Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Not so unwritten carrier rules

When operating in a public order environment or even just on normal boring-as-sin aid for protestors outside Parliament, arms fairs or Embassies, there are lots of different rules, regulations and SOP's (standard operating procedures) that we have to consider. For use of force authorities we have common Law giving normal 'any person' powers to use force to prevent injury, save life and limb and for self defence. Under The Police and criminal evidence Act '84 we've got Section 117 and under the Criminal Law Act '67 Section 3, both sections give us specific authority as a constable to use as much force as is reasonable in the circumstances to effect arrest, defend others/ourselves etc.

If we have to search people we've got powers of search under Section 1 of PACE (with reasonable suspicion) Section 23 of the misuse of drugs act (for drugs, funnily enough) Section 60 of PACE (search anyone in a given area without suspicion under authority) as well as Section 44/43 of the prevention of terrorism act, again for searching anyone in a given area under authority.

In addition to these basic tools in the box there are authorities for cordons and containment, SOP's for use of different levels of expertise and deployments of reserve units or specialists like dog units or mounted branch. When we undertake public order training we go through the various authorities and SOP's, as well as when we go to officer safety training so they are well and truly drilled in. This is mainly so we can justify actions in statements and can answer questions if we ever find ourselves in the box gripping the rail, but also in case anyone (usually with a hidden camcorder) actually asks us under which authority we're operating under by restricting their liberties.

More important than all of these however, are the host of unwritten rules which exist to make the duty pass considerably easier and to make sure everyone knows where they stand. A lot of these unwritten rules are cast as that evil 'canteen culture' malarkey and are incredibly discouraged, even if accepted as the norm and somewhat essential. In a situation where you have extreme boredom for long periods of time and have 7 people in a carrier, you need some kind of ground rules otherwise you'll end up pissing some or all of the others off and it just makes an unpleasant or boring duty even worse. The chances are you'll be working with them again and that doesn't help. The other aspect to consider is that because in a public order incident you operate as part of a close team, the sooner you have good camaraderie then the more likely everyone will be to trust you if it does go pear shaped. The unwritten rules apply to everyone regardless of age, rank or gender.

A while ago I was severely bored and immobile so I wrote some of them down (mainly after one of the guys on our team pissed a few people off on aid) if you have any of your own then feel free to send them!

*If you're the carrier virgin then you buy the doughnuts or an appropriate substitute - we did, so should you, its just rude if you don't. Healthy alternatives do not count.

*The carrier virgin (or team member with least service) must bring a quantity of extra long elastic bands, easily available from the station office. Being in a field in the middle of no where is boring, these will come in handy.

*The Operator is responsible for spare airwave/radio batteries, assembling reasonably new newspapers from around the nick, ensuring there are at least 2 decent maps on board, bringing an appropriate bag of sweets for the driver, sorting out a bin bag and making sure the last team didn't leave any skanky food on the shelves. Not nice when you put a hat up there to find a week old Met-issue Tuna Wrap stuck to it.

*The jump seat (next to the side door) MUST be offered first to either the Sgt or the Inspector, then it should go out in height order.

*Despite its name, the jump seat is not for jumping out of, especially when moving, you'll hurt yourself and make the rest of the carrier look stupid.

*The BINGO seat is the one furthest back from the door, after the jump seat, this gets offered to the Inspector if they want it, before you look dumb for asking, it stands for "Bollocks, I'm Not Getting Out"

*Always volunteer to get the snacks. Upon receipt, the snacks must be dished out as quickly as possible on return to the carrier.

*You can never have too much water, even if its cold and miserable, any water hanging around is yours - reallocate it to your carrier as soon as possible then at the end of your duty always dish it out, if no one wants it then stick it in your locker.

*The Medic is not a 6 headed monster, you are allowed to talk to him/her even if they are from another nick, whilst they are on your carrier, you're one big happy world hating team.

*During operational feeding, everyone on the carrier must stop eating and eyeball the incoming group to prove that they are not as good as you.

*The carrier virgin is NOT allowed to pack the kit bags, they'll earn this right only after forgetting that their hi vis is in the pocket furthest away from the door, and at the bottom of the pile because they thought they'd never need it.

*Bring an mp3 player, preferably with speakers if you have decent music, earphones if not. You will need it.

*Prior to the Aid you'll more than likely stop off to get nibblies and papers, it's customary for each person to get a different one so chip in.

*If you really must fart, have the courtesy to fess up and laugh as loud as possible while everyone wretches, entombed in a moving metal windowless stink pit.

*Double time or not, if someone is sleeping then photos are acceptable - elastic bands flung off a baton MP5 style at high speed to the groin, are not.

*If you're on Double time and everyone else is on a reallocated rest day - or even core shift - then get the McFlurrys in, you're being paid enough.

*If you choose to bring some playing cards, make sure they're normal ones, it's not nice to get a group bollocking if someone sees the FHM deck and decides to have words in front of the whole food hall.

*We know you're excited but it must be emphasised that you are more than likely going to be walking around in your big hat/bowler and hi vis - you probably won't be getting kitted up and sticking anyone today unfortunately.

*No, you aren't going to be carrying any Halon, it's just for show.

*Despite what the person on the other side of the desk says, there is no limit to the number of biscuits you can have from the Police room at football stadiums. It is your duty as carrier virgin to return to the carrier with an excess amount of biscuits, just don't get caught walking out with a box, their head might explode.

*The rules to the game 'who'll shit first' are simple - in order of rank followed by specialism then length of service, everyone puts a quid in the kitty and picks one of the public order horses. If your horse shits first, you win the kitty. Easy.

*And finally, yes it is true, every other nick DOES has fitter people than yours.



Happy Met Copper said...

Hilarious. You must have been immobile for some time.
Things like this can be "frowned upon" but as I have said in a previous comment, where as some would see it as bullying it is an essential part of the thing that we do for a career. It creates a bond between us all and keeps everyone smiling.
Carriers are never boring.

stuart said...

That was brilliant! I had no idea there were police medics! It's like a big bright bulb went ping. How cliché.

Can anyone apply to be one? I've considered becoming a paramedic for a good while as well as the police would almost be like combining them. I'm guessing Special Constables can't be though :(

TheBinarySurfer said...

Ah the things we do when bored. And joking aside, a shared laugh is important as it makes a bond/shared experience as you say - even if you're the butt of the joke!

I do remember hearing one particuarly malicious tale a few years back, when a mate of mine was heading up a PSU team and decided to feed the probby a mild laxative in his cheeseburger before seating him next to the Inspector...


Metcountymounty said...

Stuart, the public order medics are a specialist post along with FIT and EG - Forward intelligence team and Evidence Gatherers, you have to be public order trained to apply and the courses are a beasting with the medics being the hardest.

For a course that pretty much anyone can apply for (after a bit of preparation) it's reputed to be the hardest in the Met, other courses like specialist firearms and CBRN are extremely difficult but not as easy for anyone to just pull their finger out and go for. As for specials applying for them... it's an extremely contentious issue at the moment as some people wait years to be able to apply and now we're seeing public order training and 'rare as rocking horse shit' specialist courses going to people who do the job part time.

It's nothing against the people who are specials, just the fact that we choose Policing as a career and see courses such as public order and response driving go to people who turn up once or twice a month, have a blat about and don't have to deal with any of the paperwork or aftermath. We also lose course allocation slots and budgets for them too.

Anonymous said...

There are obviously some regional variations! In our force the sgt/senior PC goes in the front with inspector and driver and the pro con/least amount of service goes in the jump seat, ready to be "deployed" to any bag of doo doo we come accross.

Also, a fine past time is the "spinning" of idiots/drunk people by the knocking of the tinted windows to make them look around/come and bother the driver..

XTP said...

Big chuckles!

BTW - if there're any MP bods with 20+ years in reading this - do you remember a similar thing doing the rounds (before e-mail) about things all Police Officers do? It was along the same lines as your list, MCM, but the only one I can remember went something like "You MUST bang the side of a dog van when you walk past". It was hilarious!

Blue Eyes said...

Every "community" has its "etiquette" and in organisations as big as the MPS, I would guess that you need to have unwritten rules to make sure that everyone knows what the others are likely to do. After all, you probably spend quite a lot of time working with people you don't really know that well - in stark contrast to most industries where people work with the same colleagues every day for years on end.

Metcountymounty said...

blue eyes, liked that explanation! There are many things in our job that are essential to know and do it's just that some of them don't look good on paper or if you tell someone with no experience of policing that we do it, which is why they remain unwritten rules instead of being accepted as standard practice!

Anonymous said...

Genius, very funny! You guys must come off these jobs a stone heavier!!

Metcountymounty said...

after along set of seriously boring aid it feels like it, but when you see the quality of the food it offers a very good explanation as to why hospital canteens are favoured by Police officers, it's not just for the nurses and Ambo's, honest!!!

Anonymous said...

We used to have bus challenges on those boring security patrol days:

Can you eat 5 McFlurries in 5 minutes?

How about 3 cheeseburgers in 2 minutes?

Or a packet of fizzy haribo in 1 minute?

And, the piece de la resistance... Dare you eat the £10 Met Breakfast... any items from the menu to the value of a tenner... to be consumed within 20 minutes!

I witnessed the last challenge in Croydon canteen... followed shortly after by the sight of the victorious challengee being violently sick!

Happy days!

blueknight said...

In no particular order,also bring hot water and an assortment of max packs. Biscuits, mars bars and any other food or drink that can be blagged. You cannot rely on getting meal at the right time. I have started at 6 am and not been fed until 7 hours later at 1 pm, (although we mutinied and went to McDonalds)
All your kit. If it gets too hot you can take it off, but if it gets too cold and you didn't bring it...
A football or baseball bat and ball for down time.
Nothing beats a day out in the van!

Metcountymounty said...

anon 0120 - the brainfreeze after the Mcflurry challenge would definately give me a migraine so no chance, however I've done 4 cheeseburgers in 2 minutes (washed down with still fanta) so that one's reasonable, haven't tried he haribo one yet but I sense a bit of puke coming on after!! I don't go near Met breakfasts having seen some of the shite they cook the food in and with, I'm happy with crunchy-nut cornflakes, milk and a yog thanks!!

Blueknight, Re the football, after being told on one aid to do the community bit and interact with the local kids, some random Ch.Insp with a serious rod up his arse gave us a group bollocking in front of about a hundred people for playing football with some kids in the street. He said it looked 'unprofessional' and wasn't what the Ch.Supt had in mind. These kids had never seen more than two coppers in one place and they were invariably going to/from some shite job and weren't up for a bit of banter for an hour or so. Some peoples view of hearts and minds are very different, considering the parents thought it was great.

XTP said...

anon @ 0120 - does having 4 portions of kippers and a couple of rounds of toast count or is that against the spirit?!!!

blueknight said...

MCM re football,
Senior Officers on mutual aid, that is a whole new debate for another day.
At least now they are drawn from a public order cadre and have been trained, but in the past only the PCs and Sgts did the training and were more often than not led by an armchair warrior who had never seen a shield before.

Metcountymounty said...

I'd heard a while back that they aren't allowed to run as Silver or Gold for a public order incident now unless they were actually public order trained as a PC, not sure how true that is, and certainly doesn't make some of the decisions any less shocking!!

Anonymous said...

I particularly like the doughnut rule

Metcountymounty said...

It was the breaking of the doughnut rule that lead to the whole day going downhill!

Milton Inmate said...

You forgot the traditional tie throwing between the ground and fourth floor of NSY if you have the luck to be force fed there instead of Buck Gate too.