Well here we go, another ‘first early’, the start of another joyous week of doing exactly the same, with exactly the same people, in and around the streets of Bigtown. When I joined ‘the job’ it really was to make a difference, to try and help people in need, like that big yellow teddy bear with the spotty eye patch, but with a wider remit . What I couldn’t have foreseen, but really should have, was that the ‘5/95’ rule applies even moreso today in policing than it has ever done before.
The ‘5/95’ rule, if you weren’t aware, is the realisation that 5% of the people cause 95% of the problems, or to put it in the more positive spin that our Lords and Masters prefer, 95% of the people have a happy life and don’t understand what all the fuss we make is about !! That is until one of the 5% let’s themselves in to a 95%’ers house, normally with the aid of a brick or crowbar, and nicks Auntie Nellie’s precious heirloom jewellery – then it’s a problem, a big problem, a major problem, and our same Lords start leaping like they’ve just found themselves in a Christmas rhyme.
In simple terms, it means that for the most part, your average bobby deals with the same few people day after day; they commit a crime or three, we lock them up and charge them, they go to court, get off with some punitive sentence then go on to commit further crimes, we lock them up and charge them, they go to court …… and so it goes on !! Heck only last week we had a case result for an oik who’d caused literally thousands of pounds worth of damage but the court update stated ‘no compensation awarded as no means to pay’ ??? – what does that say to the victim or society – or for that matter the offender ??
Anyway, as we sat around the teacup and half-eaten ref’s strewn table for our morning briefing (all three of the night turn had shot out halfway through eating to yet another nightclub disorder they were woefully understaffed to deal with, somehow managed to lock a few of the worst offenders up and still hadn’t made it back to the nick well past booking off time ) we tried to update ourselves on what had gone on over the last few days when we hadn’t ourselves been at work. But of course being a weekend, other than the hard-pressed under-manned (or woman’ed) shifts, the station had been like the Mary-Celeste, so no one had updated any of the police systems that might be useful to us – nothing of course happens after 5pm on a Friday does it ??
And then the first job of the morning came in – a shoplifter ‘kicking off’ at the local mega-soopa-whoppa-mart …. at 7.20 in the morning !!! I mean who goes shopping at that time of the morning, never mind shoplifting ???
But still, off we all scuttled, now leaving two lots of undrunken tea, making haste in order to return calm and order to the mean streets of Bigtown. On arrival, I don’t even think we’d got out of the car before the unmistakable dulcet tones of Druggie Dan could be heard protesting in the most colourful terms with the two members of staff who were, in his mind, completely mistakenly preventing him from going about his day to day business. However, the store manager didn’t appear to share Dan’s concerns, and produced the 3 Blu-Ray players they’d retrieved from Dan’s bag after he ran out of the store.
I thought about suggesting perhaps Dan was late for the bus to get to his new job, and hadn’t realised the screeching beeps of the security alarms going off as he’d exited the store in his panicked rush were intended as a gentle reminder he’d forgot to say hello to the checkout operator but thought the better of it – i could just see Druggie Dan using that as an excuse in interview and some foolish CPS lawyer down the line accepting that as a plausible reason (for the purposes of clarity Druggie Dan has never worked an honest day in his life !!)
Dan is definitely one of the 5%. As long as I’ve been working Bigtown, and undoubtedly for longer than that, Dan has been helping himself to whatever he likes from wherever he likes. His ‘rap sheet’ would put War and Peace to shame sizewise, yet the only time he’s ever spent behind bars, so to speak, is when whichever lucky bobby that day has done the remand file to keep him overnight for court the next day. Dan is the dictionary definition of ‘Community Orders’ only he takes it to mean ‘here’s a clever way to check out your next intended place to steal/burgle/rob or otherwise thieve from’ in order to fund a raging drugs habit.
But, as Big Pete and I assisted Dan into the back of our panda, with him still kicking and protesting so strongly that the rear side window of the police car ‘exploded’ in sympathy – or was it due to the repeated kicking by Dan’s Doc Marten’s ? – I had chance to reflect on how we were going to start the merry-go-round all over again. Luckily, we’ve tried to get a bit wise to some of our ‘regular customers’ and we’ve created special files on our computer system, purely to save us time on the form-filling. For the most part it just means we have to add the specifics of todays activities to the file and it’s ready to go – cuts a three hour epic paper chase down to 30 minutes or so and enables us to get back out on the streets a lot quicker and start getting back to protecting our communities.
And no sooner had we done so, than we were on our way to another call, featuring yet another of our 5% specials, Wayne. It seems hardly a day passes without one callout or another to a job involving Wayne of Primrose Gardens fame (see The Ballad of Bonnie and ….. Wayne or The Great Littleville iPhone wobbawee caper for more) but today’s speciality was to get himself caught trying to remove a moped from the driveway of someone else’s house, just as it’s owner arrived home from a nightshift !
It meant more blue lights across town for Dave and Katie, to go and pick up the pieces for yet another of Wayne’s crimes against society, crimes for which the punishment will never match, and Wayne will never have to pay the poor bikes owner for the damage he has caused, because he has, in the words of our legal system ‘no means to pay’.
Which sort of leaves us all in a predicament. The public pay for the police, through taxation. The public want the police to do a job which is, understandably, to keep them safe, to help people in need, and to combat crime.
A lot of people may be surprised to hear that your average bobby on the beat shares those views and wants to achieve exactly the same results.
But the system is so weighed down in its own inability to deter, punish or rehabilitate, that none of our goals seem to be getting met.
Still, i suppose two out of three ain’t bad …..