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By Chief Cheetah,
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So having arrived in Glasgow last night for a festival, I went out on the hunt to find suitable parking spaces in the city. I left looking for a parking space, and came back with a final offer of employment as a Police Officer!
At the moment it hasn't really sunk in, and I doubt it will seem real until I've passed out, but after starting a degree in Policing in September 2013, to applying and being rejected in 2014, it feels like a long long process has finally come to an abrupt end!
Thanks to the many of you on this forum who have offered support and advice throughout the process - I wouldn't recognise any of you walking down the street but your help throughout has got me the job I always wanted and I'm truly grateful to those who are too many to name individually!
Have a good weekend everyone, time to celebrate with Thom Yorke and a pint of warm, watered down lager!!
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So this time last year I made a big life change and moved from the Midlands down to London. It was something I'd been thinking about for a couple of years but for some odd reason (comfort zone/it was a scary thought) I just hadn't done it yet. Cue falling in love at the end of 2015 and she then moves to London, becoming my catalyst to do so as well.
In November of 2016 I decide to get out of my comfort zone again and do something else I'd been thinking about for years, join the Police! Unfortunately I discover that to join the MET you need to have lived in London for 3 out of the last 6 years... damn. A friend of mine advises me to go down the Special route, as this isn't a requirement and it's also a great way to test the waters. I apply after Christmas and eagerly wait a response. Sadly, during this time my girlfriend decides things just aren't right anymore and ends it. A week after that my Nan passes away... I really need some good news right now! At the end of January I receive an email and I'm successfully through the paper sift. Let the revision being... along with the first entry into this series of blogs...
27th March 2017:
My alarm goes off at 0600, although in reality I’ve already been awake for the past hour. The amount of thoughts and questions running around in my mind is starting to make my head hurt. What if the tube is delayed? What if I forget my passport? What if I’m the only one to fail? Maybe I’m not fit enough to do the bleep test. I shake it off and clamber out of bed. Damn, it’s cold. Why has my flatmate turned the heating off? I’m 27 and I don’t want to live like a student!
Wow the Tube is hot. All of a sudden I want to live like a cold student. Sweat patches before I even arrive, fantastic. Off the Tube with 45 minutes to spare. Grab a coffee and start to go through my revision notes one last time. Nothing goes in and before I know it I’m walking into Empress State Building.
We’re all grinning from ear to ear and suddenly I notice my heartbeat again. “Does anyone need the toilet?”. Everyone goes except for me. I get stage fright at the best of times, there’s no way I can go now!
One of the guys with us hasn’t got his sports kit. He says he wasn’t told to bring it. Instead he borrows a pair of trainers from an instructor and does it in his shirt and trousers. Fantastic. The bleep test is over before it even feels like it started. Easy. Everyone in the group passes, although I’m fairly sure one person didn’t cross the line on one bleep but the instructor misses it. Ah well.
I smile, grab my laptop and pop an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine on. I proceed to gorge on my snacks and decide I deserve pizza for today’s efforts, it’ll be the perfect way to fuel tomorrow mornings gym session.
Thank you for reading if you made it this far. I'm currently into my second week of training so will do some more writes up soon. I haven't written like this since school so apologies if it's a bit sloppy!
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Thank you all again for the lovely comments on my last post! I'm well into my second set of shifts now so I thought I'd update you on my time on division so far.
My first few days were very eventful, from my first ever real blue light run to a sudden death to arresting a violent pensioner, and I've learnt so much about not only the job but myself already. A few years ago, like many, I didn't quite realise that the job of a Police Officer stretches so much further than fighting and solving crime. We are counselors when none are available, we are mental health nurses when they won’t attend, we are ambulance when they’re too far away, we are friends to those who have none, we are ears to those who have nobody to turn to, we are shoulders for those who need to cry, we are the final option and last resort for those in crisis, we are the barrier between a fighting couple, a lifeline for a terrified parent, we are those who can be blamed when things go wrong, and we are the people who the public hold so much expectation on to do the right thing all the time and every time. It's been a massive lesson to me from my very first day on the beat and to be honest I've appreciated every second of being this side of the job. All my new colleagues are amazing, all so strong and hard working, even when the shifts drag on for hours and our eyelids are so heavy on night shifts. I've been worried about the massive pressure to get everything right but I've had so much advice and support from everyone at my station already that I'm so happy to be there.
I don't want to go into any detail about the jobs I've been to but I've had a massive eye-opener into the lives of some people and it's been really, really interesting. You view the world differently after just one shift in this job, honestly! It's a massive emotional and physical drain engaging yourself in so many different people's lives every day, often at some of the hardest times they'll ever face, and keeping your own head above the water to be able to help them. A few times I've felt instinct come over me and as much as I've felt like I don't know what to do or say, the words have just come out of my mouth and I really hope I'm doing okay for a beginner! I've learnt pretty quickly that it is SO much about how you can talk to people and get them to respond to you.
I experienced my first real interview and was able to lead as well which was a really great experience. I was so nervous but as soon as I started with the questions they just came naturally and I felt like I had found my style that worked with this particular interviewee. I've been able to tag along with my tutor's withstanding crime enquiries which has been great as I've been able to watch some of the processes I'll be going through when clocking and investigating crimes.
So far everyone has said I've been really dunked in at the deep end with some of the things I've attended with my tutor but I still go home at the end of every shift so excited to come in again the next day, and even though as the adrenaline wears off towards the end of every shift I am absolutely exhausted, I am really loving every second of it.
I was so worried that after coming so far and through training that I wouldn't enjoy the 'real' side of policing but it's one hundred times better than what I expected it to be, it's great. I've never felt mental and physical exhaustion like I've felt the past couple of weeks, and I know that I 'ain't seen nothing yet but I suppose it's just because I'm learning so much so quickly that my brain is fried trying to keep up, but the rewarding feeling of leaving work every day feeling like I might have made a little difference in at least one person's life each day is enough for me.
I plan on continuing to update throughout my tutorship with anything I think may help anyone else going through the process of training, or anyone like me who, before joining, loved reading beat stories!!
Thanks for reading x
Good Lord! It's ages since I have had a moment to come back and have a look on here since I last posted, but really, time has flown. I have completed the training and now have started my 10 weeks tutorship.
The 8 weeks training was great, at times I was a little stressed, like when there was a rumour that the officer safety training would have me doing the bleep test 2 days running, but that was nonsense. You can do it, if you want to and the whole class is under 25 or gym fans but ours were very sensible and allowed me to warm up at my abilities. In the end I really enjoyed it. I never thought that punching, kneeing and twisting people's joints to the limit whilst shouting " GET BACK!!" would be so enjoyable. Daily knowledge checks using trump cards became a bind, so half an hours revision a night doesn't go amiss. However it took me to week 6 to finally nail the when and now cautions, in the end the daughter had to spend 3 hours teaching me the meanings and breaking it down before it stuck. Try singing it to a tune or rhythm it worked for me. You will get to know your basic laws and be expected to recite their definitions. I pinned print outs all over the house, good if you have a memory like a knat like me. But, don't worry, it all just clicks into place... eventually. The final exam for me was a multiple choice exam, don't fret about it all through the course, when you see the questions you will be amazed at how much you have learned.
The best thing about the course is the friends you will make. I was the oldest by a loooong way but that made no difference at all and I guarantee you will make friends for life. There was 15 on our Cohort and every one of them were different and fabulous. Their struggles, life events during the course like deaths or births in the family, their sense of humour and even personality clashes will set you up for the world of PCSO and carry you through the course. I recommend a WatsAp group, you can support each other during and after the course and keep contact when you have all scattered to your own districts at the end of it ( the saddest time of the course)
At this point, I wish you the best of luck on your course. Trust me, you will enjoy it and be proud at the end of it no matter what your circumstances. I know that a lot of you will have taken a pay cut and huge career change for what ever reason, leaving often really top professional jobs, some of you will be fresh from uni or perhaps coming from the breadline, or a struggling single parent. You will all bring something to the table and for that reason I am very proud of you even if I don't know you.
So I passed and now out in the Valleys expanding on the basics they taught us on the course. I have an experienced tutor which I will stay with for at least 10 weeks, it may be different where you are. Advice? Well, I hope you got the best boots for your feet. As you are aware, I'm not the fittest of people. I'm a middle aged mum of 4 that has for the last 20 years used every muscle in her body, bar the ones you use to walk with. Add the weight of the body armour, tack vest, radio, body cam and all the inventory of the store Staples and you can imaging the pain I seem to be permantly in. At the end of the shift and the hour drive home, I am being very honest when I say the walk up the garden path is excruciating. Everyone tells you that you will get used to it and the benefits in the long run will be amazing. Well, I'm still waiting for that and every time I strip off the gear I expect to see a sweaty pain free size 12 there, it hasn't happened yet. I work in hope. Moral of this tale is prepare if you can before and during your course. If not, like me, then keep telling yourself that you bring a lot of experience and other beneficial talents to the job and force other than a fit athletic youth that can cover between 15 and 20 miles a day. This has been my downside of my career change so far, sometimes reducing me to tears and wondering if I have done the right thing. But I remind myself that I'm not going to jack it because things have got physically tough and I do my best. A little meeting with my sergeant to explain my limits too helped. They really are great, don't be afraid of them.
P.S. Drink lots of water, apparently it desolves the lactic acid. Hmmmm
So what have I done so far in my brief tutorship? Well I have collected CCTV. Who would have thought it had a system to follow? I thought you would have just said " Hi! I've come for the CCTV! "And then trotted off back to the station with evidence in hand for the awaiting PC . There's more to it so pay attention in the evidence gathering lesson. I've played Tom and Jerry with the youths... a lot. Been handed found drugs and dealt with that, attended burglarys, admitted intelligence and been offered my very own tea spot. My favourite so far? Scene Guard. Now I know that makes most PCSO's and PC's tremble at the knees and perhaps throw there hands up in the air and I suppose I will eventually get there too, but right now I loved it. Bar from the lack of walking which is always a plus for me at the moment, it was the engagement with the public that I loved. From little kiddies waving to teenagers trying to wrestle out of me what has happened to adults passing the time of day with you. Some offering tea or ginger biscuits and yes the odd crazy making you lift your eyebrows at their oddities. Though I don't want to happen what has happened to cause the scene guard, I have no problem volunteering for it... at the moment. Tip, take a big coat and make sure it's near you to put on even if you feel warm. The temperature can just suddenly plummet and you can't tootle off and leave your area to get it.
Anyway, that's me so far. If it helps just one starting and gives an idea of what's coming then I'm happy and to all you oldies that I KNOW at some point will have thought " when I was a wee whipper snapper of a bobbie, and we had to put body armour on, it was much heavier with metal plates front and back.." during reading this, I say what ever Robocop! Bet you haven't given birth to four kids and make Yorkshire Puddings like I can, so nerr.
Till next time folks, take care and don't be a hero without applying the NDM first!
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Please note, this entry provides description of an RTC which some may find distressing - No significant detail/location/names have been written
It is not a fatal RTC
So as the duties continue, everyone knows that it is not always blue lights, fights and bringing offenders to justice. sometimes it just falls that you aren't in the right place at the right time.
So for the first duty in this blog, I got the station, grabbed a car, crewed up with a probie and set out hunting.... 5 hours later having done nothing but burn through diesel we call it quits and book off, having conducted a fair amount of high visibility patrol
Now onto the duty where I went to jobs!
So again, I am still based out of the outstation (again, I don't mind it really, it gives me time to think)
I come in, a little late due to traffic, only by 15 mins mind, and my oppo is at the station, they'd only just got in before.
We sit and catch up, the usual how are you, what you been up to, have you seen the new cars, do you think we'll ever get to drive one.... you know the drill. As it's still 'late in the year, still cold we both agree that first point of call is to the petrol station to grab some coffee for us and some others that we know are out and about and will be coming by the station shortly.
So we get in the car, head down and grab some coffee, and it smells so nice, it was from a filter machine so no expense spared! We head back to the nick to wait for our colleagues and as we drive up the road we happen across an RTC .....
So coffee down, lights, lids and High vis on and out we get. it's a two vehicle RTC a Audi estate and a Jag,.... it's only just happened the Jag has hit the nearside rear of the Audi. We get out, I go to the Audi my oppo goes to the Jag.
I look at the damage, the airbags have gone off in the car, the driver is still inside, there is significant damage to the rear of the vehicle, I look through the back window, there are children inside...
Fortunately everyone is conscious and breathing, I immediately request ambo. The driver gets out of the vehicle of their own accord (much to my disapproval) but we cannot get the rear door open. The driver is the parent and is speaking to the children in the car and the child seat seems to have taken the brunt of the hit, it was lucky the cars collided to the rear quarter rather than the door itself. Ambo arrive and assess the parent, whilst my oppo has managed to move the other vehicle to a safer location, they now come and take over at the vehicle with ambo whilst I speak to the driver, I breathalyse them ..0.
The children are out, another ambulance has just arrived and everyone is being checked over, its time to throw out some cones and signs and get traffic moving again. We establish what has happened and how, and arrange recovery. Non injuries sustained declared by paramedics on scene, however children are taken to hospital with another relative who has arrived, just to be safe. now we wait for recovery....
Both recovery vehicles arrive and we have to full shut the road again so that the vehicles can be removed, Insurance details have been exchanged and the vehicles recovered, both drivers now on their way and an investigation booklet sorted outlying the scene. I run around and sweep up debris whilst my colleague grabs the signs and cones. we get back in the car and the job is done. 3 hours it took mind, my coffee is now closer to an iced frappe but I drink it non the less and we go back to the station as per the original plan.
Luckily our colleagues are already there, turns out they'd driven past us and didn't want to interrupt for their coffee and it looked as though we had it in hand (which we did of course) so they had continued. we have a joke about it and give them their cold coffee.
So... that was the start of the shift...
About 10 mins after we get back to the station we get called to an Immediate incident, ASB, so back in the car, blues on and off we go. Report is of 3 persons fighting. we get there and the fighting seems to have ceased. we speak to three persons who are at the location who state to have seen nothing, however.. they all seem to be incredible nervous, avoiding eye contact and there is a distinct smell of something in the air. we have a chat, they admit that they may have smoked something recently but they weren't too keen to hang around. needless to say they were searched, nothing was found though and they were all given the relevant paperwork and let on their way.
It seemed to die down a bit after that, and then 3hrs after doing high vis patrol someone pushed their red buttons...... "RUNNER, MORE PATROLS" is all we hear over the radio, comms give the location and off we go, along with pretty much everyone else in the surrounding area. turns out this officer had found a known person who was wanted for serious assault. it takes us about 2 mins to get to the area, we spend half and hour searching but they seem to have gone to ground. we call it and book off the incident, head back to the nick and decide that it's time to call it a day. we both inform comms we are booking off, de kit and go home.
I'd say it was a pretty productive shift, it seems to be that you never know what may happen, It can either go steady or from one extreme to another.
So here I am, updating you after 15~ weeks - I've been meaning to for a while and have had several not-so-subtle reminders from certain members to do so *cough* @XA84
Where do I start? I'm not going to go week by week as in my previous entry, as that would take more time than I have to spare. Well I'm actually in week 20 of training now and a lot has happened since my last blog post. There have been many ups and downs in that time and at the moment training really does feel like it is winding up and drawing to a close. Since we last spoke we have had two sets of exams, a crime exam and a traffic exam, and have done away with our weekly definition checks (ask me the definition of Burglary 9.1b, I dare you). I think it is probably best that I post a few shorter entries highlighting some of the “best bits” from throughout the training, so yes, I guess this means I’m committing myself to writing a few more entries after this one – don’t worry, I’ve got a few ideas for some reading material. Let’s start with role-plays.. ;-)
We've had several practical / role-play assessments throughout the past 20 weeks and what they are really designed to do is test our law knowledge by putting it into practice . These for the most part have gone fairly disastrously wrong for me... Well maybe that is an exaggeration, but there has definitely been a steep learning curve – but that’s what training is for right; getting things wrong and learning from your mistakes? Right.
So our first major (and most memorable) role-play day was maybe about the week 9 mark... My force are fortunate in the sense that we have quite a few facilities tucked away in the middle of nowhere at which we can host our interactive assessments. This particular role-play day was held at a (now disused) airbase. The day focused mainly on putting our stop search PACE S1 knowledge into practice. Having learnt the principles of Stop Search in class, G.O.W.I.S.E.L.Y. etc. we were tasked with attending ‘incidents’ during which a S1 PACE Stop Search would be carried out. Special Constables had volunteered to be the stooges on this occasion and would be the persons that we would search. We had been paired off into mainly mixed-sex pairs where possible to avoid issues in searching people of the opposite sex (the law says where practicable the constable searching should be of the same gender as the detained person). I myself was paired with a male colleague, so we would just have to manage the situations that we were dealt. Through the radio came our first ‘job’ – we were to attend a location where a member of the public had observed two females causing criminal damage to building. This particularly role-play went fair smoothly – we ascertained who the two females were, confirmed that no female colleagues were available to search and gave them the G.O.W.I.S.E.L.Y. spiel – sorted! The female I searched was particularly disgruntled that she was being searched by male officer – no problem, the law says that officers can use reasonable force to conduct the search, so on went the handcuffs! The search was positive and we found the ‘article’ that the criminal damage had been caused with. Both females were promptly arrested and that was one role-play done and dusted. We were given feedback by the assessor. A few things to improve on, but mainly good. Off we trotted back to the parade room to complete our pocket notebook entries for the arrest and to await our next call to a job.
This is where it started to go downhill... Our next job was to a report of an incident of suspected interference with a motor vehicle – a man had been seen “pouring some liquid onto a vehicle”. We attended the scene and found the described male. My colleague called to the male who then decided to walk away from us and ignore my colleague’s request for him to stop. My colleague took the male by the arm and told him to stay where he was... The male was then detained, searched, one thing led to another and soon we were frog-marching him across the carpark in an arm-lock back to the place we had discovered him in. Big mistake. We subsequently found what we were looking for – brake fluid which the male had been using to damage the vehicle. He was arrested for interference with a motor vehicle and for causing criminal damage... All well and good had we not got there by some rather unlawful means. The feedback wasn’t good. From the moment my colleague grabbed the suspect’s arm the whole role-play went out the window. Had enacted that situation in a real life scenario we could well have found ourselves facing the court for two counts of assault. Safe to say that put a downer on the rest of the day, but as I said before, this is what training is for – we shall both learn from those mistakes. Silver lining and all that!
Following the debrief from that day, it was clear to see that there were improvements to be made, both in our knowledge of the law and our application of it. Thankfully we weren’t the only ones. It wasn’t all negative either. All of us had come a long way since week 1 and it was clear to see that we were all well on our way to becoming good police officers one way or another. We had all acted very professionally, accepted criticism, realised our mistakes and bounced back with positivity. I can tell you that now I feel as though I have come on leagues since that day. Saying that, I know that I still have a lot to learn and thinking forward to the time I start on division only excites me more for the challenges that lie ahead.
The series will continue...
So, taking influence from @Eddzz!! and his wonderful blog, I've decided to post my own spin on what it means / involves to become a PC.
I got the official go ahead about 2 1/2 weeks ago that I had been successful and I would be on the next intake, which starts on Monday October 24th. Lots of paperwork, forms and signatures to complete before then. I've been invited for a pre employment day on Saturday 15th October at the force training school. This is to be shown around, meet your new trainers / colleagues and to go through the uniform fitting again. I say again, as up until last month I was a serving special constable for the same force.
It all started when I moved from Wales to England to live in Kent. I met a girl who's from this area and things kind of went from there. I didn't have any friends, family or close connections to spend time with so it was all very difficult. I joined the specials in June 2015 and I instantly fell in love with the job. The unpredictable nature of calls, tasks and day to day activities still makes me smile now. My current job is working within forensic mental health services, which sounds great, but can become boring at times - so the change is very much a good one!
I feel a sense of personal proudness to not only become a special constable for one of the UKs largest forces, but to also be on the verge of becoming a full time PC. It's really been a long and difficult road but soon to be over.
I aim to share my experiences and what it's like to be a PC and hopefully inspire more of you who wish to follow suit. I will update again sharing what I get up to on Saturday at the pre employment day - if there's anything you wish to know or ask, don't hesitate to comment!
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I'm sure you're all very familiar with the last weeks news of Daily shootings, Mass shootings and such incidents.
I'll try and set the scene for what follows, Me and my colleague are both walking through the busy town centre, 10;45am on the lovely sunny Monday morning Begining our shift. Nothing out of the ordinary yet, we'd done a loop of the town and began to walk through the centre past, just past the local food places. A Member of the public leaned in as if to say something, while pointing they whisper, "There's a black bag down there.."
I look behind this bin next to the cafe, shaded by a tree and bin, the bag inbetween. Rather busy area. Around a meter by a half a meter not a small bag by any measure. The bag, already opened a couple Centimeters, I cautiously leaned over to have a look, my colleague taking a few steps backwards..
As i peer over all I managed to make out was what appeared to be a black box with a few wires in the bag. Not to be too alarmed, Hidden big back, box, wires. No one around it, the usual thing to leave in a busy area right? Heart slightly racing..giving a slightly nervous look to my colleague as they gaze on.. What more to do than give the zip a slight poke with my baton to try and open it.. Failing to move the zip without touching it, I step back.
Contemplating what im going to say to control. A male comes running up from behind shouting 'wait, wait!'.... What felt like a tense few seconds, followed by "Sorry mate.. I Left my speaker.."
I did speak to the male about it, as there were a few concerned people looking at me, and I spoke to another officer about this afterwards, and they taught me the H.O.T principle for reporting things, In hindsight I'd of done it much differently and been more cautious. live & learn, luckily.
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A month or two ago I had a call about a found pig. I knew that there was a litter of 2 week old pigs down the road from where the call was so thought it would be no problem to grab the piglet and toss it in the pick-up truck and return it. I arrived to find a 350 pound sow with auction numbers painted on her back. Well fudge, that is NOT portable. So I drove around knocking on doors for awhile and finally discovered it belonged to a friend of mine whose husband had bought it on a whim.
The look on her face when her small daughter asked if it had green numbers on its back and the answer being yes was priceless. So she hooked up her horse trailer and we proceeded to where the pig was and the fun began. We tried bribing the pig and almost got her to go into the trailer then she changed her mind and ran the other way. We tried several more times to herd her into the trailer to no avail. The pig was now loudly protesting. We called some pig experienced persons to help us. Meanwhile the pig kept trying to get back out to the highway. I managed to rope her which resulted in more vocal protestations and a cessation of movement. Finally her husband arrived with several full sheets of plywood and a broom handle. She was persuaded to get into the trailer just as the pig experienced persons arrived. Pigzilla went home and met the butcher three days later.
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Rank: Special Constable
Length of service: 6 Months
Duty time: 1700-0200
All times are estimates due to PNB not being handy...
1700: Get kitted up and head down to briefing. Say hello to early turn who are now finishing up. Begin briefing, one in the bin who was arrested by the night turn for drink drive who blew 162 on the intox machine… he is still unfit for interview!
The section I am on with are good and always make me feel welcome, I supply the cakes for the briefing…with some tesco finest belgian cookies! (I highly recommend)
1745: After checking emails etc we head out. I am crewed with a regular who I have been with a number of times and have a good laugh with while on duty.
1900: Comms shout our callsign up for a job concerning a young girl with learning difficulties who lives out of our patch with foster parents. The foster parents have called in worried for her welfare as she has not returned home from school as expected. Her sister has said that she was seen getting into the vehicle of her biological parents, who we find live on our patch.
We are made aware there is an order against any contact from the biological parents with this girl and under no circumstances should she be with them at this moment in time. A history of abuse between the father and the young girl is uncovered and seems a very complex situation, all we know is that we have a duty to protect this young girl and she will be coming with us no matter what tonight.
After conducting some research on the address we go code 5. My colleague says to me under no certain terms the young girl will be coming with us out of that house no matter what and asks if I am okay if it does “go” as it has potential to do so. I nod and respond “not a problem!” and swiftly throw my bag into the back of the car.
We turn up to the address and a male no taller than 5’2 answers the door, This we establish is the biological father, the mother is in the living room with the older brother of the young girl all sitting on the sofa watching television. I introduce myself and my colleague and ask if we can come in to have a chat. He responds with “I have been expecting you lot!” He continues as we enter into the house explaining how there is a ongoing court case concerning where this young girl will be living. We knew all of this already after being checking the log but listen to his side of the story.
My colleague brings the male into the kitchen which is at the rear of the property to talk to him in further out of earshot of the rest of the family as I sit with the young girl and begin to talk to her…the living room is taken up by only her and myself now as the older brother has gone upstairs to his bedroom and the mother exited the house in tears claiming to go to her friends house as she can’t deal with this ass we “are taking her little girl away again” This worries me, who is she going to come back with? but I focus on the young girl and begin to talk to her about what is on the television. She says she wants to be a police officer one day… She repeats what the biological father says that she took a bus directly from school to get here, all of her own accord and she wants to live with her biological mother father and brother and how her foster parents are awful to her.
I hear the male in the kitchen begin to raise his voice to my colleague as he sets the kettle to boil
“I only want a effin cuppa!!!" he states all I can imagine is this male throwing this boiling water at either me or my colleague, lets move this conversation into the living room.
My colleague has explained what will be happening this evening… This young girl is coming with us and there is no two ways about it and we believe he has taken her here today from school. He refutes this and becomes aggressive again “bloody ask her!! she said how she got here didn’t you love?!” the young girl looks frightened and just says "yeah, I got the bus like I said"
At this point I hear an almighty smash from upstairs…where the older brother has been for the past 20 minutes in relative silence we hear him scream out “You are not taking my sister again!!! you scum!” My colleague draws his captor and I draw mine in the living room as we hear him make his way to the stairs. We anticipate the worst and I ready myself for a roll around, my captor drawn I shake it and hold it behind my right leg, I glance to my right to see the little girl looking terrified…I give her a smile and reassure her things are going to be okay… well I hope they will be at least.
A nearby unit with taser shouts up and asks if we need assistance we gladly accept the shout and they make the 10 minute ride over.
Things begin to die down just before the back up unit arrives. The older brother makes his way downstairs and apologies for his behaviour saying he is just upset and doesn’t want to lose his sister again…I take him into the kitchen to talk one to one and explain there is a way to go about these things and this isn’t it as there is a court process to follow, he nods in agreement and sips on his tea.
The female officer explains to the young girl what will happen tonight that we are here to protect her and she has to go back to her foster parents. The male is standing behind the female colleague looking at the little girl and begins to but in and it is clear he is trying to influence her.
No more, we are leaving. The male begins to rant at how we are scum and worse than peadophiles he tries to stop us leaving and promptly receives a shove out of the way… we get out of the front door and the girls mood changes immediately.
She is no longer the scared little girl who we saw in the living room in the house that is behind me she becomes cheery and I got a sense of relief from her to be out of there. She explains how she was picked up from school, and how the whole story about the bus was what she was told to say. It also becomes apparent that there has been contact through social media from the male for a long time now which constituted grooming.
This will all be followed up but right now our priority was the safety and wellbeing of this young girl.
2230: The girl is now safe at her foster parents house. We make our way back to our patch to get some well needed food! We bump into a male on the main street of the town we patrol he is sleeping on the side of the road. I get out and begin to talk to him and run him through the system. He is well known and came out of prison that day. He has been released to the nearby probation accommodation but is unsure where it is so we give him a lift over and wish him all the best in his new beginning as he put it.
0200: Book off duty after sorting paperwork etc from the main job of the evening.
Hope this was a good read, A duty which left me with real satisfaction and has stuck out to me as a highlight so far in my time as a special.
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My first of two ride-alongs I took part in during the application process for Thames Valley Police for the role of Police Officer.
A cold Friday evening in February 15:00 - 24:00
13:30 - Arrived at station, supposed to be collected at 13:40 for safety briefing.
15:00 - Actual start time, accompanying officer had a shift change and I was forgotten about. Oops!
15:30 - Signed the indemnity document, policies and a quick overview of the night's plan of action. Tonight would be an operation to combat Anti-social behavior in the town centre and identifying and arresting a few individuals from a serious assault on a young girl the previous week.
15:45 – Meet and greet the local officers and walk into the neighborhood policing office, nervous at first but very friendly bunch.
16:00 - Briefing room - Situation and aim of the evening to arrest outstanding individuals, Intelligence and local contacts assigned and distributed by the sergeant. Section 35 authorization is given to disperse youths in the town centre if necessary.
16:30 – Patrols are a dispersed on foot and in cars. Sergeant will be in the van. We are on foot.
7:00 - Arrive at bus station with two PC’s, due to half-term and it being a crossroads for kids at the local secondary schools there is a large crowd of probably 25 teenagers milling around the area.
Identified youths are told to vacate the area of be section 35’d. A few huffs/puffs as people leave and are told to go home. One individual is identified by local security contacts as possibly being a person of interest, false alarm.
Teenagers find ‘Civilian Observer’ tag on the front of the high-vis a laugh and liken it to work experience. Embarrassing but expected. "So are you like, a work experience bobby"?
Area is saturated with high-vis and locals are concerned something serious has gone down. Locals are reassured and then it quietens down.
17:30 – 19:00 - Continue to patrol on foot around the area, liaise with contacts at a local fast-food restaurant who have posted security guards for the purpose of trying to combat youths. We Stop and talk to local people who are happy to see the area saturated with police.
Story of troubles in previous weeks given by McDonalds staff. E.g. banging on the windows, large crowds of rowdy teenagers etc. Security staff are advised to stay in contact via radio to local police and assured that the issues will be dealt with.
Speak the local shopping centre security guards who share some Information regarding people of interest.
Back to the bus-station and the remaining teenagers are told to scoot.
We go back to the station to get some better quality images from the CCTV regarding people of of interest and compare the footage to what was seen earlier in the day.
19:30 – Grab a tactical burger/kebab and chips on the way back to the station for a break.
20:00 - Follow-up meet with the rest of the NPT, as the town is quiet (cold weather) the teams are given new call signs and dispersed further out from the town centre and told to keep an eye out for the group of interest.
20:30 – A home visit is made to a person who tried to purchase an imitation firearm off the internet which was intercepted by RM. Details are exchanged and informed that the gun has been seized by customs. There is no fuss by the homeowner who is told the gun will be destroyed. No further action to be taken.
21:00 – 22:30 – Patrol in the car and observe a bus laden with kids leaving the area. Bus is followed to make sure they leave the area and do not try to come back to the town centre.
They successfully leave the area. Continue to patrol around the area.
I am about to say it is a ‘quiet’ evening and then one of the officers I am with remarks that the word is banned in the station in case I jinx it!
23:00 – Arrive back the station for the end of the shift as paperwork needs to be filled. Shake hands and thank the two PC’s for the evening.
Overall a very standard evening. Was a good experience and was able to ask a lot of questions and got some good nuggets of information!
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Your rank: PC
Your planned duty hours: 1300-2200
This is just a duty report from a shift recently where I managed to get a little bit of traffic in, nothing special but just fancied writing it up.
1300 - Was working on my SOLAP as I am still a probationer however a grade one call comes in of a female self harming with a knife. All early shift crews are tied up so me and another officer jump in together and respond to it. A local officer was nearby and arrived before us as he had knowledge of the female. Upon arrival her friend had taken the blade from her and the female was just sat on the floor. A fair bit of blood but superficial cuts. Apparently it was all over her boyfriend and she had convinced herself that he was cheating on her. Bandaged her up and ambulance were unable to give an ETA so her friend took her down to the hospital as she was happy to go to the hospital and said that she didn't want to kill herself it was just a coping mechanism. Local officer says that he will complete the paperwork and so we resume.
1445 - RTC car vs. child. About a 20 minute response run but ambulance were already on scene as they took the initial call. Initial investigation suggested that the circumstances were beyond the driver's control as numerous witnesses (including the child's mother) stated that the child ran from behind a parked van right into the path of the car. Fortunately no serious injuries as the car was travelling at low speed anyway due to being in a built up area on a quiet estate. A number of people were complaining about the state of parking on the estate and that it was only a matter of time before something like this happened but they were advised about contacting the council if they felt parking was an issue.
1600 - A local pub have phoned up to say that two males inside, who are already barred, are being abusive, threatening and refusing to leave. Upon arrival a male in the car park says "Get those f###ing pair of c###s out of here, now" so straight away tensions are high. He's told to let us do our job and that his attitude isn't helping anyone. Inside the pub two males are at the bar, drinking, and are at the centre of arguments taking place. A few sarcastic comments are heard, directed towards us, along the lines of it's about time we showed up (our arrival time was less than five minutes from the job being put out!) but the barmaid asks the two to leave in our presence and they just keep saying why. Encourage them to drink up and leave but just as we are getting somewhere one of the other punters stands up and starts goading them, which goes down about as well as you'd imagine. Then we manage to usher the two males out, one of which turns to me and is saying I've assaulted him because I've got no right to push him and that the other bloke in the pub was only acting hard because we'd arrived and he wanted to knock him out. I told him that his presence was causing a breach of the peace and he gets his mobile phone out and starts recording me telling me that he is going to complain about me and what's my number. I said that's fine because everything's been recorded by me and I point to my bodyworn video. He just goes "oh" and his face drops and he puts his phone away
Outside is a lot of encouragement because the punters are now coming out of the pub goading the two that we have managed to remove. The barmaid is not helping and everyone seems to want to come outside for a cigarette. We eventually get the two to leave and ask the town CCTV to monitor them. Speak to the barmaid and explain how we don't appreciate her making our job harder when she wanted us to help. A report was submitted to the council licensing team.
1630 - Only a few minutes after we had asked the other two to leave CCTV shouts up and states that they are involved in a fight on the high street. We whizz round the corner and one of them has ran off but the other is just stood there. Two people are getting into a car and CCTV says that they were involved in the fight so we block them in to ascertain what has happened. A lot of public interest at this point as it's the main road, part of the carriageway is blocked so vehicles are having to drive round, and there is a lot of foot traffic. The person in the car says that the other two caused it because they've just been kicked out of the pub round the corner... hang on, so how did they know that? I believe that someone in the pub has called the people in the car and got them to come round and "sort it out" so to speak. CCTV watches the cameras back and the vehicle did indeed pull up next to the two males, both driver and front seat passenger got out and grabbed/punched one of the males, before he threw some punches back in self defence and ran off. Considered bringing them in for an affray but on camera no member of public seems affected by what happened and no one made themselves known to us. After consultation with the sergeant it was recorded as an assault on the male that had left the pub but with no complaint or support of a prosecution from the suspect.
1945 - On routine patrol and coming towards a junction on a minor road into a main road and a white van zooms passed in a 30mph limit. Start to follow him and he seems blissfully unaware of our presence as he is going nearly 50mph; he also has a brake light out and so he is pulled over when it is safe to do so. He explains that he is a delivery driver and has come from another city about an hour away. A check with PNC shows that no insurance is held on the vehicle and when I ask the driver about his insurance he just says that he doesn't know anything about it as he just drives but that as far as he is aware the vehicle is insured. I asked him to call someone that could assist and so he rings who he tells me is his boss. Now, unbeknown to him, his speaker is quite loud on the phone... both me and my crew mate hear the voice on the other end say a number of things such as "what have you told them? have you told them it's insured? have you said that you've borrowed it or that it's a hire vehicle? don't tell them anything else" so alarm bells are ringing, especially when he denies that was said. He gives the phone to me and the person tells me that he is the owner and that the van is insured on the company policy, but he cannot tell me which company, what the policy number is, or even when the insurance was taken out. He then says to me "can't you just give him a 7 day producer and we'll get it sorted out". A check with MIB also shows insurance not held so I've come to the decision to seize the van under section 165 and to report the driver. The van has perishable goods on it and the delivery was only down the road so my crewmate drives the van down there and lets them offload the goods whilst waiting for the recovery vehicle. Vehicle recovered and driver left to find his way back home.
2100 - A report of a HGV in a dangerous position on a route just off of the motorway. Upon arrival the lorry has jack knifed just after a bend and so the road is closed from the motorway roundabout to the other side of the bend as traffic was coming very fast and having to brake suddenly so as to not smash into the side of the HGV. The driver tells me that he was trying to turn around to park up in the layby for the night. Whilst waiting for recovery to come and put the lorry back straight the driver comes up to me and says that he is really sorry about all this and I can smell alcohol. Oh man! So I get the breathbox and the driver blows over 100 at the roadside. I arrest the male for drink drive however there are no crews to either transport the prisoner or to relieve us from the road closure. This means that we have to wait with the guy until the HGV can be put into the layby for the night.
2245 - Arrive at custody... as you can see a very long wait so I am conscious in case the driver has dropped but he still blows over 90.
0100 - Cease duty
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On the 29th of March 2016, it will be one year to the day since I started training to become a Special Constable. I was on a training course recently and my colleagues, who are far longer in service than me, were asking me if the job was what I expected it to be. I replied that it was, but it got me thinking about the changes I've seen in the last year and the lessons I've learned. I thought this might be handy advice for those of you looking to join, or a throwback for those of you "old sweats"!
1. "Regular customers" are often the most polite and compliant custodies you will have.
I cannot count the number of times I have been sworn at, borderline assaulted, and been obstructed by people who have never encountered or had little contact with the criminal justice system. On the other hand, I might deal with someone who has 30, 40, 50 previous convictions, who is the most compliant and cooperative custody around. Just because someone is a career criminal, doesn't necessarily make them a bad person.
2. Don't believe everything you hear.
This goes for everything. Caller reporting 20 males fighting with baseball bats in the street? It's more likely 4 or 5, and it's most likely a bit of fisticuffs over nothing. Female complainer making a claim of repeated domestic abuse over the past 20 years? It transpires that she'd been plotting to leave her husband for several months and had exaggerated claims of his controlling and possessive behaviour in order to get him out of the way to move her new man into the house. People make things up, people lie, and people are good at it - more often than you'd like to think.
3. Don't panic.
Might be a bit of an obvious one, but I used to go into calls fearing the worst. A concern for welfare would result in a body. A missing person would result in a kidnapping, or a body. A knife call would result in a desperate roll-around trying to avoid being stabbed. A 20-man fight would result in a panic button activation. I'd be deploying baton and spray left, right and centre. The truth is, you don't know what you're dealing with until it's in front of you. I've learned to stop assuming the worst and think of a logical plan without any assumptions. Think on your feet, don't try and plan everything before it's even happened.
4. OST is not real life.
I felt way more equipped to deal with violent situations after my OST, but the truth is that I've never used any of the techniques when I've been out working, except the use of cuffs and restraints. I can't count the number of times I've rolled about with someone trying to get a cuff on them and you end up cuffing them "any which way but loose" as my instructor used to say. So you've cuffed them rear back to back and both palms are facing the same way? It's fine, we can swap that round. Don't worry about doing it perfectly, just worry about doing it.
5. People do live in poverty in this country.
I have been in houses where children are being brought up with holes in their clothes, not enough food, a filthy house, and bare walls. I've seen homes that are at the point of ruin. I never expected to see it, but it does exist, and not always through fault or criminality.
6. You don't need as much sleep as you think you do.
I used to sleep for 10+ hours at the weekend. Those were the days. Now I survive on 6 or 7 hours over a lateshift weekend - with some assistance!
7. Caffeine is life.
See above. If you join and you don't like coffee, I hope you like Monster/Red Bull because you're going to need it.
8. Sometimes it's boring, but sometimes it's really busy.
You might get a locus, or a constant ob. You could drive around for an entire 10 hour shift and not catch a thing. Your partner might get stuck in the office with paperwork that you can't help with. It's not always as exciting as the telly would have you believe! But then you get shifts where you don't stop - I have been on a 13 and a half hour shift before. It was not ideal, but I was busy the whole time. I've been bounced about from call to call, bottoming out jobs and on to the next one. It happens. And it doesn't necessarily happen at the times you'd expect it to.
9. Your "normal" friends and family might not get it.
I don't have any friends who I knew prior to the job that were specials, so when I started working every weekend and fitting my friends and family around that, they really didn't understand like I thought they would. I'm pretty sure I've lost some friends over it, but at the end of the day it's only happened because they weren't true friends to begin with. You will learn quickly who is important enough to make time for and who isn't - not everyone thinks it's admirable, and not everyone likes the police.
10. You would do anything for your colleagues, and they'd do anything for you.
I used to think that the job would be like my regular day job - I have colleagues who are great, but I wouldn't go out of my way to help. In the police service the only time I find myself really fearing the worst is when a red button goes off or an assistance shout goes out. Everyone will pile out of the office for two people, race across the city and run to help no matter what they're running into. It's worse being on the receiving end - I've put out an assistance shout myself, and what was happening wasn't as bad as listening to the panic in the voices of others as they made their way over. The service really is like a family and no matter how long you've been in, everyone always helps their own.
What lessons did you learn compared to when you first started?
Rank - SC
Experience – 14 Months
Duty – Saturday 1900-0400
I hadn’t done a Saturday night for a few weeks so I joined the same shift I’d been with in the week for a couple of duties. I include it in the blog because of one particular incident which show what factors affect the decision making process.
All timings approximate.
1900 – Get in and catch up with the shift. We are fairly flush for officers and they are catching up on paperwork as there isn’t much coming in.
2030 – My S/Insp (We’ll call him Dave) comes in and he fills me in on his Divisional meeting earlier in the week and the new intake of Specials going through training.
2100 – The Sarge asks Dave and I to go down and assist in a search so we take the big van as the rest of the shift can’t drive it anyway. Dave has IPS so we can patrol together though Specials don’t get response training. By the time we arrive there isn’t much to do, though I know one of the lads from my day job – he’s been arrested for possession of cannabis and later receives a caution.
2230 – MISPER, a teenager hasn’t met up with his foster carer as planned. She has a vague idea where he is and after 30 minutes another patrol locate him at a party. Again the Sarge askes me and Dave to go and assist.
2300 – We arrive and the lad is in the back of a patrol car, there is a gaggle of teenagers including one very drunk and vocal individual. We get him calmed down with the surprising assistance of his girlfriend who is known to us and can be a bit of a handful.
All of a sudden the lad in the car kicks off and starts trying to kick out the windows. Dave opens the door and pulls him out but he starts going for him. As I come in Dave takes him to ground but he is really going for it. Dave is underneath and I get an elbow in the face. At this point I get my spray out but I decide not to spray for two reasons. Firstly I can’t get a clear shot without giving Dave a mugful as well (and I don’t want to do that, at least not to him) and I have this sudden thought of the follow up of spraying a 14 year-old. As it happens I manage to get a cuff on and we control him – getting him cuffed and into the van. I ended up with a few bruises and I ached the next morning.
When we get to custody he has calmed down – apart from not wanting to see Dave. We calm him down further and he becomes reasonable. Another officer and I eventually run him back to his foster home.
0200-0400 Various knobbery and general stupidity in town. One arrest for assault before I got there and another for D&D as I arrived. There seemed to be an inordinate number of total idiots out and we were very busy indeed keeping a lid on things. There was one unconsciously drunk woman at the end of the night and we hang around ambulance arrive.
0400 Knock off.
I spoke to the Sarge later on and he agreed I’d have been fully justified in spraying the lad, but also agreed with my reasons for not doing so. In training we were told ‘assume everything you do is being videoed’ so I could imagine the POLICE SPRAY INNOCENT 14 YEAR OLD headlines, ignoring the fact that he was almost as tall as me (and I’m 6 foot +) and had a serious attitude problem fuelled by drink. I’m sure some people will criticise me for hesitation, I prefer to think of it as a very dynamic risk assessment, which led me to decide not to spray which I think now was the correct decision given later events.
Thanks for reading and all comments welcome
I wrote this back in November and this was originally published on https://cccupolicingandcj.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/a-bsc-in-service-policing-service-discusses-what-it-is-like-to-be-a-special/ Reading back there are definitely a few bits I would've redrafted! However all criticism welcome
Special. Are you? Could you?
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I've never written a blog and so I apologise in advance ... Thought it was about time I started blogging as I'm quite often told, I've always got something to say.
02/02/2016 - Here we go I may as well start the blog and share where i'm at at the moment.
My "special" journey began 15/18 months ago I suppose, I had heard word on the street that there was going to be a recruitment for regular officers as well as special constables coming up in my area and having been patiently waiting for an intake for about a year, my new dilemma was now which role I would apply for. Would I give up my current, happy career, go for a complete change in life and dedicate my life to the police service, which is what i've wanted to do my whole life. Or would I bide my time with my career, gain another years service (and add another year to my pension) and join as a special constable, to get my feet wet and see if it was indeed a job suited to me and also me suited to the job. And also most of all, to make sure the dream job I had imagined myself in my entire life, was not going to let me down by not living up to my own expectations.
My decision was basically made for me, there was no regular jobs coming up and so either it was apply for the special constable roles or wait. Sit it out and wait for that fulltime job coming up. I'm a very impatient person, and I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to get a taster of what I would be letting myself in for and so it seemed like a no brainer. I have many friends who are serving police officers and I told them my thoughts and was urged to get my application in as soon as I could, get that foot in the door. One officer in particular was an integral part in me taking that step and putting my application in, my inspiration to become the best i could possibly be, regardless of the role i was doing. And so the studying began!!!
The jobs went live November 2014. Special Constables for Scotland, several different locations available. And I got my head down, putting together the best application I could, I am a bit of a perfectionist and so it needed to be right. I had a month between the job being advertised, and the closing date, and I used every day of that month, writing up my application, perfecting my answers, learning my answers inside out and changing things I wasn't happy with. I finally submitted my application on 5th December 2014 and I was told it could take up to a month to have a reply. And so I had to wait.
And wait ... And wait some more!!!
January 2015 and I get that all important "PING" in my mailbox that I had been checking for multiple times a day for a month. My application was a success and i was invited to the assessment centre in Glasgow to hopefully further my dreams of joining the police. Now time to prepare all over again. I spoke to those friends who helped push me into applying and i got some assistance, some pointers and some truths ... all of which were essential in my preparation. I planned my interview, and the presentation i had to give, I learnt several vital things that i will take with me throughout my continued application and hopefully long career in the police. I ran through my presentation with friends, i changed what needed changed, i went to the gym, i got myself fit and prepared for the fitness test ... and pretty soon there was nothing else i could do to prepare and it was assessment centre day.
I was ill!! A really bad viral infection had knocked me for six, and left me with no voice and struggling to breathe!!! How the heck was i meant to do a fitness test like this? How was i meant to give a 10 minute verbal presentation when i could string two sentences together without struggling for breath or coughing up a lung. I started to freak out. I text my pal, told him i was freaking out i was ill, I was going to have to pull out of the assessment centre and hopefully reschedule, there was no way i was going to be able to go through with it. I was told, not as politely as this, to get a grip. To sit myself down, sort myself out, get my notes together and get my butt to that assessment centre and smash it out of the park. I knew he would tell me like it is and give me that much needed support and push in the right direction. So off i went after my lemsip and Benelyn with my notebook in hand.
I managed to cough and splutter my way through my interview section and my presentation. The maths test etc were the easiest part of the day and i would have happily done those for 6 hours than the interviews and the fitness test. The fitness test, well .... thankfully i had prepared for it let me put it that way. Had i not prepared then i don't think i would have managed it given the fact i struggled to breathe just talking. But i made it! i survived the day and it was all over. Now again, the waiting game!!!
Some waiting ... and more waiting ... and then a little bit of waiting!!!
"PING" ... there it was. THAT email again!! "We are delighted to say ....." I don't think i seen anything else, i was elated. I had done it!! Now the last part, the medical and the vetting. Easy stuff. The email says, medical would be 06/02/2015, a Friday, and i had to have my vetting paperwork etc completed by this date. Again easy ... right?!
Monday 02/02/2015 ..... a year ago today to be specific ... I had a horrible accident which left me in hospital. A badly fractured clavicle my injury, a borderline compound fracture that required an emergency operation in order to stabilise me and my arm. Everything i worked hard for and towards was ruined in a moment!! There was obviously no way i could sit my medical in this state, especially not in 4 days and so the day after my accident i had to phone and withdraw my attendance for my medical and possibly even my entire application as we weren't sure if i would ever be able to fully use my arm again until i had my operation. Recruitment were amazing!!! Gave me their full support and also said not to withdraw my application yet, see how my operation went and what time frames etc i was given by surgeons and then go from there. Should i not make this intake i would be put onto the next intake of specials or if regular came up i could apply, given i had recovered.
Fast forward a year! Well almost a year ... what a horrible year it was, full of operations and recoveries and set backs and impatience AND break!! 30th December 2015 "PING" THAT email again ...given that i was fit and healthy and still interested then i would be put into the next intake!!! HELL YEAH!!! I owe it to myself and to everyone who supported me and most of all to that one special person who always believed in me and supported me when i wasn't supporting myself.
And so here we are, sitting waiting on another "PING" into my mailbox, telling me when my medical is and then it really is all systems go!!! Its been a helluva year/18 months ... one which i would happily never think about again ... But i suppose im a year older, I've had another year to mentally prepare, to learn even more, another year of life experience, and especially another year to think about whether this is definitely the job for me and if im ready for it!! AND I AM READY ......... Im sitting waiting here right now, looking at my phone every 10 minutes waiting on that "PING" that i know should be coming soon.
Sorry to have babbled on a bit ... told you I had never written a blog before but i can certainly talk ... i hope you've enjoyed this "story" so far and hopefully ill be adding to this in the not so distant future updating when my medical comes through.
Any questions please ask away.
Hello! So for those who don't know, I'm a student officer with West Midlands. The people up high had decided that it was about time for our first taste of real policing so they booked us an attachment day with real officers doing real things. For my own entertainment as much as yours, I thought I'd make a little post about my first experiences.
Attachment to Neighbourhood Team
I arrive at the big city station and immediately find there are about 10 parking spaces to share between about 200 people. Therefore I spend the next 40 minutes panicked and trying to find a space in an area I am totally unfamiliar with whilst manoeuvring the car around alleyways I would pretty much struggle to walk through, never mind drive. There are three others from my class joining me on this attachment and between us we take a lucky pick of which door is the right entrance. We got it wrong. Eventually, however, we find some CS spray and someone arrives to pick us up.
We drive down to the local neighbourhood team's station, which was literally nothing more than a glorified portacabin. Introductions around all the team and they seem a really good bunch who know what they're doing and love doing it. I was amazed to see the various nominals posted around the room who were all so young! We are then briefed for the day. The plan was we would join a speed operation. Good timing, as just the week before we'd had a quick go with the speed laser in traffic training. PC Rain was on duty, but we decided to give it a go anyway.
Half an hour later, after the full briefing, set up and the monumental task of hunting for the right paperwork, we sit in the van ready to roll out the gate when there's a change of plan. Sergeant gets a call on his radio and we are reassigned. One of my colleagues goes on the speed op as planned, but with reduced numbers. The other two of my colleagues are going to help with executing a search warrant on a complicated alleged historical sex abuse case. Me and the guy looking after me were chosen to start work on a high risk missing person.
We go into the office to start our initial research of this missing person. After ten minutes of searching various systems and making loads of useful notes, we're told that actually we'd been given the wrong name. So we do it all again, this time for the correct missing person. I'd recently been trained in use of the missing person database we have, whereas my tutor hadn't, so I ended up teaching him a lot about that. Turns out our misper has a list of medical conditions as long as my arm. Armed with as much information as we could muster in the office, we set off.
First call is to check his home address. No reply from the door and so given his medical complications, we’re given authority to force entry Section 17 in order to see if he is inside. It was a small house, only three rooms and all of them pretty messy. He wasn’t in, but all of his medications were. Not good news.
Desperate to gain a lead, we start house to house enquiries nearby. I take one side of the road and my colleague takes the other. On the very first door I knock at, a lovely old lady answers the door and she makes no reaction or reply to what I’m saying to her. This gives me a bit of a funny feeling that something doesn’t seem quite right, and just then she drops to the floor like a bag of bricks. I’m slightly impressed I had the reaction quick enough to catch her just before she hits the floor and so my colleague joins me and we get her inside. We ask for an ambulance despite her protests. Long story short, this poor woman was feeling weak and frail and was on various medications which did not seem to have worked. We were also concerned that she was showing some initial signs of confusion onset, which the medics agreed with, so we did all the necessary bits and bobs for a referral to social services. Luckily she had an angel of a neighbour who could support her once she came back out of hospital.
Typical, I thought - first day out, first house I come to and something as unexpected as this happens. What an introduction to policing! Having got the lady wheeled off in the much more capable hands of the lovely paramedics, and then getting myself back to task, we continue house to house enquiries. Eventually a few people mention the same name and in the absence of many other leads, we decide to check it out. We hunt for the nearest working PC (which can be quite a battle!) and after running a few intelligence checks we find this name linked through an intelligence log to an address.
Excited by this new information, but also full of trepidation at the time elapsed and the medical condition of this person, we rally the troops and eagerly set off to search. I should point out that we were not quite blessed with an exact address, but rather the name of a tower block, which meant a hundred doors or so over six floors to start checking each and every one of them.
By some stroke of luck, the first few doors we try have apparently seen our person hanging around the staircases. One person reckon they know which flat precisely and they give us a number. The seven of us traipse up six flights of stairs and I find myself realising for the first time that with all this police kit on, it’s easily an extra couple of stone to my weight, and this would take some getting used to!
Of course, the flat in question is right on the top floor and the lifts are out of order so I’m ready for a short nap once we stumble up to the top floor. I was a little horrified to see the edges of the walkways, on which only a thin piece of wood around four feet high stood between us and a six storey drop. Envisioning some elaborate horrible scenario of an angry lunatic bursting out of a random flat and flinging us easily over the barrier, I was practically hugging the wall and sidestepping down to find the right door.
Eventually we get there and there’s a sense of nervous excitement in the air as we knock. We make repeated verbal appeals but to no success. Just as I’m about to resign myself, someone inside calls out. “Who is it?” “It’s the police, come to the door please. We’re worried about you, we’d like to speak to you.” Again, a few moments of nervous silence, ended by the relieving sound of the door being unlocked from within.
Our missing person opens the door and whilst being as discreet as possible, we all share sly celebrations with each other under our breath and a subtle pat on the back. With a little more talking, our missing person agrees to come down and be assessed by ambulance due to his various medical ailments and missed doctor’s appointments. (When the ambulance arrives it’s the same crew as earlier and they make cheeky comments about me being the bad luck charm!). A colleague of mine takes the chap to one side as we wait for the ambulance and carries out a full missing person debriefing session, which is vitally important to help us understand more about why this person went missing and how we can help them and others in the future.
The guy then goes along to hospital after precautionary advice from the paramedics. I glance at my watch and I’m disappointed to see it’s already time for my shift to end. We are driven back to our central station from where we make our own home. I spent the rest of the night buzzing. I accept that, especially to many of you more experienced officers, my day’s activities were not too exciting or ground-breaking and may even be seen by some as mundane and testing, but I really enjoyed it. The true cliché feeling of knowing you’ve helped someone, potentially saved lives today, and the first true feeling of how people deal with you in uniform – these are all emotions I think I could get used to.
Bring on day two.
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Length of Service: 2 years
Planned Hours: 1600-0200 assisting response
After reading so much about them on this forum (mainly from bensonby!) I recently had the pleasure of meeting a "freeman of the land" so thought I'd write it up...
1530 - Arrive at the station with 2 MSC colleagues. Kit up, grab a callsign and a panda and out we go.
1630 - An I-graded call comes out of a man wielding a knife. We're on the same road (that never happens) so I use the full extent of my basic driver exemptions to carry out an area search. With other units involved, questionable intel coming back from the informant and no trace 10 minutes later, we come to the aid of a fist-waving cyclist who points out a van driver who allegedly just tried side-swiping him.
1650 - We get the van stopped near the forecourt of a petrol station and the fun begins. I introduce myself and go through normal proceedings. He's refusing to get out the van, turn the engine off or provide any sort of documention, pointing out that as a human he is not obliged to comply to any of these statute laws. I weep a little at where I can see this going, holding nothing but distain for the cyclist for pointing out this van (I joke).
1710 - 20 minutes later and having recited half of the Road Traffic Act - to be questioned in return about my own religious beliefs and whether I am acting under my oath - he finally concedes and provides his driving licence. A check with PNC and the MIB reveals he is uninsured (another weep on my part). He greets the news that his van will be seized by winding up the window and ensuring the doors are already locked. Well played, Sir. I was mindful that until this point he wasn't obliged to exit the vehicle, and vaguely recalling a thread I read on here debating powers to enter the vehicle.
1750 - My colleague plays "good cop" (at this point, guess which one I am) to try and coerce him out while I seek advice from the duty traffic Sergeant around powers to remove him for the purpose of a seizure. After deliberation I'm told that this would constitute an offence of obstruction, therefore necessary force could be used to effect the arrest. I was already picturing myself on YouTube smashing the window of a parked van with a "compliant" driver inside.
1800 - Moments after I requested recovery, and with my colleague still trying to talk him down, the driver decides he's had enough and simply drives off down the main road. Excellent. I shout it up and an IRV is behind him 30 seconds later, confirming it as a Fail To Stop and reporting the pursuit speed as fluctuating between the public-endangering speeds of 10 and 15mph. A couple of other units (including the area car) are now involved and after a few minutes of commotion, it's reported that he's been stopped and detained.
1810 - Having been making our way from afar in slow(ish) time, we arrive at the van to find the passenger window smashed in and the driver detained on the pavement - even less happy than before but making sure to ask everyone if they are acting under their oath. I take great pleasure in arresting for obstruct police, fail to stop, driving with no insurance and theft of motor vehicle (based on his resistance, being uninsured and not being able to speak to the owner) and off we head in a Met taxi.
1820 - The custody Sergeant enjoys this gentleman as much as I have, and after 45 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing and him refusing any details (reminding us we're breaching his human rights) he is escorted into a cell.
1900 - Paperwork
2000 - Paperwork
2030 - I inform CID for the case to be picked up by CPU on early turn - I don't envy them
2100 - We're asked to turn out to an RTC - moped vs lamppost. Second on scene we help the ambulance crew and one of my colleagues heads off to hospital for continuity (the joys of being a Special at the bottom of the food chain).
2200 - Resume patrol and we precariously help half the borough with an area search at a firearms/shots fired call. I circulate the sighting of a male who is possibly ident and leave the ARV's to do their business.
0000 - We pick up our colleague from hospital and head towards a report of several hundred teenagers congregating/causing a nuisance on a playing field next to a large residential block. We arrive with a couple of other units and wade through the cloud of cannabis smoke and mouthy (drunk) teenagers to disperse the group. All of a sudden they all start sprinting towards a nearby empty warehouse which they've managed to gain entry to. The next hour is spent inside this warehouse facing off against a huge group of kids.
0100 - After a few occasions of the atmosphere feeling like it was going to turn nasty they all left voluntarily, citing us all as fun sponges. Moments later a couple of TSG serials turned up - good timing.
0200 - Home time
I'm keen to hear how any of you would have dealt with the traffic stop differently - like I say it was a first for me and having it escalate into a "pursuit" clearly wasn't ideal. I'll post the outcome once the case is closed.
As many of the posts on this forum relate to recruitment, I thought I'd make a blog entry about my experiences as an SC interviewer in my force. Hopefully this will be useful to those of you who are thinking about applying or currently waiting for your assessment centres, specifically those applying as an SC. I have been on both sides of the table for SC interviews, I remember mine well & remember the feeling of being sat in the waiting room, flinching every time the door opened dreading the time they'd call my name but also wishing it was over and done with; I remember being in the interview room, the sense of panic when the questions differ from what you've prepared for and I remember the nervous next few days waiting for an email saying yes or no. Now I'm on the other side of the desk, it's all too easy to say "don't be nervous", "be yourself" or any other cliche line but hopefully by reading this blog post you'll be able to avoid some little mistakes which unfortunately lead to people failing.
Please bear in mind, my experiences relate to interviewing Special Constables in one force. While some points may be applicable in other areas, things will vary by force and will differ for PC applicants. My points will relate to general pros & cons I've found to be relatively common which trip people up, this is not a "how to pass" or "secret guide to..." & I'll not be discussing specific questions/criteria you may be assessed on. Any advice given is not scripture & therefore if you go on to use it, you do so at your own risk.
1) Know what you've applied for! - Sounds simple, right? You'd be surprised! You wouldn't go to a 'normal' job interview if you didn't know what the job was & what you'd be doing, and just because this is voluntary (for you SCs), that doesn't change. I've interviewed people who claim to have done loads of research, who have friends/family in the job, been Police Cadets, but then don't know that SCs have identical powers to regular officers, can arrest/search people, the hours commitment or even what sort of general work the police do! This is an easy way to fail! If you want to be a Special Constable, how do you expect me to pass you if you don't even know what a Special Constable is?! DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!! I can't state that enough! Whatever the force, you will most likely be sent a load of material before your assessment, read it, read it & read it again! Have a look at your forces website, specifically the Specials page if that's what you're applying for, and find out as much as you can about them. By all means speak to friends & family in the job, use these forums & wikipedia or whatever, but always go with what the official websites/material say.
2) Know your "drivers"! - I don't mean Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button, I mean 'competencies' or essentially the criteria you are being assessed against. The specifics of these will vary by force but I'd be surprised if you weren't sent some kind of framework/criteria prior to your interview, which outlined what you be asked about or what you will need to demonstrate in your interview & throughout your career. This is another thing to read and read again as getting to know these will make your interview less of shock. In my force, all our questions are based around these drivers meaning if you know them inside out, none of the questions I ask should seem odd. Often drivers/competencies will involve several different aspects, be prepared to be holistic about it but potentially really specific about one aspect too. The best way to describe this is "trees" (bear with me!): Say I want to interview you about trees. I could ask a general question about them & cover the all basics of trees, or I could ask you specifically about the roots, the trunk, the branches, the leaves & so on. Now, you may have seen you were going to be interviewed about trees so you've prepared a nice overview answer but, you don't know much about their roots specifically. Turns out my question is about the roots, I don't want to hear your prepared general answer or about the branches. I only care for the roots. Make sense? Don't make this mistake. Make sure you know about & are comfortable with ALL aspects of the criteria because you don't know how specific my question is going to be.
3) Think about your examples! - The vast majority of police assessment centres are "competency based". This means I'll be asking you to prove to me that you meet the specific criteria. To do this, I don't need general, wishy-washy answers about how you feel about something, who you are as a person or how you think you'd deal with certain situations. I need you to give me specific examples of when/how you have done something that meets ALL the points of the questions. I emphasise "all" because if I ask the question to tell me a time when you've successfully done XYZ, I want to hear "a time" i.e one example, when "you've" i.e. I don't care what other people did, "successfully" i.e. you may have done XYZ but if it didn't work don't use it, "done XYZ" i.e not just X or not just Y, I want to see all three. Think about these before the day and get them right. Often people will use the wrong examples for the wrong criteria and try desperately to make them fit & will then use another example for a different question which would have covered the previous criteria perfectly. I will not correct you & cannot use the answer to one question as evidence for another (unless you use the same example for both questions which is acceptable in some forces). I have to go with the specific answer you gave so it's worth getting right.
4) Avoid using "we"! - This is often seen if using examples of where you've worked in a group but is still pretty common during entire interviews. Even if the question is about teamwork, this is YOUR interview & I want to hear about specifically what YOU did, I don't care about anyone else. Using "we" doesn't do you any favours & can lead to you not actually answering the question & therefore losing marks. On that note...
5) Listen to & answer the question! - Again, sounds obvious but many, many people don't! If you don't hear or don't understand any part of the question, ask me to repeat it. I can do so as many times as you like & can even rephrase it if it doesn't make sense to you. Asking me to do this does not lose your marks & ensures you hit all the points you need to. The question is all I care about. Do not waffle, go off on a tangent, give me a load of corporate spiel or generalised answers, it won't do you any favours and won't get you any marks. You can say you're the pope, the dalai lama, mother teresa & superman all rolled into one, that's great... but it doesn't answer my question & is therefore of no use to me. If the question asks for a specific example, give me one. If it asks how you'd deal/have dealt with a specific scenario, do not deviate from that scenario because that's not what I asked. I appreciate it's a fine balance you need to strike, if you do not demonstrate what you've been asked (either by saying too much irrelevant stuff or simply not enough at all), I cannot prompt you other than asking to clarify the specific points of the question.
6) Take your time! - Many of the above issues simply come from people panicking. Although I'll have a lot of recruits to interview & can't wait for you all day, there is no rush. Taking a bit of time to think about your answer before you speak will do you wonders & will avoid you blurting out whatever comes into your head that is vaguely related to the question!
7) Don't talk about stuff you don't know! - You answering my questions impresses me, you don't need to try and talk "job" if you don't know what you're on about. Unless asked for (& certainly not in my force), I do not need you to quote legislation to me, talk about jurisdiction, the fact you know the difference between different types of police vehicles, what different ranks can/can't do etc etc. I'm not expecting you to be a police officer, I'm expecting you to answer my questions to show you have potential to become one. Often people will read stuff online that is simply wrong and quote it in an interview to impress me... it doesn't. Unless it's relevant I will not correct you, I'll just think you're a little bit silly
8) Don't take your past for granted! - Have you been a cadet? Served in another force as a PCSO, Special or even Regular. That's great! I look forward to you smashing all the questions by having relevant examples to give. Please don't assume past policing experience is a golden ticket to getting in, it isn't! I have failed people who evidently have done no preparation after they assumed that because they can use acronyms, talk "job" to me & have had a warrant card in the past, that they'll get in. I take every recruit as they come. Yes, policing experience puts you at an advantage by a) probably having gone through a similar process already and b) it should give you excellent relevant examples to the questions I'll be asking but that's it. Unless you use that experience to demonstrate that & answer my questions, I cannot pass you. Don't be arrogant!
9) Don't lie! - In many forces you are interviewed by serving officers... don't try and lie to police officers or even HR for that matter, it doesn't end well. It's obvious and easily unravelled, if you do we can & will check! If you miss out & fail at the interview stage because you haven't provided satisfactory answers, you are welcome to try again. If you get found out for lying, you can forget any future career in the police on honesty & integrity grounds. Don't risk it!
10) Don't be disheartened! - If the worst happens & you fail at interview stage, that does not mean you are not suitable for the job. True, some people just simply don't cut it but in a lot of interviews that fail I find myself getting frustrated, not at you but for you. Much of want you're saying is great, but as per the points above, either you've not said it in the right place or not used it in the correct way to answer the very specific question you may be asked. If the force you're applying to does offer feedback, please take it on board, use the experience you've just had, review what you had planned & try again... please! I almost enjoy passing people who I see a second time more than I do first-timers!
Hopefully that all proves useful to someone! If you'd like to ask me any general questions about interviews, please do so below or PM me. As I've said above though, I cannot & will not give specifics about your assessment day.
Best of luck to those currently in the recruitment process!
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The following recollection is purely approximate and occurred several weeks ago. Facts and certain details may be altered or omitted due to memory constraints and data protection.
The following what I did on duty post is short and unique to a situation about an off-duty intervention.
Rank: Special Constable
Length of Service: 1.5 years
Type of Shift: Unplanned
Location: Merseyside Police
1240 Booked off-duty after completing a module for the PNC from my training centre. It was a hot summers day and I was driving my personal vehicle back home. Visibility was great and I had my windows down with soft music to complement a rare weather event.
1250 No more than ten minutes into my drive, in the far distance I caught a mobile patrol van blocking the opposite oncoming lane of the road with blue lights on. Traffic was light and on a semi-residential street with two-lanes in each direction; the nearside lane was blocked on each side by parked vehicles. Focusing on a distant object, I can sort of make out the infamous body armour and white shirt of a police officer, sprinting. I slow down on the brakes, checking my rear mirrors before doing so and analyse the situation. It was clear now, an officer was pursuing a male who was running in the middle of the road. At this time there were no vehicles on the road apart from the police van and my vehicle.
I flipped the hazards on and It didn't take long before the foot pursuit of the suspect was within a 200 meters. At this point made a decision to decamp and assist but before doing so I did contemplate using my vehicle to block the path of the running suspect. This was not within my powers and policy to take this action after dynamically risk assessment based on the NDM.
I quickly turned off the engine and decamped to assist, not forgetting my keys. My adrenaline was in full-release mode and I started sprinting towards the suspect shouting "OFF-DUTY POLICE OFFICER. STOP NOW!" The uniformed officer was about 15 meters behind the male and as I closed in on the male after yelling my warning, head on in the middle of the road, I went in for a tackle. I grappled onto his rucksack, which slipped away unfortunately and began to spring after him. Without any kit or body armour to slow me down, I felt like Usain Bolt. A second grapple was successful and I tripped the male to the asphalt onto his back. Screaming like a maniac, ordering him to stop resisting and face the floor.
At this point he was reaching for something in his waistband. Before he could get anything, the officer decided to do a rugby dive and saddle his back like a horse and the both of us restrained him. He was subsequently handcuffed to the rear and after a brief conversation between the both of them, I gathered that the male fled after being detained section 1 PACE search. The officer continued with GOWISEL(Y) and a PCSO came running over out of breath and started to record details on their PNB. Forgetful me, forgot to show my warrant card and informed everyone that I was a police officer. I noted the time down on my wrist with a pen and the collar number of those present.
The search ended with a lock-knife being discovered in his waist-band (yes the one he was reaching for), several ID documents, credit cards and about £700 in cash. He was arrested for possession of an offensive weapon and suspicion of possession of articles used for fraud (s4 fraud act).
1330 Trip to custody involving a lengthy MG11, use of force statement and a full PNB entry. Shortly followed by a phone-call to the duty special supervision to inform them of my actions and emailing my supervision briefly explaining circumstances.
Couple weeks later, I was invited to a meeting with my supervision. Discussed at length not to obstruct public roads with my vehicle according to my MG11 and not to intervene unnecessarily whilst off-duty due to threat to police officers.
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So, in the spirit of the 'what I did on duty' blogs, I thought I'd fill you in on perhaps my shortest duty ever which occurred only yesterday. I've no doubt that some of you will feel that I acted unnecessarily but I'm satisfied with my actions.
All times are approximate as I really wasn't expecting to keep track of time:
15:45 - I've been out for a walk with the dog. We went for a wade in the river and I'm a passenger in the car on the way home. I've just finished looping up her long lead and hoop it over my shoulder so that I don't have to carry it and fight with the dog when we get her out the car. It's a glorious sunny day and traffic in town is relatively heavy for a sunny Saturday afternoon thanks to some event or another in town.
15:46 - We pull up at some traffic lights. We're in lane two, in the knowledge that lane one quickly becomes obstructed with parked cars just after the junction. I hear something playing unnecessarily loud music pull up to our left and have a glance up. It's a blue Astra or Vectra; I get confused with the older models. I think nothing of it and we pull off from the junction.
15:47 - No distance at all down the road, and I can see what's about to happen. We're following a nice black Mercedes, very new, very clean and clearly well looked after. It's in lane two with us. Vectra boy is in lane one and is desperate to make progress, whatever the cost! He puts a sprint in down lane one, quickly approaching some parked cars, clearly trying to undertake the Mercedes. The Mercedes driver is having none of it and puts his own sprint in to close the gap. Neither of them will let this go lightly, and I start to make a comment to my driver, who gives me the "if you get involved..." look.
Both cars slow down a little, but with next to no warning, Vectra really sticks his foot down and swings the wheel right, shoving his way right in front of Mercedes. Mercedes has to slam the brakes on, shortly followed by us. Vectra had left about one and a half car widths between the parked car in lane one and Mercedes to mark a dart for it, and he'd somehow been successful. Bemused, I begin to make another comment, but realise that we're not moving, and neither are Vectra and Mercedes. I notice Vectra start to drive off and feel satisfied that nothing will come of this, although I find that my hand is already on my seatbelt release - just in case. Suddenly, Mercedes opens his door and cusses at Vectra; nothing outrageous, but clearly inappropriate. What Mercedes doesn't realise is that rather than stick his car, which is clearly an automatic, into 'park', he's stuck it in reverse and it's now slowly rolling its way towards us.
Mercedes realises his error and jumps back into his car foot first. He slams the brakes on, probably at the same time that Vectra does, who's heard Mercedes shout and is really not impressed. Vectra flies out of his car and takes six of the twelves paces towards Mercedes in record time. I fling my seatbelt off, mindful that I am in fact on my own, but satisfied that we're A) close enough to the nick, B) in a public enough place that if things go really wrong I'll get at least some help and C) suitably covered by CCTV that I can put in an appearance. I flick my seatbelt off, open the door and I'm not quite out of the car before a nice loud bellow of "POLICE OFFICER, GET BACK IN YOUR CAR, NOW!" erupts from my lungs. It clearly has some effect, as there's the order of a few seconds where everyone just stands still and there's an awful silence. Keeping myself behind the car door, I point the finger at both drivers and instruct both to get in and walk away. I'm already of the mind-set that whilst Vectra has clearly driven carelessly, Mercedes could've just been the bigger man and let him into the lane, and that frankly they're as bad as each other. I simply want each driver back in their car and going home as quickly as possible.
Vectra mutters something at Mercedes, who replies to the effect of "watch it mate, there's a police officer there." Mercedes is clearly more respectful, and is aged perhaps late forties, early fifties. Vectra on the other hand looks like he's got a chip on his shoulder and is aged perhaps in his early to mid twenties. Satisfied that neither of them are brick outbuildings, I leave the safety of the car door and step towards the nearside of the Mercedes. I implore both of them to just get back in their cars and go home. Mercedes starts to state that he's annoyed at Vectra and I interrupt him, saying that I know, I'll have a quick word, I've seen it happen, but if they want to talk about it they'll pull into the convenient parking space on the left and act like adults rather than have a shouting match in the street. Mercedes seems to want none of it, and starts to get back in his car. Vectra starts to walk back and I start to catch up with him. He turns to me with the "I'm going to protest like a little child" face on that a number of us are familiar with, and starts to whine that he "HASN'T DUN NUFFIN". I give him the look, and find suitable words of advice: calm down.
Satisfied that both drivers are getting back in their cars, I walk back to my driver who is clearly unimpressed with my intervention and feels perhaps a little embarrassed at being associated as a Police WAG. On the way back to the car, I realise that I still have the 10m dog lead around my shoulders - I wonder for a fleeting moment if they thought I was a dog handler, complete with dog!
15:49 - The whole thing is over in next to no time. Whilst I've identified myself as Police, no names were given or warrant cards shown and I'm satisfied that the incident was resolved with minimal effort. On the way back home, I start to shake a little, and realise that I've had rather a dose of adrenaline. Having not been on shift for what feels like aeons, and living so far from my duty station, I'm not sure if I've missed it or not!
So I'm finishing my probation. Rookie/Sprog/Probie/Student Officer, whatever you call it - I am no longer.
I first joined the police family 7 years ago (I hate that term but it's the easiest way to deflect criticisms of 'You haven't got 7 years in').
I was 18 and far from an angel. I had some brushes with the police but never for anything serious and I obviously had no criminal record.
It was 2008 and I was wrangling with my decision 2 years prior to discharge from the army during basic training due to a relationship issue and immaturity at dealing with home sickness.
My school friends were all off to University but I had identified that whilst I have an ability, and indeed a thirst for learning, this wasn't a route I wished to go down.
I was working in retail banking and I was causing stirs there. I was not in any 'potential' scheme yet had gone from a cashier to the sales team in a year and at the ripe age of 18 had already acted up as the cash manager for a week on one occasion and the sun branch manager in two occasions. Noses were put out of joint by this as some staff had remained as cashiers for 15 years without the same opportunities. Whilst acting as cash manager I had one cashier refuse to do as asked but I didn't let it bother me too much as she was as green with jealousy as could be.
However, I had recently been passed over for a promotion due to a girl transferring in who was on a graduate scheme and I also lost out on a course to another graduate scheme member. I had transferred branches at the recommendation of the area manager for my own development however it actually stifled my development. The previous 'old school' branch manager who had seen my potential and rewarded it with development opportunities and the odd pub lunch was replaced with a manager who was only 5 years my senior but a graduate and who openly stated she didn't see what was so special about me.
I was gradually managed, managed and managed some more. Pub lunches were forbidden for me. I wasn't part of the clique here. I was given a higher sales target than for my grade without any pay incentive but denied the chance to do as much customer sales work as I was used to - instead I was to 'provide leads' for the sales team. One day - when I brought in a particularly lucrative shares portfolio transfer from a customer I had been building a relationship with over a few weeks - it was taken from me. Not only did this annoy me, it damaged my already dwindling sales figures taking me out of a good bonus zone for the first time.
I was incensed. I rang my area manager who told me he was taking a promotion and that I should speak to the incoming area manager. Well, suffice to say his successor was a 'You're 18 get over it' kind of manager.
I stewed. I stewed some more.
I typed my resignation up on the computer, walked into my manager and handed it in. She had won.
I worked my notice and left to the prospect of unemployment.
Handily enough I started a new temp call centre job on the same money within 5 days and at the same time interviewed for a recruitment consultancy role which gave good sales commission.
During my downtime at the call centre (I was working overtime meaning 12 hour shifts 6 days a week and a shift a week at my dads pub which all in all brought me a tidy take home of £650 a week!) I started looking at other jobs. I was awaiting a callback about the recruitment consultancy job and was diversifying my search.
The company 'launch' overtime at the call centre dried up after a month. I went back to 8 hour Monday to Friday work and my take home pay plummeted to about £320 a week.
A close family member is a copper and I had always watched the Bill thinking it seemed like a good laugh. My interactions with the police over my youth hadn't been all good but I had the luck of meeting several really good coppers who kept my faith in the police alive.
I saw an advert for BTP PCSOs. I asked my family member and he said from what he knew BTP PCSOs were a bit more involved than normal ones. I researched BTP and was actually amazed at how much they did - I was always aware they existed from my days travelling to Arsenal as a youth. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a PC so I threw in an application. I kept having to give more information and get forms filled but this was no more involved than any other interview process I had been through so I persevered.
I went for an interview and assessment which caused me no issues and then I heard nothing.
I received a call from the recruitment consultants. I met a manager where we negotiated a salary package. It was a novel experience negotiating a package. I did my darnedest to make it seem like it was totally what I expected, but I was in honesty amazed. I felt elated to leave with an agreement for £23,000 basic for Mon-Friday 37.5 hours week, my annual train travel paid for and a bonus scheme which would pay me up to £45,000 for hitting target and then uncapped percentage on anything exceeding the target. Whilst the money on the table was pretty good it also had the appeal of the provision of a small expense account after my 3 month probation was up. Pub lunches would be back on the cards.
I couldn't believe my luck. I was 18 and I was living the good life! My friends at uni were eating beans on toast and I would soon be living the hustle and bustle life.
I was given a start day the following Monday away (1 week notice at call centre) to meet my sales manager where I would sign my contract and be inducted.
I handed my notice in at the call centre and they stated that i didn't have to work my notice if I was happy to take my holiday owed. I had plenty of cash in the bank so I took the offer and was escorted off the premises.
All was well and simple. Until I got a phone call. It was a lady named Selima. She was calling from the British Transport Police and she wondered if I might be available to start at short notice the following Monday. The same Monday I was going to start my high flying job.
I asked how long I had to reply. She kindly gave me until the end of the day. I rang probably everyone in my phone book asking their opinion. In my own mind the sensible decision was to take the recruitment consultancy - the hours, the pay, the progression, the status, the social life...it was the clear choice for an 18 year old who seemed to be on a winning streak in life!
So, predictably with me, I rang Selima back and said yes I'd like to join the BTP!
To this day I don't know why I did. I had certainly watched back to back episodes of Rail Cops to learn more. I accosted our own Headset 57 on several occasions to ask questions about the job. But I can't say that it was my 'dream'. That 'dream' still very much lived, admittedly at the back of my brain, in the army.
A lengthy pack arrived first class within a day or so with contracts and joining instructions and a singlet excel warrant to Tadworth in Surrey.
I rang the recruitment consultancy and explained my position. I was thanked for ringing and the manager explained that his wife was a special constable and that she had described the police as a real eye opener. He wished me luck and down the phone went.
The following Sunday I travelled alone to Tadworth rail station with my suitcase and met PC Bob Bartholomew there to get the minibus to Tadworth. In such a short time I was already hooked and absolutely buzzing for the future that awaited me.
7 years of policing later and I look back on that phone call from Selima. I wonder how much I would be earning now as a recruitment consultant in London. What car would I be driving? Would I already have my own home and a tidy mortgage?
Would I say yes again if I went back and took that call again?
You'd better believe it.
This blog post is deliberately NOT particularly police related. It's to remind me and others of what the police is. It's a group of people who all have different backgrounds. Some, indeed many, of us are not in the job that suited us best at the time we joined. Some of us didn't even grow up wanting to be police men and women. Many of us could have enjoyed much better Ts and Cs and possibly a bigger paycheck without risks to our health and even lives.
But talking 7 years after the fact I'm still job pi**ed. Policing has changed for the worse even in my very short time. Pay and conditions worse. Morale (collective) worse. Reputation worse. Stress worse. Officer safety worse. But until those in charge make it unbearable you're all stuck with me and I will continue to throw my enthusiasm in to try and do 'the job' the way I think it should be done.
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The previous week I collected most my operation uniform, minus my CS and radio from the central store at the forces HQ. I had taken it home opened it all and possibly tried it all on my bedroom. I looked like a police officer but I didn’t feel like one!
Finally after what seemed like the longest week ever I was driving to the station for the first time, I drove through the metal gates and parked. I got all the gear id been given and attempted to carry it all towards the station, not that I knew where the door was. I found someone and just followed them, it’s a small station really but at the time it felt huge. I introduced myself and found my tutor officer who showed me were all my stuff goes and gave me tour of the station. I got kitted up and followed my tutor into the briefing room. It was like the first day of school, except everyone seemed to like me, to my face at least.
After introductions the sergeant gave the briefing and off out we went, first job was to get my CS and radio conveniently from two stations on opposite sides of the force, still it was my first time in a police car so it wasn’t all that bad. At this point I still felt a con artist, people looking at me assuming that I was a cop… fools.
Once I’d collected the bits I needed we headed back to the station I was based at. The intention was to get coffee and go through my folder with my tutor when some cops who were not in the briefing asked if we could assist with an arrest attempt as there are only two of them in today. Perfect my tutor seemed to think, I was less sure. Anyway we went outside and it transpired the other cops worked on an offender management team they and now we were off in the van to try and lift a wanted man who was a known fighter and runner. At the address we cover the back and the others go to the front. The man did think about running as he opened the back door, however he saw us and was sensible enough to go back in and let us all in. I watch and try my best to learn ‘the way to do it’. We get dropped off at our station as the van goes to custody.
I get properly introduced to the rest of the section and had some coffee with everyone. I don’t know why but I though they’d all be anti-specials and miserable and grumpy. Turns out not one of them are and welcome me onto the team.
We head out in the car to tour the area and look for anything suspect. Almost straight away we get a job on the radio, a domestic, and it’s my first blue light run. My adrenalins pumping and I feel like I’m ready for anything and everything. That’s until we pull up and I remember I still have no real idea what I’m doing. It turns out it’s a verbal argument of access to a child and nothing major, however it’s in at the deep end as I do my first (of many) domestic forms under the guidance of my tutor.
We resume and drive around some more, and then some more. My tutor has me check almost every vehicle we pass to get my radio confidence up, much to the annoyance of the control room operator. We eventually return to the station and look through my folder and wait for change over time. Still I feel like I’ve learnt a lot but I’ve also realised training school was less helpful than I expected and that I knew very little. I put my kit away in my locker and just before I went I introduced myself to the local inspector and advised my sergeant and tutor that I’d be in for the next two shifts as casually as I could. Secretly I really enjoyed myself and seamed to get on with the team really well, and couldn’t wait to be back.