Thursday, 16 July 2009

Plastic Fuzz Speaks: The Oath of a Constable

Well, I had a nice little trip away with the Family Hobbes and our two kitty-cats. It was nice not to have access to a computer and to spend some quality time doing things that were designed to re-form our family into a cohesive unit, but all of which ultimately involved me having to do stuff. Lots of stuff. Really tiring stuff. For now, it's back to work.

It seems there has been a few developments in police blogging since I've been away. Firstly, Sierra Charlie has decided to return to the fray and has created a new site. Secondly, Area Trace No Search has decided to continue blogging. I'm sure you'll agree, they're both excellent authors who have provided an invaluable insight into the world of policing. Finally, I also received an e-mail from The Artist Formally Known As The Plastic Fuzz, but who is now a police constable. He closed his blog earlier on in the month but has felt the need to speak once again. Here is his post and I will be more than happy to include his contributions until he also, hopefully, decides to reopen his blog.

I am a Police constable. Don’t know about you, but that means something to me.

Some people see this as a job. A way to make a few bob and attract the girls, perhaps. The moneys not bad if you can get a bit of overtime in and you get to blat around in cars making everyone move for you.

For me it’s not a job, it’s a way of life. I am aware that sounds like a sound bite from Hot Fuzz, but hay-ho, it’s true.

I’m a little concerned today, having finished a relatively normal early shift (if there is such a thing within policing). On my way to work it was my turn to buy doughnuts. This is a bit of a tradition for anyone who just so happens to cock-up one way or another. For me it may, or may not have involved leaving something on the roof of a police car. Anyway, that’s irrelevant; the point is I’m at the minimarket, looking for a multi-pack of mini doughnuts when I notice a large group of youths. This group had a couple of loud ringleaders who seemed to be incapable of putting a sentence together without the use of the words, “f**k” and “c*nt”. I could see there were older people in the minimarket, as well as a mum and her young son. I noticed my heart rate shoot right up and the adrenalin setting in. My body obviously aware that there is no way on earth I’m going to allow this to continue without stepping in and telling them to wind their wannabe gangster necks in.

I risk asses every situation. I knew that in this case, I have no PPE with me. No radio. No back-up and no stabvest. But, I also know I could probably take three of them, if it came to that, and I doubt the “hangers-on” would get involved, at worst the loud ones may.

So I go up to them, tell them their language isn’t appreciated and that the people in there don’t want to hear them. One steps up and gives a bit of mouth back. Words to the effect of, “who are you, bruv” or something like that – would need a translator to be completely accurate. So at this point I take out my warrant card and identify myself. The loud one backs down and they clear off. Sorted.

Back at the nick I tell this to a couple of colleagues who then ask what the hell I thought I was doing – no back up, PPE etc. What if it all kicked off?


Then, whilst in the briefing meeting, the sergeant pipes up on an unrelated matter of one of my colleagues who got involved in detaining a shoplifter whilst off-duty and practically threatened “discipline” if he got involved in anything off duty again (granted it did go a bit Pete Tong).

Now I understand we are all still new in service, some are just coming up to a year’s service, but please!

When I was sworn in I actually meant what I said. I meant that I would serve the queen and enforce laws and protect people and property. I’m certain it doesn’t say anything in there about having to be on duty at the time. In fact, I have one framed on my wall and, hang on, umm, nope, it doesn’t say anything about being on duty or in uniform.

I know these people are using scare tactics to try and keep us safe, but please stop threatening my bloody job every time I actually do my job.

I will continue to tell kids on buses to “shut-it” and help store detectives when I happen to be shopping and it all kicks off. I took an oath.

I am a Police constable, dunno ‘bout you?


  1. I agree entirely. I have only once felt the need to "intervene" while off duty and I did do a dynamic risk assessment. We *all* have a duty to get involved when we think there is unacceptable behaviour going on, but again only if it is safe to do so. One reason that anti-social behaviour is so prevalent is because members of the public are too scared to try and do anything about it. Another reason why I signed up.

    If there were more people reminding people to not drop litter, to not urinate in the street, to not behave in an intimidating manner our environment would be a far more pleasant place to go about our daily business.

    I, Sierra Charlie, of the Urban Police Service...

  2. they probably had an 'oh shit' moment :)

    SC, spot on.

  3. I think your Sgt needs to be told to buy the next round of doughnuts - for being such a pill!

  4. Nice to have you both back.

    It's a difficult one - I know people who have produced the card of truth off duty and ended up losing 10 teeth.

    Mine is only out if they're coming with me to visit a darkened cell, until then I'm happy to front it up and not show out. I don't need a translator and can speak to them in a way, that I hope they get my message. If the cards out and you get "So effing what?" the challenge is down .. and you've got to play a straight game.

  5. I agree with Stressed on this one. I've had times where the Badge of Justice has been produced, to which I've received an even more threatening response. Luckily I'm double-hard so haven't as yet been beaten into submission. However, I did have a roll-around with a guy with a knife off-duty. MOPs were there, taking pictures on their mobile phones and refusing to assist. When I spoke to one after why they didn't help he replied, "I've got a wife and kids". Yeah? So have least I can look them in the eye when I get home and sleep soundly knowing I'm not a coward.

  6. I guess it depends on the situation, your own confidence and physical strength, etc.. I imagine that no two situations are identical.

    I like the idea of more people being assertive, but you gotta look out for yourselves too, ladies and gents.

  7. Producing the warrant off duty is one of the riskiest things a police officer can do. I've done it, although less frequently as I got older in service, and had to back it up by force on a couple of occasions - I was lucky on both. As a village bobby in the shires I didn't have to even carry my card as pretty much everyone knew me, which was like being in uniform 24/7 anyway, but at least when I did have to act, I was fortunate to have locals who backed me. My own personal rule of thumb was that if I thought I'd have to put myself `on duty`, I'd make a phone call first if at all possible - If not, see `SOC`s comment above. That way if it doesn't play to plan you can back down with dignity as an ordinary MOP/witness and then return with your comrades in due course.

  8. The point here guys, although I take what your are saying on board and each to their own, is that you shouldn’t be “told off” for doing your job, the job you signed up to do. It’s the individuals decision.

    By all means risk asses and if, after all of the impact factors, you decide it’s too risky, then fair enough, make a call and observe, walk away if you want, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t be looked down upon for getting stuck in. You shouldn’t be made to look like some sado wannabe judge dread just because you don’t turn a blind eye to it like the rest (some) of your colleagues and most of Joe public.

    Plus, I’m double ‘ard ;p

    On a more serious note, if I whip out the old WC and their response is “so what” then they will be coming in and I don’t bluff. If I’ve got to miss a dinner appointment or something to take some scrote in, it’s got to be done, otherwise they win. And it’s one-nil to the bad guys.

    Plastic Fuzz

  9. One of the most disappointing outcomes of the many times I've made off-duty arrests, is the response of the uniform colleagues who do turn up. For some reason, officers think you're either job-pissed or are after tea and biscuits with the boss for doing so. The attitudes I've faced range from "Have you arrested him yet? We're really busy" to "If you haven't arrested him I wouldn't bother, the local custody if full and it's a 10 mile drive to the nearest station". It's sad, but I then have to produce the Badge of Seniority to indicate to the officers that they should wind their necks in. It always works. It makes you wonder if they would walk by when off-duty though, doesn't it?

  10. It isn't just the job of a Policeman to step in, it's the job of every citizen too.

    You'd wait a long time on a transatlantic flight for a copper to show up when Laslo from Russia, soaked in vodka decides to have a pop at the stewardess.

  11. I waited 30 years for the feeling that I would get assistance from the public. I learned to never expect it and was therefore never disappointed. The one incident I can recall where I was surprised and delighted was during a struggle with a nutter on Trafalgar Square who had me round the neck. The world was just starting to turn grey when the weight was lifted off me and this big black guy was bending nutter into all sorts of horrible painful shapes. It turned out my black knight was a hot dog seller that I'd arrested the previous week for highway obstruction. He had a big grin on his face as I thanked him. I'd like to think my policy for treating my prisoners right, paid off on this occasion. As for the rest of the staring masses, I had, and continue to have to this day, precious little regard for them - until someone proves otherwise.

  12. I'm with SOC, the guv'nor AND the plastic one. Provided i'm sober, i will do my best to intervene.

    In a situation like the one described, i'd probably see if there was someone sensible nearby to balance the odds if it did start going downhill. It's not just the yoot that gain confidence in numbers, and the i've found that most decent people will pile in if they can see whats going on. If you're in an area where the locals are hostile, leave it, they'll just jump in with the slag and give you a kicking.

    The whole matter of off duty bodies is like dangling your love spuds in the mouth of a lion, looks superb if you get it right, but you can come off horrendously. The few times i have stepped in presenting the badge as a banner for my arrival, its turned out ok. I prefer the low key concerned MOP role as it can work better - Brits support the underdog.

    Stay safe out there.

  13. If you're going to show out for every mouthy idiot you encounter off-duty expect a busy time and a kicking at some point.

    If you think something, this trivial, warrants police intervention, then ring it in. There's people on-duty to deal with just such eventualities. I would only be getting involved off-duty in life or limb type stuff not section 5s.

  14. I think the agreed advice thus far is that if you do produce your warrant card and the offender doesn't back down, then you've no alternative but to see it all the way. What could be worse than for a MOP see a police officer back away from abuse - on duty or off? If offenders are prepared to do that to us, how do they behave towards the civilian population? As Secret Squirrel said, sometimes it's better to ring the low level stuff in. The only problem with that is that it will probably be given a 60 minute response time, and the moment will have ended by the time officers arrive. It's a judgement call, but I'd probably have done the same as Plastic. I can't abide thuggery and bullying.

  15. If I come across an incident - off-duty - that I feel I can handle, I then do a quick dynamic risk assessment and deal with it. Let’s say this occurs once a month, then over the period of a year that’s 12 times.

    Out of those 12 times perhaps one will not back down and will go a bit pear-shaped, you will need to make an arrest and put yourself on duty (*cough cough overtime*). You’ll miss that appointment and the wife will curse the day she ever married a policemanofficer (she’ll get over it).

    Once a year isn’t that big of a deal. Even if it were twice a year. The fact is, we are Police Officers, although we often use risk assessments and health and safety to avoided getting stuck in, the reality is it is actually our duty. And once/twice a year, considering your job, isn’t that much to accept.

    Most of us don’t live in downtown Harlem. If you tell a yoot to pack it in, and ultimately end up showing your badge of justice, usually they do just bugger off. Perhaps a muttering under their breath, but they do go away, or pack it in.

    It’s highly unlikely they’ll pull a glock and pop a cap just because you’ve said, “lads, come on, bugger off.”

    Perhaps the problem here is that I’m too fearless. I have yet to receive that great kick-in that changes my approach. Is this because of my communication skills, or because I’ve been extremely lucky? Perhaps it’s just my limited service and it’ll come soon.

    Either way, wouldn’t our towns and city’s be that little bit better if more off-duty job and concerned MOPs stood up and said, “no, I’m not having that, it isn’t right”...
    Plastic Fuzz

  16. Overtime. How I miss it. You've hit the nail on the head though - I'm more afraid of what my wife will say more than anything or anyone else in this world.

  17. The key words in all these are 'Risk Assessment' We all have to do it in our jobs and if its done correctly things can go smoothly. Granted things can go tits up but you then do 'dynamic risk assessment' i.e. change the plan on the hoof!

    As an ambulance technician I can not knowingly walk away from an incident in front of me. I've been off duty and come across car accidents, people fitting and collapsing in public. I could not walk past these things and go home with a clear conscience.

    I understand that the risk you guys may take are slightly higher than me attending people medically but I think our social conscience is what makes us good at these job and to turn away from these things it would be loosing that.

  18. cops, look as a MOP i would could and will help you or other MOPs but BUT then i stand a very very good chance of arrest i may not be charged but i will spend the night in a cell finger ps and dna and all the crap, i know you will say its not us its the law but i still end up in a cell, i think thats the main reason MOPS will not help we arnt all cowards you no.
    but i dont think the cops can be trusted sorry thats the way a lot of MOPS feel.

  19. If you take an oath to be a police man/woman then you should stick to that oath.
    This means NO FINES FOR THE PUBLIC.if a crime has been committed they should go before a jury of there peers..NOT A COMMERCIAL COURT.
    Those that do not keep to there oath and mearly enforce statuates(which don't apply to human beings)MUST BE IGNORED COMPLETELY BY THE PUBLIC(Humanbeings)AN SHOULD BE ARRESTED BY THOSE POLICE MEN/WOMEN WHO CLAIM TO UPHOLD THERE OATH.THE SAME IS TRUE OF POLICE MEN/WOMEN WHO WATCH JUDGES LEVEY FINES AGAINST THE PUBLIC(HUMANBEINGS)...If you were to research statuates you would find that they only apply to those who have sworn an oath to the sovereignty of enland.NAMELY POLICE MEN/WOMEN,JUDGES,MILITRY POLICE(THE HIGHEST POWER IN THE LAND)AND A FEW OTHERS..THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE MPS..WHO MAKE UP THESE STATUATES AND FINES(FUNNY THAT.CONTROL OF ARE LAND GIVEN TO PEOPLE WHO ARN'T EVEN BRAVE ENOUGH TO TAKE AN OATH).All you police men/women on this blog are criminals the moment you fail to up hold COMMON LAW.Which is no doubt every day of your life.To conclude the uniform or been on the clock is of no importance.YOUR OATH TO UPHOLD COMMON LAW IS ALL THAT U NEED.Remember all police forces are registered(given away)as PLCs and are mearly there to make a profit.It is criminal that thoses who have sworn to protect us are not aware of the truth behind there oath.
    Gavin Kaylhem

  20. Gav, ...

    Allow me to be the first, ..

    You sir, are a woefully mis-educated fool! Police only enforce common-law? Arrest cops who don't do what you think they should? Only those who have sworn an oath are subject to statutes? The police are profit-mongering criminals?

    Are you perhaps off your meds? "Get the net!"

    I'm a medical doctor and it's my professional opinion that ... you're a nutter mate, a nutter! Off you skip to A&E, and don't forget your teddy bear!

    (Oh, and I a MOP, not a cop)

  21. Look in to it


  22. So thats it then.POLICE ARE ALL COWARDS

  23. Coming with the new budget is the sacking of 10000 police officers,thats POLICE OFFICERS'
    But will the police men/women who swore an oath
    just quit policing ???

  24. Come on Lets see some bravery.You have already wasted long enough.

  25. It's nice that SOME officers remember that common law oath. It is an oath to serve the sovereign people of Britain NOT carry out the STATUTES of government. The Government has turned the constabulary into a corporation (private company) busy kidnapping free humans and holding them unlawfully.

  26. FYI who don't know Gav (and kgo42)is one of the Freemen movement I think - a bizarre sect/cult on a par when you read into their views (the Law of Admiralty blah blah) with those who believe we are ruled by lizards in human form. They are working on a time machine to go back to about 900 AD when all there was was common law. They also, as Gav so clearly demonstrates can't spell and personally I would be reluctant to take lessons on constitutional law from someone with spelling problems or who thinks that MILITRY POLICE(THE HIGHEST POWER IN THE LAND). They also appear to think it a good idea to bombard the police and civil service with letters demanding to know about oaths of office etc - thereby wasting the time of those who could be better employed. They would be solely laughable (and for all the sneers about police cowardice a bunch of big men behind the keyboard) except that they have links to US Freemen whose actions have involved real violence against US LE colleagues and they have also taken to disrupting Mags courts hearings to try and arrest the DJ - the fact that real crime involving real victims is being dealt with seems to have past them by.

  27. ( the fact that real crime involving real victims is being dealt with seems to have past them by.)
    The police don't deal with real criminals.
    The criminals deal with them.By knowing the system.
    Were as your average decent humanbeing gets mistreated simpley because they have never been arrested b4, and believe the police are there for anything other then upholding there amendment of agreement with the law society to fine people,rather then deal out justice and protect the decent,honest people of this country.
    A friend of mine in grimsby had his front door smashed in and then was chopped & slashed at with a machette for the sake of some cash & a little bit of cannabis.GY police treat him like he commited the crime and did nothing about a bunch of lads running around with a machette quit preperd to us it against another human.

  28. I think Louise above makes the most important point, but there's one thing to add. Somebody has to make the first move. There has to be a leader. People will stand around, mobile phone in pocket, and not even dial 999. I expect Louise knows this, and will be pointing at the nearest slow-witted bystander and telling them to call an ambulance.