The Silence Of The Snow

I’m going to start with an apology.

I’ve been slack with the blog recently. There’s been various reasons, one being I was shook to the core when a bobby was investigated and criticised over his writing. I found something I really enjoyed doing and suddenly I felt like I wasn’t allowed to do that.

Where do we stand when we engage with the public? We’re told to engage with you, the members of the public that want to engage with us. We’re told to engage with the members of the public who don’t want to be engaged by us, that’s like pissing in the wind sometimes but still we persist. But engaging sometimes lands us in trouble, as in the bobby’s case.

If we don’t engage with you, we’re told we’re unapproachable or regimented. It’s Mission Impossible and it’s a no win situation.

So here I am….engaging with you, my amazing reader. Thank you for your patience. I would have abandoned me a long time ago and I know some have. 

I am PC Fuzz.

I’m back. 

The snow continued to fall, big flakes of silence hit the already lightly dusted tarmac outside. It had been falling all afternoon but had continued to get heavier as the day went on. I checked my Met Office app on my phone and it showed a big blanket directly above me which was not budging for my entire night shift….marvellous. 

It was 21.20hrs and I checked myself in the mirror before squirting a bit of aftershave and walking out the door wrapped in my best winter gear. I felt a bit like the marshmallow man out of Ghostbusters as I waddled down the drive but it was a necessity, the thermometer in the car showed a chilly -5C.

There’s something I love about snow falling. It has a beautiful silence to it that mutes the entire world around you. It calms everybody, it slows everybody down. Life runs a little slower and it’s peaceful. I love the crisp cold air that feels like it’s cleaning your lungs. I cleared my car and drove into work. 

As I pulled on my heavy stabbie and clipped on my belt, I couldn’t help but feel like it was going to be a ‘Q’ one. Please don’t ever say the entire word, you know…q  u  i  e  t. God forbid, the person who utters those immortal words, all hell will rain down on them creating a world of havoc and chaos. 

I walked out of the locker room and into my oppo for the night, Stu. 

“alright Stu?” I asked, “yer, fine son, should be a quiet one tonight with all this snow?”

I glared at him, he knew exactly what he’d done, I silently called him something and made a hand gesture as I walked in front of him and out into the yard. I could hear him chuckling, he knew exactly what he said and he knew it was going to wind me up. 

I walked into the office and grabbed a couple of mugs spooning some coffee into them making us both a brew for briefing. We sat down with the rest of the team. It’s a scene of wonderment as 20 bobbies all face forward looking at a load of faces staring back at you as the reasons for them coming to our attention are read out. VRM’s of cars that have been nicked or are of interest to us are also read out along with any other significant event or information for the shift ahead. Bobbies frantically writing down useful info relevant to them. Then the Sarge turns and faces us all, “guys, please keep in the forefront of your mind all night your safety please. It shouldn’t be too busy with all this snow but you never know”

I could have literally face palmed myself. Groans let rip across the briefing room as pens and bits of paper were thrown at the Sarge who stood there smiling with his hands in the air as if to motion “what did I say?”.

“Right you ‘oribble facking lot, get to it, get out of my briefing room” boomed the Gaffer clapping his hands. 

We all made our way out,  the last few balls of paper bouncing off the Sarge as we filtered out grabbing the panda keys from the lates crew. Stu and I grabbed some keys and made our way to the Taser Armoury to sign out our yellow companions for the night. The crackle of the blue arc signifying a good connection was our last check as we loaded them up and holstered them away. General chit chat flowed between us both and we finished our coffee, checked our emails and made our way out. 

The snow was relentless, it was covering the roads thick and fast as the last of the late night office workers headed home as we pulled out of the yard into the night. I looked out of the window and gazed upwards at the hypnotising motion of the flakes. I’d handed Stu the keys, it’s nice to sit in the passenger seat every now and again. Besides…it was snowing, it was too much like hard work competing with the silly sods who didn’t have a clue how to negotiate snow. The radio was eerily silent, not a peep from anyone, “your radio working mate?” I asked. “dunno, not heard anything from it since I turned it on” Stu replied.

I pushed the button on my radio, “Echo Whisky 4-5, radio check please”, “good signal Fuzz, good evening” Deb replied. There was our answer, it was just a little bit on the Q side. 

The hours trickled by and the clock watching became more regular. We’d run out of conversation, but it wasn’t a problem, Stu was a good mate of mine and we didn’t need conversation to make it comfortable. He’s the loudest snorer in the world and the only person I know that can fall asleep as soon as he shuts his eyes. He also snores when he’s awake, it’s quite a skill. I leaned back and peeled open another can of energy drink. It was a vain attempt at staying awake. My eyes began to sting, they felt dry. I gave them a rub and opened the window for a bit to let in some cold air. 

Suddenly the radio came to life with Deb’s voice, “Echo Whisky 4-5, immediate please, burglary in progress, 45 New Hall Road. Caller reports two males seen in the back garden trying door handles.” “En-route Deb, any more info? Can we have a dog please?”, “Not much info, two males in dark clothing in the back garden, dog en-route from HQ” Deb responded. 

I lit up the car with blues but ignored the two tones for now. I looked at Stu, his eyes straining to concentrate through the snow. Units from all over the city were acknowledging the call and were making the area. The roads were dead, it was now 0300hrs and the life of a night shift copper was in true flow as we made our way to a caller who needed us. 

Units started announcing their arrival at the address. “Echo Whisky 7-5, we’re on scene, had a look around, no sign of anyone, we’ll stay for a while longer and speak with the caller.”

Units started clearing themselves from the job immediately and resuming normal patrol, not us. Stu had a glint in his eye. “what you got up your sleeve?” I asked. “Let’s go for a drive” he responded. We zipped down a side road and onto a very narrow lane. As we drove down, full beams on the car illuminating everything, two bodies were suddenly lit up. They were walking towards us, hands in their pockets, squinting from the lights in their eyes. I smiled to myself, “ey up, who do we have here?”

Dressed all in dark clothing and aged around 21, they were certainly suspicious looking. We were no more than half a mile from the location. We stopped the car and spoke with the two lads. 

“Evening lads, what you been up to?”

“Just on our way home from a birds house, you know, this and that” and with that he winked and gave a cocky smile and started to walk off. I put my arm out to stop them in their tracks. “can’t let you go just yet mate, you see, you fit the description of two lads who have just tried to break into a house”

I recognised one of the faces, I just couldn’t put a name to the face. “why do I know you?” I asked the ginger topped lad. “you locked me up a few months ago for a robbery, do you not remember?” he replied cockily. “no chap, you can’t have been that important for me to remember?” I fired back. 

This wannabe bad boy was suddenly quiet again. We’d told control of our location and another unit trundled by. I put one of them in their van whilst they were detained and Stu indicated to me that he’d be back in a sec. He got out his torch and pinned the beam to the floor where their footprints were. Beautiful crisp virgin snow surrounded these footprints as Stu went wandering off. I knew exactly what he was doing. 

The lads patience who was still stood outside was starting to thin, the inevitable “how much longer” and “I aint done nuffing” speeches started flowing. I sat him in our vehicle to shut him up for a bit longer. I got onto Stu on the radio, “good timing” he said, “they can come in for attempt burglary mate, I’ve followed the footprints right back to the bloody back garden of the caller!” “good work son” I responded. “get your arse back here, I’ll go break the good news”.

I opened the back of the van and told the ginger top, “you’re nicked mate, attempt burglary”. No reply came after the caution. I went back to our vehicle and opened the back door where our lad was now raging, “what the fuck you doing, I told you I aint done nuffing, you can’t keep me ‘ere” he politely declared. “erm….you’re under arrest mate, attempt burglary, seems we can’t keep you here, we need to get you down to the station.”. I reached down to apply handcuffs to him taking hold of his arm. Snapping it back, he kicked out at me pushing me away as his foot connected with my thigh causing a shooting pain. It was just me and him, the other unit had cleared off with the other prisoner. He went to do one out of the car, I jolted forwards reaching for my taser as I forced the toe of my boot into his knee cap to stop him. Pulling it out of its holster, I took aim and flicked off the safety pointing it at him, the red dot creating a perfect target on his chest. “stay where you are, do not move, 50,000 volts, red dot on your chest” I ordered. He looked down and immediately calmed down as I applied handcuffs to him. Out of nowhere Stu popped up. “alright mate?” he asked. “nothing that couldn’t be sorted by a red dot” I replied. “and a kick to the knee you wanker” the prisoner responded. I walked around to the other side of the car and got in the back with him showing Stu the lovely wet muddy footprint on my leg. He just smiled as he got in the front shaking his head. 

“As an apology chap, I’ve got a room sorted for you, it’s got en-suite facilities and a room service menu, plus the best hot chocolate you could wish for.”

No reply came the answer. 

Unfortunately, the justice system couldn’t find enough evidence to charge the two lads so they were released from custody the following day. Hey, they come, they go.

Until next time.

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A Christmas Beat

And as I head out onto that darkened street

To patrol the night on a Christmas beat

Its Christmas Eve on this here night

What could happen, what will be, what might?

 

I pray that I go home safe and sound

To be with my loved ones, who are here, around. 

It makes me think, those who can’t do the same

What do they think, do they think it’s a shame?

 

See it’s a lonely old life for a bobby like me

Spare a thought while you’re sipping on yer tea

We’re out in the cold making you feel safe

Our shoes are rubbing, beginning to chafe

 

But we don’t complain, we plod along

I’ll listen out for the midnight bong

And while you sleep warm in your bed

I’ll be high fiving Santa while he rides in his sled. 

 

Merry Christmas everyone.

Author: PC Fuzz.


A Letter To The PM From A Serving Police Officer. This Is Not My Material.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Yesterday I was called out to an incident where an 80 year old man had fallen out of his bath seat and landed in the bath upside down. He was trapped and screaming for help with his legs trapped in the bath seat.

His neighbours heard him screaming and called 999. The doors and windows were locked and he was screaming in agony.  I arrived, broke the door down and went into the bathroom to find a very scared elderly male laying naked, freezing cold trapped in his bath by a disability aid that was supposed to help him. He took one look at me and began to cry with relief.

We are so short of officers and resources on every shift that we are stretched to breaking point and already we are forced into saying no to some jobs that used to be graded prompt… such as this.  At some point very soon we will be dealing with CRIME ONLY because 1) we are being told to keep the figures up and 2) we haven’t got the resources to deal with anything more.

There are serious arguments going on over the radio between control room staff and officers on the ground regularly because they have statistics to meet, and we aren’t dealing with incidents we attend quickly enough. We are all stressed and biting at each other, when we used to work as a team. Stress = mistakes and mistakes in this job costs lives.

What’s going to happen to the old man in future?  Whilst dealing with this man, wrapping him in a dressing gown, my radio goes off again. A 16 year old girl – suicide attempt- stood on a bridge on the M25.

No other units available. None! I’m not trained to talk down a suicidal teen! But there is no one. All tucked up far away on other jobs. It’s a good job I don’t need immediate assistance with a male trying to break the bedroom door down and knife his wife, like the previous evening, when I was once again single crewed.

What do you want me to do? Stay with the man who’s still shaking in shock? Go to the girl who’s just about to jump onto a busy motorway or do we not attend these jobs and just deal with crime? Like the man trying to kill his wife …… On my own with no back up!

I’ve just got home and I’m sitting here wondering if I can handle this anymore; is it worth me getting hurt? I have 2 young disabled children. What would happen to them? I’m a single mum, with childcare fees and with the cost of living so high I’d be better off on benefits.

Being a police officer is firstly about saving life and limb and not statistics, not saving money and certainly not votes.  We are stretched to the point that it is now dangerous. Your cuts are putting my life at risk and that of the public. You have just destroyed my pension and frozen my wages.

All these things are going through my mind all the time, morale at work is at rock bottom. All police officers are feeling like this at the moment but we are all holding on in hope you will realise what a mistake you have made.

Surely you will see sense before it’s too late? This isn’t just whinging because we don’t like cuts…. this is a genuinely dangerous situation.  Would you like me to wear a body camera for a week? Will you watch what’s really happening on the frontline and what police officers face on a daily basis?

Mr Cameron, you tell me why I should stay in my job?


I Remember Him

What’s your biggest memory as a kid? Can you remember? Maybe you have a few, hopefully they make you smile, maybe they make you cry. Maybe they conjure up a mixture of emotions.

I remember the smell he had about him. That sweet cherry tobacco smell used to linger around him and around the house. It was intoxicating and it stuck in the back of your throat. I remember his giant thumbs thumbing down the tobacco into his pipe, the thumb that had barely a nail on the end of it. I remember the swan matches that he used to strike against the sandpaper sided yellow matchbox. The crackling, hissing sound it made as the match ignited, bursting into a small flame as he shoved it into his tobacco sucking on the end of his pipe drawing in the sweet nicotine taking a deep lungful. 

I remember the noise he used to make as he walked down the creaky stairs which always woke me up on a morning. The deep, rumbly cough as he cleared his lungs ready for the day ahead. The smell of fresh ‘conti’ rolls toasting under the grill and the sound of Tom and Jerry playing on the TV as he cleared his lungs once again making us all milky cups of tea. 

I remember us sitting in his front room, the computer room which housed the Commodore 64. Sitting on his lap and nestling into him as we played computer games, just me and him as my Nana went about her chores.

I remember his car. A Nissan Cherry in silver. The sweet box that used to be hidden beneath Nana’s seat next to his cassette holder. I could only ever relate to one tape in there and that was Cliff Richard. The rest I had no clue. I remember picking out lemon sherbets and unwrapping it as the sticky hard boiled sweet coated my mouth in its glucose, fructose frenzy. The sherbet leaking out of the cavity in the side making my cheeks turn inside out flooding my mouth with saliva. I still have a soft spot for lemon sherbets and ‘Army & Navy’ sweets which taste like cough sweets. 

I remember his hair and the way it rested on his head to the side. The thin, greying strands covering his big manly head and his brown/translucent rimmed glasses that sat on his big stereotypical Grandpa nose. 

I remember the smell of Vosene shampoo as he washed my hair when I was in the bath. How I used to splash him and he’d just look at me and wrinkle his nose and splash me back and we’d just laugh hysterically, or at least I remember laughing. 

I remember his cuddles. Proper Grandpa cuddles. I used to feel wrapped up when he cuddled me. I loved my Grandpa. 

I remember the day he went missing. I was at home and the only thing that stands out in my mind is me waking up in the middle of the night crying. I cried out so loud, my Dad’s friend and our neighbour who was looking after me came running into my room and just clung onto me. I remember him hugging me so tight, I wondered why. I remember crying out for my Grandpa……I wanted my Grandpa. 

I remember Mum and Dad being at Grandpa and Nana’s house an awful lot of the time when Grandpa went missing. I remember the look of worry on my Nana’s face. 

I remember the knock on the door, the big old green wooden door with frosted glass in the top so you could see shapes. I saw two hats, I recognised them to be police hats. I remember opening the door and the two police officers looking straight ahead and then down to see a 12 year old at the door. “Are your Mum and Dad in lad?” the PC asked as he took off his hat seeing my Mum walk down the corridor with a look of fear. The WPC followed suit and I remember their grey, stern looks. 

I don’t remember what words they used. I remember my Nana sitting next to my Mum and sobbing, I remember my Mum doing the same. I still don’t know why I did what I did, but I walked to the back door in the kitchen, outside and dropped to my knees and wailed. I wailed and screamed. I remember tears pouring down my face. I had just found out my Grandpa wasn’t coming home. 

I don’t remember anything after that apart from when I went back inside my Nana took hold of me and gripped onto me, holding onto my body and pushing my head into her neck as she sobbed for the loss of her loving, devoted, husband. 

I don’t remember the days that followed. I don’t remember the funeral. My brain has eradicated this memory for my own benefit, I’m sure of it. I don’t need to remember the sadness apart from what keeps me strong and determined to help people. 

I was 12 when my Grandpa took himself to the seaside and drowned himself. I was 17 when I had the confidence to see a spiritualist for the first time. She helped me through the grieving process which I had taken with me as a late teen. At the age of 24, I visited the lifeboat station that picked him up. I hadn’t been to this seaside town since before Grandpa died. I remember walking in and seeing this magnificent boat before me, the beautiful shiny exterior that rips through the rough East Coast tide. This boat picked up my Grandpa and brought him home to us. I sobbed as I saw it and touching the side of it, I felt a piece of me heal. I dropped £20 into the donation box and bought a car sticker. I am a proud supporter of the RNLI and I can never thank them enough. The Government don’t value them, but I do. They are an Emergency Service just as much as we are. 

I remember driving away that day, exhausted. I received closure that day on a section of my life that I had left open to fester and rot away inside me. I know why he decided to do what he did, it doesn’t mean I will ever understand it. He left us and since the day I woke up crying, I don’t remember his voice. 

I will never remember his voice. 

I deal with missing person reports on a regular basis and it’s difficult to not become complacent when it’s the same people going missing over and over again. But I always say to myself, somebody, somewhere misses this person and that’s why we’re here. I’m here to try and bring them home.

The day I took the decision to triangulate a missing person’s mobile phone and found him outside a B&B having smoked what he thought was his last cigarette. We went to his room where he had written four letters to different loved ones. On the bed were a lethal cocktail of drugs that would have sent him to sleep and never wake up. I took him in, declared him found and in his family’s eyes I was a saviour. I had won the day and found their missing father/brother/son. I looked into his eyes and saw nothing but sadness and hate towards me, “why did you have to stop me?’ he asked me through a trembling voice and tearful eyes, “because somebody missed you enough to tell us, that’s why” I replied as I walked him into the hospital.

I don’t remember his name but I know I did the right thing that day.  

 


Hide and Seek.

I’ve just got a feeling.

My spidey senses are telling me something’s not right.

My copper’s instinct is telling me.

You farted?

Just some of the things you might hear in a police vehicle also known as a ‘panda’ (don’t ask me why it’s called a panda).

Every half decent copper has an instinct every now and again. Something just doesn’t sit right with them in the pit of their stomach and we can’t explain it. I once had a motorist drive past my oppo and I. I took one look at him and said, “he ain’t insured”. My oppo looked at me, he was a bobby really long in the tooth and worked on traffic nearly all his policing career, “how the hell do you know that?” he asked. “I don’t, I just have a feeling”. We spun the vehicle around hoping for him to make an error so we had cause to run him through. It was a knackered old Nissan Micra and as he approached a roundabout he applied his brakes with only one light illuminating. Bingo! There was our justification to run him through the PNC (Police National Computer) and see who was driving the old rust bucket.

“PNC shows no current keeper and no insurance over”. Sure enough after pulling him over, his insurance was invalid. We got back in the car after seizing the Micra and my oppo looked at me again with his bushy beard twitching like crazy, “how the…..what the…..forget it, good job mate”.

It’s a basic instinct…no not the kind where Sharon Stone shows herself to the world, but the one where you should trust it. Nine times out of ten, you’re spot on.

Scene set: It was about 01.00hrs on a wet, cold night shift. I was working with one of my least favourite people. The amber glow of the street lights shone off the road surface creating an almost perfect reflection in the water and there wasn’t much talking between us. We were professional enough to just get on with it. The street lights were starting to hurt my eyes, I’d had a long day and my body was screaming at me to stop driving and find the nearest quilt. I’d intended to find a quiet spot for an hour just to rest my eyes but my oppo insisted on grabbing a coffee. I pulled into the petrol station, the neon green sign stinging my retinas even more. He started to get out and asked if I wanted anything. I motioned a no and reclined my seat, closing my eyes leaving him to it. The silence was bliss. There’s something about a night shift that provides a deafening silence and it’s magical. It’s a lovely noise….nothing. Not 30 seconds in, my radio crackles to life, it’s harsh white screen lighting up as the controller calls up. “any unit for an immediate please, burglary in progress, caller states two masked men have just entered the house with knives and are threatening the callers husband. There are three children in the house” My eyes jolted open at the message and I brought my seat forward as I saw my oppo legging it back to the car, coffee in hand, spilling everywhere. I could see him swearing as it burnt his hand. He got into the car and I swung it around roaring the engine as I illuminated the blue lights. Blue thunder filled the night sky and we had a drive of about 5 miles to get there. Racing down the dual carriageway, another call came in. “Further update, caller states the males haven’t left the drive yet and are now getting into the family car”. The family car just so happened to be a BMW 5 series. One of the larger family cars and worth about £60k. “Further update from caller, men have now left in the vehicle. They were armed with machetes.” I squeezed the accelerator a little more trying to get at least 35mph out of the clattered old panda as it screamed into submission giving me the precious few mph (clearly I was doing more than 35!)

Hurtling down the next part of the carriageway, I could hear another unit arrive and announce themselves as doing an area search……I screamed into the car, “an area search……a fucking area search!!!! Get your arse to the house to find out what’s missing and see if the family is OK”. My oppo looked at me and smiled, “take it we’re going to the house then?” he said. “Looks that way doesn’t it!” I replied.

Pulling onto the street, we flicked off the blues and found the house which had had its door kicked off its hinges. A big muddy footprint on the door which was now on the floor suggested these lads meant business. Walking in, we announced our arrival and I was greeted by a man in his late thirties who was white as a sheet. I then heard a female voice at the top of the stairs say, “they’re here now, thank you”. My oppo had a look around and I looked at the bloke. “you OK?” I asked delicately. He shook his head, “I thought they were going to kill me”. He was well spoken. He was groomed well and he looked like he had money despite just being woken up rather rudely.

“What’s missing” I asked.

“Erm, the BMW, my laptop, his blackberry and my iPhone so far” the woman said as she descended the stairs, her dressing gown swaying around her feet as she tried to pull it together to prevent being exposed to two PC’s.

Now I like to think I know technology. I understand it and I can work it well. I also own an iPhone and know there is an app on there called ‘Find My iPhone’. It uses GPS tracking technology to monitor a device’s whereabouts when it is registered with iTunes.

“Do you have Find My iPhone on your phone?” I excitedly asked.

“Erm yeah I think so” she replied.

“Put in your iTunes details into my phone and I’ll see if it’s still switched on”.

One minute later…….my phone reads, ‘locating device’.

My jaw dropped. It was switched on. ‘Device located 5 seconds ago’ and a map pops up of the location. Adrenaline fills my body and I start shaking. I look at my oppo. “we’ll come back, we need to follow this” I explained.

I sprinted out of the house to the panda and screamed off down the road illuminating my lights throwing my oppo my phone, “keep hitting the refresh button” I wailed at him.

“Echo Whisky 4-5, please be advised, urgent message, I am tracking a stolen iPhone belonging to the victim of this aggravated burglary, currently showing as the junction of Woodpiper Road and German Lane, all available units please make this location”. Suddenly the radio air was filled with activity with various people claiming a spot on the job. “Update, now showing as the junction of Weaver Road and Arch Lane.”

These roads were on the other side of the city. They were clearly still in the car as the locations were too far apart to be on foot.

“Update on location, now showing as Green Road outside The Old Church pub, standby, update, location is a short distance away from The Old Church”

They were clearly on foot now. The little picture of the phone hadn’t moved much. We were closing in fast. Units were coming in from all over the city and were heading to the location I had just read out.

“Update on location, now showing as stationary inside a building, third in on the right on Cherry Blossom Avenue”. Control responded, “Fuzz, that’s number 6, I repeat, on its own, 6, standby for a voters and intel”.

A voters means who is registered at that house to vote, it’s information available to us and is very useful.

“Update on location, still stationary inside number 6, no change……..it’s gone off. It’s stopped tracking.” The phone had been switched off from the other end and could no longer track. Two minutes later we were sat at the end of Cherry Blossom Avenue, the house was about 100 yards away from us on our right.

“Echo Whisky 4-5, intel checks show a family by the name of the Lewis’ occupy the house, extensive history between two brothers for Burglary, Robbery and Theft.” Deb said over the radio. “Yeah received, be advised, the phone is no longer tracking, request air support please in case we get any runners from inside.”

I had an army of men at my disposal and here I was, a simple PC commanding my entire team where to go and what to do. I now had the services of a dog handler and his fluffy dog, Satan (remember him?) and now the eye in the sky had responded advising his ETA was three minutes.

My spidey senses started going into overdrive. I had a sneaky look at the house to see what we were faced with. I decided that the areas needed covering in case of any runners were the rear garden which was accessed by a side path and the front. The side didn’t appear to have any escape routes and had a seven foot high wall. I couldn’t see down the end of the side path but decided that would be my area to access the rear. I hustled the lads together.

“Ad, Phil, you’re at the front, knock the door. Si, you’re at the garden, keep watch on that front window and the skylights. Browny, get to the side path with me, make sure Satan is muffled so we don’t disturb anybody as we approach. I’m taking the rear garden and I’ll keep eyes from there.” I instructed in a whisper. “Any questions…………right let’s go”.

Hushed footsteps on wet ground were our only sound as we made our way to the house. I jumped the fence and the front garden greeted me with a boggy shit hole as I lost my footing and slid down what I later found out to be a pile of rotting garbage. Going arse over elbow when you’re meant to be going in discreet is never a good look as my mates pissed themselves laughing under their breath. I was to get a ribbing back at the nick but that was put to the back of my mind. I swivelled them the middle finger and carried on smirking as I carried on into the darkness of the side path. I could feel Browny and Satan close behind me, Satan was being good as gold and was shutting the hell up apart from a bit of heavy breathing as he choked himself on the lead. Silly sod. As I approached the side path I was greeted by a tall piece of rotting wood used what can only be described as a make shift wall, maybe to stop dogs escaping or kids? I looked up, there was no way over it and the seven foot wall wasn’t allowing me access either so there was only one thing for it. I put my size twelve into the wood so hard it pinged off its crap hinges and landed in a big crash on the floor. I immediately got on my radio, “rear garden accessed, knock the door”.

BANG BANG BANG……the front door was being knocked. I heard movement inside and the rear door handle moved upwards. “movement inside” I called.

“ENTRY GAINED” I heard Ad call out as everyone inside was detained and sat down. “HOUSE SECURE” he called again.

The formalities were explained as I walked into the front. Inside I saw two very worried faces. Shaun Lewis and Craig Lewis, two brothers who did nothing but say “I swear on your life mum, we had nuffing to do with owt”. I went into the front bedroom, there were a pile of muddy, very wet clothes in a heap on the floor.

Suddenly, my radio came to life, “four five from Smiffy?”, “yeah go ahead mate” I responded. “we’ve got a very warm BMW 5 series sat here with your name on it, looks like the laptop is in there and a big bloody blade!” Smiffy answered. I smiled, “yeah received mate, good work, get it lifted for SOCO please, where are you out of interest?” I had my poker face on and slowly walked away from the two cretins who were now shitting themselves in front of me surrounded by four burly coppers and a very pissed off mum. “Smiffy, you get my last? Where are you?” I called again walking to the front door. “I’m here” he called waving at me from the green on the other side. I burst out laughing and could only say one thing, “you’re shitting me?”, “nope, the car is about 50 yards over that way, Stu’s with it now” he pointed to behind a row of terraces.

I walked back inside the house giving Smiffy the thumbs up and spoke with the lads inside who were now searching the premises.

I collared my oppo, “they’re coming in suspicion aggravated burglary fella” I said. He nodded in agreement.

We nicked them there and then and their faces said all we needed to know.

We seized the clothing and a full search was conducted at the address by the lads as we dashed off with our freshly collared customers. I felt a warm glow come over me as if my spidey senses were letting me know ‘the boy done good’.

As we pulled into the back of the nick, my radio went off again, this time it was a private call, ‘ADS’ filled the screen. The prisoners were taken into the block and I motioned to my oppo that I’ll be right there. The following conversation took place:

Me: Go ahead mate.

Ads: Fuzz, search complete, you confidential?

Me: Yup.

Ads: We’ve found some stuff in the house.

Me: Anything interesting?

Ads: You could say that…….the victim’s house keys.

Me: …………..fuck………….off.

Ads: Charming, oh and the victim’s blackberry is here too, got a lovely picture of the family on the front screen.

Me: You’ve earned yourself a beer lad. Good work son, catch you in a bit.

We seized clothing, footwear, stolen property and a few other items from 6 Cherry Blossom Avenue along with a few other items relating to a previous burglary. The job took us until 10.00hrs that morning to write up. We were due off at 07.00hrs. I didn’t give a damn. I’d have stayed all day to make sure that package was perfect for CID if I had to. It was cut and dry in my opinion. I congratulated the lads on a job well done and told them I’d finish up and to get off home.

I punched a hole in the left hand corner of the 3 inch thick package full of paperwork and bound them together looking for CID to hand it to.

Detective Sergeant Green walked up to me. An old school DS who didn’t take bollocks from anybody. He was stuck in the Life On Mars era and I loved that about him. I like old school sometimes.

“Constable, I understand you have some papers for me, sounds like a good job, what are your thoughts?” He asked matter of fact.

I looked at him through very hazy eyes and replied whilst walking away, “If they’re released, I’ll bare my arse from the roof of the nick…..Sergeant”. I heard him snort with laughter. “G’night Sarge”.

The Lewis brothers are currently serving 10 years each for two aggravated burglaries. Our burglary rates fell through the floor following this…….funny that.

The job took just under a year from start to end resulting in their conviction. I visited the family not that long ago to have a catch up and to see how they were coping. They weren’t coping well. The house was up for sale and there was only one reason for that. The kids couldn’t settle, neither could the female. The car had been sold, she couldn’t face sitting inside it knowing what had happened. The trauma that follows an incident of this magnitude is devastating. Don’t be afraid to speak to someone about your feelings if you have gone through something similar.

Always go with your gut instinct. It’s often your defining moment or your saving grace.

All names have been changed and recollections of the incident have been changed slightly to protect all parties involved.

Thank you to my colleagues for the fantastic work that night. The job will forever hold in my memory as the day I won at Hide and Seek.


A Thorn In Our Side

The Mental Health Act…..the thorn in every response police officers side. The piece of legislation that hinders the mentally ill rather than help them.

This post will go into detail of my thoughts on the Act and what it means when we say those words, “one in custody under 136”.

In my city I am fortunate, we have a place of safety defined by the NHS and Social Services as a suitable place to take the mentally ill who are deemed not fit to look after themselves. I have spoken to many other officers, Inspector Michael Brown @MentalHealthCop on Twitter included who do not have this privilege. But it hasn’t always been like this. We haven’t always been able to take the people we arrest under Section 136 to this signposted place of safety. Up until two years ago, we were detaining them in our police cells. Put yourself in this scenario.

You suffer a breakdown of sorts, you become so emotionally disturbed that the voices in your head are screaming at you to pick up a knife and damage yourself. You leave your house to go for a walk, to try and get rid of these voices because you know it’s not you. That voice screaming at you is trying to take control and it’s evident from anyone looking at you that something isn’t quite right. So much so, that a concerned member of the public calls 999 and states there is a suspicion person walking down the street with a knife in their hand. The police arrive and you are ordered to drop the knife which you do, because you can still listen and understand what’s going on around you. You are cuffed for your own safety and are taken to a police station. From here you are put in a cell. A tiny 7 foot by 7 foot cell with no toilet because we can’t risk you trying to drown yourself. All that you have is a blue mattress and a blanket.

How do you feel? Claustrophobic? Angry? Drained? Bearing in mind, the voices are still screaming at you and there is NOTHING you can do about it. The Doctor arrives and examines you who states you are clearly mentally ill and now another team are informed of your detention and are asked to come and make a decision regarding your future. Meanwhile, you are forced to stay in a police cell ‘for your own safety’. This team don’t work during the night….office hours only…..what now? Yep, you got it, you have to stay in overnight because the call out team who do work nights only have one on duty and they’re at another job.

How do you feel now? Who are you most angry towards? No doubt the police are up there with the people you’re considering dropping off your Christmas card list. I would too. They are after all, the ones who brought you here.

Morning arrives and sometime after 10.00hrs when they’ve had their fill of coffee, the team arrive to assess you. This takes a team of three to debate whether you’re mentally ill or just another criminal with a knife in their hand walking down the street. 14.00hrs, you’re deemed mentally ill by ‘the people that matter’. You ready yourself for the next step. You’re told that you’ll be taken to a secure hospital and treated from there……..but wait……..we have to order an Ambulance for you first. Why I hear you cry. It’s down to your welfare and safety, simple as that. But that ambulance is coming from the other end of the county, so will take two hours to get here. You’re put back in your cell until your transport arrives. Finally, after all this, you arrive at the secure hospital to get the treatment you need and rightly deserve.

All this because we didn’t have anywhere to take you apart from a police cell. A police cell is now defined as ‘not a place of safety’. It is not the right environment for patients to be brought to. They do not warrant being isolated in a police cell along with the likes of wife beaters, rapists and thieves, they just don’t.

When will the NHS be evolved into something that caters for sick people rather than concentrating on cutting their staffs pay and making as much money as possible for the Government to roll in. I remember my mother being a nurse. I remember the feeling of being proud to say my mum was a nurse. I remember how proud she was to say she was a nurse. She had the respect of a community as she was a district nurse, and this community was amongst the roughest in the country. It was a deprived council estate in the days of Thatcher. She tells me stories of how she cared for people, how she genuinely loved her patients and how everyday she sees the NHS turning into something she didn’t think possible.

I’ll come back to a police perspective and bring in the place of safety we now have available. It is a more direct route to helping the patient granted, but the hurdles we have to jump to get there first are numerous and varied. One simple wrong answer blows you out of the water and you’re forced to take the patient to A&E where he will have to be watched, because he’s under arrest don’t forget. We can’t simply walk away from people we arrest. The biggest obstacle we nearly always face is, “are they intoxicated?” the answer 90% of the time to this question is yes. Why? Simple, the majority of my arrests under 136 are people who are alcoholics or substance abusers. Why? Simple, because substance and alcohol abuse are key indicators of triggering mental health issues, and also vice versa, some people don’t have the capacity to say no to peer pressure and wind up abusing drugs through being pressured to do so, this then spirals into a world which you and I cannot comprehend.

My fears surrounding Section 136 is that it is too restrictive. We can only arrest someone under 136 if they are somewhere to which ‘the public have access’. When they are inside, they are not covered under 136 because they are considered to be in a place where the general public don’t have access. But who’s to say their home address is a place of safety? If the owner of the house is happy for them to be there and occupy it as their place of safety then who’s to say that as soon as we leave, because we have no right to be there anymore, they don’t grab a knife from their kitchen which is part of their place of safety and slit their wrists or their throat? It’s conceivable to suggest that this could happen simply because it does. An incident I dealt with a few years back was an elderly lady who had suffered 50 years plus of mental health. Her husband woke in the morning and found her in the morning with a carving knife in her hand and her wrist hanging off, dead in the armchair. A home is not a place of safety if it is conceivable to suggest that  that person is at risk of harming themselves or others….period.

The Mental Health Act is not designed to be ‘user friendly’, it is a strict set of guidelines that cannot bend or flex in any capacity because if it does, it leaves itself wide open to criticism and scrutiny with ultimately, the Police Officer dealing with the incident stood in the firing line and put under investigation. We need to reassess what we need from the Mental Health Act as professionals. We need to be sure that what we are doing is in the best interests of the patient, not the Act.

We need support from the Government (I say the word Government in the loosest sense of the word) to do the right thing. Trust us to make the right choices. No decent Police Officer enjoys seeing innocent people suffer. Make the system work, not us work to the system.

For those who have been affected by what I have written, it is clear that I have used high end incidents as examples but only because it is possible and has happened. If you or anyone you know is suffering with unusual thoughts or tendencies, speak to your GP. Please don’t leave it until it’s too late and you are forced into a situation rather than trying to help yourself.

Thank you for reading.


Any Questions?

I’ve been doing this blog for about a month now. I’ve come to realise my followers are my fuel, your comments are the ones that drive me and make me focus on what people want to read.

It’s also very apparent that you are all interested in the modern world of policing. What do we do? How do we do it? Why do we make some decisions that seem against the grain? 

I’m sure there are some of you reading this now who are not supporters of the police, who don’t think what we do is a good thing. That we are only there to hinder you, obstruct you, delay you or to simply piss you off.

I want to hear from you all. I want to know what you think of us. It’s not an egotistical thing, I am genuinely interested to hear what people think of us.

Likewise, if you have any suggestions for future blogs, please ask me, I am open to suggestion. However, please be assured of this and follow these simple rules. I will never reveal true identities. These include my colleagues, my family, senior management and the people I come into contact with on a day to day basis. I have been careful so far to bring you a sense of realism but to still protect the interests of those who have not asked for me to do this blog. So please don’t put me in an awkward position where I will have to reject your suggestion.

Please be forthcoming, let’s see what you want to read. 

I trust you have all had a safe weekend.Image

PCF.


The First Time

A few posts ago I commented on my dealings with a suicide and how it made me feel. This time I will be speaking frankly about my dealings with my first sudden death.

I was still in my tutor phase which meant I was being dragged around to all manner of jobs in order to complete my learning criteria. The sort of things that had to be completed were things like, arrest someone, book someone into custody, take a statement. The basic bread and butter of policing. However, one of the ones we all dread as a ‘pro con’ was dealing with a sudden death.

I finished my classroom training on the approach to Summer and remember it being a rather warm one. My first day as a probationary constable in his tutor phase. There I was, in my nick, proud as punch and nervous as hell, waiting for my tutor to come bursting through the door. I anticipated a nine foot beast of a man, 7 feet wide and no teeth, grimacing at me in a vain attempt to be friendly. I expected the beast to look down at me and say something along the lines of, “right let’s go catch some fuckers in the act, let’s ‘ave ’em”. I expected the beast grimacing through his gums to walk around the nick and everybody kneels before him in awe of his greatness…….I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In walks a 5ft3 petite pretty blonde and says, “who’s Fuzz?” in a soft voice. My visions dribbling out of my ears disappeared in between the floorboards. Reluctantly I raise my hand, “me”, I whisper. “Come on, let’s go, you need to make the tea, oh and by the way, you’re fucked, you’re my first ever victim”. Those words echoed around the space between my ears. Here I was, brimming with excitement and anticipation, full of knowledge, law and bursting at the seams with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and I’m being asked to make the tea.

What happened that day forged into one of the best friendships I have. They say platonic friendships don’t exist. I can tell you for fact they do. My tutor and I created one of the best working relationships I’ve ever had and to this day we see each other out of work.

So my tutor phase was going well. I had had several PIC’s (person in custody) and a third of my folder had been completed prior to commencement of the final week. The final week arrives and all I had left to tick off was attend court, have a consultation with a solicitor and deal with a sudden death. Weirdly, people just weren’t dying when I needed them to. As harsh as it sounds I was waiting for the call on the radio to say we had a body. I had mixed emotions about it. I was dreading having to see one, to touch one, to deal with one but at the same time I was still brimming with enthusiasm and know that the job needed to be done and I needed to be signed off ‘competent and able’ for independent patrol.

We popped into the control room the first day of week nine, the final week. I followed my tutor like some kind of obedient puppy and observed these Gods speaking into their headphones directing the units to where the public needed them. “Fuzz needs a stiff to get signed off Deb, can you shout us up should we get a call?” my tutor politely asked. Dropping her glasses to the end of her nose resting on her flaring nostrils, Deb looked up at me from her Godly seat, “I’ll see what I can do….” she smiled as the words curled out of her sly grin, turning back to her computer screen tapping away like a squirrel on speed. I acknowledged the conversation and hastily made my way out of the control room and back into the real world.

“What do we do now?” I asked. “You make the tea” came the response. Rolling my eyes, I agreed. I was quickly becoming accustomed to the rules. You’re a pro con, you make the tea. You’re a pro con, you wash up. You’re a pro con, you buy the cakes. You’re a pro con, you’ve got the scene. You’re a pro con, wipe my arse. You get the picture. In the job we call it ‘making friends’.

We eventually made our way out of the nick, full of tea, donning my big hat and my best walking boots. We didn’t even get to the end of the road. “Charlie Papa Four Five” came the shout. “Go ahead Deb” the tutor said. “You’re not gonna believe this” came the grinning voice back over the radio. The tutor, beaming from ear to ear said, “go on”. “can you make 45 Green Street please, male caller states he has woken this morning to find his housemate deceased in bed”………..”deceased” echoed inside me until I finally got to grips with what was said. This was it. We were about twenty minutes away on foot. “yeah received Deb, enroute” the tutor said. She looked at me….I looked at her. I must have looked like Puss In Boots from Shrek with big wide eyes. I’d never seen a dead body before. I was literally quaking in my boots. We went through the protocol. Assess the scene when we got there, speak to the caller, assess whether there were any suspicious circumstances or not and search the body. I was being prepped for what was coming. I knew what was coming, I was about to see a body for the first time and I had no idea how I would react. I tend to laugh when something traumatic is happening. I remember my dog going for an operation when I was a teenager, I loved the dog with all my heart and it was a serious touch or go op. I couldn’t stop laughing as she was wheeled away to theatre. Sick bastard. I seriously hoped this would not happen!

We arrived at the address to find a bloke sat on the doorstep. It was about 0900hrs and was lovely and warm with the sun warming the front of the house. He was a scrawny looking bloke and was rocking backwards and forwards with a fag inbetween his yellow stained finger tips. He looked up at us and put his head straight back down. “He’s in the bedroom” he said. We engaged him a little, asking him to come inside and show us where to go, he was clearly distressed and upset but it was necessary to keep him at arms length as we didn’t know if he was a suspect yet. He took us inside and I immediately smelt it. The smell I cannot describe as anything but death. It’s a sweet, shitty, thick smell that burns your nostrils and hits the back of your throat with no hesitation or warning. I heard my tutor retching. I decided to block off my nose and just breathe through my mouth, this didn’t help. I could taste the smell. It was fucking putrid. My eyes were watering but we remained professional for the sake of the caller.

We asked for some circumstances as we walked to the bedroom. They lived together and slept in the same room, in separate beds, they were house mates, not partners but only had one bedroom. He woke this morning to find his mate on his side and something coming out of his mouth. He tried to stir him but found him to be clap cold and not breathing and so dialled 999.

I readied myself as the bedroom approached and felt my tutor tap me on my side as if to say, “I’m here”. The caller stopped in his tracks and said, “I don’t want to go in again”. We had to respect his wishes so my tutor stayed with him. I walked in, tentatively. I felt myself creeping as the figure of a man faced away from me laying on his side in bed emerged in front of me. Tattoos covered his body and his weight flattened the mattress out beneath him. I suddenly had an awful image of this guy turning round, screaming in my face and it all be a horrendous practical joke. It stopped me in my tracks for a moment. I brushed it off and carried on walking round the bed to face the man. His pale, lifeless body appeared almost translucent. His face was sagging and his mouth was open. Black and green liquid was coming out of his body and formed a thick, oil like puddle on the carpet and bed. I quickly formed the opinion he was dead, but nonetheless I had to check. Looking toward my tutor for reassurance she nodded and said, “check for a pulse”. The best place to check for a pulse in my opinion is behind the ear. However, because he was laying on his side, the pulse would not have been strong enough on the ear facing upwards. It had to be on the ear facing the bed. I placed my hand behind his head and tucked my index finger and middle finger behind his ear to feel for a pulse. Nothing. His skin was cold, clammy and almost sticky to the touch. It was a bizarre sensation. I confirmed he was dead. The next part was to search him for anything suspicious. Any markings, bruising, or injuries that would indicate signs of a struggle, an assault or anything malicious.

I felt the contents of my stomach turning around as the realisation hit me of what I was actually doing. I took hold of his right arm and his right hip and quickly realised rigor mortis had set in. As I pulled him toward me, a loud groan came from his lungs and out of his mouth as the last of the air in his lungs rattled against his vocal chords causing him to make the noise. It’s a discerning thing to hear when you know someone is dead. His stiff body stayed in its rigid position as I pulled him toward me and I checked his back, legs, buttocks and the back of his head for anything suspicious. Nothing. I laid him back in position as the smell hit me again. This time it knocked me backwards and I heaved making a loud gurgling noise putting my hand to my mouth and then quickly pulled it away again realising I’d just been handling a dead body. The last of the black and green liquid left his mouth and hit the floor in a big phlegmy wad.

I left the bedroom finding my tutor in the lounge with the caller. “nothing suspicious mate” I said. “Looks like something has ruptured inside him”. “he had a stomach ulcer” the caller confirmed, “he stopped taking his meds saying they weren’t working”. Clearly they had been!

I called it in on the radio and got the funeral directors involved. A two hour wait, they’d just started a funeral procession. BOLLOCKS! My tutor looked at me and said, “I’m taking him to the shops to get some tobacco, you need to stay here and guard the scene”. WHAT THE HELL!!!! What am I going to do with a body in the next room to me? This was weird. I felt cold from the thought of being alone with this body. She quickly disappeared. I found out a few years later that she was actually petrified of sudden deaths and the reason she went to the shops was to get away from the scene. Nice one, cheers!!!!

I was suddenly alone in the house and I felt VERY alone. There was a thick atmosphere and I couldn’t help but think about the bloke in the next room. Who was he? What was he to someone? Was he a partner? Was he a father? A grandfather? A son? Who loved him? Who would miss him? Who would be at his funeral?

It turns out that the only person in his life was the caller. His best friend. The reason? He was a drug dealer who sold drugs to children.

Knowing that now, how does it make you feel? Take a moment to analyse your feelings.

The body was taken away and we returned to the nick to complete my paperwork…..and make the tea.

I mulled it over that night about what I had come across and came to a conclusion……karma took control that day.


Method Of Entry

A Method Of Entry (MOE) course comprises of a load of doors being forced open, prised open, wedged open, screwed open, broken into and hacked into. It teaches you different types of door materials and the best, easiest most effective way to force entry on a door should the need arise to get in under any circumstance.

Unfortunately, days come and go when doors just don’t want to play nice. It’s normally the day when the weather turns just plain crap. When you’re stuck out at the front of a house in the piss wet rain and you can feel the drips of rain from the leaking gutter above you travelling down your spine…(you just shivered, didn’t you).

A lady dialled 999 when she couldn’t get hold of her 96 year old neighbour. She’d been banging on the door for a couple of days to no avail. Post was hanging through the letterbox, the curtains were closed and the lights were on. It was in the middle of the day. I know what you’re thinking….NOT AGAIN! I was thinking the same (if you don’t, refer to my post ‘Peas In A Pod’).

I like to think I’m strong enough to handle a door with the proper equipment. It had been raining for a while, big heavy droplets of rain were falling from the gutter of the 1930’s semi-detached house. The house was run down from the outside. You could see that the decades of wear and tear had taken its toll on the place. Paint was peeling off the front. Timber cladding was rotten and blackened and starting to come away from the brickwork. The garden was overrun with weeds and years worth of abandonment. I got to the front door and could see a thick wooden door with a solid brick surround. The handle was a round brass handle that looked fresh from the 1960’s, possibly earlier. Pushing my foot in the base and my hand in the top corner I could see where the bolts were placed showing the weak points in the door. There was a weak point at the bottom of the door showing no bolt there. I would avoid this like the plague. Without proper bracing equipment, it would be like hitting a bouncy castle, the energy created by me putting the enforcer into the door travelling through the bolts or against any solid surface is normally enough to put it through, however if there’s nothing for that energy to travel into and it bounces back then it rattles back up your arm, through your shoulder, down your spine, through your legs and through your feet knocking you backwards like some sort of pathetic pleb.

I had a plan. My first strike would be on the top bolt. It would probably take two or three good hits but it’d give. My second spot would be the main lock itself which comprised of a good old fashioned key lock with a heavy sliding internal bolt. This would be a pain but nothing that the bracing equipment wouldn’t help with. There was one problem. I didn’t have an enforcer or bracing equipment. A swift call on the radio and one was en route to us…..the magic red key. The big red metal battering ram designed for sole officer use that puts all but the most stubborn of doors through, more commonly known as ‘The Nigel’. I have NO idea why.

Whilst we were waiting, we had a look for any other routes in that would be more cost effective for the occupant because unfortunately, the bill lies with the occupant or their next of kin should the worst be discovered. I know it’s harsh but it’s reality, especially in these times of penny pinching by Forces across the land.

I had got to know the occupants name, Ethel Miggins. I shouted through the letterbox in a faint hope that I might get a response. No such luck. I did the sniff test, it didn’t smell good but not particularly overwhelming. There were no flies at the window so the body wouldn’t have been in a stage of decomposition yet. She probably died a day or so ago. For this reason, we didn’t ring the Ambulance Service. They were busy enough without having to confirm a dead body was indeed dead. This could be left for the Force Medical Examiner (FME).

I was satisfied the best, quickest and most effective entry was via the front door. Along came the Nigel. Asking my oppo to brace the door at the bottom to try and minimise the bounce back. Let me describe my oppo. A hard, strong Irish woman who had no fear, played rugby and referred to me as ‘pussy’. She was ace. She was more than capable of bracing this door for me. I steadied myself and pushed the end of the Nigel against the door. Pulling back and downwards, I just as quickly pushed it forward and upwards forcing my entire bodyweight into the back of this Nigel and into the top bolt…….BANG!!!! The door groans behind the force of the impact and I give it another for good measure pinging the top bolt off away from its secure holding. Dropping the Nigel to the middle bolt, I did the same feeling optimistic…….BANG!!!! BOING……as the Nigel rattled away from the door like a piece of plastic. The door didn’t budge. I gave it another one….two…..three….four…..five good hard smacks. The door was not moving, not an inch, but the brickwork surrounding the door was! I had hit the door that hard I had shifted bricks and mortar. Beads of sweat and rain fell off my nose and I was exhausted. I handed the Nigel to my oppo who gave the same welly as me on the stubborn bastard of a door. Nothing, but the brickwork was properly shifting now. I took it again, another three times and finally the door eased in and allowed us entry like a stubborn old gatekeeper. My entire training course on how to put in a door had failed on a 50 year old door. Shame they don’t make ’em like they used to! As I walked in, I could smell old people. The overwhelming stench that some old people give off after they give up was prominent in this house. I looked back on the door and saw a huge crack in the ceiling above the door….so much for cost effective. Sorry Ethel!

There was an eery silence in the house and it was a state. I felt my stomach turning that familiar churn that happens when I know what’s coming. It’s a bit like travel sickness, just a heavy nauseating feeling. She’d clearly given up a long time ago. Now we just had to find her. I don’t know why I did what I did next, maybe it was hope. Maybe it was just a coping mechanism. I shouted out to her, “ETHEL, TELL ME WHERE YOU ARE”….nothing. I shouted again, this time louder, “ETHEL, WHERE ARE YOU LOVE?”……..

“up ‘ere” came the faint reply.

I nearly shit myself. I kid you not, I was a second away from shitting.

“ETHEL? IS THAT YOU? WHERE ARE YOU?”………….

“up ‘ere, in the bedroom”.

I have NEVER run so fast up some stairs as I did at that moment in time. I was up them in a flash bursting through a bedroom door to find a 96 year old lady called Ethel in her nightclothes in between the bed and the nightstand. Drenched in urine, she had been there for two days after she fell from her bed after trying to go to the toilet in the night. I dropped down by her side holding her hand and getting a blanket to cover her in I looked at her and said, “YOU’RE A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES YA BUGGER!” She looked at me, smiled and simply said one thing, “THANK YOU”. The Ambulance had been called by my colleague while I stayed with Ethel and they arrived soon after with Ethel sat up drinking a cup of tea out of her china cup and saucer freshly washed up and made by yours truly.

See….we make tea too.

That night I smiled as I drove home but felt an overwhelming sense of sadness at the same time. Ethel had no doubt given up, I know I would 48 hours after not being rescued and not being able to call for help with no means of water or food. It’s a sad thought that all these elderly people are sat there in their houses just waiting for their turn. If you have any elderly relatives in your life….give them a call. Even if for five minutes, it’ll make their day…I promise. I called my grandparents the next day and I heard the joy in their voices as their grandson had called for a catch up.

I’m grateful for all they did for me to enjoy the freedom I have today.


No Means No

WARNING: Do not read if the topic of rape and sexual offences offend you. All names have been changed and some details adjusted slightly, if you think you know anybody in this blog, please do not mention it on the blog. Thank you.

The sheer volume of domestic related incidents we are called to per year would astound you.

What would you class as a ‘domestic’? The typical answer most people give is a husband and wife having a ding dong. We all have them don’t we…..you’re both tired, he’s got the remote and the football is on but he’s on the laptop and doesn’t appear to be watching the telly, so you go to change the channel and it starts from there. Bickering, picking and just generally getting on each others nerves. But where does it end? That fine line between ending a petty argument and having it escalate into something much…….much worse.

The meaning of a domestic incident in the eyes of the police is any incident involving intimate partners and/or family with one being over the age of 17. Anything that happens within these boundaries encompasses the domestic definition.

It’s difficult as a bobby to listen to the complaint of, “we’ve broken up and he’s being a prick, he won’t text me back” or “she’s slagging me off on Facebook” without wanting to walk out the door and lock it on the way out. Seriously….get over yourselves, look at what you’re moaning about. I appreciate there are genuine cases where people are put in genuine fear of their safety, or are harassed or distressed etc, but the typical complaint we hear relating to this is not any of these. It’s simply the ones who don’t have a job and don’t want a job and are bored. So they think of something to moan about because they think the world owes them. No….it really doesn’t. Now shove your complaint so I can deal with genuine incidents.

Scene set: I remember waking up late. I struggle with the early turn. My alarm forcing me out of my bed at 05.30hrs is neither pleasant or satisfying and so I literally have to push myself out of bed and into the shower. The shower is my saviour and I love the feeling of washing the sleep out of my eyes and allowing the water to pummel my back and neck. I don’t really think much about what the day will bring at this time, as I’m too intent on getting my coffee inside me so I don’t turn into the devil half way through the day with caffeine withdrawal.

Even though I was personally going through difficulties in my own marriage, I didn’t let this affect my performance, although I remember on a few occasions my sarge pulling me to one side and giving me a reassuring pat on the back. He was going through the same thing and we’d met up a few times out of work for a beer and a chat.

This one particular day, my oppo and I were out at the local coffee shop when control shouted us up, “Echo Whisky five four, can you make me an immediate please, female caller stating her husband has just assaulted her and tipped a bottle of vodka over her and tried to set her on fire, no previous calls to this address” In my experience that last part was key…..no previous calls. It potentially meant we weren’t aware of this person, this couple….this family.

Making our way to the address under blue lights and sirens, the general annoyances caused by some of the public kicked in as they got in our way and were just not looking or listening, too intent on their own lives to pay attention to what is going on around them.

As we arrived onto a street I had never been on before, I started looking for the house numbers and finally came across the right one. Pulling onto the empty drive, we got out and confirmed our arrival with control. The tinny voice acknowledged my message.

We didn’t even need to knock on the door, as we approached, a lady in her dressing gown answered the door. In her late thirties, you could see once that she was quite the looker, a short, slim brunette but cigarettes had taken its toll as had probably the stresses of her life. Wrinkles around her lips seemed to mirror her face of worry. Her eyes looked desperate and red and I could see she’d been crying. I smiled as I approached her and she smiled back but the look of hurt was still there. I immediately knew she was a genuine victim. You get a knack of knowing these kinds of things, whether somebody is bullshitting or not and I immediately formed the opinion, simply by her eyes, that she wasn’t a bullshitter. She was in the middle of drying her hair and by the looks of it, she had literally JUST walked out of the shower.

Walking into the house, it was a tidy, well kept house, but an overwhelming stench of booze hit my nostrils burning my lungs. A typical modern suburbia house with all the mod cons. We started going through what had happened. She told us that her husband of 7 years had been getting more and more aggressive of late and an argument last night had spilled over into this morning resulting in him punching her to the face, knocking her to the ground, kicking her to the ribs and pouring vodka over her and then getting a lighter from his pocket. In her panic she had kicked him in the nuts and ran to the neighbours managing to call us. Her husband had then done one in the family car. I looked around and although the stench of booze was still there I couldn’t see any signs of a disturbance and I asked her, “where did it happen?” “the bedroom” she replied, struggling to fight back tears and making a rubbish job of it.

I excused myself and climbed the stairs to the hallway and in front of me I saw why I could smell booze. The master bedroom had been destroyed, there was a smashed vodka bottle on the floor and a pool of liquid on the floor. Using my extensive investigation skills, I formed the opinion that this liquid was indeed vodka………(I facepalmed myself then). I then heard the front door open and close.

Walking back downstairs and into the lounge, another female was present who identified herself as the neighbour. The caller looked at my colleague and I and said, “do I mind if I go for a shower?” I looked confused and this must have come across on my face because she followed it up with, “to wash the vodka off of me”. My confusion must have quickly turned to sympathy because she excused herself and I heard the shower switch on. “That explains the smell of booze on her” I thought. I did think about asking her to not shower as evidence, but how can I tell a woman who is reeking of booze to not wash it off because we need it as evidence. My statement will have to do.

I got chatting with the neighbour as my colleague took a look around. She told me she had known the couple for four or five years when they moved in. They had never given her any reason to think anything unusual happened at the house.

Some ten minutes later, I heard the stairs rattling again as Gemma walked into the lounge making her apologies and sitting down. The neighbour said she’d be back later and showed herself out. We started taking details down for a statement and lots of domestic questions. She still seemed vacant and not very forthcoming, I spotted some cigs on the coffee table and nudged my colleague as I said to the lady, “do you want a quick break, we’ll have a fag”. She looked at me as I pulled out a box of Marlboro’s from my pocket and smiled at her. She again smiled back and said, “do you mind?” “not at all” I replied, “I’m never one to refuse a smoke”. I’ve since quit smoking and still love the thought of toking on a smoke, have done every now and again but always come off them quickly.

We went outside and she sparked up a B&H as I lit myself a Marlboro. We stood in the garden and were silent for a while before she started sobbing asking why. Why she deserved this. My stomach turned as she said this. I allowed her to carry on talking. She sat down on a step and started sobbing uncontrollably. I took my earpiece out of my ear and said to her, “what are you not telling us”. She leant forwards putting her face in her hands shaking her head, “I can’t say anything, he’ll kill me”. I knew what was coming and I controlled the anger stirring up inside me, I could feel me squeezing my fists cracking my knuckles as I did, I knew what she was trying to tell me and the overwhelming urge to find this ‘man’ and destroy him passed my mind. I quickly pushed it to the back and replied quietly, “talk to me, it’s OK”………”he raped me last month” she wailed, tears flooding down her face, her body shaking. Once again I felt the normal person in me get kicked out as the copper took his place. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “give me a sec” as I walked in to find my mate. I told him what had just happened and his eyes pretty much said what I was feeling, sheer rage quickly followed by professionalism. He got onto the radio and advised that we needed an interview room set up and someone from CID to meet us. I went back outside and there she was, sat on the step, the cig in the same position in between her fingers burning slowly, the ash growing on it suggested she’d forgotten she had it and was in her own little world.

I crouched down in front of her and said, “we need to get you down the nick, we need to do a video interview if that’s OK, I’m gonna take you to one of my mates, she’s great, she makes a cracking brew and will listen to you, that OK?”. She nodded. I said, “get your head together, we’ll sort this, where is he now?” She hesitated….I forced eye contact with her and she looked at me, I repeated my question. “He’s at a party with his mates”. She told me the address and I noted it down, I also jotted down his mobile number.

I walked into the house and said to my colleague, “right, she’s gonna do a video at the nick, let’s get ready and foxtrot oscar.” “yup, no worries fella, CID are aware and will meet us at the video suite” he replied. Nice one, it was all ready to go. Now all we needed to do was get this shithead in.

As we locked the door, I motioned for her to jump in the car and she hesitated, “please don’t hurt him” she said. I motioned again for her to get in the car replying, “he’s not worth my job love”. She smiled and chuckled a little bit as she got in.

We didn’t talk anymore about what she had disclosed. Once something like that is disclosed, it’s almost like the uniform bobbies stick a closed sign on the door. It’s all left for a video interview with the suits. Instead we chatted about her son and how proud she was of him. She literally beamed when she spoke about him. How he was on the football team and had scored the winner in his last match. I was driving and I looked at her in the rear view mirror, she was looking out of the window, she looked lost. “where is he at the moment?” “he spent the night at his grandparents, Simon and I went out for a meal to try and sort US out.” she emphasised the word, ‘US’ like it was something that stuck in her throat. She looked at me in the mirror, “what a waste of fucking time that was eh?”, “not at all, I think it’s made you realise what was staring you in the face for a while but you just refused to admit it”. She nodded in acknowledgement of what I was saying and made a noise to suggest it had hit home. I looked over at my colleague, he had been silent the whole way which isn’t like him, I normally can’t shut the git up. He was chewing his bottom lip and I knew he felt what I felt when she told me but he was carrying on thinking about it. “alright knob’ead?” I asked as he looked at me, “yeah man, just shit like this fucks me off…..how” he whispered. “we’ll sort it” I interrupted. He nodded and took a deep breath. Gemma wasn’t aware of the conversation as she continued to stare out of the window.

Arriving back at the nick, I punched in the code and watched the big doors slide open before getting in the back yard and parking up. I turned to look at her, she looked scared. “stop thinking you’re in a police station, you’re not, you’re going to a comfy suite with good tea”. She laughed and I opened the back door for her allowing her to get out and shuffle with her handbag before walking into the video suite. It was as I promised. Black leather sofas, bright wallpaper, soft carpets, it looked like a lounge….apart from the video camera above them pointing towards where the victim sits. You wouldn’t know it was there unless it was pointed out. I didn’t.

I invited her in and she sat down. As poetic license allows, in walked CID. It was my mate Lisa. I introduced them both and then asked Lisa if I could have a quick chat outside. “I’m off to get this fucker in right now Lis, he’s at a mates party and I don’t want that shit having fun while she’s sweating it out in a video suite”, she smiled, “always the bastard aren’t ya fuzz?” I winked, “you know it, I’ll be in touch”.

We did some intel checks in the office, he wasn’t known to police apart from a fixed penalty notice back in 2005 for speeding. Nothing of note, nothing concerning. There were no markers on the address he was at. It was safe in our opinion and there was no need for further units.

Jumping back in the car, I felt the familiar buzz of excitement, adrenaline trickling into my system as I felt my neck tense up. On the way there, my oppo rang the number provided and I heard a male answer. A conversation was had and I listened as my oppo said, “excellent, see you in five, shouldn’t keep you too long”. I smiled. Cheeky bastard.

Pulling onto the street I saw a bloke at the other end waving at us. Driving toward him I couldn’t help but think he was punching above his weight (pardon the phrase). A short bloke in his early 40’s, with glasses, a short pig like nose and a beer gut hanging below his jeans. “who’s eaten all the pies?” my oppo asked as I snorted out laughter through my nose.

We got out of the car and it was safe to say we towered above him. I’m well over 6ft and my oppo isn’t far behind. Neither of us are small blokes and we can handle ourselves if needed.

“Simon is it?” my oppo asked. “yeah, listen, it was just an argument la…..” he started to reply. My oppo interrupted “Simon, you’re under arrest on suspicion of rape, you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned, something which you later rely on in court, anything you do say may be given in evidence”. “wha…huh” he stuttered. The handcuffs were brought out as my oppo started to take hold of his wrist, “fuck no, get the fuck off me” as he resisted against him, snapping back his wrist and pushing him away. Quick as a flash, we replied by grabbing his wrists spinning him around, forcing him forwards against the car bonnet causing him to double over rendering him immobile. Cuffs were applied to the rear and he was done. “Fuckers” he coughed. “Yup” I replied. He was put into the back of the car and driven to the nick, he didn’t mutter a word on the way back. He was booked into custody and I rang Lisa to tell her he was in, “Everything OK then? What’s he like?” “Best mates with the pie man by the looks of it, how’s Gemma doing?” “She’s good, we’re just having a break, half way through now, cheers Fuzz, get your statements in to me and that’ll do for the day” “Cheers Lis, in a bit”. I ended the call and cracked on with my statement as my oppo did the same.

It was just after four by the time we’d finished. We hadn’t realised the time and just how much of our day this job had taken up. But that’s all it was, a job. A call made by a scared female who had gone through years of torment and abuse was just a days work to us.

I went home that evening and cracked open a beer as I tucked into a chow mein and chips (I know…classy right?). My mobile lit up, “LISA WORK” flashed on the screen. “Hiya mate” I answered, “Just to let you know mate, you’re not on this blokes Christmas card list this year, he’s been bailed to another address, he admitted the assault but denied the rape stating it was consensual, conditions not to go anywhere near her or to contact her”. she replied. “Good work mate, what chance have we got with landing the rape?” “Too early to say, he’s on bail for a month, I’ll keep you posted.”

As with all ongoing investigations of this nature, the uniforms kind of get forgotten about as the suits do what they have to do. It’s understandable. Keeping me posted is not on the list of priorities. I hadn’t seen Lisa much, we worked at separate nicks and would only pass in fleeting as one of us was rushing somewhere else so we didn’t even think about the job.

A few months went by and we were chatting about a date she’d had that had gone terribly. It suddenly popped into my head about Gemma and I blurted out interrupting her, “What happened with Gemma and that bloke, Simon?”. She smiled.

Charged with rape and assault. He was found guilty at Crown Court of both offences by a jury and was sentenced to a term inside at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

Sometimes the justice system fails this country horrendously….today it had done it’s job beautifully.

No means No, in any context. It is a flat refusal.

If you have been affected by this post and want to talk to someone, please call us on 101 which is the new non-emergency number for all Police Forces across the country. There are numerous rape helplines, I cannot promote the services of one as there are numerous ones who offer excellent advice and support. Just type in ‘rape advice’ into your search engine. Please do not report crime to me personally. Thank you.


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