We aren’t immune to everything

I’ve previously written about how things become routine in Policing. How we deal with the same people, the same types of crime, and have the same arguments on a nearly daily basis.

We become immune to what we see, to what we hear and to what we do. We have to. If we took every job home with us, if we took every abusive comment to heart, we would break within less than a day.

That said, sometimes things hit a nerve. We hear things that even as Cops we can’t be immune to. We see things that even as Cops we can’t help but take home with us. We are human after all.

A year ago, to the day, I attended my first ever fatal RTC. Car vs person. It would be a lie to say I don’t still think about it. No, it doesn’t affect me and I don’t lose sleep over it, but I still think about it when I drive down the road, or read about other similar incidents in the media across the Country. Killed at the age of 31.

Yesterday I took a statement from a significant witness of a serious offence. We talked for literally hours about what they saw, what they did and how they felt. “His eyes were dying”. Jesus. Killed at the age of 17.

Sometimes, there are no words for what we see and hear in this job. Sometimes, you hear something and it feels like you’ve been kicked straight in the stomach. Some people are just evil.

What can you say to somebody who has witnessed the worst things possible? Sometimes just taking a minute and saying nothing goes further than trying to make small talk I suppose.

It bothers me that often our witnesses are innocent members of the public, going about their day and they witness just pure evil. It’s hard enough for us in our job, and we see it all the time.

Those poor, poor people.

Killing Knives

Within not very long of being in the job, crime, life, death and everything in between become normal.

The “shock factor” isn’t there anymore. Things become routine, they become normal, they become repetitive. It’s not the “first” of any job. It’s the 543rd domestic, the 98th missing person and the 743rd report of a drunken buffoon.

That said, there’s some jobs that no matter how many you go to, no matter how many you investigate, no matter how many you get results on, still bother you.

Everybody is different. I expect no two Police Officers have exactly the same reasoning behind why something bothers them, but I’m fairly confident none of us can say nothing does.  We are human beneath the uniform. We have thoughts and feelings. We are not robots.

For me, it’s the knife crime.  Daily stabbings, daily murders, daily violence. Somehow society now believes that the norm is to carry a knife/blade/screwdriver or any other remotely sharp object in order to inflict a world of pain on an often innocent victim.

It isn’t a case of which day will there be a stabbing anymore, it’s a case of when in each & every shift.  In the last week alone we averaged a stabbing a day.  A person in hospital as a result of every, single one.  People in custody for some of them. People outstanding for the others.  Devastated families, victims of callous attacks.  People who have gone from minding their own business one minute, to being wired up to hospital machines the next.

In the current climate it would appear that you only need to look at somebody the wrong way to warrant getting stabbed.  It is scarily, and quickly, becoming normal.  It’s a crime that shouldn’t ever be normal, because it’s not. There’s nothing right about wielding machetes and knives in public. About inflicting the highest level of harm on innocent members of the public. About not caring about anybody else.

There’s no real deterrent anymore though.  There aren’t enough of us to deal with the crime when it happens, let alone prevent it happening in the first place. Ambulance are just as stretched, the sentences at Court are often laughable.

How is anybody expected to help stop this? The reality is, I don’t think we can, and that’s terrifying.

“Routine” Assaults on Police

It’s never been okay to assault a Police Officer. Well, it’s never been okay to assault anyone really has it.

It still shocks me that it has become routine to hear an officer on the radio calling for help. Routine to hear of a colleague hurt.  Routine to hear of weak sentences at Court.

Times have changed, they are still very much changing. The risks we take are greater, the statistics of assaults on Police are getting higher, and the Government are still suggesting that there are extra officers. It’s ridiculous.

Just today I was handed a prisoner to deal with.  Assault Police. The prisoner was too violent to be interviewed, having had a bundle with us in Custody and assaulted another colleague.

When I spoke to the officer who had been spat at in the face, they said “I’m fine I’m just getting checked at Hospital because there was blood in his spit.”

How is that a normal thing to say?  How is that acceptable? It was said so matter-of-factly.

We frequently say there aren’t enough Police to protect the public.  There aren’t enough Police to catch the bad guys.  There aren’t enough Police to deploy to all the 999 calls.  But that means that there also aren’t enough Police to protect ourselves, to protect each other. Our colleagues. Our friends. Our work family.

When one of us gets hurt, we all feel it, it’s part of who we are.

The Reality of Policing

I don’t think even what us Cops consider to be normal is realistic anymore.

Our definition of “normal” has always been slightly different from that of the general public.  We expect more drunks, more violence, more idiots, more deaths, but I think even we are shocked by what appears to now be “normal”.

Some of my busiest shifts lately have been a mid-week early turn.  When we’re gearing up for a Saturday late shift (especially if it’s just been payday!) we expect a degree of chaos.  When I walk in at 0700hrs on a Tuesday to over 30 prisoners, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I should point out that I am on a team of what should be about 30 of us.  The reality is that we are a team of about 12.  Police cuts are just fabulous.

And it’s not just 30 prisoners.  It’s the live jobs that require monitoring, the handover from the previous shift and the delightful line “sorry ran out of time, there’s 3 Albanian’s in for PWITS, interpreter booked for 0900hrs”. Result! That’s the reality.

The other week, in about an hour, in the one area of one City that I work, we had the following:

  1. A house shot at.
  2. 7 prisoners in for PWITS
  3. Another house shot at (no, not linked)
  4. A machete weilding maniac
  5. A robbery
  6. A potential hostage situation.

That’s the reality of Policing in 2019.

Violence is on another level.  Assaults on Police are through the roof.  Back up is never “just round the corner” (no, it’s not The Bill). The number of Priority 999 calls that can’t be responded to because there actually aren’t any officers left is scary.

On my radio channel, every day, are open shouts for anybody at all to leave the job they’re at because something more serious has come in.  On my radio channel, every day, the controller is met with silence. That’s the reality of Policing.

Those officers aren’t dealing with a theft.  They’re dealing with a man with a weapon, a violent domestic, a sudden death, a shooting, a stabbing, they’re trying to save somebody’s life, and they’re being asked to leave to go to something else.  That’s not okay, not on any level. But that’s the reality.

We aren’t even half way through January yet.  We have already seen children killed, too many armed robberies to count, too many Police Officers no longer with us, too many shouts for assistance with nobody free to help.

That’s the reality of Policing.  It’s going to be a busy year.

And that was 2018…

As the year draws to a close, it seemed only appropriate to try and somehow sum up the past 12 months.

In both my personal and my professional life, this year has seen some enormous changes. From a wedding and a house move, to a change in Force and department, it sure has been a busy year!

The thought of leaving the team, the role & the Force I knew terrified me. Walking into the unknown, being the newbie and honestly being totally clueless was really not the most appealing of situations. We really are creatures of habit. However as they say, often the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.  Fast forward nearly six months now, and I am happy to report I have zero regrets!

Settled in my role, (nearly) knowing what I’m doing, and having a far better home life. Being home every night and not having to drive a 250 mile round trip each set has certainly made the world of difference to me!

As I write this, I realise it isn’t as easy to summarise my year as I thought! Having spent the first half of the year on response, going from job to job, contending with night shifts, dealing with scene guards and getting in fights, it is hard to remember specific jobs off the top of my head.

I remember the jobs I have had since working in Investigations far more easily.  Blood, sweat and (literally) tears go into some of our investigations, they take over our lives and there are a lot of hours put in to trying to get a result.

Since being on the team since July I have charged people with a range of offences, from Theft to False Imprisonment, Burglary to Wounding, Drugs Offences to Robbery. Hopefully when these cases go to Court in the coming months I can give you some updates and some good results.

Remanding the most dangerous offenders, getting charges for the most violent offences, protecting the most vulnerable people. That’s why we do our job, and being able to do that on a daily basis really is rewarding.

To those working over the next few days, be safe. To those of you at home, have fun! To all of you, thank you for your support, and have a Happy New Year x


Is it Christmas?

It really doesn’t feel like it’s Christmas in two days.

I get asked ‘are you ready for Christmas?’ Well..I think so. There’s been no build up because I’ve been working, my husband has been working, and we are working over Christmas.

I hear “I’m so excited” Well..me too, but for the 27th, when we get to have our Christmas Day.

Work is busier than usual. People are more drunk. More violent and apparently all round more stupid.

The cells are full, the staff are knackered, and the jobs keep coming.

All that said, we make the most of it. I’m so lucky to have an amazing shift, we are a proper little strange family.

We have been having a “Mince Pie-off” which has not been good for our waistlines, but fun all the same! I think the big reveal of which shop has the best Mince Pies is tomorrow…

We have laughed so hard we have cried, and given each other the motivation to plough on through.

Thank God for a good team & good Sergeants, those guys really do make it so much easier.

To all of you with your families over the next few days, have a really Happy Christmas x

A Weary Week…

It’s been a really, really long week. It’s the time of year where there’s Christmas parties, lots of alcohol, lots of annual leave, and a much higher demand.

In one week, within just my team, over just six days, the phrases “the wheel has well and truly fallen off”, “you’re all duty today because there’s too many prisoners” and “there’s been a shit load handed over” have been fairly common.

A police officer was hit by a car.

A victim of a serious assault went missing because they can’t cope with what they’ve gone through.

There were more prisoners than officers.

Someone has a fractured skull as the result of an assault.

Someone has been stabbed twice.

Someone nearly lost their eye in an attack.

There was more than one violent disorder with multiple prisoners.

There was more than one dirty protest in custody.

There was a 0430 start for a warrant.

There was more than one late finish.

Somebody thought it was okay to be racially abusive, it’s not.

Somebody got remanded for a serious assault.

Multiple are now on bail for stalking, public order and assault offences.

In just six days, with just one team.

Whilst you’re out and about, having a drink and enjoying time with your friends and family, please do it sensibly.  You don’t want to end up with a criminal record as the result of having one too many beers.

Be festive, not foolish.

Be Festive not Foolish

It is that time of year again where the Festive period results in people being unnecessarily silly.

The don’t drink/drug drive campaigns do the rounds again.

The shoplift/purse theft campaigns do the rounds again.

The burglary campaigns do the rounds again.

Yet for reasons unknown to us, people still drink & drive. People still take drugs & drive. People still steal, and people still break into homes and steal presents.

Just today, somebody was in Custody having blown 166. Just how?!

Be festive, not foolish.

Yesterday, a delivery driver was in Custody having been caught drink driving. Just why?!

Be festive, not foolish.

Over the last week there’s been yet another rise in violent assaults. Of people being bottled over the head, being attacked with machetes, being involved in car crashes where alcohol has played a part.

Be festive, not foolish.

It’s only the 3rd December. We, as Police, as Paramedics, as all Emergency Services, know that there is worse to come. The demand is massive, the hours worked are excessive, and Christmas is still weeks away.

Weeks more of Christmas parties, of alcohol fuelled assaults, of thefts from shops. Twice this week (I’m on day 3 of 6 of my working week) my Custody block has stopped accepting new prisoners because it’s been full. It has capacity to hold over 50.

Help us. Be festive, not foolish.

Don’t complain if we don’t arrive as quickly as you would like. You don’t know what we’ve just come from.

Don’t complain if you see us in Tesco buying food. You don’t know when we last ate.

Don’t go to A&E unless it is an accident or emergency (the clue is in the title).

Don’t abuse the call takers when you don’t get the answer you want. You don’t know how much pressure they are under.

Be festive, not foolish. Support us. Help us and work with us.

Cops need Cops

There is so much bad press every day about the Police, the lack of Police and the failure of Policing.

Every department is under-staffed and over-worked.  Every department thinks another department is better off.  Every department does something that pisses off another one, unintentionally.

Response moan that investigation teams NFA their jobs.  Investigation teams moan that response handovers are rubbish.  Custody moan that people aren’t being dealt with quickly enough and are still in custody.  Response cops moan that Custody take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to book somebody into custody. Investigation teams moan because they’re late off again because CPS are taking an age to make a decision.

But actually, would any of those departments be able to do their job without the others? No.

Without custody there’s nowhere to put the prisoners.

Without response there’s nobody to arrest those prisoners in the first place.

Without investigations there’s no chance of getting people to Court.

We all moan, I think it’s in the job description, but we all secretly know that we couldn’t do the job without each other.

It was on one of my recent late shifts that I was thinking about this.  I requested the 999 call for a job I was dealing with.  A horrible job.  An even more horrible 999 call.

And I thought for a minute, could I be a call taker? Could I listen to those distressing, literal cries for help day in day out?  No, I don’t think I could.

Thank god we have people who can.  Without them, the public and the Police would be stuffed.

I’ve been on response, and I’ve moaned about the Investigation team binning a job that I genuinely thought had potential for a decent outcome.

I’m now on investigations, moaning about response.  It’s not fair really.  We are all so over-worked we can only do our best.  And it’s really easy to be the 9am jury slagging off the people who did the job before we started work.

We moan about rubbish handovers.  Maybe they’re “rubbish” because the Cop writing it was called straight out to another 999 call, and was then late off and remembered they hadn’t finished it.

We moan about jobs being NFA’d that we’ve worked really hard on.  More than likely it’s CPS making that decision, and we shoot the messenger in Investigations instead.

We moan that Custody are taking flipping ages to seemingly do anything, but maybe that’s because the female on the next wing is trying to tie her tights round her neck.

We all moan I think, as a way to cope.  We are struggling, frustrated and tired, and it’s easy to shout about something.

But at the end of the day, no matter what role we are in, what job we do, or what City we Police, we know we can’t do our job without each other, it’s just a shame that we don’t vocalise that more sometimes.

Political Whiplash

Not five minutes ago were Politicians and the media stating that Stop & Search incites racism, and shouldn’t be used.

Fast forward five minutes, and Politicians and the Media are telling Police to use Stop & Search to help tackle knife crime.

I stand by the fact that I believe Stop & Search to be one of the most effective tools we have.  Yes it may be a bit embarrassing, and yes people will stop and stare because apparently that’s what we do these days…. but if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to lose.

If you don’t want to be searched, if you kick up a stink, the chances are you’re probably in possession of something you shouldn’t be.  Don’t forget, we actually need grounds to conduct a Stop & Search, we can’t just pick on people. (Contrary to what the media would let you believe.)

It’s effective.

It prevents crime.

Every knife off the street is another life likely saved.

Every bit of intelligence obtained helps us build the bigger picture.

But do you know what would really help?

If we could actually do our job.  Stop & Search is part of our job.  If you are a businessman we don’t take away your computer keyboard.  If you’re a Doctor we don’t take away your defibrillator. If you’re a fireman we don’t take away your hose.  If you’re a taxi driver we don’t take away your steering wheel.

So why should we have Stop & Search taken away from us?  Stop using it to make fake and juicy headlines and to aid Political agendas and start letting us do our job, do what we are trained to do, and try to tackle the surge in violent crime.

To the year June 2018, ONS stated there has been:

  1. A continued rise in the number of Police recorded offences involving knives or sharp instruments (up 12% excluding Greater Manchester Police)
  2. The number of admissions to Hospital in England and Wales for assaults involving a sharp instrument has increased.
  3. The number of homicides increased following a long-term decline (up 14% excluding terror attacks)
  4. A 22% increase in Police recorded offences of Robbery

Stop & Search ultimately helps saves lives. So let us use it.