a little girl, playing home with her friend from down the road. Taking turns with the pretend cooker, making tea and carefully pouring from the plastic teapot. She remembered the small ironing board her mother had bought her, a miniature copy of the one resting in the kitchen at home. Small enough for a young girl to iron her dolls clothes, kneeling in her bedroom, oblivious. 


And oblivious she was, lost in her memories again, too far away to hear the volume go down on the TV next door. Snapping awake, she heard him moving from the sofa, his boots thudding on the floor next door, getting louder, moving towards the hallway. In one movement she was around the ironing board, her hands reaching for the freezer door. She could think of nothing but the warmth of the beer cans in the fridge, the ones that should have been left chilling in there ever since she bought them this morning, the ones that would still be warm, still warm because of her. He came into the kitchen as she slipped in the small pool of water left by the meat she had dropped onto the floor earlier, the four cans taken from the freezer, almost cold, dropped onto the lino beside her. 


"I've got your beer, I was just bringing another through to you, do you want a beer? You do don't you? Something to eat? I've got them here, I'll bring them through." She spoke without real comprehension, responding to his presence, phrases spluttering from her lips as she pulled herself up by the freezer door and work surface. Phrases she had used before. Words strung together as an act of appeasement. An act of surrender. 


Maria felt his presence, absorbing the space between the doorframe. She stood, the four pack of beer hanging from her fingers, suspended by plastic, and turned her face towards him. She focused on his chest, saw the crumpled white shirt, noticed the packet of cigarettes pressing against the material of the breast pocket. Almost without thinking, almost but not quite, she moved backwards into the kitchen, back behind the ironing board. Putting an inanimate object between her and her husband who stood mute in the doorway. 


"What the fuck are you doing?" She flinched, instantaneously noticing the slur to his words as she smelt the burning of the material spread in front of her. Her hand snatched the iron from the burning hole it left behind, an iron-shaped space where the back of his work shirt used to be. 


Then he came. 


Crashing into the ironing board, his weight sent her backwards across the floor, her back striking the kitchen table. She saw the ironing board horizontal in front of her, his legs stumbling through the maze of metal underneath as he came at her. She forced the balls of her hands into the floor, her feet pulling up to her thighs, trying to rise, trying to escape somewhere. Her head struck the arch of the table leaves as she felt his hand grab her by the top of her dress, snatching at the material, his shouts drowned out with her screams as he punched her. Her arms came across her face, a token effort of defence against the blows raining down around her head and face, interspersed with kicks to her legs as she struggled. 


Maria felt herself switch to somewhere else, felt that she was no longer part of herself, that the body being battered was no longer hers, just an object she had some kind of attachment to. The blood came down her face, stinging her eyes, her tongue tasting the bitter salt. She felt distant, wondering if it was really this time, this time that he would really finish her off for good. And the thoughts that came to Maria as she succumbed were that he would because he knew how to do it. 


And then she fell to the floor, her body angled around the table leg, as he stepped back and stood above her. The back of her hand lying next to her face felt her hair matted in blood stuck to her cheek. She could hear him breathing, gasping for breath, the sounds merging with the pounding in her ears. She tried to move her eyes around, to see where he was, but tensed again as she heard him swallow air, gulping and retching mucus. As he spat, she heard the one step towards her, and tensed as his hands came down and wrapped around her face, his fingers entwining with her hair, and pulling her up, the whole weight of her body being dragged across the floor by the hair on her head. 


What energy remained came back, and she screamed as the thousand points of pain discharged across her skull. Her arms and legs angled manically, randomly, as she fought to escape. She could feel her arms swinging, her balled fists connecting with his body as he turned her away from him, and forced her across the sink. Two, three, four times he slammed her forehead against the taps, pulling her head back by the hair, further back each time. 


Suddenly she was released, left hanging over the sink, her hands wrapped around the cold and hot taps, holding herself up. She felt him still in the room, stepping back from her. She could hear him breathing, wiping his hands across his face, wiping the sweat onto his shirt. And she remembered that he said something like, "You think I'm finished? You think I'm finished with you you stupid fucking bitch!" as she heard the snap or ping from behind her and then she felt pain like she'd never felt before as he pressed the hot iron onto her thigh, burning through her dress in an instant. She felt pain and then it ended. He left the room, stumbling backwards, as she slid to the floor without moving.           




* * *


PC Hazlitt sat in the back of the ambulance, eased back out of the way as the paramedic attended to the woman opposite. 


The door was found wide open, no car on the drive. No-one else there, all the neighbouring houses in darkness. Hazlitt knew the house. Remembered it. It was always a contentious address because of who lived there, what they did for a living.


He remembered finding her there, seeing the state of the kitchen, looking at the body lying face down at his feet. Bending, he had gone for a pulse, his fingers sliding through the hair, blood smears across her cheeks. He felt something, the pumping of life in her neck and stepped back, his calls to her getting no response. The ambulance had arrived not long afterwards, and he had watched as they worked at her, the crew huddled across her body, their intensity contrasting with his helplessness and the feeling of cold anger he remembered building inside him.   


After a while she was carried out on a stretcher. Hazlitt followed, speaking quickly to the other officer manning the door. He lifted the police tape stretched across the driveway, holding it for the stretcher bearers, then he ducked underneath, following her to the ambulance. He could see people outside, standing by their front doors, the skipper speaking with the neighbour who paused with her hand to her mouth as they passed. 


The paramedic moved to the front and began speaking to the driver. Hazlitt placed his hat on the seat beside him, dropping his pocket book inside it. He looked at the figure prone before him. He could see her looking at him, her swollen eyes moving inside sunken sockets. He felt her flinch as he took her hand, remnants of blood across the fingers. He could feel the anger coming again, and felt that his hands were shaking. He placed her hand carefully back beside her. 


"It's Maria isn't it?" He felt himself bending forward, then eased back so she wouldn't feel crowded or overwhelmed or threatened. He thought he saw her eyelids lower, ever so slightly. He took this as acknowledgment of her name.


"You're going to be okay, you understand that? You are safe now. I promise you, you are safe now." He saw her eyes roving around, the eyeballs moving within their swollen surrounds. It seemed like she was trying to speak, but couldn't focus her energy. 


He paused and sat back. He looked behind him, watching the roads pass as the ambulance drove carefully towards the general hospital. He formed his words inside his head, made sure what he said was right first time. "You realise this is the last time don't you? You know what I mean by that?" He felt her hand in his again, careful not to squeeze and hurt her more. 


"We're going to go after him for this. I don't care who he is or what he does for a living. I'm going to make sure he gets locked up for doing this to you, whatever happens. He can't do this to you Maria."


As Maria lay in the ambulance, she felt a strange calm about her. She could see the man opposite. She could see the man not the uniform, and she felt safe. With a feeling so unusual, she realised that it wasn't her fault after all. She was not to blame for what had happened tonight. She was not to blame for what had happened on all the other nights. She knew that he was what he was, but as she looked across at the man with her, the man who had found her and taken her away, and knew that he was a good man. And as she drifted away, Maria knew that it would never happen again. Her husband, the policeman, would be stopped.      






The Police Response to the Cumbrian Shootings

This is the latest update from the BBC. It appears that a shooting was witnessed by an unarmed officer, who attempted first aid on the victims. The primary role of a police response to any incident is the preservation of life. This officer acted exactly right. Two other unarmed officers appear to have followed the suspect waiting for armed backup. This is a very brave action, and is what the public expect of the police. The vast majority of front line police officers are willing to put their lives on the line as part of their duties. It is only after the event that you think about the potential consequences of what you have done. These officers will be haunted by this incident, and will unfortunately be racked with guilt.

I fully accept that there are problems within the police, and that corruption exists, but please remember the day to day police work that goes on across the country, carried out by men and women with friends and families of their own. Most days are mundane, but when the major incident occurs, the front line officers step up to the plate, and some never go home again.

This is why my contempt for the office dwelling draft dodgers remains. I don't mean those who are seeing out the last few years of their service, or those with genuine reasons - I mean those who have spent their careers ducking and diving and avoiding the public. Shame on you.

06/06/2010

Ah

Does anyone, or is it just me, think fuck it? Seriously.

05/06/2010

Nasty, Brutish and Short Changed

This is somewhat old news, but I wasn't blogging at the time, and want the chance to use the title....

You can now become a PCSO aged 16. There will be 16 year old boys or girls, who cannot drive or get married, ordering you about. What sort of life experience can a 16 year old possibly bring to the role of plastic policing? A number of PCSOs do a really useful job, it is the role itself I object to. Someone taking notes while you get mugged isn't the best use of tax payer's money in my opinion.

In these times of fiscal hardship, where the police, along with other public services will be feeling to pinch, those in authority should consider the cost effectiveness of the PCSO. A PC is multi-skilled, and can be deployed in a variety of roles. The cost of three PCSOs would allow for the recruitment of two Police Constables. It is a long term view, but I do not believe that PCSOs will prove durable.

04/06/2010

One for the Cops

The worst pieces of legislation:

1) Threats to Kill.
2) Harassment.

Discuss.

Gangsta Gangsta


I hate many things in this world, but tin-pot little gangsters are one of my pet hates, along with white people with dreadlocks. I do voluntary work with young people, and some have become lost and drawn to the world of being a bad ass. Most of them were still in nappies when I joined the police, and I have seen so many like them it's unreal. They will end up dead or in prison. Well done.

In the 1990s, one of the biggest baddest gangsters lived in West London. As with anyone in the criminal world, other people wanted to take his place. One day, whilst waiting for his chicken, another man entered the restaurant, produced a handgun, pointed it at our gangster and pulled the trigger twice. Nothing happened. Our gangster produced his own weapon, and shot the gunman.

The gunman fled outside, leapt into his car and careered down the road. As he did so, he hit a passing moped rider who subsequently lost a leg. This was his own cousin. He drove on, and ended up driving through the front window of an estate agents, crushing the desk of a worker there who had just gone to make a cup of tea. The gunman's associates took his gun and ran off leaving him to die.

For reasons I cannot remember know, the gangster did not get convicted. He was a marked man however, and the risk to him was exceptionally high. As the police have a duty of care to people, it was decided that he should be followed around by an armed surveillance team for his own protection. Remember, this is a man who would happily shoot a police officer if they got in his way, being protected by the police. Oh the irony. Obviously, such protection could only last for a limited time. It was ended, and he was murdered. He was 21 years old.

Did these two young men need to die? They were adults who chose to follow a lifestyle. Many more will do so in the future.

02/06/2010

Maria Sometimes

This is the next instalment to this. Enjoy...

Maria woke, sitting up sharply, swinging her feet onto the floor. She made efforts to slow her breathing, her chest rising and falling, nightmares fading. The same dreams came, the same every night, and each time as it came to the moment she woke.

She looked down at the scratches to her arms. Fresh welts, marks from her fingernails in the flesh above her wrists. Each side mirroring the other. Marks on marks. She had gouged without feeling into the scars left from the last time. Scars covering the injury from the time before, and the time before that as it had gone on forever. Her memory of times before this came were hazy and little remembered, if she could actually remember anything at all.

Gareth lay snoring behind her. The odour of sweat and stale beer circled the bed, assailing her nostrils, the anxiety of recognition tasting in the back of her throat. Maria stood carefully, moving her feet to exactly the right place, preventing the floorboards creaking. Anything to leave him sleeping, to let him rise in his own time. She stepped across the bedroom, through the landing and down the staircase to the kitchen, her robe left swinging on the back of the bedroom door.

It was about ten, maybe fifteen minutes later that he came down. She heard him on the stairs, coughing, the sound of his lighter flicking as he came. A waft of cigarette smoke led him into the kitchen. There he was, half dressed in pyjama bottoms, standing at the door sucking at his cigarette like his life depended on it. Maria sat at the table, smoking herself, her other hand wrapped around a mug of tea. He stood, just standing, staring at her. She could feel it in the air, he was angry, mad about something, looking to blame someone for whatever it was. Snatched sideways glances showed her his reddened face, the unshaven neck, the squinting eyes.

He came into the kitchen. He didn't speak, just leant across the table and twisted her hair into his fist, pulling her head up then slamming her forehead down onto the table top. Her eyebrow glanced from the edge of the mug, the tea spilling out onto the mat. "Know what that's for do you?" She could feel the tightening of her hair, the roots stretching as his fingers pulled into a fist. She tensed her back, expecting the force as it came once again and her head went into the table. He held her there, one hand pressing down on the back of her head, the other pinning her wrist to the table.

"I get up, right? And I look in my wallet. My fucking wallet that I left by the bed last night when I got in, right? And what was gone from my fucking wallet Maria? What had you fucking taken from my wallet?”

He pulled her head back, lifting her face from the table as he looked into her eyes, his face so close she could feel the stale taste of his breath warming her mouth. The screaming came from inside, rushing up through her body, from deep down in her guts, it rushed upwards and out of her mouth as she opened it as wide as it could go, and she screamed so loudly she remembered, almost a look of surprise and shock on his face as she screamed straight at him screaming so hard he let go. pulling his fingers from her hair, almost stumbling backwards.

He was shouting, "Shut the fuck up! Shut up!" over and over but he stayed back, stayed away from her so she kept going, screaming and screaming on and on until her lungs hurt and her jaw ached but she couldn't stop. It kept on coming, forced up through her using the sound as a barrier between him and her, a physical wall to keep him away, keep him away from her, keeping her safe for as long as she could keep screaming.

She kept screaming until the door went, banging at the front door. Gareth stood looking at her as they both listened, hearing the banging, neither moving until the shouts came through the letter box that it was the police and to open the door or they would kick it down, so Gareth, his face as angry as she had ever seen him, ever, went off out of the kitchen as she sat, left sitting at the kitchen table.

The copper called Iceberg was first through the door, PC Overseer right behind him. The door opened up and there was Gareth stood with no top on, beer belly, rage all over his face. Fucking clown. Foot in the door, straight away. Called by a neighbour to a female screaming. Neighbour didn't want to leave their details. Anonymous call. Domestic written all over it. Iceberg and Overseer nearby in the van. Nobody else around. Both probationers tucked up dealing with prisoners from the night before.

"What you want?" He was making efforts to get between them and the hallway. Couldn't have that.

"What's the screaming about?" Overseer was inside, next to Iceberg. He had that look about him, like a hound about to tear the fox to pieces. Scenting blood. Nothing like a wife beater to get the shackles up, especially one of their own. Needed dealing with.

"Fucking telly. Who fucking called you?" Gareth had moved himself between the two other policemen, blocking their route down the hallway towards the kitchen. Iceberg moved him out of the way, arm across the chest, pushing him back against the wall. Overseer had hold of his wrist, twisting, putting the pain on. Overseer moved in close, talking into Gareth's ear, just enough so only Gareth could hear him.

"Keep it down fat boy. Wife beating fat boy ain't you? What we going to find in here eh? You fucking move from here, I'll break your wrist. I mean that. Do you understand me?" Overseer stressed the point, pulling Gareth's fingers down towards the fleshy part of his wrist, staring without emotion as the other man writhed in pain.

Iceberg went into the kitchen. He saw Maria sitting at the table, her hair curtained across her face, making no effort to acknowledge his presence. "It's the police love. You alright? Want to tell me what happened?”

Maria spoke quietly, her voice shrouded and soft. "Nothing.”

Iceberg sat down on the chair opposite and rested his hands on the table. His hat was already off, tossed onto the table. "We heard screaming when we pulled up outside. Someone's called us saying the same thing. Want to tell me about it?”

"Nothing's wrong. It's like he said.”

"The telly was screaming?”

"That's right. The telly. It was a film or something."

Iceberg noticed the marks. Saw the reddening through her hair, shapes on her forehead. Bruising coming through. "What happened to your head then?”

Maria finched, moving her hands up, covering the wounds. He saw the welts on her arms. "Not in a good state are you. He do this?”

"No! It was me. I did it to myself. Nothing to do with him. Nothing at all." Maria sat where she was, her eyes down as they had been all the time the policeman had been in the room. Her fingers pulled at her fringe, dragging hair across her forehead. She didn't want this attention. It could only make everything worse. She noticed the policeman stand up, put his hat back on. She felt his presence as he stood looking down at her, then he went, back out into the hallway. She felt herself standing up, the chair tipping over behind her as she heard them arresting Gareth in the hallway, heard him beginning to shout.

Maria went out through the kitchen door, into the hallway, she was shouting, "What are you doing? Leave him alone! He hasn't done anything! I told you, I did this myself! Leave him!" She saw Gareth lying on the floor, the two policemen forcing his wrists behind his back, putting handcuffs on him, one of them kneeling in his lower back. She could hear Gareth wheezing as he yelled at them to get of him, swearing at them, threatening them.

And then they were standing him up, raising him up to his knees, pulling him up by his arms as he screamed at them that they were hurting him. The one that had spoken to her was telling him to shut the fuck up, to keep quiet. The other one took Gareth away, through the front door and down towards the police van that was parked in the road. She was watching from the doorway, standing next to the other copper as her husband, still in his bed clothes, was pushed up and into the back of the police van as the other one got up with him and slammed the doors behind them.

"What did you arrest him for? Why did you do that?" She no longer made any effort to hide the injuries to her forehead, her hand went up and back, pushing her hair back behind her ears as she always did when she was stressed. She could see some of the neighbours were watching from their front windows.

Iceberg looked at her. Make it simple. "Positive arrest policy for domestic violence. We get called to something like this, we're leaving with someone in the back of the van. Usually the bloke.”

"He hasn't done anything. I told you that. I did it. It's my fault. It's always my fault" She had withdrawn back into the hallway, edging back behind the door as Iceberg stepped out. He paused and turned.

"Look love. He's given you a kicking. You and I both know that. Probably ain't the first time is it?" She didn't reply. "Got to do something about it. We'll deal with it.”

"What happens if I don't want to make a statement?”

"Don't matter. We'll deal with it, like I told you. You take care now.”

Iceberg turned and walked down to the van. He swapped places with Overseer, climbing up into the back of the van to join Gareth. Gareth was face down on the bench, trussed up. Iceberg could hear him mumbling as he got in.

"What's that? What you saying?" He asked as Overseer moved the van off.

"Fucking wankers. Fucking wankers."

"Overseer. Got a live one here. Better get a move on."

Overseer nodded from the front, the back of his head visible through the grill. Iceberg felt the van accelerate, braced himself back into the bench opposite. The van lurched sharply to the left, as expected. Gareth slid from the bench, rolling as he fell, and landed on his back, his full weight on top of his handcuffed wrists. He yelled out in pain.

"What's that? You still calling us wankers?" Iceberg slid of his bench and knelt next to Gareth. "Overseer. Seems he's fallen off the bench. Still thinks we're wankers though." Iceberg reached under Gareth and took hold of the cuffs, twisting them sharply so the metal dug into the bones in his wrists. He screamed.

"That better? Easing up are they? Don't want them on too tight do we?" Iceberg was laughing, getting more and more amusement as Gareth suffered more and more pain. He brought his knee up sharply into Gareth's side. "Anything else to say to us fat boy? Any other points you want to make you fucking wife beating shit?”

Iceberg pulled at the cuffs, twisting  Gareth around onto his side so he was facing away. He felt for the area, just at the base of the jawline, below the ear, carefully checking he had it just right before grinding his knuckle in as hard as he could. Never heard screaming like it! Screaming he was, just like his wife had been. Perfect.

Iceberg leant back, and slipped himself back up onto the bench seat. He was panting, out of breath. Wasn't getting any younger. Gareth lay in a silent heap, his chest rising and falling. Good sign that. Not a mark on him that couldn't be explained. Perfect.

Ten minutes later the reached the woods on the edge of town. Iceberg took off the cuffs and pushed Gareth out of the back of the van. He laughed at the figure standing staring at him in pyjama bottoms as the van drove away.



Maria sat on the sofa, chain smoking, one after the other smoked to the butt and pressed out into the ashtray resting in her lap. The phone rang next to her. Someone had come around and knocked at the door for a little bit. She could hear voices outside, talking about her. She hadn't called those policemen to her house. She hadn't asked them to arrest Gareth. She wanted nothing to do with any of it. Why should she help them? They hadn't helped her. It was all her fault after all. She had taken money from him before. Not this time, but it was her fault all told. Getting what was coming she supposed. All this wouldn't help. Gareth was in a cell because of her, because of her bloody screaming fit. Probably lose his job. Might even go to prison. All because of her.

Maria sat and remembered, wondered what had made her do that, what had made her scream so loudly that the neighbours had called the police. She thought it through, one hand raising the cigarette to her lips, the other pulling at the scabs on  her arms. She looked at the blood covering her nails without seeing. The phone stopped ringing.

Murderer

This scum appears to have gone on a killing spree. I only know what is within the news report, but I have no  doubt that investigation will show that he thought he had been wronged somehow, and that other people were to blame, etc etc. A public authority, be it the police, social services, or mental health, will be found to have been at fault somewhere along the line, and will therefore be to blame.

No. No. No. The person to blame is the killer. He was a grown up. The public services do not force people to behave in the way they chose. They have free will.

This will be a test of the new government. Will knee-jerk legislation / public enquiries be coming our way?

01/06/2010

Electing the Boss


One of the big discussion points in policing circles during the recent election was the possibility of elected police chiefs, possibly similar to the model used in many parts of America. The idea has been somewhat watered down, with the latest suggestion being the election of some kind of official who would set local policing priorities that the local police commander would be obliged to comply with.

This has met some resistance from ACPO, and other senior figures. Good. Those who have benefited from the current system are unlikely to support it's eradication. The quoted BBC article suggests that some  senior officers may quit. Bye then.

The most coherent argument is the potential for the politicisation of the police service. This is a valid concern. The historic model in this country is the separation of the executive, the police and the judiciary, where the powers of each counterbalance those of the others. Parliament makes the law, the police enforce it, and the judiciary interpret it. Without interference with, or from, each other. Ah.

This system has ceased to exist, if it ever did. The power of parliament has succumbed to the cabinet and unelected advisers. Laws, notably under New Labour, were introduced in knee-jerk reaction to the latest media scare, and to ensure the continuation of public subservience through fear, ie terrorist legislation and other draconian matters.

The judiciary have come under intolerable political pressure to meet the demands of the government, with allegations of weak sentencing preceding even more intrusive legislation. It is easy, especially from within the police service, to cast stones at those who serve as judges and magistrates, but they do resist political pressure to a much greater degree than the police.

The police. It will come as no surprise to discover that the police are a political institution. The whole performance culture, with micro-management and business models which has done so much to destroy the police service emanates from the Home Office at the whim of the current party of power. Senior officers fall over themselves to meet such targets to achieve promotion. There is no resistance to this state of affairs, no concern for historical precedent of liberty and democracy. Ian Blair was a political puppet of New Labour and was sacked by a Tory mayor. He has had his reward as noted in my previous blog entry.  

The police are therefore political, so the fear of them becoming a political pawn is spent. Despite arguments to the contrary, the police are still obliged to act within the law, so should an extremist manage to achieve office, they could not direct the police to act any further than the law allows. I have no doubt that there would be some checks and balances written into the legislation to allow for the removal of any such undesirable should the need arise, much as there is for the removal of Chief Constables. The party in power at Westminster would not delegate too much power to a local level.

Senior officers fear election. They fear the public. The public, who so many refer to as the community who we must serve, are nothing more than a statistic to the vast majority of senior officers. Most officers of rank achieve their status through nepotism and Machiavellian manoeuvrings within their respective organisation. To actually become genuinely accountable to the people who pay their wages and expenses would truly frighten them. Most would not achieve office should they be forced to stand, and many would be removed for not meeting the objectives of their public. I have no doubt this is the real reason behind the scare stories than mass resignations would follow such legislation coming onto the statute books. Let it happen.    

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Wanker


The police service is riddled with courses, focus groups and other gatherings designed to keep the people the tax payers pay for off the streets. In every such group, there will be a 'wanker'. In police circles, this is often known as the 'blah merchant' or a 'big box' ie if you had an elephant, he would have a box big enough to put it in. If you cannot spot the wanker, it must be you. Think about it.