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!
There he is, the number plate etched in my mind, and it’s on a white BMW 5 series, 11.30 at night but it’s still too late for me to blend away and spring a trap later on. He’s off up the road, and I’m after him.
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
The theater is dark, the lights go down and they have little idea what they are in store for. 2000 students, of the age to start driving or just started driving. A few mobile phones are flickering whilst Snapchats are read, and whatsapps are contributed to… and then silence. The projection screen comes up with a short film where some teenagers get into a car and start driving. Statistically a lethal cocktail with inexperienced and confident young people. There’s an innocent distraction in the car and it ends up crashing. The scene shows the occupants unconscious with a little blood, but mainly steam from the engine and the music that had been playing in the car is now silenced. The darkness envelopes the car before a scream joins the atmospheric scene. You can feel the panic, and you can then see the blue lights of a police car approaching.