Dawn will break (eventually).

Dawn is a 6-year-old girl who lives in a condemned high-rise block on Mandela Avenue. Mandela Avenue is on The Swamp Estate on the edge of Ruraltown. Dawn has no friends because she wets herself when the children sit on the floor for reading time at the local primary school. As a large warm pool of urine slowly grows larger around Dawn, the other children move quickly away.

Her garish coloured chiffon dress is covered in ribbons and lucky charms. Faded by her mother’s constant hand-washing after Dawn’s accidents, the dress is slowly losing it’s appeal. A teacher always rushes over to Dawn, scoops her up and carries her away to the bathroom. If a male of any age touches Dawn, she screams uncontrollably for up to five minutes and cannot be stopped, even by her favourite female Teaching Assistant.

I was speaking to one of our courageous midwives this week. She is monitoring Dawn’s sixth and newest sibling; an emaciated and filthy four-month-old baby named Bobby-Ray Jr. She had asked Dawn’s mother why Dawn wets herself and screams when a man touches her. It is because her father ‘interferes with her’ when he bothers to turn up drunk to steal the child benefit money. Dawn’s grandmother, a woman in her early 40′s with seven children of her own has something to say about this. From a cloud of cigarette smoke over in the corner she asks what does the midwife expect? Dawn’s mother is not a good wife to him, ‘if you get my meaning like’.

She justifies the rape of her own granddaughter by her son-in-law by blaming her daughter for not having more sex with him. Even for Ruraltown this is a new low. This is Jeremy Kyle right here on the street.

I check with the Child Protection DS. She tells me that Dawn and every single one of her siblings have been designated as a ‘Child In Need’. Apparently this attracts some level of what she calls ‘intervention’ by social services and our own team. I ask if Dawn’s mother’s ‘partner’ has been nicked for sexual assault. Which one? she asks. ‘Which partner?’. She has more than one? ‘Yes, she has three’. Do they all rape Dawn? ‘No. Only two of them rape Dawn’. Are they banged up? ‘No. CPS dropped both cases’.

The Child Protection DS tells me that these two men are brothers. They enjoy some kind on ‘entitlement’ to Dawn’s mother and to Dawn and her sisters because of some ‘deal’ their father did with Dawn’s grandfather a few years ago over some land. This deal was broken by Dawn’s grandfather and to avoid a feud, Dawn’s mother was ‘promised’ to the brothers. Dawn’s mother then injected a level of confusion and damaged pride into the equation by producing two mixed-race children. This was some kind of insult to the family who own her, and she had to be re-housed at public expense on two occasions. No charges were ever brought against any person.

The DS looks tired and a little too thin for a woman of her age. She kind of ‘stares through me’ like so many of her colleagues who work the Swamp tend to do. At twenty six she looks like a woman twice her age. I ask her about Dawn’s future. She has no idea. She and her team are losing two-thirds of the officers on the unit under the budget cuts. Dawn and her family will be ‘managed’ by local uniformed police after August.

The DS applied for her own job under the new system but was ‘unsuccessful on this occasion’ and is going to be a custody sergeant at Ruraltown Central. She doesn’t mind, she has clearly had enough. I ask her how many Dawns there are on the Swamp, she tells me there are more than fifty families ‘engaged’ with social services under child protection measures for neglect or abuse on that estate alone.

We stand in silence for a few minutes. I want to give them both a bit of a squeeze but that would be unprofessional. Besides, the midwife is going out with Debbie for a few drinks next week, she would be bound to grass me up and I don’t want Debbie to think I’ve gone soft or anything.

I promise to look into the father’s criminal conviction history but I already know what I will find. Meanwhile Dawn is still wetting herself and screaming if any male of any age touches her. The suburban kids with biblical names in her class like to test this reaction every day or so.

This is my world as a policeman in Ruraltown. Not Champneys, phone hacking or senior officers and their ‘milestones’.

Gadget Note: Dawn’s father, and I use that term loosely, has nine convictions for burglary in the last four years and has never served a single day in adult detention. All cases of violence and abuse against family members have been dropped due to a lack of support by victims and witnesses. We don’t ‘police by consent’ on this estate. In 2004 her broke a Met policewoman’s jaw and received a suspended sentence.

I do not discuss these things at home.

We have attended emergency calls to violent disturbances involving knives or what we call ‘edged weapons’ on every shift for the last two months.

The weapon of choice for Ruraltown slag has been the Samurai sword for many years. Second are kitchen knives, followed by the machete, introduced by the Metrocity gangs who came onto us during the last Governments Safer Streets campaigns from 2003 onwards. The youth went back as soon as this street crime initiative ended, leaving the weapons and drugs culture behind.

Which ever Home Officer genius invented the last ‘big wing’ operations forgot to read the chapter about crime displacement. In terms of long term damage and criminal culture, Ruralshire has never really recovered from those days. All the violence, hatred and damage of the city street gangs came to visit us, only we did not have, and do not have, anything like the numbers or equipment to deal with it.

I remember literally fighting for my life with four young drug dealers from South Metrocity after a stop check went wrong for us when they all produced machetes and sharpened screwdrivers. I learned later that all four had previous convictions for GBH against police officers in other counties. They were from Somalia and Ivory Coast which interested the geographer in me. Clearly, attempting to murder policemen on a street in Ruralshire was their way of saying ‘thank you’ for the political asylum they so richly deserved.

It was the only time I have ever battered someone with my useless aluminium stick. I learned never to use my ASP again on that day. It just made them more angry and had no effect at all. Next time, and there will be a next time, I am going to use the shovel from the boot of my response vehicle. I mean it.

Back to now though; it is alarming to find yourself standing in a huge pool of blood, there is always so much blood, with someone shouting and swearing at you, waving a monster knife about. It is so strange when they come for you. You almost can’t believe it, even though you can see it. Thankfully, these people are usually so drunk or so mad that they fall over or blunder around. We have short-shields if you can get the boot open quick enough.

TASER was fantastic until they stopped the courses due to the cost and many trained officers were sent away to the new neighbourhood silo-teams under the re-structure, when we lost two-thirds of our response teams. Now TASER mainly sits in a secure locker back at the nick.

I have been to three knife incidents on my own in the last month. I managed to get each one under control eventually but it is only a matter of time. The team is brilliant. We would all go to the wall for each other. Even Ruraltown Neighbourhood Team officers have broken away from their heavily restricted ASB beats (against specific instructions) to help, so long as it is before midnight.

I have to thank them for that; they will face huge criticism and bullying the next day for diverting to help us. Each set of senior officers is trying to break the new model to prove a point and enhance their own careers at the expense of their colleagues in a classic Tory ‘divide and rule’ strategy.

Meanwhile, unless we are lucky enough to have some TASER nearby, it is only a matter of time before one of these idiots gets one of us badly. We all know it and it is starting to create pressure. In the Army, we always had the weapons we needed. I am determined to continue on Response. I have plans to fight with everything I can lay my hands on when it finally comes to me. I know I will probably be prosecuted by my own colleagues afterwards but at least I will be alive.

On Friday I stood in front of a man stabbing a double glazed window over and over, trying to get to his estranged children inside. I went to the call on my own because we have so few officers available these days and double crewing is not allowed before a certain time. The marks in the window were deep. I didn’t know you could do that to glass. I don’t discuss these things at home

Feeling it all begin to slide.

Ruraltown is always cold and dark. The local economy has not declined during the recession because there never was a local economy. Physical disability, poor mental health and general despair are the default positions for people here. Everyone else is gone, including me.

The Russians are here in large numbers. UKBA sometimes raid their maisonettes on The Swamp, but they abscond and return later, with strange haircuts and a new set of fake papers.

The town centre is a one-way concrete wasteland too terrible to describe. Even my Satnav cannot cope.

Ruraltown is where the people of Ruralshire go to die prematurely.

People travel miles to jump from our multi-storey carpark. The multi-storey is attached to our ‘great shopping experience for all the family’, known as the ‘Reservation’, due to the danger faced by anyone who goes there after about 3.00 pm.

‘The Rez’ is now mainly burger bars, betting shops, charity stores, and in the current climate the particularly inappropriately named ‘Payday loan’ companies.

If you have a dozen screaming kids, tattoos on your face and neck, a slot machine addiction and you love undercooked frozen chips and microwaved pizza, come to Ruraltown.

Last night alone, 60% of all the emergency calls we received on F Division (which includes Ruraltown) were nothing to do with crime.

Attempted suicides, successful suicides, ‘concern’ calls, child neglect issues which turn out to be tit-for-tat revenge missions by discarded former booze and sex-partners, madness and drug-induced public acts of psychosis.  Car crashes both literally and metaphorically. Missing people, closed roads, people on railway tracks and hospital absconders. No crime at all.

This is our bread and butter in Ruraltown.

It is hard to be told that our mission is ‘nothing more or less’ than to cut crime.

Our customers are the public, usually via A&E, the ambulance service, probation officers and social workers all of whom they have exhausted before coming to us with a final desperate act of self-destruction or attention seeking.

We are the opposite to a commercial business. The people who use our services never pay; the whole undertaking is funded by people who live far away and who rarely need us. This is the real reason for the disconnect between the silent majority and the police. Most people don’t live in Ruraltown, or visit the Rez after 3.00 pm. People who do both those things have plenty police visibility, believe me!

I try to make it like an army of liberation instead of occupation, but we are always so undermined by the weak sentencing which destroys any effort put in by us and local people when offenders walk free with some meaningless (and never completed) so-called community sentence.

The wonderful, motivated, cheerful, tough and compassionate youngsters on my response team and in the beleaguered Neighbourhood policing unit spend every day and night of their working lives swimming against the tide of these foul circumstances. Trying to do some good and having it thrown back in their faces by Magistrates, Judges, senior police ‘performance managers’ and newspaper reporters. If we can save one decent person for ten minutes then the whole ten hours is worth it.

Policing is not what you do it’s what you are. That is all.

Police National Bravery Awards winner was saved by TASER

The 2012 Police National Bravery Awards winner was saved by TASER after being repeatedly stabbed by a mental health patient. This incident sums up British policing really.

The officer from Hampshire Police was deployed to assist social services ‘section’ a man under the mental health act.

On arriving at the scene PC Stypulkowski spotted the male and gave chase but became separated from his colleagues and found himself on a quiet and dark road.

Despite using spray and a baton to defend himself, PC Stypulkowski was pulled to the ground, his jacket was hauled over his head disabling his vision and he was repeatedly stabbed.

The assailant ran off when another officer arrived at the scene and both had to give chase. Pc Stypulkowski was forced to used the gas spray again when the man leapt out from a car, brandishing the weapon and shouting “I’m going to kill you”.

The other officer deployed his TASER and the man was arrested.

So here are our three favourite themes rolled in to one incident.

1. He was present to ‘section’ a person, so his stated mission to ‘cut crime, nothing more’ was clearly being breached.

2. His tin of pepper and aluminium stick were useless against a determined offender.

3. A successful TASER deployment saved his life.

PC Stypulkowski, who was presented with his award by Home Secretary Theresa May. There is no record of whether they discussed his increased pension contributions, his reduced pension benefits, his wages freeze or whether he has tattoos or A’Levels.

Gadget Note: An example of media anti-police bias – Colin Farmer 272 news articles on Google, PC Stypulkowski 21 news articles on Google

District Nurse attacked.

The other night, I drove like the wind to get to an assistance shout up at the twelve.

Response Officer Mickey “The Head” Thompson and his new crew-mate had gone to an assistance call from a district nurse who was having her head kicked in by three hoodies trying to steal the medication they think she carries. She doesn’t carry any drugs. She had grabbed one by the arm and was hanging on for dear life while the others repeatedly kicked and punched her.

Even on the Swamp this was regarded as ‘bang out of order, like’. A resident from Winnie Mandela block called crime stoppers who patched it through to the 999 system. ‘Not being funny, but is there a reward, like?’

Cue the involvement of Response Team Foxtrot, with by me, Sergeant Dan and whoever can scrape together a half decent argument when one of us is off, which is hardly ever. PC Thompson never uses his emergency button so all over the Division, when he did, a grand total of six officers (all that was left of a shift of 12) started to make progress towards playground number twelve.

This included me, on my own, in a big old German cell-van. I like this big van because people get out of the way, thinking it is an ambulance. People don’t move over for police vehicles on the Swamp.

When I arrived it was total mayhem. The team was all over the place, some on the floor, some fighting with people and some trying to nick the original offenders. We ended up with five in custody. Three from the original assault on the nurse and two for trying to prevent Thompson from making the arrests when he arrived. ‘Trying to prevent’ is actually a polite way of saying that they tried to kick the shit out of him and his crew-mate.

Amazingly enough, and to his eternal credit, the nurses practice manager arrived in his own car, right in the middle of it all, to rescue her and bring her down to the Nick. She must have put a call into him at some point. Not bad, considering they all had their NHS issue mobile phones taken off them recently to save money.

Back at Ruraltown Nick it was like a scene from Blackhawk Down. The offenders were kicking off, shouting, protesting their innocence and trying to violently attack the escorting police officers all the way to the cells. We did four ‘cell-exit procedures’ with no help what-so-ever from anyone else. It took the best part of an hour just to get it all sorted out with the custody sergeant.

When the final cell door slammed shut, we had a quick review of what had just gone on. The prisoners had spat, head butted and kicked their way through custody. They were still shouting from the cells, they hope our kids get cancer etc The nurse had a broken finger, a bruised jaw, a black eye and had lost all her personal possessions in the mele. Her phone, keys, purse and cash were gone, an opportunist theft by one of the foul-mouthed kids watching at the edges of the fight.

Her husband (how unfashionable) arrived at the Nick to see her. He was not a happy man. Wait until he sees the sentencing! Now we have to ‘process’ each one of the prisoners. Free solicitors, forensic samples, clothing, interviewing officers from CID, ID parades for the nurse. All this followed no doubt by endless tactical adjournments, five expert character assassinations of the nurse by the defence, grinning, inane mouth-breathing defendants waving at fat, useless, chain-smoking baby-mothers in the public gallery. And for what? Some kind of meaningless community sentence. Each prisoner has so much previous that we have lost count.

And the paperwork for a job like this will be massive. But we don’t have time to worry about these issues. It is now past 11.00 pm and thing are really kicking off in Ruraltown. We have to go. I speak briefly to Mr District Nurse. He went to school with Debbie Gadget’s brother. I apologise for all the crap his wife has been through tonight. Thanks for getting there so fast, he says. I shrug and mumble something about that being the least we can do.

Back out into the night. I have lost at least two of my team to the paperwork for that job. The custody sergeant will soon be asking me for some more officers to help with ‘constant supervision’ in custody. The prisoners, having failed to threaten their way out of custody, will soon start to complain of spurious chest pains, say they are going to kill themselves or just start banging their heads against the walls. It happens all the time.

PC Thompson looks like he has been hit by a bus but he thinks it was ‘a great job’ and promises to come back for more tomorrow night. His crew-mate is our dedicated Special Constable. We tell him that at least his mother thinks he is special. As for the nurse, I’ll get Debbie to give her a ring in a couple of days for a welfare check. Victim Support pulled out from our Nick months ago. Something about funding problems.

The Rich Girls Are Weeping.

I have that nervous feeling you get while trying to drive, read a map, listen to urgent updates coming over the radio and talk to Control on the hands-free. As usual I’m on my way to a serious drama. As a PC a small percentage of the calls I attended were real dramas. Now, all the calls I attend are real dramas.

This is because there is only one uniformed Duty Inspector at a time in F Division, and we are expected to attend the serious incidents personally. F Division is so huge that there is more or less always a serious drama for me to rush to.

Dealing with the incidents does not present me with a problem. I have spent my entire career in response or specialist uniformed front-line policing of one kind or another.

One of my correspondents summed it up nicely once by saying it is like going to watch the same play each night, only with different actors.

This one is a double fatal road crash on some fast road in the North of F Division. Four more are seriously injured.
I’m using the map to see how to avoid the road closures the response teams have already put in. The Controller; he is phoning me every ten seconds with information I already know, easing the conscience of a man who can only stand by in horror by transferring the tension to someone else.

This is the worst kind of drama for us. It’s the kind where we have arrived before the other emergency services, specifically, before the paramedics. The officers from the response team are trying to save lives and calm the shattered pleas from relatives who were in the car behind and saw it all.

This has taken place outside a private school for girls. The daughters of the privileged have just returned from the ski slopes of Europe.

The snow is not as good this year in Villars-Gryon.

And now life will never be as good again because you shouldn’t see what they have just seen, and are still seeing, at 15 years of age. Or at any age.

My people work fast without speaking. They eye their Sergeant as he sweats under his armour. He nods at a car, points at a victim, puts a finger to his lips indicating a distressed witness and all the time on the radio closing roads, eyes tightly shut as he accesses his mental map of the area. They know what he means by every gesture and they respond.

I arrive. It’s my old section. I was their Sergeant once. I’m there to keep a broader perspective and to think strategically about what the Division need to do next. This lasts for as long as it takes me to see the first body.

Everyone is here now. Like some bizarre, colourful ritual; fire and rescue personnel, paramedics, an air-ambulance. The huge rumbling dual carriageway is a silent, deep red stained strip of concrete. I stand and catch my breath.

And behind me, the rich girls are weeping.

Feeling it all begin to slide.

Ruraltown is always cold and dark. The local economy has not declined during the recession because there never was a local economy. Physical disability, poor mental health and general despair are the default positions for people here. Everyone else is gone, including me.

The Russians are here in large numbers. UKBA sometimes raid their maisonettes on The Swamp, but they abscond and return later, with strange haircuts and a new set of fake papers.

The town centre is a one-way concrete wasteland too terrible to describe. Even my Satnav cannot cope.

Ruraltown is where the people of Ruralshire go to die prematurely.

People travel miles to jump from our multi-storey carpark. The multi-storey is attached to our ‘great shopping experience for all the family’, known as the ‘Reservation’, due to the danger faced by anyone who goes there after about 3.00 pm.

‘The Rez’ is now mainly burger bars, betting shops, charity stores, and in the current climate the particularly inappropriately named ‘Payday loan’ companies.

If you have a dozen screaming kids, tattoos on your face and neck, a slot machine addiction and you love undercooked frozen chips and microwaved pizza, come to Ruraltown.

Last night alone, 60% of all the emergency calls we received on F Division (which includes Ruraltown) were nothing to do with crime.

Attempted suicides, successful suicides, ‘concern’ calls, child neglect issues which turn out to be tit-for-tat revenge missions by discarded former booze and sex-partners, madness and drug-induced public acts of psychosis.  Car crashes both literally and metaphorically. Missing people, closed roads, people on railway tracks and hospital absconders. No crime at all.

This is our bread and butter in Ruraltown.

It is hard to be told that our mission is ‘nothing more or less’ than to cut crime.

Our customers are the public, usually via A&E, the ambulance service, probation officers and social workers all of whom they have exhausted before coming to us with a final desperate act of self-destruction or attention seeking.

We are the opposite to a commercial business. The people who use our services never pay; the whole undertaking is funded by people who live far away and who rarely need us. This is the real reason for the disconnect between the silent majority and the police. Most people don’t live in Ruraltown, or visit the Rez after 3.00 pm. People who do both those things have plenty police visibility, believe me!

I try to make it like an army of liberation instead of occupation, but we are always so undermined by the weak sentencing which destroys any effort put in by us and local people when offenders walk free with some meaningless (and never completed) so-called community sentence.

The wonderful, motivated, cheerful, tough and compassionate youngsters on my response team and in the beleaguered Neighbourhood policing unit spend every day and night of their working lives swimming against the tide of these foul circumstances. Trying to do some good and having it thrown back in their faces by Magistrates, Judges, senior police ‘performance managers’ and newspaper reporters. If we can save one decent person for ten minutes then the whole ten hours is worth it.

I was recently offered a post back on the Tactical Aid Unit running from FHQ. I turned it down. I’m staying here. My people need me and I need them. Citizens may come here to die but I would be finished if I ever left.

Policing is not what you do it’s what you are. That is all.

Gadget Note: Thanks to Response Team B, F Division, Ruralshire Constabulary and RT Div, Ruralshire Ambulance Service for the last set of night shifts.