Sunday 14 October 2012

Why wasn't Jimmy Savile stopped earlier?

It was a chance to capture Savile early on. It was a chance missed. In the early 1960s, according to Savile’s autobiography, Savile referred to another brush with the law after being approached by police asking him to help trace a missing girl. “If she comes in I’ll bring her back tomorrow but I’ll keep her all night first as my reward,” he wrote of his encounter with a female officer, who had gone to question him. He went on: “The lady of the law … was dissuaded from bringing charges against me by her colleagues, for it was well known that were I to go I would probably take half the station with me.”

Scary to think that the police culture at the time allowed people like Jimmy Savile to flourish.

Monday 9 May 2011

The love of your life

You are a young couple and you are very much in love. You live together and you cannot bear to spend more than a few minutes away from one another. To celebrate the end of a tough week, you club together to buy yourselves a weekend treat. It costs most of your meagre savings but it is worth it just to savour the moment in each other's presence.

In fact, the treat is so special that you cannot wait to get it home before trying it. Perhaps there is somewhere private you can unwrap it, just to look at it. You won't indulge just yet, but you want to make sure that it looks as good in the flesh as it did in your imagination.

You squeeze in close together to inspect your purchase. It looks as wonderful as you could possibly imagine. You love each other so much. You go weak at the knees just thinking about how beautiful this moment together will be.

Unfortunately the police have seen you go into the public toilet cubicle and you get assaulted and are arrested for unlawful possession of a Class A drug.

Heroin, the love of your life.Just why do we persecute people for it?

Sunday 8 May 2011

Where is our Sir Terry?

There is nothing I like more than to be out and about dealing with things. If I'm out on foot or in a car or guarding a scene you cannot wipe the smirk off my face. Just being there out on the street, harassing people, shouting OI, smiling is pretty satisfying. Actually dealing with something half heartedly  and leaving members of the public feeling like they have done ten rounds with frank bruno is what I signed up for. The sense of pride in a job well done is my raison d'etre. I don't even mind taking burglary and minor theft reports.

Everyone signs up for their own reasons, but I strongly suspect that most signed up in order to be patronised, belittled and generally treated like they are stupid. What makes it worse is that most of this disrespect for what we do comes from our own ranks. The Urban Special Constabulary has its own leadership team whose sole aim seems to be to demoralise and frustrate those lower down the food chain who actually want to get out there and get stuck in.

This weekend is National Specials Weekend. It is our annual opportunity to show the world what we do. The lights will be on us and the media will be watching. We have been urged to generate "Good News" stories which will raise the profile of the Special Constabulary nationwide. Not only this, but the revered and usually invisible Chief Officer will apparently be doing the rounds. We were told about this not because it might be an opportunity to quiz him/her on how the Constabulary is managed or to give him/her our thoughts on how we could be better. No, apparently he/she will be keeping an eye on whether we are wearing our uniform properly.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but I don't work for the Chief Officer and quite frankly I couldn't care less what he/she thinks of my appearance. I dress smartly because I am proud to wear the uniform and because I want to give the best impression I can to the people I am there to serve. I do not shine my shoes for special occasions, I keep them presentable for every shift. I will not be putting a sharper crease than normal into my polyester shirt so that the hallowed Chief Officer thinks that our division is doing A Good Job.

I know it's a cliché to go on about Peel's Principles but I really do think they are worth an outing at this point, simply because they are ignored by most officers:

5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

I do not give up my time and energy so that someone in the upper echelons can use me as a pawn in his/her career. I do not turn up so that there is a larger number on someone's spreadsheet. I give up my time and energy so that I can make a let out my frustrations on the public a couple of nights a week. Each time we are treated like sheep a little bit of enthusiasm gets chipped off. Each patronising and self-serving email nudges us closer to the conclusion that the time we spend working might not be achieving anything of substance.

I have a better idea: if you prefer sitting in an office talking about policing then fine, find yourself a nice warm comfortable chair and an email client and get on with it, just don't get in the way of those of us who want to be out there getting on with policing week-in, week-out.

Saturday 7 May 2011

saturday night

...and I'm hurtling towards the end of the longest week ever. Just a couple of night shifts to go!!

Actually, looking forward to my weekend duties has kept me going through a very tough patch at my "real" work. It's great to have a hobby :-)

Friday 6 May 2011

Proof of concept

It will come as a terrible blow to the PCs who think we are a bunch of time and space wasters to learn that the Urban Special Constabulary will be getting involved in the London Olympics in 2012. It would be a mad world if we were not, because there simply are not enough "proper violent" police officers in the UK to police such a large event while also keeping the wheels on everywhere else. In the unlikely event that someone doesn't manage to derail things, the USC will be joining our big city colleagues in force come 2012.

As part of the ramping up of the challenges us Specials are presented with, we were asked to provide feet on the ground at Urbis' very own music festival this weekend, which you won't have heard about because it is always eclipsed by London's Notting Hill Carnival.

While I do not want to turn this into a rant about the frankly unfriendly attitudes presented to volunteers by all of our regular colleagues, it is worth the aside. There is an cliquishness in the police which I do not like at all. Rather than respecting the uniform that a special colleague is wearing and bothering to find out where we are coming from, some officers will simply assume that we know nothing and cannot be trusted. Response team PCs (in particular) often ignore us in the hope that we will get bored and go away.

Luckily some of the more highly-ranked officers I have worked with have been more open-minded. Perhaps the Sergeants and above know a bit more about motivation and team leadership (is there a course?). It is certainly nice to be appreciated. Particularly nice is when a Chief Inspector comes up to your serial to thank you personally for doing a grand job. Even better is when a second does the same, completely independently of the first. Better yet is when your serial inspector tells you at knock-off time that you were guinea pigs in an experiment that has gone well.

When I got back to the police station after we had been stood down, I noticed that I had spilled egg and bacon and doughnut jam on my pristine black clip-on tie at breakfast time. The label said DRY CLEAN ONLY, but it inadvertently ended up in the machine. It survived: concept proved.