Policing. Of course we beat prisoners up in the cells, and plant evidence on people. Don’t we? It’s what I am regularly accused of when I arrest a young lad who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. ‘Yeah, I know a mate who was beaten up’. It is always the mate or a friend of a mate, and no doubt they believe it. And in reality, when I joined the police in 1990, I wasn’t sure until the day I went down to Custody for the first time, whether Police did beat prisoners up or not. I soon realised, that Police don’t have the energy and had far too much paper work to do.
So here I am 25 years later. I have been front line on shifts for my entire career. Torbay, Plymouth and now, in and around Exeter. I have a Section of extraordinary people, motivated to do a good days work and go back to their families. Most with very young families, struggling to make the mortgage, and appearing at work occasionally having slept very little from the night shift before. But they love their work, they love helping ordinary people and yes, especially those that deserve it.
And my Section is Armed Response who deal with all incidents, specialising in fatal road traffic collisions. Gun monkeys with crayons, goatee beards and biceps to be proud of? Well you’d be surprised I hope! Training is constant with refresher training and qualifications and assessments, pass or fail, are relentless. No extra money, just all the extra stress. Why do they do it, well because they enjoy the team work, the responsibility, the finding closure for families at fatals, and maybe enjoy just a little bit of the fast cars.
My point is that with 130,000 police officers in the UK, the average member of public can think of no more than a handful of national policing disgraces in the last 25 years. That’s 130,000 officers, going to work, day after day, night after night, dealing with stressful emergencies one after another, and yet if all we can think of is a handful of shameful experiences, then surely there should be some satisfaction in that?
Don’t misunderstand me, we are accountable, and should remain so, but to the public. I fear we perhaps jump from one whim to another. Newspaper headlines on stop search for example means the motivation to thrust our vulnerable hands into filthy pockets has somewhat dwindled. If the public don’t want it, then neither do we. Is it the public though or Is it the media that jump on a specific topic and drive a campaign demanding answers whilst unashamedly and knowingly twisting facts.
‘Children’, gives the impression of 7 year olds when in fact, the searching of children, or the Tasering of children, is a 6’4″ 15 stone 17 year old high on legal highs trying to kill their carer, friend or the police officer. There could be no other safer option but to taser this person in order to safely remove the knife from their hands but the statistics show a completely different story. A twisted view is placed on the Taser, and therefore the officer who uses them. I’ll be blunt, having been in Firearms for 17 or so years, I can say without doubt that Taser has saved many lives. I would put any critic into the shoes of the officer and ask for them to act when faced with such aggression.
We can all pull a Youtube clip from a court case of an officer who has lost it and assaulted a member of public, but you will find it is the one we have all seen. CCTV is everywhere and it has never been easier to make a complaint. Are we trying to please all of the people all of the time as that is impossible to do. Maybe it’s time for the Police service to take a little more control again. Maybe, just maybe, we should learn to say no.
SGT TANGYE – Operational Firearms Commander – Firearms Tactics Advisor – VIP Protection Officer – Police Advance Driver – VIP Back Up Driver – Senior Investigating Officer of Fatal and Serious Road Traffic Collisions – Pursuit Tactics Advisor – @DC_ARVSgt