Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Courtesy of the BBC -

A group of retired Gurkhas fighting for the right to settle in Britain have won their immigration test case at London's High Court. They were challenging immigration rules which said that those who retired from the British Army before 1997 did not have an automatic right to stay.
Prominent supporter actress Joanna Lumley said it was a "chance to right a great wrong".
The government said it would now review all Gurkhas' cases.

'Debt of honour'

The regiment moved its main base from Hong Kong to the UK in 1997 and the government had argued that Gurkhas discharged before that date were unlikely to have strong residential ties with the UK. That meant those who wanted to settle in the UK had to apply for British residence and could be refused and deported.

The judgement could affect some 2,000 former Gurkhas who retired before 1997.

The judge, Mr Justice Blake, said the Gurkhas' long service, conspicuous acts of bravery and loyalty to the Crown all pointed to a "moral debt of honour" and gratitude felt by British people.
He ruled that instructions given by the Home Office to immigration officials were unlawful and needed urgent revision.

Lawyer Martin Howe said:

"Today we have seen a tremendous and historic victory for the gallant Gurkha veterans of Nepal. This is a victory that restores honour and dignity to deserving soldiers who faithfully served in Her Majesty's armed forces. It is a victory for common sense; a victory for fairness; and a victory for the British sense of what is right."

All I can say to the judgement is GOOD, it's about bloody time. The people in the Home Office who originally made this decision are a bunch of spineless bastards who wouldn't know what a debt of honour was if it smacked them in the face with a Kukri. To deny these men and their families the right to stay in this country, to work and claim medical and financial benefits that they have more than earned was a disgusting display of hypocrisy, only equalled by the maltreatment of injured service men and women after the closing of military hospitals and treatment centres. There has been a complete breakdown of the Military Covenant by Labour, and they don't care.

We (the Police) deal with more people with 'insufficient ties' to this country every day and yet many are still here, begging, stealing, robbing, committing burglary and generally taking the complete piss with council housing and benefit claims and yet the Home Office will do nothing about it above paying lip service for fear of being branded as racists by people with more than a couple of axes to grind. Immigration won't even try and remand people when we nick them on suspicion of illegal entry any more; they just get released and asked to attend the immigration centre in Croydon in a couple of days time.

Funnily enough not many turn up.

Heaven forbid you're an easy target like a working teacher from Canada (for example) who is known to the immigration system after doing everything right and is easily traceable through tax payments, but was still threatened with removal a couple of weeks before their temporary leave to remain visa expired.

There are people in this country who should not be here in the first place let alone after committing crime. We know that. Everyone else knows that. Yet the Government refuse to deal with it and would rather turn their backs on the problem and disrespect an honourable group of soldiers who have only ever asked to live in the country that they have sworn to defend with their lives. Fifty thousand of whom have done so since their inclusion into the British Army.

Not that it means much, but I take my hat off to Mr Justice Blake for seeing sense, now lets see if the Home Office will do the honourable thing?


Friday, 26 September 2008


There are very few things in this world that shock me any more. Some might be a bit gross and make me cringe, like the ankle bit in Hostel, other incidents I have been dealing with have had me a bit awestruck, like seeing someone eviscerated after a knife fight, which was both amazing and seriously bloody painful at the same time. Others piss me off no end with the sheer selfishness of the act, a great many of the things that have shocked have been as the result of burglars. I hate them. After rapists and paedos, they are the one group of people I hate so much that I honestly believe they should, at the very least, have both their arms removed at the shoulder. With a blunt tea spoon.

This would of course make them dependant on people to help them as they would be disabled, and you can be damn sure that that help would come from tax payers money so they would continue to be a drain on society for the rest of their lives.

For this reason I'm a big advocate of a couple of rounds in the head and then dump them in the sea to let the fish sort the body out. This is controversial at present, obviously, but I've been saying it since my parents house was burgled when we first moved back to the UK permanently, especially as the bastard lived over the road (caught on the way out by the local beat officer) and I had to see him everyday until they were eventually booted out of their council paid house. Since then I have never once gone to bed without going round the house to make sure all the windows downstairs are closed and locked and all the doors are locked. I have met a lot of people who have been burgled and I dread to think how many burglary reports I've taken, I have absolutely no doubt that most people who have been burgled do exactly the same thing to try and stop anyone getting in again.

It's a violation that hits people in their most vulnerable place, in their home, the main place they should feel safe and secure, and that is why it is so painful to victims of burglaries.

There is one other place that you are supposed to feel safe, where you hope that nothing bad will ever happen to you and where you think everyone around you is there for no other reason than to make you feel safe.

Your hospital bed.

We had a briefing slide that went out to all the local divisions that I saw for the first time recently.

"officers are requested to help identify the following CCTV image of a suspect for a recent burglary. This male walked into a ward at the children's hospital, went into a room where a young patient was receiving treatment and stole the laptop computer as she was asleep"


Utter, utter vile bastard.

Forgive me for not feeling a damn thing the next time I find a burglar screaming in pain after they fall out a window and send their leg bones in directions they weren't designed for, or through a skylight and break their back, or sever an artery and a couple of tendons on a window they broke. As far as I'll always be concerned, no amount of pain or suffering they get will make up for what they put their victims through. As far as I'm concerned, we'll continue to blat to a 'suspects on premises' call and we'll continue to pursue burglars trying to escape in cars, even if the mass readership of the Daily Wail or the Guardian slag us off for it.

I don't care, I hate them.


Friday, 19 September 2008

A factor of Five

Does prison reform criminals and provide enough of a deterrent to stop them ever going back?

Er, No. According to studies by the Home Office, between 75 and 80% of adult male prisoners are re-convicted within two years of being released from prison. The Police federation, taking into consideration allegations of crime where a named suspect (with known previous convictions or precons as we call them) who were not charged, and incidents where Police dealt but no crime allegations were made, suggest a more conservative estimate of upwards of 90% of convicted prisoners being involved in crime after being released from prison. Even if you are of the "innocent until proven guilty in court" brigade, upwards of 80% is still pretty damn high.

Some people argue that prison doesn't stop people committing crime because we have more repeat criminals than ever. The fact that sentences are considerably shorter than ever before and you have to do a hell of a lot to actually get a custodial sentence because of the increased prison population is lost on them. The kind of people who argue that prison doesn't work are also the ones who believe that simply getting arrested by the Police would devastate their lives, they have little or no experience of actually dealing with criminals 'at the coal face' and the thought of going to prison terrifies them. I read a great line the other day on The Coppersblog during a discussion about sentencing guidelines in reference to prison -

"It's like doubting aspirin works because you took one 3 months ago and now you have a headache"

Personally, I don't care if criminals are reformed. If they commit a crime, go to prison, get reformed and then never commit another crime for the rest of their lives then great, that can only be good for society and the people like you and me who want to live honest lives. If they don't get reformed, but never commit another crime for the rest of their lives because prison scared them so much that they never wanted to go back, then also great. Same result, different paths to get there, but at the end of it no one else has to suffer.

One thing is certain about prison - if someone is inside, even if only on remand, they're not able to be out committing crime, and that can only be a good thing. The fact that re-conviction rates are so high means that the only respite from the vast majority of criminals is when they are locked away. I am well aware that other crimes are committed by people in prison such as drug use and assaults on Prison Officers and other inmates, but at least they aren't out screwing over innocent peoples homes or otherwise making their lives a misery.

When I was first looking at joining the Job, I went out on a 'ride along' for a night shift. Whilst out in the area car I experienced my first hunt for a burglar who had been disturbed in the process of breaking into someones house. It was, quite frankly, awesome. The officers I was with predicted the identity of the suspect based on his MO (modus operandi or method of operating) and then successfully tracked him down, as they knew his usual haunts and what routes he would use to get there that kept him mostly out of sight. Once they had him stopped the dog unit tracked back to the house, and that was him in the bins (custody) for the night.

Job done, and I was hooked.

They knew that the suspect had not long been released from prison, and as he was a prolific offender, his release had been circulated to the officers as "one to watch out for". The suspect had in excess of 50 convictions for various offences but mainly burglary and possession of class A drugs. As a habitual hard drug user, he used burglary as his method of getting the cash together to get his fix and by his own admission (he had a number of outstanding burglaries TIC'd or taken into consideration, confessing to them to get leniency at court) he was committing around 2-3 every couple of days. This by the way is not a lot, I've heard of people doing 5-10 a day.

Despite his numerous previous convictions, he never got more than a year of actual jail time when convicted at court because he never had aggravating factors such as violence or weapons, hardly ever targeted homes where the owners were in, always TIC'd a few burglaries and always pleaded guilty at the first hearing. As much as I hate burglars (number 3 on my list of criminals I hate after paedos and rapists) he would be classed as a low risk offender, even a nice burglar in the eyes of the court, if there can be such a thing.

Clearly he wasn't reformed, and the risk of going back obviously did nothing to deter him from violating peoples homes. By his own admission however, every single day he spent in custody physically stopped him from being able to burgle someone.

Since joining I have had dealings with hundreds, if not a couple of thousand, of people with criminal convictions. I can only remember a handful of those with less only one or two precons, it actually comes as a somewhat pleasant surprise when you get a court print of someones precons and there is hardly anything on it. In stark contrast, I've also seen prolific offenders with a precon list running into the 200's. Just think about that for a moment, over two hundred convictions at court. Then think about the number of times they would have been arrested and not charged, or committed offences and were never identified as the suspect, let alone the amount of Police and court time taken up by just one person.

I don't think I've ever met a Police officer who honestly thinks that sentencing of criminals in this country is appropriate to the crimes committed. We often have discussions at work about what kind of sentencing system would be more effective at stopping criminals. Examples of suggestions would include enforced cold turkey for drug addicts, hanging, shooting, 400 year prison sentences like they have in the states and building a huge wall around the Isle of Wight and dumping them all there to fight it out amongst themselves - Escape from New York style.

My personal view is that the more someone chooses to commit crime, the more they should have the possibility of them being able to commit crime removed. The only way to do that is to remove them from society by locking them up in a cell. Yes, they may have more gucci kit than a benefit scrounges council house, better meals than I would ever be able to get in a canteen (and free) and all the DVD's they would ever want, but at least they won't be able to stick a pint glass in your face when pissed, kick your front door in while your kids are asleep, or stamp you to death for asking them ever so politely to bugger off somewhere else at 4 in the morning instead of getting drunk outside your house.

My ideal would be a minimum tariff, irrespective of the crime, that escalates exponentially with more convictions as it would eventually completely remove those people who chose to turn to criminality. Here's how my sentencing guidelines would work - firstly you start off with a weeks custodial, regardless of the offence. If they commit an offence that would attract a higher custodial sentence for a first time conviction (like murder) then the higher sentence takes over. After the first offence conviction, you increase every subsequent sentence by a factor of five. A second time offender would get a minimum of five weeks, third would get twenty five etc. After no more than five convictions someone is going to be locked away for at least twelve years, if they are stupid enough to get a conviction after that then they're going to be locked away for the rest of their useful life. Their problem, not mine, and I think five chances is four more than they need to get the hint.

This system of sentencing is extremely harsh, but then that puts the emphasis on the person to make sure they keep their noses clean and not get in trouble. The thing I love about it is it's fair, it doesn't discriminate, if you're a criminal or feel that crime is the easy way out, or you don't care about anyone else and get drunk and lamp people for no reason, then hey, you're going to pay for it by being locked up.

As long as there are people who have never been victims of crime, don't live in areas where criminals make peoples lives hell, but who will defend the view that locking criminals up isn't the right answer, then I'll continue to be arresting people with 50, 100 or 200 previous convictions. In the meantime we all get the benefit and joy of living in a society where criminals exploit our refusal to lock them up and throw away the key.

Annoying, isn't it?


Thursday, 11 September 2008

Innocent? or simply Not Guilty?

Consider the following definitions. As they say, the devil is in the detail, and as every Police officer, lawyer and Judge in the country knows, one does certainly not mean the other.

Not guilty - to be declared legally blameless of a crime.

Innocent - did not commit a crime of which they were accused.

The differences between those two terms, and the public perception that they mean exactly the same thing, has annoyed me from about a week into my Police career. As part of my training I went to get a feel for what a trial is like and see exactly what my part in it would be. I sat through two trials, because one ended considerably quicker than expected. The first case I sat through was a simple drink drive, a guy was arrested at around 3am having left a mates house where he had a few drinks and ate some pizza. After he left, the driver was heading through the quiet city streets with no headlights on when he was seen by a passing Police patrol and stopped. Funnily enough, he failed the roadside breath test and was arrested so that he could be taken to the station to provide an accurate sample to confirm the level of alcohol in his blood. The driver was just under three times the limit and was charged with driving whilst over the prescribed limit for alcohol, he was then bailed to attend court a month or so later.

When he appeared for his first hearing, the driver had elected to plead Not Guilty and so a date was set for trial in another couple of months. As I sat down in the public gallery, my training officer told me that the solicitors would go through some legalities with the judge and then the defendant would come up and the trial would begin. As the arresting officer was also the officer in the case (OIC) he was not in the court as the solicitors started to discuss the ins and outs. After a few minutes the defence solicitor raised some technical issues that they felt greatly undermined the prosecution case. It turned out that at some point between providing the sample (the machine was working correctly and the reading was accurate) and the charge, some administration errors were made on the drink drive form by the custody Sgt. The bench decided that because administration errors were made, any prosecution was deemed unsafe because of abuse of process. The defendant was called in, and then told that he was being found not guilty because of mistakes made by the Police and he was then released.

To many people outside of the criminal justice system, the simple fact that someone is declared Not Guilty following a trial means to them that the person did not commit the offence they were charged with. Does that mean that the defendant wasn't drink driving? That he was not found to be 3 times over the limit? That the Police made it all up and arrested a random and innocent man simply minding his own business? It was the fault of the Police officers dealing for making the admin error that allowed the driver to get away with drink driving; it was not because the driver did not commit the crime he was accused of.

With the exception of some jobs such as domestic violence cases or sexual/serious assaults, I stopped taking interest a long time ago in the outcome of the majority of my cases and the penalties imposed. This is mainly because seeing ridiculous sentences like someone get 20 hours community service (that they won't complete) for 50+ residential burglaries, can get a bit soul destroying, but equally as depressing is when you get a result like "Not guilty, no evidence offered". What this result means is that when the case went to trial, the CPS prosecutor decided for any number of reasons that they were unable to try the case. These reasons could be a witness not turning up or being hostile (as often happens in domestics), exhibits or the case file being lost, or occasionally an off the books plea bargain where they drop one job to get a guilty plea on another. Bear in mind that the decision to charge in the first place comes from a CPS prosecutor who reviews all the evidence and the case file in its entirety, so it's hardly ever because the evidence simply isn't there and they don't feel they can prosecute it.

I had a case a few years ago with a guy for multiple domestic violence incidents against his wife, with injuries ranging from common assault through to GBH. Because the guy only ever beat his wife when drunk and didn't care who saw it, all of the incidents were witnessed by several Police officers and nearly two dozen independent witnesses. He had been prosecuted for assault a number of times before, but because his wife had always refused to give evidence he was never convicted. I remember a distinct conversation with him in custody when he said that he'd been found innocent of the previous charges. My answer at the time was "you weren't found innocent, you were found not guilty, that doesn't mean you didn't do it, it just means they couldn't convict you of it"

The case took ages to put together, but eventually I had the guy remanded and got agreement from the head CPS prosecutor for the city to go ahead with prosecution despite the wife refusing to co-operate. Unfortunately no one told this to the prosecutor on the day of his first hearing (who invariably knows nothing about the cases they are to try until that morning when given their caseload) and as soon as they heard that the victim refused to attend court they offered no evidence and he was acquitted. I and nearly 30 people witnessed him beat his wife (to unconsciousness at one point) so there was no question that he did not commit the offences but having been acquitted and found not guilty he is presumed by many to be innocent.

Just as an aside, he beat her to death a few months later and was given a 10 year custodial sentence having pleaded guilty to manslaughter. To say this sad conclusion made me go even more ballistic than when I got the initial 'no evidence offered' email, is an understatement.

The concept of being innocent until proven guilty has been with us for the best part of a millennia, along with the rights of Habeas Corpus, or the right not to be detained by the state/crown without reason. These rights were enshrined in law because at the time people were locked up for no reason, because of their faith, malicious allegations, or because someone in authority wanted to prove they could do what they wanted. Before the introduction of forensic and scientific evidence, trials at the time centred on witness testimony and the most basic of evidence such as an item found in a place linked with the suspect. I have absolutely no doubt that there were a great many miscarriages of justice at the time, it is not hard to imagine a number of people getting together to provide malicious evidence against someone they didn't like and who could not provide an alibi.

In the present day the concept of innocent until proven guilty still stands, and recent miscarriages of justice (such as the Birmingham Six) or collapses followed by separate prosecution (Damilola Taylor) or simply collapsing because evidence is deemed inadmissible (Barry George) show that investigations are not perfect or impossible to manipulate. These types of incidents are extremely few and far between given the number of cases sent to court each year and certainly do not represent the norm. The fact though, that they still happen, seriously undermines the criminal justice system and the way that the Police are viewed by the public, especially our motivations to prosecute some people. As the venerable PC Bloggs put it in one of her posts, I couldn't give a toss about the vast majority of people I arrest, and even if I absolutely believe that someone deserves to be put away, I certainly don't care enough about them to risk my house, liberty and future by trying to stitch someone up.

In my capacity as a Police officer one of my main roles is to investigate people for suspected offences, then present the evidence to the court to allow a trial by a panel of magistrates or by a jury. Nearly all offences in criminal law contain the wording "a constable may arrest, without warrant, a person who they reasonably suspect is guilty of the offence" or words to that effect. In order to arrest we have to suspect that the person committed it, either by having witnessed it ourselves or by having 'viable' witnesses (i.e. who saw it and are willing to give a statement to that effect, or who can point out the offender who will have been witnessed by other means such as CCTV) so that they can be questioned in interview under caution about the matter.

Further to the belief established at the scene that a suspect is the person who committed the offence, each separate criminal offence has its own 'points to prove' which must all be hit for the offence to be complete, and thereby allow us to arrest and investigate. For example, the offence of Theft has six separate points to prove, each one having been analysed in great detail by previous trials to nail down exactly what it means. The wording is "a person is guilty of an offence if they - dishonestly (1) appropriate (2) property (3) belonging to another (4) with the intention (5) of permanently depriving (6) the other of it" During the subsequent investigation, if the points to prove have been not been hit, or if the suspect has a valid justification for any point, the offence has not been completed and the suspect cannot be charged.

This means that we simply cannot randomly select any number of passersby or someone who loosely fits a description as there not only has to be more to it, but we have to believe or at least suspect that the person did it. Once arrested there are a number of stops in place to make sure that detention is both legal and necessary. These include - presenting the evidence of arrest to a Custody Sgt who can authorise or refuse detention, having the evidence and detention reviewed at specific intervals by an Inspector, if detention goes on longer than 24 hours it must be authorised by a rank of at least Superintendant, after 36 hours detention can only be authorised by a magistrate who is told the evidence and reasons to continued detention, up to a maximum of 96 hours, again after periodic reviews. Once the investigation is complete, authorisation for charge has to be sought by the Crown Prosecution Service who will review all evidence and decide if the case is to go to court. Detention/further investigation can be refused at any point if someone at the appropriate level decides that there is insufficient evidence or justification to continue.

Following this, the probability of someone getting to court (let alone being convicted) is extremely slim if they are completely 'innocent' and have had absolutely no involvement in a crime.

There are occasions where someone's guilt must still be decided by a jury where they have shown an involvement in an incident that cannot be readily determined at the evidence gathering stage as to whether or not they are responsible for committing a crime. These include the use of statutory defences, such as an emergency responders use of road traffic exemptions, or self defence to justify force which results in injury or death. There have been cases such as the prosecution of Chelsea Bennett (stabbed another girl during a fight and successfully pleaded self defence) where the CPS decided to charge and leave the decision to a court. As with everything, the evidence of each case is viewed on its own merits and others such as Tony Singh (shopkeeper who fatally stabbed a robber) was not charged as the CPS decided that the evidence suggested self defence and there was no need for a trial.

No one can argue that public faith in the criminal justice system, or more specifically the Police, hasn't got progressively worse in recent years. I believe that a perceived inability to prosecute people successfully has contributed to this a great deal, along with a number of other reasons. Celebrity solicitors such as Nick 'Mr Loophole' Freeman argue that they are only doing the best they can by their clients, as they are obliged, by exploiting technical loopholes. The aim of an increasing number of trials seem to have moved from 'did he do it or not?' to 'can we show the Police made a mistake while investigating whether or not he did it' which further undermines the intention in establishing guilt or innocence.


PS. I know that was a particularly long post, but when people really don't get the difference between the two meanings, or completely miss the point for investigations, it bugs the crap out of me - especially on Sky News!!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Kit Monster

So there I am, at the end of a long set of nights contemplating my well needed train sleep, followed by the seemingly endless paint, brick dust, plaster and noise that I've been dealing with for the last few weeks. I'm looking at my belt kit hanging neatly on the cubicle door in front of me and my body armour sitting on the floor, and it reminded me of a post I put up a little while ago about the Growth of Policing. More specifically, the lines "You can identify them (newbies) by the amount of fancy new equipment they carry. A ten billion candlelight power torch, pens that write in the rain, a ballistic vest rated to stop tomahawk missiles, and an equipment bag large enough to house a squad of marines"

It probably will not come as a surprise that I was indeed one of those kit monsters, I don't think being an Army sprog helped much as I was surrounded by new and shiny kit that did stuff my whole life. I was looking through some old photos at my parents a while back and there is one of me as a five year old wearing webbing, a bergen, a helmet, and a pair of Scooby Doo pants.

Anyway.... I'm not quite sure when the change to carrying less kit happened or whether it was gradual or not, but I remember a time in the not too distant past when I had so much kit on my belt that nothing moved and there were no spaces between the items on there. The fact that over the years I've had ankle, feet, back and posture problems directly attributable to wearing belt kit and a vest, probably spurred me on to ditch some of it.

When I was at training school there were a number of kit catalogues going around and people were buying things that at the time seemed pretty cool, but in the long run were a complete waste of money. Whilst moving a lot of stuff recently I found my old stash of 'kit porn' as it has been called and there are catalogues for (in no particular order) Niton, Protec, 5.11 Tactical, Arktis, USMC, RVOps, Oakley and Under Armour. I'm not sure whether I've bought something (or a few things) from each one, but the probability is quite high.

On my belt kit I had - Issued handcuffs in holder, spare fold up cuffs in holder (handy when you've got 3-4 bods and only two of you there), CS in holder with ultra strong lanyard, a first aid pouch with face shield and steri wipes, a pouch for gloves, a 'probie pouch' with all the forms that would fold up easily, a rescue knife for cutting seatbelts with window punch, a leatherman, a 4 cell maglite and loop holder, a mobile phone pouch, a radio (heavy brick type) holder, multi positional baton holder, a 'key silencer' hanging thing, glove clip (seriously) and lastly a small bottle of alcohol gel on a clip.

At the time my force did not issue body armour so on the (good) advice of the guys on my team I bought my own and wore it routinely, as they all did. I thankfully was never shot, but it did stop a couple of nasty slashes to the gut and chest, a screwdriver stab to the back and also took the impact of a couple of fat drunk screaming heffers stamping on my back whilst wearing stilettos. In my body armour pockets I would have yet more forms, my notebook, diary, a supply of normal pens, a packet of dextrose energy chewy things and a pen with a torch in the end so I could write in the dark.

When I was posted to a panda I also took along my 'shafted bag' containing books and emergency food in case I was stuck on a post somewhere, in which I would also put my folder with every conceivable form (for statements, sudden deaths, traffic accidents etc) and also a spare torch.

As you can tell, I carried an awful lot of crap around every single day, most of which was only used occasionally at best.

Nowadays, I now only carry on my body, things that I am required to by SOP's (such as my personal protective equipment) and items that I occasionally need immediately to hand if I'm dealing with something. Everything else is either slung on the back seat in a bag or someone will bring it out if desperate. On my belt I've got handcuffs, CS and baton - all in met issue holders, a leatherman, an airwave clip, a belt loop for my public order baton (saves taking it off every time) and a pouch with a few pairs of gloves and a field dressing.

In my body armour I've got my stop/search forms (the new Met ones are soooo much better than the foot long home office approved piece of crap that takes ages to fill out, and are funnily enough like the old ones I used to use) my notebook, diary, a couple of pens, my mobile phone and a £3.50 LED torch from Millets.

Neither my baton nor my CS see the light of day for more than a couple of times a year (if that) as they are virtually useless, but if I don't carry them and something happens then I'm up the proverbial creek. My cuffs are the most used and indeed useful piece of kit, the leatherman does its intended job of fixing Police cars and bikes, opening packets of food, and occasionally as a ligature knife and seatbelt cutter upper. I have to stock up on gloves quite regularly but more worryingly, I've gone through a dozen field dressings on members of the public in the last four months thanks to numerous violent assaults, a stabbing, two glassings and a nasty RTA. I would be surprised to have to break one out every 3 months or so only a few years ago.

As I said earlier wearing lots of stuff on my belt kit buggered my back up a bit, as most coppers find, which is probably the main reason after realising they don't need most of it, they stop carrying it all. At present the Met doesn't issue chest rigs unlike most of the other forces in the country, mainly due to cost and also because of disagreements about evidence of wearing weight around the hips. I've also heard lots of senior ranks (in my old force) say that they don't like chest rigs because they look "too militaristic". The fact that the military learned over two hundred years ago that a man could carry more weight, and for longer, if it is moved from his hips to his chest and that it prevented back injury in the process, is completely lost on them.

There are officers who don't carry any kit around with them, mostly CID who don't want to be 'shown out' at the pub but others who simply choose not to. One of the Inspectors at my nick is a proper old school SPG/TSG (basically first riot teams through to present ones) who occasionally goes out in a civvie jacket when he's bored with nothing but an ear-pieced radio and a pair of cuffs. Every now and then he'll call up for a bod for us to deal with but he still gets stuck in when he can. I asked him why he didn't take anything out with him and he said "I've still got all the kit the job has ever issued me, even my cape. And then I've got the two fists that the streets of London taught me to use. After 30 years doing this bollocks, I know which has never failed me"

Fair comment, I think.