Thursday, January 26, 2006

I didn't say it, HE did!

Some of you may remember the little storm in the teacup that occurred a few months back when an RTA victim, describing the offending driver, used the word 'fat'.

Story was here -

Now, all this hoo-haa could have been avoided quite simply taking the statement as normal, but using quotation marks for "offending" words (see what I did there? Clever innit!), so as to completely exonerate the officer from committing the offence of "causing eyebrows to be raised".

Generally speaking, when taking statments, police officers will run through with the person what's going to go into the statement BEFORE writing it, get the story chronologically and factually correct and relevant, then write it. There's a good reason for this. If an officer wrote down exactly what the person says, the result would be out of sequence and would look something like this:

"I was walking down the road at 2300 hours when I was approached by a male, who struck me on the head in an unprovoked attack. I got up and ran after the male, who made off towards Smith Street. The force of the punch caused me to fall to the ground. I didn't suffer any injuries. I cannot describe the male at all. Actually it might have been Smith Street, I can't remember - might have been John Street".

Another way of doing it would be to write down EXACTLY what the person giving the statement is saying, verbatim, to completely ensure no paraphrasing using the officer's own terminology has occurred.

Sometimes an officer may doubt what the person is saying, but they have to include it anyway, as the statement is a sworn declaration of facts according to the person in whose name it is. This is illustrated by a conversation I remember having with particularly unfortunate gentlemen about an incident that was being statemented:

"What was the height of the men who attacked you?"
"About 4"2
"You definately sure they were 4"2?"
"Do you know how high 4"2 actually is? Bear in mind that this WILL be going in your statement which will be read out in court"
"Pretty sure"
"Fair enough. Ok, so which Hobbit landed the first punch?"

This was followed by the equally bizarre conversation as to how long the attack lasted:

"So how long did the attack last for, from start to finish?"
"About 15 minutes"
"Are you sure?"
"So you were attacked for 15 minutes non-stop by three 4"2 males who punched and kicked you in the head repeatedly, and all you've got by way of injuries is slight bruising to the left cheekbone?"
"That's how it went"
"Have you ever been cross-examined before?"
"It'll be... an experience for you"

Many statements also require the inclusion of "Turnbull Rules", derived from the case of R v Turnbull. These are usually tacked on to the end and include answers to:

How long did the witness have the accused under observation?
At what distance?
In what light?
Was the observation impeded in any way, as for example by passing traffic or a press of people? Had the witness ever seen the accused before?
How often?
If only occasionally, had he any special reason for remembering the accused?
How long elapsed between the original observation and the subsequent identification to the police?

I've yet to statement anyone who observed the accused for five seconds six miles away in the darkness through a telescope in heavy traffic for the first time.

(c) Bow Street Runner. None of the material contained in this post, or this blog as a whole, may be reproduced without the express and written permission of Bow Street Runner. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Police Subscription service

From the previous post about 'personal police officers' I've daydreamed a police 'subscription' service, whereby paying different levels of 'premiums' (to compare it to the world of insurance) affords you different levels of police cover. I'm not seriously suggesting this ever would or should happen (and it wouldn't work either, for reasons at the end).

The Citizen Protection Package
Payments: Ordinary taxation, no extra contributions

Cover afforded
1. Public 999 number for life-threatening and emergency calls
2. Public non-emergency number for non-urgent calls and incident reporting
3. Police response according to availability of patrols and priority of incident compared to other incidents already in and requiring allocation.
4. Standard investigative procedures adminstered for victims of crime
5. Standard victim support and witness liaison services
6. Access on demand to crime prevention advice

Ideal for: The vast majority of people who have little cause or reason to involve or interact with the police on a regular basis

The “I can’t control any aspect of my life, please do it for me” package
Payments: £5000 monthly, plus cost of any extra modules

Cover afforded
1. Public 999 number for life-threatening and emergency calls
2. Public non-emergency number for non-urgent calls and incident reporting
3. Private 24/7 ‘general enquiries’ line, for advice from trained/bored (delete as appropriate) professionals on how to keep the baby quiet in the middle of the night; how to control the kids and techniques for getting back in the house when you’ve locked yourself out. Alleviates pressure on the 999 service.
4. Police response according to availability of resources
5. Guidebook on increasing response times to your job – helpful tips such as including the phrases “he’s got a knife/gun”; “they’re threatening to kill me and I think they mean it!” or “there’s 100 people fighting and they’ve got weapons!” with no penalty charge incurred when the units arrive and realise you’re a lying fraud.
6. Private 24/7 transport request service – dial this number if you need a lift to the shops down the road and can’t be bothered walking, if there is a free patrol nearby they’ll swing past and pick you up. This service is not guaranteed
7. Standard investigative procedures administered for victims of crime – target demographic are rarely victims, just clueless, and thus need no extra cover
8. Standard victim support and witness liaison services – same reason as above
9. Free crime prevention advice dispensed with general advice on how to live life

Extra modules available

1. Child rearing services, for those times when you just can’t control the little blighters! £100 a month or £2,000,000 for us to take them off your hands permanently, whilst you get back to Trisha repeats on ITV 45
2. Resolution service – in an argument with the spouse or neighbour? Our trained negotiators will come round and help sort it out without the bloodshed involved of doing it yourself. Why learn basic social communication skills when someone else can do it for you? £500a month for a neutral negotiator, £1000 if you want them to always side with you. No matter too trivial or pathetic.

Ideal for: Those who simply lack any life skills; problem solving ability or communication prowess, always finding themselves unable to cope with any situation or confrontation, and who will dial the three 9s if they spill a pint of milk.

The “Get me the copper I dealt with last time, right here, right now” package
Payments: £74999.99 a month plus cost of any extra modules (previously known as the 'Arrogant Tosser' package)

Cover afforded
1. Private police officer, who is contactable 24/7 by phone, fax, pager, e-mail, personal alarm and carrier pigeon, and will drop whatever they’re doing to attend to your every whim and desire
2. Consistency of service as the officer knows your entire life history and criminal interactions
3. Immediate investigations carried out by a dedicated staff of CID Officers especially trained in investigating minor allegations of assault way below their remit.
4. Immediate response from aforementioned private officer, who will arrive in a marked vehicle with blues and twos, risking life and limb, even if you’re just reporting a jarred pinky finger or one of your kids is making you cross - it's all about making our customers feel loved
5. The right to make a spurious allegation against someone in order to have them immediately arrested by your personal officer. Even if nothing comes of it the allegation and you know it, you'll feel better with the power and control!
6. Sympathy for your plight from all concerned, at least whilst you’re in earshot
7. Get out of jail free card – single use only
8. The right to say “I pay your wages” to certain officers
9. The right to say “I know officer xxxx” and actually mean it

Extra modules available

IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION – one off payment of £50 million. Confers on one the absolute unqualified right to say “I ain’t dun nuffin’” if arrested, and to expect officers to take notice of the normally glib claim

1. C&D tipoff line – Now the phrase “I’ll have your job” takes on a whole new meaning – for just £3499 a month you can get immediate access to a C&D officer, who, upon hearing your grievance, will automatically attend the scene/station you’re at and will fire the offending officer on the spot! No evidence or other side of the story required. Our new and improved service means that intoxication is no longer a bar to being taken seriously!

Ideal for: Those who believe the police to be at their beck and call, and who demand the same officer to deal with them, irrespective of their workload. The self-righteously indignant who believe the world and all services owe them a living, and woe betide if something doesn’t happen exactly according to their preferences and there’s blame to be apportioned.

NB: Unless one has the C&D cover, one automatically impliedly accepts that officers will sneer about you behind your back after they've dealt with your 35th callout that day.


The system will, of course, be deliberately structured so as those most likely to abuse the service can’t afford the level that suits them best. Ironically, it’s the same people who are most likely to use them! After all, those additional costs that the increased services people demand/expect has to come from somewhere!

So, in the end, everyone ends up using the standard service anyway, but those most likely to use the other options expect the same level of cover from the standard package. Meanwhile, those who genuinely need the service, and can afford to pay for the different levels of cover, don’t see the need as they rarely need to speak to the police. Thus when they are actually innocent victims of crime, they have to fight for attention amongst the myriad of jobs involving trivial neighbour disputes. Such is the world we live in!

(c) Bow Street Runner. None of the material contained in this post, or this blog as a whole, may be reproduced without the express and written permission of Bow Street Runner. All rights reserved.
Members of the Public REALLY annoy you when...

Feel free to add to this list! arrive at the job they've phoned in, which is a Grade 3, has no witnessess, is not particularly urgent and they snap "Well YOU took your time!" - that's AFTER you've explained there's 3 of you on to cover the area and the jobs are stacking up! see those same people drunk outside a club you're outside on point duty, who then come up to you and say "Haven't you cops got anything better to do?" The temptation to arrest out of pure spite is at times overwhelming!

...whilst in the middle of hearing the results from a PNC check they approach you and ask a stupid question very loudly, preventing you from hearing the rest of the transmission.

...when struggling with an offender, they stand by the side, then when you've restrained the offender will ask "Are you busy?", followed up by a ridiculous question irrespective of your answer. No, of course I'm not busy, this guy is my fellow artiste and we're putting on a bit of street theatre for your general amusement and to alleviate our boredom. These are the same people who are likely to ask RTC victims suffering visible and horrific injuries "Are you alright?"

...simple directions of "up there on the left" are simply too much to comprehend. "What, up there? On the left? Which side of the road? How far up? Is it going to be open? What time does the bus leave? Can you raise my children for me?" get told by them to smile at a particularly serious job. If I wanted to damn well smile I would be doing so - I could tell you to stop inflicting your vacuous opinions on the police use of the zygomatic major, but you don't see me doing that do you? I'd smile if I did tell you that though! get phone calls from those you've previously interacted with as aggrieved persons or witnesses, asking you to deal with their latest woe. Apologies, you don't get a personal police officer with your normal taxes - you have to pay extra (now THERE'S a thought for a post!)

...upon arrest, people assert that by virtue of having some sort of alleged and tenuous link with another police officer, they should be dearrested and compensated. In one particular arrest I remember the detainee asserted a link with a particular DCI in the force. Fed up to the back teeth, one officer brought up the online directory search, typed in the name of the officer and printed out the '0 Results found' and handed it to the detainee. He was very quiet after that.

I sometimes try to think what must be going through (what passes for) the minds of those who make this cliched claim - maybe they imagine the 'connected' officer bursting through to the custody suite, in full cape and tights, demanding the release of this innocent citizen whom he personally can vouch to be the utmost pillar of respect, integrity and honesty.

(c) Bow Street Runner. None of the material contained in this post, or this blog as a whole, may be reproduced without the express and written permission of Bow Street Runner. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


1. Bring a book - if your case is listed for 9.15am you can bet it'll either be adjourned or will be heard about midday (see below). There's only so many times you can read through your statement and PNB entry without falling asleep. A John Grisham novel or "Single & Single" by John Le Carre are good reads, and have the added bonus of potentially winding up lawyers!

2. Bring food - if you're lucky, the court building may have a canteen, or at least a newsagents nearby. If you're unlucky, it's got bugger all. Sod's law though says if you get food after waiting around for an hour and a half, you will get called just after you've paid for the hot (soon to be frozen) toastie.

3. Be prepared to be called in on a rest day - the CPS have been known to ignore what you've put on the availability matrix and call you in when you're meant to be off. The only positive is you're getting paid for not doing a great deal. If you're a Special, you should get remunerated for time off work. If you're a student Special and missing lectures, that's just tough.

4. Don't try and remember the job beyond your PNB and statement - it happened months back, you thought nothing of it at the time and probably put the bare minimum in your PNB (after which the whole job was immediately forgotten about), safe in the knowledge that there was no way it would EVER get to court stage!

5. Don't be surprised if people turn up - this can range from the victim of the crime, to the accused and even to the defence or the prosecution counsel, leading to the adjournement or later-than-planned hearing. CPS have also been known to ask police officers to chase up victims who haven't turned up when they should have done - now THAT'S what I call service!

Feel free to add more, and I'll put "Part 2 - IN THE COURTOOM" up shortly.

(c) Bow Street Runner. None of the material contained in this post, or this blog as a whole, may be reproduced without the express and written permission of Bow Street Runner. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

SOCPA - Serious Organised Crime and Police Act - the wha?!?!?

As the clock struck midnight on 01.01.06, new police powers came into force, under the guise of Section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005, which rewrote Section 24 of the Police And Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

We can now arrest for ANY offence, as long as we can justify the arrest as necessary under one or more of several criteria. Those criteria are pretty much the same as Section 25 of the old PACE with a couple of extra criteria added. These are:

(a) to enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person's name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name);
(b) correspondingly as regards the person's address;
(c) to prevent the person in question-
(i) causing physical injury to himself or any other person;
(ii) suffering physical injury;
(iii) causing loss of or damage to property;
(iv) committing an offence against public decency (subject to subsection (6)); or
(v) causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway;
(d) to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question;
(e) to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question;
(f) to prevent any prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.

Our force have been kind enough to either not bother training us yet, even after the date for the new Act to come into force has passed, or provide bugger all training on it. Having fallen into the former category and heard those who have been trained describe it as stated above, I've had to muddle through one of the biggest changes in police powers in quite some time, entirely on my own.

I've had three lockups under the new powers thus far. The first one was just after midnight, and fortunately was for a job that occurred off our patch, so a quick arrest statement and PNB writeup was all that was needed. Having had no idea what the new Act involves, and not having had the chance to speak to other officers yet, I copied my reasons for the arrest directly from the wording above, and didn't elaborate. The arrest was accepted, probably because all involved were just as confused as I was!

The second one was a simple D&D in which the offender decided that keeping silent, having no ID on him and glaring at the person he wanted to beat seven bells out of would result in us letting him go out of exasperation. Again, a few extra lines on the statement, in the PNB and on the MG5 were the sum total of the new Act's impact in this case - a simple 'necessary to ascertain details and to prevent the offender from harming others' sufficed.

The third one was for shoplifting - this one could probably have been dealt with by summons, but with us being able to justify most arrests now on the grounds of 'necessary for the prompt and effective investigation of the offence so evidence could be obtained by questioning' - it's a nice little catch all. Plus the offender had about 5 pages of previous, among which "Failing to appear" featured prominently, so a summons would have been pointless. Until the courts say otherwise, I'll put good money on "obtain evidence by questioning" being the main reason for most arrests!

Of course, 'necessary' is also very subjective, and can also be used as a get-out as well as a get-in reason for arrests. Sometimes circumstances mean that arrests aren't anywhere near as necessary half an hour before the end of shift, compared to the necessity that arises at the start of a shift, on a rainy day when it's cold and the jobs coming in are petty and trivial. Summonses, which can usually be completed at leisure, will suddenly become far more attractive than the reams of paperwork that accompany many lockups, that threaten to take an officer far over their finishing time.

So will this Act actually help or hinder the upholding of the law? Well with the concept of 'upholding the law' already shot to pieces by over-auditing and arbitrary bureaucracy, I'd imagine it'll just cloud things even more until the police provide proper, comprehensive training and the Courts start having a say on things!

(c) Bow Street Runner. None of the material contained in this post, or this blog as a whole, may be reproduced without the express and written permission of Bow Street Runner. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Assault by Door Staff

If you believed every drunken reveller who reports an assault by a door supervisor to the police, you would think that licensed premises in Britain employ inhuman monsters, with tempers as short as the skirts of many of the girls, and fists as ready as guys who chat the girls up. Pubs and clubs are a veritable battleground, in which the gatekeepers of the door engage in constant and unprovoked battles with innocent men and women, sober as magistrates, who just want to get in for a good night out. Incapable of even so much as the thought of uttering an expletive, these hapless victims of power-tripping door supervisors are regularly assaulted for even so much as looking in the direction of these evil burly beasts, who wouldn't hesitate to eject you from a club using more force on you than a fighter pilot executing a high-G turn, for such heinous offences as looking at them in the wrong way, or laughing slightly too loudly, or will refuse to let you in if you have the wrong face, pushing you flat onto your back for added measure.

And as for the role of the police in this...

...well again, according to these poor, innocent, defenceless people, the police are in league with the devil and the door supervisors. Refusing to override the door supervisor's decision to refuse entry or to eject someone is simply unacceptable and is abuse of power and privelige by the officer. Upon arriving at the scene and hearing only the side of the story that utters forth from the fine upstanding citizen's lips, police should immediately arrest the offending door supervisor for attempted murder; ensure they are locked in a cell for a very long time; confer rights of free entry, queue-jumping and priority access to the bar upon the aggreived person and offer an immediate apology for the actions of the door staff. After all, it IS a police matter, and the reveller DOES pay the wages of the officer in full, thereby being exempt, by implied right, of any repercussions that may have arised from any wrongdoing which caused them to be ejected or refused entry into the premises in the first place. Of course, that's a moot point anyway, since the reveller is incapable of any wrongdoing, past, present of future - any police action against them is illegal and unjust, and they were clearly set up by corrupt officers who beat them to within an inch of their life.

The reality, as anyone will know, is often quite different.

Many, many allegations of door staff are made on Friday and Saturday nights, forming a large number of the jobs and incidents, with a token few during the week just to keep officers on their toes. The report is investigated when there's free resources, and upon checking CCTV (if there is any), getting both sides of the story and 5 seconds of observing the language and behaviour of the complainant, the result is often radioed up as "lawful ejection, no offences" - this translates as: "The complainant has been a drunken idiot having done (insert drunkenly aggressive or stupid thing here), resulting in them being ejected/refused entry into the premises. To try and get their own back and attempt to get in anyway, they've feigned an assault to involve the police, aiming to scare the door supervisor into letting them in or for the police to reverse the decision."

Police aren't door staff - it's not their decision, nor should it be, as to who does and who doesn't go into a club, or who should or who shouldn't be ejected. There's a variety of reasons for this - not being bankrolled by the club in question, and having higher priorities are just two that spring to mind. However, the hard-done-by reveller who has been lawfully ejected often fails to realise this - collar numbers are entered into mobile phones and the ends of careers are vowed. The same people then wake up the next day having forgotten all about the night before, and wondering what the hell this strange number is in their phone.

There is no denying that there are some door staff who are overzealous, too physical, or both, and assaults, some of them serious, do occur. Those who commit these offences ARE arrested and dealt with accordingly. Furthermore, door supervisors can be held accountable to a variety of organisations, including the door company the work for, the premises which contracts the company to run the door, the SIA (Security Industry Authority, the body responsible for licensing and training security personnel) and the licensing unit of the local area and police force. People who genuinely feel hard done by should write in and complain, with as much information and evidence of the incident to support their claim. If, however, the decision is made that the incident is a 'lawful ejection', and the allegations of assault are unfounded, then blowing up at officers or door supervisors is not the most productive method of airing the grievance, it is also a sure-fire way to end up in a cell or with a fine! Go home, calm down, sleep and you’ll feel better the next day!

(c) Bow Street Runner. None of the material contained in this post, or this blog as a whole, may be reproduced without the express and written permission of Bow Street Runner. All rights reserved.

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