I'll not use his name as he is still a serving Officer. He turned up at the Station to introduce himself to the shift. A group of us went up to the canteen and we chatted for a long while. He was quiet, but aren't we all in a new crowd? His first day of his four weeks with us was the beginning of a week of nights. I must admit, I wasn't sure about the new system of Constables beginning their service without any training apart from Defensive Skills Instruction. I don't know if it has changed, but the idea was they shadowed their Tutor and if there was an incident, you were required to take a witness statement from them. For me, I preferred the system where you appeared from Training School with a degree of training.
Our first night we attended a burglary at a shop on the High Street. A colleague who was Acting Patrol Sergeant decided to team up with us. We hadn't been at the scene of the burglary that long before the keyholder showed up. Then, while waiting for a boarding up service, another call came in, on our Division, but an area covered by another Station.
No other cars responded to the call. Not unusual as some Officers on shift were the type that cherry picked their jobs. We responded and were then told that there was a body on the railway tracks at a particular location. We made our way to a convenient point to access the railway after checking the trains were on caution or stopped (it was close to the time of the last train). While walking along the tracks searching for the body, I was explaining to him that he was under no pressure to view the body and he could just stand back and observe and not to worry if he felt sick. It was apparent that as we got close to the body, other cars had attended. A colleague was also there searching the body for identification. I wasn't aware until after the incident, that my Constable was expecting the situation to be a 'wind up'. He had an older brother in another Force and had been pre-warned about potential jokes that might be played upon him. So, when he got up close to the body, he was surprised to find that it wasn't one of his colleagues! The Duty Inspector turned up at the scene and was introduced to the new Constable. BTP were not able to attend, so we dealt with the incident and left.
I can't recall what happened the second night, but we again saw the Duty Inspector who was from another Station.
Third night there was a siege with a man armed with a knife. We were able to scrape together about eight Level 2 trained Officers to go in with shields, a Dog Handler and take the guy out. He was a large guy that was known to several of us as he was a doorman at one of the lower quality pubs in the town. The Duty Inspector turned up to see the operation and saw my new Constable again. He said to him 'Right you, you Jonah, take the rest of the week off, you're a jinx!'
Later that set of nights we attended another burglary. He said what do we do now. I said 'Well I'm having a cup of tea. You're taking the statement!' He replied, 'But we're not supposed to!' I said, 'Don't worry, i'm dictating it, but it'll give you an idea of what we do.
One of our day shifts happened to be a Public Holiday. It was sunny and the seafront was busy. I chose for us to have a walking patrol. We hadn't been out long and were directed to an informant who had called about a suspect package. We went to the street concerned and spoke with the informant. She told me about a package fixed to a pole down an alleyway.
I told them both to wait and updated Control telling them I was switching my radio off to check the scene. Sure enough, there was a small brown parcel taped to a metal post. I could see some exposed wires through a hole in the package. I was more than a little concerned, but surprised at the location. It was not the sort of place where you would put such a package to create maximum destruction or disturbance to local people. I walked back to my colleague (remember, still in his first four weeks and just supposed to observe) and turned on my radio. I knew that EOD would take a while to arrive and was preparing my thoughts about arranging evacuation of flats in the locality, when my Constable told me that the witness had told him it wasn't a bomb. I confirmed this with her getting her to repeat to me what she had said to him. I was now in a real quandary. I knew she had to be arrested, but my mind had gone blank and I couldn't think what to arrest her for! I was also really concerned for my new Constable, being involved in a potentially serious incident that I might mess up. I'd already cautioned the woman and asked her to confirm that it wasn't a real bomb. She did. I told her that she was coming with me and we were going to collect the package. If it was real, she was at risk as much as I. We got the package which was just wires in a cassette case within an envelope.
I still had no idea what to arrest her for, so told her that she was under arrest for placing a hoax bomb. A car arrived to take us back to the Station. As we approached Custody, a mate came out and whispered in my ear Section 51 of the Criminal Law Act. I went up to the Custody Sergeant and relayed the facts to her. I could see that she had written Section 51 Criminal Law Act at the top of the Custody Record. When the prisoner had been put in a cell I said to the Sergeant 'I had no idea what the offence was'. She replied, 'Neither did we, we had to look through the books before you arrived!' (My point about that is, you can always learn something).
Later on, when he arrived back from Training School, I made sure, as my Tutor had done for me, that he had a file full of the most used forms, plus several of the obscure one. I recall saying as I handed one over 'And this one is for un-exploded bombs'. He thought that I was joking, but situated where we were on the Estuary, close to an ex wartime airfield and MOD land nearby, you did get your fair share of UXB's.
I enjoyed my time with him as I did all my new Constables. He turned out to be what we as Tutors want them to be, a credit to themselves and the Force.
I actually saw him at a leaving do for another colleague two years ago. He is a DS on quite an important unit. He came up to me and shook my hand strongly. He said 'I never thanked you for what you did for me. But, when ever I'm in an awkward situation, I think what would Bradders do now?'
You know? That is the best thing that anyone has every said to me and worth more than any Commendation.
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