I've gone out of my way this week to talk to people about the phone hacking issue. It is clear to me that the general populous are thoroughly bored with the subject. There is an acceptance that this has happened, the politicos are trying to score points, millions will be wasted on inquiries and little will change. The terrible events in Norway have now taken over the front pages and even Amy Winehouse shooting up her last dose of heroin is up there above the hacking story.
So moving on and back to the sharp end; this weekend my team were joined by a Probation Officer who wanted to come out on patrol with the police and see what it is like from our perspective. I like these attachments and hope that we can genuinely show partners what we have to deal with and that they will learn and take something back from this. There is always some trepidation, I still worry that an officer may say something stupid, but after two years of weeding out the idiots I am confident they will acquit themselves well.
After almost two nights with various officers I met the Probation Officer to have a chat about her experience. She told me that she had been surprised at how tolerant officers were. In the face of drunken abuse, threats and violence she felt that officers had shown remarkable restraint and maturity. She told me that whenever 'clients' had been arrested for drunk and disorderly or public order offences they always said that the arresting police officer had wound them up. This excuse is so commonplace that most Probation Officers accept that D & D and public order offences are actually caused by the police, hence no one ever gets recommended for any substantial penalty in the Probation Officers report. Worse still, Probation Officers when compiling their reports for any offence simply interview the 'client' who gives their account full of bullshit excuses and lies, which the Probation Officer's generally accept. So when the case comes to court the prosecution case is outlined and then the defence outline their case, which is supported by the Probation report. Two one to the defence and their story is accepted as the truth.
We hadn't finished our conversation when a neighbourhood officer called for assistance nearby. I attended with the Probation Officer. On arrival we find two neighbourhood officers, a drunken idiot and a gathering crowd all in a residential street. The drunken idiot is shouting at one of the officers. "Fuck off you bald cunt." The officer is trying to reason with him and to calm him down and send him home. The other is standing there like a lemon. After repeating the abuse twice more I told the officer to arrest him. "What for?" says the officer. He later told me that abusing a police officer was not an offence. I end up arresting the idiot before more embarrassment is caused. He wants to fight but he is drunk and he finds his face kissing the tarmac before he knows what is happening. The crowd are the residents of the street and not the usual drunken town centre morons. So instead of abuse and threats I got a cheer and a few claps from the residents who obviously thought it was about time someone did something.
Back at the police station I have a frank discussion with the Neighbourhood officers, including suggesting they might like to think about a change of career. I will speak to their supervisor, hope they are not equally useless, and tell them to put the officers on performance measures. I have one request for supervisors. Don't send useless officers to Neighbourhoods or CID. Deal with them and if they cannot be developed then get rid of them. In my Force Neighbourhoods have become infested with ineffective officers. We cannot afford to carry them. If we had good Neighbourhood officers our jobs would be so much easier.
Update 24th July - I have just found out the officer who failed to make the arrest has not arrested anyone this year. How can an officer be out working the streets and not make an arrest for almost 7 months. I am going to be on his case from now.
The opinions and views expressed here are mine, and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the policies and views of the Utopian Police Force nor the City of Utopia.
The stories I tell here are all true but my purpose is not technical accuracy. My purpose is to illustrate the nature of policing in an educational and entertaining way.
I have tried to respect the privacy of the citizens of the city and to relate specific facts without identifying individuals. I believe I succeed in this but if you do recognize yourself and believe others will too, please contact me and I shall rectify it.