Friday, 20 December 2013

Annoying `Middle Englanders` part deux

Two posts below tells the tale of my last encounter with a middle England blue-rinser.

The below clip, drawn to my attention by an American buddy (who's just discovered the delights of Ms Tate) actually does a great job in identifying this phenomena. He told me that there is a very clearly identifiable American equivalent. I was sorry to hear that. Seems escaping from religious persecution, a revolution, a civil war and a re-write of democracy still can't compete with human nature!

 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Move along - Nothing to see here

Re the attempted murder of a police officer in Leeds earlier today;

A West Yorkshire police Chief officer is quoted as saying words to the effect that, `thankfully, this sort of crime is rare in Leeds`. I suppose the murder of British police officers in West Yorkshire (which includes the city of Leeds) IS `rare` compared to some countries, so rare in fact that I can remember them:

Inspector Barry John Taylor,Died 1970, aged 30. Shot dead when he confronted a suspect armed with a shotgun.
Sgt Michael Hawcroft,1981,stabbed to death by a suspect he chased and was trying to arrest.
Sergeant John Speed, 1984, shot dead as he confronted a man who had just shot a colleague.
Police Constable Ian Broadhurst Xmas 2003, shot dead in Leeds trying to arrest a suspect who suddenly produced a gun.
Police Constable Sharon Beshenivsky, died 18 November 2005, aged 38, shot dead when confronted by three men on arrival at the scene of a robbery.

So I suppose that chief officer could argue that he was statistically correct in his statement. Now call me a dinosaur but statistics, doubtless spouted as a sad sweetner to reassure the public, would never have left my lips if I was talking about the recent attempted murder of one of MY officers. I read his words and it made most of my bodily fluids boil - and I've been out of the job for 12 years. Judas H Priest, this in the same sentence where he was talking about the attempted murder of one of his officers! Save the bloody stats crap for another time, because this was not the time, not for her family, not for her friends, not for her colleagues and not for the rest of us who will be associated with the police until we cross the clearing into Fiddlers Green. Crass.

I found this letter on line, within 2 minutes of typing this rant. It explains everything.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Middle Englanders, how they can irritate

So there I was, walking up a cobbled street in our local town, intent on taking a dekko inside the recently refurbished Corn Exchange , now a museum, bric a brac and cafe, at the top of the road. Cars are parked on the right of this short, narrow `One Way` street and a builders van isn't quite as close to the offside kerb as it could be.

I suddenly hear an engine revving, rather hard, behind me. I turn around, gingerly as my neck is still sore from my recent injuries, just in time to see that well known curse of the motorcyclist.... a Volvo Estate driven by a member of the `Blue Rinse Brigade`and, on this occasion, the curse of the innocent pedestrian as well.

Deciding that the gap is too narrow, she decides to mount the kerb and drive past on the pavement, regardless of my presence, and forcing me to step smartly back against the wall of a building so as to avoid a second `blues and two's` run to A&E. (I am currently recovering from a rather nasty head injury - NOT motorcycle related I must stress). To add to getting her knickers in a twist by having her path obstructed by a parked van, she now had a local oik (me) having the temerity to be in her way on the footpath! To be doubly sure she gets my dander up, she gives the car horn a good 2-second blast as she passes me, pressed against the wall.

I shout a well known English attention grabber at her, "Oi"! She stops and down comes her window. I say, "thanks for making me jump twice, once for my life and once because of your totally inappropriate and deafening horn-sounding". In an annoying Thatcheresque grating, accent she says, `Well that car was badly parked and I couldn't get by". To which, said oik replies, "So why make your problem MY problem by driving on the footpath forcing a pedestrian to take avoiding action"? "She glares at me, like I'm a Richard she's just stepped in".

I have a fair command of English and a well stocked armoury of Anglo Saxon terms of abuse and despite a huge list to choose from, somehow my Automatic Tactical Manouevers And Defensive Audio Selection System (AT-MADASS) decided on the following three words: "You HORRID woman".
Judging from the defence suite's Abuse Review Scrutiny System (ARSS), it was a good hit. Two women from the Corn Exchange cafe who had come out onto the steps to find out what the hooting and shouting was about, clapped their hands. I expect the foul bint has reported me to the police, hoping I will be birched.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Motorcyclists Plea

Re printed by kind permission of its author, Ian Mutch, President, MAG-UK. [Actually, this article has a much broader spectrum ....]

We have choices in this country. We can grumble defeatist noises down the pub like the vast
majority, or we can get involved. MAG can’t promise to win all the time but we do the very best we can and with the help of a few more of the motorcycle-riding population we will do a great deal more.

There are millions or people in this world who have very little say in how they are governed. Many don’t get to vote at all or have only one party to vote for. Under some sham democracies those who even organise opposition are intimated or made to ‘disappear.’ Here in Great Britain, and this is a great country for many reasons, we have free speech, we have access to our politicians;
anyone can walk into the Houses of Parliament and sit in on committee meetings if there is space.
The police do not shoot protesters in the streets for shouting and waving banners. We even had
protestors camped opposite parliament for years displaying banners calling our government murderers. Whatever you think of those protests they prove one thing. As the world at large goes, we are very lucky to live in an extremely tolerant country.

You can believe the sceptics who will tell you that our government is simply more subtle in the control of our society or that dark manipulative forces hold the real power that even governments are subject to in practical ways. There has to be some truth in that but the fact remains that we can get rid of governments and regularly do. It is also likely that the kind of global self interest groups who clearly do sway governments have bigger fish than us to fry. There may be kabuls galore bending ears, greasing palms and issuing threats in the course of thier elitist interests but you can bet your bottom off-shore dollar that they don’t give a stuff about hiviz vests and super MOT’s.What MAG is up against is not any consortium of tax dodging
oligarchs. There are some self interested bodies like the vehicle test house lot that want the Super
MOT enforced throughout Europe but they are hilariously transparent.

No, what we are not up against is hit men in dark glasses or the thugs of military dictatorships.
We are simply up against a bunch of do-gooders out to save us from ourselves.These are people with strange priorities in today’s precarious world. Rather than tackle world poverty, war, famine or the time bomb of overpopulation, they choose to focus their energies on us. And who are we? A miniscule number of ‘foolish’ free spirits who want to ride on two wheels instead of four and wear what we like while doing it. End of the world as we know it! Against the spectrum of world issues we are a but a pinprick.

The point I am moving toward here is that we do not have a giant wealthy enemy or Darth Vader to challenge. For the most part we are up against a rabble of poorly informed obsessive nannies. Nannies who feel it is their duty and destiny on earth to pass laws ensuring that no one does anything even an incy wincy little bit risky. Certainly nothing as mad as riding one of
those pesky motorcycles which, had they only just been invented would not stand a chance of
being allowed on the roads today. We can defeat these people. We have voting power; we can be
fearless in expressing ourselves in any form of media. With email we can communicate more easily
than ever with our MPs or MEPs. We can even meet them face to face. No one is going to come
knocking on our doors at night to drag us off to a subterranean interrogation room. Our families
will not vanish if we leave the country and criticise from afar. Our tea is not going to be poisoned with plutonium. Why? Because we aren’t that important. We aren’t a threat to the people who use those kinds of tactics. We just want to ride our motorcycles.


So why do we still have so much trouble getting our way? Well the biggest reason is that the
overwhelming majority of riders in this country and the rest of Europe and this is around 98% don’t care enough or else don’t think anyone will listen to them. Oh bless! The truth is they don’t deserve rights, they don’t deserve liberties, they don’t deserve motorcycles and they don’t deserve to live in a country like Great Britain. They certainly don’t deserve to enjoy the efforts of an organisation like MAG. A group populated with volunteers of conviction who put so much of their energies into ensuring that the nannies do not win. People determined to go on enjoying these damn dangerous motorsickles for as long as there is a free spirit and an appetite for exuberance. However we do not give up on them any more than we give up on politicians or give up on motorcycling. So get the pdf of this article from me email the road@mag-uk.org and send it to every rider you know who you think might, just maybe might say “OK I’ll join.” Then get them on line and
watch as they join – www.mag-uk.org

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Police Reform for the 21st Century? Look back and learn??

21st Century state of the art `Zumwalt` class destroyer - USN

CSS Virginia - US Civil War Confederate Navy

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Logoland



Several years ago Mrs H and I rode up to London on a Sunday for no particular reason. We were on the Harley Road King in those days. We parked up just off the Kings Road near Sloane Square and, after a coffee and a pastry, strolled along the shops. We found ourselves outside one called `Harley Davidson`. I saw a `Half Price Sale` sign in the window so went in. A polite, well groomed, `sensitive` sort of chap came up to me and asked if I was looking for anything in particular and I told him I was interested in a rain jacket. He umm'd and ahh'd a bit, went off and asked the manager and then came back with an apologetic look and a `sorry` for an answer. I then asked if they had any gore tex winter gloves in the sale. Again, a `no`. It was then it dawned on him:
"Oh, are you bikers"?
`Yes, look, these are biker trousers, this is a textile motorcycle jacket with armour here and there and we are carrying crash helmets`!
"Ohhh, we don't sell that stuff, you want Warr's, the Harley Davidson dealers right down the Kings Road".
`OK, so what is this place doing, called Harley Davidson`?
"We're the Boutique, the brand name, you know... (giggling like Kenneth Williams used to). we don't do real motorcycle gear, we do the Harley Davidson biker look".

I explained to him that we were actually motorcyclists who happened to ride a Harley Davidson, rather than dedicated followers of fashion. He seemed impressed and started to eye me more closely. My wife grabbed me by the arm and led me outside. I suggested we could go back in and I could say, "Hello I'm Julian and this is my friend Sandy", but we decided to go for a pint.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Grace under pressure

One thing that 32 years of policing taught me was that even in the darkest of moments, one can often find a glimmer of light that lifts the spirit.
"Australia, Australia, Australia...we love you...amen"


Thursday, 29 August 2013

`Assumption` is the mother of `cock-up`


 
Every now and then you come upon a moment to savour and this morning the moment was mine.
Strolling to the bank of a nearby town, I was confronted by a woman looking not dissimilar to the image above. 
 
As well as a 3yr old kiddie in pushchair, she had a large mastiff dog on one lead and the kiddie was holding a lead to a similar dog, as they all stumped along towards me.
 
I crossed the pedestrian precinct to the bank I intended to enter, but she must've thought I was moving away from her dogs and started to berate me rude and loud, saying words to the effect that the dogs were safe.
I replied, "I'm sure the dogs are lovely - it wasn't them I was getting away from". 
 
I think it may have taken her a few minutes to work that one out...
It just blurted out. Those replies, with the delayed action message, are always my favourites.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mis-spent youth

I found this guy today.  I feel some of his pain - well quite a lot of it actually. Sadly, it is not new and I discovered that old Socrates (or `Socca` as The Sun newspaper would've called him) may have said,

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers". (Wiki).

 I was a Metropolitan Police Cadet. I joined in 1969. It was an outstanding regime, modernised largely by this man

 The Met Cadets was a bit like the Army without rifles, artillery or explosives. In fact we regularly took the army cadets on at sport, etc. I remember being up Snowdon in a blizzard in March. You couldn’t see 5 yards and we were roped together and were using ice axes. We passed army cadets coming down and their leader told our leader it was too bad to go the final 500 feet – what a challenge. Up we went, got to the cafe (closed) saw nowt but white, and headed down below the weather line into mere driving rain. One of our lads ended up airlifted to Bangor, by the RAF, with moderate hypothermia! he was on the phone later that day, asking to be returned to his squad for the rest of the expedition.

The Met Cadet scheme today is not like that any more. You can be a `cadet` now at a mere 13 years (our regime was way too vigourous for 13 yr olds) plus it doesn't pay a wage – at least we were paid £4  a week, fed, watered, clothed and accommodated...when I entered Hendon as a constable on my 19th birthday I had been transformed as a person; I had experienced harsh weather, been punched around a boxing ring, thrown around a judo mat, roadwalked, run ragged, abseiled, canoed along rivers and the sea, become a gymnast, marched to Guards standard having been drilled by an ex Grenadier drill Sgt and performed 2 months voluntary service in a secure psychiatric unit in south London. I felt as if I could have pushed a house over and woe betide anyone who messed with me.

Did it help me in my career? Well I was never as tired, cold or sapped of energy like I was during those cadet expeditions so I think it did. I had been given a very up close and personal insight into the vagaries of mental illness so I guess that helped me too, as the mentally ill sadly come into contact with the police quite a lot. And yet all of that paled into insignificance when one looked at what Colonel Andrew Croft did. He was our Commandant and I was so proud to have served in his Cadet Corps.

I expect the cadet schemes these days are seen as a waste of money. Perhaps they wouldn't even be allowed to run along the lines of the one I was part of. Maybe people would be just too scared to allow them?  I don't know either way.

 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Adjourned Sine Die....


I never knew Keith Blakelock and by the time the Tottenham riots kicked off, ten years separated The Metropolitan Police and me, but I knew countless officers like him and I felt his loss like I was still a member of that force. One of those countless officers was a particularly good friend of mine, that friendship forged in two years of cadet training in the wintry peaks of North Wales, the wilds of Dartmoor, the February fog of River Thames canoeing expeditions and on the judo mats and in the boxing rings of the Hendon cadet training school.

He was killed in the execution of his duty by four young men in a stolen car. He tried to grab the keys from the ignition when the driver refused to turn off the engine. He got trapped in the window and the driver deliberately rammed him into railings in Oxford Street to shake him off. They were caught and convicted of a lesser crime than murder, which requires `malice aforethought` and served a paltry few years in jail - less than 4 paltry years. That one event shaped me in respect of law enforcement and my tiny part in it -  `Report of a Stolen car? So what? I'll do what I can but it won't be much`.

So I am heartened by the news that my first police force has run another suspect to ground, because this sort of crime cannot be left to gather dust. Its memory sits quietly dozing in the cerebral filing system of hundreds of ex coppers like me - quietly dozing but occasionally opening a cynical eye.

Perhaps the progress of science can achieve today what it was unable to do 28 years ago. Lets hope for no `high morals` corrupt practice. Lets hope they get this one home. A conviction must be `beyond reasonable doubt`, says our criminal justice system. May it be so in this case.


Monday, 24 June 2013

Truth and secrecy in the police

In my last post, the penultimate comment that anon left several weeks after I posted and which I only spotted today (I couldn't find the time or inclination to write anything of late), came as I was about to comment on this, today.

If there were senior Met officers involved in this allegation published in today's `The Guardian` and they happened to be members of the secret organisation referred to previously, The Freemasons, how could anyone be certain that the real truth was being delivered to the public? I am not saying that the Freemason's are corrupt per se, far from it, as I know of several former colleagues who joined this organisation, who freely told me so and who, to my certain knowledge were, and probably still are, totally honest and upstanding and doubtless do nothing but good for that organisation and what it stands for along with the vast majority of their fellows. Rotten eggs can appear anywhere.

I have recently heard things from very trustworthy people about some very serious past goings-on that do not appear to have been dealt with in the manner that would have been expected and with no logical explanation beyond the notion that someone's bad deeds were hidden, rather than exposed, with help that could only have come from fairly near the top of the food chain. Any secret society can end up with less that honourable members who did not join for the right reasons but did so merely in order to help themselves. When those less than honourable people happen to include very senior police officers, the pressures to save the skins of ones fellows within a secret fellowship create a game of very high stakes. When there is reasonable doubt in the trustworthiness of police or any other body of officialdom, there is a credibility issue and this needs to be reduced to the smallest possible level, with total eradication being the objective, very tall though that particular order may be. Secret organisations within bodies such as the police do not help to either eradicate or reduce that reasonable doubt.

Having heard what I've heard, including former Met Commissioner Paul Condon's `not on my watch` response in today's media, I'm sad to say that what has been printed in The Guardian does not leave me in disbelief. So, Baron Condon, how can you be sure you weren't given a runaround?  I reiterate, how will they ever unravel the truth?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Operation Yewtree (and other enquires that remain anonymous)

I wonder how this major enquiry is getting on?

I'm sure it must be difficult at times, facing all the dead-ends and obstructions. Even amongst honourable people there must be other pressures that thwart, frustrate and obstruct. Honourable people in all organisations (even organisations within organisations) have, amongst their number, dis-honourable people who for one reason or another have their own reason to remain quiet. How will they ever unravel the truth?

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Police `allowed` to charge a `suspected` murderer

Some of my old comrades from the Metropolitan Police have sent me news, great news, from none other than the Crown Prosecution Service:

Statement from CPS:-

"Following the release of Michael Adebowale from hospital, we have authorised the police to charge him with the murder of Drummer Rigby.
"We have also authorised police to charge him with possession of a firearm, contrary to section 16A of the Firearms Act 1968.
"There is sufficient evidence to prosecute Michael Adebowale and it is in the public interest to do so."

As you can imagine, the guys and gals of The Met` are overjoyed that, seemingly , the CPS appear to have agreed (possibly unanimously, but I await confirmation on this point) on what they consider to be "Sufficient Evidence" . Their definition of `in the public interest`  is adjourned sine die, awaiting further clarification.

Being an English Literature student I felt immensely moved and at times like this I always reach for my Browning.     Sleep easy, Britain. Twelve of the clock and all is well.......

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Home thoughts.....



My old school

Outside my old school

Thin Blue Line


 O, TO be in England
Now that April 's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom'd pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge—
That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!



Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Old Dux`

Riding over here today. Doing a `Battle of Britain` guided tour.

Anyone in the vicinity who knows me is welcome to come up to me with a copy of `The Sporting Life` and state, "You are Chalkey White and I claim my mug of tea and a bath bun".

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Thursday, 2 May 2013

When the rule of law is rejected

I was reading a thread, posted in `another place`, a few minutes ago about anarchists protesting about something or other in Seattle, USA. It reminded me of this little piece of my past:

Anarchists. A hoary old beat officer pal of mine was called to a `minimart` in the town we policed. Some little erk was trying to steal lager. He was a 19 yr old spotty tosser dragging out his youth on some pointless `bums on seats` college course and was mildly intoxicated. My pal saw that his leather jacket, bedecked with protest badges and rude words daubed thereon with tippex, had the word `Anarchy` painted on it. Pc `Norman` says, `Anarchy means you don't believe in the law, right?" Spotty gives a leery reply. Pc `Norman` returns the beer to the shopkeeper and proceeds to take the leather jacket off the back of the spotty, who struggles and protests. Norman says, `I'm having your jacket as it's no crime to you`, and walks off with it. Shopkeeper declined to press charges. Swift justice swiftly delivered? You be `da judge`.

Crime is down - it figures

If you are into stats and stuff, I commend this article to you from my blogpal Steve Bennett.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Ducking and diving around the law




 No one got paid a bonus by coming up with good crime figures in my day, there was no officical money carrot dangled under the noses of our chief officers like that which was introduced but a short while ago by a government seeking credos. But there were short cuts here and there to be sure. I never knowingly took part in any corrupt practice, but human nature being what it is...


It was a night shift in November and my tutor constable was on rest day. We only had 3 weeks attached to a tutor to `learn beats` before being let out on our own so I hoped I’d get a good stand-in. I was allocated to Ian who had just about 3 years service. Ian was a mature and friendly sort of bloke and I was quite happy to be working with him. After parade and inspection we were dismissed to our duties. The front office was the usual bustle of blue uniforms grabbing radios and batteries, with those on armed duties signing out Walther pistols and spare magazines. The standard `carry` was one up the spout and safety `off` which meant the air was filled with the mechanical clacking and clicking sounds of 6 or 7 pistols being made ready. The public counter was only feet away from all this activity but in those days it consisted of nothing but a `hatch`, which would be slid up in order to peer out at the poor enquiring public. Not the warm and friendly open plan police offices you see today (those that are open for more than a few hours a week, that is). This friendly enquiry desk, in a huge police station, could more accurately be described as a trapdoor or serving hatch just wide enough to be able to reach through and drag someone in by their lapels, should it become necessary. Over the years I would see quite a few people swallowed up into the police station in this remarkably quick and efficient manner, a bit like a Venus Fly Trap.

Ian was an authorised firearms officer and, together, we would be relieving the guys on the front door of Number 10 Downing Street during the shift, but for the first couple of hours we were free agents and so headed up Whitehall for the bright lights to catch some action. Strolling across Trafalgar Square and into Cockspur Street we were suddenly confronted by a guy trying to do a 3-point turn and he wasn’t doing very well, bouncing up the kerbs and stalling the engine. Ian says, “We’ll check this one, I’ll stop him but watch he doesn’t try to run us over”. We signal him to stop and he does so, immediately getting out of the car and putting his hand inside the jacket pocket of his crumpled suit. Eight years later I would recall this moment with a wry smile when, on an exchange trip in the USA, I was in a similar situation, except when the guy got out of his car in downtown Detroit and stuck his hand in his jacket pocket, he became instantly unpopular with the cops I was with and was lucky not to be slotted on the spot. But our man in London didn’t get a gun pointed at him; even though Ian was covertly armed with a Walther PP. Our man just produced this Metropolitan Police I/d card. He was a detective constable, he was driving a car and he was intoxicated. Oh how my heart sank.

Ian was very calm and politely told him to put his I/d away because I was going to talk to him. This was my cue and I went through the standard legal spiel leading up to me requiring him to provide a sample of breath for a breath test. He seemed surprised and asked me if I was joking. I said, “No, I’m too new in this job to be joking”. His reply stuck with me, “Oh f**k, a bloody probationer”. Ian was great and firmly put this guy in his place, explaining that if he’d just let us get on with the procedure we’d all be better off. We radioed for a breath test kit and within minutes big John arrived on the Noddy Bike (just like the picture below). This was a lightweight motorcycle, a 200cc Velocette LE to be precise, and was ideal for central London what with its choking traffic and narrow Mews and alleyways, even though the rider looked slightly ridiculous in his Macintosh and slightly modified but outwardly standard police helmet. Although it was, for its time, a brilliantly innovative motorcycle, water cooled and with a shaft drive, I’d made up my mind never to be seen, dead or alive, on a Noddy Bike, as did most of my mates. Unbeknown to me, that private promise would only hold good for a few years.




The breath kit was prepared. It was a glass tube containing crystals that would change colour progressively if there was alcohol present in the breath. You just snapped the sealed ends off and fitted a mouthpiece and a bag to the ends. I gave chummy his final instructions on what to do, when I was suddenly treated to a remarkable display. He suddenly started shaking like he’d been electrocuted and then collapsed on the pavement, twitching and convulsing. I was both gobsmacked and horrified as my first real live breath test, a pretty simple procedure, started to rapidly descend into a sort of theatrical farce. But Big John wasn’t fooled and said what he thought of this `act` from the intoxicated detective in very uncomplimentary terms. In my naivety, I expressed my concern for his welfare and glanced at Ian who was looking decidedly pissed off with the whole situation. There were a couple of empty seconds where we both tried to think of our next move and a small crowd of people had started to gather round and stare, as they do, when Big John solved it, albeit accidentally. He decided to dismount from the Noddy but in so doing he had forgotten the engine was still running – easily done as they were very quiet. Unfortunately, he had also left it in first gear and as he stood up and released the clutch it leapt forward and ran over the horizontal detective’s leg, causing him to leap to his feet cursing and swearing in pain. Big John didn’t flinch, put the Noddy on its stand and proudly pronounced, “Told you he was bullshitting”. He was arrested for refusing the test and a van was summoned to take him in.

He was booked in by the sergeant, without any fuss and in a matter of a few minutes, declining any medical treatment. Such a contrast to today, where officers frequently have to queue up with their prisoners outside the cells, often waiting ages to be let in. Today’s prisoners have to be asked a myriad of questions about their physical health, mental health, if the arresting officer was nice, dietary requirements, shoes size, star sign and favourite film star before getting anywhere near a cell. This prisoner however was no fool. He knew the system and had clearly started to remember Contingency Plan `A` that had doubtless been worked out by his hard drinking colleagues when the breath test laws were introduced several years before, in 1967. The plan recognised that time is of the essence, or in his case, time would remove the essence. Remember, this was before the advent of breath analysis machines that are now in every custody station and give a reading pretty much within a minute. We had only two options; blood or urine. He failed the second screening breath test and was asked to supply blood. He agreed, knowing that a police surgeon (doctor on retainer) would be called and in central London on a busy night that would take time. Doc eventually arrived after an hour and asked him if it was OK to take a blood sample, at which point chummy refused, with a big grin. This meant we would have to demand 2 urine specimens that had to be given within an hour. 60 minutes later, no urine had passed so we then enter the final phase and revert to asking for a blood specimen. This time he agrees and after another delay the doc arrives and gets a syringe full. Our man is released on bail pending the lab report which, unsurprisingly, came back just under the legal limit. His delaying tactics had worked a treat. My next breath test job, a few nights later, was over and dealt with in less than an hour. Deep joy.

Please, don’t try `Contingency Plan A` if you are arrested. It doesn’t work like this any more.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Officer down

Rest in Peace.

Police motorcyclists are the best in the business and  bikers on unmarked bikes are amongst those at the top of that tree.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Here come da Judge

I think I may have been a little too sarcastic in one of my responding comments on the previous post (`Mass Manslaughter in Derby`) about one of our judges....

so to make up for it I shall concede to an expert, I give you Mr Peter Cook:


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Mass manslaughter in Derby

Its a sad irony that the news media are eagerly waiting at the court to bring us the sentences for the manslaughter of the six children in Derby at the hands of their `parental` wpos (hint, w = worthless).
 Sky and BBC news will interrupt whatever is being screened at the time to get us there live, windswept and almost as it happens. During the olden days of Albions Fatal Tree, we'd be gathering at Tyburn or Northampton Market or at any of the numerous gibbets that were part of the system of the day, although it is highly unlikely that an incident like this one, committed then, would have raised an eyebrow, let alone a hue and cry, fires and infant mortality being par for the course.
As many of my old chums will know, those poor kids had already been sentenced to their chaotic lifestyle, pretty much from conception. There was no media scrutiny of these poor souls then, yet bad times were very much on the cards from the get-go. I guess being placed by social services on the `at risk` register, even as an embryo (if the family background and circumstances were risky enough) pales into insignificance when compared to the end result of this horrendous case. Of course reporters must be factual in what they report - and very careful about saying what they really think. I know what that feels like. Its almost as if we must say, `we know there are awful people out there just like this trio, breeding with complete impunity and no perceivable parenting skills, we just have to let them get on with it and hope for the best`. Its wrong to be prejudiced (although it saved my neck on many occasions, maybe I'll call that `sixth sense suspicions`), so I ought to say that the other tragedy is that none of those children had the chance to grow up and make something decent of themselves, maybe even discover a cure for something horrible. The prospects for that happening were pretty remote, way more remote than some or all of them ending up like the people who brought them into the world, but you never really know for sure until one or the other happens, you just have a pretty good idea.

In the below news article, there is an interesting quote from Professor David Cantor, a name well known in police investigative circles for his work in psychological profiling. He stated, "He [Mick Philpott] lived in a world where he could get away with anything....".   Correct, Professor, him and thousands of others - and I haven't got a tenth of your qualifications. I await hearing of his pre-cons with no anticipation of surprise whatsoever.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-22011190

Thursday, 14 March 2013

TV Cops



A little while ago an American friend asked me what I thought of the quality of police based tv shows. He also mentione dthe drama based on the Special Air Service Regiment, "Ultimate Force" which starred the actor Ross Kemp who made his name in a long running tv drama "Eastenders". My friend said that  `Ultimate Force` was similar to the US programme `The Unit`. He was pretty unimpressed by the firearms handling as portrayed on British TV dramas and sought a view.  I don't watch these things much for a couple of reasons; one is that when I was a serving police officer I had little interest in these stories because I found the real thing rather trying and wanted to get away from it, to the point I'd even change into/out of my uniform at work, hoping to shut the job out a little as I closed the locker door. As a Londoner and an `Eastender` at that, I didn't take to Eastenders either, despite the assortment of acting talent, but thats another genre.

As good as the acting may seem to the casual viewer, for me they never get it right when portraying police officers of any rank, especially the tactical firearms units, of which I was a member for many years (and at several ranks). The weapon handling is always a giveaway. The actors learn their lines fine, look dramatic, take on their version of what `rough and tough` looks like and try to bring to their chartacters all the other emotions the drama school and their own life experiences have given them. But for those who have been there for real, you can see right through it and it can really irk. They just can't devote the same amount of time to weapon drills as they can to their lines or moves (and often the moves are dire - room entries, getting framed in a doorway, gun barrels appearing around door frames... grrrrr... Though I am glad they don't give all our secrets away. (I'd hate to come up against someone like me who had gone bad).
Drills need drilling but once mastered it's there to the point you could do it semi conscious (precisely when you might need to, worse case). Eg. After more than 35 years had passed since I was trained, I took up a job involving small arms. The organisation was making short video clips to market what we did and it was suggested we showed someone stripping a pistol. I volunteered and we did a first take. I field stripped a 9mm Browning Hi Power in about 3 seconds. The camera guy said he didn't see it so I re-assembled it in about 5. Did the same thing, only a touch quicker, with a Walther PP. Camera man was a bit gobsmacked so I did it much slower for him but my point, was that any one of my team of 40 guys could have done the same. My American friend asked if I thought the bad handling by actors was because we don't have the same culture/number of gun owners in the UK. I don't think so. We certainly have a population with far less gun familiarity and perhaps TV producers rely on that fact to let poor handling slip. If I were an adviser on those tv shows I couldn't let a sloppy drill pass, but then I don't think the tv people worry. What I will say is that just because the US has millions of gun owners it probably doesn't automatically equate to better handling! You need to take it seriously and practice and study and train; I'm sure responsible owners do and from what I've read many responsible American gun owners do precisely that, but on the other hand if anyone can buy firearms in any High Street....plus I have seen some diabolical shooters out `rough shooting` in our countryside who think they are good.

As for the characters portrayed in these dramas, there is enough people out there with weapons experience for producers to ask, if they have the time or budget or make the effort and many do, with results commensurate to their attention to detail. A good eg. for me was in `Skyfall`. I have seen it just the once, so far, and there was a mere few seconds in a scene where 007 goes for some refesher pistol training. I noticed that one of his first shots was awful. My immediate thoughts were, `Duh, prick snatched it, that'll be low left by a mile` and was about to annoy Mrs HD by telling her (I'm getting much better and don't annoy her nearly as much these days) when, Lo! 007 is mildly rebuked for a lousy first shot. Yes, it was intentional! 99% of viewers wouldn't have seen that bum trigger action, but I did and I'm sure other keen pistol shots would have too, if they took their eyes off Mr Craig's other features long enough. Kudos to the producers and to Craig for replicating a snatched trigger. But that famous James Bond sequence looking down the barrel - he doesn't check before firing, its turn-bang in one movement. One always checks - but now I'm totally anal.

"Ultimate Force"? I have watched about 10 minutes in total and that was enough. I never tuned in again. Too many `tough guy stares` and actors posturing in a manner they think SF soldiers posture - bollocks! I should point out, though, that I really rate Ross Kemp who has gone on to produce documentaries in some horrendously dangerous places and worked alongside our forces in Afghanistan, to the point where bullets and RPG's were zapping over his head and guys were getting shot around him. [But then Ross's dad was a British policeman ;) ] Many of my TFU colleagues were former Special Forces or from elite British regiments like the Paras and Royal Greenjackets. My own tactical firearms instructors were former SF. They were not like anyone I saw in that programme or on the tv shows. I was grateful for the closeness with which our job worked with the British Army and I spent many weeks on courses with them, CQB, FIBUA, COIN, CT Search.

The toughest, bravest, most capable men I served with on that unit were small wiry guys, big gentle giants or just plain average looking men. They spoke softly, loudly and some hardly at all. With the exception of the gentle giants, most of them would simply disappear in a crowd. I have had several officers I worked with over the years shot in the line of duty, mercifully none killed although my best friend was murdered on duty in Oxford Street. I have one friend who has shot a criminal (kidnapper) but didn't kill him, just shattered his upper arm [ .38spl +P jacketed semi wadcutter delivered by a S&W Mod 19 for the techhies out there) I have one professional acquaintence who has killed 3 criminals (armed robberies) and one who killed a deranged man pointing a gun at a tac team that was moving into position (seige). The guy with 3 fatal shootings is quite exceptional even, I suspect, by US Law enforcementf statistics but in the UK less than 3% of police are trained to tactical/hostage rescue level and armed response vehicles in any force are measured in single figures, so as a consequence we were always the ones going out against armed crims so our odds were much greater. All my aforementioned friends reacted very differently. One guy never talked about it to us, other than as a technical de-brief or for training purposes. His wife was very `off` with him and I think religion played a part there. The other one was happy to chat. What got him over the shock was being amongst his mates and knowing that he had no choice but to do what he did. The third guy was berated so much by his wife about him doing what he had to do that she actually packed her bags and divorced him. He remained an instructor.

Regarding the units I worked on, I can say that I loved those men. Some of them were not the nicest of characters in their private lives and others I would not choose as personal friends outside the job, but in all the tasks we trained for, I loved those guys. I never made that connection with screen characters unless they were the real deal but then in that recent film with the real SEAL's you could see they were the real deal because they weren't as good at acting, so it sort of cancelled it out for me. I have never served in the military so my comments herein are based purely on the professional contacts made during my police career and their training and tasking is very different and mainly for high intensity warfare. I guess that's why I don't watch this sort of stuff on tv.

Gadget - It's a Mythtery

It seems that Inspector Gadget has packed up shop and bloggered off. Good luck to him/her. I hope he doubles the time on pension that he spent drawing a salary (something I wish to all my police friends). I was only a casual reader of his blog, probably less than a once a month. I would rarely go so far as to leave a comment as I recognise a pointless exercise when I see one, but I would not wish to diminish the theraputic value of venting that a serving officer/victim of the system would get from being able to do so. Despite that, Gadget actually sent me a personal Christmas greeting once, which was nice.

There are comments on other blogs that I casually surf into (and quickly out of, wiping off any fingerprints as I leave the room) that suggest any number of things regarding this event, for it is an event, and one of those theories is that he was always retired which is why he could never be tracked down and why he could be so prolific, bearing in mind the research and typing time that went into some of those posts. What is also a possibility is that he had a ghostwriter at his elbow/in his house/in his life. Whatever the real answer may be, the posts were always authentic.

Most of the police officers that I have communed with in public post comments or private messages since I started my own ramblings on this `hobby blog` were quick to point out that when it comes to talking about being a police officer, authenticity is something that is very difficult to fake - for long. Gadget was nothing if not authentic. I recognised him pretty quickly, as did thousands of other serving and retired officers hence the huge following. The posts were formulated from real events, real systems and real policies. The frustration, the crass stupidity and the human mire that diverts a massively disproportionate amount of police time away from dealing with people who genuinely need it was all too real. The self-centred and lacklustre management was all too readily identifiable (albeit they're not restricted to the police).
 
Those outside the police, including politicians, might be forgiven for writing him off as just another bitter and twisted frustrated `commie agitator type` and be thinking, `it can't be that bad`. To that I'd say that I have toned down many of my own `war-stories` for the very reason that I know people outside the job just would not believe them. I have been out of that life for eleven years and so I have no up to the second anecdotal evidence, but I still have a lot of friends who do.

The `Gadget denial brigade` may have argued against his views and hated his attitude on any number of policing issues and the twisted poisoned psychotics hated him just because they hate everyone, but I don't ever recall him being proved a liar.