Friday, 13 March 2009

PC Tales #1 a.k.a What I used to do

Once upon a time – I used to pound the beat. Well – drive round in a panda. Which looked nothing like a panda. Just think standard white saloon car with some extra lights, q two tone siren, stripes, and a boot full of rubbish. Often,quite literally rubbish, as many Sunday mornings spent ‘doing the vehicles’. I got quite intimate with the crap that some folk keep in their vehicles – but that’s another story.

My job consisted of shiftwork, and parading on at a police station, getting my gear, pens and forms ready, having the briefest of briefings with the shift Sergeant, and then going out on patrol. This meant being given a ‘mobile’ or ‘car’ beat, and driving round – eyes peeled for criminals driving, and suspicious characters, and waiting for the inevitable call over the radio to go to a ‘job’. This also meant immense freedom – to go where I wanted – to ‘self generate’ some work – very often this meant stopping drivers for traffic offences, going after drink drivers, and arresting people on outstanding warrants.

And before the backlash starts of ‘going after innocent tax-paying motorists… raising money for the Treasury… getting paid for results’ – it wasn’t like that. For one, we didn’t and still don’t get paid for issuing tickets and making arrests – it wouldn’t work – and I and many others wouldn’t do it anyway. No – I used to look out for the untaxed, uninsured, ‘sheds’ – the ‘pool cars’ of the local criminal/underclass – which were inevitably old, grubby and poorly maintained cars, driven and often carrying, people who were well accustomed to ‘helping the police with their enquiries’. These self-same people were also the local ‘lead miners’, shoplifters, flagstone thieves, drug users, burglars and low-level dealers.

Very often they were disqualified – on occasions, they had forgotten whether they were between, or in the middle of a driving ban – and not unusually, were sometimes stopped and found to be wanted for some offence, or ‘FTA’ (On warrant for failing to appear at Court).
Doing this also meant that I met, mixed with and were known to the local crims – they knew I could be ‘trusted’ and I knew where they lived, who they hung about with, what was happening on an ‘unofficial’ level – which meant that when I did have to turn up in the heat of the moment – the look of recognition often defused a situation, rather than aggravated it.
Pounding the beat meant getting to know it, inside and out. It also meant that ‘putting the word out’ that I was after someone meant that news of their whereabouts might sometimes filter back to me – or else a surrender at the front desk with a solicitor could be negotiated – after all – it’s still an arrest.

But this was also back when central government was way less concerned with figures – the local HQ was less driven by detections, and an awful lot of what used to do was ‘have a word with someone’ – and try as you might – you can’t easily count or quantify that. There was no measure of how well I knew my patch – or what the value of hearing ‘Oh – it’s PC Custerd – he’s alright – for a copper…’

Add to this working with less teams, squads and units – a much larger shift, a good spread of experience, and less crap to deal with – it was certainly a better job then.

At which point I go all misty eyed…


  1. Fuck off, copper

  2. Perhaps anonymous @ 23:59 was one of your cusomers back then?

  3. Sounds like what my dad was up to 15 and more years ago.
    Of course getting too close to the criminals might make more opportunities for corruption, but careful personel management and selection could help in that regard, as well as decent pay.

  4. I also see through misty eyes. Discretion in how to do my daily duties and the knowledge that by and large, the toerags got their comeuppance.

    Oh God, beam me back twenty plus years.

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  6. Perhaps Anon 14 March 23.59 would benefit from the good old days and recieve a timely justice session with the local Beat Bobby!! T**T!!