Our Police

“Call the cops” ~ Happy Mondays

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Cops (n) slang: police

 

This blog is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I publish it knowing that, if tendered evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated anything in it which I know to be false, or do not believe to be true.

Ok, it’s about time I confessed. For the majority of my life, I never liked the police. I thought they were sneaky, underhand, duplicitous gits. And that, coming from a law-abiding girl, from a law-abiding, well to-do, nice middleclass family, without any brushes with the law, is, I believe, unusual. So I’ll explain…

About 25 years ago, I was about 11 or 12, I ran away from home. I didn’t slope off to the local park for a few hours; I got a bus then a train and travelled about 100 miles. There were reasons for going and for my destination that I won’t go into, suffice to say that I was not an abused child by any means.

Anyway, the police were called. A very nice policeman found me. To this day I remember what he looked like and what he said to me. Then, a day or so later, another policeman visited us at home. Eagle-eyed readers will notice I have dropped the word ‘nice’. This officer was there to find out why I had done it and if I was genuinely ok. To this end, at some point my mother left the room and he asked if everything was ok at home. To my confused and unhappy young brain, this seemed sneaky and underhand and I detested the police from that moment on.

Fast forward to my early thirties and, in a moment of random thinking, I realised that poor guy was just doing his job. My mother leaving the room was prearranged. He wasn’t being sneaky at all, he was trying to establish if a crime had been committed, if this messed up child was actually ok. And I felt a great deal of sympathy for him cos I imagine he left completely baffled and thinking I was a spoilt brat. And that realisation turned my entire thinking on police round completely.

I stress, this was about 25 years ago. I’m sure practises are different now. But this was the past and they do things differently there.

However the fact remains that the police aren’t popular. As someone once put in a blog on policing, “the day most people meet a police officer is the worst day of their life”. This is in the sense that you’re either being nicked, reporting a crime, or they are on your doorstep about to tell you some news you are not going to want to hear about a loved one. How grim is that? How hard is that? Could you? Cos I don’t think I could.

However, they matter to me hugely. I like to see our police on our streets. I like knowing that dialling 999, however awful the reasons are, gets you in touch with the police. And, as we need them, they answer our call.

Aside from the running away malarkey, I’ve had dealings with the police as a result of interactions in my job and as a victim of crime. I want to tell you, briefly, about one of these incidents. Last year, two days before my birthday as it happens, I was burgled. I discovered this when I returned from work about 6pm on a Wednesday evening. It took the police 7 hours to attend. That’s 7 hours to attend a break-in with a lone female in an unsecured ground floor flat. I don’t for one minute think they were sitting around, drinking tea & chatting about the football. They were too busy to attend. They didn’t have enough officers. And that was March 2011.

So that brings me to the point of this blog. The British police service is facing massive cuts and privatisation. In addition to a raft of cuts and changes being introduced under two reviews by Tom Winsor. Some of you may recognise the name as part of the hashtag on Twitter #AntiWinsorNetwork. The origins of this group are much better explained in this blog by @cynicalbobby. Now, as much as anything, it is a useful link for police and police supporters to communicate with each other. Having conducted some research of my own, I’m aware it means very little to others so I hope this blog goes some way to explaining.

Our police service is:

  • facing cuts to pay and conditions
  • seeing vital services, that serve us, the public, diminished
  • G4S, a private company, are being brought in to do jobs previously always done by officers

The buck does not stop there, by any means. there are many other things afoot with British policing. But I’m aware there’s only so much anyone can take in at any one time. So please, I ask you this, would you like to keep an independent police service sworn to be independent and impartial? Or are you more interested in the legalisation of currently illegal drugs? Because one online petition to Parliament has more signatures than others. And I find that a shaming statement on our society today.

Please look at this petition. I’m not asking you to sign, you’re a grown up, you can make your own decisions. You decide if our police service is worth supporting. Ditto, please, consider this pledge of support.

One final thing, we are to get things called Police and Crime Commissioners. People will get to vote on this. You may think this doesn’t affect you, that your vote doesn’t count. To anyone who says a vote doesn’t count I say ‘look at X-Factor’. Don’t you dare look at me with a straight face and say that show, with voting, has not changed the lives of many who have been on it, many who have watched, and not least, lined the pockets of Simon Cowell.

Further, admirable, reading on what our police do for us can be found here:

Worth Every Penny ~ ResponseBobby

The Real CID ~ PoliceManMusing

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby ~ Bruce2990

A Service For The Public ~ SteelyRiverBoy

I have not asked permission of any of the officers quoted for permission to refer their work. I include it as I feel it shows what our police do for us. And I hold them, and their colleagues, in the highest of esteem.

I have written this blog to bridge a gap that I am aware of in social media terms between those that understand what our police are about to undergo, those that care but do not understand, and those that don’t care but I hope will after reading. I am not a police officer. I have no affiliation to the police in my personal or professional life. If you want to know more on anything this blog touches on then contact me and I will do my best to put you in touch with people more knowledgeable than I.

Thank you for reading.

 

Princess

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The Riots

I predict a riot, I predict a riot” ~ The Kaiser Chiefs

Or, as defined by my dictionary:

Riot (n): a disturbance caused by an unruly mob

 

“…a hundred well-armed people could wipe out the Watch, if they knew what they were doing. Once some madman finds out that a copper taken unawares dies just like anyone else, the spell is broken.”

That is what I was reading when they were talking on Radio 4 about the Guardian and LSE study ‘Reading The Riots’. It’s a line from Thud by Terry Pratchett and is expressing the views of the Commander of the City Watch, Sam Vimes.

For me, it sums up a lot of policing. It works because the vast majority of us are law-abiding citizens, leaving the Police to deal with the minority that aren’t. In effect, we are a self-policing society. Yes, I know that’s not across the whole of society but think for a minute; how many crimes have you committed today? This week? Ever? Yes, exactly. I haven’t been rocking the crime statistics myself either.

That whole self-policing thing clearly suffered some large cracks in August. People who would have previously thought themselves as law-abiding became opportunistic looters.

So what’s so annoying about the Guardian article is how it cites many factors behind the riots but the story that is being run, including it’s own headline, is that it was the fault of the Police. No, I don’t think so. Yes, the misinformation that came out from the shooting of Mark Duggan from the start was wrong. The fact there have been so many problems within the IPCC regarding its inquiry into the incident is definitely not helping either. But you cannot take that one tragic, fatal incident, look at the sheer hell that ensued, and then make it all about the Police. It is much much bigger than that.

I saw the play The Riots at the Tricycle Theatre. (According to the website it is sold out but here if you are interested.) This has been based on conversation from many different people involved in the riots, in all senses. It was moving, well done, and at times incredibly irritating. However, one part of it that stays with me is a rioter talking about Tottenham and how they were egging the Police on, first by damaging cars, then by pushing them out into the road, then by setting them on fire. That’s not protesting against the Police, that’s deliberate vandalism with a view to trying to get into a fight!

Why did the rioters do it? Because they could. I think that’s the main reason anybody does anything. Then, when the streets were saturated with Police and the weather changed, they saw they couldn’t and went home.

So many lives were changed, damaged, some even lost during the riots. My own life became fucked beyond all recognition but that’s a different blog post for a different time. Let’s not trivialise something so massive and so serious by jumping on the ‘let’s blame the Police’ bandwagon.

I’m sure much greater and more well-informed writers than I will write on this topic. And, let’s face it, with so many inquiries and reports ongoing, this subject is going nowhere fast. However I am very interested to hear your thoughts on this so please drop me a line in a comment box-shaped postcard.

 

Princess

ps.sorry for the predictable song lyric but it was inevitable…

What can’t you do?

“Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living” Dolly Parton

Or, as defined by my dictionary:

Job (n): a post of employment, full-time or part-time

I have been pondering the nature of employment a lot over the last couple of months. I have also been pondering a phrase from Pirates of the Caribbean that sums up a lot of my outlook on life: “There’s things you can do and things you can’t do.”

And this got me to thinking about what jobs I think I utterly can’t do:

President of the USA

Now I’m not eligible for this role by birth but that’s not the point. Yes, all that security detail would be pretty hunky. (I’m thinking President Taylor flanked by her Marines in the last series of 24 here). Going in Air Force One would also be pretty damn cool. But come on, to actually be Leader of Free World (who gave that title, btw?) The idea is terrifying. The level of responsibility, the lives that rest on your shoulders every waking moment, that people will die no matter what decision you make. And you have to have perfect teeth and always look good. I have no idea how anyone does it. Nor why they want to.

Teacher

Yes, I know, it’s a bit of a leap from one to the other but I never claimed this was going to make sense. Yes, teaching. I have no idea how people devote their time (their lives, sometimes) to teaching. And don’t give me that 6 weeks holiday yah di yah rubbish. I know teachers, I know the hours they work each day, each weekend, & most of the holidays. I dislike schools when I was in them and I don’t like them any more now. I also dislike schoolchildren, of any age. Two reasons, if any were needed, why I shouldn’t be a teacher!

Investigative Journalist

Fabulous job. Amazing. I love these people. But I don’t know how they do it. There’s the level of commitment taken to put themselves into dangerous/uncomfortable/violent etc etc situations, to get the trust of people you’re investigating. And then there’s the detachment needed to stand back & report, not get involved. I can’t be the only person who’s screamed at the news “Why are you just filming, why don’t you go & help?” at some point. Now I believe that they do help, that the stories need to be told, and that the detachment needed must really affect them. God help me, I couldn’t do it.

Surgeon

My hands shake slightly. End of. I perhaps should have disclosed this to the person who asked me to perform a tracheotomy the other day but in the end my services weren’t required, thankfully. But seriously, if I have to slice someone open for medical reasons I like to think I could, but I should not, cannot be a surgeon. The irreversible damage I could do due to one slight tremor sends me cold.

Police

Tricky one, this. I never liked the Police when I was growing up. Was never in trouble with them but I didn’t trust them or ever want to be one. As I grew up I knew I never wanted to be in the Police as I never wanted to investigate a murder, deal with a rape, speak to the families who were victims of such tragedies. However my respect for law and justice (sadly not always connected) is immense and I ended up down a different path of Law Enforcement.  I don’t have a uniform or flashy lights and sirens. I do have a badge & some handcuffs. And I don’t have any kind of weapon. And that is the big difference. I work in some dangerous situations and around some very nasty people (not just my colleagues!). I don’t have a button on my radio that automatically summons assistance (actually, I do but it’s disabled). I don’t have a baton, any kind of spray nor, clearly, any kind of gun. However this means that when I go somewhere and there’s too many of them, it’s too hostile, too dangerous, I can go away. And call the Police for assistance. It was once described to me as “we can back down, the Police never can” (that wasn’t from a copper though). Thankfully it’s rare we need them but when we do I’ve been fucking glad they were there. Contrary to my many moans, I like my job. I just also like the fact it’s statistically a lot less likely to cost my life.

 

Clearly some of this is tongue in cheek. But it’s also to express my appreciation of people who, in my opinion, do incredibly difficult jobs.

So what about you? What job do you think you can never do? Do you agree or disagree with my list? Thoughts on a comment box-shaped postcard, please.

 

Princess