Sunday, 27 October 2013

Trust: My list of ridiculous experiences.

14:37:00 Posted by Shaun Brookes , , , , , , 3 comments

As Plebgate rolls on and on, for 'lists' week I thought I'd share my most memorable encounters with the police. 

I will start by saying that, on the whole, I like to think I could trust the police. Most coppers I have met genuinely want to be a force for good, strive for an excellent service and, rather a lot like soldiers, are tarred by one or two knobheads that decide torture and power are perks of the job. This is ultimately headlined, written in large on the Daily Mail and made as fact. I like to think I could trust 99% of them, but in making this list, perhaps that number is just wildly optimistic. 

1. Represent: The story starts well as I'm picked to represent the school at a Police challenge event. I study the history of the police and have to compete in physical and problem solving challenges. I make the regional final.  

2. Persecution 101- The Sobriety Test: After umpteen occasions on which I'm stopped simply for driving under the age of twenty five, I take the boys from the uni halls to the supermarket. Picture five lads and five sets of shopping in a Toyota Corrolla. I'm stopped as I leave a roundabout because "my warden wasn't wearing his seatbelt". Not only did their angle of approach coupled with the volume of bags in the boot mean it was impossible to see his seat anyway, the bloke had only been in a smash six months earlier and would make the Queen look a carefree passenger. I blew a zero and ended up having to tiptoe over some tiles and tilt my head skywards, balance in some sort of karate kid one legged pose and touch my nose, very slowly. I was not impressed.

3. The Fab 4: I was out in the town, drunk as a skunk and find myself walking around the outside of the town hall trying to speak to the girl that was with us. She was in tears and determined to walk home, I was trying to convince her to take some taxi money. This may have looked like a situation, I'll give them that but as she went past them and then I followed, calling after her, they decided the best method of stopping me to find out what was going on wasn't to just stop me and ask but to hoist me from the pavement by my brand new shirt, ripping it in the process and bundling me into a van. Five minutes later, after they've checked out my story and decided I've done nothing wrong, I'm free to go. I decide this was out of order and want their numbers to put in a complaint. "Just make it out to the Fab 4- we'll get it" was the answer to my request. If I had ever wanted to punch a smarmy policeman it was then. 

4. Batons out: My 21st. My best friend has arrived late, coming in from out of town. We have a swift pint and head into town. There, at the cash machine facing a taxi, two lads decide to give him a bit of grief. He uses the machine and then ten or so of us, him on the right, set off towards the nearest pub. From the side he gets cracked by one of these blokes and as he turns he manages to shift his weight and roll the onrushing accomplice over his shoulder. Taking a dim view, he goes over to this idiot and gets him by the scruff of the neck. He is intercepted by a bunch of about eight coppers who delight in leading him off. The batons are out to threaten our group and quell the disturbance but we're a tad wound up by all of this. Why was the smallest, quietest girl squared up to by a cop with a stick, I don't know. My friend spent the night in the cells because despite reviewing the CCTV evidence and concluding he had been attacked and done nothing wrong, he had admitted to having a beer. He left the breakfast and it cost him £80. 

5. Pissing in the wind: Take the train was the advice given to Blackpool fans travelling to the derby. There is a special pub set out for you and we'll walk you in... So we did. The 10.30 train pulled in and we are escorted in convoy to the pub- which was already full and not taking anyone in. Had we been told this, we'd probably all have used the loo at the station but, we're instead penned into a holding area for an hour before being walked the long way round to the ground. Fans too desperate to hold it longer than the two hours since their drink began to break off from the snake of people to go against some badly maintained hedges- only to be spun by the shoulders back into the moving fans mid flow. Taking the pee? They got us there late, too!

6. These are dogs, these: Again, the police at football make the list. Not much detail needed, other than the image of two backstreets, filled with people trying to leave a stadium being told by mounted napoleons to do this and that. Keeping things calm were the dogs, the two or three open backed vans of dogs baying to be let at the crowd. Just not called for- we were waiting patiently to go home and it was them making all the commotion as children started to cry. 

7.  Love in an Elevator: Generic, thirty quid midweek hotel room. We've been out on the lash and acquired a nurses outfit. I'm wearing said costume for a laugh when my friend decides to unzip it down the front, leaving me dangling out as the lift door opens. I go out to the car park, have a ciggy and get a change of clothes from the car. As I get back to the room, my friends reveal the place has just been turned over- by a drug squad! Happily, they fluffed the pillows marvellously and we slept like drunken babies, even if it was completely ridiculous. 

8.  Can't see you in court: That age old phrase, I'll see you in court should have been applicable here. I get pulled for doing 40 in a 30, a fair cop. I pull over, get out of the car and go to talk to the officer. He gives me a document to present my insurance, licence and MOT at a station within seven days. I have these documents on hand, having recently taxed the car and so get them from the glove box and he checks them out. Imagine my surprise when a whopping summons arrives accusing me of having no licence, MOT, tax or insurance. He added that I wasn't wearing my seatbelt, which I'm beginning to suspect is a standard move. I can't pay the fixed penalty because of these other, serious charges and am fined the best part of 2 grand. I contest it, producing my documents for a second time and the charges are wiped off- all except the seatbelt charge- which a lawyer advised was my word against his and not worth the fight for £40. I should have called him on it but the liar wasn't there and I didn't fancy going back.  

9.  Nothing much we can do: My girlfriend's car is attacked by a drug addled woman, trying to steal it. She knackers the lock and gives up. A woman fitting the exact description is found in the bathroom of a hotel down the road, having broken in there instead. We're told there is nothing more they can do, despite us knowing they have her in custody. A friend fixed the lock, which saved her the costly repair bill but, what is their actual job if it isn't solving and resolving crimes?

10. The TV News: I don't have a number ten. I have lots of possibles, I see the police out and about almost every day and I know that in the most part they are doing a fine job. I do though, watch the news and so things like plebgate, horses stamping on stewards, corrupt chiefs, institutional racism and mob-handed brutality in crowds come to mind, however reflective they may be overall. 

To conclude, I'd say the police are a bit like a lock. You know that they work in principle but you don't just get the pound one and expect it to be the best. If someone is around, I'm sure the lock will do fine but if left to its own devices, it may not perform exactly as intended. I'm sure there are thousands of hugely helpful officers out there, all doing their best. I'm positive there will also be some having off-days, who have been pushed just once too many times and have had enough. Do I trust the police then? So long as I'm not on my own. 

Thanks for reading, 


Madeline Moore said...

A fair post, I'd say. It sounds like your crime was primarily being young!

Our local police force chose to ignore Mayor Ford (who just announced he'll be running for a second term, proving he's a deluded crackhead, in my books. His campaign slogan? 'Ford More Years.' Catchy, no?)when he told them to take down OcTor (Occupy Toronto)and bust a few heads in the process. OcTor dismantled quietly and no heads were broken.

I rode with the police in Edmonton, Alberta, as part of my research for creating a series of educational dramas called "Police in Crisis." Although nothing huge went down (we were at one time surrounded by drunks in a park and my officer's phone died, but the drunks wisely chose not to take the initiative)it was an eye-opener.

Theirs is not an easy job. Some go bad, no doubt about it, but most of our "boys in blue" do us proud.

And then there are the Mounties . . . sigh . . .

Colin Davies said...

I was once arrest for doing bad Billy Cosby inpressions after 11pm. They said it was 'drunk and disorderly' but I knew, oh yeah I knew.

Nice post.

Ashley R Lister said...

I'm a huge supporter of the Police. Message in a Bottle remains one of my all time favourite tracks.

Great post,