Saturday 25 July 2009

An Inspector Speaks: MP's Slam Police for Being Racist

We've had Sierra Charlie Speaks and Plastic Fuzz Speaks (Plastic - please write more), the postings of whom were both very popular. I'm very honoured that these officers submitted postings to my blog and it's marvellous to share the perspectives of officers from different levels of the police. I've always wanted this blog to be an avenue to give the public an insight into the daily lives of police officers in the UK and to portray the 'human' face of the men and women behind the uniform. It's also been very beneficial for me to read the comments left by members of the public the majority of whom, contrary to media reports, are very supportive.

So I am extremely pleased to present this first posting written by another Inspector from another Force. I'm sure you'll agree, it represents a good portent of things to come from this officer should they decide to contribute regularly to this blog. Either way, for me at least, it's a breath of fresh air - expertly researched and well written. I can't say I'm surprised, their credentials are of the highest order. I have actually invited the Inspector to become a team member of this blog, with a view to eventually taking it over. I've written about and reaffirmed the reasons why I joined the police, shared some of the highs and lows of being a police officer, and have concluded with what it is to be a leader. I've pretty much said all I wanted to say. There are a couple of other things that have been on my mind which I may write about but this is, in essence, the beginning of my long goodbye. I hope the Inspector takes me up on the offer of continuing this blog.

I did read the report that the Inspector writes about below and, needless to say, I was absolutely incensed. There's a saying about people who live in glass houses not throwing stones which Keith Vaz should take heed of but, not wanting to steal the Inspector's thunder, I shall leave you to read and digest their posting.

Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz and his cronies have criticised the police. He says that despite the recommendations of the McPherson inquiry, we are stopping and searching too many black people and failing to recruit a proportionate number of ethnic minority officers. He went on to say that there is blatantly a disproportionate representation of particularly black people in the criminal justice system.

Before I comment further let’s look at the integrity and credentials of Mr Vaz.

Mr Vaz has claimed £75,500 for a flat in Westminster despite having a £1.15 million family home 12 miles away. In May 2007, just after the taxpayer had paid the Council Tax and Service charges of £3095 on his flat, he flipped his second home to another property in Leicester as he had rented out the flat. There was no mortgage on this ‘second’ home but he managed to claim £16,000 in expenses for it including; £480 on silk cushions, £2614 on a pair of leather arm chairs and £750 on new carpets. In May 2008 he flipped his second home back to the Westminster flat and started claiming mortgage and expenses on that again.

His family arrived in this country from Yemen in 1965. He received a good education and qualified and worked as a solicitor until elected to Parliament in 1987. His career has not been without controversy and how he has retained his position is questionable.

In 1989 he led a protest against Salman Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, later stating there was no such thing as absolute freedom of speech. In the same year he suggested that an IRA bomb at the Leicester army recruiting office may have been planted by the British Army.

In 2000 he was investigated and subsequently censured following the Filkin report, which he refused to co-operate with. He owned five properties at this time. He was found to have accepted money from Sarosh Zaiwolla, whom he later recommended for a peerage.

In 2001 he was severely criticised for getting involved with the application for British citizenship from the Hinduja brothers who paid his wife’s company money for an event at the House of Commons.

In 2002 Mr Vaz was suspended from the House for one month for making false allegations against a former policewoman. I could go on but hopefully you get the picture.

The message I have for Mr Vaz is very simple. A disproportionate number of black people are stopped and searched and are in the criminal justice system because a disproportionate number of black people commit crime. I won't entertain any argument that they are predisposed to commit crime, only that they have been so alienated and let down by the government's failed social programs and promises that, for many, they have been given no avenues to do otherwise.

To suggest that there are more black people in the justice system because the police target black offenders and therefore ignore white offenders is an outrageous slur and a complete distortion of the truth. In Lambeth and Hackney for example, it is almost 100% groups of black youths committing robbery offences on black, white and Asian victims. The police target the offenders. We can’t lawfully search white people just to balance the books.

What Mr Vaz and his colleagues should be doing, instead of bleeding as much as they can from the expenses system and building property empires, is to look at why there are so many black people committing crime. What are Mr Vaz and the Government doing to ensure that immigrants to this country are not a danger to the public and are not gunning down policewomen on the streets of Nottingham? What is Mr Vaz and the Government doing about ensuring young black people get a proper education, are lifted out of poverty and despair and led away from a culture of gangs, drugs, unemployment and the criminal justice system?

When the levels of education among black people reach the national average the police will find it an awful lot easier to recruit, retain and promote them.

No organisation, public or private, has done more to promote equality and diversity than the police service. Many would say we have gone too far, but that is another story. Our prisons are overflowing and the Justice system cannot cope with the offenders we are putting into the system. So the offenders continue to offend and get caught in the incessant merry go round. That too is another story.

When you have done your job Mr Vaz, ours will be a lot easier and will appear fairer to your ignorance.

Don’t knock us for doing ours so well.

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Wednesday 22 July 2009

The Leader

When I went to see the Utopian Analyst for his findings on my last post, he said to me, "Mr Hobbes, your posting raised more questions than it answered, not least for me. What I would like to know is what qualities a handsome, hunky and wind-swept officer such as you needs to possess in order to bring the best out of his officers?" After politely refusing his offer of a romantic meal together, I actually spent some time considering what qualities a good leader should have. Whilst I could not disagree with his observations that I am an extremely attractive man, I've never sat down and actually thought, "Am I a good leader? What do I need to do to inspire my officers to go that extra mile?" I've come to a conclusion of sorts below, but I'm not saying that I either personally possess or display these qualities. Maybe I should, maybe there are learning points within this post that I can take and apply to my team. Maybe the serving officers, retirees and public who commented on the last post can add more?

I did actually begin thinking about this last week, when I read of the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thornloe in Afghanistan. What struck me about this was not that questions were asked why a commanding officer should have been at the front-line in the first place, but that he was commended by all for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his men, experiencing what they experience. Defence analysts said it was vital for such a high ranking officer to be with his troops taking the same risks. Chris Keeble, an officer during The Falklands Conflict, further said, "We lead from the front. The death of a commanding officer is no less or more of a tragedy than the death of a private soldier." Are you already thinking that these are the kind of men that you would follow? I am.

Already, it is apparent that a good leader should - at times - be visible when routine is the norm, but be a constant presence when an incident is critical. I literally like to take a back seat for most of the tour rather than patrol alone. I'll sit in one of the vehicles with the PC's when nothing much is happening. It's not so I can keep an eye on them, but rather to see what they have to deal with and to get to know them a bit better. If a Critical Incident does come up, that's when I take control. I'll make the decisions and explain later, there's not always time when responding to an urgent development. If the need arises and I'm present when the danger is increased, then I'll be the first to deal with it ahead of my PC's. It's not that I doubt their ability, but if my decision to react increases the danger, then I'll be the one to take the brunt of it.

I initially caused a bit of a stir with the Sergeants when I joined my response team. I told them that on the occasions when there are two of them available to patrol, that I don't want to see them patrolling together. I want to see them either in separate vehicles or patrolling with PC's. I would also wander through the custody suite at two in the morning, and if there were no prisoners, I'd get one of the Sergeants out to patrol and supervise. The PC's don't have the luxury of taking it easy when nothing much is going on. They still have to patrol, be proactive, and show a visible presence. Why shouldn't a Sergeant do the same? "Lead by example" are the words of advice I always give and live by.

So, I'll be the first through the door at the beginning of the tour to prepare my team, and I'll be the last to leave at its conclusion. If my officers are unable to take refreshment breaks due to the volume of calls we receive, then I won't have a break either and will go and answer calls also. I know some of my peers say I shouldn't do this. They say I should be there to maintain an overview. I disagree. Hog Day Afternoon, one of the most enjoyable blogs I read, provided me with an example that highlights my own personal view.

General Bill Slim, when leading a retreat through Burma during the war, came across his men lying in a jungle clearing. They were in a bad way, clearly demoralised. Then he saw why. He saw his officers making themselves a bivouac. They got this aspect of leadership wrong, in my view at least. They may have thought they were setting an example to the men that, even though they were equally exhausted, they were demonstrating that extra fortitude to build proper protection for themselves from the elements. What they should have done, I would argue, was to go amongst the men and to assist them in building their bivouacs, leaving their own until last.

As General Slim commented, "Officers are there to lead. I tell you therefore, as officers, you will neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor smoke, nor even sit down until you have personally seen that your men have done those things. If you do this for them, they will follow you until the end of the world". For General Slim, discipline begins with the leader and spreads downwards. Genuine teamwork begins when everyone does more than is required of them. He quotes Napoleon Bonaparte, who said, "There are no bad soldiers, only bad officers".

Okay, so I'm not a soldier or a general. However, if you look at your own bosses in any sphere of work you've undertaken, you should be able to see which qualities from the above that they possessed. They either inspired you to work harder, or you determined to do as little as possible to help them achieve their goals. I've worked for both types. I think I've learned from it.
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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?

Thursday 9 July 2009

Sierra Charlie Speaks: The 64 Pence Question

The results of your feedback to my last post, 'Market Research' are now with my analytical friend deep in the dungeons of the Utopian Police Headquarters. Once he's put it through his computer, in between playing Tetris, I'll publish his findings and recommendations next week. I'm now off on a long weekend with Mrs Hobbes and Baby Hobbes, and am taking my two cats 'Bloodbath' and 'Razorblade' along too. In the meantime, my latest post has come out on Police Oracle, which is more of a recollection of times gone wrong than anything else. However, and more importantly, and I suppose related to the posts, 'A Need For Justice: Parts 1 and 2', Sierra Charlie tells us why he gives up his own free time as a Special Constable for no pay whatsoever...

Mr Hobbes asks, "What made you become a Special Constable for no pay? What is it that drives you to give up your own time, mostly at weekends, to do so?". Not an entirely silly question. Most people do not do any voluntary or charity work. Only about 0.004% of my home city's population do what I do in my spare time so you might say we are a pretty rare breed.

I could say that I want to "give something back to society", for that is the banal reason that most Sierra Charlies give when asked the question. I suspect that this reason is given because the real reasons are far too complex to answer in one sentence. I avoid spewing out banalities so I usually shrug and say "dunno".

My good e-friend of the Southernshire Constabulary has just written a post answering this self-same question. Go and have a read of it, if only because his reasoning is quite similar to my own.

When I was a kid I had no plan to be a copper when I grew up. I did not go through the usual boyhood phase of wanting to be a fireman or a train driver or a policemanofficer. I might have wanted to be a spacemanofficer at some stage but I decided that I probably wouldn't like the food and I might miss my Mum if I had to go into suspended animation for hundreds of years. All I knew about the police when I was a kid was that this impressive figure came round to our school every now and again to talk to us. We all got terribly excited when we heard he was coming, but as far as I know none of us wanted to be like him. His name was PC Blood.

Anyway scroll on a few decades. I'm nicely settled in my chosen career as a paper shuffler, tea boy and general dog's body. I'm earning a sensible but not spectacular salary, I have my own place, a wonderful collection of friends and family. But although I have most of the "material" things that I want, I feel pretty unfulfilled. It's a bit like at the beginning of The Matrix - I felt like my life was not reality and that I was floating around in a comfortable middle-class bubble totally detached from the Real World that was going on around me. I kept trying to wake up. I was also at that middle-aged stage where going out and getting p*ssed every weekend was no longer my thing and I wanted to do something a bit more constructive at the weekend.

So I applied to join The Urban Police Service. I had actually filled the form in a couple of years previously but had bottled actually sending it off. Somehow I summoned up the nerve to send it off and I was soon on the conveyor belt towards the best thing I have ever done.

I am rambling a bit here and appreciate the fact that I haven't actually said why I do it. I think there are two main points. One is that I want my city to be a safer, freer, more peaceful place for myself, my friends and my family. My "principles" tell me that I should be prepared to roll up my sleeves and pitch in rather than expecting politicians and my tax money dollars to do the work for me. The other thing is that seeing the streets from a different perspective goes some way to quenching my thirst for experiencing the world and all its delights. I don't want to live my life wrapped up in cotton wool having not seen life's extremes of beauty and horror. So in the year or so that I have been a Charlie I have seen an awful lot. Why do I still do it month after month? Why do I disrupt my sleep and social life in order to put on my pointy hat and sweaty boots?

Because even a boring shift can be immensely satisfying. I never know what is going to happen and what I might have to deal with. And when I get home I can think to myself, "I did something useful today?"

I'll leave you with my favourite of Peel's Principles: Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

Just imagine how much better the world would be if just 1% of the population did this.

Sierra Charlie

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Monday 6 July 2009

Market Research

I've read many blogs written by the Great British public bemoaning the state of the police today. I've also considered the like comments that have been posted by the readers of those blogs. Some give good reason, many do not. Whilst I appreciate that for some people they will always have a seething distrust and dislike of the police no matter what we do, there are those that have and do give good reason for their criticism. As I said, they are few and far between. It is much easier to refer to us as 'thugs' and 'bully boys' without giving much thought to what an ideal Police Force or Officer should do to improve both the service given and the image portrayed.

So, my questions to you are as follows:

1. If you could influence the way any given Police Force is run, how would you want its performance to be measured in order to gauge public satisfaction?

2. Based on your own experiences of dealing with individual police officers, or should you ever need to deal with one, how has or how would you expect that officer to behave?

Obviously, I cannot change the organisational directions of any given Force, but being an Inspector who now leads a response team of 20 or so officers, I can use your feedback to educate both them and I. I have already given the team targets to achieve, some organisational, some my own. Regardless, I expect high standards of my officers. Some may say I'm a hard task master, but I believe that the minimum targets I set for myself are those that would be expected by the public.

Just to let you know what they are:

1. I can only gauge the performance and bearing of my officers when dealing with the public due to the number of complaints and letters or thanks that I receive. In either case, I will speak to the member of the public to ascertain what dis-pleased/pleased them. I will always speak to the officer, giving advice, guidance or praise where necessary.

2. Each officer has to achieve 5 arrests per month. I don't see this as pressurising them into making needless arrests where discretion would have been the preferred outcome. I have based this on my own performance as both a Police Constable and Sergeant.

3. Each crew posted together in a vehicle is expected to meet the Chartered Response Times. For 'Immediate Calls' this is within 12 minutes, for 'Soon Calls' within 60 minutes. If we make an appointment to meet a victim, we must make it on time, no exceptions, and I have a dedicated officer to respond to these appointments. If a unit is late to any call, I want to know why. Sometimes it's just unavoidable, but I want to see on the Incident Report an entry from the officer saying that they called the victim back and gave an estimated time of arrival.

4. Each officer should achieve a minimum of 10 stop and accounts each per month. I say 'accounts' and not 'searches', because I don't want my officers to unnecessarily search someone who does not need to be.

5. They must be smart at all times. Their shirts must be white (not yellow) and ironed. Shoes must be polished and hair cut to regulation length. When they get out of their vehicles whilst in public, they must wear their head wear.

You'll notice that Sanctioned Detections aren't in there. The majority of arrests my officers make are handed over to other units to investigate, normally CID.

One thing my officers do know is that I don't prescribe to the time-honoured tradition of moving an underperforming officer onto another unit, or giving them attachments, or courses. To do so wouldn't address the problem. Continued poor performance means continued poor service to the public. I'll deal with them and thus far all have responded.

So I've set my stall out. Are the targets that I set for my officers what you would expect? Or is there more that you would expect when responding to the two questions I've asked?

I've got the best analyst in the Utopian Police Force on standby to collate the responses.

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Saturday 4 July 2009

Sierra Charlie Speaks: Sarcasm Is Not One of the 5 'P's

Our colleagues in the Metropolis have a new-ish leader and he says that policing is all about getting results. Officers should be productive, professional, take pride in their work, improve their presence on the streets and be proud of what they do. Excellent stuff. This is almost back to Peelian Principles (another two "P"s!).

The Duty Sergeant's recent post about cordons touched a nerve for me. The other night I was posted on the cordon of quite a serious incident on our patch. I arrived after the initial urgency had worn off - having got there on foot from bloody miles away - but the investigation had hardly begun. It was to be a long night. The incident had happened at a time when there were a great many people about and word had spread far and wide. By the time I got there it had even been on the internet or local news according to one of the bystanders I chatted to.

What I am trying to say here is that nearly everyone who came up to see what was going on had already heard what had happened. People who quizzed me knew more than I did, because all I knew were the basics and had not read wild and exciting speculation on-line. For some deep animal reason, people love to see the scene of a nasty occurrence. People slow down on motorways when there has been a crash in the other direction, people swarm like flies to the scene of a violent incident on their streets.

I can almost understand why people rubber neck. But what I cannot understand is why they want to actually go in to the scene of a crime while police are still doing their bit. I know people don't always think but, seriously, why do they think it might be a good idea to trample all over the sparse evidence? What personal satisfaction do they get from seeing the bits of broken glass up close? Do they want to see blood? Have they not seen CSI?

So anyway I am at this cordon trying to answer questions without a) knowing much or b) wanting to give away any information I shouldn't and people keep asking the same questions. Innocent and nervous questions I can handle. Questions about whether this is common in the area are understandable. Requests for details are met with answers like "a crime" and "I don't know the details". But to the gentleman who asked if he could cross into the scene to use the cash point down the street, I'm afraid I used cold, dry sarcasm.

"Which bit of POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS do you think means that you can go to the cash point?" I asked in my politest tactical communications tone. "I'll take that as a "no" then" he harrumphed.

It shocked me how easily this came to me. I should be ashamed of myself. But for some reason, I am not. The cordon was there for a very good reason. I was stopping people crossing it for a very good reason.

There are other cash machines.

Sierra Charlie
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Friday 3 July 2009

Sierra Charlie Lives!

I am absolutely delighted to inform you that contrary to previous speculation, Sierra Charlie is alive and well. To build on a phrase used by Mark Twain - news of his demise has been greatly exaggerated. From time to time, and when he can be bothered, SC will be appearing on this blog with guest posts. This will continue until he gains more popularity that I, whereupon his demise shall be confirmed.

Or until he asks me to pay him for his articles. Anyway, his guest post will appear on Sunday.

Regardless, all of this reminds me of a joke I once heard.

Cuthbert, now a successful businessman in the big city, decided to return to his hometown to remind him of his roots. He determined to visit the Old Mill where he worked as a youth, and see a friend with whom he toiled for but a pittance.

Arriving in the Old Mill, he asked a labourer if the closest friend from his childhood and adolescence - Dinglebert - still worked there.

"He does, but he's out on his rounds and gone for cotton. Try again tomorrow, I've no idea when he'll return."

Determined to see his old friend and to share a beer, Cuthbert returned the following day and enquired about Dinglebert.

"He's not here Sir. As with yesterday, he's gone for cotton."

Cuthbert, although feeling frustrated, returns again the next day, asking to see his dear friend Dinglebert.

"You've just missed him, he's gone for cotton."

Despite his presence being required in the big city, Cuthbert decides to try one more time, and goes back to the Old Mill.

"Oh, I'm sorry to tell you Sir, but just after you left yesterday we received news that Dinglebert was killed in an accident after he'd gone for cotton. He's been buried just this morning."

Filled with sadness, Cuthbert asks where Dinglebert is buried. He buys some flowers and makes his way to the cemetary to pay his respects. He finds the grave and reads the epitaph on the gravestone.

'Dinglebert. Gone, but not for cotton.'

So, it with great joy that I can say that whilst Sierra Charlie's grave may have been dug, it lies empty, and the inscription on his tombstone presently reads, 'Sierra Charlie. Gone, but not from blogging.'

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Thursday 2 July 2009

The Crossword

A little group of officers on my team have formed a crossword club. During their breaks four of them gather around a table and attempt to complete The Sun crossword on a Thursday morning, as this is the day that it is supposed to be at its easiest to complete. Not so easy that my officers can complete it though. They never, ever have. Last Thursday was no different. They had all but one question answered, the closest they had ever been.

"What's the question again?"

"A large enclosure where horses are kept and reared."

"How many letters?"


"Stable! It's stable. We've done it!"

"Nope, that would mean 5 and 7 down are incorrect, but they're not."

"But 'stable' fits. It must be right, where the hell else are horses kept?"

"I don't believe it, the twat who writes it has made a mistake. Put 'stable' in anyway and when we buy The Sun tomorrow there will probably be an apology, which means that we did complete it."

"I can't put 'stable', with the ones going down it reads 'strale'.

"Maybe 'strale' is the right answer?"

At this point I lost my patience and suggested that it may be beneficial to their team members and the local community if they left the crossword for now and began answering calls.

Friday morning and three of the four officers are again sat in the canteen, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the fourth who has gone to the local shop to buy The Sun with the crossword solutions for the day before. Soon he arrives, and their excitement is at fever pitch.

"Come on, come on, what's the answer?"

"I haven't looked yet, hang on."

"I don't get it. The answer is 'coral'.

"Coral? What the hell has that got to do with horses?"

"F*ck all. The idiots. I told you they'd put the wrong bloody question or answer in. Read the question again from yesterday."

"A large enclosure where horses are kept and reared."

"Coral is that stuff that grows in the sea. Is there a telephone number we can call to complain on?"

Eventually I lose my temper yet again. For 9 months I've had to sit in the vicinity of these idiots, listening to their futile attempts to miss letters from words in order to make it fit an answer, bothering other officers for answers to simple questions that a 5 year old could answer, even asking victims of crime.

"Corral! It's pronounced 'corral'. It's a place where horses are kept."

I've since instructed the Sergeant to post them in different vehicles with opposing refreshment times. I couldn't listen to them anymore.

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