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  Lambeth: a PCSO's perspective 1 year on

introduction:  last month, 2 PCSOs from Lambeth received special recognition for the following outstanding work:   

The two PCSOs used excellent intelligence led policing skills to locate a wanted man. The officers checked the local intelligence briefings and noticed that a suspect was wanted for manslaughter. The suspect was recognisable to the PCSOs because they recognised him from a different crime some weeks beforehand. The officers knew where they had seen him before and whilst on patrol spotted him in the Millennium Green area of SW1. The officers radioed the CAD room to send patrol officers to make the arrest whilst the PCSOs kept him under surveillance.

----- INTERVIEW OPENS ------ 18th August 2004 1330

Falkor: You and Rob spotted a suspect wanted for manslaughter, that sounds pretty impressive to me

Digger: Yeah the actual guy was somebody that we had caught before, trying to break into a ticket machine, this is about 2 months beforehand. We quite cleverly got him to provide his pars and as soon as he sussed that he had given his date of birth, he tried to run off. In Lambeth we’ve actually had our powers of detention removed, so we can’t actually put our hands on him, but we went after him and we got him into a corner by Waterloo Station, there we managed to get the name check across and he was actually wanted for failing to appear at court, so he got arrested for that. After that we’d sort of seen him in certain hang outs round the Waterloo area. What we do in the ward office where we work is, we don’t just check the Lambeth briefings, we check the briefings for all the neighbouring boroughs, Southwark, Lewisham, Westminster, Wandsworth etc
Every morning we check their briefings and he actually appeared on the Westminster briefing as being wanted for manslaughter – it wasn’t actually on the Lambeth briefing at all, so after we’d done our security duties at Waterloo, we went and had a look around the usual haunts to see if we could find him and he basically walked straight into us – we thought he was going to run, but he basically just sat on the grass waiting to be arrested.

Falkor: Excellent work Digger, what a result!

Digger: Yes it was quite good – we were quite pleased that we actually kind of tasked ourselves to find him, but we knew we would find him and we did, which was quite nice. It was all down to us using our initiative, by checking the other boroughs’ briefings pages

Falkor: Have you been a PCSO for long then Digger?

Digger: Yes since June last year

Falkor: Oh right so you are quite happy still being a PCSO then?

Digger: I wouldn’t mind a transfer to another borough, I’m quite happy being a PCSO, I’m just not particularly happy at Lambeth

Falkor: what, because your powers have been withdrawn?

Digger: no, it’s because I don’t think we’re being used in a good manner – I’ve spoken to PCSOs from other boroughs and they seem to be just doing a lot more than what we do – it may be just due to the security duties – fair enough there is a security issue, but it’s becoming very very boring – from my own personal point of view, I’m finding it very very mind numbing actually, at times

Falkor: would you like to go closer to home then?

Digger: closer to home would be great – I live in Watford and it is a hell of a journey – but I more want to go to a borough where I get a bit more involved in stuff

Falkor: Are you satisfied with the equipment that PCSOs have been given?

Digger: I don’t have an issue, others do – they’re always moaning at me about it but I personally think it’s fine – I think the whole idea of a PCSO is not to be a policeman, if you want to be a policeman and have the equipment, then by all means apply to be a policeman. I think society needs a role which is not necessarily carrying weapons and equipment, making them a lot more approachable for members of the general public to talk to, and I personally can see a very good role in that.

Falkor: Fair enough, what about the actual uniform – you quite happy with your uniform Digger?

Digger: No. My main gripe is I’m not terribly happy with the hat – I don’t think it offers any head protection, particularly in Lambeth. You’ve got some rather nasty estates – I’ve had a brick thrown at me from people off a balcony

Falkor: Yikes what happened Digger?

Digger: well it was quite late at night – another PCSO and I were just walking through an estate which is not the roughest estate in Lambeth, but it is an estate in which they have occasional issues – there was a group of lads up on one of the balconies, they started shouting abuse at us and the next thing was a brick come over and it basically went between me and my colleague, it was pretty close to us and JUST missed us and went in between the two of us

Falkor: That is terrible

Digger: particularly when you’re just wearing a flimsy hat, if that had hit us on the head we would have been in serious trouble – of course we radioed it in, but the lads know the estate – of course we got back up. The units came down but they were gone – well gone

Falkor: So do you think the hat should have a chequered hat band?

Digger: definitely – I definitely do, for the reason being that in Lambeth borough particularly, the traffic wardens wear exactly the same band and we’re always getting asked traffic warden questions and I would like to be differentiated from the Metropolitan Police’s own traffic wardens – they wear exactly the same uniform, except for a tiny little yellow flash, I mean not necessarily a black and white chequered band, maybe a blue and white chequered band – even a blue and silver, but something that looks a bit more police so people can say “oh you are the police not a traffic warden”

Falkor: So Digger, you’re going to stay the course as a PCSO?

Digger: I don’t know - at the moment I really want a transfer to another borough – I can’t really take what we’re doing in Lambeth at the moment – it’s really doing my head in

Falkor: My god, it’s that bad?

Digger: oh yeah, it is yeah – the main duty for PCSOs in Lambeth is what they call “the two bridges” which is basically walking between Westminster Bridge and Lambeth Bridge along the Thames on a little walkway. The response teams are there 24/7, but I’m in a ward office – and we have to give extra cover between 7 in the morning and 3 and again that’s 7 days a week and to me, it’s absolutely mind numbing – there’s nothing going on there – I mean you’re just walking up and down, in all sorts of weather, on an uncovered 300 yards stretch I would say – there’s nothing on it and I just can’t take it, I want to get out and get into the community – that’s why I applied to do the job

Falkor: so have you applied for a transfer Digger?

Digger: I did at one point, I did apply for a transfer

Falkor: So? What happened?

Digger: I was told that I couldn’t have a transfer until they got more numbers in,….. that was before I had done my year – I quoted special circumstances as we had just had our third child.

Falkor: You had your third child? Congratulations!

Digger: That was back in February, so I asked for the transfer then, as I felt that I needed to be closer to home, my wife has been on maternity leave and has quite a good job and needs to return to work soon and I need to cut down on the travelling, obviously that got stopped at that point and it’s only just now that my wife is talking about going back to work. As I say I’m not happy with in particular the security thing on the bridges –it’s a personal thing for me, I think when we fill out the application form there are 3 boxes … TRAFFIC, COMMUNITY and SECURITY and I think for that particular role they should look at the people who tick the security box and get them doing the security thing – if you tick the community you should be doing the community role, which is what I really really want to do

Falkor: What was it that you did before Digger?

Digger: I’ve been studying for a degree, psychology

Falkor: Is this your first job then?

Digger: oh no no, I’m 36 years old – the job I had before was basically like a sales rep – before then I had my own catering supplies business

Falkor: You had your own catering supplies business?

Digger: well it was a very shallow job – it was just all about money and I wanted a bit more out of actually working rather than just how much I’ve earned this week

Falkor: Top man!

Digger: it was just soulless, I didn’t gain anything apart from just financial reward, some people need more than just the money

Falkor: So how do you get to work nowadays then Digger?

Digger: well I have to drive down the motorway to Brent Cross which takes about half an hour, then it’s about 40 minutes on the tube then onto Waterloo

Falkor: What about your off duty time Digger?

Digger: well I’m quite involved in victim support in Hertfordshire, Watford even, I do quite a lot of counselling obviously victims of crime, which is how I got into becoming a PCSO anyway – I’d applied for a couple of jobs in the psychology field and they just came back with “well you really need experience of working with the public particularly people with special needs” I also play rugby when I get the chance, it is hard, I have 2 children at school and a baby

Falkor: Did you see the BBC3 news last Friday? There was a special piece on PCSOs

Digger: No I didn’t – how did it go as a matter of interest?

Falkor: well the studio interview was a little one sided with the Met’s Federation chairman on his own with the interviewer

Digger: yeah I know the Federation aren’t very keen on us, they’re worried about us taking their jobs – I do see that as a point, but I think we offer a different role and that’s what needs to get put across and with PCSOs in general nationally, I just don’t think it’s standardised enough – I talk to the ones up in Watford – the stuff they do is very different from.....for example the work that is done by PCSOs in London, but then that also seems to vary from borough to borough enormously as to how PCSOs are used and also as to how they’re received. In some boroughs they’re getting involved in all sorts of stuff and feeling that they’re really worthwhile, other boroughs they’ve just been left to rot

Falkor: Yeah but which is it on your borough Digger?

Digger: I would certainly say ‘left to rot’ to be honest, all we’re doing is walking up and down, all they’re interested in is that the bridges are covered

Falkor: Have you got a community section there though Digger?

Digger: yeah I’m on that – but we have to do one week in four on the bridges

Falkor: So you are on the community section?

Digger: Yes I’m on that, I came off the response team to go onto the community side – that’s the reason I joined the job because I wanted to get involved and for two months it was great, then all of a sudden we had George Bush visiting London and they wanted extra people on security – we got put on security, we were told it was temporary and we’ve never come off

Falkor: So have you issued any of these FPNs at all then?

Digger: The FPNs for cycling yes I have, cycling on the footway

Falkor: Anything else?

Digger: No, we’re not allowed to do anything else

Falkor: You can only issue an FPN for cycling on the footway? That’s it?

Digger: Cycling on the footway is all that we are allowed to issue them for, there are other things that we were supposed to be doing, but we have not been allowed to do it, our powers of detention have been removed

Falkor: what does your PCS union rep have to say about that?

Digger: well he thinks it’s ridiculous, he sees the PCSO as more to the police side of things, he himself I think wants to be a policeman eventually

Falkor: and what about you?

Digger: it is something that I have been toying with – I would like to do it, it’s just that with 3 children now it’s so hard to commit to it – I think when I finish my degree which I should finish in October, then I’ll probably get an application form and fill it out and see how it goes, it’s just such a long long process, I think it should be made a little bit easier, it took so long to become a PCSO, it took a year to become a PCSO

Falkor: how did the interview go for that Digger?

Digger: the interview was fine – no problem at all, I was basically offered the job straight away – the Inspector made it quite clear that he was very impressed by myself

Falkor: this was one year ago?

Digger: no it took a year to get in, from my interview to the start date was actually over a year, I was originally interviewed in May of the year before - it took so long to get in that you think “well how long is it going to take to become a PC?” and I’m not particularly greatly happy with being in Lambeth, I’d rather maybe get a transfer to another borough where I’m a bit more involved and then I think I’d see how things go because I feel we really are used for just security work – I’d rather see a little bit more about the job, rather than what we’ve been doing

Falkor: well what did you think of the training by the way?

Digger: It could have been a lot better but the trainers did their best with what they had, no two ways about it, it’s a difficult role, it’s also new, again a lot of stuff that the trainers spent a lot of time on has been no good in the role I’m in, but then if I go to another borough I probably would use that stuff. The actual borough training when we came onto borough was an absolute joke – we had a week before we were actually supposed to join up with the teams – we did absolutely nothing and all they’re interested in is getting the bodies onto the bridges to make the numbers up – for the new recruits coming into Lambeth I feel so sorry for them, because they’ve tried to keep it quiet about the bridges and they’ve had occasions where PCSOs have spent their whole 12 hour shift on a 300 yard stretch

Falkor: the whole 12 hours?

Digger: well apart from refs breaks

Falkor: and how do they handle refs breaks?

Digger: well they’re not allowed to leave the bridges unmanned, they obviously have to wait to be relieved – if the numbers are short they have to get PCs down there to cover for the refs breaks, in 12 hours I believe they have 2 x 45 minute breaks

Falkor: Digger what movies have you seen lately?

Digger: King Arthur, that was brilliant, I love sword and sandals movies especially with an historical/ mythological background. I was expecting King Arthur to be a bit similar to the other arthurian legend films. However it was very well made from a brand new angle Arthur being a roman. My only criticism was the editing of the battle scenes. They were a bit on the clean side and lacked the grit and realism of films like Gladiator, Troy, and Braveheart

Falkor: I loved Gladiator Digger, wow I've seen that a few times now, the opening 10 minutes is sensational. Do you watch much on the TV?

Digger: I like to watch Arsenal on TV as the tickets are impossible to buy or afford. But as you can't beat live sport I try to watch the London Wasps Rubgy Union team as often as I can.

Falkor: And you’ve just come back from holiday haven’t you?

Digger: Yes just got back from Barcelona – had a week with the 3 kids and my wife

Falkor: well it’s been marvellous chatting to you Digger, look after yourself mate, take care

Digger: Yep and you too Falkor, try and stay out of trouble

Falkor: ok I will certainly try to, all the best to your good wife

Digger: talk to you again sometime

Falkor: yeah I got your number

Digger: don’t reverse the charges

Falkor: Me?

Digger: and not late at night

Falkor: ok then

Digger: Goodbye then pal

Falkor: Adios to you and good night

Digger: Amen to that

Falkor: Absolutely

----- INTERVIEW CONCLUDES ------ 18th August 2004 1355

        

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  Suffolk: 1 year on for Dan Cockrill

------------ interview commences 10am 23 August 2004 ----------------

Dan: “Hello”

Falkor: “Hello Dan you ready?” Dan: “oh go on then, twist my arm”

Falkor: “How you feeling today then?” Dan: “Not too bad, actually I’m on nights tonight”

Falkor: “blimey what time do you finish?” Dan: “midnight tonight, I’m on a 1500 – 0000”

Falkor: “ok let’s start the interview, so Dan, remind us, why were PCSOs brought in?”

Dan: “Well basically, the general idea is to extend the police family and make the uniform branch of the police more visible basically. The ‘Eyes and Ears’ of the police is one way that we’re described, but I think it’s more ‘public reassurance’ more than anything else, it’s not the actual crimes being committed that the public are aware of – we are the visible presence that they want to see, so they don’t think crime is going to be committed, it’s a blanket reassurance issue I think”

Falkor: “What about the powers for PCSOs Dan?”

Dan: “Well they’ve empowered us to do certain things, an example is these penalty notices for disorder – yes that’ll help combat anti social behaviour which may deal with people over 18 who are going to commit small minor offences, but then they don’t give you the power in certain forces of detaining somebody who you’ve issued a ticket, so I don’t think whoever issued the powers thought about it sufficiently enough – the street issues, they’ve just sat behind desks and thought ‘this’ll be good, good and good – this’ll make the public feel good,’ but then again they didn’t follow it through to the sequential sequence of events, so certain things you can do but other things you can’t do because the extra powers you need to do them aren’t there in the first place”

Falkor: “I do understand what you’re saying and to me it’s just like passing the buck I think”

Dan: “Basically yeah, they want us to do the job, but somebody somewhere needs to sit down and think well if you’re going to do this part, you need this, this and this, which they haven’t done – you get up to as far as you’re powerless basically and you think why did they bother giving us that in the first place?”

Falkor: “But they’re talking about bringing in a stop and search power for PCSOs aren’t they?”

Dan: “Well technically you’ve got a power of stop anyway – because when you’re speaking to somebody you’re stopping them basically – the stop issue, lawfully or unlawfully is there anyway – whether you use it or not – but the power to actually stop someone for the purpose of a search –so you’re specifically looking for something – I think A) is going to require a lot of training and a lot of money, which I think defeats the point of a PCSO because it’s going to cost hordes of money to train them to do it and B) you’ve obviously got the safety aspects too, they’re actually looking at us searching for weapons aren’t they? I think it was in the Guardian Aug 13th Hazel Blears says “Yes I think the powers of arrest should be changed for officers and also to increase the powers of arrest for Community Support Officers" and then they’re looking at giving us powers of search. Searching suspects is basically a job for the police – if it comes to that then so be it, we’ll have to do it but I’m not bothered about it either way to be fair”

Falkor: “Dan a lot of PCSOs are actually patrolling alone – in fact our latest member whowhere is patrolling on his own all the time, now is that right Dan?

Dan: “We in Suffolk patrol 8am – 8pm single – if you want to join up with somebody that’s fair enough, but from 8am – 8pm it’s single then it’s double crewed after 8pm”

Falkor: “So you’ve been doing that for a long time now, how do you find that?”

Dan: “It’s good fun actually – you get to do want you want to do, where if you’ve got a CSO and a CSO sometimes you get a conflict of interest – where a CS0 + PC – you do your job and they do their job - your job interacts with their job – where if you’ve got 2 CSOs patrolling, I feel that you’ve got a conflict of interest – because both people want to do the same job but differently”

Falkor: “Dan do you think that PCSOs should have handcuffs …. batons?”

Dan: “Batons and spray I would say no – because if you’re being put into a situation where you need to use that then you shouldn’t being put into that position. Handcuffs I can see a use for – I’m now coming up to completing a year and out of that year, I probably could have used handcuffs twice”

Falkor: “Is your pay going to go up now then Dan?” Dan: “It went up last April actually – by 3%”

Falkor: “Well you’ve completed a year’s service now, does your pay go up because of that?

Dan: “Yes it will do, I will have to dig out our pay scales to check. To be fair I’m happy with what I get at the moment, I’m not in it for the pay if that makes sense, obviously the pay’s good but I do it because I want to do it”

Falkor: “You were talking about batons and handcuffs”

Dan: “Handcuffs: I probably could have used them twice – there was one incident where myself and my acting sgt, who at the time was on patrol with me at night – we came across a fight outside one of the local pubs – I intervened by jumping on the biggest bloke who was fighting – took him to one side and restrained him – obviously I’m thinking ‘right now I’m in this position I’m 6’ and this guy is 7’ wide’ I had to shout over to the skipper who was dealing with the other two who had been knocked out basically and she had to come over and cuff him, then I obviously then held onto him, but initially with handcuffs would have been ideal – the training would come with it – so the training is what – a day? for the use of handcuffs … it’s all basically standard positions – stacking front and back etc”

Falkor: “But that’s one of the problems Dan, if you’ve just got a day on it you’re never going to remember that when it comes to an incident like the one you’ve just described”

Dan: “That’s the thing but they do have refresher courses every 6 months”

Falkor: “It’s not enough”

Dan: “Well we’re trained in UDT, unarmed defence tactics and that should get done every six months as well”

Falkor: “What about the uniform Dan?”

Dan: “Initially when the uniform came in we went to the stores room and they had a manikin dressed in the uniform and I thought ‘that looks pretty cool’ – it was then when body armour was issued, that it was basically a bright blue and I said “They’ve gone a bit stupid now, it’s looking a bit silly” – the body armour being bright blue I disagree with – the hat band, when initially in 2002 they were looked at – yes it was chequered – I personally think a blue and white chequered hat band would like quite good – you’ve got traffic wardens with it. Traffic wardens have got yellow and black, police officers have got white and black – why didn’t they just do blue and white for us?”

Falkor: “Well they did for a couple of forces”

Dan: “To be fair they look quite professional, quite smart and that then identifies you as a member of the police family. Quite recently there was a demonstration on animal cruelty and hunting – there was basically a breach of the peace happening, so myself and my colleague went over to warn these people and they looked me up and down as if to say ‘well who the hell are you?’ there’s no identification apart from your warrant card that you are actually involved by the police, it’s a bit stupid really”

Falkor: “Dan going back to last week’s BBC3 NEWS when the chairman of the MET Constable’s Branch Board stated that there would come a time when Commanders have to choose do they want to hire PCSOs or do they want to hire PCs, do you think it will come to that Dan?”

Dan: “It all depends who stays in power, if Labour stays in power then I think everything will be quite rosy – Hazel Blears’ idea of recruiting 20,000 PCSOs by 2006? no 24,000 in the next 4 years she said - well it all depends how they utilise them – if they just want them walking around the streets, doing fines for dog fouling and cycling on the pavement then I can see the public’s reaction will be ‘what a complete waste of time’ – they’re going to have to empower them to do the job they’re actually there for”

Falkor: “Give an example Dan”

Dan: “Well this 30 minutes of detention sort of routine – why 30 minutes? If you’re going to detain somebody, you need to detain them – say for instance in the Met you detain somebody then 31 minutes later there’s no policeman you have to let him go”

Falkor: “Well it’s public perception, they’ve done that as a public relations exercise, to reassure the public that PCSOs won’t be holding onto somebody for more than 30 minutes”

Dan: “Yeah but certain people are going to look at that and say well yeah that’s a good idea but why can’t they deal with it themselves? They’re employed by the police – just give them the powers to do it but then you’re borderline CSO/ policeman, that’s always going to be there – it’s like traffic wardens, why do traffic wardens get a load of stick for giving a parking ticket, but we don’t ?”

Falkor: “You don’t give parking tickets Dan?”

Dan: “We do, we’ve got full traffic warden powers in Suffolk – so we have the functions of a traffic warden is the legal term for it”

Falkor: “What did you think of the training that you went through 1 year ago Dan?”

Dan: “That was done by an outside company called ‘dream policing’ – the chap that did it was a chap by the name of Ray, an ex officer, he was an absolute diamond – he does a lot of training for police – CSOs to Suffolk were very new – he had only just been given the training package – it was the first lot of CSOs that he’d done – so to be fair, he did quite well – obviously nothing beats actually doing the job for real – obviously the role play is there, but it’s not until you hit the streets that you’re in the big wide world and you do recall back on things from the training but it’s like anything – can you train anybody to use common sense?”

Falkor: “But was there any training about seizure of vehicles Dan?”

Dan: “s59 of the Police Reform Act, yes they did – they sort of touched based on it to say look you have this power, but because of the training period, because you’re not exercising that power, you tend to forget it”

Falkor: “Well you exercised it Dan!”

Dan: “I did – well I went and read the notes on the PNLD for half an hour one day, sitting there, read it front to back, I went to a traffic sgt because basically the traffic department runs the section 59”

Falkor: “And you got involved in actually using it didn’t you?”

Dan: “Basically we’ve got an issue in Ipswich with boy racers terrorising the local neighbourhood round the cinema etc which is known as the ‘double d’ to us – you’ve got nightclubs cinemas pubs – there’s a lot of people, a lot of families and a lot of children on foot, the racetrack as it’s known is basically in the middle of it – you’ve got boy racers flying around there at like 60, 70 mph overtaking each other sounding horns – motorbikes and all sorts”

Falkor: “What sort of cars?”

Dan: “Anything from Vauxhall Novas to Suburu Imprezas to Mitsubishi Evos – the problem is that this chap had come into the KFC car park, slammed on his hand brake and spun the vehicle round in a 360 – that to me was unacceptable”

Falkor: “Absolutely!”

Dan: “With children and family trying to eat their dinner and you’ve got people going back to their cars – stopped him, spoke to him – obtained his details, put him through ‘the box’ as we call it – came up that he’d been issued a warning 2 weeks prior to that – of course the warnings last for a year and any sort of driving that’s inconsiderate or careless and that causes alarm, distress or harassment, obviously they’re the 2 factors that you need to prove and obviously my evidence suggested that he was doing those things, so I called for a marked unit to come down and seize his car from him”

Falkor: “So what did he say to that?”

Dan: “He started to kick his car funnily enough”

Falkor: “Did he?!”

Dan: “He’d been warned and didn’t think that it was going to be carried out, I told him that I was going to seize his car and he got a bit upset by it”

Falkor: “Were you on your own at that time Dan?”

Dan: “No I was with another PCSO at the time”

Falkor: “What did he think of all this?”

Dan: “Obviously he had heard of it but hadn’t read through it that much”

Falkor: “And since that incident have you been aware of any other PCSOs taking similar action?”

Dan: “No, none of the PCSOs have done it – but since I’d done that one, the PCs have jumped on the bandwagon and several cars have been seized now – the CSOs issue the warning as opposed to seize the car, because they’re reluctant to do so – Kevin one of the CSOs that I tutored who is working with me – I genned him up on the law and he is quite happy to go out and dish out the warnings, because obviously that area of town is a major antisocial hotspot for that kind of driving”

Falkor: “Well that is excellent work there. So that guy’s car went to the car pound did it Dan?”

Dan: “Yeah you have to have an area car driver to seize the car as in physically take it away, or you can put it on a low loader but of course that costs money so they drove if back to HQ and it remained there until the chap came and signed the form to say it was his”

Falkor: “So he paid the fine did he?”

Dan: “£112 for the actual seizure then £12 per day”

Falkor: “What a good result and I heard you say that you were tutoring Kevin there – well what is the PCSO tutor scheme then?”

Dan: “Well there wasn’t one, basically because we were government funded for 15 – only 12 started because 3 dropped out initially – so they recruited an extra 3 and obviously they didn’t want to tie up a police officer’s time again tutoring them for the full 4 weeks when they’re out on patrol – we’d been doing the job for 6 or 7 months – they said they wanted 3 volunteers to pass on experience and be a tutor for 4 weeks, so we all put our names in the hat, it was myself and 2 of my colleagues who got chosen and then we got assigned a new CSO each, so we went with them for 4 weeks and they went to a police officer for 1 week to learn ‘police stuff,’ in inverted commas and that was that, but it wasn’t actually a course as such, basically we were to go with them and hand over our experience and let them watch how we worked”

Falkor: “So these 3 who dropped out, did you know any of them Dan?”

Dan: “No I haven’t got a clue who they were – we never did find out who they were”

Falkor: “Dan do you ever have to do crime cordons?”

Dan: “Yes we do, we call them scene preservations in Suffolk, some one last week got assaulted, a section 20 wounding took place – I was first on scene and administered first aid with the paramedics – the suspect was arrested at the scene for the assault and due to the seriousness of the injuries we set up a crime cordon or as we would say a scene preservation – started a major incident log while CID completed their enquiries

Falkor: “So how long did that cordon stay there for – 24 hours?”

Dan: “No that one luckily just lasted for 4 hours”

Falkor: “A number of views have been put forward from PCSOs on our site, stating that it is not the function of a PCSO to stand on a crime cordon, only a terrorist cordon”

Dan: “I don’t know where that came from to be fair.”

Falkor: “Well you’ve got powers to enforce a terrorist cordon”

Dan: “Yes you have”

Falkor: “What powers have you got to enforce a crime cordon?”

Dan: “To be fair I don’t know, there is a power of arrest for coming into a crime scene but what that power of arrest is I don’t know”

Falkor: “Breach of the peace has been quoted before”

Dan: “But that’s only if harm is actually or likely to be done to a person isn’t it?”

Falkor: “You’re so knowledgeable aren’t you Dan? New breach of the peace instructions have just been issued in the terms that you are referring to. Well we are talking about PCSOs being used in an incorrect way, so in your 12 months, have you seen PCSOs used in an incorrect way?”

Dan: “Well not personally no – when you say an incorrect way you give me an example”

Falkor: “Cordons?”

Dan: “I don’t perceive that to be an incorrect way, if you’re carrying out the two main functions of a PCSO – one of which is high visibility and the other is you’re freeing up a fully paid police officer with an incident log in his hand”

Falkor: “So you’re completely happy with the role that you’ve got”

Dan: “More than happy”

Falkor: “Do you think that you should be used in further roles?”

Dan: “There obviously is a lot more scope for us i.e. fetes – air shows, it’s all high visibility and it’s stopping a paid police officer walking around an air show”

Falkor: “What about PCSOs in vehicles?”

Dan: “Everybody in time is guilty of going into a vehicle – if you’re in the nick, there’s an emergency or you’re needed down at a road block or a major accident, getting into a vehicle to go to it – fine, but to travel around on a constant shift basis – I can’t see the point of that – because you’re just a bod in a car and nobody actually knows who you are or what you are. Our town centre is patrolled on foot all the time – I’d rather be out on foot, obviously when it’s raining it’s nice to be in a car [laughs] – public order, they drive around in vans – specials will come on and take vans out, but you hear and see more once you’re on foot and you can respond to an incident probably quicker”

Falkor: “So what were you doing before you were a PCSO Dan?”

Dan: “I was at Marks and Spencer as a loss prevention investigator”

Falkor: “So then you saw the adverts for PCSO and thought I’ll do that instead?”

Dan: “I did yeah, I had done 5 years at Marks and Spencer – I had an involvement in running the shop link and town link system – knowing half the criminals and knowing all the police officers on the town centre – you tend to hear things before they go into the press about jobs etc”

Falkor: “Dan, Met PCSOs have been told that after 9 months they can apply to be a PC, have you ever considered doing that?”

Dan: “I’m actually in the process of filling out the application pack as we speak – so I’m halfway through – I’m up to the competencies stage”

Falkor: “Best of luck on that Dan”

Dan: “Yes I will keep my fingers crossed. The reason being is that there’s this big hoo-ha at the moment – if Labour don’t get in, the funding etc – unfortunately there’s nobody reassuring us at to where PCSOs are going to go in the future – that’s all well and good Hazel Blears saying that there’s going to be 24,000 of us, but it’s a case of ‘believe it when you see it’ that’s the only problem”

Falkor: “I understand that Dan and may I again wish you luck on the PC application? Would you believe that 25 minutes has gone by?”

Dan: “Really?”

Falkor: “25 minutes mate” Dan: “And it just goes on and on and on”

Falkor: “No it’s been very interesting – thank you for being interviewed” Dan: “My pleasure”

------------ interview concludes 10.25am 23 August 2004 ----------------

        

 

    Dilly Day Dream: Chats to Falkor    

------------ interview commences 11am 21 October 2004 ----------------

Dilly Day Dream: "Hello"

Falkor: "Hello Dilly!"

Dilly Day Dream: "Hello"

Falkor: "Is it you?"

Dilly Day Dream: "It is me yes!"

Falkor: "It's not is it?"

Dilly Day Dream: "It is yes"

Falkor: "You've just come back from Ibiza haven't you?"

Dilly Day Dream: "No that was ages ago"

Falkor: "What was it like? Was it nice?"

Dilly Day Dream: "It was nice yes, it was lovely"

Falkor: "That was this year was it?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Yes it was July"

Falkor: "Did you go with Alfie and Olie?"

Dilly Day Dream: "I did yes"

Falkor: "How old are they then?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Alfie's 5 and Olie's 11"

Falkor: "That's quite a nice age actually, are they looking forward to Christmas?"

Dilly Day Dream: "They are, we're going to Florida for Christmas"

Falkor: "Crikey you are world travellers aren't you?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Yes"

Falkor: "You love the travelling?"

Dilly Day Dream: "We do yes"

Falkor: "What was the best part about Ibiza for you then?"

Dilly Day Dream: "The weather"

Falkor: "It was massively hot was it?"

Dilly Day Dream: "It was lovely and warm yes, no rain at all"

Falkor: "Did you go on any expeditions or anything?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Well we hired a car as we know the islands quite well and went round a few of the little villages and up into the mountains"

Falkor: "No mishaps or anything?"

Dilly Day Dream: "No, no mishaps"

Falkor: "You did well didn't you!"

Dilly Day Dream: "Well I've got a good driver and I'm a good co-pilot"

Falkor: "Blimey, you got off scot free, nobody got ill or anything?"

Dilly Day Dream: "No, no one was ill, we get out there near enough every year, so we're quite used to it now"

Falkor: "Oh well I'll ask you some questions about PCSOs now shall I?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Go on then"

Falkor: "What's the scariest incident that you've dealt with as a PCSO?"

Dilly Day Dream: "I was on nuisance shifts - I went to a small shopping area at quarter past seven in the evening and I had a 21 year old male, came over and started shouting and screaming swearing at me and that's about it, that was about the scariest one, I didn't know quite what he was going to do"

Falkor: "Were you on your own at the time Dilly?"

Dilly Day Dream: "I was yes"

Falkor: "Because you started that "Lone Patrols" thread off basically when the site started"

Dilly Day Dream: "Yes that was me"

Falkor: "So nothing's changed since then?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Well the local policy that we don't patrol on our own after 6 o'clock in the evening or during the hours of darkness whatever comes earlier but it's not always feasible to go out in a pair, you might be the only one on or there's three of us on and I don't personally like working in more than 2s, because I don't think it looks very nice"

Falkor: "I quite agree with you. So .... how did you resolve that incident then Dilly?"

Dilly Day Dream: "I ended up having 15 - 20 boys all round me that did know me and they turned round to the 21 year old and said "Don't answer her back - she never works on her own and this is a section 30 area and she'll have you nicked" and with that, this bloke took off"

Falkor: "Excellent! Well that was nice Dilly, a bit of support there!"

Dilly Day Dream: "It was, it was yeah, but I know all the boys anyway they all know me by name and I know all them by name and their parents and they are quite good - they wouldn't let me get into any trouble, even though I get them into trouble"

Falkor: "This 21 year old just approached you and started shouting and swearing at you?"

Dilly Day Dream: "He did yes"

Falkor: "For what reason? Was there something behind it?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Originally what happened was, there was a boy and 2 girls kicking a football against the shutters and I was talking to a member of the public and I sort of called out to say "Hey stop doing that" but they carried on doing it and so I walked up to them and the boy continued to bounce the ball and I said "Give me the ball while I'm talking to you," he handed me the ball and the next thing I know, this bloke was beside me "YOU CAN'T DO THAT, YOU'VE GOT NO RIGHT"

Falkor: "Aaaa I see now, I understand, well this is the sort of thing that you want to handle because it is anti-social behaviour"

Dilly Day Dream: "It is and I've been in the job 18 months and it's the first time that I've been called 'plastic' and 'you can't do anything' well, he was quite aggressive. I was a traffic warden in London for 16 years, so I'm quite used to being called all the names under the sun and have been shouted and sworn at, but it still gets your stomach going"

Falkor: "It does actually I quite agree with you. So, have you got a best buddy PCSO wise at all?"

Dilly Day Dream: "No ... we work as a team - we originally started as four here - there's now eight of us and we all work quite well together"

Falkor: "Well that's marvellous Dilly but what about your supervisors? Do you think they could do anything more that would improve a PCSO's lot?"

Dilly Day Dream: "No our supervisors are quite good here - they're very supportive and any of the stuff that we get that we feed back - they act upon straight away - or as soon as they possibly can, if I've got problems with kids on mopeds - on my estate it's got rat runs and alleyways and pathways and I've been receiving loads of complaints along with registration numbers and I've put in a SARA what we called TAPS forms, handed them in to our supervisors and they're acting on it next week, so we get a lot of support here"

Falkor: "Glad to to hear it. But talking about the website for a minute if we may, which topic really sums it all up for you - which one do you identify with most? Have you got one?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Ooooo no. I read all of them - as you know I'm a moderator on there, so I have to read all of them. No, everyone has different views - different opinions - different ways of dealing with things"

Falkor: "That is what has really come across - it's so obvious when you start reading the threads isn't it?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Yeah and we all do different things as well"

Falkor: "Well you're quite used to seeing all these different forums on other websites as well aren't you Dilly?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Yes"

Falkor: "Well if you look at the forums on the national-pcsos website - say for instance that you were in charge of the website, is there any areas that you would change?"

Dilly Day Dream: "No there's not, it's well laid out - guests or non-members can come and have a look at and see what we're all about and then if they register, there's more areas for them to go onto"

Falkor: "I'm glad you said that, that's exactly how I feel as well, but y'know those photographs that you loaded to the site and you said 'guess who these people are?' I thought right I'll have a look in the memberlist and see whose registered as being with Herts because it's got to be somebody with Herts and that then made me realise just how many Herts PCSOs there are on the site! I was quite amazed!"

Dilly Day Dream: "But there are loads more Hertfordshire PCSOs- we've got 87 I believe at the moment, with another load in training at the moment and half of them aren't on there at all"

Falkor: "Well I think we're pretty well represented for Herts on here Dilly, I mean as soon as I saw how many there were I thought I'm giving up - there's now way that I'm gonna be able to guess"

Dilly Day Dream: [laughing]

Falkor: "They are lovely photographs and I tell you what it's just so much fun when members pass over the photographs because it's great isn't it?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Yeah we had a really good night that night"

Falkor: "Well it looks like it too and it just goes to show that we work to live life and not the other way around"

Dilly Day Dream: "Exactly"

Falkor: "Because you went to that murder mystery castle didn't you?"

Dilly Day Dream: "Yes I did"

Falkor: "Are you going to go again?"

Dilly Day Dream: "There's a prison up in Staffordshire and we're hoping to go there next year"

Falkor: "A prison?"

Dilly Day Dream: "An ancient disused prison"

Falkor: "That sounds amazing - what's the deal with this prison then - what do you do?"

Dilly Day Dream: "It'll be pretty much the same as what we did at Tutbury - we go along there, they give you a history on the building and the things that went on there, possibly a meal - because we had a meal at Tutbury as well"

Falkor: "Tutbury sounded great, I gotta say I did enjoy reading about it"

Dilly Day Dream: "Then we went on a tour with a guide, who took us round all the rooms, then we had some psychic people there that took us round as well and then we just got to do what we wanted after then, we could go where we want, we could wander round either on our own, or in groups"

Falkor: "Sounds marvellous to me Dilly but I'm afraid that I'm going to have to leave you in peace now and you'll have this printed all over the website in a couple of days time, you don't mind do you?"

Dilly Day Dream: "No I don't mind, there's not very much that I hold back from that website"

Falkor: "Oh excellent, well it's been a pleasure talking with you"

Dilly Day Dream: "And you!"

Falkor: "All the best B Y E E E E E"

----- INTERVIEW CONCLUDES ------ 21st October 2004 1120

        

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interviews 2007: summary information
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12½% shift allowance or 20% shift allowance
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