I’ve decided. I don’t like Monday mornings. There’s something about them that just likes to creep up on you unannounced. And then jump out and bite you real hard !
When I worked out there in the real world, Monday’s were a definite sign of getting back to the grind. I can vaguely recall that universe of 9-5 Monday to Friday, no weekend working, certainly no night shifts, and not even the slightest glimpse of having to work past ‘tea-time’ either. But, those halcyon days have passed … and I now exist on a 6 on 4 off cycle of earlies, lates and nights, with more than the odd half-night, last minute changes of duty and otherwise being messed around on a whim. If I though about it logically, I actually work far less Monday mornings now than I ever did before … but they still hold that special place in my life …. along with drink drivers, wife beaters and drug crazed shoplifters !
In Bigtown, the Monday morning population can virtually be divided into two corners; the ‘get up and go to work’ team on the one side, and the equally as big ‘sod off from my front door copper, I’m having a quick Frosty Jacks before Jeremy Kyle starts’ team on the other. Needless to say; to stave off the hatred of Monday mornings, the Chaos Team take great pleasure and amusement in the continual plaguing and harassment of one of the above two groups, just to keep them on their toes – I’ll leave you dear reader to surmise which group I’m referring to
This weeks Monday morning, in all fairness, didn’t have much potential. Middle of the month; handover from night turn telling us there were only two in Custody, a drink driver that just needed charging when he was eventually sober enough, and a chap for domestic assault who was equally as drunk, if not more so, than the drink driver, and just needed interviewing. There were no jobs to hand over so it actually seemed as if this was going to be the day when we could all actually try and do one or two of our own crime enquiries.
Alas, we should of course have known better ……
07.42 hours “Any units can make a Grade One possible burglary or robbery in progress at Littleville Corner Stores. Caller states persons have just attacked the manager and dragged him into the back of the shop … details still coming in, any units please …”
Well that’s one way to ruin our nice calm morning ! Cups of coffee got strewn anywhere as the mad scramble out of the briefing room resembled the best that the Welsh Rubgy team could produce. Within minutes, all available units, that’s four of us in two cars … hang on I’ll just recount to make sure … yup, four officers, two pandas, were hurtling down the small windy road that links Bigtown and Littleville.
On route I was shouting at Big Pete, in the panda with me “WHAT’S THE POINT OF DOING OVER A POST OFFICE THIS TIME OF THE MORNING, SECURITY VAN WON’T HAVE BEEN YET”. Pete, always one with the right answers simply replied, over the wail of sirens which were clearly louder inside the police car than out, “EASY, WEEKENDS TAKINGS, THEY WON’T HAVE BEEN TO THE BANK SINCE FRIDAY SO THERE’LL BE LOADS OF MONEY ON SITE”.
I often wonder if Pete had considered an alternative career on the other side of the fence – he certainly seems to have an unnerving ability to think like a criminal.
As we rolled into the street where corner stores was, it was like a scene from a disaster movie; shop displays were thrown everywhere, a large plate glass window was shattered and in pieces, a crowd of people as appeared, as if by magic, out of nowhere, seemingly drawn to the store by the sounds of commotion, or more likely, the ear piercingly loud alarm which was now sounding right down our ears !! The manager of the shop came running out, hand held to the side of his head, frantically pointing and waving back along Medbury Road, at the same time shouting “SILVER CAR, SILVER CAR”.
Quickly it became apparent that he was describing a getaway vehicle, and with Dave and Katie, our other crew shouting “WE’LL DEAL HERE YOU GET AFTER IT” me and Pete about-turned double quick and flew off in search of our quarry, Pete frantically trying to get a micro-second of airtime between all the flapping and ‘Inspector this’ and ‘DS that’ to actually pass some information that may have been somewhat critical to anyone else en-route to our location, of which of course there was none, because there was nobody else on duty at that time of the morning bar us and the Sarge, who had also TOA’d.
In fact, so much useless chatter was going across the airwaves at this point that Pete was on the verge of hitting his emergency button to gain some attention when the Control Room piped up “We’re just getting reports of a silver vehicle on fire in Field Lane off Medbury Road, witness saw two males in balaclavas jump out, leave the doors open and get into a red Range Rover which sped away. Caller then saw flames inside the vehicle” Well that didn’t take much putting two and two together. We put the foot down even harder, in the vain hope of making ground … “Control From Mike 4 (Pete) … do we have a reg for the car and direction of travel ?” “Caller hasn’t stated” was the reply from Control. “Have we asked ??” Pete retorted back.
It’s one of our real bugbears that Control Room operators are forced, under penalty of death, or even worse, tickets to Jeremy Kyle, to ask all sorts of inane and specifically useless questions when a member of the public calls in, but are completely prohibited from being allowed to vary their script and find out some useful information. Many of the call takers do try to help, by side-stepping the system and trying to gleam important details from the callers, but these are the same staff who very quickly seem to disappear with a one-way ticket to somewhere called Siberia, for purposely and deliberately disobeying headquarters dictat.
Happy that everything was under control at the main scene, the Sarge called up that he would go to the burning car and for Pete and myself to keep looking for this elusive Range Rover. “At Road Policing support on the way” asked the Sarge of Control, bearing in mind it was probably 15 minutes since the original call and they are based, of course, at headquarters … did I mention that is 30 miles away from us ?? “They’re committed with a traffic operation for South area Neighbourhood Team” was the reply that came back. Clearly this answer displeased our sergeant enough for him to demand the Duty Force Inspector contact him ‘immediately if not before’ !
“Well that’s one way to start the day” Pete quipped as we scoured the nearby lanes for the Range Rover “and it’s not even 8 o’clock yet” ….
No sooner had Pete said this the the radio sprang into life again “Mike 3 and 4″ can you break off to a grade one domestic, 14 Primrose Gardens, report that male party has been stabbed by his partner, we’re calling ambulance”. “Bloody great” Pete said, “it’s going to be one of those days” as I about turned the car again and headed back towards Bigtown. Back on the radio, Pete was asking for ARV support given the mention of the knife. He turned to me and said “What you reckon the answer, committed at HQ or they’ll be on the traffic op as well ?”
As it happened the reply was neither of those “We have requested but there will be a delay, the ARV is blocked in by a delivery lorry”. I think if I was there I’d probably have shot the said lorry out of the way myself !!
Tyre squealing into Primrose Gardens (without an Armed Response Vehicle to deal with the potential knife threat) we were greeted by the sight of a chap clutching his left arm and blood happily oozing through the gaps in his fingers at quite a fair rate. “Control from Chaos, get us an ETA for ambulance please, male with serious arm injury, and an ETA for the Armed Unit, this is a proper job”. That’s not to say that many of the ‘weapons’ calls we get are not as described, but’s almost as rare as hens teeth to arrive at on and find anything more serious than a paper cut.
We despatched our by now profusely bleeding chap in the arriving ambulance with a promise we’d meet him down the hospital asap and then stood debating amongst the whole two of us how we were going to deal with our knife wielding maniac missus. The ARV were still nowhere to be seen when she came storming out of the house towards us, bloody great kitchen knife in hand. I had an inspirational flash through my mind that this would be an ideal opportunity for a fact finding mission by the Home Secretary and her new buddy Tom Winsor to find out what life on the getting even thinner blue line was really like …. but then I snapped out of it and remembered this rather large kitchen utensil with many stones worth of angry woman attached heading in our direction.
Pete came to the forefront once again, shouting at the top of his voice “ARMED POLICE, PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPON OR WE WILL FIRE”. I instantly spun round to look behind us, head darting from side to side. ‘Where were the ARV lads I thought to myself, can’t see them anywhere, then I realised, just as Pete bellowed again “ARMED POLICE DROP YOUR WEAPON, FINAL WARNING”. I’m sure this wasn’t in the ACPO guide to dealing with angry knife wielding maniacs, but it seemed to work as bless her, she dropped the knife then dropped herself quickly to the floor, spreading her arms and legs out like a starfish. A very big, starfish as it happened. More of a beached whale with arms and legs sticking out. Maybe like Moby Dick after he’d swallowed all those people and maybe they’d burst out of his sides.
By now it wasn’t even half past eight – we’d had a proper armed robbery (the shop manager had been banjo’d with a baseball bat or similar) and a proper stabbing with the offender safely trussed up in the back of our panda on way to Custody. Luckily for us, our Inspector was right on the ball, marching straight into the CID Office, also known as ‘The Land of Dreamers’, and instructing the DS in there, who was busy discussing with his staff who had won this seasons Fantasy Football to get his team out and to relieve us poor plods pronto. As we were informed later, that didn’t go down very well, but the Inspector bless him, stood in their office til every one of them had stuck their jackets on an begrudgingly left the office to do some proper police work.
We were still booking our delightfully well spoken and enticing young lady into custody when the next Grade One came in. Another domestic, and another where weapons had alledgedly been used. Dave and Katie were still at the scene of the robbery at Littleville and that meant the ARV, who had conveniently begun to hot-tail it back to the relative safety of HQ, had to turn around and come back again to help us menial souls out. I heard a rumour afterwards that one of them even had to get their pen out; more likely had to ask someone at the house they were in to borrow one that hadn’t dried up from lack of use !! – but only to take a PNB entry of no complaint.
I recall we’d just got past giving all the information we needed to re our arrest to the Custody Sergeant when the Control Room called up again “Can anyone break off for an RTC, Crown Street in Bigtown, call from Ambulance, reported to them as bus versus schoolchild. Ambo still on route”. “Sarge, we’re gonna have to go there’s literally no one else left” and with that we ran across the Custody yard, back to our panda, and off we went again. I think both of us had visions of this being a not very pleasant job. Anything involving children is always bad, no matter how minor – and when you put a twenty ton bus into the mix there’s a good chance things really aren’t going to have a very good outcome.
Arriving at the scene, our initial sight was exactly as we expected; a bus stopped dead at a funny angle in the middle of the road, an ambulance alongside with lights-a-flashing and hoards of other schoolchildren crowding round; some in tears and deeply distressed; some trying to push their way to the front of the crown to get the best video shot (probably already uploaded to YouTube as well) and some just there for the sheer heck of it.
The child who was struck by the bus was still on the floor, half under the front of the vehicle, screaming like I don’t know what. Which, as we are told, is a fairly good sign, because if he’s making a noise and is in pain, he’s conscious, breathing and the nervous system is still working ! It was all we could do to move the onlookers further back whilst awaiting the arrival of our dear Road Policing unit to take control of the investigation, and more importantly, await the arrival of the Fire Service with the necessary equipment to lift the front of the bus so that the casualty could be evacuated.
The rescue and removal plan as it happened went like clockwork, and a quick examination in the back of the ambulance revealed no more than a couple of grazes – a very, very lucky young man. We quickly established the lad had been walking to school with his mates, not watching what he was doing; eyes glued to his mobile phone in front of him, with his earphones in listening to music; had not noticed his mates stop at the kerb and just wandered out into the road, right in front of the number 32 bus.
But the jobs didn’t stop coming in while that was going on. Just after we arrived at the RTC, in came the next Grade One. CID had finally arrived at the corner shop in Littleville and it gave Dave and Katie the reason they needed to get away and leave the Detectives to their work. The call was to St Katherine’s Primary in Bigtown, where one of the parents had reported a man trying to get one of the pupils into his van. The concerned parent knew the child well as a friend of one of her own kids, but had never seen the man or van before.
But the rest of the days fun & games is for part 2 …. read that here !!