Friday 29 May 2009

The Pre-Release-Risk Assessment

I received an e-mail from Head Quarters this morning, advising me that before a detainee is released from police custody, Sergeants must now conduct a 'Pre-release risk-assessment.' They have a set of questions that they must read out to ensure that the detainee won't come to harm after they leave the police station. These also include observations on matters such as their clothing. 'Why is that Mr Hobbes', I hear you ask? Well, when they were arrested it might have been nice and sunny outside, but the weather has since turned inclement during their confinement.

So, if they're wearing a t-shirt and shorts and it's now raining, the Custody Sergeant has to ask them how far they have to travel, if they have enough money, and if they are likely to get a bit of a cold if made to walk home. If there is the remote risk they may get a sniffle, a police vehicle will pick them up and take them directly to their door. I have suggested to the Custody Sergeants that they pay for the detainees taxi home and to apologise for any inconvenience being arrested may have caused them, but was politely told,"With respect Sir, f*ck off."

I was only trying to lift their spirits.

Finally, it has been brought to the Chief Constable's attention that Custody Sergeants do not ask intrusive or probing questions as part of their booking-in risk assessment, which I suppose we can now refer to as the 'booking-in pre-pre-release risk assessment', (I wonder how long it will be before Officers have to conduct a 'pre-arrest pre-booking-in pre-pre-release risk assessment). It was felt that some detainees may not volunteer information to the Custody Sergeant about any ailments, conditions or illnesses they may have because they could be too embarrassed to mention it.

This is now the fault of the Custody Sergeant, because they didn't ask the detainee the right question that would have made the detainee feel comfortable about revealing what they are embarrassed about, but which they are too embarrassed to talk about if not asked and which, I presume, they desperately hope they are never asked about because it's a very embarrassing thing for people to know.
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Wednesday 27 May 2009

When Will I Stop?

My new posting has been published on Police Oracle today. Please click on the link below if you'd like to read what I've complained about this week. You know, I get many e-mails and comments enquiring about where I find the time to write so often and so much. There are two reasons: the first is 'Britain's Got Talent'. My wife watches it. I hate it. I like spending time on the computer. My wife hates it. The trade-off is she can watch what I hate and I can do what she hates, uninterrupted from either of us telling the other how much we hate having to participate in what the other does and which we hate so much. Fortunately, for me at least, 'America's Got Talent' begins shortly after the final of 'Britain's Got Talent', so I can continue doing what I like and what my wife hates, because my wife can continue doing what I hate and she likes, and vice verse. I'm sure there is an easier way of explaining this, but I can't think of it.

The second reason is 10 years of pain caused from being a police officer. 10 years of not actually being bothered to do something remotely constructive about what pains me, which is to at least write about it. I suppose some psychologist would say this is a cathartic process and that there is some Freudian motivation behind all of it, an Oedipus complex perhaps. However, I would like to categorically say right here, right now, I would never sleep with my mother.

Once was enough. Never again.

In any event, and to swiftly change the subject, the answer to my posting on Police Oracle regarding the lack of prison spaces has been quite succinctly summarised by Dominic Grieve. "First as Chancellor, then as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown blocked the prison-building required to ease overcrowding and promote rehabilitation. Now the public are paying the price."

I must go, 'Britain's Got Talent' has finished.

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Tuesday 26 May 2009

The Malin Family Website

Please take the time to look at The Malin Family Website. At the age of 88, Lillian was brutally raped in her home by the Minstead Offender. It is believed that this 'man' is responsible for over 90 such offences committed since 1992. He is still at large. Lillian passed away never knowing why she was targetted by Minstead, always asking, "Why me?"

Jenny and Jim have set up this website in honorarium of Lillian. It is evident from their words and the eloquence with which they write when responding to messages of support from the public, that these are decent, caring, loving people who are desperate to understand what happened to their Aunt.

In a way, it has made me feel somewhat ashamed to have written posts complaining of the plight of being a police officer and the criminals we deal with on a daily basis. The latter are wholly undeserving of such attention whereas the Malin Family represent the very people I joined the police to serve.

If you could take the time to send a message of support to Jenny and Jim, I know it would be greatly apreciated and may go some way to helping them through their healing process.

Monday 25 May 2009

We Sleep Well

It's the 19th of July 1916. A small troop of British soldiers is encamped on a small wooded knoll. They are preparing to advance towards the small French village of Fromelles and liberate it from German occupation. They will never see another dawn.

Lieutenant: "Men, just 100 yards in that direction lies our goal. The Germans are light on the ground and the village poorly defended. The women have been subjected to the most horrendous rape, the men beaten, their homes pillaged, stripped of all belongings. Within a few hours more of fighting, we shall free the villagers."

Sergeant: "Remember, only a dead German will count as a sanctioned detection. If they don't admit to being dead, refer the matter to CPS for a burial decision. God speed."

A deafening silence engulfs the troops, dampening the howls of the relentless artillery bombardment. The very air around them stills and the wavering tree branches stop and bow in seeming recognition of the horror that will soon befall them.

The tranquility of the moment only ends when one soldier tentatively raises his hand.

Postlethwaite: "Er, Sir?"

"Yes Postlethwaite," asks the Lieutenant, "What is it?"

Postlethwaite: "Sir, I ain't being funny no never I'm not, but we 'ave been fighting for nigh on 16 hours now, so we 'ave. The 'elf and safety regulations say we shouldn't fight for no more than 10, so they do and so we should not, so therefore should we do it not."

"Postlethwaite my good man, I appreciate your concern, but we are so close to achieving our objective. Those citizens needs us. If we don't do it then this duty we fall to our reinforcements. They, like you, are battle-weary. You will have plenty of rest soon, I assure you."

Silence returns, and the only awareness the men now have of the impending violence is the suffocating cordite that bites at their lungs. Postlethwaite shifts uncomfortably on his feet, politely coughs, before pleading, "But Sir, we are very tired. We're starting to make mistakes and errors in our judgement so we are. Cuthbert tripped over on the way in through the supply lines so he did."

Cuthbert: "Sir, I fell flat on my nose. There was blood and all. It brought tears to my eyes it did."

Postlethwaite: "It was bad Sir."

All nod and murmur in agreement.

Lieutenant: "Men, you all have a duty to save those women and children, you all hav..."

Griswald: "I'd quite like to go home now."

Lieutenant: "But..."

Wilbert: "What overtime rate are we on after 10 hours?"

Lieutenant: "Well, I don't really..."

Smithin: "I'm hungry. I don't see why I should get shot at when I'm hungry."

Sulley: "Shot at? They've got guns? No one said nothing about guns."

Bradshaw: "I'd quite like to see my pension."

Moore: "The Army's f*cked."

None of the above is true about The Fallen. Similarly, none of the above is true about the thousands of policemen and women who patrol our streets each and every day. Admittedly, we all think the above as the end of our tour grows ever closer and the desperation to go home increases.

It changes nothing.

We all joined the service for a purpose, for the deep sense of satisfaction it brings and the personal pride that no other profession can offer. We all joined so we can help the helpless and punish the aggressor. We help the undeserving. We shall answer that call with just minutes of the shift remaining. We are all tired. Our evidential notes are tainted with grammatical errors, misplaced and missing words. None of us wants to leave a long list of outstanding calls for the next relief to deal with. We miss our meal breaks. We worry. We get assaulted. We moan. We laugh. Some pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Not one of us could ever return to our beds and enjoy the warmth and companionship of our loved ones knowing that we did not do our duty. We never talk about what we did. We want to forget about it, to return to our civilised and mundane normality.

We sleep well.

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The Drug Warrant

It's 6 am, I've 18 months service and I'm in a convoy of 3 police vehicles on route to execute a drug warrant at an address. The information is that the resident there, Billy T. Burglar (his middle name is 'The') has been given gainful employment by Mr Big to sell drugs from his home. Neighbours have complained about the number of Living Dead arriving at the location at all times of day and night. It's my first operation, 'given' to me by CID in order to help me develop. In reality this means that there will be little or no drugs at the address, otherwise they would have dealt with it themselves. Nevertheless, the planning of the operation has been a worthwhile exercise and even if I get a small amount of drugs it's another arrest and one that will please my reporting sergeant.

We arrive and stealthily creep up to the door. Everyone gets in position before PC Lump, chosen for the task due to his gargantuan frame, casually forces the door open with one delivery from his size 14 boot. I told him to use the enforcer during the briefing. Everyone told me he wouldn't. The officers go into each room to secure them, shouting 'clear!" as they do so. One brings Billy T into the living room, he's placed on the sofa, given a copy of the warrant and told to sit still.

The drugs dog comes in and begins its search. It goes to the television in the corner of the room, stands on its hind legs and begins sniffing the air. It's a find. I go to the television and look behind it and can see that the back is loosely fitted. I open it and at the bottom I see a large plastic blue bag. Inside is about £500 worth of heroin. I'm not just delighted at finding such a sizable quantity of drugs, I'm relieved to have found something so that the senior PC's won't tell me afterwards, "What a sh*t job that was probbie, thanks for getting me out of bed at 5 in the f*cking morning for f*ck all."

I tell Billy T he's under arrest and put a handcuff on one wrist. I take hold of his other to do the same, and he lets out a gut-wrenching scream. He drops from the sofa onto his knees, doubled in pain, tears rolling down his face. I ask him what's wrong and he rolls up the sleeve of his shirt. The arm - from the elbow down to the very tips of his fingers - is yellow. It's swollen to four times the size it should be, dotted with weeping open sores, the stench from which immediately fills the room. I take the handcuff off his other arm, walk him out to the van and take him back to the station. No words of comfort are offered.

After he is booked in I go to CID and offer the interview to them, maybe they can find out who Mr Big is. "Nah, too busy." I tell the custody sergeant, who goes into a blind rage that CID are always too busy. He devises a plan to get back at them, which is to bail Billy T back to CID without consulting the detective I spoke to. I will take Billy T to the hospital and leave him there. He won't fail to answer his bail or leave the area. He might get a beating from Mr Big's thugs for losing the heroin, but he's had many such beatings before for 'sampling' too much of the drugs he is trusted to sell.

Another probbie is given the task of taking him to the hospital with me. The doctor asks us to stay whilst he gives treatment to Billy T. He's dealt with him before and received a punch in the nose for his troubles after refusing to prescribe him methadone. He looks at Billy T's arm and decides to take a sample of blood to determine what infection he has. He can't take it from the infected arm, or the uninfected one, or either of his legs, not even his feet. The veins have all long since died.

The doctor tells Billy T that he will have to take a sample from a vein in his groin. Billy T angrily responds with, "No. No f*cking way. I'm not a scag-head. Scag-heads stick needles in their groin. Try my f*cking arm." Strange. Billy T has a depth of desperation that he will not stoop to. He will never inject into his groin. It's too desperate. It's what the desperate drug addicts do. The scag-heads. The Living Dead who are that much closer to death than he is. The doctor sighs and inserts the needle into his uninfected arm. He draws back on the syringe and I watch as flakes of dried, black blood flutter into the chamber.

The doctor thinks for a moment, then tells Billy T that the only other way he can take a sample is from the artery in his neck. He says to do it, but the doctor feels obliged to tell him that it will be extremely painful. The pressure of the blood flowing through that artery will press against the needle, and Billy T will feel it. He will feel it bad. "I don't care," he says, "you're not putting that needle in my f*cking groin." The doctor inserts a small injection port into his neck, in which he will then insert the syringe to draw the blood. Only he doesn't get that far. The intense pain causes Billy T to let out a wail and he winces away from the doctor. The doctor tells him to take some deep breaths and relax. It won't hurt; the worst is over. The doctor tells us he feels comfortable to be alone with Billy T now, and we can go.

We're driving back to the station talking about Billy T. The Living Dead always look like they will die soon. Only they never do. They just carry on. Stealing. Contributing nothing. Taking all. The control room calls me over the radio. "The hospital have just rang. Billy T has sneaked out without receiving any treatment. They're concerned because he still has the injection port in his neck."

Well done Billy T, you're a genius. You can inject your next few doses of heroin directly into the artery in your neck. You're not a scag-head. Things haven't got that bad yet.
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Friday 22 May 2009

Another Addendum

I have to admit, my last posting was a very difficult one to write in that I'm not entirely sure it conveyed the message I really wanted to put across. Those who are serving police officers will understand what I am saying, but those who are not may read it as a justification for the targeting of people from visible ethnic minorities. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What I am trying to say here is that it is preposterous for those journalists and human rights activists to say that officers actively use these powers in a biased manner. The use of these powers is the result of intelligence-led policing, in specific areas where the given crime-trend has been identified as being the most prolific or at risk of increase.

What I do find extremely insulting, however, is the explicit suggestion that we are racist, and that it may be at the forefront of our minds that visible ethnic minorities present the greatest threat to the social order. I find it extremely insulting that, unlike those journalists and human rights activists, the overwhelming majority of senior and rank and file officers have attended state comprehensive schools and lived in inner city suburbs. Here, we grew up alongside children from visible ethnic minorities and carried on those friendships into adulthood. Those journalists and human rights activists are, in all reality, the ones who are displaying racial prejudice. They consider the visible ethnic minorities to either be so apathetic, stupid or lazy that they feel they must complain on their behalf. That is the greatest insult.
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Thursday 21 May 2009

The Problem with Preventative Policing

One particular area of preventative policing that has recently been used to criticise the police, specifically the MPS, has been the use of Section 44 powers under the Terrorism Act. Since 2007 when two terrorism attacks were successfully thwarted, the number of black people stopped under this power has increased by 322%, Asians 277% and white people 185%. These figures have been used to argue that the MPS still is, in essence, institutionally racist. I would argue that this tactic provides a visible reassurance to the community, and I have NEVER received a complaint from a member of the public who has been stopped under this power in Utopia. The statistics say nothing of the location of where the searches have been conducted, or at what iconic sites and transport hubs, and what the ethnic demographics are where those sites are placed. More importantly, there have been no successful terrorist attacks since 2007.

Contrast this with the use of Section 60 CJPO stop and searches under Operation Blunt, used as a tactic to reduce knife-enabled crime and the number of teenage murders in London. There is the same disproportionality between white people being searched and those from visible ethnic minorities. Black youths are 6 times more likely to be stopped and searched than whites; it still targets specific locations at specific times and it has successfully reduced knife-enabled crime by 27% in 9 of the 10 Boroughs where it has been used. Research by the Children's Commission also revealed that a quarter of young people interviewed actually wanted to see more widespread use of these searches, as the visible police presence made them feel safer. I have found no such research on the impact of Section 44 searches on the wider public.

The MPS is the victim of its own success in preventative policing. If nothing happens critics will suggest that it would never have happened anyway, and that the use of S44 searches for example, is therefore an abuse of legislation. If something does happen and the MPS had done nothing to prevent it, critics will ask why, as with the 7/7 bombings. Alternatively, if the MPS is seen to be doing something but the problem persists, albeit at a significantly reduced level, it is hailed to be a success, as in the case of Operation Blunt.

The media and human rights commentators have no hesitation in saying that the MPS is behaving in a discriminatory manner towards ethinc minorities through its use of S44 powers, but they dare not say the same for S60. It is a sad indictment on the character of these people that they feel that the emotional trauma of 7/7 is so diminished in our collective memory that their comments will not cause public outrage to be directed back towards them. They would never, ever dare level the same criticism at the MPS for using robust search tactics to stop such a sensitive and topical issue as youth murder. The media and human rights commentators are nothing but opportunistic cowards who seize upon every opportunity to lambast the police service, much of it unfounded.

The poor old MPS, it really is a case of 'Damned if you do, damned if you don't, damned whatever you do.' However, the reality is the MPS does a damned fine job.
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Wednesday 20 May 2009

An Addendum

I will now also be writing an article for the Police Oracle every Thursday, and my first one is out today. If you'd like to take a look, click on the following link.

It would also be worthwhile subscribing to the daily news letter Police Oracle sends out. It's extremely informative. You can access the site by using the link on my side bar.

Meeting a Veteran Officer

Quite recently, I attended a firearms incident and after it had all concluded, was stood writing my decision log next to my car. An elderly gentleman appeared from one of the houses and enquired about what had happened. I told him that there was nothing much to worry about. He then told me that he was once a police officer but had retired when he finished his full 30 year's service in 1975. He was years now 84 years of age. I shook his hand and congratulated him on receiving so much of what he was owed for such a lengthy period of time, as so many officers I knew who had retired died within just a few years of doing so. This was all too familiar with him, and he no longer had any friends remaining alive with whom he served.

I spent over an hour talking with this man, listening to how things were, and quickly realised that no matter what period in history an officer had patrolled the streets of Utopia, that we all share the same pride for having done so. I imagine it is the same elsewhere in the UK, if not the world. Unfortunately, I was called to return to the station to conduct a custody review, but I could have spent hours talking to this man. We said our farewells and I promised to drop in on him some time soon. Driving back to the station, the harshness and discipline he spoke about reminded me of the instructions I received from my Sergeant as a young probationary constable arriving at my first station in Oceana.

There were 10 points, and whichever one I transgressed during my probation, he would make me repeat to him verbatim:

1. You will run the tea club. You will do so enthusiastically. You will run it good. You will run it well. You may decide whether you want to collect subs on a weekly or monthly basis. The Inspector, other sergeants and I do not contribute to the running of the tea club, but you will ask us first above all others whether we would like tea, coffee, toast or biscuits after parade.

2. You will accept every shoplifter, sudden death and missing person report. If you are on foot patrol, which you will be until I am satisfied that you are capable of performing the role of operator in a marked vehicle, you will call up for a vehicle to collect you and take you to where you are needed.

3. You may come back to the station for your allocated refreshment breaks. You are not allowed in the station unless I or one of the other Sergeants requests your presence, or unless you have an arrest. I only want to see you on parade, in custody with a prisoner, on refreshments, or coming back to get changed out of your uniform at the end of the tour as I am going home.

4. You will not speak to the Inspector unless he asks you a question. If you want to speak to the Inspector, you will inform one of the other Sergeants or I of the subject you wish to speak to him about, and we will tell you not to bother him. Never transgress this rule.

5. You have no discretion. You will arrest anyone where an offence has been alleged against them, and you will give process tickets for every traffic offence that you observe. If you see the last hearse in a funeral cortege with the bereaved family not wearing a seat belt, you will give everyone of them a ticket. If the coffin is not suitably harnessed, you will give the bereaved a ticket.

6. Never ever complain about the conduct of a senior police constable. If you see something you do not like, learn from it, determine never to do it yourself.

7. If you are being bullied, do not bother the Inspector, other Sergeants or I. Resolve the matter physically, and hope that you are victorious.

8. Do not enter into a sexual relationship with a Woman Police Constable on your team. If you do, be prepared for the eventually that she will also be having a sexual relationship with one of your colleagues. I have seen this happen so many times, and I can assure you it will happen to you. There are far fewer WPC's in the force than there are men. She is in a Sweet Shop. She can have whatever different sweets she wants, and there will always be a nicer sweet than you.

9. I will only ever give you a direction once, or explain something once. If I have to tell you a second time, I will punish you. I will punish you severely. Do you understand? Or shall I repeat it?

10. I appreciate that you have a great deal of enthusiasm right now. Learn to temper it. I have been a police officer for 27 years. I love being a police officer. However, the force is now letting in people such as you. The force is not what it was. The job is f*cked. My Sergeant told me that when I joined and you will tell your new officers when, God forbid, you become a supervising officer.

'The job's f*cked.' If I had a penny for every time I've heard that throughout my career, I'd have £5.42p.

"Sarge, my arrest from the other day had no further action taken by CID." "Don't worry, the officers in CID are there because they were useless on the street and never had a clue. The job's f*cked."

"Guv, I've had both my rest days cancelled this weekend." "I know, me too, my wife was very unhappy. I said to her, I said, "The job's f*cked," but she still made me sleep in the shed."

"Hey, you never guess what everyone, I'm receiving a Chief Constable's Commendation for getting that burglar sent down!" "Well, done, you worked hard on that job. It's very much deserved."

I know that as soon as the officer leaves the canteen someone will say, "Unbelievable. He's useless and lazy. The job's f*cked."

Thinking back to my conversation with that elderly gentleman, I realised how little the attitudes of police officers have changed throughout history. Particularly when, as I was getting into my car to leave, the veteran officer tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Just one more thing Inspector, is the job still f*cked?"

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Monday 18 May 2009

Interview with an Arsonist

The following is a factual account of an interview with a Chavette Arsonist.


Okay, so the interview didn't actually occur, nor did any of the circumstances described below. But it could have occurred, and the interview described is the sum total of numerous interviews and conversations I have had with Chavettes. If there
was a Queen Chavette who possessed all of the most notable qualities of her Chav Subjects, then all that follows would be true, and would have in fact taken place. Only it didn't, but could have, should have, and probably has.

PC: "Okay, would you like to begin by telling me why you've been arrested today Debbie?"

D: "Miss Run Da Ting Ding."

PC: "Sorry?"

D: "That's me street name, how I'm known in my Endz."

PC: "Okay, so Debbie, you've been arrested for arson."

D: "Bet you want my arse on sumfink of yours."

PC: "Debbie, this is a very serious matter. Tell me everything that happened leading up to your arrest."

D: Well, me and Shazbat - her name's Kelly but I thought of that street name meself, she says I'm mad - anyway, we'd been at a shop getting some new threads. Whassits its name? Oh yeah, C & A. I calls it Crap & Awful, Shazbat p*sses hersel' when I say that. She says, "You're mad," and you know, I am mad. I kicked a pigeon dead hard one time and killed it. Anyways, we'd been shopping at Crap & Awfuls and I'd stolen..."

PC: "Sorry?"

D: "Er, no, BOUGHT, I'd bought some leggings. My baby-father loves me in them. Well, one of 'em does. We gets to our estate, and I sees this new office or sumfink's opened. I can'ts read too good, so I asks Shazbat to tells me what it says on the sign. Shazbat tells me, "It says "Get a job innit." I says, "What?" Shazbat says, "Get a job innit?" Well, I looks frew the winda, and it's all posh inside wiv this geeza all dressed up nice and what-have-you. I gets really mad, you know. These peoples, fink they've had it hard and wants to give sumfink back, or feels sorry for the likes of me. They comes to our Endz and finks they can be like us or sumfink and get us jobs and that talking like us will 'elp. So I gets really, really mad."

PC: "And?"

D: "So I goes in the shop or whatever and I starts shouting at this geezer. "Who do you fink you are? You comes 'ere in my Endz, wearing a tie, and you fink you can be us. You aint's got no clue." He looks at me all confused like and says, "Can I help you madam?" I gets even more mad. "See, you fink you're posh 'cos you know a French word." He was all like, "I'm really sorry, is there a problem?" I said, "Yeah, I've a problem. You 'ave to go and say Get a job innit. Like innit is gonna make us wanna gets off the social. Likes we'll read it and fink your wiv it or sumfink."

PC: "So what did he say then?"

D: "He says, "I'm sorry, there's been a bit of confusion. We teach computing to members of the community, you know, to try and help them get a decent job. The sign doesn't say Get a job innit. It says Get a job in I. T, as in Information Technology. Maybe I can book you on a course, see how you get on?" Well, me and Shazbat, we both p*ss oursel's, I mean, really p*ss oursel's laughing, and this geezer just looks at us. Shazbat says we're really sorry, on account of me being mad and all. Then we just ran out and went 'ome."

PC: "What? So you're telling me that was it? That you just went home and nothing else happened?"

D: "No. I went back later and set fire to it."

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Saturday 16 May 2009

A Morning in the Life of...

It may seem somewhat strange that for the past 7 months I have been an Inspector, but very rarely write anything interesting about my new role. The reason for this is quite simple, I don't actually do anything interesting. I am aware that there are those who take particular pleasure in an others misery and so, for their titillation and entertainment, here is a typical morning in the life of an office Inspector. I'm afraid I cannot be specific about my areas of business, as they are so mundane and insignificant that discussing them would make me easily identifiable to my Senior Officers. Even when I am posted as Duty Officer, there is none of the excitement of my previous district, Dystopia. I now work in Pleasantville, where the only crime that occurs is anti-social behaviour perpetrated by hooded Chavs. Fasten your seat belts, we shall be moving at a speed of 5 miles per hour, on a dry, level and even road.

07:30. Although I arrive 30 minutes before I am due to start, I won't actually get to my desk until 08:10. I will spend that time attempting to iron my shirt. Despite the iron having a sticker on it declaring that it was last tested by an electrician 6 months ago and is safe to use, it soon becomes apparent that it is only safe to use because its temperature never rises above moderately warm. There is no danger of burning oneself on the hotplate. There is no danger of it ironing your shirt. Then, quite without warning, a black residue will be emitted from the hotplate, smearing an irremovable sticky substance across my once pristine (but creased) nice, white shirt. Eventually I concede defeat and put my jumper on over it. This doesn't stop me attempting to iron my shirts each and every day I am on duty, even though the outcome is always the same. I have worked at different 8 police stations throughout Utopia, and all of the irons display the same contempt for my desire to have a nice, white, ironed shirt.

08:10. I arrive at my desk, turn on my computer and log on. Eventually a little grey box appears and asks me to be patient whilst my settings are loaded. There is a little grey button within this little grey box, which says 'OK' on it. A timer appears and begins to count down from 30. But I can't stay patient. I click on the 'OK' button repeatedly, hoping it will somehow make my settings load faster. They never do and, as with my futile attempts to iron my shirt, I still go through this same routine each and every time I am on duty. It's a phenomenon similar to when you press the button for a lift. The red light appears around the button to inform you that the lift is aware you are waiting, and yet you still press it repeatedly in the hope that the lift will somehow arrive sooner. It never does, but you still do this each and every time you go to use a lift.

09:00. There are four constables in the Control Room. They all have cups that have been empty since I arrived 50 minutes ago. I'm desperate for a cup of tea, and I know that if I go and make myself one, courtesy dictates that I must also ask them. That means I may have to make 5 cups of tea, which will take approximately 3 minutes extra of my time. There is also the danger that when I get to the fridge I'll discover the milk is finished, in which case I'll have to go to the canteen on the third floor. I decide to hold out until one of them offers to make a cup of tea. However, they have been in since 6am, and are probably buzzing on all of the caffeine that they consumed prior to my arrival. It's a dilemma I spend the next 20 minutes considering. Are they fully loaded up on caffeine? Or are they, like me, hoping someone else will offer in order to save effort and 3 minutes. I decide to hold out.

09:23. After going to the canteen to get some milk, I make 5 cups of tea.

09:30. I begin to clear all of the e-mails that I have received since I left for home at 4pm yesterday. There are 76 of them, the majority of which I am sure won't apply to me. I begin by clearing the ones that are for the attention of all officers. They are easy to identify, because they will begin with the words 'Failure to comply with this instruction/procedure/protocol/policy/directive/performance target/SOP/guidance will result in discipline.' Sending an e-mail with that warning provides an outer for the sending officer should their superior officer ask them why the inferior officers are not doing what they should. "Well, I sent them all an e-mail, so they do know about it, and I did warn them about the consequences of non-compliance." No one ever gets disciplined, however, because this would require the senior officer speaking to the inferior officer about what they should have done, which would in turn require the senior officer having to ask the lessor senior officer to send them the e-mail again because they, like everyone else, deleted it without reading it. Eventually, I retain one important e-mail, which refers to a leaving drink the following month.

10:00. I go to the Daily Review Meeting, which looks at all of the priority crime the day before, tasking returns, charges, bail to returns, sickness and so on. I determine to stay focused throughout this one-and-a-half-hour meeting, because previous experience has shown that the moment my mind begins to wander, the Detective Superintendent who chairs it will give me an action. I will then have to shift uncomfortably in my chair, write something down to pretend that I was listening, and then ask someone after what the action was. My mind strays. I wonder if that little bloke from 'Different Strokes' is still alive, and make it my goal, my raison d'etre, to Google it and find out the answer. "Mr. Hobbes, can you speak to the officer and find out why they didn't do what they should have done," I hear the Detective Superintendent say. I reply, "Yes Sir, of course, I'll let you know tomorrow." After the meeting I ask a colleague what the action was, and when I get back to my desk I send an e-mail to the officer in question which begins, 'Repeated failure to comply with this instruction/procedure/protocol/policy/directive/performance target/SOP/guidance will result in discipline.'

11:50. Despair sets in. My internet connection is down for maintenance. This means I will be unable to find out whether the little bloke from 'Different Strokes' is alive or not. The day is going badly so far, and I appear to be well and truly on course to achieve nothing of any significance yet again. With that, I go for lunch, and the hope that the afternoon will get better.

I know it won't.

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Friday 15 May 2009

Arranging Overtime

There is only one job in Utopia that is worse than mine, and that is the Duties Inspector. Unfortunately, when the Duties Inspector is on leave, I am invariably directed to take on his role. Last Wednesday was one such occasion, when I was asked to arrange for 4 officers to work either 3 or 4 hours overtime prior to their 10 hour shift beginning at 9pm. Due to my proactive background in Dystopia, it was suggested that I also work, although I am now salaried, so won't receive an extra penny. It was an easy operation to organise, as my e-mail to the officers demonstrates.

'111, 112, 215 and 449 have all indicated that they will work this Friday for the robbery patrols, and by deft of logic I have therefore selected them to work that Friday. As there's no unmarked car available there will be 2 plain clothes officers performing dedicated foot patrols around the robbery hotspots. The other 2 officers will be uniform in a marked vehicle doing the usual proactive stuff whilst also responding to any robbery incidents. It will therefore be a bit 'gutty' but you are getting paid handsomely for it. I, however, am not.

All I need to know is if Friday's officers want to do 3 hours or 4? If there's 2 of you who will work 4, then I'll come in for 5 o'clock also. If no one wants to work 4, then we'll all come in at 6 for 3. If 1 of you wants to work 4, but the other 3 want to work 3, then we won't do 5, because 2 won't be enough, as this includes another 1 which is myself, so we'll meet at 6. If all 4 want to do 3, then we'll still meet at 6, because including myself that makes 5. Don't confuse this with 3 of you working at 5, because that will still only make 4, as the other 1 will therefore be here at 6 to do 3. Conversely, if 2 want to do 5 for 4 and 2 do 6 for 3, that will be fine, because the respective totals will actually be 3 do 5 for 4 and 2 do 6 for 3. So, you see, the options are simple, either at least 2 do 4 which, including myself makes 3, from 5 to 9 for a total of 4, or all 4 plus 1 which is 5 does 6 to 9 for a total of 3.'

It's now 8:45pm on a Friday and none of the officers ever arrived.

I thought I'd made it perfectly clear.

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Tuesday 12 May 2009

The Sudden Death

I had something of a shock as Duty Officer in Pleasantville today. Maybe 'shock' is too dramatic a word. 'Surprised,' perhaps. No, I think I should say I was 'mildly interested' when attending a sudden death in the en-Chavened high-rise blocks of Scargill Towers. On this occasion, I learned that the deceased was in fact a Diaspora, and not the indigenous feral alcoholic I had become accustomed to encountering on this working-class estate. He had been dead for two weeks, and had not been missed by a soul. We had only been alerted when an irritated neighbour telephoned police to complain of a smell of 'sumfink like sh*t' emanating from his flat.

It was hardly surprising that he had not been missed, as he had evidently become quite adept at keeping himself to himself. In Scargill Towers, 'diversity' means drinking Tennant's Super one day, and White Lightening the next. Racism is rife, and the local Chavs show no mercy towards any Diaspora who unwittingly enter their domain. The neighbours had never seen him. They had heard him leaving home in the very early hours of the morning and returning very late at night, to catch a few hours sleep before returning to the slavery of his below-minimum wage job.

Due to his advanced state of decomposition, I had been called to ensure that there was no indication of foul play. When I saw his remains positioned between the wash-basin and the toilet, with his underpants around his ankles, I was satisfied that he had died of natural causes. I have attended many similar deaths. The unfortunates who suffered the indignity of death in this state of undress and in close proximity to the toilet had all died of a heart attack. There is something about the onset of a heart attack that causes the afflicted to believe that they are constipated. Nevertheless, I follow procedures and instruct the officer to turn the body over to ensure there isn't a knife protruding from his back, and watch as the officer gags when the skin of the Diaspora's arm comes away in his hands.

The flat shared all of the Spartan comforts of so many Diaspora I had visited whilst posted to Dystopia, only this man had less than I observed even in that desolate place. His living room consisted of an old wooden table and one old wooden chair. There was nothing else. Not a thing. The bedroom had a futon, and that was it. All that remained of his estate to be passed onto his loved ones, if he had any, were these three pieces of furniture that had no doubt been rescued from a skip. It was difficult to discern if the rancid smell within the flat had been there prior to his death, or if it was the result of his rotting flesh. One thing was for sure, I would have to change my uniform upon returning to the station. Death even sticks to your skin, and only a good shower will remove it.

So that is it. A life gone, and nothing in this world to remind us that he once lived, save for the few huge black flies that dart around his flat. His carcass had provided the spawning-ground for their eventual birth, thus ensuring that the essence of his being will continue in an equally insignificant and forgetful life for a few days more. I wonder, briefly, what his life story had been. It's the only mark of respect I can offer to this poor man, before another call requires my presence elsewhere.
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Sunday 10 May 2009

A Refreshing Interlude

I'm on night duty in Pleasantville. I volunteer for as many Duty Officer postings as possible to provide respite from the monotony of my day job. Only that it very rarely does, as nothing of any note ever occurs in this district of Utopia. I'm sitting in the Control Room at my desk, looking at the Outstanding List of calls on the Dispatch Computer. There's only one. An old lady has called to inform us that there is a cat in her garden. Her son, for some, reason, cannot come into close proximity with cats and she is very worried. She has provided us with the international telephone number for the son in Australia, whom she has unsuccessfully tried to warn.

Suddenly, the silence if broken by three high-pitch intermitent beeps, meaning that an officer has pressed their emergency button and requires urgent assistance.

Controller: "449, 449, you've pressed your emergency button. Is everything okay?"

An open carrier, panting heard and the sound of heavy footsteps.

Controller: "449, 449, what's your location?"

449: "I (pant, pant), I don't know."

Controller: "449, what's happening?"

449: "Chasing suspect, (pant, pant), IC1 male, black hooded top."

Controller: "449, we need your location so we can get units to you. Where are you?"

449: "I don't know. Stand by, he's turning left into another road."

Controller: "449, as soon as you see the name of the road let me know immediately."

449: "Sarge, he's gone left into,, I've lost him. It's a loss."

Controller: "The road name, I need the road name."

449: "It's, it's, it's Cul-de-Sac, he's gone into a road called Cul-de-Sac."

Controller: "449 receiving."

449: "Go ahead Sarge."

Controller: "You're a f**king idiot. Cul-de-Sac means 'dead end.' There's hundreds of them around the district."

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Thursday 7 May 2009

The Labour Theory Of Property Part 2

We meet the victim and take him for the routine drive-around to see if he can point out the suspects. He tells us that he was on his way home from school, when he was surrounded by 4 Rodneys in their late teens. They demanded his mobile telephone which he gave without resisting, knowing that they will have their booty in any event. Despite his compliance he receives the customary robber's coup de grace, one punch to the stomach and another to his face. His mother had only bought him the phone the previous week, and he is very concerned about what her reaction will be. We tell him that he did the right thing, and that these cowards would think nothing of stabbing him if he had fought back. We say that we will take him home and speak to his mother and father. He replies that he has no father that he knows of and that his mother will be at work until 8pm, working the checkouts at CheapFoodIsUs. "Your mother is at work? Who looks after you until she gets home?" His sister does. We tell him we'll speak to his sister, then come back at 8:30pm to speak to his mother. "She goes to work in the hospital at 9:00pm. She cleans there until 6:00am."

We arrive at his home, a flat in Urination Gardens. He takes us through to the living room whereupon we see a mattress in the middle of the floor. It's covered in bedsheets that were once white but now yellow, encrusted with age-old food and layered with a thin black dust, the particles of which hang in the air. We see two toddlers lying amongst the filth, deep in sleep. In one corner of the room is a table, bare save for the piles of unpaid bills and reminders strewn across it, in another an old wooden-effect stereo. There are two old sofas, one covered in clothing and bent in the middle where the wooden frame has snapped. On the other sits his sister, 17 years of age. There is nothing else. No curtains on the windows, no carpet on the floors. Not even a shade surrounding the bulb that hangs forlornly from the ceiling. We gesture his sister to leave the room, being as quiet as possible so as not to wake the toddlers.

The kitchen did not provide any relief from the squalor of the living room. The same black dust permeated the atmosphere. The only difference here was that the walls, cupboards and work surfaces were covered in an irremovable yellow grease, providing a valuable food source for the cockroaches that scurried across them. I updated the sister on all that had happened whilst my colleagues took a statement from the brother. Her mother would be furious that his mobile phone had been stolen. She had saved for it over many months and bought it for him as a reward for not adopting a life of crime like so many other second-generation Diaspora. Of course, it was not insured and most certainly would never be replaced.

Nevertheless, the victim turned out to be an excellent witness, and from the description he gave we knew it to be Wodney Wobber (he had a slight speech impediment). We went to his address and arrested him, his friends followed over the next few days. The mobile phone was long gone, traded for a bag of weed. Back at the station, we talked about how hard his mother had worked for that phone, and how much it would have meant to that boy. It was more than just a phone; it was the manifestation of his mother's hard work. We wondered what of life's essentials had been sacrificed for it, essentials they couldn't even afford in any event. The real value of it was more than the sentence Wodney and his friends would ever receive. We clubbed together, and the next day presented the boy with his new replacement phone. A job well done and one with a happy ending...

5 months later and we are out on patrol. We were shocked to see Wodney walking down the road and our first thoughts were that he must have absconded from prison. We stopped and spoke to him, as you may well expect us to do. He had been one of the many Wodneys, sorry, Rodneys, who had been given early release to ease prison overcrowding, albeit on an electronic tag for the remaining 7 months. "You better keep your nose clean Wodney, sorry, Rodney, because if just one robbery happens where the suspect matches your description, we'll be at your door." "So what if it does and so what if you do. I'll have done 10 wobberies before you get me for one, and I'll be out in less than 7 months innit."

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Wednesday 6 May 2009

The Labour Theory Of Property Part 1

As had been widely reported by the media last year, and as I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, the government set about releasing prisoners early so as to ease prison overcrowding. The prisoners that were released were those that had supposedly been convicted for 'minor' crimes, mostly theft-related offences. And so it came to pass that quite a few Billy Burglars and Rodney Robbers were given the delightful opportunity to steal more of your hard-earned possessions much earlier than they had expected. They could therefore continue to fund their prolific heroin and crack addictions. Or, as more often than not, to simply buy an eighth of weed for their evening's entertainment, whilst discussing how marvellous it would be if McDonald's did home deliveries.

So what's the big deal? Surely 'minor' offences such as the theft, burglary and robbery of equally 'minor' property such as mobile telephones, DVD players, laptops, LCD televisions and even cars could reasonably justify the early release of such people? Those items are just objects after all, mere material possessions that can be replaced via your home or car insurance policies. Well, it is a big deal. It is a big deal and is morally reprehensible to the victims, and The Labour Theory of Property will highlight why. Please bear with me on the following philosophy bit, it only consists of a paragraph, and has been written in the most simplest of terms that enabled me to understand it.

The Philosophy Bit. The 18th Century philosopher John Locke , (not the T.V character from 'Lost'), asked under what authority can anyone claim ownership of any part of the world if, according to the Bible, God gave the world to all mankind in common? He reasoned that as a man has ownership of his own person, they therefore have ownership over their own labour. When a person works their labour enters into the object, making the object an extension of that person, and that item their property. So how does this relate to the victims of everyday theft-related crimes that police officers deal with on a regular basis?

The Back to Reality Bit. I was extremely fortunate to be a sergeant on the Dystopian Proactive Unit prior to my promotion last year, and it has been the highlight of my career thus far. Robbery and burglary were rife. It was our job to reduce them and within months we did. It wasn't too difficult to achieve in all honesty, as it was impossible to turn a corner without coming across a Rodney (the Billy's were much more slippery characters, but long operations eventually bore the fruits of our labour). Dystopia itself is a depressing landscape of high-rise blocks - failed architectural experiments in social integration - inhabited by Diaspora who had arrived in the 'Earth's Anus' hoping to make a better life for themselves and their families. Instead, they entered into an environment where the conditions of life are miserable, characterised by human misery, poverty, violence, disease, pollution, and a level of depravation comparable to whatever Third World country they had just left.

Another day, another robbery call, another 12 year-old victim. Except this one was different. There was something about this boy's circumstances that resonated with me; that drove me to reflect on the reasons why I joined the police; and that caused me to recall the many philosophical principles, such as the one above, that reminded me why I did. In my next blog I will explain why, but in the meantime, contemplate and meditate upon what I have written thus far...
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Monday 4 May 2009

Immigration Detainees

T'was but a year ago that I was a sergeant on a very successful pro-active unit in the District of Dystopia - the antithesis of the Utopian City Dream. Whereas the Utopian City Council would enthusiastically refer to this district as 'being rich in diversity', we would call it the 'The Earth's Anus', because all of the sh*t from the rest of the world would invariably pass through it. As a punishment for having what was deemed to be a plumb job in the eyes of the Duties Office, I would often be posted in the custody suite at Dystopia in order to assist the response teams. I had no problem with performing the role of Custody Sergeant whatsoever, in fact, I enjoyed it . But I digress. In amongst dealing with the genuinely hardened criminals that came before me, the ones that caused me the most angst were those that were brought in for immigration offences.

There are certain absolutes when dealing with immigration offenders, which are as follows:

1. The 6 foot 4 inch man standing before you, with a fully grown beard and muscles like bricks, when asked his age would reply 'I have 16 years of old, Mister Sir'. In the absence of the detainee having his passport with him, which he absolutely won't have and wouldn't know the location of (see point 2 below), the Immigration Services would have no option but to take his word for it, and arrange for social services to place him in care whilst they figure out what to do with him. Whilst the Immigration Services were figuring out what to do with him, the offender will have already figured out that his best bet is to disappear off the face of the earth (having now passed through its anus).

2. Should the Immigration Services be bothered to come and interview the detainee, which they usually don't (see point 3 below), they will come to you and inform you that they intend to search the detainee's home address so as to locate his passport. This is only applicable if the detainee has been arrested whilst walking the streets of Dystopia, having had the misfortune to be stopped and questioned by an inquisitive police officer. Either the address given by the detainee won't exist, or if it does, will have been answered by respectable Mr and Mrs Suburbia who have no idea who the detainee is. The outcome of this? The detainee can't be sent back to whatever country he has come from because the Immigration Services in other countries won't accept him without a passport. He'll be released with bail conditions to sign on at the local Immigration Office once a week whilst they figure out what to do with him, but he won't sign on even once, and will disappear.

3. The detainee will have been with you for 6 hours, and all attempts to convince the local Immigration Officer to attend will ultimately be met with this response, "Can you bail him to come to the office this Friday?" You'll inform the Immigration Officer that the detainee has been arrested after being caught holding onto the side of a lorry that travelled from Asia to Europe, that he has no address, and will undoubtedly vanish, only to be given the reply, "Well, I've no one to send. All of my officers are busy," (for 'busy' read 'Pete is on level 9 of Tetris and I've bet him £10 he can't beat my high score.')

4. If, by some fluke, the detainee is visited by an Immigration Officer and does have his deportation papers served upon him, you know that you and successive Custody Sergeants will spend the next 4 days repeatedly telephoning the Immigration Services to find out when they will collect the detainee. You'll be told each day that there are currently no spaces in any of the holding centres, before finally being told that you can give the detainee bail with conditions that he report to the local Immigration Office once a week. So I bail him, and wonder when he'll come to police notice for committing a criminal offence. The following article from The Times is just one of the many tragic examples of when they do...

However, the most common characteristics of those detainees that are served with deportation papers and are actually sent back to their country of origin is the following: they would speak impeccable English; they would have lived in the UK for at least 9 years; they would have conformed with their reporting conditions, signing on at the local Immigration Office twice a week; they would have had respectable jobs, paying taxes without any recourse to public funds; they would have been honest about their age; and they would have handed over their passports; all in the mistaken belief that commonsense would prevail on the part of the Immigration Service and their value to the UK would be acknowledged. However, the Immigration Service, as with the CPS and Police, has targets to meet so that the Home Office can reel off annual statistics to show how efficient its agencies are under New Labour's tutelage.

It's no surprise that the head of these agencies is one and the same person, Ms Jacqui Smith, who evidently has a fixation with statistics. I can picture the conversation with her husband over dinner, "How are the statistics today, Jacqui?" "Great, the police have achieved 8 sanctioned detections today for people urinating in the street but have called them Public Order offences to make them sound like they were more serious. The CPS have successfully prosecuted 10 people for being drunk and disorderly, and have taken no further action over 42 Billy Burglars who may have got off with it at court. I've cut the prison population by 12% after releasing the remaining 1,204 Billy Burglars early, and I've sent 4% more of immigration offenders home who were stupid enough to be honest about their status in the UK. Oh, and I've fleeced the tax payer of 24% more through claiming £116,000 on that second home we don't even live in." "Wow, I can see you're getting horny. I've ordered a couple of sexy videos as a treat, all on the expense of the taxpayer of course." Oh my, you naughty boy, what are they?" "Old Bill's My Bitch Ho and Anally Screwing the Public."

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Saturday 2 May 2009


Imagine that you're out on a Saturday evening with a group of friends. All is going well, you've not had a drink as you're driving, and the mood is good. Someone bumps into you in a busy bar, you turn to apologise but the other party starts shouting and swearing at you, offering you outside. You politely decline. The other party, however, then raises his fist and brings it towards your face. Fearing an assault against your person, you deliver a pre-emptive strike, hitting the other squarely on the nose. The police arrive, and both you and the other party are arrested to be interviewed in order to ascertain the truth behind the counter-allegations you are both making.

Unbelievably, to you at least, you are charged with common assault and attend Magistrates Court. Although the CCTV in the bar only panned to you at the moment you struck the other party, you are confident that you will be found not guilty as you have numerous witness statements from your friends, all of whom corroborate your account. Not so. After the Crown has presented the case against you and as your solicitor stands to give the facts of your defence, the Magistrate interrupts, "Please sit down. There really isn't any point in you telling me anything. The CCTV clearly shows your client hitting the other fellow on his hooter." "But your worship," your solicitor protests, "there are mitigating cicrumstances. Also, the CCTV footage does not have any sound, you cannot hear the provocation or the threats the other party made towards my client." "Nonesense!" shouts the Magistrate. "He's clearly guilty. 6 month's imprisonment. Take him away gaoler." You might quite rightly feel somewhat aggreived that the magistrate, whose role is to listen to all of the facts impartially, and to make a finding of guilt or innocence based on those facts, has decided from the outset that you are guilty.

So, as if Mr Monbiot's article did not anger me enough (see my May 1st Posting), today I came across those of Mr Nick Hardwick, Chair of the INDEPENDENT Police Complaints Commission The purpose of the IPCC is, as the name suggests, to INDEPENDENTLY and impartially investigate complaints made against police by examining all evidence; CCTV, officer's arrest notes etc, before arriving at a judgement and advising all parties of their findings. Well, that's what I thought at least...

Mr Hardwick, when interviewed on the 19th of April (and before the investigation has been concluded), felt it prudent to say that the police should recognise that they are "servants" and not "masters." He openly questions why officers were permitted to "remove" their shoulder numbers. "What does this say about the officer's state of mind", he wonders? Mr Hardwick also told the Observer: "What's been important with all these pictures is we have got such a wide picture of what happened. I think that is challenging the police. They have to respond to the fact that they are going to be watched, there is going to be this evidence of what they have done." I don't know about you, but already I'm beginning to feel that Mr Hardwick is not approaching this matter with any impartiality.

Mr Hardwick seems to be of the opinion that, because a large number of the complaints received were from Mr and Mrs Suburbia, who have traditionally supported the police, that there must be truth behind the allegations being made. This evidently has nothing to do with his personal view that police officers should have been gripping the rail at court as a result of their actions during the Pro-Hunt demonstrations. Officers who he believed were lucky not to do so, and how he wishes he could have found more evidence to support his independent and impartial findings. How embarrassing it must have been for Mr Hardwick, that a highly qualified and truly impartial Judge considered all of the evidence presented to him and found no case to answer on the part of the police officers involved on that day.

In any event, if you click on the link to the BBC website, and look at the CCTV footage from the BBC i-Player, who will notice one very interesting segment that has not been commented on by any section of the media. You'll see 30 or so police officers, completely surrounded by a crowd of hundreds. You can see that the officers are desperatley attempting to leave the area, and that sections of the crowd are surging towards them, throwing punches at the officers. You'll also see that these officers are wearing their beat helmets, not their public order uniform. You'll see that none of the officers have their batons drawn, and are merely raising their arms to protect their faces from the blows that are being directed towards them. They are most certainly not TSG officers, maybe not even Level 2 Public Order trained, and were probably new and inexperienced officers who have only received the most basic officer safety training.

So, Mr Hardwick, what does that say about the mentality of those officers? In what way will that CCTV footage be challenging to the MPS? Will it be used to justify the strategy of the public order trained officers to later 'kettle' the demonstrators? Will it give any indication that those officer's considered themselves to be the undoubted masters of the streets, or will it be used to show that they demonstrated remarkable constraint in the face of extreme provocation and violence? Finally, will Mr Hardwick examine the faces of those violent demonstrators, to see who amongst them have come forward to complain about the actions of the police, presenting themselves as Mr and Mrs Suburbia? I doubt it.
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