I guess it was one of those 999 calls that makes the stomach churn of even the hardest of Police Call Takers; the first point of contact for the public when they ring up with any number of issues they expect the police to deal with, emergency or not, a police issue or not. we are of course, that first point of contact; the service of last resort; we are free, twenty fours hours a day, and, due for the most part to a fear from our great lords and masters of using the word ‘NO’, we’ll turn out to anything.
Call takers hear it all, from number 18 complaining about the bloke next door leaving his wheely bin the wrong side of the boundary line to the reports of multiple fatality pile-ups ….. and worse ! This one though, whilst not quite that bad, was bound to pull on the heart-strings (and I know how it went as I’ve listened to the tapes) as the Call Taker said “Hello Police, what’s your emergency?”
On the other end of the phone was a child, a little boy, probably sounding about ten or eleven, clearly sounding scared and as if he’d been crying … “My mommy and daddy are being naughty, daddy’s very cross and he keeps hitting mommy on the head, I’m scared …..”
“It’s OK sweetie” the Call taker replied in a well trained calming voice (although I bet inside it wasn’t the same) “I’ll get some police officers to come round and help you, are you on your own there” ?”
“No” the little boy sobbed “my little sister’s here and she’s scared too”. Without a whim of emotion, fear or anger, the Call Taker calmly told the little boy how brave he was being for looking after his sister, and luckily for us the number he was calling from was one that was fairly well know, so we had an address to go to. “I’m going to stay on the phone talking to you till the police get there is that okay ?” the call taker asked, and from the sounds the kid was making, I’d take a fair guess this was the first friendly voice he’d heard in a long time.
As the actual job came in I was out on patrol in the glorious world of single-crewed-ness. A great policy that worked wonders thirty or forty years ago, but in more recent times, as drugs, alcohol and all other manner of excuses have come into play, virtually every job we get sent to requires two, three or even more officers to get things under control.
“Any unit, any unit, for an immediate response, violent domestic in progress, Marigold Copse on the Meadow Estate, call from a young child, any unit can make please ?”
“Control from Chaos, I’m on the estate now, what’s the details and can you get me some backup please” I replied.
It very soon became apparent to me that the address I was on the way to was indeed very well known; the domicile of Carl Robertson and his long-suffering (literally) wife Tracey. Carl is a bloody big chap, not so much in height, but in build, and with a temper to match, mainly due to years of ingesting far too much alcohol, smoking too much of the funny fags and popping too many steroid pills. In fairness that could also describe Tracey as more often than not we’ve had to lock her up for clouting Carl at home or some poor innocent member of the public in the street when she’s been going off on some drunken stupor.
Quite why the poor, innocent kids are still left at home is beyond me, as I’m sure it is the rest of the Chaos Team. We’ve put no end of paperwork in to our Domestic Abuse Team (when we still had one with more than one person in who now spends all their time trying to keep on top of all the paperwork for all the referrals coming through), and made no end of representations to the local Social Services who spout the ‘We’ve not got any previous history with the family so we’ll just monitor at this time’ codswallop – here’s a clue, if you don’t open a file at some point you never will have a history !
We’ve even previously took the extreme step of taking the children into Protective Police Custody, such have been our concerns, but within hours they have been returned to their family by Social Services with a promise of further help along the way ….. eventually.
Still, within a couple of minutes I was at the front door. Back-up, in the shape of Dave was still a while off, having had to break off from the shoplifter he was dealing with at the local superstore and had to let go with a ‘get yourself to Bigtown nick at 10am tomorrow to sort this out or else’ much to the vocal disapproval of the Store Manager. As I got there, the next door neighbours were outside shaking their heads “When are you lot going to do something with that pair ?” was the first throwaway comment I heard aimed at me. It struck me that they hadn’t been concerned enough to call the police themselves, nor to check on the welfare of the kids but hey, can’t expect everything can we !!!
After checking on my radio Dave wasn’t far behind I stepped through the open door, taking care to climb over the discarded empty cheap lager cans in the hallway, skillfully hoped over the remains of one internal door or another, now lying in several disjointed pieces across the floor and followed my ears towards what turned out to be the kitchen …. I have going into kitchens, all those nasty sharp pointy things about, but the screams and shouting coming from Tracey forced my hand into action – it was abundantly clear that she was under attack of one form or another, and on entering the room it was of no surprise to see carl stood over her cowering shell of a body, face contorted with rage and arm drawn back with clenched fist ready to strike again.
“OI – PACK IT IN NOW” I shouted as loudly as I could, at the same time trying to jump over the mangled mess that was once a kitchen table to get in between the pair and to try and protect Tracey from further harm. The coppers instinct had kicked into play … none of that ticky-box classroom ‘don’t put yourself in danger, consider the risk assessment’ stuff applied here in the real world, in the destructed world that was once the kitchen of 73 Marigold Copse. My initial, and to my mind natural, response was to do what was necessary to protect someone, in this case Tracey, from further harm.
I could see straight away the clumps of straggled dark brown hair on the floor and sides, where at a guess I’d say Tracey had been pulled around the room by her head until such time that centrifugal force or gravity had decided that the perpetual motion of movement had more force applied to it than that which was holding Tracey’s hair follicles in place, and the two became parted.
Her face was red and bloodied, as were parts of the floor and walls, although it wasn’t immediately apparent as to from which part of her body the blood had come.
I don’t even think at first Carl had registered that I was there, such was his focussed rage and even when I grabbed his drawn back arm and swung him back against the wall, he still didn’t appear to notice it was a third party intervening. “YOU F***ING COW” he yelled at the top of his voice. “YOU’LL F***ING DIE FOR THAT” he yelled, somehow convinced in his narcotically deranged mind that Tracey had picked her battered body up off the floor and somehow summoned the strength to move his (more than twice her) body weight a significant distance across the room.
Seeing that this was clearly only going one way I grabbed for my spray and yelled “CARL, POLICE, PACK IT IN AND STAND STILL OR YOU’LL BE SPRAYED’.
Suddenly Carl seemed to realise that I was there and turned straight at me, nostrils flaring, eyes opened wider than I’d thought possible, his whole face flushed red with an evil rage “WHAT YOU F***ING DOING IN MY HOUSE YOU BA****D F***ING COPPER” he yelled as he launched himself at me, now only two or three feet away form him. Thankfully, and without me knowing, Dave had arrived in the nick of time, shot past me like a dose of salts and in an instant, shoulder charged one raging man mountain back into the wall, saving me from quite possibly a nasty injury as well.
For the next few minutes, we both wrestled with Carl to try and bring him under control. There was no point calling for further backup as there plain and simply wasn’t any. Dave and I were the only two police officers on duty in a 30 mile radius. Actually no, that’s not strictly true. We were the only two shift response officers on duty in a thirty mile radius; there were plenty of other police on duty, but none of them are able to dirty their hands and come out of a nice safe station environment to help us shift-monkeys.
The time for applying calm diffusion tactics had well passed. This was a man high as a kite on drugs or booze, or more likely both. It’s not something our Officer safety Trainers like to talk about on the whole, nor for that matter do any other of our trainers – in Powerpoint world everything is, as we know, cute and cuddly, and ‘touch arrests’ are king. Unfortunately, Carl hadn’t attended any of our training days so hadn’t grasped the concept of coming quietly.
Eventually, and with a small amount of more destruction as we rolled around the floor, knocking the odd one or two pieces of household decoration, mainly empty beer bottles, onto the floor which gracious smashing noises, we managed to get Carl face down on the floor and handcuffed to the back. Both Dave and I took a well-deserved moments breath before we thought about stage two of our plan – ie how we were going to safely get Carl up off the floor, out of the house and into one of our waiting police cars without causing us or him, or also possibly the house, any further injury or damage.
Dave called up on his radio “One in Custody, we need a van here for transport on the double, he’s still playing up and won’t come quietly”.
“Sorry” said the controller “there’s no one else available, you’ll have to make do I’m afraid”.
And then it happened …… completely out of the blue !!!
Tracey, who until two minutes ago had been a snivelling, crying, distraught, battered wreck of a person, lying curled up in a ball on the floor trying to protect herself from a vicious onslaught by the alleged love of her life, had picked herself up, taken stock of the scene of destruction around her, of Dave and I pinning the man responsible for all this devastation to the floor and decided, in her own drunken, twisted view of reality that she didn’t agree with our treatment of her soul-mate.
With our attention fixed firmly on Carl, who was with every second, trying his best to either kick or bite one part of our anatomies or another, I simply did not take stock of what Tracey was doing …. but I soon enough felt it !
With no warning or provocation, and completely out of the blue, I heard a screeching wail, getting louder and closer by the second, followed instantly by the whack and sharp pain of a lump of solid, flat metal striking me firmly across the back of the head. I just about managed a stunned “WHAT THE …” when I was hit again, this time seeing that Tracey had armed herself with the first easily available and substantial weapon she could lay hands on, a large, old and dirty frying pan, which she now directed at both of us, whilst at the same time screaming “GET OFF HIM YOU W***ERS, LEAVE MY F***ING CARL ALONE”.
Well that’s gratitude for you !
The shock of what happened stunned me slightly as it was so unexpected. Dave instinctively leapt up, grabbed Tracey’s arm to stop her glancing blows at either of us again, yanked the frying pan from her grasp and pushed her back across the room, all seemingly at the same time and within micro-seconds.
I felt the warm trickle of blood going down the back of my head and the throbbing of my right ear even before Dave pointed out the obvious. Tracey had by now managed to put all her personal difficulties behind herself, and was becoming even more vocal and protesting that we had dared enter their house and arrest her husband merely for beating seven bells out of her and trashing the place to a state more than it was already in.
Only when Dave gave her the good news that she was also under arrest for assaulting his colleague, did she suddenly return to being the meek and mild woman of a short time before, and then conveniently remembered she had children she just recalled she needed to take urgent care of, so we couldn’t possibly take her away.
I must admit, in the instantaneous world of things, I had myself forgotten about the kids who, as it had turned out, were still upstairs, on the phone to our Call Taker, who was doing an absolutely brilliant job of keeping them entertained, singing songs to them and generally keeping their minds off what was going on downstairs in their kitchen.
Dave called up on the radio again “Now we’ve got two in custody and Chaos needs an ambulance, so you better get us some backup from somewhere pronto”.
That seemed to work, as the radio channel became suddenly overwhelmingly busy with people appearing from the woodwork to help out. Within what seemed like no time at all officers, both uniformed and plain clothed appeared from every angle. Mind you, not many of them seemed to know what to do once they got here – it was still left to Dave and I to take control of things.
“GET THEM PAIR OUT OF HERE FOR A START” Dave called to the first of our backup to arrive, pointing to out two detainees, whilst also trying to give the basic circs of the situation to be relayed to the Custody skipper back at the station. I seemed to be too busy nursing an increasingly throbbing headache to be much use at that moment in time, but still had enough sense about me the call “DAVE, THE KIDS, THERE’S KIDS HERE SOMEWHERE”.
“RIGHT” Dave said, pointing at two CID bods who looked like a pair of rabbits in headlights “FIND THE KIDS, WE NEED THEM PPC’ing”.
“POLICE PROTECTIVE CUSTODY ???” Dave started to yell, getting quickly frustrated that these worldly wise detectives hadn’t got a clue what he was talking about “WE COULDN’T LEAVE THEM HERE EVEN IF WE WEREN’T TAKING BOTH THEIR PARENTS. THE PLACE IS A FILTHY STATE AND THE PARENTS ARE DRUNKEN IDIOTS. GET THE KIDS TO THE NICK AND CALL SOCIAL SERVICES – THE INSPECTOR WILL TELL YOU WHAT TO DO IF YOU DON’T KNOW”.
Once the children were removed to relative safety, Dave and I took ourselves out of the house, to breathe some fresh air as much as anything else, and wait for the paramedics to turn up and check my head was still attached to the side of my face. In typical copper fashion, Dave instantly started cracking jokes about our predicament; “WELL THAT WAS A PROPER CASE OF OUT WITH THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE MIRE WASN’T IT” he quipped. “VERY FUNNY” I replied, “I’LL SEND THE IDEA TO MEATLOAF, IT MIGHT MAKE A GOOD SONG SOMEDAY !!”
Once the ambulance crew had decided that I wasn’t going to fall off the planet at this given moment, and me having declined their kind invitation to spend many hours sat in the local A&E department, waiting for the poor single doctor on duty to whizz round his dozen or so other patients, many of whom were far more needy than I, we headed back to Bigtown nick to start the glorious task of the paperwork chase.
Having got called down to the custody block a little while later to be seen by the on-call nurse to have my war wounds documented, it was somewhat pleasing to hear Carl and Tracey professing their undying love for each other ….. at the top of their colourfully languaged voices ….. from one end of the cell block to the other. The Custody Sergeant just took one look at me waltzing through his detention block door and shook his head in a sort of ‘not again Chaos’ sort of way.
The pair of them were in such a drunken stupor that it was no surprise that they would be guests at the Bigtown motel for the entire evening, and would be spoken to about their antics in the morning, when the alcohol and goodness knows what else had worn off and there was the slimmest of prospects of some coherent conversation from one or both.
With handovers finally completed, Dave and I were only two and three quarter hours late finishing and once home it was a definite case of sitting down on the sofa with a large glass of Scotland’s finest single malt to drown the pain ……for medicinal purposes only you understand
The following day we were back on Lates again. My head was more or less sorted, but I had a lovely red thick ear, which gave the rest of the nick something to torment me about at every given opportunity. I fired up the old email in the full hope that Justice had worked it’s wonderful magic and both Carl and Tracey would be appearing before the courts to answer for their actions, however this was not to be. Carl had been released without charge …… again ….. after Tracey had refused to name or blame him for anything, and our evidence of what happened when we arrived counted for nothing.
And Tracey, well at least she’d been bailed. But only because she’d completely denied taking several pounds of flat steel to the side of my head, again mine and dave’s accounts appeared to count for zilch, and in a last ditch attempt to rescue something, the interviewing officer had clutched a straw and decided to send the frying pan off for forensic examination in the hope that might convince the CPS of the need to do something.
“It gets better” said our Sarge as he walked in at the opportune moment, that being right in the middle of us verbally chastising every part of the process post our dealings. “The kids” he continued. “Social Services took them round to their nans last night but I’ve just rung to get an update and they’ve already been taken back home again …..”
I don’t think there was a head n the room at this point that wasn’t shaking from side to side in disbelief. But there we were, back at square one. Until next time ………