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never regret the future
introduction: micky a 30 year PC in the MET, micky has developed a sure expertise on PCSOs and is a veteran of national-PCSOs
falkor: hello there micky
micky: hello, can I have a CAB please?
falkor: [laughing] Good morning to you!
micky: how are you, alright?
falkor: yey it's a lovely Sunday morning!! great of you to phone me!
micky: oh no problem, no problem
falkor: shall I kick off the interview then?
micky: whenever you want to yeah!
falkor: here we go then, now I've had a look at a few of your posts, one of them says "PCSOs who act outside of their remit and make arrests do deserve to be praised." that's something you said.
micky: I did?
falkor: yes it is. now is that true?
micky have you started recording yet?
falkor: yes it's all recording - it's all going on tape
falkor: so have any of your PCSOs done that at all micky?
micky: oh yes. I can remember one PCSO who had got a person who was firing a gun - an airgun - at the windows of a school. in reality he wasn't acting outside his remit - he's actually gone up and spoken to the boy and asked him to wait there - he hasn't asked the lad for his name and address and things like this - so he hasn't detained him with PCSO powers if you like, he's just said "Can you wait there" and of course we've arrived and dealt with him. What he hadn't done obviously was take the gun off him - well he hadn't got any powers to do that - not that he actually thought about it, so obviously that sort of thing - he's done the right thing, albeit not fully aware of his powers and probably acting outside of his powers. what he could've done was arrested the person and clearly he deserved praise, because he's got somebody who needs to be arrested and there's quite a few occasions I guess where people have been arrested, in circumstances where PCSOs deserve praise. It's a combination of things like this where I've seen PCSOs deserve an immense amount of praise - chasing people with knives and guns and arrest them and I think in those circumstances, they've probably acted as members of the public but they certainly merit praise for it. But I don't think that we should encourage it and
falkor: okay thanks for that micky. Now you have been centred on the East Wickham safer neighbourhoods for a very long time
micky: about 3 years in total
falkor: so are the PCSOs on that safer neighbourhood contributing a significant amount?
micky: yes. I guess we're quite lucky in the East Wickham area. It wasn't such a crime ridden area as other parts of the country. That said in our first year we had a significant reduction of crime. About 40% and the PCSOs played a part in that. Both in the arrests that they were involved in, the detentions that they got involved in along with some of the activities but it takes all types. There are some that are more competent than others and currently I'm working with some that I think should be doing my job and earning double what they're earning, so there are some who are very very competent so I think it's a very strange new job and it's attracted all sorts into it
falkor: what do you mean they should be earning double what they're earning?
micky: I'm saying that PCSOs, some of them are very very competent at what they do and display characteristics that they could be working maybe in local council, maybe as PCs and doubling their wages
falkor: oh right
micky: that is basically it - there are some that could be earning a lot more than what they are. It is the sort of job that's attracted people in and I just feel that some of them are possibly wasted as PCSOs - well they're getting job satisfaction which is good, but they could be doing something that would help their quality of life financially
falkor: you could say the same thing about some PCs. I'm damn sure that you could have been a Sgt by now micky
micky: I'm damn sure I could have been a Superintendent [laughing]
falkor: but what you're saying about some PCSOs, some people could say about some PCs can't they?
micky: well I think it's very easy and there are a lot of lads and lasses on here who enjoy the job of being out on the streets so much and it is about that and the actual doing of the job, that they don't look at the bigger picture and I remember a chat I had with a Chief Inspector a long long time ago, four or five years ago when he was trying to persuade me to go for promotion and he was saying "Wouldn't you like to LEAD a team of PCs?" and in many respects he's right, but you do what you do, because you can't have regrets about the way you run your life
falkor: fair enough
falkor: have you seen any of these 'PCSO observers' at all micky?
micky: I'm not too sure what you mean by that
falkor: Well you said on the forums that you could sign a form that acts as a waiver and also they have to sign that they will do as the PCSO says when they walk along with them. Do you remember you said this?
falkor: You said that if an adult wants to come out and observe what a PCSO does .....
micky: [interrupting] oh someone who wants to join
falkor: yeah and they want to walk around with the PCSO on their beat. This seems quite a good idea. They sign a waiver to say "Is it if they get injured they won't sue the job? Is that it?"
micky: oh yes it happens all the time doesn't it, obviously it used to happen MORE before we were so Healthy and Safety aware. We have had adults out on patrol with us, be it from the government from different departments, local councils or people who want to join as PCSOs. They can come out and see a little bit of what the job entails, but in coming to that agreement they've also got to sign this waiver that basically ensures that they know that if we get into a tricky situation, that they obey us and don't get involved because we would have a duty of care towards them as well, because we need to be getting on with it we might have to say "ok off you go I'll meet you back at the Police Station"
falkor: okay I understand all that but where is this form Micky?
falkor: where do you get it?
micky: a very good question
micky: I haven't used one for some time now [laughing]
micky: I would hope that it would be on the forms within the Met Police intranet but by the sound of you asking me it probably isn't
falkor: it is an official form is it?
micky: well it deinitely was an official form, I'm trying to think when we last used one - I know my PCSOs have been getting 'em signed up so I imagine it's on the intranet
falkor: okay moving on to the old s59 seizing a car. First MET PCSOs could - they could actually give the warning couldn't they when it first came in - then a Police Notice came out saying Met PCSOs are not allowed to give the warning and I believe it's been reversed again hasn't it micky? is that right?
micky: I haven't heard of the reversal, but I would imagine that the ones who are now getting trained in the new powers would probably be getting training in this as well. I think the real problem is that as far as I'm concerned, when you become a PCSO some of them don't actually know what powers they've got and don't fully understand them and this is something that is quite widespread
falkor: but they've got a card on them micky, it shows what powers they've got on the card
micky: yeah I know, but they don't fully understand their powers and certainly my ones when they first arrived were asking questions about their powers - I was answering question after question - most of the time they don't fully understand what their powers are. Now obviously that comes down to training to some degree, but I think we notice it on the forums that there are some people who totally misinterpret their powers. Sometimes people talk about detaining when they mean they've arrested them, but when you look at s59 clearly something was going wrong somewhere. You know what the Met's like. If someone makes a mistake they don't want it repeated force wide, so they've obviously put a stop in on something that was potentially a serious problem for the Met - now whether that was seizing without warning, whether it was somebody putting themselves in real danger - by somebody trying to seize a car at one of these rallies where they all gather together to do wheelies and things and he tried to grab one when he didn't have sufficient troops out, I don't know
falkor: is it something that the East Wickham lot have wanted to use? or have used?
micky: they were using it and they were using it fine and we'd seized quite a few vehicles and I would say that other than alcohol seizures, that the seizures of cars would have been their next highest power that they were using. But they were using it fine and they had every competence in it and they knew exactly what they had to do and usually if they were planning to actually seize the car, they would call for a PC to give them that additional back up when they told the guy that they were seizing it - y'know - if it was a warning, you didn't really need that because it's just telling them don't do it again, but if they're actually planning to seize it they'd normally call us down there to ensure that nothing kicked off
falkor: and this all stopped about 2 years ago did it?
micky: yeah that Police Order came out didn't it?
falkor: 2 years ago
micky: I think it's largely down to either somebody placing themselves in danger, or somebody seized it at the wrong time or the power was being slightly misinterpreted by people, so they put a blanket stop on it. Possibly it was being taught wrong in the first place. Y'know we've had this on the forum about another thing where it appears to have been taught wrong - so y'know if they've trained eveyone wrong, then of course you've got to put a stop to it until you've retrained everyone
falkor: micky the PCSOs should have this, it's a bloody good thing s59 they should ALL be able to give the warning and ALL be able to seize the car
falkor: shouldn't they?
micky: well of course they should
falkor: oh you agree with that
micky: [laughing] I haven't got any problems with PCSOs using the powers that they have got, but as long as they are properly trained in it and for whatever reason something appears to have gone amiss with that particular power and they've obviously decided that there's a need to put a stop on it
falkor: well talking about 2 years ago .... back in 2005 you put together a quiz for us "micky's Anti Social Behaviour Quiz"
falkor: do you remember?
micky: just about
falkor: 2005! It's amazing how the years go by - it's still on the forum and I had a look at it yesterday - it's still working great and all the questions are still applicable, so I'd just like to say a quick thank you to you for doing that, it's very good of you
micky: no problem. I quite enjoyed putting it together, I remember that you and me banged our heads together a couple of times trying to work out one of the questions
falkor: oh my god - that's right
micky: how it was worded
falkor: yikes I forgot about that
micky: I can't remember which one it is now
falkor: I remember that now
micky: sometimes it's quite difficult when you're trying to get the answers so that they're fair right and proper
falkor: yeah it was good that .... and if you go back 1 year further ... 2004, that's when you joined the site!
falkor: can you believe it?
falkor: 2004 you joined up
micky: busy year for me 2004
falkor: was it?
falkor: do you think the site's changed much since then?
micky: I guess you've got a lot more members and what surpises me, is just how many members do fall away, some are very active contributors and suddenly they disappear
falkor: I know - I was in tears about it over some of those, like kentishman for instance, it's terrible I think the bloke's even stopped visiting us now, but I gotta say like you're saying, when you get these active contributors and then all of a sudden they stop contributing - although he stopped posting I know he was logging into the site having a look and I think he's even stopped doing that now, I don't know. it's shame
micky: I think part of it, is that they're so busy doing what they're doing and also there's an important bit about when you've finished work at the station, you should just leave it behind and people want to get on and do their own activities outside the job whereas I find the forum quite relaxing and as you know the reason I joined it, was because one of my PCSOs said share your knowledge with others and let others know, but I have upset the wife by being on it so much and she makes fun of me and undoubtedly my time on here will go down at some stage, to not quite as much but while I've got something to do on there I feel I should do
falkor: well you do get very involved in our topics and you are a great source of factual, reliable, information - that is absolutely certain - you also spend quite a lot of time analysing members' problems too, so I am really impressed with your presence on the site - you've also been on offduty as well haven't you?
falkor: off duty has seen your presence too
falkor: but that was quite a while back
micky: offduty's a little more light hearted for me. it's an interesting site and one guy there managed to sort out how I can change my LP music into digital tracks - y'know a source of information
falkor: they've got some very nice people on there - they've also got some very vociferous arguers on there I know that too, they're well famous for that, but they've also got some very nice people on there too
micky: yeah some people like to wind others up and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, provided that you keep within a degree of deceny - y'know we all like wind ups don't we?
falkor: oh they've had some ....
micky: [interrupting] you didn't fall for my CAB one at the beginning but y'know
micky: April 1st and everything
micky: there's a ...
falkor: [interrupting] how's the Film Production Co going? have you still got one going micky?
micky: well I've got two things ... obviously I've got 'pointless taxi productions' which is a young persons film club and I was doing that as a PC and running that and being paid fully for that - now within my new role, hopefully I'll keep pointless taxi going and a lot of the admin work will be in work time - so looking for funding and things like that, I should be able to do and a lot of the contacts that sort of stuff will be done in work's time, now obviously on a Wednesday evening I also have a hands on role, which is script writing and developing the scripts of the young people and I think that might turn into voluntary and certainly what I've been doing in the past is hands on on the days when they're out filming. now I don't think I'll be able to manage that or I won't have any holidays for myself, so my role's changing slightly - I've got a meeting to fully discuss that next week sometime so my role is changing slightly in relation to that. What it does is enhances the roles of the PCSOs in the club. we've had 1 PCSO permanently involved in the club all the way through and others have dropped in at times just to help out when they've been away. I think what we're going to have is a couple of PCSOs who do a lot more of the running around. What we try to do is try filming the locations of people who have been complaining about young people, to try and show that not all young people are bad and it works really well. The other day the BBC were there talking to the young people and as you know, one of their films is still on the BBC website and I think they'll be others coming out in the near future with a bit of luck
falkor: where do most of your films get shown though micky?
micky: the purpose of the films are for educational purposes, to train policemen in anti social behaviour was one of the first films and obviously that's been used as a training package locally
micky: it hasn't gone out wider because we wanted a couple of things jigged in the editing before we wanted it out wider. it took us a lot longer than anticipated
micky: but the ones they're currently working on is "Young Persons Mental Health Services" that's going to be going into schools as an educational package and then we're doing one for the citizenship officer in the borough and that'll be going out to schools as an educational package. We've done Domestic Violence films for women's aid, but all the sorts of things that we try to do are so that we can pump 'em out through a wider audience. We're looking for the audience when we actually accept a commission
falkor: moving on there was a couple of things I would like to ask you on your role as a PC, because at one time you said you never wore a stab vest! didn't you?
micky: I can honestly say bar one or two raids that we've done where I was ordered to and reluctantly put it on, I've got through my service without wearing a stab vest, but I want to make it clear though that everybody that's issued with one should be wearing it and clearly I found it very difficult to do the change and put a stab vest on. I'm a very active person. I run and chase people on a regular basis and catch them - y'know not many people have got away from me when they've run off - a stab vest would have prevented me from doing that, it would have hindered my ability in policing the way that I was. Also I like to think that the crews I've been so successful at disarming people and dealing at situations I was happy at the way that I was doing it and I must admit I drove the bosses mad, I was constantly being ordered and asked nicely to put it on, but they weren't going to change me. but I do think that the stab vest is an important piece of equipment and you've probably seen it at some of the major demonstrations that people come back and there's a slash mark across their vest and that would've been somebody's belly cut open or their back, so I certainly wouldn't recommend anybody else, it's just one of those things I've developed and also within East Wickham I clearly felt real discipline in going out and things getting better. If was walking around in a stab vest myself, I think it sends out the wrong message but I don't think that we should be persuading others to follow my poor lead
falkor: ok I quite understand but another thing that I found quite interesting about you as a PC - this is what really interested me - was that if you had a group of youths on your patch, who you thought might be into robberies or something you challenged them to a race
falkor: [interrupting] I love that
micky: I've done that a few times now
falkor: I love that and if one of them said yeah you'd race them and you felt quite capable that you'd win the race, so that then at the end of it if you got to the end of the 100 yards before them, you'd say "Just remember I can beat you to it if you run off from after doing a robbery"
falkor: that is absolutely superb! very interesting, so you've done that quite a few times then?
micky: in my service I've done it quite a few times when I've challenged people to races, to show them that they don't actually stand much of a chance with me and I do point out to them "and you had trainers on and you had age on your side" it's a good technique because 1 it shows that you're different from the rest of them, so you build up a bond with people and 2 they also realise, that if they're out to cause trouble then they shouldn't really be doing it in that area
falkor: that's a good tip. Now what about crimint access for PCSOs micky? have all your PCSOs got crimint access?
micky: yes all PCSOs have crimint access don't they?
falkor: well some of them don't do they. they've been moaning on about it on the forums and saying they've been stopped
micky: I don't know about that. Certainly at Bexley everybody has access to the intelligence systems
micky: You know how the services reacts if there is something that they need to react to - sometimes they stop everything while they work out what the problem is that might be what's going on
falkor: have your PCSOs got access to CRIS? can they get on CRIS?
micky: they haven't got access to CRIS and my understanding of the reasoning behind that, is that they don't want to be bogged down with paperwork and in many respects I think it's right, certainly when they first came about PCSOs there was a proforma designed, so that if somebody reported a crime to them in the street - they shouldn't be routinely sent to report a crime - but if someone comes up and says "Someone's just knocked over my wall" or something like that, then they should be able to take down the details and a brief description of the crime and then hand it in to the telephone investigation bureau to put on the system
falkor: [interrupting] but they're going to be routinely sent to the flippin front office micky aren't they? what's happening about that?
micky: I must admit I was a bit surprised by that
falkor: [interrupting] is it happening?
micky: I think you'll find that it's more to do with trying to reach a target of how many PCSOs we've got, rather than anything else - yes I was very surprised as the Station Reception Officers were doing a vey good job
falkor: what's happening to 'em now then?
micky: presumably some of them won't want to be PCSOs
falkor: are they still in place or not? Because it's supposed to be today that's it happening
micky: is it happening today?
falkor: I believe so
micky: to be honest I haven't followed it too much - but it's the old progession with the PCSOs I can understand, there's a lot of them that feel that doing the job where there are no major options open to them within that role and so they're trying to make a few jobs sideways for 'em and I can't see any problems with a PCSO doing the front counter - it's not quite what they joined for, but they're meeting the community, they're giving some help and advice, so I can't see any major problems with them being PCSOs
falkor: the major problem that's going to happen is, that a PCSO that's been out walking on their patch for 2 years, is suddenly going to be told you're now in the front office for 6 months - is that not the case?
falkor: and they don't want to do it
micky: I'm not going to stick up for the policy because I really don't know the thinking behind it, I would hope that they wouldn't forcefully remove somebody that's doing a good job in one area, to move them into the front office but we all know that these things do happen sometimes. so has anyone that you know been forced to go into the front office?
falkor: no I'm in Surrey Police now so I'm totally out of the flippin loop I'm afraid micky, I just don't know
micky: to me I think they're trying to accommodate a bit of progression - I think they've probably got their eye on this target of how many PCSOs that they need in by a certain time and this was one way of achieving it and I also think that because some money was offered to have them in the front office, this probably attracted the bosses as well, so I think there's a few things going on there
in 2008, saves were made of 17 pages from national-pcsos, comprising 2006 - 2007 material
Go to the first of 17 pages on pcsos-national, that records the acceleration of PCSOs to 16,000 personnel on the streets of England and Wales.
falkor: I would like to know what happened to all those survey forms micky, twenty two survey forms back in 2004 - have you still got 'em?
micky: it wasn't twenty two
falkor: wasn't it? oh you remember hey!
micky: I've still got 'em on my system because I STILL one day was intending to do 'em
micky: it went on to about 500 in the end
falkor: YOU'RE JOKING
micky: and I got snowed under
falkor: FIVE HUNDRED? YOU'RE JOKING?
micky: no I got snowed under unfortunately
falkor: I had no idea it was five hundred
micky: what happened was one of the guys, trying to remember who, nice guy I think he works in the Lewisham area - he done a run around and got people to send them first to him and they started hitting me ...
falkor: oh my god
micky: and it just got too much
falkor: I didn't realise
micky: when we were doing that I was going through a really really busy time at work as well, I was getting there and suddenly another batch would arrive
falkor: [laughing] I had no idea it was 500 I'm totally shocked by that
micky: it was a good one and in many respects what I should have done was say right, someone else come and count them - ultimately it was nothing that we would have been surprised with, in that most PCSOs think that they should have more PPE and most think that they should have more powers and that was basically the thrust of it, y'know when I do a survey I like to be really honest and open with them and do 'em properly and I'm afraid I just got snowed under
falkor: that's it micky! thanks very much for phoning! you're a gentleman
micky: lovely stuff
falkor: thank you very much indeed! cheers
micky: thanks for your time mate
falkor: okay bye
falkor: ta da
all in the day of a PCSO ...
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