Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Life is risky, so lets tighten up civil litigation

Believe it or not, I endured some seriously hard training in my recruit indoctrination into the Metropolitan Police Force, albeit they didn't give me a gun for at least 2 years. The idea was that you ought to know how it felt when you came up against violence. Not all recruits had the benefit of experiencing playground fights as kids or played rugby. In the Met Cadets we boxed, wrestled and judo'd. Those joining directly from `civvy` life may have had similar experiences, but a lot hadn't and so the training process saw to it that by the time you hit the streets of London you knew what it felt like to have had the crap knocked out of you in an allegedly controlled environment. That way, the first smack on the jaw you took, wouldn't make you jibber and weep (providing it didn't lay you out).

For cadets, “Milling” was compulsory as a warm up to self defence training. Oversized boxing gloves, step into the ring and, on the whistle, you had 45 seconds to flatten your oppo or defend yourself; ideally, you'd do both. Anyone seen pulling his punches would do a round with the instructor (ex Royal Marine boxing champion and killer of bulls with bare hands). Not so in todays more academically oriented `service`, as, presumably, we mustn’t make anyone cry - until they get into the Public Order Units that is, but I believe they have Red Men these days. However, it probably made men out of us (and some of our wives too). It is a well known fact that for training to be effective it must be realistic and to generate realism takes a lot of care and attention to avoid an excess of pain.

Maybe I was lucky, but I never sustained anything more serious than a bloody nose or bruised ribs during my time as an average boxer in the cadets. If I had done so, would my employers have been liable? After all, I was participating in a sport which I had volunteered for. Had I been seriously hurt during the above mentioned `Milling` which wasn't optional, but where the gloves were oversize and therefore not as effective as those used in competion in the ring, what would have been different? I doubt if this type of training is even talked about now, let alone practised, especially as I was mildly chastised by a sergeant for doing press-ups alongside a 25 yr old recruit to try and encourage him to dig a little deeper. Apparantly, my telling him I was 41 was humiliating him although I knew him outside the gym and he felt the whole thing ridiculous. The firearms training my guys and gals went through was equally realistic. We used a clinical psychologist to help us get the trainees into a high state of `tension arousal` before we started the exercises, to ensure they could experience working under stress. Its a tough call and great care is needed, but I would argue that if it wasn't done and an officer suffered in a real situation for lack of preparation then the employer would be very much at fault.

I feel terrible for the poor family of this trainee. He was a former soldier so no doubt had combat training experience and as likely as not some real action under his belt.I recently had the shocking experience of studying my own medical history and I was shocked at how much violence I had been subjected to over my 30 year police career, much of it I'd forgotten, and this was just the stuff that I sought medical assistance for. A lot of the knocks are just accepted as par for the course, but I was very grateful for the training I'd been given..

Ok, thats it from me for a wee while. We're trying to go to Spain again, this time virus free (when we last checked). If you're on the Costa del Sol and see a bloke in a Red Man suit sipping a vino tinto, leave him alone. TTFN

12 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

"The idea was that you ought to know how it felt when you came up against violence. Not all recruits had the benefit of experiencing playground fights as kids or played rugby. In the Met Cadets we boxed, wrestled and judo'd. Those joining directly from `civvy` life may have had similar experiences, but a lot hadn't and so the training process saw to it that by the time you hit the streets of London you knew what it felt like to have had the crap knocked out of you in an allegedly controlled environment. "

That makes sense. It might also be an opportunity for the recruits to find out for themselves whether they really want to do the job given the small but real risk of being involved in that kind of situation.

I had an interesting experience last night as I watched the football. For the first time ever I felt some kind of weird empathy with the England players as they struggled to hold onto their lead whilst also playing appallingly badly in the last few minutes. I suddenly realised that for a lot of the time they must be in a very heightened state of panic/fear/pressure. I had never really thought about it before.

Have a great holiday!!

Hogdayafternoon said...

Blue: "...whether they really want to do the job given the small but real risk of being involved in that kind of situation...." There you go again, scaring the nice people ;)

Cheers for the good wishes, chum. Off am tomorrow. Same cheap airline (no choice when you want to fly local) same insurance cover as last time ie "Go ahead, make that claim, if you feel lucky £" but a healthy Mrs H this time. How looks the Nippon flight for you?

Blue Eyes said...

I am still going, the rest of the team are less keen but I am working on it!

dickiebo said...

After boxing, Judo, Kung Fu, etc., I decided that you can't beat a revolver, so I became a 'shot'!!

Hogdayafternoon said...

Dickiebo: I'm mindful of the scene in the Indiana Jones debut film where Harrison Ford faces the mad swordsman lol.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anEuw8F8cpE

powdergirl said...

Your first chapter pretty much sums up what I tell people regarding why my sons are both required(by me) to take marshal arts classes, and not easy ones either. Life is tough, everyone needs to be able to take a hit as well as throw a hit.

My oldest son is starting to make noises about perhaps being a police officer. Yikes!

Happy travels!

sparkflash said...

Whilst the training environment should be controlled, you're not doing anyone any favours by not letting them know what they're really up against. Through a little bit of trial and a great deal of error, I know that my temperament is not sufficiently controlled enough to be in a job where I may have to be hit, on a daily basis, and not retaliate in similar manner. I doubt I'm in any way exceptional in this, and there's probably quite a few would-be recruits who are in the same basket(case), but don't yet know it.
Hope you enjoy your sunny hiatus.

Hogdayafternoon said...

PG: Good move. Self-discipline is always the best. The best equipped are those who know what a hit can do and so do all they can to avoid giving or receiving! See you later.

Sparkflash: We all have our limitations on what we can tolerate. I've often amazed myself at how much (and how little) I have at various times. I just wish I knew which time would result in which.

JuliaM said...

"The idea was that you ought to know how it felt when you came up against violence."

Given the way we've sidelined contact sports in schools and after-school clubs, the decent kids (the ones you want to recruit) have probably only experienced this on the Playstation or XBox...

And I hope you get away on your holiday. You deserve to doubly, after last time!

TonyF said...

Have a good Holiday. Regards to Mrs H!


We in 'Betty Windsor's Flying Circus' had it best. Violence was only done by officers. We techies only fixed them if they brought them back.

Ok, not strictly true, they did give me a SLR...

CI-Roller Dude said...

HD,
I always asked the new cops I was given to train:"Have you ever been in a fight, been punched, had your ass kicked, or anything like that?"

If they said "no sir" then I'd sign them up for a training class.... "ass whopin' 101".

I found, like you did, if they didn't know what it felt like to take a hit, they might wet their pants.

Hogdayafternoon said...

TonyF: Thanks for the good wishes. We're back OK. Not a virus in sight, but the insurance claim goes on and on....It may become a regular feature. PS: An SLR, now that fires a real round.

CI-RD: Taking it a stage further, I once found a recruit crying down her mobile to her parents. She'd just been signed off on solo patrol and been assigned her regular shift. She found she had to do a week of nights every 4th week and just didn't think that this night shift thing applied to her!! Seriously, she was broken up about it - and all that after 4 months in training school and months at her station on learning beats. I kid you not. WTF?