Too many tears

This is a personal blog and as I type this I’m not yet sure if I’ll end up hitting the publish button. 

Mental health is becoming a big part of modern Policing. It’s being recognised that the job we do and the stresses, strains and trauma that come from the job need some attention. I’m delighted to say that my force are pushing mental health wellbeing in a massive way. 

Unfortunately this blog isn’t about my work life as such. It’s a lot more personal. I think it’s time to share. 

Over the past 3-4 months my life has been turned upside down. I’ve been battered by a series of events that have knocked and bruised me. It all started when my marriage ended. Since then things seem to have gone down hill. I’m aware that when you’re down, some things that normally would just bounce off of you actually smash into you and take you down. 

I won’t go into much detail about everything that’s happened but I want to share the major things that I have been going through. 

Since the end of my relationship I have had to start afresh in a new house. At the very beginning I was sitting on a bean bag in an empty house. No TV. No furniture, nothing in the kitchen cupboards. No fridge, no anything! I took a picture one day while I was sat on the bean bag. 

I posted this picture onto Instagram and also onto Facebook. It’s not a bad photo is it? No one knows about this photo. Just after it was taken I cried. I cried for the first time in many years. The enormity of starting again aged 39 was just too much for me. This turned out to be the start of many tears. Too many tears. 

The time that followed saw the perfect storm surrounding me. A car I had taken out a Β£6’000 loan for had self destructed just a few days after the warranty ran out. I injured my back and so lost my independence and had to crawl around on the floor to get around. Family members who lived 300 miles away in London were being admitted into hospital with heart conditions and strokes. More and more was happening. Each and every incident was like a hammer blow on my already fragile state of mind. 

I cried. Now that I had cried once it seemed that the tears came all too easily. 3 weeks into living in an empty shell I decided to write down my thoughts. I have redacted some of what I wrote as some of it is not for anyone else to see. 

As you can see I was in a pretty dark place. Depression had hit me and it had hit me hard. Despite people close to me knowing my situation, I was feeling all alone. I was surrounded by a black fog that seemed to be impenetrable by anything or anyone. 

Bad things continued to happen. Due to my back injury I couldn’t go to work. My Sergeant was absolutely amazing. I really couldn’t have asked for a better response. He knew that work was also a big part of my social life. Having moved to the area just a year before, I didnt have the support structure in place that I needed. My Sergeant did everything he could and managed to get me back into work under special conditions. I was able to be around friends and make a small contribution at work. It felt great.  for that I was so grateful. My team rallied around me and started to become aware of just how bad I was mentally. They all pulled through for me. I’m so lucky to have colleagues who I consider some of my best friends. 

Speaking of best friends, my best mate really came into his own. Being blokes we don’t often show signs of weakness to each other. We’ve had our times of course but they are rare. We live 200 miles apart so we can’t just ‘pop round’ when we like. He was the samaritans for me. He listened to how low I was and said the most perfect things. Not only did he do this but he gifted me a large sum of money so that I was able to turn my house into a home. I’ll forever be there for him. You may have seen me mention him from time to time. Hollywood, thank you. (Of course we have nicknames) 

It’s been a long few months now but things are getting better. I still occasionally break into tears for no apparent reason and I’ve had strangers ask me if I’m OK as I look as though I’m going to break down. Apparently on some days I look fragile. Truth is, on the inside I feel fragile every day. My house is now cosy and I’m proud of it. I still have a daily battle to try and be me each day but the fog is lifting. My Sergeant still pulls me aside at work from time to time to carry out a welfare check. I often end up in tears during these but I’m getting better. My colleagues take the time to speak to me alone and ask how things are. It really is fantastic. 

Why have I shared this with you?

I’ve shared this for one reason. I want it to be OK for people to talk about this. It’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to have a blip in your life. Many people are always willing to help or lend an ear if you need one. Things do get better. The note book entry I shared with you, I’m glad to say that I look back at where I was when I wrote that and now realise just how far I’ve come since. With the help of good friends and taking time to accept and deal with my issues, I’m getting there. 
So what now?

Right now I’m working on getting my back sorted. I’m taking the pills and trying to rest where I can. I’m enjoying my home now and look forward to welcoming many of my friends as guests so that I can cook for them. I’m considering visiting the Doctor for some help for my mental Heath issues. As of yet I’ve not done this. If I can I would rather stay away from being too heavily medicated. Although sometimes necessary I feel that I’m through the worst. Things are looking up. I talk to people regularly and hope soon to be back out on full duties at work. 

I absolutely love helping people but recently I’ve loved people helping me. I’m very fortunate to have such great support. 

If you’re In a bit of a rut and you’re feeling down, let people know. You will be surprised how many people actually care and will go the extra mile to help you back on your feet. Let people in and they won’t let you down. 

Please be assured, I know many of you will want to reach out to me. I appreciate it but please try not to. I want to just be me to you guys. I have many people who have to deal with me when I’m down and my Twitter life is a welcome break from the sadness that sometimes engulfs me. Please just continue to be you. 

To finish up… when Richard Ashcroft of The Verve sang that ‘the drugs don’t work…’ he had obviously not seen this picture of me on my meds. Take care everyone. 

The consequences of cuts

What do the cuts to Police numbers actually mean?

As most of you will know, I’m a big Twitter user and have a keen interest in following all things related to Policing. Why? Because it affects me. Come to think of it, this affects everyone. 

First off I feel it’s important to make a few points. 

Many people will go their whole lives and never interact with the Police in a professional capacity. Many of these people will have paid for the Police through their taxes. When you think about it, not having called upon the Police for anything is a good thing. It’s like paying for car insurance and never needing it. But it’s nice to know it’s there! 

Some people will never have contributed to the Police but will be regular service users and will have experienced dealings with the Police many times. 

Some people may have had to call the Police once or twice in their lives. Hopefully they will have been impressed with what they saw from a professional who cares about victims of crime. 

What do the above examples of people all have in common? 

The majority of them are not fully aware of what’s happening within the Police Service due to cuts in funding. They see short coverage on the news now and again about the Police. They certainly see a lot of negative press about the Police. Is this justified? 

Let’s take a look at how cuts to funding affect the service. 

Less Cops

How often do you see a local bobby on the beat these days? Probably not very often. It’s well known that criminals often have a good look over each shoulder prior to committing an offence. They do this to ensure there are no Police Officers around. If they spot Police then they move along and the crime is potentially thwarted. This is brilliant. Let’s not forget that the role of the Police is not to detect crime but to prevent it. With less cops, what happens when the criminal looks over his/her shoulders? 

Less services 

At present the Police conduct a lot of work on behalf of many other organisations. Come 5 O’clock many departments just go home and their services are no longer available. The onus is then placed on the Police to carry on their work. If someone is having a mental breakdown at home and needs to see someone, is a Police Officer really the best suited person for this? I would argue not. The time has arrived where Police Forces are now looking at what can and can’t be achieved with the loss of staff numbers. Just the other night a colleague of mine asked a neighbouring force if they would go to a house on their patch to carry out a quick address check. Their response was no. They then provided my colleague with a list of things they can no longer do for neighbouring forces as it takes up resources. In the past all forces helped each other. My colleagues only option now was to send one of our cops across which meant one less cop covering his own force area. It also meant one less police car that was visible for the residents who pay for it and also more money being spent in fuel to get there. 


 Cops are human. Worked too hard they will crumble. From figures released a few weeks ago, many forces have lost MASSIVE percentages of Police Officers. If we look at Durham Constabulary the figures show that they have lost 25% of their Officers. What does this mean? Well crime is on the rise and there are less Officers to prevent it. There are less Officers to attend, deal and report it. There are less Officers to investigate these crimes also. Less Officers to back up their colleagues. This all takes its toll especially with the type of work carried out by Police. They must chase and fight people. I deliberately didn’t say restrain as sometimes it’s the only option available. You must fight people in this job. You see gruesome sights. You deal with things that are so emotional that it feels like you’ve been punched in the heart. All of this takes a toll and there are less to carry the burden which means each Officer is taking on more of this. Let’s discuss leave. Cops don’t get too many hours on leave. Roughly it works out to be about 4 weeks off work. This may change from force to force. This isn’t a great deal of time. Still, at least they get holidays right? Well let’s have a look at this. The Police must Police. Most forces have a rule of how many can be off at one time. Let’s say for example that the rule is 1 in 6. 

For every 6 cops 1 can take leave. Let’s say you have 18 cops on a shift. 3 can be off at the same time. Now imagine how many parents are Police Officers and want to enjoy the summer holidays with their families. It’s tough eh? Plenty of kids don’t get the time with Mum or Dad that they perhaps deserve. With less cops, there are less cops who can take leave when they want. 

I’ve only touched on a few examples here of what less cops means in the real world. there are many more but I like to keep my blogs fairly light and short. I’ve been trying to think of a good way to end this blog that will summarise what I’m trying to get at. 

I’ve thought long and hard about it but to be honest someone already beat me to it…

The lighter moments : 1

Things have been a bit intense in the World lately so I thought I’d share some of the more light hearted moments of my Policing career with you to help take the edge off. 

This is actually the second attempt at this blog as I realised that some of the funniest moments are not suitable for public airing. Let’s just say that the emergency services have a dark humour. It’s not due to any malice etc, it’s more a coping mechanism for what we see and deal with. Due to this I’ve managed to search the grey matter and have found a couple of examples which I can share with you. I hope you enjoy. 
That’s another feline mess you’ve gotten us into!! 

Allow me to set the scene. It was the early hours of the morning. Around 0200-0300. I was driving a van and due to the time of day was doubled crewed. We received an emergency call to attend an address as a house owner had seen an intruder in their back yard and he was trying to gain access through the back door. 

I hit the disco button and being just around the corner, we arrived quite soon after. The house that we had to attend was a mid terrace and had gated access to the rear of the whole terrace of houses. My colleague and I knocked on the door and we were swiftly let in. We went to the rear door which was just off of a small room. We could see the bottom panel of the door had been forced. 

We were asking the owner to get the key so we could access the rear gated area. At this moment our radios crackled into life and our other colleague informed us that he could see a male trying to climb out of the gated area. We rushed out of the house and jumped into the van to make our way round to the other side to try and contain the person. As soon as we had closed the doors of the van it struck us. Our eyes were watering and we couldn’t breath. I could taste the smell at the back of my throat. It turned out that the small area near the back door was frequently used as an open plan cat litter tray. Being dark, we were not aware of this at the time and had been trampling through the many mounds of mess. 

We opened our windows as I tried to drive to where we needed to be. With our heads out of the window and me trying to drive while we both dry heaved, coughed and spluttered, I could only make slow progress. I could see through my streaming eyes that two people on the pavement could see two cops almost puking and hanging out of the windows while trying to drive with the blue lights on. I can only imagine what this must have looked like. Our lunch was wanting to make a come back but we were trying to deny it. 

Our colleagues had detained the Male they had seen by the time we arrived. As we jumped out of the van and doubled over while trying not to puke, our colleagues (and the detained person) soon informed us that our presence was not welcome. We often laugh at this story. Here we are cleaning each other’s boots when we got back to the nick. 

Locked on

During my days in the Met I was tasked to patrol an unnamed park prior to Pesident Obama visiting the UK.

We were double crewed and on foot patrolling this park with strict instructions to stop and speak to pretty much everyone we saw. We even had to ask fellow Officers we didn’t know for their warrant cards. As you can see from this, security was tight. 

After many hours of this, the mayhem begun. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the procession of heavily armed helicopters and planes that accompany the Presidents helicopter when it’s in flight but I can assure you it is VERY impressive. Here’s a quick glimpse of the sort of chopper that they use. They look amazing. 

There must have been about 4 of those strange looking helicopters alongside many other types of aircraft. I imagine they were all incredibly armed with sofistictated tracking systems. 

At the time of the Presidents arrival it was getting quite dark. Visibility wasn’t too good. Due to the amazing sight before me I couldn’t help but try and take a photo of the amazing scene that was before my eyes. With the dusk light and all the aircraft lights flying over my head, including the helicopter containing the President, I thought to myself :

‘This is what Instagram was made for!’

I reached for my phone to take a cheeky picture to ensure that I would never forget this part of my career. As I captured my shot in the viewing screen I hit the button to take the photo. To my absolute horror the flash had decided to turn itself on due to the poor light. I was holding a device with a light and pointing it at the heavily armed gun ships and the US President. 

I don’t know how many weapons systems locked onto me at that moment but I can assure you that it wasn’t a pleasant moment. I really did feel a disturbance in the force. Due to trying to hide the flash at the time I never did get to take a decent photo but I did nearly sh… panic.  

Another night of terror in London.Β 

It’s happened again. So soon after the last. 

At the time of writing this blog, 7 more people have lost their lives. Dozens more are injured. People around the World are shaking their heads in disbelief that this has happened. It’s happened again so soon after the last time. 

From what we know a van mounted the pavement and mowed down innocent people going about their lives. After this, men armed with knives and fake bomb vests ran from the van and started indiscriminately stabbing anyone who just so happened to be nearby. 

I was still awake as this unfolded. I started watching the news coming in via my Twitter account. Having come from the Metropolitan Police I was well aware that if I was still a Met Officer I would have received a phone call and been mobilised. Being Level 2 Trained (Riot/Public Order) I would have been placed in a reassurance role somewhere near where the attack happened. 

As it was I’m no longer a Met Officer and so felt a bit useless. I’m pretty sure many of my colleagues will understand when I say that we would ALL want to help. 

As the evening passed and the sun rose to mark the arrival of a new day, a story broke that a British Transport Police Officer had pretty much been on scene when the van mounted the pavement. 

Eventually details came about stating that the Officer had tried to tackle all three armed terrorists using only his extendable baton.  A quick reminder here… these terrorist cowards were wearing very plausible looking ‘bomb vests’ and yet this Officer drew his baton, extended it and by all accounts waded in with no regard for his own life. 

For those who don’t know, this is what all Police Officers carry. 

It’s often joked about by Police Officers and referred to as an ‘extendable car Ariel’. 

Immediately on reading this my first thoughts were ‘What an absolute hero’. How many lives had he saved by taking up their time by taking them on!?

He was eventually floored after he had suffered horrific injuries by their knives. 

It was earlier today (04/06/17) that I started to receive text messages from old colleagues asking if I had heard. It turns out that the hero who had been reported on was someone with whom I had served with  when I started out my Police career some 9 years ago. We had worked together for about 4 years and I know the guy well. 

Whenever a Cop gets hurt it affects everyone in society. I was feeling it. When I found out it was someone I knew the realism became even more focused. I received information that many of you will not yet know. 

Apparently the press have been tipped off about who he is. He has yet to be named and I thank the press for their restraint. 

The Officer involved is a bloody nice guy. He goes to work every day just because he likes to keep people safe. He has a heart of gold. 

From what I have heard, his injuries will change his life forever. When people read about his heroic actions, when people finally get to see his face, you will all see an ordinary man who did an extraordinary job. He knew the risks when he took the oath and my word has he carried out that oath. There is much talk of him receiving a medal for his actions. I can think of no one more worthy right now. 

Armed with a small stick, he saw three men armed with large knives and bomb vests who were intent on taking innocent lives. While others ran away, he ran towards the danger. Although there were undoubtedly many other people who were courageous during this incident, I want to dedicate this blog to my old colleague. I wish I was there right beside you as you ran at them my Brother. Alongside the public, I am immensely proud of you. You are a Hero and you deserve everything that comes your way. 

Have a speedy recovery and thank you. Thank you for being a Police Officer. 


Today saw Sir Tom Winsor speaking on National TV about Detectives. 

I’m fairly certain that he was trying his best to fight the corner of Detectives and support the stance that they should be rewarded with higher pay for the important work that they undertake. 

There is no doubt that Detectives do a great job in carrying out thorough investigations into some very serious crimes. They achieve great results and carry a colossal work load. I have never been a Detective but have no doubt that they take their work home with them. I agree with Sir Winsor about this. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with him in his support for these amazing People. 

Where did it go wrong for Sir Winsor then? 

It all went down hill when he suggested that Detectives take their work home with them but Response Officers don’t. 

When I first saw the clip of him saying this my first reaction was that I was taken aback. Did I just hear him correctly? I played the clip again and sure enough there it was again. There was no slip of the tongue. There was no way that I had misconstrued what he had said. He had stated on National Television that Response and Neighbourhood cops never take anything home.  

What an outrageous thing to say!

As a result of this the hashtag #ITookHome was born on Twitter. 

If you haven’t already, take a few moments to read the many things that Police Officers take home with them every day. Read just a handful and imagine how that Officer must feel. It may be that what they tweeted about happened many years ago but I can guarantee that the memory would have surfaced immediately. 

What’s also important to realise is that what you read will be just one example of something they took home with them. 

As Police Officers, we deal with many traumatic things. Things that will stay with us all our lives. Tragedies that we will revisit from time to time but will never mention out loud. In my 9 years of working in the Police I could speak for hours about the sadness and the traumatic situations I have been involved in. The tears, the denial and the drama. 

There was a tragic event that I had to deal with not too long ago and I still wonder if I could have done something different, something more to help the person who didn’t make it. What if? What if I had done something different? Would they still be here? I’m sat at home right now and these questions are with me. 

I took them home. 
I really don’t think Sir Tom said what he did intentionally.  I believe that he made an assumption which, had he been a serving Officer, he would never have made. 

To close off this post I ask that Sir Tom make an apology to all of the hard working cops out there. ALL of them. He should now realise the ignorance of his statement and make amends. 

To my Brothers and Sisters out there holding the thin Blue line… Thank you. Thank you for carrying the burden. Thank you for coping with what you see and deal with each day, for dealing with the horrors that you take home. Speak about these moments to your colleagues and friends and take care of yourselves. We shield the public so that they may lead a normal life without dealing with many of these things. We all know what we signed up to do. 

We may not all be be Detectives but we are all Police Officers. We all Take many things home. 

What do we do now?

The dust is settling. Normality is beginning. 

People are getting on with their lives. This is the way it has to be. Us, carrying on as we did before. Not allowing our lives to be changed by one deranged person’s actions. 

On the day of the attack, PC Keith Palmer did what we all do. He went to work to carry out his duties. He would have arrived at his station just like any other day. Shared smiles and stories of his rest days with his colleagues before he went into the team briefing. There would likely have been some piss taking. Cops love keeping each other grounded. It’s how we all operate. We find humour wherever we can in what can be a bleak world, as seen through our eyes. 

I want us to celebrate the life and work of Keith. I never knew him but I’ve been where he was. I used to be drafted in to Westminster to work on occasions. Normally if there was something special happening such as a protest or to see the Prime Minister safely on his/her journey to Prime Ministers Questions. 

I used to love working around Westminster.  I imagine that Keith did too. It’s a unique environment to Police with mass tourism. I’ve noticed a number of pictures that people are sharing of Keith on social media. Loads of people with selfies taken with him. This is what it was like working at the heart of the Capital. Tourists and people galore would ask for photos. It’s an iconic picture isn’t it!? A British Bobby at the Houses of Parliament. All that’s missing is a cup of tea. 

Seeing all of those pictures of Keith with the public reminded me of something that my old Met colleagues and I used to do when working in Westminster. (I’m treating you all to an insight here) When people asked to have a picture with us we would make sure that one of us always offered to take the photo so that no one was missing from the picture. We would take their phone and line up the shot with Big Ben sitting proudly in the back ground. The group would huddle around the Bobbie and smile their best smiles. The cop taking the picture would then, unknowingly to the camera owner, flip the camera to selfie mode and take a few of himself, gurning,  before taking a few of the actual picture they wanted. 

This would always put a smile on our faces. We always imagined the reaction as they looked back through their pictures later that day. I hope that these people enjoyed the surprise pictures and got a thrill from them. I sometimes smile when I think of how many of those ‘selfies’ are out there. I wonder if PC Palmer and his colleagues enjoyed similar high jinx.  

PC Palmer will appear in stacks of photos scattered across the World. Posing and taking time to engage with the public. Welcoming tourists to our tiny nation and making them feel safe and at ease. His colleagues will have endless tales to tell about Keith and his character. Cops always have the best stories. ;0)

In memory of his death, some wonderful people on Twitter are trying to get a movement going of saying hello to any Police Officers you see. This is marvellous. You have no idea just how much of a lift this can give us. We may have just dealt with something quite horrible and were mulling things over. If you say hello and have a chat, this can be a great reminder of why we do what we do. This sort of interaction is what PC Palmer would have had every day that he worked in Westminster. It would be great if we could spread this joy throughout the Country. 

So… What do we do now?

We keep calm and carry on. We should also try to be just a little bit kinder to each other while we heal. Keep your eyes peeled, report things that don’t seem right, watch each other’s backs. Most importantly, enjoy Life. 

Your shift is over PC Palmer, we will take your beat from here. 

This blog is dedicated to the lasting memory of PC Keith Palmer and all of those affected on 22/03/2017.

Police Ride along

Look at those smiles!

Those are the faces of two people enjoying themselves. The reason for this?Both James and I were doing something new. 

A few weeks prior to this photo being taken, James had contacted his local force to see about arranging a ride along with some Police Officers. I just so happened to be one of James’ local Police Officers and so it came to be that we would be experiencing a Police ride along for the first time. (Albeit from different perspectives). I had met James once before when we bumped into each other while I was working at the football stadium of the team he supports. We had a quick chat and took a picture. It’s always nice to meet fellow tweeters!

I had arranged to meet with James at the local Police Station for 0800. I was working a 0700-1900 shift that day but had agreed that we would aim for around 4 hours which should enable a good mix of jobs to attend. Normally I would be single crewed during the shift but due to having James come along it was agreed with my Sergeant that we would be a double crewed unit for safety reasons. It would also prove to be a good decision so that James could get two different perspectives about our work. 

On a lovely Saturday morning I was crewed with Laura and 0800 came and went. I was fully aware that James would be waiting at the Police Station for us. This lateness would prove to be the perfect starting point for James to see just how unpredictable Policing can be. We were out conducting an area search for a missing person. Not too long after we went back to the station and met with James. He was carrying biscuits galore as a gift for our team. He had clearly conducted his research well! I never did get to sample those biscuits! 

First off the bat, we had to brief James on confidentiality and security. Being in our car and also in our company meant that James would be privy to certain information. We would also be updating him on what jobs we were attending and why we were there. This obviously puts him in a situation where he would hear things that he normally wouldn’t. Legal forms were signed and Laura and I spoke with James about his safety and what he could and couldn’t do. We wanted this to be a real insight but we had to balance this with the fact that James didn’t have any protective equipment or prior training in this field. 

It was agreed that he would be able to get out of the car at certain jobs but should keep a good distance and view proceedings from a good vantage point. We would update him with details as and when we could. 

With this all done, we made our way downstairs to the operational car park. I pointed out a few things about the station and then invited James to try on my kit. Here he is! 

Suits you Sir!!

James commented on how the kit was heavier than he imagined it would be. Personally I like the weight of the kit. It makes me feel like I’m at work and protected. 

After wrestling with James in the car park to get my kit back, we got into the car and made ourselves available for jobs. 

While we headed off to our first job of seeing a returned missing person, Laura and I started to explain to James that if he wasn’t there, we would be working on our own cases as well as answering the usual every day calls. We explained that we are responsible for investigating all of our own jobs unless they fall under a different departments remit. A slow Saturday morning was ideal for us to get some enquiries done. As it was, we put off  our own work for a few hours so that we could hopefully show James a good mix of what we get sent to.

I was driving the car and explained to James that although I wanted him to experience a blue light run, I was delighted that we hadn’t had one yet as that meant that the public were safe and well. 

We went about our business taking care of welfare concerns from the previous Friday night. Drunk people tend to call Police about anything and everything. If it’s not an emergency, we follow these up the next day. Usually the sober version of that person either can’t remember calling us or doesn’t want us to take any action. 

While we were tootling from job to job, James was asking many questions and Laura and I were being as candid as we could be. This job has many frustrating aspects about it but the core work is very important and necessary. 

As we were chatting, my radio crackled into life and an emergency call was put out to all units. Laura knows the area better than me and informed me that we were not far from the location. I could feel the excitement building in James as I turned on the lights and sirens and started making progress towards the house. It’s a very privileged thing to have exemptions on the road. Driving faster than the speed limit and going through red lights will have been alien to James. At a later point he was honest enough to admit to me that it had been thrilling. I explained that the feeling never leaves me. 

Laura explained to James that a call had come in about someone ‘kicking off’ in a house and that damage had been caused. As we made our way I was very aware that James was in the car. Normally you look across at your colleague and know that everything will be considered and dealt with. In this case I knew that we had to look out for James too. This wasn’t a problem but just an extra something to be considered. I knew from previous jobs that I could now trust James to not try and get any closer to get a better look. He was doing everything exactly as we had discussed. 

On arrival I ensured that I parked a little way away so that James could see and hear safely. A Police van was already outside the house so I knew that we had colleagues already inside. This was excellent news. This meant that I would be able to assist and then explain to James about what had gone on in the house and also what would happen next, rather than lock someone up and have the day end as he wouldn’t be allowed in custody. 

Laura and I ran into the house and could hear the usual shouting from upstairs. We were assured that our colleagues had everything in control so we set about speaking with the other people inside to try and establish what had happened.  It appeared that the Male had taken a substance and had then started smashing furniture. The Male had tried to fight with my colleagues just prior to our arrival and had been sprayed with Pava. This effects the eyes and causes them to water and sting. The spray also makes people’s noses run and saliva to build up. 

As we escorted the Male from the property to the van, he spat which landed on Laura and I. We are both experienced enough to know that he probably didn’t intentionally spit on us and so I issued him with words of warning that if he did that again it wouldn’t be tolerated. Most people splutter and spit having been sprayed with Pava. 

With the Male secured in the van I walked over to James and briefed him on what had happened. I could see the adrenaline running through James. He had obviously been effected by what he had seen. On the outside he was as cool as a cucumber but I knew the signs. I remember well the feelings I used to have when I first started dealing with confrontation.  Oddly, experience takes away the rush that I used to once feel. Perhaps I’m too calm at these incidents now. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s a heightened situation then my knees start shaking and the adrenaline does it’s thing but that happens very rarely. 

James explained that he had wanted to get stuck in when he saw this unfolding. I knew the feeing. When I was a PCSO I wasnt allowed to get involved in situations such as this so I knew exactly his feelings. 

After this job we were sent to carry out enquiries for a very serious offence. I won’t go into details here but I knew that it would be time consuming and possibly boring for James as there was no way he would be able to hear all of the details about this one. I explained this to him and offered to drop him off back at the station as our time was pretty much up. He said that he would be happy to just be around and so we took him along. During this job I was able to get out and speak with James to explain certain things about what was going on and what actions we were taking. He seemed happy with the updates and held a real interest in what was going on and how we handled it. 

After CID had arrived to take over from us we made our way back to the station. I was reflecting on if we had managed to showcase to James just what sort of work we have to do each day. I felt ok about it. Obviously this was a quiet Saturday morning. He would have enjoyed the Saturday night for sure but most of us know that this is just mayhem. We wouldn’t have been able to secure James’ safety in the situations that the night time economy delivers. 

James seemed very happy with his ride along.  So much so that he blogged about it. You can read his thoughts here:

So how did Laura and I feel about the ride along? 

We chatted about this during the rest of the shift and agreed that it had been great fun showing someone what we do each day. The public are not always aware of just how much we are responsible for. To have James with us for a few hours was a good thing. A GREAT thing in fact. 

We enjoyed crewing up with James and sharing some of our stories and funny moments. One of the best moments for me was when Laura found out that James’ current employment meant that she could press him for information and solutions to an issue she had. Talk about seizing the moment! πŸ˜‚ Cryptic I know, but I couldn’t possibly say any more. 

We had a few laughs long the way. We had some serious moments. Overall, this experience will stay with all three of us forever. That picture up there, the one with me and James. Only three people know what we did just before and just after that picture was taken. The jobs we attended. James was a part of things that day and I hope it was as good an experience as he hoped it would be. 

When James and I were tweeting about this prior to the actual day, it generated quite a bit of interest in other people. They wanted to experience this also.  I can only suggest that you get in contact with your local force and see if they will be able to accommodate you. I must be honest here, James was VERY fortunate to get a ride along with a response team. Don’t be too down hearted if your local force can’t help you. The risks can be massive. 

My last message is to James: 

Thanks for the biscuits and treats. I believe they all vanished in the space of 30 minutes that very same day. I hope you enjoyed yourself and had a little taste of what Cops do day in and day out when not being filmed. (Don’t ever forget that we used you as our Interceptors camera man with our updates) πŸ˜‰πŸ‘

Let’s talk about ‘The Job’

See that smiling chap up there!? That’s me when I was quite new in the job. 

I hadn’t done much by this point. I was happy and proud to be wearing the uniform and delighted that I was in a job I loved. 

A job I loved. A job. Job. THE Job. 

Why is it called ‘The Job’. I think I now know. I’m a few years in and have seen, heard and done a few things in that time. 

Have you ever heard of Policing being called ‘The Job’? Let me explain. 

My opinions may differ from other Officers but for me it’s The Job due to the fact that Police Officers cover a huge number of roles throughout their career. 

We may not be Brain Surgeons. We may not be politicians or Scientists but we cover many other professions. 

At any given point we may be a councillor. We may be a lifeguard, a first aider, a Fire fighter. We may be a mental health carer, a labourer, an athelete. We could be anything at any given job. 

A Police Officers lot is a mixed bag. Sometimes you have to be like Mr Ben. (For the younger among you, please use Google) You have to walk into the fancy dress shop and take on any given outfit and perform the role that’s required of you. 

I remember the day that two of my colleagues had to attend the sudden death of a baby. They are both Fathers. Not only did they have to try and comfort grieving parents, they also had to be professional and rule out any foul play. Please just read that again. A dead baby and distraught parents. They had to be professional and carry out an investigation to see if the baby died under suspicious circumstances. Let that sink in. Imagine the burden those Officers carried. The burden they STILL carry. Imagine how they felt as they returned home to their own children at the end of their shift. 

I’ve had colleagues who have attended the house of a suicidal man who had barricaded themselves into their house and threatened to set the place alight. The man DID set the place alight and the Officers had to try and fight their way Through the burning building to rescue the man who was hell bent on ending his life. 

I’ve had colleagues who in the pitch black of night have ditched their Protective equipment and swam into the ice cold Sea to save a women who just wanted to end it all. She was lashing out at the Officer as he dragged her against her will to the safety of the shallows. 

My colleagues have delivered babies in the back of Police cars. 

They have driven Brides to their weddings when the wedding car has broken down. 

My colleagues have delivered what are grimly known as Death messages. Letting people know that their close ones have died. 

My colleagues have taken Children away from their parents because they have been abused or neglected. 

My colleagues have literally placed their lives in danger by fighting people who are armed with weapons. Placing themselves between the victim and the suspects. 

My colleagues have died. My Brothers and Sisters have made the ultimate sacrifice while answering a call from the public. My colleagues have had to inform the families of Police Officers that they won’t be returning from their shift. That Mummy, Daddy, Son, Daughter, Sister or Brother, Husband or Wife will never come home again. 

This is THE JOB. 

Just this week I was spending a night shift desperately trying to locate a person who was suicidal. We had the helicopter in the sky to help up us but it was dark. We didn’t know exactly where the person was. I searched a grave yard twice using my torch to find my way. My shift ended and I went home to sleep. I woke to the news that the person had been discovered. They had killed themselves. The body was discovered near the area that I had searched. Were they already there and I failed to find them? Had they hidden until I left and then ended their own life? Was I just moments away from making the difference? I will never know the answer but guess how many times I’ve questioned myself about this since? Way too many. 

After a few years of pounding the beat we all soon realise just what we all do. We all experience or hear from colleagues just what we are all doing day in and day out. The Murders, the awful assaults, the injuries, the sadness. These all take their toll. 

I can’t speak for every Police Officer, but when I arrive at work and hang my coat up in my locker at the beginning of my shift, I always hope that I’ll be returning to put it back on again. 

This is The Job. 

This blog is dedicated to all that have worn the uniform and especially those who have paid the ultimate price. 

Fit to Fight

This blog is to supplement the petition I have started regarding free gym use for Police Officers. 

The petition has been out for a few days now and has yet to pick up momentum. 

I’ve had some great feedback and debate regarding this petition and also people  misunderstanding what it is I’m actually trying to achieve. 

When you submit a petition you are quite limited in what blurb you can write. I hope that this blog serves to make things clearer and also to perhaps correct some wrongs that I may have made within the wording of the petition itself. 

Let’s start by discussing the picture I have used for this blog. That’s me from a few years ago. I wasn’t a great specimen of a man but I wasn’t unfit either. I had good core strength and was making advances in the right direction. That picture was taken in Tooting Police Station. It was a small gym with old equipment. (Think Rocky rather than Ivan Drago) it worked though. Before or after most shifts, the team I was on would hit the gym. We would get involved in trying to out lift each other and set new PB’s. It was fantastic. A little stereo in the corner and we were away. I’m not sure if that gym is still there. 

Let’s talk about time and shiftwork. 

For many cops, we have commitments outside of our work lives. We have partners who work and we also have kids. We have friends and we have hobbies. We have family to visit. We are just like most people apart from one tiny thing. Our job requires us to pass fitness tests. What happens if we fail our fitness tests? Potentially we could lose our jobs. Sometimes if we fail our fitness tests it means that we can’t take on different roles such as firearms or becoming a dog handler. 

There are other professions out there that require you to be fit. Firefighters and the Armed Forces for example. These all have Gyms and readily available access to them pretty much 24/7. Why are the Police different in this regard? 

We are expected to chase people while wearing boots and carrying heavy equipment with the added joy of updating what’s happening over our radios. We are talking while sprinting after people who are often wearing trainers and more suitable running attire. We have to do this often through muddy fields or forests. 

We have to climb. Sometimes fences, sometimes through windows, onto garages, up trees and into tight spaces. 

***Please skip this next part if you are of a sensitive nature***

When someone hangs themselves, did you know we have to hold the person up while a colleague cuts the rope/wire? If we have not arrived in time we have to support a literal dead weight while this is carried out. We then have to carry the body until our colleague helps in placing them on the ground. 


We have to protect ourselves, our colleagues and the public. This sometimes means an actual fight but most of the time it means restraining an aggressive person who is trying to either escape or cause harm to someone. Winning or losing in these situations can sometimes be down to who is fitter. 

I’m sure there are many more good examples of where fitness is required in Policing but as you can see, fitness is quite a big part of the job. 

‘Why should you have your own gym though?’ 

I’m currently a member of a gym. It’s about a 10 minute drive from my house and was selected by me as it’s quite small and doesn’t attract the kinds of people that I meet at work. That may sound snobbish but it’s not. When I was a member of a large chain in London, I was paying Β£60 a month and witnessed many things such as drugs passing hands. On occasions I saw people at the gym who I have had to carry out my duties against. This was not an enjoyable experience. 

My current gym is much nicer but I pay a premium for not dealing with such things. So what are the issues here? Well, I work 12 hour shifts and my Wife is also a shift worker who does 12 hour shifts. We have young children. Trying to fit in a 10 minute drive and also the motivation for this is sometimes a test of my resolve. I will admit that I don’t attend as often as I would like. When I was based in Tooting? Nearly everyday was a gym day as I had no excuse. A bit before work, a bit during my lunch break or a bit after work. The gym was just there and required no thought. No extra journeys or time spent travelling, no undesirables to consider. It WORKED! the gym was rarely empty and we were all better Officers for it. 

Some people are not aware that many Officers pay into a sports and social club. This club and the subs could cover the costs for equipment. Where we need support is in space being made available at Police Stations and all insurences covered. Many Police stations DO have Gyms but I know that many have been closed. This is a shame to a bunch of hard working people. 

What are the alternatives? 

Someone mentioned that fire station Gyms should be open for Police Officers to use. I like this suggestion as it would cost nothing to implement and would also encourage engagement between the services. The only issue could be geography. 

There are probably more suggestions out there. Let me hear them. Talk to me over on Twitter. Let’s get the discussion going. Convince me that I’m wrong if you can. As Cops we have to be fit to fight. Don’t we deserve a bit of help in achieving this? I think so. 

If you agree, click the link below and sign the petition. If you support this then try and encourage your friends and family to sign it too.

A Special DebateΒ 

This blog was inspired by a debate that found some legs when it became apparent to some that Special Constables in Durham were going to be issued with new rank slides.  

What’s the issue? Well quite a few people found issues, quite a few people welcomed the move and quite a few people were simply not bothered. 

So what IS the big issue?

I started out my career in the Metropolitan Police. Down there the Special Constables were differentiated by their epaulettes. Everything to a T was the same as Regular Officers other than the following details on their shoulders,

Special Constables: SC and a Crown

Special Sergeants: A bar going across. 

Special Inspectors: Two bars going across. 

(See Picture below) 

As you can imagine, every force does things their own way. Durham have announced that their Special Constables will now wear the same rank slides as their regular counterparts but with the SC and Crown details added. 

I want to mention that I fully appreciate the time, effort and skills that Specials bring with them. In fact, see that picture at the top of the blog? That’s my best friend. SSGT Lambert. (He wears a bar on his rank slide) 

I have things I want to say about this growing trend. First off I support anything that will make specials feel like that are more a part of the Police family. I want them to feel that they are a big part of things and feel that they play a big role. THEY DO! 

What are my issues?

First off, it’s my understanding (and I’ll be the first to hold my hands up if I’m wrong) that a regular Constable holds authority (?) over any rank of Special Constable. This means that a Special of Inspector rank who turns up at a job with regular officers holds no sway over proceedings. Why wear the stripes or pips then? 

I understand that within the Special structure, certain people climb the ladder and take on more of a role organising Admin and operations. They also undertake recruiting and training roles. These are all important. They are important within the Special structure of things. Due to this, the bars do a great job in identifying those Specials who perform different roles. 

It makes sense that Specials are identified for their achievements within their structure. It means other specials can seek out the right people when needed. The different slides mean that the people who need to know, know. 

In my opinion (and it is only my opinion) I don’t see any need to have it any other way. What is the purpose for Durham making this change? Is there a pressing need that I haven’t thought of? 

This move will just muddy the waters. With the bar system, members of the public would never mistakenly think they were dealing with a regular sergeant, inspector or higher. When a special sergeant turns up wearing the chevrons, the public will more than likely turn to the ‘sergeant’ thinking that they hold the deciding say in what happens at the incident. I’ve seen this many times when out with regular sergeants and inspectors. The public turn to them and start to disregard the PC that is there. As you can see, due to PC holding authority in this scenario, this would just cause confusion to the public. 

There are probably more reasons why specials should keep the ‘bar’ system. At the moment I struggle to think of any reason other than cosmetic, why this change is happening. I will welcome a good reason with open arms. 

This blog is dedicated to all Special Constables. This blog is in no way a slur on the work or role that you perform. If you take offence at this blog then I will be more than happy to discuss. 

A word from SSGT Lambert:

My view is that the rank structure is purely for internal special line management and supervision and NOT anything operational. 
I would never dream of ordering a regular of any rank. They do it day in day out and have far greater knowledge and training. Specials are purely there to support and certainly not to lead anyone. To an extent I wouldn’t even order a special Constable. I’m there to help them with development etc., not tell them how to police. Again, a regular officer is far better placed here.
Worth noting of course though that some specials have worked in previous police roles and therefore carry some experience. Still doesn’t warrant any “rank” over a PC or above.