This is the video produced by Iona Fisher to accompany her release of ‘Ava Maria’, raising money to help Care of Police Survivors – @uk_cops on Twitter
You can download the 4 track EP from the following digital music stores:
This is the video produced by Iona Fisher to accompany her release of ‘Ava Maria’, raising money to help Care of Police Survivors – @uk_cops on Twitter
You can download the 4 track EP from the following digital music stores:
I read a very interesting piece on The Independent Newspaper’s website a few days ago which covered a topic close to the heart of every police officer …..
The article was entitled The missing: Each year, 275,000 Britons disappear, and relates to an investigation by the newspaper that reveals the equivalent of one person being reported missing in the UK every two minutes !!!!
And that got me thinking …… how many ‘missing’ people do we all deal with every single day. And of those reported to police, how many are actually ‘missing’ in a sense of the word that the great British public would accept as actually ‘missing’.
I suppose the first place we should start with regards to what is a ‘missing person’ is the formal ‘ACPO Definition’:
Anyone whose whereabouts is unknown, whatever the circumstances of disappearance. They will be considered missing until located and their well-being or otherwise established.
However, if we followed that rule of thumb to the enth degree, then we could easily argue that each and every one of us could at some point during each day be technically ‘missing’. Does your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, your work colleagues know exactly where you are every second of the day ? …. no …. well by ACPO standards then , you could be classed as missing so we need to be more realistic.
The general public would, I believe, consider a ‘missing person’ as someone who has
(obviously the above is not an exhaustive list but you get the idea)
Joe Public would not, I feel, consider ‘missing’ an errant teenager who refuses to return home at 10pm because they are out with their mates, or, and sorry but much as it pangs me, I have to broach the subject …… kids from a care home who swan off every single day to meet up with their cohorts from another nearby care home just to wander around and generally cause as much disruption to their own care staff and the local constabulary who are then forced to waste many, many, person hours (can’t say man hours any more sorry), rounding them back up and taking them back to the said care homes, just so they can get washed, fed, pampered and then bugger off all over again the very next day !
But, for the moment, back to the article in The Independent which says that the number of people reported missing each year is ‘the equivalent of the entire population of Plymouth being spirited away’. The vast majority are of course found in a very short space of time, or return of their own volition (care home kids again !), but many don’t.
A much smaller, but not insignificant number disappear for decades, the estimated figures for the number of people in Britain who have been missing from family, friends and colleagues for over a year is at least 16,000 and could be as many as 20,000. So, in a world of CCTV on virtually every street corner, banks, mobile phone companies and shops tracking our every move (don’t for one minute think the sole purpose of that Tesco Clubcard is to save you money !!), where do all these people go ???
Thankfully, the number of long-term missing people who have come to harm is very low (which is good because when I quickly nipped onto the ACPO website to make sure I’d got the definition of a missing person correct, underneath in bold is the one line ‘if in doubt, think murder’. Which means out there, living below the radar, is a significant number of people, all of whom have friends and loved ones still worrying about them, in some case have been for many years. That’s where the charity Missing People tries to help, rebridging the gaps and trying to work as a link between both sides, re-establishing contact and bringing those people back together.
Back here at ground level I’ve done my own bit of research into missing people reports we’ve dealt with at Bigtown over the last twelve months. I found that thankfully we’ve have no ‘long term’ missing people on our division and that there is only one with a currently active report on our force area. Things are looking positive with that case however, as there has been active use of the persons bank card in another part of the country and subsequent CCTV checks have ID’d the person using the card themselves. So we know they are alive and well, it’s just a matter of catching up with them to formalise the matter. I do of course accept though that some police forces will have dozens of long term missing reports on their books.
We have a small number of missing reports of young children, all of whom have thankfully been scooped up in an amazingly short space of time, mainly due to a significant police response with Police Officers and Community Support Officers being drafted in from far and wide supported by dog units and helicopters and, as is normally the case, a large proportion of the concerned neighbourhood also coming out to help.
We then have an even smaller number (in single figures) of people who have gone missing then sadly taken their own lives which is distressing for all involved.
But by far the biggest proportion of missing person reports to police fall into one of two catergories:
The much smaller of the two boxes is filled with people who have gone walkabouts from the A&E Department of our local hospital. Generally they will have been taken their in the first place by police due to drink or drug overdose, self harm or mental ill health issues, or some other medical matter which is not in the slightest way in the remit of the police. They will have then been sat, unattended by hospital staff, who are, i will acknowledge, as strained and rushed off their feet as we are, for many, many hours, waiting to see a doctor, and will have either sobered up, come down off whatever they were on, or just got completely bored, got up, walked out and gone home. After another significant amount of time someone in A&E will realise they have lost a patient and then calls us resulting in a panic that a ‘high risk self harming suicidal person’ will do something silly if not found in five seconds flat. Reading the ‘finalise’ reports on this category of misper almost always resulted in the update ‘located at home’.
And then we get to the big box, the one full of multiple missing reports, the one that I’ve no doubt every front line police officer has wasted much of their working time (and let’s not forget because everyone else likes to remind us daily, taxpayers money) dealing with – yes, you got it, care home kids ! …. In the last twelve months, in the area covered by Bigtown Police Station, eleven children aged between 13 and 17 have between them generated over a thousand, yes OVER A THOUSAND missing person reports.
That’s over a thousand times in one year where that police officer that you needed to help you with the burglary at your house, the random assault you were subjected to whilst out with your friends last night or the theft of your gran’s purse just after she drew her pension this morning, will all have to wait, because your local authority, and the private companies they now contract to (for that read shrug their slopey shoulders and offload responsibility to), who are responsible for children in their care, have little or no ability to control their charges.
It’s worthy of note that local authorities spend a heck of a lot of your money (we’re back to taxpayers again) on housing these children, spending thousands of pounds a week with private (profit making) care companies to house and look after these kids. But when they go wandering, which is most days, after a quick drive round the block, the care staff commonly return to their house ‘just in case the little tearaways come back they have to be there’ and ring the good old police to go and find them. And we happily do this …. over and over …. every single day.
I have questioned with our senior officers why the police don’t charge the local authority or care company for doing their job for them, or even prosecute them for child neglect – after all, if you or I let our kids go awol for days on end, skip school and doing next to nothing to try and sort them out, I’d put money on the police and Social Services knocking on your door pretty quickly. Apparently though, i don’t ‘understand the bigger picture’ and ‘major progress is being made, I’ll see’.
In the meantime, I’ll have to shoot off. Two of our darling miscreants the early turn have spent half the day tracking down have just jumped out of the care staff’s car when it stopped at a red traffic light whilst they were being taken home from the nick, and they’ve done a runner again. Having questioned before why they don’t put the child locks on to stop the kids escaping, we were told by the staff they were ‘not allowed to lock them in, it’s against their rights and what if there was an accident, we couldn’t get them out’. My dears, if they are trapped in a car, the Fire Service won’t give two hoots about a car door, the roof will be coming off pronto, don’t worry about that !!
Ten to Eight on a Thursday evening and a call comes through the radio: “Constable Chaos, can you attend the Bigtown Leisure Centre please, call from the manager, they’re trying to lock up for the night and there’s a group of youths there causing problems and refusing to leave …”
Being only a couple of minutes away I was more than happy to ‘pop along’. Anti Social Behaviour of course, is the big buzz word at the moment. There have been a small number of very high profile incidents where things have gone badly wrong and clearly police response to such matters has rightly been questioned. But, keeping things in perspective, 99.999% of reported ‘Anti Social Matters’ is of a much, much lower level and is dealt with promptly, correctly and to the satisfaction of those involved.
Arriving at the Leisure Centre, I wasn’t faced with a baying crowd of hooligans, causing mayhem and terror; in fact I wasn’t faced with anyone at all. I wandered into the reception and spoke with the girl at the desk, busy sat there filing her nails, chatting to someone who was evidently from the nature of the conversation not work related (unless the local council now runs courses on doing something with later in the evening your Labrador – maybe she meant to style ‘doggy paddle’ as in swimming, rather than ‘doggy style’ I don’t know ????
Having managed to attract the attention of said individual and asked the simple question “Manager about ?”, my new friend gave a ‘tut’, put down her nail file had said to her charmed and canine activity loving phone buddy “uh, ‘ang on, coppers here for summin’ now”. Charming, love you too ! And with that she pointed in the general direction of two doors on the opposite side of the reception area. “Don’t get up love” I said “I can see you’re busy, I’ll find him myself”.
Well he wasn’t in his office, or rather the toilet cubicle sized room with an old imitation wood filing cabinet and a desk and chair that came straight out of an old Dickens novel. I wandered down the corridor towards the swimming pool and found him and another member of staff staring aimlessly out of a window. “Ahh thanks for coming officer” he said as I approached – well at least someone’s glad to see me today. “What seems to be the problem” I asked as I walked up to the pair “didn’t see anyone out front causing a problem”.
“No” said the manager “they’re over there look, we’re wanting to lock up and they’re still playing football on the pitch – we’ve asked them to go but they won’t, they haven’t even paid you know, foul mouthed lot” For a moment I was slightly speechless. Let me explain why …..
Bigtown Leisure Centre has a swimming pool, two squash courts, a small gym, sauna and a room indie the building you can hire for kids parties and the like. Outside are two full size football pitches, a couple of five a side pitches and tennis courts. There are no walls or fences around the place and indeed there is a public footpath running right through the middle of the site.
The Leisure Centre is right next to North Park which is, as the name suggests, a public park, with large grassed areas, pond full of ducks, swans and other water life, flower beds, the obligatory fountain, kids paddling pool and a few kiddie playground ride items; seesaw, swings, climbing frame etc. Thing is, North Park does have a big wall and fence around it and, considering it is a public leisure place, the council insist in locking the gates at 7.00pm at night for half the year (and at 8.00pm in the height of summer). So the kids can’t go and play football in the park out of harms way – unless they scale an eight foot wall or spiky fence. And anyway, the Council have stuck signs up every ten feet saying ‘No Ball Games’, ‘Don’t Feed The Ducks’, ‘Be Happy and we’ll shoot you’ and stuff like that.
“Okay” I said to the manager “But they can’t pay can they”. The manager looked at me somewhat puzzled. “Well you’re closing up in ten minutes – if they pay that means you have to provide a service so you’ll all have to stay here until their time is up surely ?”. Ha – confused look back at me !
“Let me put it this way” I continued, “In ten minutes time you and all you staff will have gone home, correct ?”. “Yes”. “And” I went on, “there’s no way of closing off the pitches to stop anyone actually using them when you’re not here is there ?” “No, but that’s not the point ….” the manager protested. “And” I persevered “the Council haven’t actually put up any Keep Off or Don’t Use the Pitches when the Centre is closed signs have they ?” “No but they can’t use them if they haven’t paid, you need to do your job and get rid of them” the new strained manager virtually screamed at me. For some unknown reason I was becoming less and less enamoured with this person – he had clearly got anti-social skills of his own.
“I’ll go and have a word with them” I said “but to be fair there’s not a lot we can do, they’re not actually doing anything wrong in the big scheme of things”. So off I plodded, back past little Miss Nail File (who was still on the phone, the leisure centre’s phone by the way, not her own !!!) put of the building and around the side towards the football pitch where my latest quarry of evil bad-doers were milling around. As I walked past the side of the building I could see the manager and his colleague watching intently what I was going to do, from behind the safety of reinforced double glazing.
I walked over to the group of half a dozen lads, none of whom were abusive or particularly off with me, but then that can often be the case – give grief to the staff but when we turn up, butter wouldn’t melt. “You okay lads” I said to them generally “Yes sir” one of them piped up straight away, “hat’s wrong, have we got to go ?” he asked. Something didn’t seem 100% right to me straight away, the old ‘copper’s nose’ had clicked into gear. “Manager at the Leisure Centre says he’s trying to lock up and you guys won’t leave. Says you’ve been giving them some grief”.
“No one’s spoke to us” they all cried out in unison “no one’s been over here” said the lad who spoke to me first “we play footie on here most nights, it’s out of the way and there’s never been a problem. But if you want us to go we will”. Straight away, I knew THEY were telling the truth and maybe the staff at the Leisure Centre were perhaps not being entirely honest with me. I looked around to see that Mr Manager and his cohort were still there, staring across the grounds, obviously waiting for me to throw the bunch of miscreants, one by one, into the air with a soopa-doopa police ninja flying swat attack, tie them all together with their own shoelaces and cart them off to the dungeons, never to be seen again.
“Tell you what we’ll do” I said to the group. “You guys go and take five having a chat by the benches” pointing at two wooden benches along the public footpath that runs through the grounds. “They can’t moan about you being there. In ten minutes they’ll all be gone then carry on as you were, who’s going to know ?”
“You serious” the leader of the quizzed me. “Why not” I replied, “look, you’re not lurking round town drinking cheap lager and causing merry hell – for goodness sake the strongest thing any of you has got with you is a bottle of Dr Pepper !” That did in fairness raise a small laugh and mickey take of the said beverage holding youth. “You aren’t out mugging grannies or nicking cars, you are, wait for it, what’s the phrase …. playing football on a football pitch. Not exactly Ronnie Biggs are you, any of you ?”. “Who ?” was the reply.
“Don’t worry about it” I said as I left them be, and then one of the guys made possibly the most important comment I’ve heard from a member of the Bigtown youth in a long time “You’re alright you are officer”. Best compliment I’ve had in ages, I just smiled, said “Thanks” and walked off back towards the main building, noticing the manger was no longer stood at his observation post, neck strained like an on-guard meerkat just in case he had missed something.
In fact he was waiting for me as I rounded the corner back towards the front door of the complex building and where I’d parked the trusty panda. “They haven’t gone” he said. “No” I replied “they’re sat on the benches on the public footpath, nothing I can do about that, anyway, good evening”. With that the manager walked off muttering something to himself and I left to find ‘some proper police work to be getting on with’ as they say – there must be a mugger or burglar round the corner I can go and harass.
I wasn’t overly surprised when I got back into the nick to hand the car over to the night shift to find out from the Sarge that the delightful Leisure Centre had already rung up to complain about the way I’d dealt with his complaint. And I was even less surprised to be told that the skipper had quickly put him in his place.
Reposted below is a poem created by PolicemanMusing and sent to me in repsonse to my blog post The Longest Walk
You groan as you see me clock your seatbelt as you pass,
You may hear that groan again as your head smacks off the glass.
You look at me and ask ‘Have you nothing else to do?’
Well yes but I’m now dealing with another prick like you.
It’s my job to interfere when I think that you might die,
If I didn’t stop and tell you, could I look me in the eye?
If you’d seen what I have seen then you’d belt up every time,
I’ve scrubbed and scrubbed can’t seem to shift the blood from every crime.
I’ve seen your future in the bloody mess of those who’ve gone before.
I’ve picked up severed limbs, hosed bits of brain from off the floor.
I’ve held a hand and reassured while crying eyes closed their last time,
I’ve sat and stared as zips closed over young men in their prime.
It is me who’ll have to listen as your widow cries and screams,
It is me who’ll tell your kids they’ll see you only in their dreams.
Who’ll be the one to hold them tight when they wake up in the night?
It won’t be you, you won’t be there, because you clearly didn’t care
Enough to strap yourself in tight.
This entry’s not a blog post, tale of action or bravery on the front line, more of an urgent Public Service Announcement to make all my blog followers aware of a new type of high-tech crime which has recently landed on our shores ….
Have you got one of those nice new ‘Contactless’ credit or debit cards; you know, the ones with the ‘radio wave’ symbol on which means in lots of shops, there is no need to stick your card in the machine and enter your PIN number; If what you’re buying is less than £15, you can just wave your card in front of the terminal and bingo, an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip built into your card is read automatically and the payment is instantly taken from your bank account.
A similar thing is happening with the latest mobile phones – it’s called NFC (Near Field Communication) and allows you to hold your mobile near a payment terminal and have the cost either debited from your linked bank account or added to your mobile bill.
There are over 19 million ‘contactless cards’ already issued in the UK by all the major banks, with more to come online as existing cards are renewed. It’s all designed to make your ‘shopping experience’ all that much easier. But what if that experience was all about to turn very, very nasty ?
‘RFID Skimming’ is already a major problem Stateside, and it’s starting to happen over here. All that’s needed to obtain all your important (and you thought secure) credit card data, is a little gizmo costing less than £70 off the internet and a laptop or netbook computer – stick them in a laptop bag, manbag or handbag, walk down any street and let the tech do the stealing for you. The equipment constantly ‘scans’ for RFID chips nearby, and when it finds one, it downloads the data straight onto it’s database – your name, credit card number, expiry date, and all the other important information bar the three digit CSS code on the back of your card.
Instantly, someone else can create a clone ‘contactless card’ with your data on it and go on a shopping spree at your expense. OK, so they can only spend a maximum of £15 a time in store, but armed with all that data, there’s many a website or telephone order that can be made without needing or being asked for your CSS code – Amazon is the biggy that comes to mind !!!
Of course, the banks insist the system is safe and that ‘customers will be reimbursed for any fraudulent activity on their account’ but you still have to prove it to them first and we all know how hard that can that be ???!!!
The same equipment can be used to ‘lift’ data from a new style ‘Biometric’ Passport – simply and easily giving Mr Crook a lot more personal info about yourself, including your name, date of birth and even an embedded electronic version of your passport photo !!! Combine that with your card data and you can see how easy the bad guys have it.
In a crowded area; a store; a lift, railway station or even the queue at McDonalds, a ‘skimmer’ could easily obtain card details from literally dozens of victims in a few seconds and some of the readily available equipment happily works up to 20ft or more away from the intended victim/s.
Watch the news Story from one of the American TV Networks below, then ask yourself if you still want that type of plastic in your pocket ???
This is a re-publishing of the second blog from the partner of a serving police officer; reproduced with their permission. The author, Cheryl Burgess again raises a number of valid points about the need for everyone,where possible to support the March in London on May 10th and the seeming lack of support/interest in the various petitions currently organised to try and force a debate in Parliament.
Well it’s a week on from my first blog when I came out as the ‘wife of a Police Officer’ and supporter of #antwinsornetwork, channelling my frustration about Winsor Police Reform into a blog. So What happened Next?
Well, the earth did not stop spinning, life and it’s day to day demands continued as usual BUT something unexpected did happen. I started to receive tweets of support from complete strangers; partners of Police Officers, Police Officers, Retired Police Officers and ordinary people concerned about the consequences of the changes.
As I said in my 1st blog, I’m just an ordinary person and I have no allegiance to any political party. I’ve never publicly voiced my concerns about any issue, but it seems the ‘Genie’ is now out of her ‘bottle’.
Getting More Involved
I fully intend to support my husband and other Police Officers by attending the Police Event on 10th May in London. My husband luckily is on Rest Day and will be going, if he couldn’t I would be attending in place of him.
The public see the uniform of Police Officers or the warrant card, and huge numbers do value the help they’ve received from Officers in times of need, BUT what they don’t see is that Police Officers are real people with families and friends doing an essential job in society in very difficult circumstances.
Many Officers will not be able to attend if they are on duty, if their leave has not been granted, if they are needed in court, if for family reasons they cannot travel to London. Ironically, some originally intending to come along may now have to work as a Public Services ‘strike’ has been called for the same date.
I will join the Event and show my support in a visible way, and I will not be alone, there are a growing number of partners of Officers who will be attending, many in place of their partner who is unable to get time off.
The logistics of this are quite difficult, cancelling work, arranging childcare and travel. At the back of my mind I’m also worried that the Event will attract people who want to attack the Police and seek confrontation. But I will trust the Police Officers who are ‘working’ and policing the event on the day to keep me safe, and I will take this unprecedented opportunity to show my support in a visible way.
Police Officers are public servants who have a special role in Society, it’s not an ordinary job and any reforms need to take this into consideration.
The wider public deserves to know about the plans for Policing, and the proposed ‘reform’ of this essential public service. There seems to be no interest from the media in reporting this news. The 10th May Police Officers Event is an opportunity to show the public that planned ‘reforms’ of the Police Service will have consequences across society.
If you are a serving Officer and are undecided about attending the Event, PLEASE we need you to attend. If you are a partner or family member of an Officer and want to attend then find out from them how you too can get involved.
If you are a Police Officer or related to a Police Officer you will know the reality of the job and understand the impact of the changes. Stand up and show your support to Police Officers in their fight against Winsor Reforms.
If you can’t attend the Event there are still things you can do:-
The final point I’d like to raise relates to the E-Petitions:
In an article in March about the proposed Police Event, The Guardian reported that there were 135,000 police federation members in England and Wales http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/30/police-officers-protest-pay-conditions I asked myself, if this is true how come the E-Petitions have received such poor support to date?
When looking around the Government petition site I found out a pretty unbelievable fact:-
An e-petition to ‘stop the beer duty escalator’ has received more support than those petitions relating to Police Reform & the Winsor Report. The beer duty petition states “If we don’t show our support for the great British pub, we risk losing more pubs and more jobs within our local communities”. Its been signed by 29,322 as I write this Blog.
Doesn’t this make you think? – What are the consequences of not showing our support to the E-petitions against Winsor Reforms?
E-Petition: Reject Winsor Part 2 Completely
Currently 3,779 signatures – does that mean that more than 130,000 officers support it? http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32177 –
E-Petition: Right to Strike
Currently 12,622 signatures – if the Government wants to take away the special status of Police as part of the reforms and treat as ‘ordinary’ employees then should the ‘Right to Strike’ be a consequence? http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31250
E-Petition: Protect Police Pensions
Currently 23,773 signatures – it seems that only a minority think that the current police pension scheme needs to be protected?
We can be ‘stronger together’ but to achieve something both Officers and their families need to do something – perhaps signing the E-Petitions is an easy first step?
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
It’s only been a few weeks since I posted on here about the number of RTC’s we attend where a major contributory factor to the injuries received is the lack of wearing seat belts – see http://constablechaos.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/clunk-click-every-trip-please/
Yet this in the early hours of this morning, the Chaos shift had to turn out to yet another scene of mangled debris and destruction. This time we were met by the sight that we see far too often, and is so easily avoided.
The driver of the only vehicle involved in this collision was out of his car by the time we arrived. By out, I mean ejected ….. through the windscreen and onto the not so soft, fluffy and forgiving tarmacadam surface of the carriageway.
Sadly, there was nothing that could be done for this guy – he was dead by the time we arrived; probably (and hopefully) he’d died instantly and without too much suffering. But there would be suffering; the dead person was only in his thirties – somewhere this guy would most likely still have a mom and dad around, possibly a partner, maybe even kids. Whatever the make-up of this man’s personal circumstance, someone will suffer the consequences of his actions for a very, very long time.
I mean YES the guy was travelling far too quickly (witnesses told us that straight away), YES he was on an unlit country road (but you should still drive to the conditions, speed limits are exactly that, a limit not a target), YES he probably was late home and YES the whole sequence of events was most likely his own fault – but that is no comfort to those left behind; and even less comfort will be the fact, and it will come out at the inquest if not before, that if he’d spent two or three seconds fastening his seat belt, the whole outcome would 99% guaranteed have been a different matter.
With the scene contained, and the Road Collision Team in place to begin the investigation proper, it was down to myself and our Sarge to break the news to the family. Thankfully, the chap had ID on him and it matched the keeper details of the car, which came back to an address less than a mile from where we were.
We arrived at the address within a couple of minutes. Lights were still on downstairs. You need to have been in the position we now found ourselves in to understand the thoughts and feelings that were going through our minds. There was no need for the Sarge or I to converse on the matter any more; as experienced coppers we both knew what lay ahead.
I suddenly remembered watching one of those TV Cops on Camera type shows – it may have been Traffic Cops or Road Wars, I can’t recall, but I clearly recalled at this point a scene where a traffic officer had to go and tell a family their daughter had been killed outright; crushed by a lorry driver who it later turned out had been on his mobile phone. He referred to this point as ‘The Longest Walk’ and he was right – there were two of us there but it was one of the loneliest places you would ever want to be.
The knotted sick feeling in our stomachs was only compounded walking down the short garden path as we realised, around us were the signs of children; a skateboard; a bike just left propped against the wall; a toy JCB on the grass – these were things that despite the hours of darkness, just shone straight at us as if illuminated by an arc lamp. It really doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the job, this is one task that will never get easier.
Standing at the front door, we could see the TV on in the front room, but on knocking it seemed to take forever to get a response. After what seemed like eternity, but was probably only a few seconds, the door was answered by a pretty young lady, tucked up in her pyjama’s, of somewhere around the same age as our victim. “May we come in a moment” Sarge asked in somewhat of a low voice (which in itself was unheard of for him). “Of course” was the reply “is it my husband you’re here to see, he’s not home yet, due any minute if you don’t mind waiting”. Deep breath time.
“Shall we sit down” I said, trying to be as calm and reassuring as possible, but that was it – instantly, call it woman’s intuition if you like, but instantly she knew something was wrong, and it was bad. “What’s happened, where’s MIke, is he okay, has he been arrested” all blurted out in about half a second. “I’m afraid there’s been an acci…” what about as far as the Sergeant got before the poor lady in front of us realised where this was going and simply collapsed into a screaming heap on the floor in front of us.
Almost immediately, the children appeared in he doorway behind us and came running over to mummy; crying and screaming although at this point they knew not why – just that mummy was very upset herself. It was horrendous. I’ve been around the block and back a few times, seen and dealt with almost everything the great British public could throw at me, but right then I’d rather be anywhere else in the world. But I couldn’t be; that’s the job we do, and just another of those things that gets forgotten about when the number crunchers are dreaming up ways to further reduce our numbers and capabilities.
“Is there anyone else, family, we can call to come round and be with you ?” I asked. Through the sobs we established the nearest relatives were Mike’s parents, 30 plus miles away. We needed them here … and now. Sarge left the room quickly to radio the control room and get them on the case – we needed officers at their door pronto; and them transporting over here even quicker. The traffic department were great – there was no way we would let the parents drive themselves after receiving news like that and given the circumstances it was decided they would be ‘blue-lighted’ here to support the family. Even then, time stood still whilst we waited their arrival. There is simply no level of training (especially these days) that can prepare any officer for a scenario like this; only time and experience. And sadly this was by no means the first, nor will it be the last time yours truly was in this position.
Once mum and dad had arrived, we gave them all the information we had, excluding the seat belt knowledge; that could wait for another time. We explained what would happen next and that a Family Liaison Officer was already allocated and on the way. Once the FLO arrived, we said our goodbyes, offered our sympathies and left the family to grieve in piece. We had been there a little over an hour, but it felt like all night. I don’t think a word was said on the whole drive back to the station nor for the rest of the shift, which thankfully was very quiet.
It’s very rare that I take my work home with me, but this was one of those times when it was unavoidable. My house was all quiet when I got home. Mrs Chaos and the Chaos kids were all still fast asleep in bed. I sat in silence on our sofa, and am not ashamed to say the tears rolled down my cheeks. Not for the dead guy, not really; but for the wife and children, and his parents, left behind to deal with the aftermath, all because he couldn’t be bothered to put a seat belt on.
I also knew, that within a couple of days, I would be stopping another motorist for a seat belt offence, and I knew that without a doubt I would be on he receiving end of a tirade of abuse, demanding to know why I “haven’t got anything better to do’” and why I’m always “persecuting the innocent motorist”. Personally I would like to look at it as saving your life, but there’s no need to thank me.
And one random image keeps coming back into my mind – nothing to do with the mangled car, or the shattered windscreen, or the casualty lying in a mangled heap in the carriageway – no; it’s the sight of a small yellow plastic toy JCB lying on the grass by the victims front door.