The account below is a Guest Blog, sent to me by another officer having read my earlier post ‘Out With The Frying Pan and Into The Mire’. It relates to a similar yet equally harrowing tale of the dangers ‘Frontline’ officers face every single day and night, trying to keep the public safe.
It was about 3am in the morning when the call came though – a violent domestic taking place at a house on one of the local rabbit-warren estates. One of those places that unless you worked it day in, day out, you would never know where you were going from one minute to the next.
I was single-crewed as I had been all night; as had become common practice with our bosses to ‘spread us around’; to give the impression to the public that we had more police on the streets than there actually were. Officer safety, as is so often the case, had taken a backseat to public perception and political manoeuvring.
Although this approach in itself often backfired as the same public who complained they ‘never saw a copper’ were only too quick to comment when they witnessed three or four single-crewed police cars whizzing by rather than just one or two with a double crew in – same number of police officers going to the jobs but the words ‘overkill’ and ‘money-wasting’ are often thrown about.
My thoughts were often more basic; things like if you have four police cars travelling through a town at high speed, surely the risk of something going wrong or someone crashing is double what it would be if you only had two cars responding ???
As was also the norm, the Control Room was struggling to get me any back up due to various disorders in one of the nearby towns. It was a Saturday night after all; end of the month; pay day weekend, which meant all the pubs and clubs were busier than usual, but as ever, there were no extra patrols put on duty to help out.
When I got to the location, which took even me a while to find and I’ve worked that patch for years, I entered the house through the unlocked, wide open kitchen door. There was debris everywhere, plates and food on the floor, dog crap everywhere and a broken cupboard with the doors hanging off. Oh I think to myself, must have been trouble in here.
I could still hear them fighting in another room; carrying on regardless, despite my very loud shouts of ‘POLICE STOP IT NOW !’.
I’m not afraid to admit my heart started to race at this time. It was fairly clear to me that there had been, or more likely from the sound of it, a fair bit of angry, probably drunken violence going on here. I was on my own. Literally. I knew there was no backup near; no back up for many miles away, if at all, yet what was I supposed to do ??
Our training (conducted in a nice warm fluffy gym with foam mats on the floor and an instructor who hasn’t seen the outside of a police station for a very long time) tell us that we should assess, and if the risks are too high then we should wait until assistance arrives. From where ??
I knew that I had to do something NOW, before someone got badly hurt, or worse, if they hadn’t been already – that’s the nature of the beast.
As I clambered into the lounge, over more discarded broken furniture intermixed with what were once I think, the children’s toys and randomly dispersed crushed cheap lager cans, I could clearly see the angry husband punching his partner on her head whilst she lay trapped underneath him on the sofa. She was crying, screaming and trying her best to hold him off from causing her even more injury, all at the same time.
She was nowhere near a match for him in build at the best of times, but with the added aggression of his temper, combined with alcohol, I couldn’t believe she’d kept him at bay this long.
I couldn’t get on the radio to find out where back up was as I was working on the same channel as the disorder in town. The chatter on the air was non stop with other officers asking for help, calling for ‘more units’, trying to make themselves heard over and above everyone else. The Radio Controller would have stood no chance of trying to keep up with what was happening on the ground.
Time or circumstance really weren’t on my side. I could seen the rain of blows continuing. I literally had no choice …. other than to let the lady in front of me get considerably more (and probably worse) injuries …. and in a snap second I had to make the decision to launch myself at the fella to get him off her.
I was literally rolling round the floor with a p**sed and drugged up muscle head when somehow on the radio I can hear ‘control to 1234 check call. 1234 are you in order?’, a pause and then ’1234, no reply’ I couldn’t reply, not without loosing a grip on the arm of Mr MuscleHead who was repeatedly and very actively trying to punch me over and over again. I can remember in that split second thinking was it worth taking the hit to be able to operate my radio to call for help!
After what felt a lifetime of rolling round on the floor with this fella, trying to punch me, bite me, head butt and kick me, I was somehow in a position to press my priority button. I could hear the control room ‘unit who pressed their priority button respond ?’ For goodness sake I thought, these super high-tech radios are all individually allocated, every time we press the transmit button it sends our badge number to the control room – they can clearly see on their screen exactly who has pressed the red button.
I manage to get out ’1234 need back up now, fighting male’. Control ’1234 what’s your location? We don’t have you attached to a job?’ ’1234 I’m at the domestic you sent me to, the male was attacking female and I had to step in’. I didn’t think saying my precise location of ‘under 17 stone of steroid, cocaine and alcohol fuelled meathead with a foot somehow stuck under the sofa and that I really would quite like some help’ would be appreciated…
Mr MuscleHead then took this opportunity when my attention on him had waned slightly to relaunch his attack on me. Listening to the tape back all you could hear was my wheezing and him shouting ‘I’m going to f**king kill you, you c**t!’ At this point I actually said “please don’t” ! Control finally managed to realise where I was and said back up was on route ….. from 15 miles away!!!
That left me with the prospect of 10 minutes or more, on my own, still fighting angry man. Great.
We carried on struggling but I started to realise Mr MuscleHead was tiring and somehow managed to reach my spray. Now I know it isn’t advisable to use in an enclosed room but at this point I was beyond caring. I managed to wriggle free from Mr MuscleHead and whilst laying on my back got a good spray right in his face as he stood over me about to put the boot in. Luckily he went down like the proverbial sack of spuds and with my own eyes streaming and snot pouring from my nose I managed to get him in a position where I could cuff him to the rear.
I knelt beside him trying to get my breath back when there was a scream of ‘you fucking cunt, what have you done to him? He can’t breath! You bastard!’
This was from his wife who was now beside him telling him it was ok and she would get me done for this and I would lose my job cos I didn’t have warrant! Please bare in mind at this time her left eye was swollen to a size I’ve only seen once before, her nose was bleeding profusely and she had clear finger marks round her wind pipe.
‘Control to 1234 are you in order? Where are you? Back up can’t find your location’
So out of breath and eyes streaming, still I had to direct back up to my location turn by turn whilst all they could hear was the female screaming at me that I shouldn’t have sprayed her fella as he had a heart condition – it seemed to have been working fine to me the past goodness knows how long !
At this point she even launched herself at me to try and help hubby! I couldn’t believe this was happening! I was now directing back up to me, trying to restrain her and keep an eye on hubby! Talk about multi-tasking! Back up finally arrived just as she sunk her teeth into the back of my hand breaking the skin and causing it to start bleeding and me a great deal of pain!
Back up finally took over the scene and I was taken to hospital for my hand to be treated. That was anther three hours of joy – not !! and to cap it all the hospital even wanted to charge me for a prescription for anti-biotics!
There was no complaint from her against him and they were both given just a caution for the assault on me !!! Where on Earth is the justice in that ??
From the time I arrived till back up got to me I’d been on my own for 25 minutes! Oh, and later on, when I asked about the kitchen and if they had been fighting in there was told no, it had all been in the living room and the kitchen was always like that!
For about two weeks after on nights in the rural patch we were always double crewed. That slowly slipped away as Sergeants and Inspectors conveniently ‘forgot’ what happened outside the little bubble of activity in their own main town, and last night was another shift on my own with back up 20 minutes away – if they actually know how to leave the place and get to me!
And at 4:20am got the call ‘control to 1234, can you take an immediate domestic. Neighbours reporting couple been arguing all night and now can heard fighting. Location is…’
At least this time I made sure back up could start rolling straight away…