Although it’s fair to say in our game you can never plan ahead; you never know what the next job is going to be because you never know what The Great Unwashed will get up to; there are certain aspects of our work which do follow a sort of pattern.
Take for instance Saturday and Sunday mornings; if you’re on an early shift you know that most of your day will be spent mopping up the carnage from the night before; dealing with all the extraordinarily drunk, nay almost comatose, victims that nights couldn’t get the slightest bit of sense out of so were left with no option but to stick a calling card in whatever orifice they could find that wasn’t covered in blood, snot, vomit (or worse) telling said alleged victim to ring us back when they’d re-entered the atmosphere and landed back on planet Earth.
Beyond that there will be a cell block full of the ‘other sides’ – the ones locked up for the assaults, domestics, drink drives and whatever, that will be as equally covered in blood, snot, vomit (or worse) but out of the kindness of our hearts will have been offered a free bed for the night and something vaguely resembling breakfast the morning after.
Likewise, the Friday and Saturday nights before will have been one great melee of fight, scrap and punch-up in whatever town centre you happen to work … just because it always is …. just because the vast majority of the afore-mentioned Great Unwashed are utterly incapable of controlling their own lives so feel it is their solitary goal in life to destroy the happiness of everyone and anyone around them.
Sunday afternoons are good ones for domestics; Mondays for us are popular with shoplifters (never really worked that one out) and Wednesday nights seem to be burgling night. As ground floor level uniform bobbies we have no problem working this out – it follows a sort of set pattern, but for the life of me I can’t understand why our elusive bosses and planners continually fail to grasp these obvious facts – i mean the figures, and ohh boy do they love figures, are there for all to see plain and simple but the inability for some senior officers to plan for the expected never ceases to amaze myself or my colleagues.
So there you are, many things in a policeman’s lot you can sort of plan for … but then there are the odd occasions when nothing really does go to plan. Last Wednesday morning was such an example. Our first early – handover from night had been summed up as ‘dead all night’ and with not a soul in the cells, it all looked like, for a chance, at least some of us would be able to get on with our mountainous stack of outstanding enquiries.
Earlies start at 07.00 but we’re always in by at least 06.45 so the night turn can get off on time. Big Pete even had the kettle on and had printed the briefing sheets off so we could all sit down and go through a night of ‘nothingness’ over a nice hot cuppa.
07.07 the first crackle came over the radio “Control to any early turn at Bigtown, can you make a Grade One please, knifepoint robbery at North Park Road, witness refusing details but states offender is still in view, details still coming in …”
Seven minutes past seven …. on a Tuesday morning …. !!!!
It’s worth noting at this point that the vast, vast majority of calls made to police bear little to no resemblance to what is actually occurring. Add to that a witness who is refusing details and the words ‘hoax call’ sit very highly in our suspicious minds. Dave and new girl on the block Kate both volunteer to go and take a nosey “Don’t bother you lot” Dave says “you know it’s a prank, we’ll be back in ten just keep the brew warm” and off they shot.
“Units making” called the Control Room “offender described as a white male, bald head, blue hoodie with some sort of logo on the front, light joggers and carrying a blue bag he’s just taken from the victim. Still trying to get victim details, the informant not being helpful in that respect”.
Discussion in the station refs room turned quickly to a debate about who had got it in for who this week and who was most likely to be trying to get an ex or a new partner ex in the mire with us. In fairness, there were plenty of names that came up quite quickly – we’re not short on numbers when it comes to potential offenders or victims – they’re normally the same people who just shift from one role to the other on a daily basis.
“TOA” I heard Dave call up just as I poured the second brew for me, Pete, Jamie and the skipper Daz, followed micro-seconds later by a screaming “ONE ON FOOT AMBO NEEDED !!!!” What the ….. !!!
Not entirely sure what was going one, we all grabbed panda keys of the job board and ran out of the back door across the yard and quickly rushed the game of ‘find the car that matches the keys’. “Update please” Daz shouted down his radio as we all tried in unison to wake the coughing, grumbling, Neanderthal beasts that were our ageing 100,000 mile plus diesel tractors, sorry Astra’s, and screech/crawl/splutter out of the nick towards North Park Road, a good few minutes away.
It was Kate that answered the sergeants shout “I’m with the victim, he’s got a knife wound to his stomach it’s bleeding a lot, I need an ambulance please as quick as possible by the entrance to the park. Dave’s gone off across the park after the offender – he still had the knife in his hand when we got here”. “PC Price, PC Price, Welfare Check” called the Control Room, trying to raise Dave over the air, but there was no reply. “PC Price, PC Price, Welfare Check ….”, still nothing.
It’s that sort of moment when you are really cursing; cursing yourselves for being so blasé about the whole job in the first place – presuming the incident was a hoax call just because this sort of job always is, cursing the cars because they are so much of a wreck because they are so old and worn out that no matter how hard you try, including the jumping up and down on the seat trick, there’s no extra power coming from anywhere to get you to Dave’s aid any quicker, and most of all you’re cursing Dave for getting himself into this situation …. on his own. “Control to PC Price, your location please, other officers are coming to you”. No reply.
By now, officers were being despatched from neighbouring divisions, the force helicopter was being scrambled and the firearms team were on their way …. all 30 miles from headquarters. This was a job that was right up their street, what they trained for day in, day out, and you just knew they would be foot to the floor, probably taking every risk they could, rules out the window, to get to the aide of one of their colleagues in trouble. “Keep trying to raise PC Price” Daz shouted down his radio. You could hear the tone of his voice had changed, Kate had confirmed our offender was in possession of a large knife; she had confirmed she had a victim with serious knife injuries, and now we had a lone officer, somewhere, following an armed and dangerous potential killer.
Suddenly Dave’s radio sprang into life “Control PC Price, damn radios don’t work round here, backup to the fountain in North Park. Male’s in the water threatening to stab himself still in possession of a large kitchen knife, 10 inch plus blade. He’s took his top off and gesturing me to go in a fight him. Have you got all that.”
It had only just gone half past seven, but for all intents and purposes it felt like hours. We were all with Dave a few minutes later and the area around the fountain was surrounded with nowhere for our man to go. The water around the fountain itself was probably only 24 inches deep but the problem still remained that he had a knife and was holding it to his own stomach. Dave was right as well – it was a bloody big knife with a big and nasty looking blade on it.
By this time the Control Room Duty Officer had been awoken from his slumber, had gone through his tick list and decided he’d better talk to us and impart his infinite wisdom on how to deal with the situation we now found ourselves in. “I am declaring this a firearms incident” he began over the radio “subject is believed armed with a bladed weapon and has caused injury to one person already. I believe he may cause further harm to himself, the public or officers present” No sh*t Sherlock !!! I’m beginning to realise why this guy is the Duty Officer. He continued “The threat level is medium (medium ??? he’s stood less than ten foot from us with a 10” blade pointing at his own stomach !!) I will authorise Taser as officers may need to protect themselves or other members of the public from the risk of harm”
I turned to Daz “Can they Taser someone who’s stood in two foot of water Sarge ?” I asked. “Haven’t got a clue” was the reply “but it don’t sound a good idea to me”.
Knowing the Firearms car was still a good 15-20 minutes away, between us we tried reasoning with the guy, to get him to put the knife down and calmly walk out of the water ‘so we could sort this calmly like adults’. Sadly this approach was met with a tirade of abuse and threats about what would happen to the ‘first copper who comes near’. I didn’t fancy getting my feet wet going it to get him out anyway thanks very much.
In fact the abuse and threats continued for a good twenty minutes, which handily filled the time gap until the firearms guys arrived. “Can you Taser him in there” Daz asked one of the firearms officers “I’d rather not” was the answer “it’ll either frazzle everything around or not work at all would be my guess”. Great. “But then he don’t know that” the other firearms officer said “so we can give it a go, warn him like, and hope he plays ball”.
Thankfully, as crazed as the guy was, he still had enough of his wits around him to realise that two blokes pointing bright yellow ‘guns’ at him and shiny red dots on his chest were a bad thing and he took the decision to do as he was told, drop his knife and walk very slowly to the edge of the fountain where the intention was he could be handcuffed and arrested, still however shouting, swearing and threatening the whole world around him, and by now, very, very wet to add to his problems.
All went well to start with; the knife was dropped into the water and our suspect made his way slowly to the edge of the fountain before very carefully climbing out. Once he had done so however, everything changed in an instant and our guy returned to being the absolute wild man he had been only a few minutes before. He ran, shouting and snarling. literally foaming at the mouth, directly towards one of the Taser officers who had no choice but to fire his device at the male, stunning him instantly and causing him to fall to the floor as the 50,000 volts thrusting through his body took effect. Even so, it took several of us to get the male contained, secured and handcuffed before anything else could be done. Even by now it was only quarter past eight in the morning and we still had a long day ahead of us.
It later transpired that there was no robbery; the whole incident had revolved around a domestic incident between the two guys, who had split up the day before and arranged to meet at North Park to swop some personal belongings. The victim, despite having a nasty hole in his mid-parts, refused to co-operate with the police or provide any account of how he got his injuries. The guy from the fountain claimed his ex had stabbed himself when he refused to get back together and in shock, he’d grabbed the knife to stop his formerly beloved from hurting himself anymore and then decided he couldn’t carry on either so wanted to kill himself as well. The anonymous witness has never been found and when the whole file was put to the Crown Prosecution Service for charging advice they decided not to pursue the matter due to the reluctant victim and lack of independent witnesses. ‘Without the independent account we can’t rule out the injury was self inflicted’ is the one line abbreviation of the CPS’s excuse for going no further.
Still, the victim is alive to tell the tale, none of us, especially Dave (thankfully) got hurt, and we all learnt a valuable lesson in not discounting weird 7am jobs as all from cranks and crackpots. On the rare occasion they will be true but we’ll never know when so we have to treat every job like the world is going to end.