You only regret the things you don’t do

You only regret the things you don’t do, so when I find myself writing critical comments about the police job, I need to be a little careful.  Only negative comments soon get ignored, and there are some very positive parts to this adventure.

A twitter follower tweeted to me saying they were starting to regret going through the process of applying for the police because of all the negative comments about working in the service.  They came from the NHS so I replied they would be well grounded in the stresses already.  I felt bad to be honest, and asked myself, would I join today?

I’m a different person to what I was so it’s difficult to answer that question.  Given any wish, it would be a Naval Helicopter pilot for sure.  I’ve always admired my colleagues at RNAS Culdrose and was fortunate enough to fly a Merlin Helicopter several years ago!

It was with the brother of my dear friend @DC-PoliceBiker Olly Tayler.  His brother is now flying around New Zealand saving lives flying an Air Ambulance.  He was determined to keep flying and not be stuck behind a desk, I was determined to drive fast cars and shoot guns, and not be behind a desk.  But it’s been tough avoiding it.


There was constant pressure, “Think about your pension”.  I resisted, partly because I realised I’d probably blagged it already to the rank of Sergeant, but mainly when looking up the ranks there was absolutely nothing that excited me.  I answer my emails and then attend several jobs, any jobs, I do that thing we all wanted to do when joining, yes apart from the sirens and blue lights of course, because as we know that’s the real reason we joined, but I also wanted to do that old fashioned thing of ‘Helping People’.  Enormous pleasure is had when blue lighting to a job, getting to the smashed cars and saying to the traumatised driver and passengers, “Don’t worry, it’s metal and plastic, you are okay, that’s the main thing, oh and you can’t park there!”  Seeing them smile, seeing their relief, and realising that all is not lost.  That help is here.

And I admit that tracking down and arresting a man that has carried out a mock execution on his girlfriend with a shotgun was slightly satisfying.  He didn’t like it so much when the guns were on him.  His face told me everything.  The man was a coward, and he cried.

I get enormous satisfaction from the work I do.  I am rarely bored and if I am it’s short lived.  Not many careers can boast that.  I work hard and do lots of training, pressurized training so I can do more of the fun bits!  I love going to work still.

You don’t know what you are going to do for the next 10 minutes for the rest of your life.  That is something I love, love and love.  You have the privilege of intruding into people’s lives, often brutal lives, often full of despair or even death.  No one else will be let in, but there needs to be coping mechanisms, and I fear they are lacking.

Canteens and police bars have gone.  Canteen culture was good mainly.  It let officers de-stress.  Bars meant we talked, and yet now we come to work, then go home travelling many miles.  We take our thoughts home and some dread coming back.  We use whatsapp to talk to our close teams, but several times for various reasons officers have got into trouble using it.  Things that were said in the canteen unfortunately cannot be said on Whatsapp.  Whatsapp is our canteen.  We do have welfare systems in process, but nothing beats talking to your mates.

The two main issues that prevents an efficient police service and therefore leads to the majority of our negativity are:

  1. Bureaucracy
  2. Intervention by others who know little

An example of bureaucracy is when we cut down on paperwork so files would be smaller, straight to the point, and fast, but have the safeguard that if the suspect felt it was not accurate, the fuller file could be done.  When one issue goes wrong with one job, then another piece of paper appears to prevent that.  There is always a good reason for it to be there, and none put forward why it shouldn’t.  There is no feasibility study, no impact assessment, just another form demanded.  And we the police have to cover our backs as every death anywhere is usually our fault and could have been prevented in the eyes of many, so for someone coming to a station as a voluntary attender for an interview, we now do 3 risk assessments.  One before, one during and one at the end.  It’s believed the officer will fill this in and realise there is an issue when they wouldn’t have known otherwise.  God knows where the services will come from when there is an issue, but at least we now know.  This is balderdash, the officer is not trusted to make their own decision, so further hours and hours of police time are lost finding, filling in and asking repetitive questions on these forms.  In any inquest, we can say we filled the form in.

I see a future when we realise that sometimes, when dealing with hundreds of thousands of very aggressive, vulnerable and mentally ill people, it’s likely that one or two may die.  And if the police haven’t had a direct input, then individual officers shouldn’t be put under manslaughter charges for 6 years ruining their own lives.  I see a future that one day, when a police officer pursues a criminal and the criminal kills themselves or others, that hindsight will not be brought in as a measuring stick.  The angry family marching up and down the streets demanding justice, and attention seeking ring leaders demanding ‘cops are sacked’ won’t be listened to.  I have to see that future, I need to or all is lost.

I won’t go into the intervention by others too much.  It’s well documented.  Politicians and the London Mayor contributed in my opinion to lives lost and the loss of the streets or it’s a hell of a coincidence that as soon as stop search was turned into a dirty couple of words  suddenly the streets were full of knives, and young people were victims of them.  Some influential politicians state we should be paid for our performance, not time served.  Take a look at yourselves I say, you would be penniless.    We are not in sales, we spend 3 days trying to put a person together after seeing their husband and children killed in a car crash in front of them, does that count as one point?  Do I have to give 5 people fixed penalty notices for no seat belt to make up for my lost performance points?  Do we now spend hours of time we don’t have evidencing this performance?  Leave us alone to do our job, monitoring from a distance by all means, and then this job would be incredible, and not nearly so frustrating.

What gets me through is experience.  To realise that when the emails come in, they get done, and I do much of my paperwork on the hand overs or for me on night shift or mornings of early turn when things can be a little quieter.   I mentally look at gore as just that.  I try not to look at it as people.  The soul has already gone.  It is no longer a person.  I have to look after those that remain living.  My brain copes with it that way although my wife may mention my many night terrors that keep her up most nights, I feel I’ve slept the sleep of kings!

My answer would be, join us.  We need you, and the community is slowly realising we need you too.  The wheel goes around and new ideas come in and go.  We accept the improvements and we should be open to change, as policing changes constantly and always has.  We need to resist and challenge those ridiculous knee jerk ideas brought in to silence those that shout loudest instead of listening to those that have something to say.  You will make a community of the officers you work with.  You will have the bosses that look after you and protect you which make your lives 100% better than they could be, you will laugh as well as cry, you will have excitement you could never dream of anywhere else, you will be proud to serve as a police officer.  Join us, and get ready for the ride!

Sgt Tangye is a Police Sergeant in the Devon and Cornwall Police.  He is an Armed Response Sergeant dual rolled with roads policing.

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Police/Twitter, where are we now?

I fell into twitter.  I had started an account in 2009 to stalk formula one drivers because I realised you get emotion, you saw them in their leisure time, you got to know their thinking, you saw photos, all of which wouldn’t necessarily have been released by their media team.  Occasionally some scandal was created by a tweet from a disgruntled driver, how exciting!

Continue reading Police/Twitter, where are we now?

Statement – 08.08.17

After the considerable interest shown on my tweet of driving at 140mph at night on a predominantly empty motorway to a break in progress, I would like to add that we as Advanced Drivers in the Traffic and the Armed Response units will always ensure that if we drive at speed, we do not take unnecessary risks.  This may seem like an unnecessary speed to many, however officers undertake numerous extensive driving courses which are refreshed regularly in order to keep them to the highly trained standards required for the role they do.

I myself am a Advanced Police driver, a VIP driver and a Pursuit Tactics advisor.  I was a Senior Investigating Officer for serious and fatal road traffic collisions for 15 years. I am a Tactical Pursuit and Containment qualified officer and have over 20 years’ experience of driving on full front line shifts.  The geography of our Force area means we have to cover vast distances and this is always judged against the potential risk to the persons calling for police assistance, and the other motorists we pass along with ourselves.

We can make up considerable time on empty motorways between locations.  General guidance by our driver training department is to keep top speeds to no more than double the speed limit.  I would say however, I do regret the tweet, as it does tend to glamorise speed which is inappropriate and unintentional.  I try to mix my tweet content to be fun, humorous, create debate, and to show the public what our every day work is.   This means I hopefully have the public with me when I want to discuss the more educational and advisory aspects of policing.  I thank those who have supported me on this issue.

PS Harry Tangye

It’s not as we know it…

Last night it dawned on me… and then I fell into utter confusion again.  I joined the police to… wait for it, yes, ‘to help people’ and I have come to work for the past 27 years on continual shifts and on front line in order to do that, and there is nothing more exciting and satisfying than walking away, looking back and seeing the smile on a previously frightened face. But that seems to be disappearing and without me having noticed it.

Continue reading It’s not as we know it…

The knot is getting tighter

Tanja swings the Astra patrol car into the driveway.  “Ah great” she remarks, “The family are here.  We can get on with this”.  She’s careful how she opens the drivers door.  She doesn’t want the family to see her hit their car parked next to her.  That would not get them off on the right footing.  Tanja’s crew mate Jo jumps out of his seat and is already on his way over to a woman in her mid 40’s who’s standing on the front door step.  Her 18 year old daughter is looking bored next to her.  It’s 9.30 on a cold boxing night, and the first thing Tanja notices is the nervousness on the mother’s face.

Continue reading The knot is getting tighter

I realised by now, I was in trouble.

A statement I wrote of a relatively common event that caused me a little concern at the time and one that officers have to face every night somewhere in a village / town / city near you.  We simply ask this is not treated as an occupational hazard.  I have kept exactly as was the statement I read in court but have disguised the names of those involved.

Continue reading I realised by now, I was in trouble.

We need you, but we don’t want you

“Where Si, where is he?” I repeated as I screamed the car into the dark car park. A man who’d been sent to prison for 10 years for a horrific assault with a knife on his wife was out again, and he had smashed a glass fish tank over her head this time.  She was in a bad way and he was on the run with a 12″ kitchen knife.  He’s been seen by CCTV entering the car park but it’s dark, very dark, and my headlights are scanning across the car park.  Adrenalin surges through my veins as Si and I prepare ourselves.  I mumble under my breath and Si turns his head towards me.  “He’s going to fight mate” I said, “He has a lot to get away for.”

Continue reading We need you, but we don’t want you

In the Summertime, when the weather is fine…

What is it which makes policing so different to other occupations?  What makes that something which runs through your veins and sends excitement through every pore when it’s most unexpected.  It’s the feeling of wondering into the dark on your own with just your wits and your uniform as your primary protection shield.  It’s the fact that you are one tiny part of a huge support network that will come rushing to your aid when called for, and that support is something that not only you know, but they out there know.

Continue reading In the Summertime, when the weather is fine…

The world as we know it

Sitting at home contemplating life and the universe, and everything has suddenly come clear to me.  I have solved the meaning of life and not a drop of alcohol has been drunk, only copious amounts of coffee from a new machine that kicks out caffeine drinks two to the dozen by means of hateful non recyclable plastic capsules.  That’s a battle with my conscience  I am going to have to tussle with later.

Continue reading The world as we know it