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.