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One man's experience of becoming a police officer



Updated: 2017-10-13T09:47:56.726+01:00

 



Moving on...

2008-06-10T06:04:06.610+01:00

So here it is, my new blog which will hopefully be more productive. It will certainly contain more cynicism, bitching and opinions utterly at odds with the company line...

Plod Blog - Version 2



Well what happened there, then?

2008-06-10T04:42:33.480+01:00

Six months without an update. Shoddy. Just no excuse for it. But I've come up with a few anyway.

I was getting crapped on from a great height with regard to the seriously tedious amount of paperwork needed to 'evidence' the fact I could police by myself. I knew I could police, my colleagues knew that I could police, my skippers knew I could police, yet I had to write small essays on just about every incident I attended to prove this. It took all my strength to sit down on rest days and wade through the quagmire of National Occupation Standards - a big ring binder full of facinating competencies I had to achieve. I'm now confirmed in rank, so the whole lot got stuck in my loft.

I had a lot going in in my home life, all good things, but it meant I just lost interest in updating the blog.

Finally, with fewer and fewer people on my section, more work, more bureaucracy and less enthusiasm, I started to really value my time off duty (or at least the bits where I wasn't fretting about National Occupational Standards).

However, things I have changed. It's official, I've become cynical and jaded about the job. It only took two years, though I was never naively optimistic at the start.

What started the rot? Where, when and how did it really take take hold? I'll endevour to tell all in my new blog...



Bring back Maggie, even in her current state she'd do a better job...

2007-12-13T16:21:18.296+00:00

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How did these cretins manage to cling on to power for ten years? Granted, they did a superb job of conning the 33% of the population that voted them in a decade ago. Another glorious triumph for Comrade Brown et al, and a lot more spare public cash now available to spend on PR staff telling what a wonderful job this pathetic excuse for a government is doing, backed up by reams of 'statistics' generated by quangos and vastly over-paid consultants.



The other side of the fence

2007-08-06T16:20:56.802+01:00

I received a phone call over the weekend from a good friend of mine. I could tell immediately he was upset. He related to me how he and a couple of his (male) friends had been out enjoying the sunshine in the local park. They were larking about, though not to the extent that they were getting anyone's backs up. Or so they thought. This chap, let's call him Steve, is not a geezer, chav or any other sort of thug. He's a very pleasant bloke who spends his days in an office, on a computer, making sure the world keeps turning. Or something. His two friends I can't vouch for, I've not met them. However if Streve is hanging out with them, I sincerely doubt they are the sort of people you'd cross the street to avoid.

Anyhoo, there they are laughing, chatting, keeping to themselves when a couple of police officers approach them. Apparently five separate calls have been received stating that they'd been taking pictures of young children in the adjacent paddling pool. The three duly hand over their phones, explain that they've been taking pictures of eachother, show the officers these pictures, the officers content themselves that it's harmless, and that's it.

Except it isn't. The officers then insist the harmless photos are deleted, which they are - however even a luddite like me knows pressing 'delete' doesn't do any more than stop the photo being available at the touch of a button. It's still there on the memory card. That's not the worst of it though. One of my friend's companions, we'll call him John, has a knife in his bag, which he'd bought the day before for a camping trip. I don't have a detailed description of the knife, only that it was a 'camping knife' - Steve didn't actually see it clearly.

John gets nicked for possessing an offensive weapon. I presume the arresting officer would have checked if this chap had a good reason for still having the knife in his bag, and then satisfied himself that there wasn't a good reason.

Steve walked away bewildered with his other friend Dave, whilst at least one 'concerned parent' shouts 'THANK F**K, SHOULD OF (sic) LOCKED ALL YOU SICKOS UP'. He then called me for advice to pass on to John. My response was 'Make sure he takes the legal advice offered, and he might get a caution, or if he's lucky an NFA'. John waited in the cells for a few hours, was interviewed and then cautioned. He did get legal advice prior to interview.

This got me thinking. In the same circumstances I would not have asked for the photos to be deleted. There wouldn't be any point. With regard to the knife though, I'm sure I'd have acted in a similar manner. If someone is carrying a blade over 3 inches long and can't adequately account for it, I'd be obliged to bring them in. Steve feels aggrieved about the situation, and I empathise. John was not carrying the knife with any intentions - I'm not sure whether he'd forgotten it was in there. Nevertheless, a bloke with no previous convictions has through his own carelessness now got himself a record.

Knife crime has of course been hitting the headlines, again, and I can't fault the officer who made the arrest - I wasn't there so can't see things exactly as he saw them.

As for those who called the police, did they over-react? Certainly I can picture the foul-mouthed Waynetta Slob who shouted at Steve after John got carted away. Three young blokes having a laugh and minding their own business in the park on a hot day? Not your typical nonces in my experience. For five calls to be made, whether all from Waynetta or from her friends or unconnected parents does seem a little odd. Is it only a matter of time before one of the tabloids calls on El Presidente Brown to appoint a PaedoFinder General? It certainly seems common sense was absent, and I have a strong suspicion that media-driven hysteria played it's part in the trio's unpleasant experience.



A Decline in Personal Standards?

2007-05-25T08:40:55.660+01:00

I'd come in early to tackle a particularly important job. I say important as it meant I scored another detection this month, so obviously it was vital. I'd done what I needed to do in terms of dealing with the client, i.e. charging the reprobate and had returned to the office to crew up with a colleague. There was a file to be built before the end of the shift, so that the courts would know why said reprobate was appearing before them.

File-building is a tedious administrative task that merely involves replicating information on a multitude of different forms. For the really big files we do have a team of civvies to do the job, but for the initial hearings we have to do them ourselves. This takes me, a sworn constable, off the streets and puts me firmly behind a desk for an hour or two. It's part of my job, and I find admin. tasks fairly easy to deal with so I get on with it with the same enthusiasm as the rest of my job, but it is at odds with what the media leads me to believe the public wants - more police on the streets, not behind a desk.

I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Shuffling bits of paper about and dealing with 'red tape' is not what I want to be doing, I'd rather be out there catching scumbags. Employing some efficient police staff to handle this type of admin which is essential each time a person in charged would surely be cost-efficient. Perhaps this happens in other forces, but mine is too poor I think.

So anyway, I picked up a couple of jobs with my colleague, as they were piling in thick and fast, there was no time to sit in the office completing the file. I return to the office with a new job to write up, plus the file to build. It would be tight, but I might just get everything dealt with before I was due to book off. I had a very decent reason to book off on time, I needed to get home for something important.

As I'm sat there tapping away at my next MG form for the file build, an immediate response job comes in over the radio. There are four or five of my colleagues sitting in the office, probably a couple more smoking outside, and a couple watching football in the kitchen. No one offers up for it. A few more details are passed. It a shoplifting, and the offender has left the scene. Granted, it shouldn't be a top priority job, but still no-one calls up for it. Something similar happened last week, and I turned out after five minutes while my colleagues carried on chatting. A further radio broadcast gave a direction of travel and description of the offender.

I would have been up and out the door in a second had it not been for the mound of paperwork that had to be completed before the end of the shift. One of my colleagues, who was surfing Ebay turned round and asked me if I was going. I replied I had a bunch of stuff to complete and I was pushed for time as it was.

I felt guilty at not getting out the door immediately, but surely one of the sergeants would turf some of my colleagues out? Eventually, after 10 minutes someone assigned themselves.

With such laziness no wonder our detection rate is so poor. It's also the first time I've not been running out the door when a prioroty shout has come through. I resolved not to let my standards slip again, but it's hard to tip the work/life balance in favour of work every day when those around me have already settled into a lower standard. As it was I still finish an hour late.



How Not To Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police in the US

2007-05-23T10:38:28.035+01:00

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For those of you planning on a holiday to the USA this summer, Chris ROCK provides this short educational lecture on how to avoid any 'issues' with local law enforcement officers...




Hot Fuzz

2007-05-14T16:10:10.331+01:00

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If you missed this quality flick at the cinema, get the DVD that's due for release next month. And watch out for my cameo.




A night on the town

2007-05-14T08:37:33.925+01:00

Ahh, Saturday night in Sandford. The bars, pubs and clubs; going out for a few drinks with your mates, getting a bit wobbly; grabbing a kebab made of god-knows-what ahd heading for the taxi rank at 2am; getting into a fight over nothing, knocking some hapless bloke to the ground and kicking his face to a pulp before getting nicked and fighting four coppers all the way down to the cells. What fun!

I actually quite enjoy policing the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights - it's always varied and usually involves dashing from one urgent call to the next. I get to be just as mouthy back to the punters with little chance of a complaint and on the whole there's not a great deal of paperwork. Plus with my new-found love of detections I can hand out the odd £80 FPN for those that just won't listen when I tell them to stop squaring up to innocent revellers and piss off home. Basically it feels like proper policing, which dealing with yet another non-crime domestic or text-based 'harrassment' doesn't.

With a decent number of officers around (extra staff are drafted in for these peak times) there's also a fair chance we'll get to the incidents in time and with enough pairs of hands to arrest the culprits. Bring on next weekend...



The Numbers Game

2007-05-12T13:44:49.974+01:00

Bugger. Earlier this week in briefing my skipper dropped a bit of a bombshell. The top brass have decided my crew aren't getting enough detections. My new guv (more on him later) has put a lot of pressure on my skippers to get results. Threats of 'sticking them on' were apparently waved about - this is a discipline procedure, a warning system. Everybody thinks the new guv is a numpty, including his peers, who have raised concerns with the brass.

So, all is not well, morale is affected and we were told that the worst performing two would be shipped off to dreary admin roles.

Where does this leave me? Pissed right off, I can tell you. Rather than concentrating on learning the job, dealing with each incident on it's merits and employing best practice as I go, I now have to chase the detections along with all my colleagues. We're in effect in competition with eachother, which further affects morale. I left my previous career to escape the targets culture - I thought the police service was there to provide just that, a service.

I hope common sense will prevail, but it's not much hope.



Supervision

2007-05-03T08:58:06.428+01:00

Sergeants, skippers, line managers, supervision - they vary wildly in quality, but it looks like I've got a couple of decent supervisors.

They are both very helpful, tolerant of my occasional balls-ups and resolutely scornful of the corporate line. When a particular edict, directive or policy is introduced, if it's an LOB (Load Of Bollocks) my skippers will tell me so. It's very refreshing to work with such pragmatism after the stifled atmosphere in the tutor unit.

More on them later.



Tea bitch

2007-05-03T08:31:37.219+01:00

The first thing I noticed when I pitched up on my first day was that some of my section didn't pay any attention to me at all, whilst others came up and started chatting, which made me feel much more at home. It's quite daunting knowing that you're being chucked in at the deep end and everyone will expect you to know what you are doing. Thankfully I found out fairly quickly that some of my new colleagues are more open and approachable than others, but that they are all willing to help me out when I get stuck.

I'd been fully briefed that the newbie on section was the 'tea bitch'. I don't drink the stuff, it's horrible - however, in the spirit of tradition and deference (I was going to need all the goodwill and favours I could get) I got on with it with a smile. This generally entails pitching up 20 minutes earlier than everyone else, searching the nick for dirty cups to wash (as there are NEVER any clean ones about) then preparing 12 teas/coffees as per individuals preferences. I also had to manage the tea fund, buy new supplies and ensure the cupboard remained locked (it's shocking how much stuff can go missing between shifts if you don't secure it - coppers can be thieving bastards when they want to be!). It's a pain, cuts into my own time, but I respect the tradition. I have heard that others on my intake refuse to do it as 'it's a form of bullying' - I think those individuals need to get a flipping grip and learn the value of being a team member.



Opps, extended absence!

2007-05-03T08:16:37.703+01:00

Where have I been? Well, I've been busy with both work and home life. I know I said I would get on the case three months ago, but what can I say? Life on section is a whole different ball game to the cosy hand-holding that is the tutor unit and the outright slackers paradise that was university (god, I miss those 2 hours working days in civvies). As for my home life, well I've been kept very busy and had a lovely trip abroad.

I will try harder in future to post some vaguely interesting stuff (I hope) on a regular basis. Promise!



Independence Day

2007-01-22T11:16:30.223+00:00

I've been very busy. Over the last couple of months I've been frantically jumping through hoops to fill the bureaucrat's wet-dream that is my Development Record. That's my excuse for my piss-poor efforts at maintaining these pages, and I'm sticking to it. In it I've had to document a multitude of 'competencies', mainly to prove I'd be able to fill out all the various forms and send the right emails when I'm out there on my own. I'm pleased to say that my superior officers signed me off as fit for independent patrol last week, and immediately sent me out on foot to patrol the mean streets of Sandford.

Many of my colleagues who also got their 'wings' last week, so to speak, reported feeling distinctly odd being out on foot without a friendly tutor holding their hand. I must admit that it felt liberating and perhaps rather exciting, but I didn't get the buzz of a powertrip like some as they conducted their first solo stop check, nor did I get the sphincter-tightening dread as a member of public approached with some obscure problem.

I was pulled into the guv'ners office for a few sage words of advice after my 3 hour foot patrol round Sandford town centre. 'Keep out of your section skippers way as much as possible, otherwise you'll get jobs thrown at you, always have the brews ready before briefing, at least until the next newbie pitches up in a few months and you've got two eyes, two ears and one mouth - use them in that order.' And with that I was packed off to my new section, where I'm told the learning starts...



My first night shift

2007-01-20T15:10:18.197+00:00

Some people love 'em, others hate 'em. I think I'll get very tired on mine, but will enjoy the pace and nature of the jobs that come in. Myself and all of my colleagues (20+) at the tutor unit worked the shift together shortly before Christmas. We were all meant to pile into Sandford High Street after midnight to keep an eye on the Xmas revellers, but that didn't happen for the most part because we all got tucked up on domestics, thefts, RTCs and the rest. Merely minutes after briefing I found myself dealing with a brawl in the middle of a street. It was a domestic and one party had definitely come off worse, blood streaming from her nose and mouth she came running to the safety of our car as we pulled up. The pair scream at eachother, we separate them and get a quick account. I nick her partner for ABH and the victim clams up. She doesn't want our help, wants her partner released. Too late for any of that, I've already taken positive action and off we go to custody.

After booking in my prisoner I drive back to the witness who called it in. She's heavily pregnant, its 1AM but she's still happy to assist us. I wish more of my witnesses were like that. A very clear and accurate statement later and I'm out the door, except my ride has buggered of on another assault job, so I'm left on my own in public for the first time. It's a very bizarre feeling. Here I am, hi-viz jacket on, standing in the middle of a residential area at 1.30AM waiting for a lift. I decide to have a bit of a 'patrol' and it's a nice feeling.

A couple of hours worth of paperwork later and it's back out on patrol. 4AM rolls by, then 5. After flagging considerably I'm starting to get my second wind - that odd feeling of being very awake, yet knowing that if you close your eyes you'll be out cold within 5 minutes. A couple of stop and searches take place, remind a cyclist clad head to toe in black to put his lights on, scout round some derelict buildings for signs of squatters - all in order.

As 6AM and home-time looms, I know I'll make it safely back to my bed and my better half. She told me that I fell asleep halfway through telling her what I'd been up to that night. I know I'll need to get some sleep in during the day for the next one, otherwise I might not last the distance...



Where have I been?

2007-01-20T14:51:37.617+00:00

Well, I've been busy at work, busy at home and rather slack when it comes to this blog. I've completed my training, and just need a signature from my supurvisors to give me independent patrol status, i.e. set me loose on Sandford - hooray! I've decided to play catch-up a little and will be posting a few thoughts from the last seven weeks...



I see dead people (again)

2006-11-29T08:30:05.509+00:00

After my first G5, I then got a trip to the mortuary for a tour. Oh joy. My sergeant has offered me the chance to view a morning's-worth of autopsies, which I politely declined. Do you know what happens in an autopsy? Well, yes, obviously they cut up dead bodies in search of the cause of death. What I mean is, has the process been descibed to you?

On my mortuary tour I was led round by a worker with the driest sense of humour in the world. As we were standing in the autopsy room I received a blow-by-blow account of how each body is hacked up. The chest cavity is ripped apart to access all the organs, which are pulled out and individually weighed. The facial tissue is peeled off like a mask to access the skull, the top half of which is cut off and the brain scooped out. The brain cavity is stuffed with newspaper or anything else that comes to hand, as the mushy remains of the brain are placed in a plastic bag with the organs and sewn back into the chest. I was on the verge of losing my lunch at the description, so I know I'd make a big mess of the autopsy room if I had to watch that.

The technician then showed me the freezers, wheeling out corpse after corpse, demonstrating the best way to get rings off (you don't want to know) and telling me how each died. He described the best way to get particularly large bodies down flights of stairs (take a guess) and told be my task on those occasions would be to barricade the living room door so the rellys couldn't charge out to see what all the noise was. He was, in short, the most un-PC person I've come across since my training started, and my sergeant was stood at the back of the room visibly cringing as me and my colleagues either tried not paying attention to the more dodgy comments, or stood sniggering along (I was in the former group, of course). Proper gallows humour, it seemed, and the tech didn't give a stuff. He'd been doing the job for over 20 years, so I guess it takes a certain sort to put up with those sights day after day.



I see dead people

2006-11-28T12:59:57.995+00:00

Lucky old me. Today I got to see my first dead person (well, other than my gran when I was about 9). I was quick off the mark when I spotted the 'G5' - our term for a sudden death, named imaginatively after the form that needs to be filled out for the coroner. I wasn't even due to book on for another 30 minutes, but I had to get this scenario signed off at some point, so sooner rather than later seemed to be the best option. My sergeant was impressed with my enthusiasm to go see a corpse, but really I was dreading it. Some people aren't that fussed, I just find the whole thing very creepy. But I have to get used to it.

Thankfully it was an old dear who'd had a very good innings, and died wealthy, so I didn't find it as uncomfortable as I might have done if it had been a violent or young death. Sadly for her, her husband had died earlier that month. I'm told that this is a fairly common situation, where one doesn't want to carry on without the other. Thankfully there were no hysterical relatives to compound my anxiety, just a thoroughly decent friend, who had known the deceased for decades. I spent around three hours at the scene, organising repairs to the door we'd kicked down, recording the medication the deceased had in her possession and searching the premises for significant valuables that might need to be secured.

I was grateful that another officer took care of removing the jewellery, so all I had to do was turn the body over to check for signs of foul play. Something always happens to a body when it is moved - the bowels are relaxed, so you get some 'leakage'. I had to conduct the search as best as I could, and tried to think of the overpowering smell as better than that of a decaying body, which I'm told stays with you for hours afterwards.



Screwed By The Job

2006-11-09T12:31:02.778+00:00

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Working in the police can be confusing sometimes - lots of hand-holding, talks from Welfare, endless support etc. one minute, then a slap in the face as reality checks back in. I've not received that slap yet, but I hear about it regularly happening to colleagues working in the same vicinity. The Job was described to me by a friend and more experienced colleague as being particularly vindictive on occasion, as well as unjust.

What's my own gripe? I put in a request regarding where I'd be posted some time ago. I explained to my line manager why it was so important to me, and what effect it would have on my life outside work. 'Absolutely fine', 'no problem at all'. I was chuffed. Until I got the email detailing that I had the exact opposite to what I'd been assured was no issue. I spoke to the line manager. 'Oh yeah, you did ask didn't you?', 'Yeah, I know I said it would all be fine, but I forgot to do anything about it'. So, could it be altered? No one else has a preference, just me, could I swap? 'Fraid not, set in stone now, nothing I can do'. Well, that piece of A4 on your desk with all the postings on it does not appear to be hewn from granite, and that's a biro in your hand, not a bleedin' chisel.

I'd previously had a huge amount of respect for my line manager, they seemed really decent. I got on with them well. They knew how much this meant to me, and they failed me. Worse, they couldn't be arsed to send an email to get it changed.

I'd been warned this job was full of disappointment, bureaucracy and frustration, and I've now had the dubious pleasure of experiencing it first hand. I am but a resource.



Searching

2006-11-09T12:03:48.165+00:00

In the last seven months I've had the opportunity to search a number of properties, normally for drugs or stolen property. I've probably taken part in 10-12 different searches, and in most I've encountered something a little embarrassing for the occupant, and I don't mean their private stash of skunk. Thankfully on each occasion they were in another part of the property or in custody when such items were uncovered and quickly put back where they were found.

Whilst I'm not in the least shocked by what we've turned up so far, I am intrigued at the proportion of the population stashing hardcore porn, handcuffs, whips, dildos and other sex toys under the bed or in the wardrobe. Granted, the section of the population I've so far dealt with might be considered a minority (as they were in custody for theft or drug offences). Nevertheless, it seems these objects are a lot more common that I'd previously thought. And fair play to them.

However, I'm dreading the day when whilst searching though an 18 year old female's bedroom looking for her dealer boyfriend's stash of pills, I uncover the sets of handcuffs attached to each end of the bed frame (as in my most recent search) and she happens to be standing next to me. How do I react? A jokey comment or grin; pretend they're not there? Is there a polite way to deal with these things?



They Deserve Eachother

2006-09-29T19:03:04.286+01:00

I joined the job because people preying on others really pisses me off. Thieving, violence, and generally taking the piss out of law-abiding citizens makes my blood boil. I'm quite happy to do everything in my power to make things as difficult as possible for those who don't play by the rules. I derive a huge amount of job satisfaction from putting drug dealers behind bars, even if it's for minor offences not related to their dealing. What small amount of pity I feel for the handcuffed 14 year old shoplifter bawling her eyes out as I escort her to my waiting patrol car evaporates as I look through her PNC record at all her other offences.

Many of my colleagues have a little chuckle when they read of a minor assault on a traffic warden. Whilst I can understand the sentiment (who actually likes them?), I couldn't really condone violence against them. Clampers however...

I have this job at the moment. A rather simple clamping firm employee decided to steal a very large amount of money in a totally traceable, incredibly obvious manner. He's clearly the bluntest tool in the box, given the thousands he tried to nick electronically using the company credit card machine and his own account. So a rather large paper trail lands on my desk, bundled up in a case file.

Naturally there is a victim here, so I should be willing to bring the full force of the law down on the miscreant in question. I am, but at the same time I have to confess to a fair degree of enjoyment in the knowledge that I'm about to stick it to a wheel clamper. What's more, I'm really hoping the proceeds of the crime have now been frittered away and that the clamping company will go under as a result. Why? because I hate clampers, they're barely legal thieves, and I think we should follow Scotland's example and outlaw private clamping operations as extortion. Even with SIA registration they are to a man a bunch of nasty thugs. F*** 'em all I say!



Sympathy for the Devil

2006-09-23T21:08:38.223+01:00

A funny thing happened the other day. I was sitting in a patrol car at some traffic lights with my tutor, and a car pulled alongside. My tutor gave the driver a sideways glance, and then did a double-take. The driver was nicked for driving whilst disqualified and no insurance a year back, and then a year before that for the same offence - each time by my tutor.

'Excellent!' I think as the blues go on and the suspect pulls over. I get really annoyed by people driving without licence/insurance/MOT/RFL or whilst drunk/high/disqualified. He got a few months last time, he's a persistent offender, how dare he take the piss on my doorstep. 'This should be a good result!'.

So we get him out, have a word, and he pulls a provisional licence out. No 'L' plates on the vehicle, his missus in the passenger seat. The DVLA say disqual. until test passed. The missus says she has an international drivers permit and a UK provisional. She says she's lived here for years. I nick him. He's upset, protests he can drive, claims he's insured, his other half can supervise, his kids are in the back - I just want to get him back to the nick.

I book him in, in interview he's convinced he is able to drive legitimately. He's got his test booked next week, already done his theory. All the documents are in order, he can produce them at his home. We bail him to seek advice and see the docs. At his place all is in order, it seems. He and his wife are very pleasant, it really does appear that he's trying to do the right thing now. His wife is heavily pregnant, and as we leave I feel a lot of sympathy for them both, as does my tutor.

There's still a couple of sticking points though. First, he had no 'L' plates, second, his wife is driving on an old foreign licence - you're only allowed to use those for one year from when you settle in the UK - and third, how the hell did these people get insurance with his record and neither of them having a full UK licence?

We speak to a traffic sergeant, and rather unusually his eyes light up. The missus as a supervisor is a red herring - no L plates means he's guilty of the offence. We're chuffed. Well, actually, we're not. Over refs we discuss the benefits of sending this guy down (as will undoubtedly happen if convicted). We agree to sleep on it - neither of our consciences are settled. Surely it's a bit harsh to get this guy sent down for forgetting to put 'L' plates on? A simple oversight, surely. After all, he only got his provisional a few weeks ago, and it's the first UK licence he's held.

On the next shift, we call his insurance company. And my sympathy evaporates. They've not got a scooby about his convictions, or the fact neither of them have full licences. They cancel the policy on the spot. We run the circs by our sarge and get the nod to charge. The lying git is back in to answer bail next week. I can't wait...



This pay rise thing

2006-09-17T21:36:11.736+01:00

I've not been in the job that long, so I've not as much right as those with more service to have a bitch about the matter, but FFS what do the government think they're playing at?

Way back in 1919 the police were treated so badly, paid so poorly and so fed up that they went on strike. Needless to say, this was not good. In order to avoid this ever happening again, the government of the time reached an agreement with the police that in return for better conditions, the police would never strike again, would not be able to join any union, but would instead have a Police Federation to represent their interests.

This arrangement normally works well, most police officers I've spoken to hold the PolFed in high regard, and it is staffed mainly by serving officers. The Fed look after our needs and welfare on all levels.

With regards to wages the normal state of play is that the Police Federation negotiate with the government on behalf of constables up to the rank of chief inspector for annual pay increases. It's generally the case that the this is index-linked, i.e. rises in line with inflation. It is decided on each June/July and implemented in September. This has worked for the last 27 years.

This year the 'Official' side (as the government side of negotiations is known) has decided to offer much less, with their latest offer being 2.2% - well below inflation. Why? Who knows. Suspicions abound that it may be revenge for our total lack of support for this government's force merger plans. Perhaps they care that little for us, and know there is not a great deal we can do about it. No matter, it would appear that this government is taking the piss out of us.

What happens now? Well, the government continue to irritate the rank and file (though I'd imagine most officers were irritated by the government already, prior to the pay dispute), arbitration, discussions, negotiation etc. takes place somewhere in Whitehall, and then probably a few months down the line we get the rise we are entitled to (backdated to this month).

Why do the government cause all this grief? They know what the reaction will be, they know they are merely eroding the support of hundreds of thousands of voters and for what? Probably the cost of one of the lesser QUANGOS, hundereds of which have been introduced since this government came to power.

This link puts the point across from officers with far more service than I have.



Scary applicants

2006-09-09T18:38:10.240+01:00

Whilst at this recruitment event, I spoke to all manner of interesting people. Within the ten to twenty minutes I spent talking to each, I was able to get a grasp of who they were, and whether they seemed 'the right stuff'. So to speak.

We'd been briefed to give honest accounts of the Job, and if anything, to highlight the downsides. This is common sense, and what I'd been planning to do anyway. Under the old system, it was a regular occurance for new recruits to pitch up to HQ on the first day, get a frank talking-to from the inspector about the realities of the job and then it dawned on them that they'd have to work nights, shifts, have mean people try and hurt them etc. One account has a recruit leaving ten minutes into the job, immediately after the inspector's reality check.

Some of the applicants I spoke to were really clued up. They'd already sought out serving officers, had most of their questions answered, and were only there because attendance was compulsory in order to get the application pack. These people seemed solid, dependable types that I'd gladly have watching my back come closing time on the High Street.

Some of the applicants would have been entertaining, had they not been so serious. As it was I felt pity, and perhaps a little fear. I'm confident that the paper sift will weed out the teenager who was looking for action, preferably with the firearms unit as he'd 'thought hard about joining the military, but then decided against it as I don't want to get blown up or shot'. He seemed overly concerned about the consequences of a firearms officer shooting someone in error. He thought that routine arming of all officers was a good idea (despite the fact that the vast majority of actual police officers think it's a bad idea), and he left me with the impression that were one to actually issue a firearm to this individual (against all reasoning) he'd probably slot the first member of public to look at him funny.

One charming young lady with more facial piercings than I could count was passionate about cars, and fair play to her. I was right with her up until the point she confessed to being a 'right little girl racer' who 'loves driving really fast' and therefore thought a role in the traffic unit would be perfect. I didn't have the heart to tell her that joining the job would mean waving goodbye to the various spikes and loops poking out of her face, and that since I joined I feel I have to drive like Miss Daisy is my back seat passenger. Perhaps if she loses the metalwork for the interview and keeps schtum about her need for speed, I might just be seeing her around the nick in a year's time.

There were quite a few applicants who had just completed A levels or a degree. They mostly came across quite well, asked pertinent questions and seemed on the ball, however, I can't help feeling they on the whole lacked the life experience that seems to be a key part of being able to cope with the job. I wouldn't dream of generalising of course, and some of my colleagues are of a similar age and very capable. I know there's no way I'd have coped if I'd signed up in my teens or early twenties.

Next time I'm in the vicinity of the HR offices, I think I'll pop in and ask what percentage of applicants get through the papersift. I'd hazard a guess that the figure doesn't reach double digits.



Oh S***...

2006-09-09T17:55:06.180+01:00

I think I've just put a dent in my career prospects.

So there I was at a recruitment evening for my force, answering eager applicants' questions as they clamoured around me, desparately keen to hear what this new recruit thought of The Job. I was enthusiastic, honest, entertaining (I hope) and above all setting the right impression with candidates and their families. I turned round to get another glass of water and was pounced upon by a very, VERY senior officer. My enthusiasm by now had been polished to a mirror-finished PR's dream. I gushed over the quality of the course, my tutors and fellow students. Then I stepped on a metaphorical landmine:

very, VERY senior officer "Well, that's very nice, but tell me, what problems have you experienced?"
A rather foolish me "We're in this difficult position where there are not enough tutors or vehicles to go round. We're having to double up, which is very frustrating as one of the students invariably has to take a back seat. It's a great hinderance and my unit really needs more tutors and resources to function properly..."
With that I got an icy stare for a few moments, and Mr very, VERY senior officer glances down at my name badge. I smile inanely. The icy stare melts into a puddle of distain.
very, VERY senior officer "You must understand that to give your unit more tutors would mean taking experienced officers off the front line, and that's not what the public wants..."
He thanked me for my time and wondered off, I got on with approachiing the next eager candidate.

The thing is, my tutors, sergeants and inspector are all unhappy with the staffing levels of my unit. They comment on this fact on an almost daily basis. I was merely voicing an honestly-held opinion that is reflected by my managers.

I'm half-expecting a 'chat' from my inspector on Monday.

I think I'll keep my mouth shut next time.



So long, farewell...

2006-08-30T08:21:02.576+01:00

So my colleague with the outspoken opinions on illegal drugs has done the deed and handed in their notice. Not really unexpected, in light of the number of 'chats' they'd had with various senior officers. They jumped (as opposed to being pushed), and seemed rather happy about it. A complete change of scenery awaits them, as they are jetting off to the other side of the world to pursue a different career, and a rather exciting one at that.

So now we're one down, with another (my pregnant colleague) off in a little over a week. Enter contestant number three...

This individual is well-known for their griping, particularly about finishing times. On average at uni we work a 5-6 hour day. Some have come to take this as the norm. Last week the trainers picked up on some of the griping, and had a word with the whole group, reminding us how easy we have it, and warning us not to 'take the piss'. Sadly for this individual, they'd left earlier in the day, without permission. Oh dear.

The following day they got a bollocking from the tutors and a sargeant who was called in to administer proceedings. The individual was so upset they went home straight after the talking-to. I'm not sure if they will change their attitude, and I can see another early exit on the horizon.