Sunday, 13 April 2008

Are you calling me a Vichy?

It is better to let 100 guilty men go free, than to imprison an innocent man.

Personally, I firmly believe this, as historically around 80% of them will come back anyway, but I digress.

Many people have slagged Police officers off in the past (especially with the protection that the anonymity of blogging provides) for being acquiescent with the system and being nothing more than a 'Vichy Cop' as someone eloquently put it. The very same people also over use the comments 'if you don't like your job then quit' and 'you knew what you were getting in to so deal with it' when Police officers complain about the ridiculous amounts of bureaucracy that we have to put up with.

Just as an aside, Nurses and GP's complain about the amount of forms they need to fill out in order to meet government targets and stats collation, instead of caring for patients as they joined to do. I don't hear people slagging them off for complaining about it even though most of the bureacracy was in way before a lot of them started.

I think its fair to say that the majority of people who join to be a Police officer do it for a limited number of reasons, be they to help people, catch bad guys, drive fast cars or simply because they always wanted to do it and finally found that they could. It certainly isn't because of the pay, as those who do tend to last less than a year of working on the street. There is way too much crap to deal with and its simply not worth joining for pay alone - unless they escape to an office somewhere to grow some shiny arsed trousers.

At first it's all new, some of it completely unbelievable, but most of it good as you've never really experienced anything like it before. You'll be completely knackered as the toll of shift work, learning and pushing yourself to prove to your colleagues that you are worth your salt kicks in but for the most part, it's all good. Then after a year or so you realise that you're dealing with the same type of people and the same type of problems over and over. You'll have said 'why exactly do we need to do this? it's a waste of time, no one reads it anyway' so often that people don't answer any more, you'll also realise that most of your colleagues say the same thing all the time.

For the most part, virtually everything we do is thankless and viewed with suspicion or scorn by people outside the job. There might be a good reason for some of it, certainly not good enough to justify most of it, but ultimately you know that a lot of what you do is pretty shit.

And my god, will you bitch and moan about it. Maybe not at work, but certainly to your other half and a few mates, most of whom will wonder why you still go to work if you really hate it so much.

And then every now and then, you'll get a job that makes up for all the crap and it's what you joined for - catching a burglar bang at it, helping a family after a tragic incident, nicking a rapist and seeing them get charged the same day, seeing someone completely turn their life around after you helped them out. You might get someone giving you a sincere thank you, or even taking the time to write a letter to your bosses about how happy they were with what you did for them. Relatively minor things, but in a job where you deal with the worst that humanity can throw at you (and each other) the small things really make up for it.

The problem is most people don't see those things, they don't see you at 4am with your knee in some wife beaters neck after he tried to stab you as well, or dragging a burglar out of some kids bedroom after he broke in while they were asleep. All they see is The Bill, or whatever has made media story of the day - whether that's 6 coppers dragging a drunken woman to the floor or someone popping into Tesco to get lunch after parking on double yellows. I'd place a wager that they won't be encouraging everyone to give you a pat on the back next time they see a Police officer walking down the street on the one occasion that the blue moon shines.

Each of us has our own cache of 'good stuff' tucked away inside and occasionally you might think about it when things are 'proper shit' as one of my colleagues regularly puts it, or if you see one of the people involved a few years later.

If society is willing to accept that in order to do the proper thing in preventing an innocent person from being incarcerated they must accept that bad people must go free and bad things could occur a hundred times over, can we can not use the same rationale? Surely it is better to accept that the 1% good is worth the 99% bad, and that its better to be in the position to be able to do the good thing, instead of sitting in an office working for a faceless shareholder?

As much as I moan about how much shite we have to deal with, as long as I know that I have done the right thing when it has been right to do so and that I'm backed up by my colleagues for doing it - even if the majority of the public never hear about it, then I'll keep on doing this job.

And bitching about it.



Anonymous said...

nice Post: having done 3 score and XV , having been a farm labourer, hog carrier, turnip tosser, squaddy, played scientist ,invented some gizmos to keep the ticker tocking, etc., Moaning is the habit, if is not ice then it be the heat, if not that then thee be too near the stores etc.
I've known many Pelleers, ever since I be five, and he was the man that made sure that I had lamps on 'me bike' who knew whom to pinch when the local apples for a local farm orchard, to another one that stopped me late one night he being armed to the teeth to inspect my vehicle to see if I be the one that had been a hit and run ['Twas not I]. Another stopped me in my chariot and welcomed to their town for a most pleasant breakfast, my brain having done conniptions of trying guess me error of my ways.
Most of those that I have known lead an Isolated life from the general community, because most people cannot isolate traffic infringements from saving thy lives from the underclass.

So your first post in my narrow mind, epitomizes the problem.
I had the chance play the role of an alpha and I rarely find bad employees just useless farmers that never tried to work with sheep or dogs or that matter wolves but just observe from a safe distance, up a worm riddled Elm tree or send their rep, the addle brained offspring.

Most of us when looking back may have had a few moments of doing some thing really worthwhile like saving a life.
Keep up the good work on the Serengeti plain, you may never been seen of how many hyenas thee have sent packing to another watering hole.

Most sheep contact with the sheepdogs be when they fail to be guided by sheep dogs to go one and not t'other, so they get a nip to correct the error and end up in the sheering shed being shorn if it be due.

Anonymous said...


'Many people have slagged Police officers off in the past (especially with the protection that the anonymity of blogging provides) for being acquiescent with the system and being nothing more than a 'Vichy Cop' as someone eloquently put it. My main worry about the Police, certainly under this present Government is that they will lower the standards to become a copper. I may be wrong in this but it make s me fel uneasy.

MCM, Many people do slag the coppers off on the blogs but come on, be fair, the same anonymity allows the Police officers to slag off
the shit you have to put. With regard to 'Vichy Cop' I think you will find Nightjack coined that phrase, a fellow copper. The person(s) using it probably has no idea what it means anyway. Another copper on the blogs has coined the term 'Institutional Collusion'.

Metcountymounty said...

anon above, Police officers use the anonymity to slag off the shit that we deal with because this is a relatively open and public forum and we are unable to air our views in public normally, as I said in the post the only people who really hear about it are the ones closest to us or unless a body like the Police Fed puts a statement out, at which point the closet Police haters use the comments 'shut up or put up' or 'you knew what you were getting in to' etc. I didn't realise Nightjack coined Vichy Cop or what context he used, but other people have used it as the derogatory term that Vichy has become.

With regard to your point about institutional collusion which is obviously aimed at the institutional racist tag that we were given by MacPherson, the original tag was meant to assign racist intent without ever actually being able to point at one person or one particular event or even prove racism in any way, could the same not be considered about collusion? The vast majority of us tolerate the shite that we put up with as it allows us to actually do the job we joined to do albeit not as often as we would like, and unlike getting the topping on a pizza right, the things that we do and are involved in actually make a difference to peoples lives, even if no one else realises or acknowledges it.

Thanks for your comments.

Metcountymounty said...

I seem to have accidentally deleted a response while moderating the first lot, if this was yours please feel free to repost it and I'll put it up, sorry!!

Steven said...

"I think its fair to say that the majority of people who join to be a Police officer do it for a limited number of reasons, be they to help people, catch bad guys, drive fast cars or simply because they always wanted to do it and finally found that they could. It certainly isn't because of the pay, as those who do tend to last less than a year of working on the street."

Just out of curiosity, could I ask why you joined the Police in the first place and what keeps you going after all this time?

I ask because barring a few bureaucratic hurdles (and there are many) I'm hoping to start a police career soon and am interested to hear what keeps people going in what is obviously a very difficult and thankless job.

Metcountymounty said...

Steven, I was a lifeguard before I joined and was aiming for a career in the Army, one of my best friends was in the process of deciding whether to become a paramedic (he worked as a patient transport driver which is one of the ways in) or a Police officer so we spent a lot of time going through the various material together. He got me in touch with a friend who was in the job and I went out for a 'ride-along' on a night shift and one of the jobs was a break in progress. The drive there was unreal and the guys knew the area like the back of their hands and successfully predicted who the guy was likely to be and which way he would head.

As one crew went straight to the house the guys I was with headed off to where they thought he would go and they got him in one of the side alleys about a quarter mile away, sweating like a fat man in a sauna and still with some of the property from the burglary. The dog crew that turned up successfully tracked all the way back to the address and he was later convicted for the job.

My parents were burgled a few years ago literally days after moving into a new house and after seeing how these guys got there and caught the little git red handed by knowing their patch and their crims inside out I just thought "I want to do THAT"

Anonymous said...

I agree, that one good job makes up for all the crap. It's going to work and not knowing what is going to happen that makes it all worth while... and going through red lights with your blue lights flashing (sorry, couldn't resist, but I still get a little smile every time I switch them on!)

Blue Eyes said...

Good post I am already hooked!

I think it's incredible how people are so quick to decide their opinion (either way) on the police without any basis at all. As with everything it's the vocal minority who slag you boys and girls off whereas the supportive majority don't get many column inches.

You *are* appreciated by many people out there, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Sorry MCM, "Vichy Cop" was my doing. It does seem to have caught on though.

A Vichy Cop is nowhere near the front line if they can help it.

To clarify, my post "I was a Vichy Cop" related to my wasted years as a Divisional Commanders deputy bag man and a spell on the bean counting end of a Crime Management Unit. Both times, I was doing jobs and implementing (well sometimes even writing) procedures and policies that made life harder and more frustrating for my front line colleagues and I despised myself for doing it. I kept on doing it though and now I am back in the land of the worthwhile.

There are still too many Vichy cop posts around.

Metcountymounty said...

I've got no problem with the phrase, I like a good derogatory term as much as the next bloke, it's just the over use to describe any Police officer who moans about the Job but doesn't quit that I objected to!

Happy Met Copper said...

Do we do it for the love? Do we do it for the money?
Everyone has their own reasons for doing the job that we do. I think it is fair to say that no one does it for the thanks (should you ever receive any).
Unfortuantely,as you point out, the public do not see 99% of what we do and only remember what they want to point out to their friends later. I remember sitting in a coffee shop for the first brew of the day having parked on double yellows outside. A local came in, took our photos, declared our careers were over and promptly waited ouside for us to finish our drinks. He then confronted us in what can only be described as an orgasm of delight. We left him to it.
I must hasten to point out that the first brew of the day was 13 hours into a 12 hour shift. Did we tell our colleagues about the major incident we had been dealing with or the member of the public?

An excellent blog, I look forward to more. ]

To non job readers just remember, all coppers are human to.

Anonymous said...

This struck very true, from the police officers I know and count as friends and my own experience from even telling some people I want to join.

"You can't join the police," one of my current colleagues said, "I just can't imagine it. You're too nice."

Yeah right.

But actually what I wanted to say that really struck a chord is "working for a faceless shareholder". At least with the police, futile though it may seem (and I sincerely believe that it's not, because although you don't make as much difference as you might like to we'd be in serious trouble if you weren't there), you're working for the society you and your family and your friends live in (or possibly the society next door if you live off-area). You're not working for a company you have no investment in to get a wage to live on while someone else benefits from all the profits.

So public sector pay sucks, but at least you know who's benefiting.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Recently 20,000 of us managed to get off our backsides and march against this Govts abuse of trust over pay.

I don't see any of us marching against the detection/target culture that is destroying policing in this country.

Vichy cops? Institutional collusion? You bet. Every single one of us.