Writing the stuff down that's not allowed on the AWARE terminal.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Orientation I: Greater London


Every police station in the country has at least one HOLMES suite. This is the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, which allows computer-illiterate coppers to join the late twentieth century. Getting them to join the twenty-first century would be too much to ask for.

Everything related to a major investigation is kept on the system, allowing detectives to cross-reference data and avoid the kind of cock-up that made the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper such an exemplary operation. The replacement to the old system was due to be called SHERLOCK, but nobody could find the words to make the acronym work so they called it HOLMES 2.

You don’t get to use HOLMES for every day crime that’s what AWARE is for, as MERLIN is anything to do with kids, CRIS is for crime reports and ENCOW is for training programmes. The POLICE NATIONAL COMPUTER (PNC) is something else entirely. When you log in into HOLMES you have to use your warrant number which means the operators can track you make an unauthorised inquiry.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Extracting the Michael

Cockney, as it is spoke has several ways of expressing disbelief.

Bollocks. (Not to be confused with ‘bollocks!’ – with the higher pitch; indicating an unwelcome surprise or ‘bollocks’ with the lower pitch; indicating extreme dissatisfaction – Cockney, in some instances, can be regarded as a tonal language.)

Do me a favour! – don’t think of me as being so stupid as to believe that.

Are you taking the piss? (This must be differentiated from the statement; ‘You’re taking the piss!’ which shouldn’t be used in an aggressive fashion unless one is prepared for physical confrontation.)

Are you extracting the urine? Favoured by Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade personnel so as to protect the delicate ears of the media.

Are you taking the mickey? Another euphemism employed to insulate those of refined sensibility from the rough honesty of the everyday world.

Are you extracting the Michael?
A recursive elaboration of the above to impress upon the refined that despite one’s rough hewn manner one has a ready wit and a extensive vocabulary superior to that which you gained from your expensive private school you posh bastard.

Scene of the Crime: Hampstead

Friday, 28 January 2011


Eusapia Palladino

Eusapia Palladino was a famous Italian spiritualist who tooled around Europe around the turn of the 20th Century giving séances and displays of levitating tables to the obviously gullible and to people who should have known better, like Pierre Curie.

She was married young to a conjurer, which should have been a bit of a clue, and maintained a coterie of supporters despite the number of times she was caught cheating. Her name became a byword for spiritualism. Hence ‘a touch of the old Palladino.’

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Case Progression Unit

Motto: We do paperwork so real coppers don't have to.

The theory behind the Case Progression Unit is very sound, police officers, so the established wisdom has it, are drowning in paperwork, suspects have to be logged in, the chain of evidence must never be broken and the politicians and PACE, the Police And Criminal Evidence Act, must be followed to the letter. The role of the Case Progression Unit is to do the paperwork for the hard pressed constable so he or she can get back out on the street to be abused, spat at and vomited on. Thus will there be a bobby on the beat and thus shall crime be defeated and the good Daily Mail reading citizens of our fair nation shall live in peace.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Scene of the Crime: St Paul's Church

Known as the Actor’s Church to avoid confusion with the sodding great Cathedral up the road St Paul’s of Covent Garden was built in 1631 by Inigo Jones. The Earl of Bedford, who commissioned it, asked for nothing more than a barn for his flock but Jones, who liked a bit of Italian, decided to give him ‘the handsomest barn in England..’

He also managed to build it backwards but not because, whatever Lesley says, he was drunk at the time. Jones’s problem was that no self respecting Italianate building in the style of the Northern renaissance could possibly go without its grand portico with the Doric order columns and the big slab of a lintel handing overhead like an accident waiting to happen. But being a Church the altar had to go at the East of the building, which would block any grand entrance from the Piazza.

So Jones, being amongst other things, a theatrical gent, stuck a fake entrance at the East end with the Doric columns and lintels and whatever and put a more a modest but equally nice entrance on the west end for your actual punters to get in. Over the years the portico, mainly because it had a roof, has become a famous location in its own right. It was there that Samuel Pepys saw the first ever recorded Punch and Judy show and that Audrey Hepburn did her flower girl scenes while displaying the worst cockney accent this side of Dick Van Dyke.


I'm going to suggest that Purdey and Special K watch this like a million times. That way they'll know what people are saying to them and will stop asking me stupid questions.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Sweeney: For real this time.

Motto: ‘We’re the Sweeney son and we haven’t had any dinner.’
For those of who are foreign or educated at a private school ‘The Sweeney’ is your actual Cockney rhyming slang for Flying Squad (Sweeney Todd = Flying Squad) which is in turn cop speak for the armed robbery squad of the Specialist Crime Directorate (which does what it says on the tin). Founded in the 1920s they made use of those new fangled horseless carriages to charge around apprehending criminals wherever they may be. I’m not going to say they were corrupt in the 1970s but during court appearances you couldn’t tell the cops from the robbers. They’re still the geezers with the tasty motors, the good suits and the handmade shoes that every proper London copper wants to be.

Monday, 24 January 2011

A Few Coupons Short Of A Pop Up Toaster

Sometime I think they want to get caught. Case in point. We were called in as back up by Operation Bumblebee who’d set up a fake fencing operation to catch burglars and shoplifters.

This is where you set up in a shop front or a market barrow and spread the word around that you’re willing to pay cash for stuff that fell off the back of a lorry – no questions asked. Then when the likely lads come wandering in you take their picture, you tag what they bring as evidence against them and check it against your register of stolen goods. Then either you arrest them then and there or you follow them home and upset their whole family (usually by arresting the whole family). This kind of operation is a firm favourite of CID officers up and down the country because a) you get to sit on your padded CID backside and let the criminals come to you and b) it gives you a really favourable spike in your clear up statistics.

I found myself guarding two of these sad little statistics and we got chatting. They said that they thought there was something iffy about the whole thing because the prices were too good. So I asked them why, if they thought that, did they come into the shop? They said, because the prices were so good they had to risk it.

I told Lesley about it and she said a) why didn’t I take down that conversation for use in evidence later and b) all criminals are stupid. If they weren’t, she said, police wouldn’t be able to catch them.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Sweeney

What every proper red blooded London copper wants to be when he grows up.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Stab Vest

Out on the streets of London you don’t worry about being shot, because that hardly ever happens, what you worry about is getting stabbed because that happens a lot. To avoid have sharp bits of metal stuck into your favourite body the well dressed young copper around town wears his stab vest.

My particular life saver is a metvest™ for which I was fitted right at the start of my probation. A metvest is basically a torso shaped fabric cover into which you slip the armour plates that keep your tender young bits from being pronged by an over excited member of the public.

There’s two types of covers; covert; which is white, smooth and designed to be worn under your clothes so you can stay safe and fashionable. And overt which is black, has lots of pockets, a docking clip for your airwave and, just in case people still have trouble identifying you, a badge that says Metropolitan Police: working for a safer London.

Monday, 17 January 2011


One of the advantages of weird shift patterns is that you can go to weekday Matinees in the West End and have the cinema to yourself. Me and Lesley popped out to the Leicester Square Voyage, whose motto is ‘never knowingly overstaffed’, and saw Megamind. I thought it was brilliant but Lesley kept on complaining about the physics which is, apart from anything else, my job. The other thing I noticed was that we were both finding it way funnier than the little kids in the audience. Most cartoons have adult jokes to keep the parents happy but I think Megamind is other way round.

I had to explain the Metrocity/Metro City joke to Lesley.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Beware Angry Little People

Got this from Special-K who says it happened before Christmas but it made Lesley laugh so much she fell off her chair in the PC's writing room. Apparently they got a report of a women being set on fire at a pub on Dean Street. So she and a PC from my nick called Purdey tool over and find this distressed, and slightly singed, lady in a fur coat outside.

She tells them that a guy inside keeps trying to set her fur coat on fire. Purdey, wanting to look good in front of Special-K, assures the lady that he'll take care of this and would she be so kind as to enter the pub with him and indicate the miscreant with the wayward cigarette lighter.

In they duly go and there's the suspect, dressed for the opera including a cape and no more than four foot high not counting his top hat. He is, in short, what my dad would call a midget and what I'd call, being a PC PC, one of the little people.

Now the thing about being a policeman is you're supposed to loom in an intimidating manner over suspect and witness alike. In fact 90% of the job can be achieved through the deployment of tactical looming. Fights can be broken up, confessions extracted and motorists chastised with little aggro and, more importantly, less effort. But there's such a thing as overkill.

Poor Purdey couldn't work out what to do, did he stay upright and shout down at the top of the guys head, did he sit down, or kneel down? In the end he adopted a crouched stance which set the whole pub to laughing. Lesley said he should have picked up the 'little person' and stood him on a table.

Now the little guy was, in addition to being an opera buff, an animal's right nut which was why he was setting the lady's fur coat on fire -- as a protest. Purdey did his best to explain that free speech stops short of attempted arson but the little person wasn't having it. He considered nicking the little bastard but figured that slapping the handcuffs on would make him look even more of a prat.

The moral of this story is, unless you're sure nobody is watching, only pick on people your own size.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Charing Cross Nick

There are two good things about Charing Cross nick.

1) It's got the biggest custody suite in London so on weekdays you never have to worry about cell availability.

2) The Canteen runs 24/7 which means you can have bacon sandwich with your EAB even at 3 AM.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

I've Got This

This is for Lesley who keeps saying I should emigrate to America and get a job with the FBI as an Obama decoy. I keep telling her that it's the Secret Service not the FBI that deals with threats to the President but she don't care.