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Monday, March 27, 2006

 

Repeat offender

It never ceases to astound me when certain drivers completely ignore the parking rules, despite getting repeatedly caught doing so. Like today, I booked a green Renault without a badge, permit or whatever in a residents bay. Being possessed of a reasonable memory for this sort of thing, I backtracked through my note book to the previous week. Sure enough, there he was, booked less than a hundred yards away on my last sojourn along this beat. A further backtrack to two weeks before showed him up yet again.

Once upon a time I would have thought “Doesn’t this idiot learn?” Nowadays I just shrug my shoulders and book ‘em. Sooner or later the message gets home. At lunchtime in the mess, I raised the subject with a couple of my regular oppo’s and after a quick check we all found we’d booked the same car twice, or even three times each in the last month. Now that’s a lot of parking tickets. Further comparisons with some of the other guys revealed a similar pattern. It worked out that this one vehicle had been caught breaking the parking rules almost once a day for the past four weeks.

I don’t get it. This guy has been booked in the same street, the same parking space even, and doesn’t seem to have cottoned on that he needs a residents permit, despite the fact that the whole bloody area is plastered with “2 hours Limited Waiting – No return for 4 Hours or Residents permits only” limited waiting signs. The residents with permits have been bitching about ‘outsiders’ nicking their parking spaces to Management, who in their turn give us grief about covering these streets with extra patrols, even when we have more traffic critical areas to take care of. No one in the street knows who owns the car, just that it turns up most mornings. Daft sod.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

 

You know what your problem is Bill….

I got told this today by one of the other guys after I let a driver off because he was seeing his sick mother (I saw the ambulance, waved it in and saw the blood on the floor – this was no trivial matter). I related the story at afternoon tea break to a couple of the other guys.
“I’d have booked him.” Said one of them.
“You would.” I responded.
“You know what Bill? You’re a fucking Boy Scout, that’s your problem.” He jibed.
“Fuck off.” I responded in kind. I don’t swear much, but sometimes profanity is essential. “Pull that shit on my beat and we’ll deal with it off duty.” I told him. He shut up. When Mister Sticker gets defensive, the gloves come off with the rest of the Uniform, if you catch my drift.

Thinking about it, maybe I lack the offensive ruthlessness that seems to come so easily to others in this job. Sometimes the general dyslexic manages to pull the wool over my eyes and notwithstanding I’m a sucker for lost children, kittens and puppies etcetera. I want to do my job for the right reasons, that’s why I’m not up there with the ‘Top hitters’, nor will I ever be. If someone is honest with me – okay, I’ll cut them some slack – why not? Who will it hurt?

Because I think that you get better response from the general public if you dress smartly and wash regularly – that’s what I do. My kit is kept clean, but not obsessively so. I stand up straight and when addressed by someone, pay attention to what they are saying (Just in case I need to write it down later) and look them in the eyes out of sheer politeness. Not mutter “’snot my job.” Or “Dunno.” And shamble off like some neo-neanderthal moron. If I can help when someone is in genuine difficulties – then that’s what I’ll do. If someone is taking the piss then I’ll book them – it’s what I do. I like to think that whatever I do, I do to the best of my often suspect ability. No matter what anybody else thinks.

Maybe the guy is right – I am a Boy Scout at heart. I’ll take a little pride in that then.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

 

And you are…..?

Warning. Rant factor 6. Cue special effects and heavy duty corset on leading man.

There are certain people who really make me want to punch their lights out. The busy bodies who can’t bear to see someone nicked for parking wrongly. They interfere and then have a go at you for being an enforcing officer. I’m sure it has something Freudian to do with authority figures.

Take today. I’m working my way down a line of parked cars in a limited waiting zone, making sure everyone is not getting greedy and taking more time than they should. As is usual, one flags up as ‘Over time’ and I do a double check in my note book against previous observations. Okay, chummy is a good half hour over and due to get spanked. I begin the booking process when a youngish woman shoves her face in front of me. “What are you doing?” I didn’t say she was clever or pretty now did I?
“Excuse me?” I respond. I’m a uniformed Parking Enforcer stupid, and I’m booking this vehicle. Goes the internal response. Keeping my teeth clamped firmly together I carry on punching in details.
“You can’t book that car.” She responds, as if she is someone who can pull rank over me. Not even the fucking Mayor can tell me to stop me doing my job, bozo.
“I’ll go and get the driver, stop what you’re doing.”
“No.” I reply, wondering who this person thinks she is.
“I’m their Social Worker, and there’s no need to be rude.” She answers my unspoken question. My spirits sink. A real live go-gettem-floyd holy rolling social worker on a crusade for her ‘client’. Oh my God!

Sure enough, she gets the driver to the vehicle within sixty seconds (Before I can finish booking) and he drives away. She flounces off, obviously feeling very self righteous (I kid you not – she must have had lessons in how to flounce – she did it very well). Me, I just shrugged and carried on, secure in the knowledge that the driver would get caught next time. Maybe not by me, but he will be caught when his personal state-paid-for guardian angel isn’t around to keep him out of trouble.

We get them all in the end. Irony, don’t you just love it? Rather like jokes of this nature.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

 

Review time again….Oh bugger

Got called in to the orifice today for my review meeting. Expected verdict; Yep, you know what you’re doing, more or less, now off you trot and keep up the good (ish) work. Mind you, Management never use one word where half a dozen ‘Manage-speak’ phrases will do.

Actual verdict; ‘Not a team player’ was the first mildly critical remark on my report. Say what? Hold hard a cotton picking minute; I don’t work in a team most of the time. I cover the beat allocated to me and hunt down people who break the parking laws. I don’t generally see my oppo’s from one days end to the next, so how can we work as a team apart from performing our individual functions as best we can? Bloody hell. As for the rest, my averages are okay so no problem. Low cancellation rate which means the office doesn’t have to spend time firing off letters in response to lots of ‘challenges’. That keeps them happy. Supervisors generally leave me alone because I get out and get on with things. I’m not one of the ‘big hitters’ so I don’t have to worry about dropping out of the ‘top five’. So where’s the problem?

“Right.” Said I “This means I can get back out there and get on with it?” No? Huh? What in the name of Beelzebub’s right buttock are they on about? My attitude? What’s wrong with being even handed, businesslike and efficient (ish). No, said Management, your attitude towards your colleagues is poor. According to them I am being criticised for not being a plaster saint and kissing the arses of each and every one of my workmates.

The story goes that I’ve said a few things about other people while in the mess room that they didn’t like and someone has gone crying to Management about it. Little Johnny has had his cage rattled and gone telling tales about that nasty Mr Sticker. I just sat there, jaw clamped firmly shut in case I let some very ugly cats out of some very noisome bags. In the end I put my hands up to all the charges (Because Management only believe the complainant, not the object of the complaint, and Bill Sticker is not well liked in certain circles.) and took my bollocking like a man. The complainant is well known as a brown nosed little slime ball and has been dropped off my Christmas card list. Mind you, I did have the cojones to say what I said to his face and not sniping behind his back, even if the little tattle tale did it to me. Sod it. I don’t have to like someone to work with them. They can all go boil their heads.

At the end of today, one of my oppo’s noticed my dark expression as I entered the mess and asked what was up. “Bad review.” I told them.
“You? You’re joking.”
“No. According to them I’ve got a bad attitude and I’m not a ‘team‘ player.”
“Bloody hell. Who told them that?”
“Guess.” Was my terse response. Everyone knew who I meant.
“Nasty little twat! What did he do that for?” “I told him what I thought about him.”
“No, Bill. It ain’t that – his averages are dropping and he’s trying to cover it up.” Another of the older guys chimed in.
“That doesn’t help me much though, does it?” I replied. “It’s almost as if they want me to leave.”
“Me too.” Said someone else.
“Have you had the instant coat peg treatment as well?” I asked.
“He stabbed me right in the back too. Same thing more or less.”
“He’s a right wanker.”
“Yeah Bill, we all know you’re a sarcastic sod, but you make most of us laugh, and you don’t knife anyone in the back.” My, my. That’s as high a compliment as I’ve ever had.

It turns out that out of six people in the mess room at that point, three had been ‘denounced’ to Management for similar reasons by the very same person, thus damaging our chances for promotion / pay rises. Methinks said person will find a certain English Midlands city a very cold and lonely place in the very near future. I know this sounds harsh, but if it’s the only weapon you’ve got and the grievance procedures have broken down, that’s what you have to do. Failing that, the rest of the ‘team’ suffers.

This South Park style self portrait was created using this cute little game.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

 

Water fuss over a gutter

I went to visit my Mother today for one of our periodic family meetings. All three of us boys sat in Mums kitchen while we discussed the news and took care of some family business, signed some papers, talked about tax, that sort of thing.

One item we all had a good laugh about was the Diana Princess of Wales memorial fountain in Hyde Park coming under fire for being poorly managed. It keeps on getting shut down, people keep falling over in it, and it has proved more expensive than envisaged, running £2.2 Million over budget, and that’s just to 2004.

My mother summed up our feelings when she read the following quote from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; “The memorial is extremely popular. It is a fitting tribute to the Princess of Wales.” Dear Mama arched a patrician like eyebrow and said; “It’s shallow and rather reminiscent of a gutter. How very appropriate.” When I pointed out the note about a new ‘Management Team’ being in place to look after the Memorial she remarked; “William, if they’d wanted to Manage concrete ditches they would be better off working for your council as Street Cleaners.”

I nearly spray painted her kitchen wall with tea when she said it. Well, you had to be there.

Now you know where my sense of humour comes from.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

 

When I were a lad…..

I’m just popping my head up over the top of my word processor for a few minutes to make comment on the current political shenanigans. If anyone out there remembers the comic genius of the late Kenny Everett when he was doing the Kenny Everett Television show; I recall a sketch he did, I think it was around the 1983 election; where he portrayed a new political party which went by the acronym B.A.C.K.H.A.N.D.E.R. Their ‘Manifesto’ was actually called a ‘price list’ and their motto something to do with ‘keeping dishonesty honest.’ I only ever saw that sketch once, but it stuck.

Dear cuddly Ken was ahead of his time – or are certain members of the current administration just cribbing from his shows? If so, when do we get to see certain cabinet member doing impersonations (However inadvertently) of some of Kenny’s more popular comic characters? On second thoughts let’s not go there. I just had a nightmare vision of Charles Clarke doing Cupid Stunt.

What I’m driving at is this; if rich people really have been purchasing peerages, I wonder how much an OBE is? I’ve got a piggy bank that’s just about full.

Incidentally; Mrs Sticker has pointed out as only she can, “How can a Political Party pay back ‘loans’ – it’s not as if they make any money in the first place.” Hmm. Answers in a plain brown envelope please (Used tenners only, thank you).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

 

Watch this space

I’m doing a bit of writing for money over the next few days as a publisher ‘in real life’ has shown an interest in some of my work. Last time I spent fifty plus working hours slaving over a short story it got published, but I have not been paid for it as promised. One is rather peeved about this, and the company responsible is getting a final letter from me this week asking (Yet again!) to be paid before I put the matter through Small Claims Court. They will not be offered any more of my output. Doing stuff for their market is like paying t’ mill owner for permission to come to work.

Fortunately another publisher of short stories has figuratively ‘knocked on the door’ and will be getting two of my longer (and much better) short stories to peruse.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

 

There’s people and then there’s people

In my game you do as much as you think your conscience can stand. You play by the rules as set down and do what you feel comfortable with. This does not mean you back away from a confrontation. Any of our lot knows that Bill Sticker is a veteran who takes no nonsense when occasion demands and never backs down. On the other hand, I’m not one of those who will bend our guidelines just to get another notch on the tally post.

I witnessed just such an occasion today. One of the newer guys was booking a driver he’d caught on double yellows, the driver was there arguing the toss within the ‘waiting time’ we allow to ensure no loading is taking place. He kept the driver talking while he printed out the ticket and handed it over.

Most of us allow the five minutes regardless on double and single yellows, just to ensure the ticket ‘sticks’. Now between you, me and the bedpost; I tend to tell driver “You moving? Go on then. You’ve got thirty seconds before I finish writing this ticket.” At which they generally push off very rapidly. If they don’t then I’m back and ready to book them for taking the mickey. They will have committed the cardinal sin ‘Thou shalt not take the piss out of the enforcing officer’. There is only one penalty.

What my erstwhile colleague was doing was, at least to me, rather underhand and mean. To wit; keeping the driver talking while the ‘clock is ticking’ and issuing before the due time. Many of us frown on such behaviour, considering that it brings our job into even more disrepute than it already is in. What he what he was doing was conning the motorist into believing that he was booked when there was nothing on the windscreen or in his hand.

Right, here’s the full SP, the griff, noduff. Unless you are in a camera controlled zone (Which will be marked with notices), the Enforcing Officer will have to have either handed you the ticket or placed it on the windscreen for that ticket to be valid. If you drive away before the ticket is legally issued and placed in your hand or on your windscreen, it is not valid. This may not apply in London, as they tend to operate under a different set of rules down there.

Please bear in mind that running over an Enforcement Officer to avoid getting a ticket will certainly land you in so much hot water you’ll think you’ve been reincarnated as a Lobster. Far more than if you just put your hands up and paid up promptly. Once a ticket is paid, then there is no other comeback. Run over a Parking Enforcer and the full weight of the law will drop on you. However, if he / she hasn’t printed the ticket, just get in your car and drive away. Don’t stop and argue, just go. There will be no comeback. A ticket is a legal document that must be ‘served’ properly or it is not valid.

Most of the guys don’t even let it get that far. If someone drives away, that’s it. We’ve got families and kids who want Husband, Wife, Dad or Mum to come home in one piece at the end of a long shift and your neck isn’t worth it for a lousy parking ticket. Most of us are human. It’s just the odd two or three ticket hounds who make us look worse than we actually are. We despise them as much as you do.

Friday, March 10, 2006

 

Conditioned reflexes

“How’d you sleep at night?” Is a question I’ve often been asked by transgressing motorists. To be quite honest I tend to look at such a phrase as a guilty neo-Pavlovian response to getting caught. “Have you got nothing better to do?” is another phrase that pops out when the prefrontally challenged get caught in flagrante delicto. Er, excuse me? I’m a Parking Enforcement Officer – that’s a restriction, pal. As my youngest would say – Duh.

It’s a curious way of looking at matters when you come to think of it – almost as if the Enforcing Officer is responsible for them committing the transgression in the first place. I’m sure someone better schooled in psychology than I could break it down into a recognisable staged process of response. There’s probably a PhD in there somewhere for someone if they can do it properly. Any old road up - here is my poor attempt.

First phase; Anger / Guilt reaction 1 - Denial “I haven’t got a ticket have I?”
Second phase; Anger / Guilt reaction 2 – Transference “It’s all your fault!”
Third phase; Anger / Guilt reaction 3 – Reciprocity “I’m going to complain.” About the Enforcing Officer, about the Ticket as issued, about the markings, about why they can’t do what the fuck they like anywhere, anytime and sod everybody else.

The above three phases do not include the various Anger / Threat responses as these vary depending upon the Enforcers level of ability to deal with the Anger / Guilt reaction. As I have never taken a psychology course in my life – I’m only guessing. More enlightened views are solicited.

For my own part I’m usually away on my tootsies long before phase 2 has blown itself out. I learned in my first three months of this job that you find the offence, book and move on. That’s my neo-Pavlovian conditioned reflex to real or implied threats.

You try to be fair, but sometimes. Well, just about every day unfortunately. Regrettably four or five times a day I have this form of mini confrontation. You’d think people would learn. Or is that just me having too forgiving a view of human nature?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

 

Health and Safety suggestion

This little article tickled me; where North Wales Police filmed a 22 year old woman driving along the road doing her eye liner. Yes, she was rightly caught and fined for driving without due care and attention. Yet let not the first of us without sin cast the first stone. We all do dumb things from time to time.

To be honest I wasn’t surprised to see the article. People do stupid things every day and live to tell the tale. Trouble is, they kill others in the process. Pedestrians, Cyclists, Motorcyclists and anything else in a fifty metre radius. A motor car to me, much as I admire the styling and engineering, is in some hands no more than a tin box with a wheel at each corner and a faulty nut behind the steering wheel.

Tom Reynolds I know, is going to hate this proposal but here goes; my proposal is this; remove the compulsion for wearing seat belts in the drivers seat of motor cars. Remove airbags and all the other complacency inducing ‘safety’ devices. Replace with a large and very sharp spike in the centre of the steering wheel. Make compulsory organ donor cards part of the British Drivers licence. You die in a collision (As I have posited so many times in the past, there is no such thing as an ‘accident’) you get broken down for spares to fix all the other poor buggers who get hurt by your foolishness.

If nothing else the threat of causing their own demise might encourage people to be a bit more careful. Maybe they would learn to drive more defensively if they were more likely to kill themselves than other people. On the other hand it probably wouldn’t. Stupidity brought on by complacency seems to be endemic in Britain at present. To reduce the amount of complacency, we need to stop passing laws to protect the stupid from the consequences of their own deeds. Harsh lessons have to be learned, if necessary, by death. Unpalatable as this might seem, perhaps such an approach might prove beneficial in the long term. To quote Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle ‘Think of it as Evolution in action’.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

 

I agree with what Kim and Tom say;

About the ever creeping plethora of mini legislation in both the UK and USA. Kim Du Toit makes the point that it is difficult for an individual to go two weeks, even in the USA, without committing a ‘crime’. In his piece ‘Flea bites’, referring to an excellent piece of that title by Tom Utley in the Daily Telegraph, he points out how easy it has become to transgress inadvertently.

As an enforcement officer, I can see his point. You have to keep the rules simple enough for people to understand (Although a woeful percentage can’t even understand the simple ‘don’t park here’ premise of Double Yellow lines), or everyone becomes a criminal. The rules must be clear, because not everyone is a lawyer or clever enough to plumb the smothering depths of legalese. The rules have to be simple enough to be understood by both the public and the Enforcement Officers; and few enough so that we can remember most of them. In short, laws have to be enforceable and reasonable – or the whole system implodes and collapses into totalitarianism under the weight of confusing verbiage. Like watching everyone, everywhere, in everything they do. I wonder when – oops, it’s already happening.

Update:
I just got a postal reply from my MP re the ‘Abolition of Parliament act’. Yes, he tells me he will be opposing it. Just to be sure I will be watching the list of names that emerge from the division lobbies. Votes supporting the offending bill or absences and abstentions will be noted. Not that I distrust politicians or anything you understand.
 

Losing it

One of the problems with the way my colleagues and I make a living is the stress factors involved. You’re always in a three way car crush of stressors.
Factor one; The General Dyslexic and day to day hassles of the job, threats, near assaults, and you aren’t allowed to fight back.
Factor two; Pressure to perform. Although we don’t have ‘targets’ in our locality, there is always the constant nagging competition between officers on the pretext that we are judged by how many tickets we issue. This pushes you to try and cover more streets more quickly and do a half arsed job, which some of the guys end up doing.
Factor three; Unsympathetic upper management. Junior Management is okay because they work cheek by jowl with us and see the problems we face close to. Upper Management appears to view us all as feckless idle scavengers (Well only one or two out of our number) and treats us accordingly. Our Union doesn’t seem to be much help either. Last time I raised an issue, the Union rep agreed with the Senior Manager. That’s the last time I trust that particular item of near humanity.

Considering the aforementioned, it’s no wonder that even the ‘big hitters’ cave in after a while. Let’s take one of our number; for the purpose of this entry I’ll call him Mike. Now Mike has been doing the job for a year and a half, but now his health has begun to suffer with foot complaints and a couple of other related ailments. His problem is that he was a real hell fire competitive type when he first started, determined to be numero uno booker, now it has backfired on him.

The problem is that a minority of the guys think that anything goes when it comes to getting the ticket on the windscreen. The more they actually issue the better. If they could find a penalty code for ‘having a particularly offensive air freshener on the dashboard’ then they would cheerfully slap one on the windscreen of the Mayor. Mike was one of these. The trouble is, he kept on taking more and more short cuts when booking that his cancellation rate (The number of tickets successfully challenged as a proportion of those issued, normally expressed as a percentage.) went through the roof, reaching, so I am reliably informed - just under forty percent – four out of every ten tickets he issued got cancelled. Senior Management called him in and gave him a serious ticking off, which had the effect of turning him from ‘Teachers pet’ into the ‘pupil most likely to be expelled’ in the course of one afternoon. He used to take great care in his uniform – now he’s one of the scruffiest items in the mess who does little but complain and bitch about anything and everything. His hand held breaks down twice a day at least, his printer keeps jamming. Now he’s been hauled over the coals for not booking enough – and his cancellation rate is still over thirty percent. He has lost it completely. He will probably be a rapidly fading memory in less than three months. Fired or retired as we say in this game.

Most of the rest of us are happy to try and be ‘Mr Average’ and take home a regular pay packet at the end of each month. However, I still feel a pang of sympathy for the silly sod. He managed to catch some devious bleeders who were always taking the mickey out of us with a near ingenious ‘Jungle Telegraph’ until Mike worked out how they were doing it and pounced on them. Unfortunately for him, his glory days are past. He stopped caring about doing the job properly. Just sad really.

Monday, March 06, 2006

 

Car spotting

One good thing about being a Parking Enforcer is if like me, you are a bit of a petrolhead; you get to drool over some seriously sexy machinery on the pretext that you’re thinking of booking it. Aston Martins, Bentley’s, BMW’s, Dodge’s, Ferrari’s and Rolls Royce’s cross our paths on a semi regular basis. The only problem is that the moment the owners clock you paying attention to their pride and joy, they tend to panic, run out and drive away or give you a right mouthful, so your viewing pleasure is somewhat curtailed.

However, this does not put me off looking, and I try to keep track of what’s up and coming via this web site. Nice concepts are the Ethanol burning Saab Aero X concept (Watch the official launch here) and the new fuel cell unit being touted by Honda as the future of motoring. Yes, I know that the concept is two years down the line from production but we shouldn’t dismiss fuel cells as opposed to more mainstream power units. As soon as the politicians find out how to tax it – bingo – the problem will be solved!

It’s interesting to see that in the USA they are already building networks of fuel stations for alternative fuel vehicles, and LPG is widely available over here. A cousin of mine reckons the money he spent on converting his Van fleet to LPG saves his business somewhere around 50% on the fuel bills and running costs, so every conversion pays for itself inside 9 months on the mileages he does. One of our lot runs his old Diesel on filtered chip shop oil, paying something around 40p per litre when all the costs are factored in, or so he tells us.

What this means is that, if through one reason or another, the oil tap in the Middle East suddenly dries up; the Western Nations will have enough oil of their own and still not have to give up individual transport like some the doomsayers would have you believe. Our mobile civilisation won’t be falling just yet. Well, at least not this month.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

 

Bad days down in the Smoke

Looks like we shall be losing a few voices from this corner of the blogosphere.

Bush Ranger (A Police blogger from Shepherds Bush) disappeared around 10 a.m. local time on Saturday (I was in the process of posting a comment when his blog just disappeared). World Weary Detective has stopped posting with the following quote;

“On Friday 3rd March 2006, the Management Board of the Metropolitan Police Service issued the following statement to all members of staff:

'Recently the organisation has become aware of a series of web-logs or blogs - where authors - claiming to be police officers - have offered their views on a number of issues in a highly personalised, often controversial manner.'

This statement is followed by 'guidance' on writing blogs. In summary, this states that although 'blogging' cannot be stopped, the 'impact of expressing views and opinions that are damaging to the organisation or bring the organisation into disrepute' must be considered. Disciplinary proceedings may be considered against posters of material that may be (among other things) defamatory, offensive or otherwise inappropriate.”


The hilarious ‘Brians Brief Encounters’ has been nobbled. Bow Street Runner is still posting for the moment, but it looks as though Management are having a hissy fit because the various posts from serving front line officers is painting them in a bad light. Judging from the lack of arrests at February's violent demonstrations due to decisions made at high level; maybe it’s time some of the Met’s management board needed silencing or sacking. They appear to have forgotten (If they ever understood) that great individuals build great organisations and not the other way around.

That said, some officers are simply electing to vote with their feet. See this article about UK officers being recruited to work in NZ and Australia.

Friday, March 03, 2006

 

Art for arts sake

A little bit of light relief;

Beat a traffic warden (or preferably Mark McGowan) with sticks

You can lick these (But I don’t recommend it) - Cheers Holger.

The Great London Traffic Warden massacre by Morcheeba – Listen to sample here

The Delicate Art of Parking (With movie trailer)

Parking lot as an Art exhibit
 

Teechur sez I mus’ write out one tousan’ times;

“I must not watch breakfast TV on my days off or any day. It is bad for me.”

It just annoys the living bejasus out of me. Smiley faux presenters and vociferous minority groups demanding that ‘something be done’ about their pet cause.

This morning a person who had been quite reasonably asked to leave a café when she had elected to breast feed her child was banging on how it was her ‘right’ to breast feed wherever and whenever she chose, sod everybody else. Well excuuuuse me! When I pay over the odds for a cup of java in a coffee shop or restaurant I object to parents bringing in their squalling, undisciplined life accessory and spoiling my enjoyment. I don’t enjoy the snivelling, squalling, occasionally vomiting proto humanity any more than I enjoy being in a crowded ‘theme’ pub with a bunch of blitzed out football fans in celebratory mood (Doing hilarious things like slobbering over / fighting with / showing usually covered body parts to total strangers). To be honest, I choose places where quiet conversation and good manners is the norm rather than the exception. Yes, and I do pay a premium for that privilege.

There are times and places for breast feeding, and in a café where other people are trying to quietly enjoy a coffee, light snack and read of the paper is not one of them. It’s pure bad manners. The management were quite right to ask her to leave. Silly slattern. She should organise her day around the babies feed times, like my Mother used to and like my wife used to.

The other annoying item was the Food Standards Agency saying that they were ‘looking’ at reducing the salt content of cheeses because people are eating too much salt and dying. Why bother? Let the silly brain dead fuckers gorge themselves and keel over. It may even stop them passing on their lack of intelligence to the next generation. In the greater scheme of things they will not be missed. Changing the recipe of a foodstuff that the at risk groups do not usually eat is not likely to have much effect on the death rate (Who said ‘Shame’?). What happened to ‘don’t eat that – you’ll get ill’ school of personal responsibility? Let them die.

I get pissed off that big government is continually being urged by vociferous minorities to pass legislation that only benefits a few, and is probably unenforceable anyway.

For all their faults, I think the French have the right idea. The very notion that government was going to change their gastronomic habits would have ports blockaded and burning barricades in double quick time. The French would not dream of banning La Chasse or altering the recipe for Camembert. Guillotines would be erected and politicians heads rolling in the Place de la Concord before that happened.

The British government should adopt an attitude more in common with the French towards these demands. For example; when Brussels comes out with another lame brain ‘directive’, the British immediately set up huge government departments to enforce it, while the French send the file to a tiny three person office somewhere off the Rue Lafayette where the gallic shrug has been polished to a finesse. The offending directive is then carefully put in file 13.

Perhaps we British should adopt a more American approach, where such laws can only be made and enforced in the county or state that they apply to. Sounds good to me.

Ooo, that was a nice rant. I feel so much better now. No more breakfast TV. I promise. Now I’m off for a quiet lie down in a darkened room.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

 

Police reporting; a suggestion of sorts

It being my days off, and being an avid reader of Police blogs, I see a common thread of complaint which no one seems to be doing anything serious about. Reports and evidence gathering. Every Police blog I read has a go, albeit laterally, about the amount of report writing and form filling in the average arresting officer has to do. This detracts from the amount of time that an officer can spend (I suppose this is so) doing what they became a Police Officer in the first place for. Will any Copper (Or anyone else) who reads my often scurrilous output have a sideways think about the following and tell me what merits such a scheme that I am about to overview might have?

Here goes; On patrol, once an offence has been detected and suspect arrested (Or not), the arresting officer has to fill out a paper incident report form. Once a suspect has been delivered to the custody suite for processing, the Custody Officer has to take suspect details (Description, fingerprints, DNA swab - whatever) and fill out a paper form with the prisoner details on. Just these two stages can generate a snowstorm of paper and be responsible for the deaths of many innocent trees. This is before the CPS gets involved. So why not cut down (or maybe out altogether) the paper?

In another life, I have had some little experience of mobile computing and what it is capable of. Notwithstanding; I currently use a hand held computer upon which I take down vehicle details and book them for infractions of the local parking laws. I can book a vehicle every ninety seconds if opportunity presents itself. That’s with at least four photographs per vehicle and a further fifteen points of evidence / observation. Now if a humble Parking Enforcer like me can do this after just over two years practice, think what a properly trained Police Officer could do with the right mobile computing solution. All that needs to be done is some serious critical path thinking about what a Police Officer needs in order to do their job and nail the malefactors like they are paid to. Improve the quality of evidence. Take verbatim statements from witnesses on the spot while memory is still fresh. Take photographs (Or short wmv movie files) of an RTA / crime scene (no chasing CCTV because the cameras weren’t pointed in the right direction / not correctly sited), then upload the whole file via GPRS to the main system while the suspect / casualty is still in transit. Custody sergeant adds to the file by adding a scanned palm print; idiot goes down the cells in double jig time. No duplication, no bits of paper to get lost, it all goes in the same file which can be linked / appended if necessary to an existing criminal / arrest record.

Stuff like the ‘James Bond Pen’ currently under evaluation in Dorset is useful, but still doesn’t form a part of a direct and streamlined ‘Offence to Court hearing’ law enforcement solution (And the Officers have to keep a check on handwritten notes). For a more streamlined solution, the hardware is currently available. Of course the software needs to be written, but it is do-able and not, as we used to say in my circles, 'rocket science'.

Of course there would be the legalities to perfect. What the courts would require as sufficient evidence for a conviction might be a legal moot point, but with photographs, sound recordings and a trained Police Officers observations, it might be worth a punt if it means more bullet-proof evidence collection and (Hopefully) less paper replication.

These are just my initial thoughts you understand (The rest can be had for a large Consultants fee). Of course it might just prove a far better law enforcement investment than chucking all that public money at a waste of money like, for example; ID cards. Anyone interested?
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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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