23 October 2006

Cough cough

Greetings from my plague-infested bed.

Unfortunately the police have a bit of a reputation nationally for being time-wasting sciving sick-notes. This has led to a bit of a reversey policy whereby sickdays are now monitorred so scrupulously that people stagger into work, barely able to see through the curtain of sweat stinging their eyes from their fever.

Legal landmarks like the court that decided that an officer can be ineligible for promotion if sickness levels are too high as well as measures such as being back-classed at Hendon if you have more than a few days off in each course, have meant that your average copper and PCSO all just get wheeled to the door of the nick by the LAS instead of taking necessary time off.

Apparently this is really good, as it's meant reduced sickness levels, for which everyone roundly participates in a veritable circle-jerk of back-slaps, but the sequelae of this of course, are officers and "O"s barely able to do their jobs as they feel so thoroughly miserable when out on the beat - a particular joy when you mainly walk rather than sit in vehicles - and that once one "patient zero" comes into the nick, there is very rapidly an explosion of infection, a domino effect, until finally the whole nick comes to a standstill.

Except we don't come to a standstill, we go out and bravely infect the people that pay our wages (or so they keep telling me!). Perhaps that's where I'm going wrong; I shouldn't see it as a policy well-intentioned but ultimately to my personal detriment, but as an opportunity to wreak revenge on the moaning gitbags that I faithfully serve in the community by giving back to them a little of what they deserve [tee-hee!].

Of course it could be argued that this constituted at least an ABH assault, following the arguments contained in Regina versus Dica and the previous Clarence case (referred within). But maybe The Job should be held accountable for forcing me to work on through my acheing limbs, hot and cold sweats and blurred vision and thus passing my dread 'lurgy to the great and the good of the London Borough of Happiness? Anyway, I'm off to watch Spooks with a hot whiskey and a rug wrapped tightly around me and you can ponder that at your leisure, you healthy bastards! [Do you feel the sore throat starting yet...?]

07 October 2006

"A nice cup of tea and a sit down"

Some officers are being forced to break down their shift day into 15-minute intervals to account for their days so decided would do my day:

1000: start shift with nice cup of tea
1015: First cup slightly too milky - have another with more favourable milk concentration
1030: Foolishly answer office phone. Need more tea to recover
1045: Oops, too much tea. Would go out but keep having to visit loo instead to pee. Check briefings.
1100: Go out onto ground. Do community visit. Seems rude not to have tea when offered. Wouldn’t wish to offend community after all…
1115: Still talking - need biscuits now. Seriously.
1130: Mostly peeing again from tea.
1145: Leave on patrol. Talk to informant but still thinking all the time of pee-ing.
1200: Lunchtime. Break out and have coffee instead in local establishment.
1215: Still on refs - sod off Home Office!
1230: I said GO AWAY! If I must take Refs on the ground to please "the communidee" then the least you can do is bugger off and let me eat them without staring over my shoulder. Well, metaphorically anyway.
1245: Local wandering maniac comes over to tell me about a squirrel that keeps throwing nuts at her and what are the police going to do?
1300: Maniac finally shuts up and leaves. However, took up valuable refs time so have fresh lovely cup of tea to compensate. Get sympathetic looks from waiting staff. Not so bloody sympathetic as to come and rescue me from Mrs Nut-nut 15 minutes ago though, eh?
1315: Peeing again. Now like pedigree racehorse.
1330: Short patrol with local probationer / PCSO pointing out local tea-holes on ground. Emphasise value of stopping in such places for intelligence purposes. And tea.
1345: More peeing.
1400: Excess urination has created room for more tea. Don't fight it.
1415: Probationer / PCSO wishes to go to nearby nick for short period to book in property. I say will wait in canteen
1430 - 1445: Contemplate trying new flavour of tea. Decide on Assam. Mmm, delicious!
1500: Proby / PCSO joins me in canteen and looks thirsty. Again, don't fight it.
1515: Still swinging blue lantern with proby / PCSO.
1530: Sergeant phones. Sergeant is only person on earth to match my tea consumption but he smokes also so retain smug feeling of faux superiority over boss. Suggests all meet up at local café for tea and smoke. Politely decline latter but as for tea? Orders is orders. Make way to café.
1545: On way to café allow proby / PC to choose route. Route chosen passes mainline railway station. FOOL! DANGER!!
1545 - 1600: Spend 15 minutes advancing forward exactly two steps before fresh person steps up with fatuous directions question. Direct several past the "PleaseandThankyou Shop" then feel guilty for setting bad example to proby / PCSO.
1600: Stick on motorist for penance. Motorist protests innocence of traffic law forbidding mobile phone use whilst driving. Set straight at great length. Then stick on anyway. Model self on "Little Miss Jocelyn" character, "I am now going to write you a ticket. It will take a loooooonnnnngggggg time". Giggle inwardly.
1615: See 1600: Grumpy now from tannin withdrawal.
1630: Finally meet with skipper in café. He shaking with combined poisoning of nicotine, caffeine and tannin. But still chatting up waiting staff.
1645: Proby / PCSO finally takes hint and offers to buy tea. My work is done.
1700: Physically incapable of drinking more tea. Slosh back to nick to write up ticket evidence. Journey timed between emergency pees. Now seriously contemplating catheterisation or dialysis.
1715: Writing ticket. Need tea to complete task. Sergeant shows great leadership by putting kettle on. Pointed looks at proby / PCSO eventually produce hot and wet one. Yum.
1730: Adding finishing flourishes to ticket. Style is so important in these things. Besides, know that proby / PCSO will want to see how ticket written by Old Sweat(y) Blah-merchant like me and want to set good example of evidence-writing.
1745: Nearly home time. Quick one for the road. Bonus - find a biscuit in desk drawer! Huzzah!!
1800: Go home, smug in the knowledge that have achieved ultimate day in life of community police officer.

Some people say they see a certain pattern in my day. I dunno....

05 October 2006

The Oath

"I, .. [officer's name].. of .. [address].. do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of Constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law."

When I first heard this morning about the Muslim police officer, PC Basha, in the Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) who was moved from guarding the Israeli embassy, I thought that there was going to be probably more to it than the initial knee-jerk reaction that some were offering. Rent-a-quotation types like former Flying Squad commander John "Captain Crimeshare" O'Connor were lining up to pass judgement.

(O'Connor's previous pedigree includes, "Forest Gate raids were very unprofessional", "the attack on Jill Dando was carried out by somebody who was clearly professionally trained ... in close quarter combat ...to use a converted weapon", "the taser was unreliable and unpractical", that Freemasonry is the reason the police is still racist, policing of Buck House is "an absolute disgrace", that Sir Ian would probably resign over de Menezes and a hundred other Pub Landlord/White Van Man style pronouncements; in fact there is practically nothing this man will not open his gums and yawn on about for money/fame/gin or whatever his motivation might be)

By lunchtime, the story had changed. Now it was "for safety reasons" as the officer had Lebanese relatives who might be put in danger if he were to guard the embassy (??). This other message from Deputy Commissioner Stephenson, as reported on the BBC:

"Our priority is making sure that any officer we deploy can have their mind on the job and make sure they discharge effectively and efficiently.
"That's what a risk assessment is about, it is not about political correctness and we do not allow officers to pick and choose their deployment on the basis of their personal views."

This brings up a few points: was this officer really so stupid and short-sighted to think that, as an officer in the DIPLOMATIC PROTECTION GROUP, he would not have to guard an embassy such as this one? I know of many, many Irish and Northern Irish officers who have stated they would not wish to join Special Branch precisely because they have relatives in the Auld Sod - could Basha really not have considered this a possibility in the DPG??

Or was it more of a case of "don't wanna", as some bloggers have - not unreasonably - suggested? It would not be the first time an officer had tried it on with a minority card - unfortunately this is usually pandered to, instead of receiving the correct answer, "no we are not telling you to do this standard, everyday, dull duty/posting because you are female / gay / black / Muslim / Catholic / other but because you are a bloody recruit / bloody probationer / bloody PC, now KNOW YOUR PLACE!!" [at this point I feel the need to remind that I am an officer who is in about 4 or 5 different minority groups and am not a white straight male who, as we know, are not allowed to comment on such matters at all these days!]

So is PC Basha
a) lazy?
b) paranoid?
c) in the wrong department?
d) contemptuous of his oath?
e) just being misunderstood / misquoted?

Who knows?

But in the meantime I shall defer to the good Mr Stephenson, whose priority is making sure our minds are on the job. As Autumn's coming in now my hands and lips are starting to chap and let me tell you, it's jolly distracting. In fact, it's really keeping my mind from the job. I request, on safety and health grounds of course, that I either:

  • be provided with Job-issue hand cream and lip balm, or
  • not be posted anywhere outside my nick

...so that I can keep my mind fully on the job. I thank you.

01 October 2006

An attack on decency.

Just read via the blog trail that another police blogger, Inspector Gadget, is being threatened by his Complaints department for writing a police blog.

Now, having read a bit of this blog, it is not particularly controversial, is not offensive to anyone, does not keep anyone up at night through its anti-social nature and does not cause staining when spilt on the carpet. It's just one bloke saying, calmly and pleasantly, what he thinks and how the job affects him.

We know that we cannot be too controversial if it brings the force/service into disrepute, cannot really express political opinions (sometimes I'm surprised they actually allow us to vote!), apparently unless we're the Chief Constable/Commissioner and absolutely must not identify any person we work with, arrest, comfort etc. All fair enough. But are we not now allowed to say anything at all, even anonymously, about our job, how we're treated and some of the stupid hoops we've to jump through? We are not talking about issues of National Security here, just bits and bobs from our daily grind.

I would be an utter disgrace if Insp Gagdet were silenced or disciplined as a result of his blog by an overzealous idiot from Complaints who should be flushing out corruption, prejudice, intolerance and bad practice instead of hounding honest officers trying to do their jobs well but occasionally having the gall to talk about it!

I hope for everyone's sakes that Insp G is treated fairly and properly by whatever abject, vaulting careerist that ends up dealing with him.

Sir, if it'll help at all I hereby make you an honorary lesbian - that should give you a little protection at least - and I also banish the ginger eye-browed one from the ginger fraternity/sorority. He should consider himself, henceforth, shunned.
Good luck Sir.
My views are my own and would probably not endear me to my dear employers.