A copper’s view of a typical Friday night – Part I

(c) Flickr / Lee J Haywood

(c) Flickr / Lee J Haywood

It’s a Friday night and I’m on night shift.  My shift officially starts at 10pm however at 9:40pm I am in my uniform with my radio and CS gas sitting in a briefing with the rest of my shift.

The briefing starts by covering any major overnight crime patterns such as a spate of burglaries or car thefts.  Next up is the list of people who are under curfew and who must be checked to ensure that they are at the correct address.  We will be informed of any “targets” to keep an eye out for.  These “targets” are usually prolific offenders who are often wanted on warrant, for breach of bail or are suspected as being involved in a crime and are to be arrested and interviewed about the offence if seen.

The final point is to tell me who I will be working with that night.  The Force has a “safe crewing” policy.  This means that my supervision (usually a Sergeant overseen by an Inspector) has made a risk assessment and decided whether it is safe for us to be on our own (single crewed) or teamed up with someone (double crewed).  As it’s a night shift, it is almost certain that everyone on the shift will be double crewed.

By 9:55pm on a normal night shift, the call would be made over the radio to “call the cars in”, in other words have the back shift return to the station to hand the cars over to the night shift.  The back shift are usually due to finish at midnight so the last two hours gives them a chance to catch up on their paperwork.

Tonight is a Friday night so, just like a Saturday night, the back shift are working until 3am in the cars whilst we patrol the town centre on foot providing a “high visibility” presence.  In other words, the big bosses know that it looks good in the press if Officers are patrolling on foot rather than sitting in cars all night.

The station is only five minutes walk from the town centre and soon a whole shift of around 16 Officers are patrolling along a half-mile stretch of road trying to stay warm and keeping an eye out for trouble.

Within 15 minutes I am waved over by a doorman (they do not like to be called “bouncers”) at a nightclub.  As I approach the club I can see and hear someone waving their arms and shouting at the staff.  One doorman tells me that they have refused entry to the man as he does not have any ID on him.  The man who looks like he is in his mid-teens is obviously not happy about this and my arrival does not calm him down.

He is obviously drunk and in between a LOT of swearing and with accompanying arm gestures, he tells me in no uncertain terms that his girlfriend is already in the club and that he should be allowed in to see her and they (the door staff) are threatening his relationship.

Although he already fits the criteria to allow me to arrest him for being drunk and disorderly ie he is in a public place, he is drunk and his behaviour is disorderly, I really don’t want to spoil his night just because he does not have any ID on him so I start out on my three stage course of action: ask, warn, then if all else fails, arrest.  About 9 times out of 10, this will defuse the situation without me having to arrest anyone and ruining someone’s night.

To begin with, I ask him to calm down and stop swearing.  He takes a deep breath and stops waving his arms about.  So far so good.  I ask him how old he is.  After another bout of swearing, he eventually tells me that he is 23 and holds up his fingers in case we don’t know what the numbers 2 and 3 look like, making sure that he makes the ‘V’ sign for the 2.

Although he is shouting, swearing and waving his arms again, he is not really bothering anyone or getting in anyone’s way so I go to the next step in an attempt to diffuse the situation.  “I’ve asked you to stop swearing and calm down, now I’m telling you, stop swearing and calm down or you will be arrested”.  That’s the warning and hopefully that will make him see that it really is time to calm down.

He looks me and my colleague up and down and appears to accept that he is not going to get in to the club tonight.  As he walks away he glances over his should and tells us: “I pay your wages, this is a disgrace”.

Ah, the old “I pay your wages” line.  If I had a penny for every time I had heard that one I would have retired after a year in the job.  There are always comebacks to that line however I have always found it best just to ignore it completely as it only fans the flames and every now and then you get a bona fide comedian who just makes you look stupid.

By Officer X

See Part II here

7 thoughts on “A copper’s view of a typical Friday night – Part I

  1. brian johnson

    Compare this with the police action when a peaceful, non-threatening Naturist (or streaker) is reported to the police for being naked in a public place (however remote or deserted). The full force of the law comes into action with immediate arrest on suspicion of the non-existent crime of “indecent behaviour” and prosecution under an Act such as Section 5 Public Order Act when the police realise that nudity is not a criminal offence.
    The “Dixon of Dock Green” approach to policing seems to be OK for drunk, abusive men, but not for law-abiding peaceful Naturists or fun-loving streakers!
    I suspect if this attitude had been shown to Steve Gough, the Naked Rambler, it would have saved him 7 years in prison and the taxpayer over £1million.

  2. duncanheenan

    Brian Johnson’s comment is true. If you want to get immediate police action, just say there is a naked man involved, and for some strange reason it will be given the same sort of priority as violence. Clearly the police need to be trained out of that attitude, or they will continue to waste their own time and public resources in treating something which is not a crime (nudity) as if it is.
    Even the CPS are encouraging a light touch policing of such matters (see http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/nudity_in_public/ ), but so far the actual uptake of this guidance by police forces is minimal in terms of actually getting the messages down to grass roots level with operational officers.
    If the CPS Guidelines were properly adopted in operational policing it would give more time to deal with real crime and disorder.

  3. hindsight18

    I enjoyed reading this blog and thought the officer exercised good judgement. As to Brian Johnson, i would arrest him on every occasion. I do not want to see a naked man walking the streets and neither do I think children should witness this. It is an indecent act and offends me. The police are acting in the interests of the community with Mr Johnson.

    1. duncanheenan

      There are many things ‘I wouldn’t want to see’, but I wouldn’t have them all arrested if they weren’t harming someone. Being naked is not illegal, but unfortunately, too many police officers consider anything they ‘wouldn’t want to see’ treat them as illegal and reach for the widely drawn s5 Public Order Act 1086, and go crashing in based entirely on their own perception of what is acceptable.
      I wouldn’t want to see tattoos, so should we have them criminalised?
      I wonder how Hindsight18 would feel about a naked woman?
      There is no evidence to show children are in any way harmed by the sight of innocent nudity. There is plenty of evidence that they pick up their parents attitude to it, and prudes quickly produce prudes.

    2. brian johnson

      Hindsight, are you Stu from Laholm or Sisterhood, under another name? The troll who searches the web for any mention of nudity?
      Perhaps you should read what I actually wrote, but perhaps that’s too much to ask. It is up to the police to apply the law, as enacted by Parliament, not to pursue their own personal agenda.
      My main point was to contrast the sensible police action in the case in the blog. despite it appears clear that the man in question had broken the law, with the action of the police against minorities such as Naturists.
      By the way there is no evidence that children are harmed in any way by seeing nudity. They are much more likely to be harmed by seeing drunk men abusing the police?

      Does Hindsight also approve of abuse of the law by some police officers in persecuting other minorities, such as gypsies, the Irish, blacks, Jews, gays, or even Cabinet Ministers?

      You have a right to campaign for public nudity to be made unlawful. It is for Parliament, not the police, or even the Courts, to make the law. What you have not got a right to do is ask the police to make the law. That is what is known as a “police state”

      As Mr Heenan suggests, there are lots of things I don’t like to see including dogs, smokers and obese people. They are my prejudices but I don’t expect the police to arrest all dog-owners, smokers and obese people!

  4. Andrew

    Brian: I loathe dogs, I used to smoke cigars, and am a tad overweight but not quite obese – would you have me arrested if you could?

    I would, I seriously would, have all dogs except guide-dogs banned from streets and parks. I think streets and parks should be shitfree and that nobody should be forced to listen to the barking dog of the barking neighbour, who should learn to relate to his (or more commonly her) own species and send Fido to the Great Doghouse in the Sky.

    If you want to read a common-sense approach go onto Bailii and search the name Drum-Ashley.

    And no, it makes no difference if the owner is old and lives alone; that does not make the beast’s faeces more acceptable.


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