28 Jan 2012

Health and Safety Brigade

Its often you hear me mention other emergency services but I have a couple of stories to share with you, one of which is about each of our fellow emergency services, but as with most of my blogs they only shine a beacon on the negatives as the stories come from my perspective so bear with me.

Firstly we will speak about the Fire Brigade, regular heroes, or as I like to think of them, boys with a love for their toys and that is all. One day I was driving on a response run to a domestic at a regular location of ours when a female jumped out infront of my car and started pointing at a bush. As it was just around the corner I thought it must be something to do with the domestic. I spoke with the woman whose first words to me we're "Ther is an old guy here who has fallen into a bush" I though to myself "You stood infront of a police car going on blues for a man in a bush?" It was after speaking to the man it seemed he was deep in the undergrowth as he had fallen down about a metre from the pavement also. We tried to cut the bush apart as the paramedics arrived but the male was complaining of pain in his neck. It was decided we call out Fire as they may have cutting tools. 5 minutes later two Fire engines arrived and one man got off the engine with a chain saw, cut most of the bush apart and then went "OK, we're done, well leave YOU to clean up" At me, knowing full well that if anyone would get a complaint it would be the police. The man was alright in the end and the bush hasn't recovered still.

Next Fire story is a simple one, One of a report of a fire in a tower block at which Fire called us as they thought they would need assistance with evacuations. Fair enough, on arrival we were met by 3 firefighters who were on the way up with what is widely known as "The Big Red Key" which is, in simple terms, a battering ram. We got there and couldn't see any signs of Fire bar a Fire alarm going off and Fire smashed the door in. We searched the premises as they couldn't be arsed and when we returned to the doorway they said "We will leve it in your hands then" and strolled off knowing full well we would get a call not them if anyone found a premises insecure.

Enough about Fire, how about Ambulance? Well when the Ambulance crew have to deal with a violent person or someone having a psychotic episode they always call us to assist another agency and usually hide around the corner. I recall one time when we got a similar call from them for an assault incident where a 5year old girl had been hit with a stone at school and they asked us to attend... Why? Are they afraid that they would come under stone fire?? When we attended, we were the first there as Ambulance were waiting around the corner for us to call them back and say we were there!! Seriously getting paranoid of children now!

Final story about Ambulance comes on the same basis as above, Ambulance called us to attend with them as a male had stated he had been assaulted and asked for us to attend with them as they had a marker on the address for violence. We called and said we were on our way and would meet the crew there. We turned up, Spoke to the male and waited 30 minutes for the Ambulance before I got our control to call them and the reply was "I would just take them to hospital yourself as we had another incident where a male had a bleed on the brain and ambulance said they were ging to be 2 hours" It was then decided to take the guy to hospital in our car. I have since found out that our local Ambulance station has a shortage of paramedics not Ambulances due to budget cuts and there are currently 16 vacancies in that one station alone!!

21 Jan 2012

Suspects in Gardens

It's only human that when thinking of police officers jumping garden fences the first thing that springs to mind is the scene from Hot Fuzz. Even police officers think of it! This is why most of the time you will find that we opt for the safer method of lifting up fence panels. Saves the force shelling out for broken panels!

Sometimes though these Suspects in gardens or garden hopping jobs aren't all they are cracked up to be. I recall one in particular which was in one of our local streets that has two terraces of houses that back onto one another so their gardens are parallel. We had a call from one of the neighbours saying that they witnessed a male in a dark hoody walking along the wall that ran down the middle of the gardens of both terraces, looking in gardens with a torch. The male eventually stopped at one house and jumped into the garden and the neighbour could hear him trying to break into the shed.

Well to say we had lots of shed burglaries over the recent weeks was an understatement and we thought this was it! We would catch the man responsible!! We scrambled the helicopter, firearms officers, dog units and us. Obviously we were there first as we were local anyway. We put on a containment and gradually worked towards the target address one by one. We got to at least one garden away in every direction when a colleague decided to knock on the target address and see if the residents could let us into their garden. When my colleague knocked we were met with a spotty faced teen with parents looking over his shoulder asking "What's the matter officers"

We asked to be let into the garden over fears their shed may have a suspect inside when the young boy piped up saying "hang on I was in the garden about 20 minutes ago" to which the worlds biggest light bulb then sparked the answer to the whole situation. The result? The young man was out in the garden looking for his lost rabbit with a torch. It apparently liked to garden hop between neighbours and so when the neighbour saw him he was getting back into his own garden and found the bunny in the shed. Case closed and a good use of all the resources. Safe to say the helicopter never arrived, too much weather!

14 Jan 2012

Too much weather

Don't take this the wrong way but if police forces want to save money I say scrap all helicopters. They are useless. Don't get me wrong there is one time in about 5,000 incidents the helicopter is called to when it plays an invaluable role but can the forces seriously justify the cost implications against all those times it can't even take off.

The helicopter itself costs a fortune to buy and maintain including fuel bills. A cheap helicopter costs £260,000 at its lowest, then there is costs in modification, costs in repairs. Then there is the task of actually flying it. This falls to ex military, Yes two ex military helicopter pilots are employed to fly and co pilot the helicopter, Per SHIFT. So you are looking at about 6 ex military pilots due to flying times. This itself is a lot of money and then finally you have the cost of an observer from Essex Police with all his technology and kit! I personally would estimate it must cost my force, without seeing any figures I hasten to add, about £150,000 a month to run the helicopter!

That is all fine but the one bug beat I have is the fact that when as officers on the ground we ask for eyes in the sky we regularly get told "they are offline" which means one of the two helicopters is in for repairs and they won't lift off incase it breaks the only helicopter they have. Otherwise we get told that they won't lift as there is "too much weather" which happens every time other than in the summer sun. Frost, can't lift, fog, can't lift, snow, can't lift, rain, can't lift, low cloud cover, can't lift, little windy, can't lift. The fact that we are in Britain makes having a helicopter that cannot take off because of the aforementioned weather conditions utterly useless! The worst of it all is the fact that if the weather is looking like it may be anything less than blissful sunshine then we as a force still pay the ex military pilots to sit in the hanger! Figure that one out! Get the helicopters gone and save to police a lot of money!

7 Jan 2012

Angry Drivers

In terms of policing, Road Traffic matters take up about 10% of a response officers time. It is one of the times that you come into contact with the wider public rather than the criminals, victims and witnesses. Even though the wider public is largely law abiding it is strange about the mentality of people who would never think of committing a criminal act but they would happily drive around with no insurance or the vehicle in a dangerous state.
I can think of one such case where I stopped a middle aged man at this stage we will call him Mr Hated, all will become clear soon as to why. He was driving his nice Aston Martin in town and passed me at a T junction not wearing his seat belt. I drove after him and stopped him, which he didn't like, he was adamant he was wearing his belt. It was at his point whilst writing out a ticket I wrote down his registration wrong. I wrote it as "H4TED" with all the letters bunched up I started to get a 7 day rectification slip out when I realised the last letter was actually an O but. He had asked for it to be doctored to look like a D. I then told him I was going to issue a ticket for that too. Two tickets, both not incurring points, one £60 one £30. £90 in total for his errors but he refused to take it. "I'm not accepting that!" his reply was "I'll see you in court" to which I reported him for the offence and seized his licence plates as evidence. Now he would have to get new ones.
It came to court, I his infinite wisdom Mr Hated had entered a plea via post of 'Not Guilty' which meant we would hear a trial at traffic court. 3 police officers turned up to offer witness evidence but Mr Hated did not so it was heard in his absence. 3 magistrates heard the evidence and agreed that he was guilty of the offence and as such he had to pay £185 for his dodgy plate, £110 for the seatbelt and £20 court fees totaling £315. All because he was being difficult!