Monday 3 November 2014

Sheepdogs and wolves....... and kangaroos!!

So, I'm not quite back. I've been thinking for quite some time about writing again, an awful lot has happened since my last post over 5 years ago. Firstly, I finally left the Met, best decision I've ever made to be honest. I was enjoying how my career plans were going right up until the Olympics, I made some friends for life and managed to get on some really awesome jobs, nearly getting killed in Brixton during the August 2011 riots with a scaffolding pole round the head wasn't one of them however.

My wife and I had started deciding on an exit strategy which was ultimately going to get me out of the job, as I had lost my taste for most aspects of it completely, the main trigger for me was the riots. Not what happened during, it was afterwards with the media and the constant slagging off from the public. The scummy rioters I could handle, that was the job. Being slagged off by thousands upon thousands of people who days earlier were cowering under their beds while we literally battled to stop people burning entire estates to the ground.... fuck me, that was something else. The fact that no police officers were killed was a direct result of the awesome green angels in the LAS, not the level of violence we faced - many people have been medically binned or have quit as a result of injuries they sustained, and their treatment by the job after. I was involved in a rescue of a female officer who got abducted into a crowd during a baton charge, they only stopped stamping on her head and legs after her leg broke and they realised the screams were from a female.

Then there was being treated like crap during the Olympics working 20 hour shifts for 3 months and having to get whatever sleep we could in vans, rat infested police stations, underground car parks etc... Post Olympics it was carnage, the Met introduction of the Local Policing Model destroyed literally thousands of careers, many like me were put back to square one, and that for me was the last straw.

When I first joined up it was the one job in a hundred which made the rest of it worth it, towards the end it was closer to one job in a thousand, if that. The job politics, the bullshit with the government, the most anti-police Home Secretary that the country has ever seen, the media.... it all just became too much and I decided that was me done.

The retraining had one very specific goal - to emigrate. I'd done a lot of specialist ops in the counter terrorism side of things in the years up to and over the Olympics and Jubilee. I really enjoyed the planning and ops development, so became a certified Project Manager and Risk Manager, along with another degree to boot! We'd been saying for years that we were going to try and get out of the UK, we've both travelled a lot and agreed a long time ago that the UK wasn't where we wanted to raise our family. We planned initially on Canada for purely ease of travel from the UK for family and then Australia or New Zealand, we had no idea really, somewhere else. Anywhere else.

The plan was afoot and well underway, the job went to rat shit at every possible turn, I'd had 6 different shift patterns in a year, three different teams, been shafted by people who never had the courtesy to even meet me first, effectively putting my career plans back 5 years. Were it not for the plans already in place I would have jacked it in, I was on a low, probably the lowest I've been for a very long time despite the exit strategy.

But then opportunity ever so gently tapped a little finger on the door.

The glimmer of hope eventually became a blinding glare, and 18 months later I'm writing this post from our little house on the beach in sunny Australia!

Without a shadow of a doubt the last 18 months have been the hardest of our lives, the three of us have moved half way round the world, leaving friends and family back in the UK. We've made some great friends here who have gone through the same incredibly stressful process, the application and training has given me a new reinvigorated love for the job. Same job, different post code, but you'd be amazed how much of a difference it makes not being slagged off every ten seconds from literally every direction, bosses, politicians, media and the public alike. Oh, and being paid 100% more with the same monthly outgoings is pretty nice too!

I don't know how much I will be writing, it certainly won't be as much as I did before but I have got a few stories to tell. Quite possibly one of the most horrific jobs I ever dealt with happened in my last few shifts before I left the Met, thankfully the fucker has been found guilty and at this point is awaiting sentencing for 3x attempted murders.

I've been through the mill and I'm glad to say I've managed to make it out the other side intact, well mostly. Things are good, job is going well and I'm looking forward to another summer with no rain for 100 odd days.... beats walking around London in the pissing rain at any rate!! To my many friends still working on their own exit plans I wish the best of luck, to those of you who supported us despite an almost relentless onslaught I thank you, truly from the bottom of my heart.

We can't do this job without you, we may be miserable, grumpy, people-hating, anti-social bastards, but we'll give everything we can to try and help you. I honestly hope you never have to experience some of the things that I have seen, but I could not be more proud of the tenacity and devotion that my colleagues and I would give every day. It takes something else to lay down in a pool of someone else's blood, to hold their hand and tell them that you will stay with them no matter what, knowing all too well that your voice could be the last thing they hear.

Please look after my friends, they need you as much as you need them.

For now,


Wednesday 17 June 2009


When I started writing this blog it was never meant to be more than a personal catharsis, in that aim I think it succeeded as I've managed to get a few things off my chest which some of you guys have read and commented on. I haven't posted much over the last 6 months due to work, I've been getting a lot more into stuff I can't talk about and have hardly worked on team, and public order duties have lost all appeal. They say a change is as good as a rest and I'm liking how things are going even if it has meant I've been absolutely knackered, it just means I get to enjoy doing the family stuff and enjoying my rest days all the more.

Due to a combination of my work role changing, getting lots of cancelled rest days, and now more importantly because of the Times, I'm going to be calling it a day. I won't be posting anything new on here for the foreseeable future.

The Times decided for whatever reason to expose NightJack's real identity. After a written warning, the deletion of his blog and now a lost case in the high court, NJ has been well and truly burned by the media and I've no doubt his career prospects are going to be extremely limited for some time, and I have no intention of putting myself on offer for that one now that a judge has ruled on it. Personally I hope the ruling on anonymity in a public forum comes back to bite them in the arse with regard to anonymous sources, especially as the law of unintended consequences seems to favour anything to do with the Police or media.

For the 100k or so site hits in a the last year I'd like to say thanks for your support again, I'll probably speak to some of you on some of the other blogs but in the meantime, I'm out.


Friday 5 June 2009

Point Number Eight

Back in January I wrote this post about the appointment of our new boss. In the list of things I very much doubt we'd get (and thus far we haven't) was number eight's "specific targeting and extreme harassment of each divisions top 50 criminals until they are locked away, move out of London, or kill themselves." Now, the last bit may seem harsh to some people, but as I and all of my colleagues know how much pain and misery someone would have to have caused over a number of years to get into the top set of criminals for a given area, few of us would shed a tear if they were to turn up swollen and bloated after a couple of days at the bottom of the Thames.

When I was a probationer in my old force we had a new divisional commander who moved to us from a neighbouring force, and at one of his meet and greet sessions he outlined his strategies for winding a few of the local criminal necks in. Aside from more 'encouragement' for the local CPS prosecutors to actually work at putting some of them to court for the right offences (and not busting the offence down to get an easy guilty plea) he wanted us to harass our top twenty or so criminals. By harass he meant executing arrest warrants at the most inconvenient times possible like Christmas or their birthday, searching them when and where possible - but especially in public - if there was even the slightest grounds, and getting in touch with all known members of their family to trace them if they were named as suspects in a crime allegation.

The most encouraging bit was that in ordering us to assertively target people he knew that we'd be subject to complaints from the suspects as well as family members, and possibly members of the public. "That's my problem, not yours" he said "and besides, if they are complaining, then it's working"

This type of Policing is extremely labour intensive, it's not just a case of putting one or two officers on the suspect, you need dozens to get proper 24 hour cover for just one person. Overt surveillance is not as difficult as covert as you need many more, but you still need resources to put into it and you have to sustain pressure for some time before you actually see any effect, but as Essex Police have shown the time and effort IS worth it. By targeting known burglars and basically making their lives a misery for a change, they have drastically reduced the number of residential burglaries compared to the year before.

As a preventative measure - in lieu of burglars actually getting any meaningful prison sentences - harassing them works. They're not going to be able or willing to go out in the dead of night and screw someone's house or garage over if they know that outside their own house are a couple of Police officers ready to follow them. Their thieving burglar mates aren't going to want to hang around them, and other people will know that they are a criminal if they constantly see them walking down the street with a couple of Police officers a couple of steps behind.

There are inevitably going to be ECHR issues and some could (and probably will) argue that we are breaching their right to privacy, free assembly, family life etc but to be honest I don't care about that. My personal belief is that if you breach someone else's human rights by committing crime against them, then your protection under the human rights act should be forfeit.

There is also the cost factor involved and eventually justifying that cost. If we harass our most prolific criminals enough then they will either stop committing crime or move out of the area. This drop in crime is great for you and me, but not so great for those holding the purse strings. How can you justify spending a fortune on a crime reduction tactic when there is no crime to speak of? That paradox of proactive policing is one that the government have failed to grasp for so long, and it's the main reason for the removal of beat officers - a Police officer walking around is going to reduce both crime and the fear of crime but how do you measure prevention?

Annoyingly we can't say "well Billy burglar used to commit 1 burglary a day, so over the last year we've prevented 365 burglaries" because someone will just say "prove it" and we can't.

The only way is to look at what happened in the previous year, but if you are that successful and continue to reduce crime there comes a point where there is no crime year on year and someone is going to suggest that you don't need the money to continue policing that way any more. Harassing criminals, getting in their faces, ruining their weekends or parties and generally making their lives a misery is a proven method of reducing crime, not only from them but from other people who see what will happen to them if they get on the list. How about a bit of consequence to their actions for once?


PS, I will be revisiting the other points on that list but as Essex have proven the point so well I thought it only right to acknowledge it!

Tuesday 2 June 2009


So, today has been another interesting day in the world of policing and general politics. It's taken long enough, but finally the evil wicked bitch - sorry, witch - of the east has decided to quit. Not because she has admitted that she has been the worst, most hostile , most anti-Police and generally incompetent Home Secretary in recent memory, but because she got caught milking the taxpayer (me and you) for money by calling a spare room in her sisters house "her main home" and the house where her family lives as a second house. That, and she claimed for some porn so her husband could knock one out a couple of times. I can't really blame him because his wife is pig ugly, but there is enough free porn on the internet if that's your thing, and there's considerably less chance of getting humiliated by a curious and diligent reporter.

I wonder if he was thinking the same as me? "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out..."

On that last point about reporters, I have said many times that I'm no fan of the main stream press but I must admit that I think they have done rather well of late, what with exposing parliament for the hive of vulturous swine that they are, and the Met hierarchy for the S.44 stop searching debacle. If ever there was proof that we are no where near a Police state, the fact that we have a free and independent press proves that, no matter what the Daily Wail and their numerous misguided armchair experts suggest. I've never been an advocate of stopping and searching people who are soooo not a terrorist (as I discussed in this post) just because someone in SO15 thinks it's a valid tactic, and if I used any S.44 ops I've been on to target criminals instead then so be it. You can accuse me of being complicit by carrying out lawful orders and searching people at choke points, but as I've always tried to specifically target people who fit my own personal profile of "scroaty bastard" I make no apologies for making crime arrests during counter-terrorism stop searches, of which I have had many.

Now on to separate matters. A combination of work and FANTASTIC sunshine has made me inadvertently miss a rather large milestone on this blog - 100k site hits.


The old stat counter at the top gives me a bit more than just the number of hits the page gets, I get lots of other info such as what countries my visitors come from, what sites direct them here and who links to me etc. Aside from every country on the European continent I've had visits from all over North America and most of Australasia too which is rather nice. I've had links from left and right wing sites, news sites, Police sites, random blogs and even a World of WarCraft forum, which is odd, but again, Thanks!

I know I haven't had many posts on recently but as most followers know the world of response policing, public order and other stuff I can't talk about has been the cause of many a cancelled rest day as well as the occasional splat of overtime, and when I haven't been at work I've been trying to make as much Vitamin D as I can!!

We've been absolutely hammered for aid recently which has lead to teams being left unjustifiably and dangerously short. Thanks in no small part to the Tamil protests (or Op Mirandy as my various overtime sheets have known it) we've had loads of people abstracted from teams just because they proved at the very beginning that they could actually get a few thousand people on site in next to no time (unlike swampy) which has caused a massive headache - and bill - for policing it.

Contrary to popular belief we don't have huge reserves of public order teams on duty "just in case" and aside from the TSG units on Commisioners reserve (a few PSU's to provide emergency cover for public order, backing up response or life threatening/large scale incidents) if something kicks off our resilience is tested to the full as we have to scratch around for anyone currently on duty to don kit and make their way there. If you have all your units on all the time you'll have no one left within 24 hours as we're not robots and need breaks and sleep, so trying to plan for appropriate resources has been an absolute nightmare for the public order branch and relevant duties offices. It's also cost a fortune to the tune of over £8 million, and that was a couple of weeks ago.

I've no doubt that a huge part of the hesitation to kick them out of the square has been fall out from G20 (and yes, officers HAVE refused to use force to move people because of the threat of media witch hunts and suspensions even though it's EXACTLY what we are trained for) and the threat of their community rallying to swamp Westminster with tens of thousands of people in a very short period of time. If anything it shows that a determined group of people can bring central London to a standstill in protest with very little actual violence. Surely another sign that we aren't as much of a Police state as some think?

I will try and get some more posts up soon but to be honest if the sun stays as it is (thanks to El Nino no doubt) then I'll be out there in the garden, on the beach or on the water like everyone else when I'm not wearing a polyester shirt with body armour or a couple of stone's worth of riot kit. In the mean time, thanks again for visiting, thanks for the comments and thanks for the support when some jobs have made me question why I actually do it, and others why I should carry on doing it.

Now, get off the bloody computer and go and get some sun while you can!!


Monday 4 May 2009

Peaceful Protest..... yeah... of course it was.....

At the Mayday! demo organised predominantly by SmashEDO around 1000 (police estimates are usually lower and organisers usually much higher) turned up for a supposed peaceful street carnival. Because of the massive amount of negative press surrounding the G20 and police tactics, a more low key and standoff approach seems to have been adopted in deference to containing from the outset.

It didn't work, and it kicked off.

There were probably over 7000 people at the G20 on the 1st, I really have to ask myself what would have happened if we had just left them all to it, considering only around 1000 appear to have got the initiative in Brighton. Frankly, considering the huge lack of support we received from our bosses, numerous politicians and the majority of commentators in all the mainstream press, I think we should have just left them to it and I definitely think we should at the next big one, if only to prove a point. The lack of assertive action in containing a crowd that had violent intent has made the Op Commanders in Brighton look likes dicks and has caused the guys and girls on the ground to get more grief and suffer attack for the SMT's fear of looking bad on youtube and on Newsnight.

If you were one of the officers there then let me know how you think it went compared to G20 as I know there were a lot of teams from all over the place with us at Bank, so the comparison would be nice, especially so close to the last one.

There hasn't been much coverage on the news yet, but here's a couple of snippets about today's festivities down in sunny Brighton.

Fitwatch -

FIT teams have been forced to retreat from the Smasho EDO/ITT demo in Brighton. Due to a large number of participants engaging in Fitwatch tactics, they are not able to get any footage. People have physically pushed, shoved and kicked them out of the demo. A mobile CCTV van was blocked and forced to drive away. Two FIT officers trying to stop someone from doing graffiti were pushed away.This shows what can happen when we collectively resist our oppression. We no longer have to be passive victims to this policing - we can fight back and we can shut them down.

Congratulations to all those involved in Brighton and good luck for the rest of the day.

Indymedia -

After meeting by the Palace Pier, the protest moved through the centre of Brighton cheering and chanting. Four young anarchists climbed to the top of the Barclays building, where they hung a banner reading “Arms Dealers Out Of Brighton’. Barclays is notorious for being one of the banks most complicit in the international arms trade. The people responsible for the banner were welcomed into the crowd as heroes, and avoided arrest. After passing peacefully past the Clock tower, down Queens Road and through North Laine, the protest clashed with police on London Road.

A heavy police presence blocked part of the road outside McDonalds, and minor scuffles quickly escalated as mounted and riot police forced through crowds to protect the building. A smoke-bomb lit by protesters, combined with a push forward from mounted police, frightened shoppers and nearly split the protest in two.

From then on, the protest became a game of cat-and-mouse - although it was sometimes hard to tell who was the cat and who the mouse. Protesters managed to force back mounted police several times, while police hastily re-grouped around the protest as it moved into residential districts and through Preston Park. However, neither protesters nor police seemed to have a plan as such, and after much walking and a few minor scuffles - including the arrest of one man by riot police - the protest moved back into the town centre. On the seafront, for the first time in the day the police attempted to ‘kettle’ protesters by surrounding them on all sides.

However, protesters quickly skirted down onto the beach and back onto the road behind police lines. The protest moved on peacefully and, after more skirting through narrow lanes and moving around police lines, settled on the grass outside St. Peter’s Church to dance and relax.

Daily Mail -

A May Day protest descended into violence today as anti-war demonstrators clashed with police in Brighton, where thousands of visitors had flocked to enjoy the bank holiday.
Three police officers were injured after scuffles with mask-wearing activists who organised a march through the city's streets. One man was arrested.
At one point activists climbed up scaffolding onto the roof of a Barclays bank branch and unfurled a banner as part of the protest against an arms factory in the city. Graffiti was scrawled on windows and paint bombs were pelted at buildings marked out on an ‘anti-militarist’ map that included more than 30 banks and businesses.
The American Express building, police stations and several McDonald's restaurants were targeted.

Protesters chanted 'Whose streets? Our streets' as they marched through the city, while police officers on horseback cleared the way ahead of them.
Organisers had instructed protesters to wear red, but many wore black with masks covering their faces, which they said was a stand against the country's surveillance society.
Daytrippers and tourists, many down for the launch weekend of the Brighton Festival, were forced to run into back streets for cover as the crowd surged through the busiest streets and police tried to cut them off.A police spokesman said: 'The protestors having been attempting to target some premises and there have been some flash points of violence.
'Missiles have been thrown at police officers and police horses by the demonstrators.
'Three officers have suffered minor injuries - I do not believe they need hospital treatment. The group of 500 or so is still moving around the city.'
Activists from peace campaign group Smash EDO were protesting against EDO MBM Technology, an arms factory in Brighton.


Police have criticised May Day anti-war protesters for pelting officers with missiles and causing criminal damage. Sussex Police said three people were arrested, including one for assaulting an officer, amid some violent scuffles during the demonstration in Brighton.
Police say three officers suffered minor injuries like twists and sprains.
Campaign group Smash EDO, which wants local arms factory EDO MBM Technology closed, organised the protest which it described as a "huge success".

Smash EDO estimated about 1,000 protesters had gathered on Monday, but Sussex Police said it was about 500.

Brighton and Hove City Commander, Chief Supt Graham Bartlett, said: "Once again... we have seen unjustified acts of violence aimed at premises and police officers.
"Members of public including many visitors to the city have been clearly frightened and intimidated by a small minority of the group who have been verbally abusive, and throwing missiles at police.

Sussex Police said three officers were slightly hurt and three people arrested
"One member of the public was struck in the face by a missile and had to be treated by a police medical team." Police also criticised organisers for not telling them how many protesters were expected and what route they would take. Protests began with a street party in front of the Palace Pier before moving through the city centre and on to the factory to the north of the city. A small number of demonstrators surged towards officers in riot gear and flares were let off. And one small group scaled scaffolding in front of a branch of Barclays Bank and unfurled a banner.

Later groups of protesters gathered in the grounds of St Peter's Church and listened to music.
A number of others returned to the pier where they were surrounded by police in riot gear.
Smash EDO spokeswoman Chloe Marsh said the day was a "huge success".
"Large crowds arrived on foot and on bikes, bringing sound-systems, banners and a carnival dragon," she said. At least 30 protesters had reported injuries and some were struck with batons by officers concealing their identity numbers, she said. The march was a larger version of a demonstration regularly staged against EDO MBM Technology. The weapons manufacturer has never commented on the protests.

Lets see how many 'Police brutality' stories come out and short clips hit Youtube.

Same shit, different day.


Tuesday 28 April 2009

I owe you a less than five...

Having had a week off to chill out, see some sunlight without wearing body armour and let my skin get used to breathing instead of being covered in polyester, I'm feeling much more normal again. I was looking at my duties the other week and was actually shocked to see the amount of cancelled rest days and non voluntary overtime (as in had no choice because of prisoners, sudden deaths etc) that I've done since January. For some reason the last couple of months worth of shifts have been nightmarish, in the last month we've had a couple of weekends that have directly compared to New Year with the number of urgent calls and prisoners, loads of which are for decent jobs like robbery, GBH and burglary.

It's nice to get a busy set of shifts to make the 12+ hours go faster, but you need a break afterwards to recover which hardly anyone has had due to the amount of aid commitments the we've been hit with such as the Tamil demos, G20 and the Israeli Embassy - the vast majority has been done on cancelled rest days meaning we get sod all but a day in lieu, that we'll have to fight to actually get back. The shift pattern we do works really well if you have the time off in between shifts but getting that thrown up in the air by being required to work just leaves everyone knackered.

I've no doubt the up coming Mayday protests down in sunny Brighton will put more officers in the spotlight, I really can't see some of the protest groups missing an opportunity to have a go at some Police officers and then film the aftermath to give to the Guardian.

The media and political storm after the G20 has definitely taken its toll on morale on frontline officers, the murmurings of dropping out of public order training has turned into outright corridor conversations with no care to who is in earshot. I'm not going to go into the Ian Tomlinson incident anymore, there has been enough speculation and comment on blogs like the Coppers Blog and Fitwatch from people who know what they are talking about, from people who haven't got a speck of a clue, and people who just want to throw their twopence in.

One thing that has come out of the G20 is the issue of public order training and exactly what we are trained to do and in what circumstances we are authorised to use certain tactics. Take for example the 'Nicky Fisher' incident - large crowd getting too close to a line of officers putting in a cordon, they are pushed back by other officers, someone takes exception to being pushed back and gobs off because she's a 'woman' and doesn't think a man should push her. She pushes the officer who again pushes her away, she shouts and swears at him and moves forward grabbing his arm, he swipes her away hitting her in the face with the back of his hand (personally I would have gone for a single or double handed push and thrown her up the street) and she STILL gobs off. All the time the officers are being surrounded by media photographers, protestors with cameras and people shouting abuse them.

The officer gives a couple of very clear 'get back' shouts to everyone and turns away from Fisher. She decides to go forwards AGAIN and the officer escalates his use of force having already given her multiple and very specific opportunities to remove herself from the situation. He draws his baton and gives her a strike to her legs (and not even full force hit because the bruise would have been different) causing her to fall over. After that the video footage shows lots of people going into 'shame on you' mode - which by the way I've never heard until the Israeli embassy demos in January, just like the new fashionable trend of throwing shoes at demos that they've adopted.

The main issue with the Fisher incident appears to be that the officer is tall with a large build and she was a munchkin. Does that mean that as Police officers we are only supposed to use any form of force on people of equal or larger size to us? Considering that most public order officers are tall males with a large build that rationale would mean we shouldn't be dealing with 90% of people at demos just in case we are larger than them, so what's the point in us being there. Do the public really want a plethora of extremely short and slightly built officers for public order duty so we don't offend other people's sensibilities by having to use force on people smaller than us?


She had more than enough chances to go away and didn't and the officer rightly - and as trained - used a single strike to the legs in escalating the use of force. How many times do people think that he should have been pushing her away before she got the hint? what if she never got the hint and refused to get back? Everyone knows the slur of 'small man syndrome' but one thing this job has taught me is that 'small gobby woman syndrome' is just as bad if not worse, and you're more likely to actually get injured by them because no one wants to start manhandling a small woman. And they have nails and pointy shoes, and like to use them.

This incident and a number of others from the G20 have really put public order policing in the spotlight along with the tactics used overall. The problem we've got is certain tactics require different levels of force from the officers on the ground. The tactic of containment requires us to be up close and within body contact distance with people who invariably don't want us there. The only way to control a crowd that doesn't want to be controlled, and is at the very least being obstructive and at most violent, is to use force. This can be anything from pushing to strikes with shields and batons, right through to a running line with long shields as we had at the Israeli Embassy.

When you compare our tactics with virtually ever other country in the world we have considerably less serious injuries. The main reason is because the preferred option in most countries is to leave well alone and then step in once trouble kicks off. The problem with that approach is that you have to use much higher levels of force in order to get control because any delay in assembling resources just gives the crowd time to cause more damage. The increased media attention on the results of having officers up close and personal where videos of people being punched, hit with shields, batoned and pushed has caused an outcry and prompted calls for a national debate on public order Policing.

Some people have been saying in the media "well I don't care what they do in other countries, the is the UK and I only care about how we do it here". Well they should care because doing nothing is not an option, so we either do it our way and look forward to more videos of people being punched, pushed, hit with shields and batoned, or we do it like everyone else in the world. This means full complete deployment of shield teams (no messing about with half kit, then short shields followed by long after we've been attacked repeatedly) and creating stand off distance from the shield lines to prevent people getting close enough to attack officers.

The only way to do this is to extend the range of your use of force beyond that of shields and batons by using projectile weapons such as baton, rubber bullets, live rounds, CS grenades and water cannon. Do we really want that over here? I know I don't, especially if the current trend of suspending is going to continue if officers are seen on video doing things that doesn't look nice, regardless of whether or not they are trained to do it. To put this into perspective for you, if a firearms officer shoots and fatally wounds someone in the course of their duty then they are removed from frontline duties pending investigation. They aren't suspended, they are still on duty and working just not in a public facing role.

During the briefing with IPCC chairman Nick Hardwick to the Home Affairs Select Committee, he said that he supported calls for a national debate on public order policing but also that "we can't train our Police officers to use certain tactics and then completely wash our hands of them when they use those tactics because we don't like how they look"

This last comment has been the point that is seriously destroying morale amongst officers at the moment, especially those who volunteer for public order roles. I've watched an awful lot of videos on youtube and on the various news sites and blogs, and I really have not seen anything that we are not trained to do in both normal officer safety training or public order training. Police officers volunteer for any specialist training such as driving, firearms, public order, searching or CBRN, and we can just as easily un-volunteer from those posts. If the everyone did that, I've no doubt the wheel would come flying off within a shift, let alone over a couple of days.

If it is going to become the norm that officers are suspended for doing what they are trained to do, how many people are likely to put themselves forwards for that? A suspension stays with you for your whole career, and no one is going to want a suspension for excessive force plaguing every promotion board or course application, especially if you just did what the instructors and the job trained you to do.

While I was working over the G20 my shifts were changing literally on a daily basis, a couple of times I was actually getting changed as I came on shift or just as I was going off. It was ridiculous. Our job absolutely relies on the goodwill of officers to both put themselves forwards for training in specialist roles and to put ourselves out to actually make things work. If that goodwill is going to be completely abused and all support is removed then no one is going to do it any more. In one of the many phone calls I had over the G20 week from the duties office (who were pulling their hair out having to chop and change at literally the last minute) I spoke to one of the Sgt's I've known for years -

"Mate, I need you to do me a favour, I need you to do a quick swing tomorrow, I know you're finishing late tonight but I need you on an early start.

Have I got a choice?

Not really, but I'd rather you agreed to do it than having to force you or someone else to.

Fair enough, if you can put me on a team that's going to get off on time that would be appreciated.

I'll try, but I owe you a less than five for helping me out.

You owe me more than that Sarge after this week, it's been shit

True, serves you right for volunteering to do the courses though, see you later"


Friday 3 April 2009


Along with the vast majority of my colleagues in the Met, and those from the county forces, BTP and the City, I'm absolutely shattered. It's been a long couple of weeks - thankfully with some variety - but that was mainly because we didn't have enough people or kit to fill all of the posts. As a result public order serials went short, search teams went short, vehicles were plundered and all teams but predominantly response, were decimated.

Those who were on were constantly retasked at the last minute, many came on with no idea what they'd be doing or what kit they needed because their duties had been chopped and changed so much that no one had a clue. The vast majority didn't care anyway, we just got on with it. If you have infinite resources then you can cater for most eventualities and keep a good body of personnel available for fluid and spontaneous incidents.

Not even the Met is big enough for that, especially in the current economic climate with budgets very tightly controlled in lieu of paying for plenty of back up. Standing at the forward command area at the ExCeL and seeing how much was involved from Level 3 PC's for area security through to the SFO's, helicopter crews, public order teams, search teams it was quite awe inspiring really. Christ knows how we're going to deal with the Olympics, that's going to be ten times bigger and will go on for months and not just a couple of weeks.

I've no doubt an awful lot will be arranged at the last minute and will be sorted out on the hoof, that's how we usually do it anyway.

Most officers were on extended shifts (12 hours minimum though most did 16+ each day) and when things went properly pearshaped we had no relief and were just kept on, regardless of when we were due to start the next day. On the 1st for example, most of the serials were on an 0800 start, they didn't finish until 0200 and were then due back on for 0430 - so much for a minimum of 11 hours between shifts. After spending 14 hours getting battered with bottles and poles in one of the cordons in the City we were retasked to clear and take the climate camp.

Before we cleared the camp I was walking around trying to find somewhere to sit down and the streets were littered with shattered public order teams trying to get some food and fluids, others were trying to get a couple of minutes shut eye before we went back in. When you're that knackered you don't really care that your new found pillow is a kerb covered in broken glass and debris.

Before anyone says we milked the overtime so why complain, we were all on cancelled rest days so no one had any overtime except normal time+3rd after 12 hours. After two weeks of extended shifts, no one wants the overtime anyway, we all just need sleep.

When I can get my head together and sort my very knackered legs and feet out I'll be putting some more posts up, in the mean time I'm going to enjoy the family stuff, go to the zoo and get some much needed rest. In lieu of some decent vids of some of the action, here's a brilliant vid I was told about whilst getting rained on by bottles of Becks -