Monthly Archives: August 2010
Reading the above article, you will find it wasn’t just members of the public who once found the show compelling viewing. Many police officers also found enjoyment in a show that presented a factual vision of policing (for a change)… Another important factor was its ability to show the public that police officers are just normal people!
Personally I usually found the procedures were factual and processes were legally correct, at least in relation to the policing of London, (a fact often confirmed by my wife who is an ex Metropolitan Police Officer). What usually frustrated me about the show was; the danger of providing the viewing public with false expectations of actual police response to a problem or incident.
I’m aware lots of cops running around with loads of blue lights and sirens makes for better drama and viewing figures however, it was often unrealistic. I would like to think the Metropolitan Police are still able to respond in that manner, although in real terms I doubt it. I suspect what you saw on the TV was probably a bit of poetic licence, a picture that is simply a public pipe dream in a more provincial force.
Another factor which also frustrated me (confirmed again by the wife) was; the availability and proficiency of back office support functions to the officers. Ones that eased the administrative and bureaucratic burden on the patrolling police officer. Although this could also be thanks to the writers, given that siting for hours doing reports etc wouldn’t make for good TV viewing.
That said, my wife has always had the ability to make me jealous about the difference in procedures between London and Yorkshire. She would often explain (boast) with pride how; she could arrest someone, submit an Incident Report Book (IRB) and be back on the streets in no time at all. Never to see the case again, unless there was a not guilty plea and she was subsequently required to give evidence at court. Even then (thirty years ao) all the paperwork was handled by case preparation teams and court presentation officers.
How is it that this type of support structure is not a nation wide phenomenon today? Given the actual increase in police officer numbers (and an even greater increase in police staff) over the last thirty years, shouldn’t the public be seeing an impact on the streets? Shouldn’t response officers have been freed from archaic and bureaucratic procedures? With officer patrol time experiencing an all time low due the negative impact of paperwork and administration, is it any wonder that people are asking… Where are all the police officers?
Public expectations of the police are at an all time high (probably because of TV shows like The Bill) where as conversely, their actual levels of satisfaction are often totally opposite. This is a concern… It is a worry because, despite all the government and senior police officer manipulation of statistics, the public aren’t actually seeing what they are told they’re getting.
For several years now, the rank and file of the police service have tried to highlight the issues. Every time they do, they are either shot down in flames and accused of being idle and lazy by politicians and the media or, their leaders at ACPO produce self-serving reports of rhetoric and political spin with a view to negating those claims.
At the moment there are several public/private political and police forums examining the problems in British policing today. The new government has indicated finally a desire to actually do something about those problems, once and for all. To take action based upon public and police requirements, as opposed to political ones… That makes a refreshing change!
After the last episode of The Bill, Sun Hill police station will be closed down… Lets hope, whilst we’re awaiting promised reform, the same fate doesn’t befall any more of the real police stations across the country!
- What has The Bill taught us about policing? (bbc.co.uk)
- The Bill / Farewell The Bill, ITV1, 9pm and 10.35pm (mirror.co.uk)
- ‘Compelling’ finale for The Bill (mirror.co.uk)
Is the transport of human organs for transplant a valid reason for driving at 100+ mph or, is the company just trying to throw their drivers a lifeline to avoid prosecution?
With increased public sector outsourcing of tasks to the private sector comes legal difficulties. Much of the legislation previously designed to cover work, that was once exclusively undertaken by the Emergency Services, is becoming irrelevant. Legal definitions for vehicles such as ambulances are (in many ways) no longer valid.
This lack of legal definition is causing headaches both for Private Ambulance companies and the police. Many of those companies are actually genuine and do operate professionally however, there are also some cowboy operators. Not to mention those strange people who appear to get kicks out of pretending to be emergency services personnel. The following story has once again highlighted this issue…
It would appear the speeding charge in this particular case resulted from an automated camera system. I wonder if there might have been a different initial outcome if the alleged offence had been handled by a real life police officer, one who was exercising some common sense?
The Ambulance Pages state: ”Legislation in regard to the Ambulance spectrum in the UK, is probably the worst in any Country in the world. The legislation is so outdated as to be of little use in regard to the variety of duties performed by Ambulance Services in this day and age. Additionally it is so badly worded, that what little Legislation there is, can be, and often is, interpreted by Police, Crown Prosecutors and Magistrates in a totally different manner from one area of the country to another.”
An ambulance is defined in Schedule 2 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act (VERA) 1994 as a vehicle which: -
- a) is constructed or adapted for no purpose other than the carriage of sick, injured or disabled people to and from welfare centres or places where medical or dental treatment is given.
- b) Is readily identifiable as a vehicle used for the carriage of such people by being marked “Ambulance” on both sides.
Although this Act was updated in 1994, this definition is more or less exactly the same as it was some 55 years ago. This definition is where the DVLA and the DETR make their decision that “no purpose other than the carriage of sick injured or disabled people” indicates that it is illegal to carry out the transport of Human Organs for emergency transplants, etc, because such human tissue is not regarded as a sick, injured or disabled person.
The legislation defining an ‘ambulance’ is based more upon the revenue circumstances rather than the common sense and up to date reality. Now why doesn’t that surprise me?
Having said all that, the issue here is also about the original speeding ticket which raises the questions; (1) was there really a need to travel at those speeds in the first place? (2) Isn’t this another example of a need for human (police) as opposed to automatic (camera) enforcement of traffic laws? And (3) what Health & Safety considerations are there for the ambulance river, his employer and most importantly the general public?
It could be argued that travelling between A and B at speeds of 100mph as opposed to 70mph would only result in a marginal time-saving so, is the extra speed really worth the risk?
There is also a growing lobby of those against speed cameras, including a plethora of websites professing to provide the magic excuse for escaping your speeding fine. There are also those who seek to promote the right to speed, not get caught and sod the consequences. Conversely and thankfully, there are those such as Safe Speed UK who go about things a different way. They value the concept of promoting road safety but also, present a more scientific and evidence based approach to disproving the perceived value of fixed speed camera systems.
There are also fairly substantial Health & Safety ramifications for the ambulance driver’s employer resulting from his work. Ones that need to be considered carefully.
Not with standing all of the above, it really is time that relevant laws reflect reality.
- Road safety expert in storm over speeding ‘joke’ (menmedia.co.uk)
- Speeding drivers revel in Oxford’s great switch-off (independent.co.uk)
- Do speed cameras really cut accidents? (bbc.co.uk)
- More councils ‘cut speed camera use’ as spending cuts hit budgets (telegraph.co.uk)
- The ‘loophole lawyers’ who help clients beat motoring charges (guardian.co.uk)
“Laugh for god’s sake, life is too short to be miserable”!
It’s a phrase I have heard (and used) so many times during my life but a skill many appear not to have, why is that? Don’t take yourself and life too seriously because you are a long time dead and everyone should die happy…
Trust me, it’s another one of your human rights!