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The best of bensonby


bensonby

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It's a bit egotistical but I have rescued some of my favorite posts from the site that shall not be named. I have no idea if it chronicles anything resembling a "typical" career but I've had some interesting experiences. Here is a, roughly chronological account of various incidents I have experienced. Obviously the posts below represent a fraction of what I have seen and done and are "highlights" of interesting jobs I have been involved in. I have had to leave out some of my favourite experiences for operational reasons or because they relate to ongoing cases.

 

For those interested this is a rough timeline of my career so far over the past 7 years:

 

November 2007 - Commence training as a special constable with the Metropolitan Police Serivce

April 2008 - Attest as a Special Constable

November 2008 - Start as a Police Constable in The Met

May 2009 - Posted to a satellite station on a response team in a South London Borough

August 2011 - Train as a Level 2 public order officer

August 2011 - Take part in policing the London Riots

September 2011 - Move to the borough's main police station still on the same response team

December 2011 - Move to a Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT)

March 2012 - Pass OSPRE part 1 (sergeants' exam)

August-September 2012 - Police the Olympics and Paralympics

End of 2012 - cover an Acting Sergeant (A/PS) role on my SNT for a couple of months

September 2013 - The SNTs are restructured and I become a "dedicated ward PC"

June-August 2014 - A/PS once more

Present - remain a dedicated ward PC. However, moves are afoot to move on

 

I appreciate that all of the above might make my identity somewhat obvious. It doesn't bother me to be honest, there is nothing written here (or anywhere else on any forum) that I wouldn't repeat to the DPS, no operational information is disclosed and I'm probably pretty easy to identify in any case.

 

If anyone is still reading this, I hope you enjoy....

 

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From "What I did on duty" - a duty from the first half of 2011:

 

Rank: PC
Length of service: 2 1/2 years
Planned Duty: 0700-1500 (actual finish 2200)
Duty Type: Early Turn Response Shift


It begins like another normal day in the met.

I get posted out in a response car for the shift. With the new "single patrol" policy only a limited number of cars are put out "two up". The rest go out on their todd in cars or on foot. It's early morning and things are pretty quiet: we get sent to an appointment for 0800 where a vicar has reported his bag stolen from the church that weekend. It always amazes me the number of thefts that occur in churches - I suppose they are seen as an easy target. I take all the details but looking at the circumstances there really are no lines of enquiry. There is no CCTV, no-one witnessed the bag get taken, no-one knows exactly when it was taken and there was a wedding in the afternoon and an event in the morning so literallly hundreds of unknown people have been through the church.

We then go on to a baliff dispute-but when we ge there, surprisingly, the baliffs have gone and the issue is resolved. The informant apologises for wasting our time and we go on our way.

It's now about 0900 hours, because we shot out straight to the appointment after parade we didn't get the chance to top and tail some paperwork so we head towards the nick before things start getting busy. Literally as we are pulling up outside the nick an "I" immediate grade call comes out - a vulnerable child on the social services register has run away from her mother on the way to school. Her mother can't give chase because of medical issues.

All available units are diverted and we are the first unit on scene at the school where the mother was taking her so it's up to me to do the initial co-ordination of the search. En route I shout up for CCTV to start looking around for her and request that the local SNT also make their way to the nearby park where it is believed that she may have gone. I turn up on scene and see the distressed mother - I immediately clarify the description and precisely where she ran off from: it turns out that both these details are slightly incorrect on the initial call log. I shout up to al units the new information. I ask the mum questions about whether the child has a mobile, an Oyster card (free bus pass), and whether she uses buses and if she'd be likely to go anywhere in particular. It turns out she's only recently moved to the area and always wants to go back to her previous area - I note down the bus routes she might use and get her description circulated to the buses. Literally as I've just done this a unit has attended the home address and found the girl sitting outside. All's well that ends well! It has literally been less than ten minutes since the call came in.


We give mum a lift round to the house and it basically turned out to have been the kid having a strop about not wanting to go to school. We give child a bit of a telling off and a lift to school.


All this rushing about has made me hungry - so it's time for a bacon sarnie and a cup of tea: we go to a sandwich shop near the nick and buy our stuff. As we are heading back though another "I" graded call comes out literally around the corner from the nick.... *groan* - typical, when you have hot food on board. We blue light it over there and it turns out to be a really stupid argument over a parking space. All involved are told to grow up and clear off...... Suitably chastised we manage to get back to the nick with our bacon sarnies still warm.

I literally swallow the last mouthful when another call comes out around the corner - "a man has just hit me in the market and he's still here". Off we toddle again and find market day in full swing. the street is literally rammed with people. Our informant comes over and says that a man pushed her. I go and speak to him - he says he felt a tug on his bag and thought she was trying to steal items from it and he admits to pushing her gently away. We speak to market traders that basically verify the story. Words of advice all round.

It's now getting towards late morning. I still have some paperwork that needs sorting - my colleague has arranged to have a couple of hours annual leave at the end of the shift so I want to get my stuff sorted in the main station (I work out of a sattelite station) before i lose my lift!I head over there and need to get a CD of CCTV footage converted to a DVD format on request of the CPS. I get over there but the computers keep crashing.... eventually, after about 45 mins of trying I make some progress.

I go back to the yard and meet up with my colleague again. The inspector and a sergeant are standing there chatting to her and I go and join in. As we are chatting another "I" call comes out about a street robbery. I immediately put up for it and off we go.... as I am about to leave the sergeant says to me "your colleague's heading off soon, you don't need to take any more calls Ben, you've worked hard." We head to the robbery and are the second car on scene. Theh first car has the victim on board and is circulating the descriptions over the radio: they will take him on a drive around to look for the suspects. We conduct a search on the nearby estate for possible suspects but there is no trace.

It's now about 1230, we head back to the nick to do our paperwork before my colleague goes home early. I haven't really decided what I'll do for the last 90 minutes of the shift: probably ring round the rest of the team and offer to help with any jobs that they might need a hand with. I am writing the theft report and my colleague is doing the paperwork for the kid that ran off. I am putting the final touches to the theft report and my colleague has gone to get changed when I hear over the radio a PCSO clearly in a bit of distress.

"errr, we've been flagged down by a lady having what appears to besome kind of manic episode."

a few seconds later

"errr, she's punching anyone that come's near her. She's assaulted members of the public and ourselves. Can we have a police unit on the hurry up please?"

I can tell by the tone of voice that something isn't right.

I hear another colleague from a neighbouring station (but on the same team as me) put up to go to assist. I can tell by her call-sign that she'll be single crewed. I quickly private call her to confirm that she is, in fact, alone. She is so I offer to help if she swings by my nick to pick me up - it's on route anyway.

We are about to pull up outside the location and the PCSOs are panicing now. This lady sounds dangerous. I say to my colleague: "I'm not going to mess about with this one, I'm going to put the cuffs straight on." She agrees.

We get to the location and see the female ranting and raving about god, the devil, and everything else. She's bashing on a stranger's front door and waving her arms about....there are several worried looking MOPs standing by and two scared looking PCSOs. I walk straight up to the female and take a hold of her arm, my colleague goes for the other arm. I try and say something comforting and calm but as soon as I have a hold of her she goes to bite me! I push her face away and up against the front door - she's trying her level best to bite me and my colleague. We have an almighty roll around - she's extremely strong - eventually we get her on the floor and cuffed up. The PCSOs help out by sitting on her legs. It takes four of us to properly get her under control. Thank god I backed up my colleague! Single patrol eh?!

I cal up for someone to bring leg restraints. I must have sounded out of breath and a bit worried as every Tom Dick and Harry now seems to be putting up to come to our location! Once two more PCs arrive I feel it's all under control now so I cancel everyone else.

We get the lady into the van and cart her off to the 136 suite at the local mental health unit. After we get her in the van my colleague and I pat ourselves down.

Blast! I look down to my thumb and it's bleeding. When she went to bite me she succeeded, I didn't notice at the time, it must have been the adrenaline. My colleague also has a bit mark (more impressive than mine) on her hand - that too has drawn blood.

We get her to the 136 suite - she's not bitey anymore but she is still aggressive and manic. Within minutes of arrival she's sedated by teh staff there. I've never seen them take the decision to inject with sedatives so quickly!

It's now about 1530. I was due off half an hour ago. But I'm now injured and need to go and see the custody nurse. I update my skipper. We get there and get sent straight to hospital. Human bites can be very dangerous - it's a pathetic looking stratch but the nurse says that even a tiny amount of infected salaiva can cause horrible things. So i have a couple of hours in the hospital having blood taken and injections given. Grief! - and I had an optitian's appointment that afternoon! you can't make plans for after work in this job!


So, what should have been a 1500 finish has become a 2000 leaving hospital. We still have some paperwork to do. Whatever I can leave for tomorrow I will but there are some bits that need doing ASAP. We were also sent to one of the hospitals in central London, quite a way off our borough, because they have a special arrangement with the Met for dealing with these kinds of injuries - and they link in with our OH.

It's a fair drive back and traffic is heavy. All I want to do now is get home. We've jusst got back onto our borough - nearly there - when what's that we see ahead? Oh no! an RTC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We get flagged down.....

I try and find out if anyone is assigned - but they aren't and have no-one else to deal. It looks like I'm doing the work for this too!

Thankfully no-one is badly hurt and details are all exchanged. There was a question mark over one of the driver's insurance details though so i spent a good 20 mins on the phone ironing that out.... an easy job, but not one you want 13 hours into a shift!

We manage to get back to the nick at about 2130ish and spend half an hour doing some paperwork. Finally booking off at 2200.



All in a day's work - I'm back in at 0700 the next morning.....sad.png



 

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The London Riots in August 2011. Written 10 days later:

 

Your rank PC
Your length of service 2 1/2 years
Your location South East London (Met)
Your planned duty hours 1700-0300 (actual finish 1130)
Duty Type late shift

Date: 6th of August 2011

A bit of a different one here....

I start work at 1700 hours. As it's a weekend our late shfits are moved back a few hours to overlap more with the night shift. I'm operating on the "Q car" - working in plain clothes in an unmarked car equipped with blue lights and two tones. I'm not a massive fan of working in plain clothes but it is a nice change to spend a month doing something a bit different.

As it's late saturday afternoon by the time we start things are already busy and despite having a lot of officers on duty we are still scrabbling around for units to take calls: the Q car often gets left alone and we can be a bit more picky with what calls we can take (indeed, there are some calls we really shoudn't take - RTCs, domestics or anything where you really should be in uniform). The Q car is also designed to be a bit more proactive rather than reactive - finding out own trouble. However, today is busy so we get stuck in and take calls pretty much like any other response car.

A call comes in to a "suspects on" - there are some men on a roof of some garages stealing lead. My sergeant is running to it and she is a lot closer than us. She goes to the informant who was in a property overlooking the incident. He was alerted to what was going on by some very young children - by the time he looked out the men were off the roof but he did see some guys moving some items into a room of a building next door. My sergeant guides me and my colleague to the location where this happened. It's a well-known hostel with some well-known nominals in it. I turn up and speak to some young men near to where they were seen. The informant and the seargeant couldn't positively identify any of them as the one's who definately were on teh roof/moving the stuff about. I ask one of the guys "If I look in there will I find any lead?" (the room where someone was seen going in and out of and where this guy haas actually just walked out of when we arrived) And much to my surprise he says "yes"(!)

I immediately nick him on suspicion of handling stolen goods (I can't link him to being the chap initially on the roof - he doesn't match the description. I perform a s.32 PACE search on the room and lo and behold there is a quantity of lead roofing under the bed!

I take him into the nick for questioning and I have to deal with this case myself - I do the interview and he makes a full and frank confession: he said that the lead had just been given to him to look after by other residents in the hostel but he denies stealing it himself (this tallies with what our witnesses saw). He won't grass the others up. I'm sure we can get to the bottom of it in due course - but in the meantime we've got one charge for handling out of it. He's bailed out.

This whole process has taken a good few hours - such is life with British policing. It's now getting on for 2100 hours. Time for refs! We make our way to the takeaway (ringing our orders in ahead). On the way back a general message gets broadcast on our personal radios. No-one is to go home, a force mobalisation has been declared due to disorder in Tottenham. What?! - that was unexpected.... I immediately look on BBC news on my iphone. Nothing of note on there - it can't be that serious.

A minute or two later a roll-call of 7 level two officers (shield-trained public order officers) currently on duty is read out and told to report to our central police station at once. I only did the training 3 days before for the first time. I'm a complete rookie. My number is read out.

To be honest - I'm more irritated than anything else. I have no idea what is going on - but I've just got a steaming curry which I've been looking forward to for ages and this undoubtedly will mean I'll be off really late, unable to get home, and probably sitting on a carrier waiting for something to happen which never will do. i have a moan to my driver as we make our way to my nick so I can pick up my gear.

I arrive at the police station (a sattelite one - not the central one) and there is a buzz of activity. Most people aren't going up - it seems we're only sending one carrier. I head into the kitchen area to eat a couple of mouthfuls of curry (I don't know when I'm going to get to eat again) and then rush off to change into uniform (I'm in plain clothes remember) and get my riot gear. As I'm doing this I pass some officers watching a television and for the first time what is happening hits me.

I can see images of angry mobs rioting in Tottenham. A rumour goes around that we're going to be sent to the Broadwater Farm estate. My mouth goes dry and a shiver goes down my spine. I'mamazed that the name of this estate doesn't have much of a resonance with some of the PCs - do none of them know their history? Of course, amongst the sergeants and older members of the team the name is haunted.

This is begining to get serious. I don't know what our deployment will be so I put on my beat duty uniform and carry my riot kit in my bag. I head over to the main nick to meetup with my serial: we're a motley bunch made up from two different teams. I know most of them quite well though. I walk into the canteen where we were told to meet up and one of the sergeants says in a firm voice: "for god's sakes Ben, get kitted up!!!" He's watching the news and things are going from bad to worse. We're going into the middle of it.

I don't have my usual undergarments for my level two kit with me (long sleeved t shirt and joggers) so it's going to have to go straight over the top of my beat duty uniform. Someone comes in with some long sleeved tops we give to prisoners who have their clothes seized. I gratefully take one.

I've only ever worn the kit a couple of times and I think I look daft in it. I'm not a big bloke, I'm short, not muscley at all and wear glasses. One of my best friends on team always shouts out "awww, aint' he cute, Harry Potter off to war" whenever they see me in it. It always gets giggles from the others. I get kitted up in the writing room in front of all the other PCs. Jokes are being made but the seriousness of the developing situation is becoming clearer by the minute. The jokes are getting more nervous and I can see worry in the eyes of the PCs that aren't going when they look at our little group.

After getting dressed I make my way out to the carrier - I meet the sergeant who will be leading our serial up there by the bus. I'm glad it's him. He's ex-TSG, an all round nice bloke, compotent, confident and has seen his fair share of action. I wouldn't rather be with anyone else. He's business like and getting us to all look after eachother. He tells us we're heading straight for the middle of it and we're to meet up with our "bronze" commander outside Tottenham police station. We blue light it to North London........


As we pass the southern suburbs of London, then central London Saturday night is in full swing. It looks like any other Saturday night - people drinking and laughing in pubs and bars. As we go through trendy shoreditch I'm amazed at how no-one seems to bat an eyelid at our little bus zooming towards a full-scale riot.

We go up through Stoke Newington and as we pass the nick we see the first signs of the unfolding police operation: lots of carriers are apparently RVPing there - we just blat straight past to the riot a few miles up the road. We arrive in Tottenham a couple of minutes later.

I'm not ashamed to admit I was scared. I've never been scared, properly scared, before in this job before. But today I am - I feel slightly sick, my mouth is dry and I have an impending sense of dread. Stories from 1985 circle in my head over and over again - I have an interest in police history and have read accounts of what happened in Tottenham before over and over again. I now wish I didn't have such an interest. As we push up the main road the air is thick with smoke, I can see fires up ahead and huge crowds milling about. The whole place stinks of burning. There is shattered glass and bricks all over the floor. It's like something out of hell.

We get behind a cordon of officers - they are only level 3 officers -wearing normal beat duty uniforms - and we meet up with the "bronze" commander. The rest of our PSU (we are supposed to form a unit with two other buses of officers) has not arrived but there is an urgent task at hand - the fire brigade need escorting to the site of a fire. We get thrown together with a some different officers to make up a makeshift PSU and form a "bubble" around a fire crew and advance towards the site of a fire (if you saw the clip that was repeatedly used on BBC of the officers marching with the fire brigade this is that incident). We leave the safety of the cordon and march past the crowd. At this point we're not being attacked - many of the people in the crowd seem to be just spectators - others are chanting slogans and abuse at us. For god's sake! We're here to put out a fire!

We march a few hundred metres up the road but then the fire brigade commander decides to go back - I'm not entirely sure why - I think it's because another fire engine has got through via a different route. We return to our cordon. On the march back more abuse and insults are coming our way.

The crowd at this end are getting a bit more abusive now - people are coming right up to us and shouting abuse. There's nothing physical. Yet. The flames are behind us. I assume the riot is too.

I see Jody Mcintyre in his wheelchair - it's amazing how the same faces crawl out of the woodwork (I call over my sergeant just to make him aware who he is and that he and his mates may try to provoke some sort of reaction from us to feed his anti-police agenda). At one point Jody stands directly in front of the police line for a minute or two in what can only be described as some sort of bizarre challenge. He then wheels his own chair awkwardly to one side. I see him a bit later courting a camera crew.

The most bizarre thing is though is the people that still want to get through and walk up brazen as anything to a line of police in riot gear. One tries to just barge past me and politely gets pushed back. It's for their own safety and they don't seem to grasp that a full-scale riot is taking place: despite the smoke in the air and the bricks on the ground. - Breaking the chronology a second, I was greatly amused much later on when things were calming down by a drunk guy who insisted and insisted that he had the right to come through. He was swearing, arguing and just wouldn't take the hint. He argued for a good twenty minutes and then eventually cleared off. Five minutes later he returned with what I assumed was an amateur film crew to air his grievences on camera. After a pointless argument with some (very polite) police officers the camera guy (who we assumed would be on his side) said "dude, you've made me waste 10 minutes of film! I'm already low on battery - I thought you had a genuine complaint against these guys. You're just a drunk twit!" +1 for the Old Bill!

The crowd were slowly turning more hostile. The demographics of the crowd were changing too - there was a real mix of people before, old, young, black, white, male, female - plus quite a significant contingent of orthodox jews. Now the crowd seemed to mostly consist of young men in tracksuits - many with masked faces. It was getting a bit more sinister - I thought the riot was behind us!!!

Then came the bricks and bottles.

We came under a heavy shower of missiles from the crowd. In training it was a bit like tennis - you see them coming towards you and bat them away with your shield. Now it was dark and you had no idea where they were coming from. You can see members of the crowd with their arms going in throwing motions, you try and follow the missile but it gets lost in the dark sky. The next thing you know it's on top of you. I took a brick square in the shoulder. It knocked me back a pace or two but fortunately my pads protected me quite well. My colleague, who had also only just done her training with me, got hit square in the groin.

For several hours we stood there and took it. bottles, bricks, fireworks - you name it. It was extremely frustrating but we just didn't have the resources to go forward. Behind us there was no-one. If we charged forward then people would have easily got in behind us and that would have been a disaster. I could hear other units elsewhere in the riot screaming for urgent assistance - officers were getting hurt. It was so frustrating not being able to go to them - but we had to hold our line where we were.

All of a sudden a police car - that was about 50 metres in front of us - initially manned by one PC directing traffic when we arrived came under sustained attack and then burst into flames! What happened to that PC that was up there?! no-one seemed to know in all the confusion. We had to go and check. We drew batons and were ordered forward in a rush.

This is when the "100 metre heroes" come into play. All the big men that want to shout and throw things suddenly become cowards when we actually advance. We were outnumbered 5 to 1 but these cowardly criminals have no appetite for a real fight. We get within a few metres of the car and we are satisfied that the PC is long gone. We return to our previous positions and we watch the car burn.

We've been on this line for hours now. I'm starving but more to the point I am desperate for a drink. The public order clothing makes me sweat like anything. I've not eaten or even drunk anything properly for hours and hours. About 0300 hours things are quieter in my sector and we reduce the number of people on the line to have rolling breaks.

I go into Tottenham nick and see dozens of exhausted looking PCs sprawled all around the nick. I manage to find a cup and a tap and liberally down several cup loads of water. I then sit in the abandoned front office, alone in the dark, for five minutes to gather my thoughts and get the welcome effects of a fan someone has left on. I potter into the yard to find my colleagues and I see the best, most welcome, operational feeding ever! Someone has turned up in a minibus rammed full of chocolate bars, bottled water and bananas.... where they got them I have no idea. I get a much-needed sugar hit!

We resume our position on the line a short time later. Not much is happening here now (we have the incident with the drunk guy and the film crew). We can hear reports of looting and sparodic disorder elsewhere but here it seems our battle is over. By the sounds of it we didn't have the worse of it but it was still tough - I wasn't prepared for it when I woke up the previous morning.

We stand on the line for another few hours - at about 0930 we are relieved by a group of officers who had arrived from Thames Valley and Kent. I never thought I'd be so grateful to see the county mounties!

We get back on the bus and each write a statement for the night's activities - paperwork doesn't stop just because there's a riot! We then "move the carrier around" to get it pointing in the right direction for leaving (it's actually just an excuse to go on a little drive to see the devesation behind our position. It's amazing. The sight of the Carpetright building, the remains of the bus and the burnt out police cars are all like something out of a disaster film. Bleary-eyed residents are starting to emerge and gaze in shock and disbelief at the state of their high street. I take a few photos on my phone.

The morning shifts are still organising their reliefs and their roles. We sit for what seems like ages but eventually we are told we can go - it's been a long night but the sergeant has to go for a debrief at the control centre - frankly, it's an unwanted delay for all. We sit outside for quite a while and then someone mentions McDonalds. I am suddenly starving. We drive off in search of a sausage and egg McMuffin.

We get in the queue when the sergeant rings us and we tell him we're getting some breakfast. He says "come back and pick me up, we need to go home". We leave without getting our breakfast!!! one PC looks close to tears!

A few seconds later the sergeant rings again - he misunderstood - he thought we said we'd already had breakfast! He says that of course we can get sme food! and he'd like a McMuffin too! suitably fortified we went and collected him and went back to the nick. Our duties office had already rang us and told us we had to be back in work for 1900 that evening. We book off at 1130.

It's only the start of one of the longest weeks of my life....

Edited by bensonby
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An incident from 2011, but written about 18 months later:

 

 

Rank PC
Length of service just coming up to 4 years
Location Metrpolitan Police Area - South London
Duty Night Duty 1900-0700 August 2011



This is a report of a duty which happened just over a year ago. I write it now because I was recently reminded of it (the reason why will come later) and it demonstrates the excitement, satisfaction and frustration that is inherent in this job: and how all of these emotions can be brought out by one incident.

I was night duty in the Plain Clothes Car at the end of August 2011. It had been a hectic month because of the riots. We were doing extended twelve hour shifts and I had not had a day off in weeks. I, along with everyone else, was exhausted and, to be honest, I wasn't in the mood for being particularly proactive - I wanted an easier a shift as possible. However, in the preceding few days we'd had a series of arsons and we thought it was a linked series (unconnected to the riots it seemed) and they had been happening at night time. So we were on our guard and were to spend the night hanging about possible vulnerable areas - the arsonist had appeared to be targetting the service areas around the back of blocks of flats.

Early in the shift I went to the council CCTV control room: I occassionally used to pop in for a chat and I wanted to make sure they had been briefed about the arsonist and knew to be on the lookout for suspicious characters (we didn't have any particular description to be going on). They hadn't been made aware (!) so I briefed them with all I knew. Not much was going on (I found the nights in the weeks after the riots to be erilee quiet) so we just spent most of the night driving around, knocking back the coffee and generally taking it slowly.

Then, at about 0300 hours there was a call to a fire at the back of a huge development on our ground: a 1960s monstrosity of hundreds of flats split across loads of levels with a warren of passageways leading to the various exits/entrances and car parks spread over several floors. Fortunately despite the area where the fire was being underneath where some of the flats were someone managed to wake up the LFB in time and the relatively minor fire hadn't spread far. It was clear, though, that it was arson.

My colleague and I raced to the area when we heard the call come out...on the way someone broadcast a description of a bloke that they had seen running off - they were unable to give chase as they had seen him from another balcony level (remember this place is a concrete maze).

We drove around a side road and back onto the main road when I saw a bloke acting a bit strangely, (not that walking about at 0300 is not strange in itself - in my part of London apparently it's perfectly normal!), he kept on glancing around and seemed very nervous. We spun the car around and I got onto the radio for a clarification of the description of the man seen running away. As soon as my colleague started speaking this man got on his toes and started running! We were about 50 metres away but a car is no match for feet. My colleague was still talking on the radio but it was imperitive that I let people know that we were now chasing, I pushed my orange button to cut in....

"Chasing suspects..." I shouted, forgetting that there is a split-second delay for the mic to kick in - I found out later that no-one actually heard me say those immortal words. What they did hear was something altogether more embarassing.

In the time that it had taken me to push the button on the radio and shout my message our car had caught up parallel to the man and my colleague shouted out of the window to him at the top of his voice:

"Stop there you F* * * ing C* * t (!)"

err.... I have no idea why he chose those particular words, he's usually an extremely professional officer and I've hardly ever heard him swear. I put it down to the fatigue of our long shifts coupled with the adrenaline of the chase. Either way, it blared out across the airwaves to the whole borough and was no-doubt recorded.... from my radio! It took a lot of convincing my colleagues that it wasn't me who uttered the now-famous words.

Anyway, I piled out of the car shouting my location and chased the man down in a few metres. Another car was screeching to a halt next to me. I grabbed the suspect's arm and got a cuff on his wrist. At that moment I could feel the man relax somewhat, I knew he was giving up, I half spun him around in order to get the other wrist in the handcuff but at that second I saw a uniform bundle straight into him and knock him flying to the ground. A colleague had leapt on him.

At the time and afterwards I felt this was over the top. I asked my mate about it later on: "That was a bit heavy-handed wasn't it? He had given up". However, from where my mate was standing he saw the man turning around and thought he was turning to take a swing at me. In that split second he had to make a decision and acted upon what he saw - or thought he saw. The whole incident didn't take any longer than a second and a half. It just goes to show how perception plays such a cruical point when looking at use of force - often that perception is formed in the smallest of moments and one man's perception can be very different to another. My mate could not have been expected to pick up the almost imperceptable relaxations in the suspect's arm as I cuffed him - all he saw was a suspect turning as soon as I laid hands on him.

We searched the detainee and found a can of lighter fluid up his arm. He also stank of petrol. I was elated: I'd caught the arsonist!

He was booked in back at the nick: I arrested him on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. We seized all his clothes, booked in the lighter fluid etc. and did the usual checks on him - he had previously served several years at Her Majesty's Pleasure for arson. Result! It was definately our man.

I handed the man over to CID for the investigation and he was subsequently nicked for a series of arsons that had happened recently in the local area. I got a mention in the borough newsletter, the arsons stopped, and I didn't really think much more of it. The matter was in the hands of the CID and I wouldn't have much more to do with it unless I was called to court.


I checked the crime report a couple of months later when I was writing my PDR and I was scandalised to find that the matter was NFA'd(!!!!!). The CID officer dealing bought the suspect's story that he was a sniffer and had the lighter fluid to sniff to get high. It struck me as an intensly lazy investigation to be frank - although it was not for me to judge. Previously I dealt with a case that the CID refused to take on and took it to Crown Court and secured a conviction - sometimes I'm not the biggest fan of some CID officers (that said, there are also some fantastic ones). I was annoyed, but there was nothing I could do about it. Plus, the arsons had stopped at least. This job can be intensely frustrating at the best of times....




I'd all but forgotton that night last August. I moved jobs to a neighbourhood team and threw myself into neighbour disputes and the slightly quieter life away from car chases and arsonists. However, my neighbouring ward had two arsons with a simlar MO within a couple of nights a few weeks ago. I wondered, just wondered, if it could be my man again.... I went through my old record of work and found the bloke's name. I passed it on to my mate on the neighbouring ward just to do some checks.

It turns out it wasn't him.... my suspect was currently in prison.

A few weeks after the matter was NFA'd he was caught by BTP on a railway yard fanning a fire! He was subsequently charged with that and all the previous arsons that were NFA'd and is now serving 20 years for them.

Turns out I had the right man after all!

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December 2011: my time on response draws to a close:

 

Your rank PC
Your length of service 3 and a bit years
Your location South East London (Met)
Your planned duty hours 2200-0700
Duty Type Night Duty

Date: 15th of December 2011





I was on my last couple of shifts as part of a response team. I've been on the same team since joining the job but have recently secured a position on a Safer Neighbourhood Team: something I'd wanted to do since joining the job. It was to be one of the last shifts for quite a long time that I'd be posted out in a response car.

The night started slowly: it was hammering down with rain and it seemed most of the criminals, and most of our law-abiding residents, wouldn't be venturing out tonight. It was bitterly cold and thoroughly miserable - I was convinced it was going to be a painfully slow night where nothing happened and we'd spend hours upon hours circling around in the driving rain. We went to a couple of "nonsense" calls - a few drunk people having arguments in eachothers' houses: nothing to interest me at all.

I was posted out with a good mate of mine, we were chatting about everything on the sun when he gets a call from the sergeant: The sergeant is bored too and asks if we want to meet at one of the police stations for a cup of tea. We head over there and have a brew. The sergeant is posted with a brand new sergeant to our team, I've not met him yet and we say our hellos and drink our tea.... nothing is going on, we're already nearly at the halfway point in the shift. Policing can be very boring at times! When I lived at home and came back and told my mum about what a boring shift I'd had as nothing had happened she'd say: "surely that's a good thing! It means there were no victims!" Of course, she was right...... a bored policeman is a safe environment. Is it therefore bad that sometimes I wish for stuff to happen?

As we drank our tea something began to change: it was inperceptable at first, we could hear several rather bored officers putting up traffic stops, one after the other, but something clearly began to seem odd. All the people getting stopped were all known baddies - burglars out and about - some of them were really old-school ones that I hadn't heard from for over a year.... one after the other nominals were being put up over the radio....I've never heard anything quite like it. Then, all of a sudden, a car makes off from one of our colleagues. He never got behind it in time to pursue.

We dash out of the station: something is up tonight. All of the cars across the borough descend on the area where this car recently made off. Is a one-night crime spree about to take place?

We scour the streets for this car: all we have to go on is that it is a black BMW. Other units are prowling around now too - I hear that another car has a vehicle stopped with yet more known faces in - which they are turning over. What's going on?! I've never known a night like this! Everyone is out and about.

I run into another mate in his police car and have a chat through the windows, the area is now flooded with police but we can both sense something: "There's going to be a car chase tonight, I can feel it" he says. I can feel it too....

We "cruise" (sorry to use an Americanism!) the area for another half an hour or so... Going down a rather major road we see a dark BMW shoot pass us in the opposite direction and turn down a side road. We turn after it and about 50 metres or so down the road it does a 180-degree handbrake turn and faces us. This is very strange. This could well be our bandit car from earlier. We face the car head-on at the distance of about 50 metres in a stand off. Neither car moves. Then, with a loud roar the car zooms towards us.....

It passes us with inches to spare at a speed of what must have been approaching 50 mph. We spin round after it and my colleague puts his blues and twos on. The BMW isn't stopping. The chase is on.

I pick up the vehicles radio set that is tuned into our Pan-London channel and say the immortal words in my calmest, clearest voice:

"MP MP, Active message Papa Lima Two-One, we have a vehicle failing to stop"

The monotonous voice of the controller at the other end tells me to go ahead with the vehicle index and location.

I'm half way through my next broadcast when the BMW turns down a side road and attempts another handbrake turn. However, this time he loses it and only manages 90 degress - his car is now stuck across the road. Four lads then jump out and starburst in different directions. I fling myself from my car, I can't even remember if we had fully stopped, I know for a fact that I left the car door open in my haste. My colleague will go for the driver: I fix myself on one of the passengers and run as fast as I can towards him: afterwards I realise I didn't even look at the other occupants of the car - I really had tunnel vision, intent on catching my man. I shout down my radio as I hot-foot it after my suspect.

"Chasing suspects" - followed by road name and description.

The lad I'm chasing is young and fast. I'm a bit out of shape and am wearing a stab-vest and kit belt. However, my adrenaline must be better than his because after 200m or so I'm gaining on him. The suspect looks around and can see this. He is clearly running out of puff..... he turns as if to face me.

Seeing this I rack out my baton and hold it out as if to make a strike. I shout at him "police! Get on the floor now!" He hesitates for a fraction of a second and then moves towards the floor. I help him to the ground with one hand guiding him down by grabbing onto the back of his clothing. I'm by myself here and I don't know where the other suspects are. I throw my baton to one side and immediately get on top of the suspect and handcuff him behind his back. I then pick up my baton and stash it back on my belt. The suspect is lying on the soddon ground (remember it was raining heavily) and I pat him down. He doesn't seem to have anything on him. I call over the radio "Male detained". One of the most satisfying updates you can give!

More units are heading towards us, looking for the outstanding suspects. I hear my driver has arrested the driver of the suspect car. A police car turns up and I sit my suspect in it. Doing checks on the suspects in the vehicle it soon becomes clear that this is a burglary team out and about - two of them are PPOs from back in the day, I know one has just come out of prison.

Unfortunately the only two caught that night were the two arrested by my colleague and I. A containment and search by police dogs yields nothing. I suppose the rain didn't help.

We believed the car to be stolen so they were arrested for driving offences and TDA (TWOC). But perhaps more importantly we disrupted a burglary team and gained some excellent new intelligence that these characters are back out and about and associating with one another.

All in all a good night and a good way to end that stage of my career on team.

 

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Early 2012 - SNT:

 

Your rank - PC
Your length of service - 3 1/2 years
Your planned duty hours - 1400-0000

I've only recently moved to the post of neighbourhood officer on an SNT. I'm finding my way slowly but surely and enjoying the new challenges I face; contrary to popular belief (well, at least amongst the response officers) neighbourhood officers can be very busy. I've been exceptionally busy because currently I am the only police officer on the team although I am backed up by some very good PCSOs. I've only been in post for three months but I am learning fast and I enjoy it immensely.

I come in every day and check my emails: and there can be lots! I also check the overnight crime reports and anything else that's been happening on my patch whilst I've not been on duty. Depending on how many people have contacted me, how many crimes have taken place etc. I can easily spend a couple of hours sorting through the admin: if I have to follow up things over the phone etc. then it can be even longer. It can be frustrating because I joined this role to be out and about in the community and not being a desk-jockey. The burden will be helped out massively when I get a new PC on the team - which I'm told will probably be in about a month's time.


Today there isn't a huge amount (although I find out that one of the more obscure enquiries last week, was actually a "mystery shopper" from the Mayor's Office and I scored very highly with my response!) and in any case, I've got to be out in the first hour as we have a 'surgery' planned. This is at a local supermarket: we lay out a little stall of leaflets etc. and people can come up to have a chat. The point of the surgery is so that people can contact us about things they might not have thought to bother to give us a ring about, to be seen out and about in the community, to provide people with our contact details, and to introduce ourselves to the community at large. Today is a Saturday afternoon and the supermarket is very busy. We set up by the entrance and have a fair few "good afternoons" etc. but no-one really wants to bother having much of a chat. (to be honest, if people really did have something on our minds they'd call us - most people here just want to do their shopping).

I see one or two recent victims of burglary that are out doing their shopping. I ask how they are and provide a bit of reassurance. Some kids come up for a sticker. But the flow of people who want to talk to us is very very low. As I'm standing there I people-watch which is quite enjoyable. Enjoyable that is until I spot one of our well-known local drunks meandering across the car park... I know exactly what he's going to do....and sure enough within 5 seconds of spotting him he goes up to a family, hand outstretched begging. This chap can be really quite intimidating when he puts his mind to it so I march straight over to him and call out "John!"* He spins round. "Leave the good people alone and clear off. If you carry on making a nuisance of yourself I'll lock you up." He grumbles and I walk him out of the carpark onto the street. I warn him that if I receive any complaints about him today he'll be locked up for the weekend until court on Monday. He grumbles and walks off. I call up the CCTV control room and tell them to keep an eye on him - he's as well known to them as he is to me....


I return to my little stand with my PCSO colleague.

A few minutes later I don't believe it - another one of our local drunks is bimbling up the pedestrian walkway to the entrance of the shop. What is this? Tesco-Sponsors-your- ASBO-day? I walk up to him and say: "alright Harry, what you up to today?" He slurs back that he's come to use the toilet. I, thinking it is far better that he actually goes to the loo where God intended rather than up a bus shelter, am actually pleasantly surprised. "Alright matey, you know where it is?" He stumbles into the shop and straight into the loos. Surprisingly he comes straight back out without trying to shoplift or pick a fight with the security guard.

But then he makes a beeline for me.... that always makes me groan inside....he walks straight up to me and says in a quiet voice "nick me".

"pardon Harry"

"Nick me"

"why would I want to do that?"

"Nick me, I'm drunk, I'll smash a window"

"no you won't, don't be silly and go home"

The really sad thing is that he genuinely wants to get arrested. Pretty much every time I see him. He's in and out of prison all the time and he just can't cope on the outside. Harry cuts a pathetic figure, he's tiny (about 5 foot tall and as thin and fragile as you could be), he stinks and every part of his clothing is disturbingly sticky.

Harry decides that he quite likes me and tries to engage me in conversation but I have no idea what the conversation was about as it was mainly one way and the vocabulary was insdistinguishable from the slurs and grunts. He then turns around and says to a much larger, much fitter, man who was minding his one business and leaving the store:

"what you looking at, I'll knock you out" - or words to that effect. No-one, not even my grandmother could feel threatened by this. Harry is a pathetic specimen.

I take a hold of his arm, which feels like it could snap like a twig, and say "honestly, mate, you're going to get yourself killed one day, come on...."

I frog march him down the walkway and back onto the street. I send him on his way like I did with John and told CCTV to keep an eye on him. I've got better things to do than nick these people - but I will not hesitate to if I get a complaint about them.

I go and wash my hands.

Our hour at the shop done we pack up and head off. Towards the end of the time there my PCSO colleague received a call on the team mobile saying some kids were being a nuisance in a street not too far away - kicking a ball against cars. We potter over to have a look but they are all gone. We have a walk around out patch for a couple of hours but there isn't anything to speak of happening.

We get back to the nick several hours into the shift. It's definately time for some tea. I have an omlette and a cup of tea from the canteen. The PCSO has brought their own food. They have arranged with the sergeant to go home early today - no-one else is in so it looks like the last few hours I'll be on my own. I really don't mind working alone to be honest.

After grub I head off out again. It's getting dark and I head up to an area where ASB has been quite a problem and is in danger of escalating: a group of youths regularly hang out on a balcony in front of some flats and sometimes they smoke drugs. It has lead to confrontation with local residents and last week a crime report had to go on. The problem is that the balcony is a vantage point and they can see us coming no matter what way we approach them from. we've taken the issue up with the housing association and we patrol it very regularly (although the way some residents go on you'd think we'd never been within a mile of this estate - which irritates me no end as we spend hours up there).

Today no-one is on the balcony, but I decide I'm going to stand up there - being seen by both residents and youths alike. One of the youths lives on that landing and at one point they come out with one of their mates (who does not) and see me but promptly ignore my cheery "good evening, how are you doing? Off out anywhere interesting?" I think I've spoiled their plans for that evening. Oh well! I don't have any grounds to search them unfortunately....but I'm sure there'll be a next time.

After an uneventful half an hour on the balcony I take a walk down to the local shopping parade. There aren't many people about here either. But then a call comes in to the local train station of a woman screaming: I'm only about 2 minutes away so I make my way - I know I'll beat the police car even with its blue lights which is always satisfying!

It's a call from a third party and they update to say that the people in question have moved into a side road. I turn the corner and see the two people clearly - it's nothing. Two drunk people having a bit of a "full and frank exchange of views" (I hope that's what they actually wrote on the CAD when I resulted it as such tongue.png). I give them advice to keep it down and I duly cancel the IRV that's on its way.

After this, satisfied I've done my bit to keep the shops safe, I potter down to one of the two parks we have on the area: It's a lovely park and I recently applied for (and won) an award. It's very popular and always bustling with people. Except it shouldn't be right now....it's dark and it's closed.

I pop in.

After about 2 minutes I find a group of youths in the park. I'm actually not too bothered about it - I can fully understand that they want a place of their own to be away from parents etc. but we have had people smoking a bit of cannabis, leaving some litter and creating a bit of noise in the past. So I get them to leave. They are nice kids to be honest, but I don't want the problems that happened here before to develop. I give them advice and they leave.

When I'm in the park another "I" call comes out just up the road: a man is apparently trying to break into some flats - he's in the courtyard and up against a window. Several units put up for it, I'm about a 6 or 7 minute walk away so I go too.... and, a bit more surprisingly this time, I'm first on scene again. I get up to the big gate of the courtyard and look through. I can't see anyone. But at that point a man comes up to me and says: "that's him officer" I look to where he is pointing and see a man peering through the window of a pub which is just along from where I am. I walk up to him and say "can I have a word sir".

He looks at me and it is soon clear that he is drunk: I give my "GOWISELY" and proceed to search him for articles for going equipped (i.e. things to break into houses and so on).

I feel something long and hard up his arm. I ask what it is and immediately place him in handcuffs. I'm alone and I feel a little uneasy. He tells me to "F*** off". Again, I challenge him and tell him to be calm and not to be aggressive. He tenses up, grits his teeth, leans his head towards me and says "I'll have you, I'll put you on the F***ing floor". I've had enough. I'm feeling a little threatened - although he's in handcuffs they are only to the front and I'm by myself. He could still do some damage and I still don't know what's up his arm.

I give grab him near the collar of hisi coat and pull him to the floor loudly shouting "get on the ground!" He counters this by half-walking around in a circle - dispersing the downward momentum of me pulling him. He's still on his feet. Now he's shouting obscenities at me.

I see a low flowerbox on the pavement near me so push him towards that thereby tripping him. I guide him to the ground and lay him on his side. A crowd of drunks from the pub start shouting at me saying I'm being heavy-handed and that he "hasn't done anything".

Well, it might not have looked much - but you try safely restraining one man who is about your size when he has threatened to do you harm!

Within a minute or two a police car turns up and we get the man on his feet and finish the search. It turns out it was a bottle up his arm. Not a weapon - but I'm sure he could have hurt me with it nonetheless! I arrest him for a public order offence and put him in a van that promptly arrives. He's still shouting and swearing and threatening to do all manner of things to me. It turns out he wasn't trying to break in - it appears he was just drunkenly wandering - perhaps to relieve himself - in the courtyard. I thank the officers that turned up to help (who are all surprised that I got there first and am alone!)

On the journey to the nick the man is working himself up into more and more of a frenzy. I try and calm him down but he seems to have taken such a dislike to me that no matter what I say or do he will continue. He's headbutting the cage door, kicking it, spitting and threatening to do all sorts of things to me, my family and future descendents. Oh well....

Back at the nick we have a welcoming committee... he get's taken straight the cell - yelling his threats all the way - searched and left in there using our well drilled cell-relocation technique. What a charming man.

I see one of the sergeants with a smile on his face behind the desk: "Ben, why is it whenever I see you with a prisoner they are always spitting, fighting and generally hate you. You've got a lovely face: who'd want to hit it?"

Another skipper turns around and says, "I'm getting tempted with all these prisoners he brings in for me."
I think he was joking..... tongue.png

The first skipper says: "Out and about alone again? For a little fella you seem to hold your own quite well"

To be honest, most of my prisoners are compliant - I fully believe in talking people down as much as possible. It's just been that the most recent few have been nightmares!

I do the booking in procedure, do my paperwork and hand it over for the morning team: he's too drunk to be dealt with now. It's almost exactly midnight and home time!

It isn't all coffee mornings and visiting the elderly on an SNT.....I'm back in at 8 in the morning. For, err, a coffee morning!

 

 

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More SNT, from early 2013:

 

Rank: PC
Force: Metropolitan Police Service
Length of Service: 4 and a bit years
Type of Duty: SNT shift
Duty: 1200-2200

 

How you can both despair and feel proud in one day.

 

I book on and sort out some paperwoek - as is usual for my job. Sometimes I can be kept in for most of the shift dealing with ongoing issues: neighbour disputes mainly, but also researching warrants, following up crimes, ringing people who have left messages for us on the phone with various enquiries etc. etc. It can be immensely satisfying when you solve someone's issue but more often than not it can be extremely frustrating not being able to solve people's problems as effectively, or as quickly, as they would like. On this occassion I spend about an hour in the nick dealing with stuff when I get a phone call asking me to go and arrest one of our local nominals for breaching his bail the night before. This chap is only 16 years old but already has 17 previous convictions (and several cautions): most for burglary. The mind boggles quite frankly - how are the myriad agencies that this boy is in contact with still allowing him to continue to commit crime? He shows utter contempt for the law and is repeatedly released. We have done our jobs in presenting many (at least 17) cases to the courts to the standard of proof that will convict him but he is still continuing his one-boy crime wave. He was out the previous night beyond his curfew. He was picked up as absent on his tag.

 

I know where this lad lives and have quite a good relationship with the manager there. Rather than walk around there myself I pick up the phone and say:

 

"Hi, it's PC bensonby here. Is Jack in? I need to speak to him"

 

I am told he is indeed in but will be leaving for his YOT (Youth Offending Team) appointment in 5 minutes.

 

I decide not to get the staff to ask him to wait there because he will know the game is afoot: I will pick him up outside the YOT office which is around the corner from the nick. I give it 15 minutes and head over there with a colleague but when I speak to the staff at the YOT office they don't know anything about him. Curious I think, my mate heads off to do his bits and bobs and I decide to walk the mile or so to the hostel to see what the score is. As I enter the office area they say to me: "He's literally just left, he's with a staff member and they are heading to the bus stops to go to the YOT in another borough". I curse myself for not asking the obvious question on the phone earlier: "which YOT office is he going to". Thankfully he is running late and is still within the local area. I run onto the main road and can see him about 150 metres away walking away from me with two care staff from the hostel. I briskly walk towards him - I don't want to start running as he will almost certainly see me and get away - typically, I find, for a certain type of individual we deal with, he looks 180 degrees behind him every 10 metres or so. I catch up with him after a few minutes, walking directly up behind him and in one movement I take a hold of his arm and say:

 

"Jack, you breached your bail last night."

 

"you whaaaa....?" he says in surprise...

 

"You were out after 8pm when your curfew was set for. You're going to have to come with me to the police station. you are under arrest."

 

I have a loose hold on his wrist and I reach for the handcuffs. He relaxes somewhat and appears for a second to come quietly. Then, all of a sudden, he yanks as hard as he can and makes to run off. I was caught a bit off guard by this movement but I still have a grip on him, his back is now facing me and I grasp the back of his coat with my other hand - not having managed to unclip my cuffs.

 

"Stop" I shout, rather uselessly and then engage with a rather comic game of wriggling about on the pavement as he turns this way and that in order to get away. Although I'm a lot bigger than him he is still quite strong and trying to get someone under control who is using all their strength is really rather hard - no matter how small they are.

 

I still can't get that good a grip on him and decide the best thing to do would be to trip him up, this ends up in us both falling in a heap on the floor and the game of wriggling and writhing taking place in the prone position. I've always found that as long as you keep a grip with one hand you will win eventually - even if it does mean carrying on the dance until someone else turns up. I keep trying to get to the radio to give my location but can only manage a word or two at a time due to needing both hands to try to get him under control.

 

"unit on the hurry up please"

 

scuffle, wriggle "STOP RESISTING"

 

"the High Road"

 

trip, kick, drag, "YOU'RE UNDER ARREST"

 

"junction with Acacia Avenue"

 

We end up on a low wall near the building line, there is a narrow gap between this wall and the building. I essentially just push him into the gap, no more than two feet wide and put my body weight onto him. This allows me to gain a significant amount of control and I get one handcuff onto him. He keeps pulling away but once a cuff is on you've won 90% of the battle, he's soon in handcuffs properly and has more or less given up. It's mainly verbals now. But what of the bystanders in all of this? I have been struggling with a suspect for about a minute now - and this is a busy road, a man pops his head around the corner from the nearby garage forecourt, cars are slowing down to look, the two carers from the care home are standing by. Now, I didn't ask explicitly for any assistance - therefore none of these people are guilty of a criminal offence - but wouldn't it be safer and quicker for all involved to lend, or at least offer, a hand? Frankly, I find it pathetic - now, I know I'm a police officer, but the last time I saw a police officer struggling with someone I was hands on in the blink of an eye - much to the gratitude of the BTP officer in question. At least one of the carers had the good manners afterwards to say "well done, you did really well" afterwards. It seemed rather hollow though.

 

Anyway, within a minute or two a van turns up and I place the prisoner in it. The van crew have a bit of a laugh as apparently I have mud on my face, my trousers are heavily covered in dirt and my shoes are scuffed something rotten. I am most annoyed about the last one as they will never polish out now.

 

I take him in and book him in. They manage to get him into afternoon court and I find out later he was essentially immediately released.

 

Now what was the point?

 

There is no joy in dwelling on such things so I try not to. I do a few more bits - a breach of bail arrest is a quick job as it's just an arrest statement, a statement from the tag monitors, and a printout of the copy of the bail conditions. I have a bite to eat and head out on foot patrol with a PCSO on the team. It's not long before we get asked to attend the local supermarket where an old lady has been found wandering in and out of traffic and appears very confused.

 

We arrive about 10 minutes later and find her with the security staff. She doesn't know who she is, where she lives or anything about her. She doesn't seem particularly phased though and is cheerful in chatting with us (even if her chat doesn't seem to relate to anything in the real world). She gives us her first name but can't remember her surname. We check with the control room if anyone has been reported missing nearby or on neighbouring boroughs - but they haven't. I take a look in her handbag (what power did I use to search?!) and find some letters - they give a full name and address - I check again, this time asking them to check the computer systems to see if she is known for anything else - she isn't. I'm rather stumped on the street - but I feel I can do more thorough searches if I can sit at a computer terminal myself. I speak to the duty sergeant and explain I'm going to take her back to the nick whilst I do more checks. He is against the idea - he wants me to drop her in A&E(!) I protest that she is not physically injured in any way and I stand a better chance of finding someone than A&E do - indeed, they will probably leave her sitting in a waiting room for hours only for her to wander off again. As an SNT officer I have a bit more flexibility than the response team officers as I am not under the same pressure to be available for the next call - I tell him that I will be bringing her to the nick and making further enquiries as I am now responsible for her. He says that I can take whatever action I see fit but that I will not be relieved by anyone from his team.

 

I am normally the first person to say "this is not a police job" and the berate other organisations for not fulfilling responsibilities - but I asked myself, "what would I want a policeman to do if he found my grandmother like this?"

 

We get someone to give us a lift and I take her back to our office and sit her down with a cup of tea. I set to work playing at computer geek cum detective.

 

I put in every conceivable variation of her name into all our systems. No trace.

 

I see if anyone else is registered at her address of voters. No trace.

 

I use PNC to see if any vehicles are registered at her address to see if anyone else is shown registered on them. No trace.

 

I google her and her address. No trace.

 

I do a few more things on the computer that I won't go into on a public forum. No trace.

 

We're onto our second cup of tea.

 

She had a mobile in her bag but I couldn't do anything with it on the street as it was completely dead. I realise that it is the same model as one of our old team mobile phones. I hunt for the charger. We still have it! I put some charge in the phone - there are no texts or recent calls. There are three numbers stored on it!

 

"Barbara Home"

 

"Barbara Mobile"

 

"Megan Mobile"

 

We work out that "Barbara" is the lady's daughter and "Megan" her granddaughter. The mobile numbers are completely dead....they are out of date. I whack the numbers into all of our systems. No trace.

 

The home number keeps ringing out. I recognise that it is a number for somewhere in Kent.I contact Kent police to see if they have any more info. They give me an address. Some kind of progress I suppose - but it's miles away. I ask the night duty sergeant to send a car to try it. He has no-one available.

 

I google the home number and lo and behold I see a website for hobbyists - it's amazing what people put online! I ring it but it's straight to voicemail. I leave a message.

 

This has been going on for well over an hour now.

 

To cut a long story short it carries on in this vein for another hour or so and I'm starting to give up. Then, from the depths of some database somewhere - mixed with the snippets of (often inaccurate) information that she gives us - we find another number, for a son. We ring it.........

 

 

"hello?"

 

Finally! We have made contact.....the only issue is that he lives on the other side of the country and has been drinking so can't come and pick her up. Damn!

 

He had more up to date numbers for family members though. He makes some phone calls. Finally, 4 hours after we first found the lady she is picked up by a granddaughter.

 

I explain to Megan (for it is she) the circumstances of finding her and the difficulty of getting hold of anyone. I suggest that maybe it is time to put her into residential care. Apparently this is the first ever episode like this and they will look into it. I recommend that they put a card with contact details of next of kin etc in her handbag - it would have saved a lot of time! Thankfully, no harm came to her on this occasion but who is to say about next time?

 

I feel proud that I've done a good job. I go home 2 hours late.

 

 

A few days later I come to work and there is a message for me at the front counter. Barbara, the daughter of the elderly lady has left me a thank-you card and a box of chocolates. It's the first time something like that has happened. It's nice to be appreciated - even if I was only doing my job. I take it to the borough commanders office to get it registered on the list of gifts and gratuities - I've been told that it is not certain that I am even allowed to keep something like this. All gifts must be surrendered and the circumstances registered. Thankfully I am told I can keep them after the gift and circumstances are logged on the register. They make my tea go down that little bit better and I gain some popularity in the office by sharing them round.

Edited by bensonby
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Further SNT, later 2013:

 

Rank: PC
Role: SNT officer
Length of Service: 5 Years
Location: Met
Duty Times: 1400-2300


The afternoon before this shift the school's officer for one of the schools on my patch tells me that he suspects one of the lads at his school is stashing a knife nearby somewhere and picking it up after school. He has been told by this boy's YOTs worker that he habitually carried a knife and is unrepentant about his recent conviction for carrying a knife. The school's officer asks me to try and intercept him on his way home from school. We agree it should be a plain-clothes job.

I rope in my colleague from a neighbouring ward so we can do the job together. We know this lad's route home from school so we position ourselves out of the way in a balcony of a nearby block of flats and wait for him to show up so we can stop and search him. My colleague has asked one of the PCSOs to be up the road so that there is a uniformed presence nearby - it turns out that later this was actually a rather good idea.

I have a picture of the lad in question and the school's officer has telephoned me when the lad left school telling me what the lad was wearing. We wait.

A few minutes later I see the lad in question walking past with another boy. I point him out to my colleague and we walk down from our vantage point and follow the lad in question and try and catch him up. He was quite a bit in front of us but I don't want to run towards him giving the game away so I take a brisk walk towards him. The lad gets to the entrance of a local park and suddenly does an exaggerated look around and then ducks into the park. That's strange I think. He disappears with his mate into the park. I break out into a run to try and catch up as there are several ways he can go in that park. As I get to the entrance I just manage to see them about 20 yards up ahead turning down a path to the right: I know that that path doesn't go anywhere - it is a loop that goes around the back of a basketball court and then comes back out onto the main path - there is no reason to go down there.

I run to the corner and as I go around it I see both of them coming out of a bush. My colleague is a little way behind me as he said "I'll hang back" as he didn't want to spook them immediately. I walk up to them and when I'm about 3-4 metres away I challenge them by holding out my warrant card and say: "Police. Stay where you are." I was too early. I should have literally got within grabbing distance. Both of them bolt it in different directions. I stay with the main boy. As he runs he pulls out a massive carving knife from his waistband and throws it over a nearby fence. I know that there are also some officers in uniform around the corner so I need to get in on the radio as every second will now count. There is a lot of radio traffic so I cut in with my emer button: "chasing suspects in such-and-such park...he's just discarded a knife" literally as soon as the words have left my lip I see two other officers running from the other direction cutting off my chap. I see him hesitate with no real way to turn. This gives me enough time to catch up and grab him around the shoulders and roughly drag him to the floor. I cuff him up and I hear that my colleague has nabbed the other one.

Bizarrely, the boy I've nicked is protesting his innocence: I can't resist " but I saw you thrown a knife over the fence". "It was a stick". "well, where I'm from shiny metal sticks with sharp edges are generally called knives". He really must be clutching at straws.

The school's officer arrives a few minutes later: we have the area behind the fence contained and he collects the knife - it's a beast of a carving knife. About 10" long.

We take both boys down to the station - my one has a stronger case against him but I believe that they were working together and the other one may well have had constructive possession of the knife.

And there the excitement ends: I deal with the job myself and the next 8 hours are spent dealing with this one job. It's a pathetic indictment of modern policing to be honest. There is a large queue in custody, I have to wait for solicitors and appropriate adults. The solicitor spends 30 minutes in consultation with each one, I spend an hour and a bit waiting for CPS advice, I queue in custody to sign out for interview, and when it's time to charge to actually charge. It's very frustrating. The end result is that my man was charged - the other was NFA'd.

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Late 2013 - the LPM kicks in:

 

Rank A/PS
Length of service 5 Years
Force Met
Planned shift 1400-0000

Since the local policing model has been implemented in the Met there is a new role that has been introduced. It is the "SNT/LPT" (Local Policing Teams) Duty Sergeant role. Despite being "enhanced neighbourhood teams" now we always seem to be chronically short: the main reasons being that, now, the neighbourhood teams have taken on a whole raft of new responsibilities and whilst there has been an uplift in numbers across the portfolio the abstractions due to these new tasks seem to far outweigh the increase in the number of officers. Due to these abstractions I was informed, with 24 hours notice, that I would be required to undertake the role of the "duty sergeant" as all of the sergeants due on for the late shift had been taken off for other duties or were on leave. As such, I was "acting up" - something which I occasionally do. This is the story of my shift....


I'm due in at 1400 hours. I actually walk into my office at 1330 before going to my locker to get changed when a PC from the morning shift collars me:

"Ah, Ben, I'm glad you're in, I hear you are the late-turn Duty Sergeant."

"Yes, I will be, once I am dressed and booked on."

"Lovely job, one of our team is on a constant watch in custody and needs relieving ASAP and i have two officers sitting with a kid in police protection. They also need relieving."

"Ok, I'll see what I can do... give me their shoulder numbers."

I leave to get changed. A few minutes later I return and fire up my computer. The first thing I notice is the email sitting at the top of my list- "I hear you have the dubious honour of being the late turn sergeant. We need two officers to cover a crime scene in the North of the Borough. Good luck, love the early turn sergeant". I give him a quick ring to see if there is anything else to hand over. We have a bit of a moan about how short-staffed we are and then he's off home.

It now time to work out the reliefs - I've been stuck on a rubbish post before and late off because I've not been relieved expediently. It's horrible so whenever I do a role like this I always make sure people get off on time. As I count up the officers on duty and available for calls and other jobs my heart sinks. I see have 2 officers on the north "cluster" (cluster of wards, the borough is split in three and each cluster should, in theory, be relatively self-sufficient.) of the borough, none in the central cluster and 1 in the south plust a smattering of PCSOs across the various clusters. Where are all the other officers? There is 1 PC per cluster who are staffing the "appointment cars" - they can't be used as they have a diary full of appointments of people to see at set times. There are a couple of "dedicated ward officers" who do the "old fashioned" SNT role and who are supposed to be ring-fenced working on their own wards. There are a few people shown leave or sick and there are quite a few shown away on "Aid" and two are shown as supplementing the emergency response team. I note down all the shoulder numbers I have at my disposal on my A4 jotter pad and try to work out how I am going to work this.

My radio then crackles to life, it's the sergeant from the emergency response team: "Ben, are you nearby? Can you head up to the "grip and pace room" (where the borough is commanded from)? Oh, and by the way, can I have two officers for a hospital guard?"

I'm quite lucky that the response team that is on duty is my old team. I know them and they know me. It helps if an argument is needed to be had about which team can cover what.

I want to start getting people relieved as soon as possible - and I know that the officer for the constant watch will need to come from another part of the borough so I radio up one of my few officers and ask her to make her way to the main station. I then head up to the grip and pace room.

As soon as I walk in the sergeant says to me: "you look really thin on the ground today mate". I agree and then he tells me that the two that were assigned to his team from the neighbourhood teams have been sent to cover the constant watches (apparently there was another one that I wasn't aware of!). He says that if the constant watches finish then I can have them back under my command - that's a bit of a relief. He asks if I can cover what's left. I say I think I can, but I will have literally no officers left so we can't take any calls at the moment unless they are suitable for PCSOs. At this, as if right on cue, the control room start piping up: "any neighbourhood units available to take this call?" I immediately get on the air and say "We are extremely short staffed today, can we hold fire on any calls being put out. If they are very urgent then please call me up directly and I will see what I can do." They seem happy with that. For now.

The duty sergeant job is a lot like that man in the fairground who tries to keep lots of different plates spinning on sticks. I don't have many plates or sticks today.... but I felt throughout this shift as if one or more were going to come crashing down. I cancel the officer who was heading over to custody but instead send her, and a PCSO to the crime scene. She is a new probationer but is being given a lift by a more experienced officer - I say to him, mate, if this scene can be boshed down to one person in any way please do it. He understands.

I call up the South Cluster officer - Hi mate, can you make your way to the hospital to cover a hospital guard. I will try and find you someone to go with. He says that he has been on a hospital guard or a constant pretty much every shift for quite a few days. He told me that he is really behind on all of his crime reports and had agreed with his sergeant to have a day "under the radar" trying to catch up. This seems to be a recurring problem - we now have to carry quite heavy workloads of ongoing cases - the problem is if you are being dragged off all the time you will quite quickly fall behind. I apologise and tell him that unfortunately we have literally no-one and it needs covering.... I give him my name to write all over his reports that he was ordered away from his admin.

I then call up the North Cluster once more to grab the one remaining officer from there - as it turns out one of the officers shown sick is actually back today and the rota hasn't been updated yet. Even better there is a special over there that didn't appear on my sheet. And they have a car! Lovely job, I send them to the hospital and let my chap in the south back to his admin - he's grateful - but I warn him that he should crack on with a speed because he is the last officer left and if anything else comes out it will be his job. He's clearly rang his skipper (who was off on other duties) to have a moan because a short while later I get a call from his skipper telling me that this officer needed time for his admin. I explain to the sergeant that I can't magic up officers from nowhere - as it is, I have managed to find two other officers that I didn't know I had but the situation is pretty dire.

Next I run into custody - I want to see if a civilian detention officer can cover at least one of the constants. The custody sergeant is sympathetic but they are running short too due to staff sickness. I make a compromise in that my officers on the constants will be relieved and rotated for their breaks by the remaining detention officer. This should mean I don't have to worry about those officers anymore. I let them and the sergeants know that if there are any issues I am available on my phone.

Finally, I track down the officer who had two of his colleagues looking after a child in police protection and get him to brief me. All the paperwork is in hand and officers are currently looking for a suitable relative to take the child to. In theory it shouldn't be too long. My task is purely to provide someone to babysit the child. I have no PCs at this station so I nominate two PCSOs to do it.... It's not really their job, but I can't see any reason why they couldn't do it. It is just a case of sitting watching TV with a kid. The PCSOs are happy to do it so off they go.

It seems that all the plates are spinning quite nicely now - hopefully nothing else comes in.... one of the PCSOs has made me a cup of tea but it has gone half-cold in the meantime. I still drink it.

At 1500 it's time for the "pacesetters" meeting. The duty officer, the duty member of the senior leadership team (a chief inspector), a representative from the CID and the Intelligence Unit as well as myself and the duty response team sergeant all sit around and discuss any ongoing issues. There's nothing major - just the crime scene that I'm covering. I find out that it might be closed down shortly. I let them know I've knocked it down to one officer and they seem happy with that.

Now it's time to look into the outstanding calls on the list. There are 8 calls earmarked for the neighbourhood teams.... it doesn't look like any are suitable for PCSOs. I call up my mate who knocked the crime scene down to one officer and ask him to see if he can take one or two. The response team sergeant authorises his officers to take any of my calls if they are available.

A domestic is flagged up to me to have a look at and risk assess as appropriate. It is two days old and no-one has managed to see the victim despite going around repeatedly and ringing her constantly. It's on the central cluster where I have absolutely no PCs available. After reading it through I do some intel checks. She's got previous for ringing in and then not making contact - her partner isn't known for violence - she's said she will pop into the police station during the week. I'm not too worried, but policy still dictates we need to see her to make sure she is safe and well. When she was speaking on the phone, for example, she could have been under duress. I liaise with CID and they agree. I find on the intelligence system her mother's address.

The problem is that I have no officers, sod it, I'll do it myself. I call up the appointment car and he has a bit of a gap in his schedule (I think he cheekily gets to his appointments ahead of time to get them over and done with - I don't blame him). He has a bit of a moan about how rubbish the whole situation is. I agree with him, but say that we just need to get on with it. I jump out with him and on the way we hear a house alarm going off. We stop to investigate but it appears to be a false alarm. We also stop a car driving with no lights - a couple of well-known criminals are in it - that results in an intelligence report later on: why do criminals always bring attention to themselves?!

On the way I hear that the hospital guard has ended. We're flush with available officers! (all 4 of them!)

When we get to the female's address we find that the house is in darkness and there is no reply at hers or the neighbours. I ask the officers who have just finished the hospital guard to pop around to the mother's house in the North of the borough. She's not there either but her mother isn't too worried. We've done all we can realistically do. I flag it to be retried by the night duty and schedule the call for a check on the crime system the following day to see if she has, indeed, reported to a police station.

We grab some grub.

Over dinner I check over the outstanding calls - some have been attended by the response team. There are only two that appear to need an attendance. I'm lucky, frankly. I dish one out to a PCSO and I ring the informant back for the other. Typically, it's on my cluster again.... it's a female who wants some property back from her former flatmate's house but she isn't being allowed in. I tell her I'll try and find someone to assist - but explain that as it is a civil dispute I can't force the other party to allow her access.

My phone rings. Apparently a misper from another borough has turned up outside the Southern police station trying to hand herself in. Unfortunately the station office is now closed (since the implementation of the Local Policing Model front office opening hours have been vastly reduced except for at the main station. I call up the officer who was doing his admin:

"sorry mate, can you babysit this misper until I can arrange for her to be taken home. You can crack on with your work - just sit her in the same room as you. Grab a PCSO to sit with you too." - I don't want a lone male officer alone with a female teenage misper. It's a shame we have to think like that but it's common sense. He is fine with this.

I ask the control room if the other borough can come and pick up the misper... they refuse. I call the misper's mother to come and pick her up but she says she can't. I'm really rather annoyed that people don't seem to take responsibility for their kids. I think about having an argument but I know I'm fighting a futile battle and in the meantime two officers are wasting their time. I'm still with my mate who is driving the appointment car - I know he's got through all his appointments bar one and has spare time. The quickest way of resolving this is to give the misper a MetTaxi home in the car. We head over to the other station - on the way I inform the control room that we'll take that civil dispute call to. My mate sayd "Are you sure mate, if you go it's bound to be grief knowing your luck."

The informant is standing outside the house. She wants her stuff back. I explain, again, our powers (or lack therof) and I give the door a knock. I can't remember exactly what the dispute was over. I can't say I really cared to be honest. It was something remarkably petty. I say "Are we going to behave like adults and exchange eachother's property?" (the informant had a tablet belonging to the other person which she was trying to return. After a few choice words - these were two friends who had fallen out and the feelings seemed very bitter. It didn't look like we were getting anywhere. I have less patience at these calls than I used to: I used to be very nicey-nicey but I really do have better things to do. I say something like: "I really don't care about all the history. I'm a police officer, it's a busy evening shift and I have better places to be and people that actually need my help. Can we just hand over the stuff and get this over with."

Remarkably, they actually listen to me and the goods are exchanged. Sometimes directness is all that's needed.

We pick up out misper and take her back. It is a 40 minute round trip but this is quicker than arguing with parents, other boroughs etc. It turns out that she's actually quite a nice kid. She ran away for a genuine reason and isn't just your average naughty stroppy teenage misper. I give her suitable advice. In the meantime another hospital guard comes out - I assign the same two officers (and apologise profusely). But a few minutes later they have decided to bail the prisoner instead.

We get back to the nick and time is now getting on - the night duty is coming on soon and the last two hours of the shift will be much slower. I hand over what needs relieving etc to the night duty sergeant and then spend the last hour or so just making sure that everyone has been suitably relieved and will be off on time.

I feel like I've earned my rest days! I head home and share a bottle of wine with the wife!

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Thanks for this Bensonby, as someone who is just waiting for vetting to finish before getting a training start date with the met it provides a great insight, looking forward to hopefully reading more of you're stuff

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  • 3 months later...

I thought it was about time for another one of these. This is not a story of a specific shift, moreover it is a tale of what it's like to be the Officer in the Case (OIC) for quite a big Crown Court Job. Seeing the job through from the street all the way through to the court. Hopefully some of you will find it interesting and just a little bit unusual.

 

Rank PC
Length of service 6 Years
Force Met
 

May 2014 - Jan 2015

 

 

There had been a "problematic" chap living on my area for quite some time. He had been a nuisance towards his neighbours, his own family and virtually anyone he came across for quite some time. He was conspiracy-theory obsessed and it seemed that anything that went wrong in his life, or that he had perceived to have gone wrong, was down to some wrongdoing or other on the part of pretty much anyone else. He was also a relentless complainant against police: pretty much any police officer that had the misfortune to come in contact with him would receive numerous bogus, and often downright bizarre, complaints. His complaints were made to all and sundry, not just the local police, but to the DPS, the IPCC, MPs, the Commissioner's private office - whoever he could get an email address for he would use it. Furthermore, his complaining did not stop with the police: anyone that crossed him (or he perceived to cross him) would have various vexatious threats of litigation made against them - this behaviour was also aimed at his own elderly parents.

 

The background story is a long one so I wont go into all of it. However, the result of it was that he was ultimately evicted from the flat he occupied due to his behaviour and also convicted of harassment against his neighbours. He was given a restraining order prohibiting him from returning to the road and contacting, directly or indirectly, several named neighbours. He would never accept that he had done anything wrong though: in his world everyone else is to blame and part of a conspiracy against him. He was therefore appealing his conviction for harassment at the Crown Court at the end of the month.  One would think he was possibly suffering from some kind of serious mental illness. However, he has been assessed several times and always found to be sane.

 

It was a fine Spring day when I came in for a particular late turn. I didn't have much on and was looking forward to wandering about in the sunshine and generally pottering about when I sat down and logged on. At that moment the Inspector strode into the room saying: "you'll never guess what he's done!" He didn't even have to name him I knew, we all knew, who he'd be talking about. "He's boarded up several of the f***ing flats up there".

 

"He's what" about three of us said in unison.

 

"The basterward has hired up contractors and boarded up some of the flats at the estate".

 

I'd personally only had a few dealings with him. Another officer had been leading on all the actions that had taken place and I could see him sink in his chair and clutch his head. He was relentless. Nothing we seemed to do would make him stop and now he's done something really rather spectacular.

 

I said to the Inspector, "I'll have this one guv, let me have a go." So my colleague and I popped on our hats and took the short walk up to the estate. Sure enough, when we got there there was a dejected looking former neighbour of our man standing outside the front door of his flat which was covered by a metal security door. "I couldn't believe it" he said, "I got a call from the upstairs neighbour saying there were workmen at my front door boarding the place up. I came straight home and this is what I see". The downstairs flat, our suspect's former flat, has also got a metal security door attached. We immediately know who is responsible. We immediately get on the phone to the security company and ask them what is going on. It turns out that he has called them up, paid on his own card, and said that he has two properties and he wants them boarded up. They just cracked on and done it for him. I tell them that they come straight back and remove the doors. However, there's quite a bit of damage to the door frames.

 

"It's about the case on Friday isn't it?" Says the resident. "I'm giving evidence".  It's rather more sinister than an eccentric playing silly billies. This is witness intimidation: he has been evicted for several months by now. He has chosen to pull this little stunt three days before his appeal. In my mind this is a cynical and sinister move. Like a hound with a scent I'm not going to let this one go. He's going to meet his come-uppance.

 

I spend the rest of the day trying to work out where the suspect is and gathering my evidence. I make an appointment to see the manager of the boarding up company the following morning. I take statements off of neighbours who witnessed the events. I speak to the landlords of the two properties and get statements from them. I don't know where our suspect lives now that he has moved out. He has come into repeated contact with the police since he moved out but always seems to give a different adddress. Late in the day I manage to get through to him on the phone. He hangs up on me. There's little more I can do that day.

 

The following morning I get into work early. My colleague and I head down into Kent to the HQ of the boarding up company to meet the manager. A nicer chap you couldn't have met. He says that in 25 years in the business he has never seen anything like it. "Don't you check the legal paperwork?" I query. "Well, no" he says with some embarrassment. "This has never happened before though. What sort of person boards up a house that he doesn't own though?" I see his point. He shows me the paperwork corresponding to the job. The emails the suspect has sent from his account to organise the boarding up - significantly he emailed the request several months before hand but insisted it was done this particular week - the week of the appeal. He also shows me invoices which show the card details used to pay for the job. I take a full statement and these documents as exhibits.

 

 

I then set about hunting for my man. I know he has a friend in a neighbouring borough. I thought I'd pay him a visit. I take a couple of colleagues with me and we get to the house: it has a metal gate fixed over the front door. I knock and it is opened by a man who I don't recognise. "Good afternoon, I'm PC Bensonby from the police is [my suspect] here?" I enquire. "let me check" he says and closes the door. Well, that's a 'yes' then isn't it? I think to myself. A few seconds pass and then, sure enough, my suspect opens the door and immediately starts shouting a tirade at me. He is something of a "freeman" which many of the readers of this website will be familiar with. He starts ranting about my oath and how I am corrupt and how is doesn't consent to my policing. His friend is also filming by now.

 

I instruct him to open the gate and he refuses. I appeal to the other people inside the house: "I'm here to arrest him for an indictable offence, I have the authority to force entry if necessary. I don't want to do that as it will ruin your lovely gate but I will if I have to." One of the more reasonable members of the household comes forward and says: "look sir, I am the householder and I don't want my property damaged. I'll open the gate but can we just let him say his piece first?" I tell him that I am calling up for a "hoolie-bar" 9a large crowbar-like instrument) to be delivered and it will take a few minutes to arrive. When it does that's the ultimatum, but he can rant on for a bit in the meantime.

 

Further officer arrive with the hoolie bar and the ultimatum is repeated: open up or have your gate ripped off. When faced with this stark choice the gate swiftly opens and our suspect steps out.

 

"I don't stand under your authority. I'm arresting you for misconducted in a public office" he bellows and touches me on the shoulder. "Don't touch me, that could be considered an assault" I warn him as I take his hands and place them in handcuffs. He continues to warble over me as I inform him that he's under arrest for witness intimidation, breach of a restraining order and criminal damage times two. I fluff up the caution so have to start again from scratch. It's hard concentrating when someone is ranting inches from your face. I place him in the back of a van and take him to my police station.

 

In custody he refuses to answer any of the sergeant's questions, continues warbling nonsensically and is raising any complaint he can think of. I search him and, significantly, find a bank card on his person which number matches the number on the invoices. Result! The custody procedure is long-winded as he is so objectionable. As I take his fingerprints he tells me that I'm going to lose my job.... I'm sure I've heard that one before. It's a relief to stick him in a cell.

 

Everything with this chap takes much longer than it should do. We don't get into interview until after 11pm. We don't come out until after midnight. I then go to the CPS. After a couple of hours of deliberation and reading up the details they decide to charge him on all counts. Result! I apply for a remand to which the custody sergeant agrees. It's about half 3 in the morning when he is charged. I bring him from his cell and he almost has tears in his eyes as the charge is read out..... "I don't understand! Why isn't PC Bensonby being charged with Misconduct in a Public Office?! I arrested him first!!!" I can never really tell if he really is that delusional, just a chancer or cynically playing the system. At this particular moment I do wonder if he is just a very very lost and misguided soul. He gets taken back to his cell and I have to complete the file.

 

I'm done by about half 5. I need to be in court in four hours in order to oppose his bail. This man is a menace to anyone that lives on that estate and needs keeping incarcerated. I head to my parent's house who happen to live relatively near the court. I also have a fresh uniform there. I let myself in and sleep in their spare room for about two hours before it's time to get up again and head off to court......

 

 

 

 

I'll leave that there for the time being. If you're still interested I'll finish the story with another update shortly.

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I'm waiting with bated breath :)

 

Sorry I can't 'Like This' but I've hit my daily quota :(

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Part 2

 

After 2 hours sleep I get up and my mum has made me a nice cup of tea.... I don't get that service from the wife at home! I've arranged for my colleague to come and pick me up and we'll go to the court directly. I think he feels a little guilty that I've taken the lead with this one. At about 9am he pulls up and I jump in. It's a short drive to the court. Our defendant is appearing by video link so won't be able to see us in the courtroom. The first thing I do is find the CPS solicitor dealing with the "in custody" cases. Luckily as he is in custody his case will be one of the priority ones so we shouldn't have to wait too long. I buttonhole our solicitor: whilst in theory my submission of an MG7 (remand application) should be enough to give the court all the information it needs in order to make a decision on whether or not he will be bailed in practice the solicitor will only have been able to have the most cursory glance at the circumstances. The presence of a police officer waving his arms about opposing bail can, genuinely, make the difference between a charge and remand in my experience. I explain to the brief that this man appears fixated on the properties concerned, therefore will be likely to continue to re-offend, he has intimidated a witness in the run up to a court case and we need to protect the witnesses. She seems satisfied and asks us to sit at the back of the court. A few cases come and go: brief hearings to decide bail, then it's our turn.

 

The defendant walks into the small room in the police station and shouts out to confirm his name. The chair of the bench of magistrates explains to him what is going to happen and then invites his solicitor to make a  bail application.

 

"The defendant has a very deep respect for the law. Although he is accused of a serious crime a respect for the law runs core to his being. It is an unusual interpretation of the law that he believes in but nevertheless he respects it deeply."

 

The chairman of the bench is thumbing through the charges. "He didn't have much respect on this occasion did he?"

 

"Any strict conditions that the court see fit to impose my client will agree to. Because although his interpretation of the law may be somewhat eccentric nevertheless he respects the law of this land."

 

The chair of the bench looks over to the Crown's solicitor. She stands:

 

"The facts speak for themselves your Worships. This man poses a real and continuing threat to other people and their property. He has attempted to interfere with proceedings taking place only two days hence. I think he must be kept in custody."

 

"Agreed, bail denied" responds the chair with only the most cursory glance to his compatriots either side, and with that, the defendant is sent to Belmarsh.

 

I'm elated. I can barely contain a Cheshire Cat grin even though I'm physically an emotionally exhausted. In the past 48 hours I've been working for about 40 of them solidly. But it's paid off. Straight out of the court I get on my phone and ring around the victims and witnesses to update them, they are delighted but naturally have questions of "what next". I'll meet them at the appeal in a few days and I'll talk through the next steps. I ring my sergeant who, on hearing the news, shrieks and apparently starts running around the canteen. I ring officers from the local authority that have had many dealings with him and they are as pleased as punch. About a quarter of an hour later, during the drive to the station, I look on my phone and see half a dozen notifications of Facebook congratulating me: people that I didn't even know had dealings with him. This is the first time anyone has had a meaningful result through the courts system.... but he's not even been convicted yet.

 

Back at the station the mood is electric. However, although I'm elated I am well aware that the hard work has only jut begun. There are still more statements to collect, more evidence to process and disclosure to do. Not to mention that a trial at a Crown Court will be a busy time. But, for now, I'm happy to accept the slaps on the back. Although I'm exhausted I still have other work to do: because I've been "off the scene" for a few days my other work is stacking up. I spend the next few hours dealing with my other jobs before going home - having completed a full 8 hour shift.

 

These three days were the most intense part of the job until the trial. However, excitement and farce still popped up periodically over the coming months. I went to the appeal hearing to meet with the victims and witnesses (most of whom were the same). He lost his appeal and in his summing up the judge, angry, bewigged and red-faced, bellowed across the court: "This is one of the worse cases of harassment I think I've ever seen. Clerk, what's the maximum sentence I can impose on this man?!" As it turned out it was only two months....

 

After he had served his two months he applied for bail in my case. Again, I attended the Crown Court in order to oppose bail. I button-holed the barrister as he was walking into court. He almost seemed irritated: "oh, right, well, what are we doing? Opposing bail?" I was flabbergasted. "Of course we are. Vehemently." I said. "Alright, why?" he replied. I then explained the outline of the case as best as I could in about 20 seconds before he waved me away with his hand. I was rather annoyed and bemused. I sat at the back of the court next to a DC who I vaguely recognised.

 

"Hi bensonby" she said: I always find it disconcerting when someone who you have never worked with knows your name and you don't know theirs. "It's a bit unusual for a uniformed officer to be at one of these isn't it?" She was right, it is unusual to see a PC doing this sort of work - let alone one in his tunic - but I am a uniformed officer, proudly so, and perfectly capable of doing the job. I see no reason why I should try and pretend I'm a CID officer so at all of these appearances I wore my tunic. I do, however, wonder, whether certain parts of the judicial process do secretly think you're a bit of an idiot if you are a uniformed PC.

 

The judge walked in and our barrister made a half-hearted speech as to why he shouldn't have bail. I was mortified and my head was in my hands. I felt like jumping up and calling out to the judge: a feeling that became somewhat familiar during the trial. Thankfully, I never had this barrister again but it did strike me as a weakness in the process that in the myriad hearings I went to I was the only constant in the room - at virtually every hearing a different barrister on each side and a different judge presiding.

 

After the Crown's lackluster speech I was depressed. However, the judge then surprised me. Whilst scratching his head he turned to the defence barrister and asked:

 

"I'm familiar with this case. I've read all the documents. What is his defence going to be?"

 

"I've not been instructed in that your honour"

 

"Well, I can't see one at all. Looking at the sort of person he is I think he'll try and string this process out as long as possible with nonsense. I think keeping him in custody will serve to focus his mind. Therefore I will not be granting bail unless you have compelling and overwhelming reasons to convince me to the contrary."

 

I was gobsmacked. I didn't think "focusing one's mind" was grounds to oppose bail. The defence brief merely shrugged and sat down. That was it. It was incredible. With that I was away.

 

A trial date had been set for September....meaning that he would have been in custody for over four months. I was prepared for the trial but confused that I had not received a defence statement - normally the defence issues a statement to the prosecution outlining what form their defence would take and requesting further disclosure. I chased up the CPS, thinking that it might have got lost in the system but they didn't have one either. A week before the trial, though, I did hear from the defence: they wanted to conduct their own psychiatric report. They had left it too late. The trial had to be vacated. We had a new date booked for November - but that would have put them over the custody time limit (the 6 months that someone is allowed to spend on remand without conviction). They did not object to an application to extend it though. I went to the hearing to make sure it all went smoothly and enabling me to update the witnesses.

 

We convened in November for the trial. I had witnesses from far and wide (of all of the people who lived in the estate where the offences took place only one had continued to live there - the rest had moved out because of the defendant's behaviour.) I had a room full of them and explained what was going to happen, how court worked and so on.

 

It was rather unusual in that although I was OIC I was also a material witness in the case. As such, I couldn't sit in the court until I had given evidence. It put me at something of a disadvantage.

 

The whole morning was spend running around: finally I was given a defence statement which asked for huge amount of disclosure - relating to all the bogus complaints he had made and so on. I was asked if I could obtain that information from the court. I said I would try but I wouldn't be able to get all of it. The morning progressed slowly with various legal arguments, grandstanding and shouting from the box on the part of the defendant and general filibustering. We hadn't even got a jury sworn in by the time we broke for lunch. Then something really unexpected happened. Upon the return from the lunch break we learned that the defendant had sacked his defence team. Not only his barrister - but his solicitors too. I really didn't know what was going to happen next. The judge sent him away for 30 minutes for him to think through what he had done. The court rose again in a further break. However, 30 minutes later the defendant was insistent that he was sacking his representation. With that his barrister got up and strode out: a palpable look of relief on his face. The judge explained to the defendant that he had the right to be represented and would be given one chance to sort out his representation. This did not, however, mean that he was getting out. He set a new trial date in the New Year and extended the custody time limit accordingly. He told the defendant to find new counsel.

 

I retired to the witnesses' room and apologised profusely, they'd had a wasted day. They were philosophical about the whole affair. They had come to expect antics on the part of the defendant. One of the pointed out that at least they should have a peaceful Christmas.

 

 

I think I''ll leave that there for part 2. I will write up a third, and final, part shortly describing the actual trial..... I hope you're still interested.

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Part 3 might have to wait until Thursday when it's my next rest day.... I'll try and get it in earlier though!

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