all in the day of a PCSO ...
mono: a well experienced MET PCSO ** interview I **
introduction: in Jun 2004, mono joined national-PCSOs. Almost 2 years later he is interviewed by falkor, here is that interview
falkor: is that Darren? mono: it is
falkor: DARREN! mono: oh hi there
falkor: falkor here mono: hello there mate, how are ya?
falkor: still in Uxbridge? mono: yes
falkor: after all this time mono: yep after all this time [laughing]
falkor: Chief Insp Cumber mono: Chief Insp who?
falkor: Cumber mono: [silence]
falkor: don't you know him? mono: I don't think so
falkor: oh forget that one then mono: I don't work Uxbridge, I live in Uxbridge
falkor: ah well you wouldn't then would you mono: no I wouldn't then would I
falkor: you've got Uxbridge on your profile, that's just a red herring
mono: no that's where I live - it didn't say where you work did it?
falkor: actually, I do the same as you, I've got Surrey, but that's not where I work
mono: ah well there you are you see
falkor: what about the Kew Gardens mission? you were one of the main men on that 4 days before
mono: unfortunately I had a disciplinary issue that I had to deal with
falkor: oh my god really? [shocked] mono: yes I had a bit of a falling out at one of the Commissioner's get togethers
falkor: what did you do - you put a dodgy question up did you?
mono: no no but shall we say that I am a little more vociferous than some
falkor: well I can't see a problem with that
mono: well I had a pop at one of the panel - one of the invited guests and they took a dislike to my tone shall we say
falkor: I can't believe that
mono: well I was interviewed and investigated by Inspector B******* from Uxbridge but it's all squared up now
falkor: sheesh ... I guess we had better move on
falkor: on the forums you say that you have been to domestics, suspects on, public order, collapsed behind locked doors, sounds like you've been to the lot mono: oh yeah yeah ... we often do
falkor: are you a PCSO? mono: yes [laughing]
falkor: [laughing] how on earth do you do that then?
mono: I'm very fortunate, I work at Feltham which is on Hounslow Borough and we've got a very good sector team and if it's possible for us to get involved, WE DO
falkor: you just jump in a response car?
mono: ah well you see my ward sergeant is an advanced driver, consequently whenever the area car's sitting in the yard with no driver ... WE HAVE IT !
falkor: and he drives it and you go out next to him mono: yeah go out as the operator yeah
falkor: how often do you do that?
mono: how often's the BMW there? if not, we take an IRV or a carrier or a minibus or you name it
falkor: what is this every other day or what?
mono: pretty much, let's put it this way I don't walk anymore, if it's not that - I'm out on the pushbike
falkor: yeah I saw you did a good post on the bicycles you've got there which you described in full detail, you're obviously passionate about that as well
mono: well the ward I work on, I don't suppose it's any bigger or smaller than any others, but shall we say it's very long, so if you decide one day that you're going to go to the far end, it can take you 45 minutes or an hour to get there by foot, only to find that there's bugger all going on and then you've got to get back and that's another hour or 45 minutes, just to get back to the starting point, before you go out the other way
falkor: what about punctures? mono: well I haven't had any yet
falkor: you've been cycling what ... a couple of years?
mono: no we only got the use of the bikes officially in September
falkor: and nobody's had any punctures?
mono: well some of the others have
mono: again we're fortunate, 2 of the PCs in our sector office are the cycling instructors, so any problems, we go straight to them and they give us a good run down on it
falkor: do you take advantage of the type of terrain that cycles can reach - do you go to any particular areas your section, where you really feel that you've got an advantage as a cyclist?
mono: well to be honest the one I work on, is about half residential and half industrial - got a couple of industrial estates on there - one of them's got it's own security team, the other one hasn't and that suffers a lot from thefts from the trailers and so on - so we do loiter around there, simply because it's one of those places where you can go there and it can be completely deserted and if you're on foot, then you're kind of stuck there. It's so vast that you look down one road and you think, well there's NOTHING down there and you spend 10 minutes walking down there and then you think "hmm I was right!" and then you have to spend 10 minutes walking back up it again - at least on the bikes you're down there in 2 minutes at the most and if there's nothing going on, then you move on to somewhere else on the ward
falkor: have you got anything on your bicycle like blue lights or sirens or anything? mono: no we haven't got any of them - no blue lights or sirens
falkor: nothing like that mono: no they're specialised rock hopper pro disc bikes
falkor: I mean would you fancy that type of equipment if it was to come your way or not? mono: mmmm I don't know ... I have to be honest, I think it could look a bit laughable
falkor: yeah mono: that's my own personal opinion, dignity at all costs
mono: I dunno I suppose it might be useful, but I quite frankly don't personally see the need for that on a pushbike, I mean how fast can you go? you can always shout "get out the bloody way" can't you?
falkor: yeah .... [smiling] .. so have you gone to any blue light calls on your rock hopper? mono: well .. suspects on yeah
falkor: you had a suspects on, when was that? mono: ooooo 3 or 4 months ago - I mean naturally of course everybody goes
falkor: of course yeah mono: and it just so happened that I happened to be the closest - I got there at the same time as the area car, so they dealt with that bit and I scurried around the back
falkor: of course mono: and it turned out to be lawful occupiers but you don't know that at the time do you?
falkor: so when the PCs see you turning up to a call like that, I mean what is their attitude? do they talk to you?
mono: oh yeah - we're quite fortunate - I mean the team .... some of them can be a litle bit off, I'm sure you're aware because the teams work with the teams and that's all there is to it, if you're not part of their little cliques then you don't get a look in, BUT as a general rule, everyone's ok - so you know just go around the back there, chances are you may even know who should be in the area and who shouldn't - I mean they're blatting around from Chiswick to Hounslow and Brentford and Isleworth and all over the place. I mean they know a lot of the ones over in Chiswick that I wouldn't necessarily run into on a daily basis, but if you are on your ward, you know who comes there and who doesn't, who comes there and who shouldn't, where all the dealers are and where they go and get their drugs from. They do like to use your local knowledge
falkor: are you happy with your role as a PCSO then Darren? mono: it's driving me insane
falkor: IS IT? [shocked] mono: oh god yeah
falkor: go on then what? mono: oh I just can't believe that we just don't do more
falkor: right mono: do you work in the MET?
falkor: next Borough to you mono: which way?
falkor: south mono: what Twickenham or Kingston?
falkor: the first one .... for one more day mono: well you know they took away our s59 powers
falkor: ah yeah that was MET wide mono: yeah I know but for what good reason? mono: the reason wasn't given was it?
falkor: yes it was, in the end "Lack of training" - you'd never been trained on it had you? mono: no - TRAIN US!
falkor: but they won't do, they see it as a liability - if they've got to keep training you .... it's not just a one off training thing is it?
mono: well I don't know any of the PCs that have had it
falkor: it seems crazy because the counties have had so much success with it mono: exactly!
falkor: you just read the forums - in fact you can go onto 'Police Specials' - this is where I first read about it - they're having a truly fantastic success with it, the words shooting yourself in the foot do come to mind here
well quite frankly
but between you and me there are people out there, who couldn't fill in the paperwork - not that there was any initially to go with it
mono: but between you and me there are people out there, who couldn't fill in the paperwork - not that there was any initially to go with it
falkor: so let's go back to the time when PCSOs could use it - did you use it back then Darren?
mono: I used it the day before it was rescinded
falkor: how did it go?
mono: well that one was just a warning initially - I was actually on foot at the time, we didn't have the bikes and I was walking towards Feltham British Rail stn - a couple of my colleagues, PCSOs were stood at the station - a lad went by on one of those gopeds, they knew I was about, so up on the radio they asked if I happened to be passing I said "I've got him" he was then given a s59 warning
falkor: what was the justification? mono: well it was a goped
mono: he was riding it on the pavement not on the road, no safety equipment, no licence, no nothing and shouting and screaming all over the place
falkor: he was shouting and screaming? mono: well you know what kids are like
falkor: so that's a s59 then? mono: well it's the anti-social use of the thing
falkor: because he was on the pavement?
falkor: let's get down to the evidence on that particular example, you're saying that because he was riding a goped on the pavement that's a section 59
mono: oh no no it wasn't just that - we do use a certain amount of discretion, always have - the kids have got them so ...
falkor: so that's why it was a warning mono: that's why it was a warning yes
falkor: because the evidence wasn't really that strong
mono: no no on the 1st April last year, I took another lad's goped off him - I'd given him his first warning about a week before
falkor: but what had he done to deserve it though Darren? mono: what the first one?
falkor: yeah mono: again that was riding on the pavement and using it involved in crime as well
falkor: really? mono: yes he's a bit of a criminal damage merchant and a graffiti artist and he'd tried to get away from me on one occasion
falkor: did he? mono: yep and I didn't know who he was at the time
falkor: with a s59 doesn't it have to be a without due care or driving without reasonable consideration for other road users?
mono: well that would be the road traffic act, driving without due care and attention that's what happened to me when I lost the top of my motorbike - the woman was done for driving without due care and attention but this was just an antisocial use of motor vehicle wasn't it contrary to the anti social behaviour act - he was causing harassment alarm and distress
falkor: so it was towed off was it? mono: well it didn't have to be it was one of those gopeds - just called up a van and took it away. The good thing was it wasn't so much taking it away from him, it was the impact on the youths surrounding shall we say
falkor: they all saw it mono: yes they all saw it taken from him and for a good couple of months ... and even now you get the odd comment 'oh you're the one who took Tom's goped
falkor: he couldn't get it back? mono: no
falkor: why not? mono: well we went to see his parents and told them "Look if you want it back you're going to have to pay the fine, storage" and they said "Well quite frankly no"
falkor: what money are we talking about here? mono: £105 charge + storage
falkor: so they never paid it mono: no they said "Quite frankly we're glad you've taken it off him"
falkor: [laughing] mono: HOWEVER as an aside, they have since bought him one of those junior motocross bikes - the slightly smaller version than the adults and [laughing] rumour control is that he's currently terrorising Feltham on a Sunday with that, but we've yet to see him at it
falkor: you're doing well Darren, I like the attitude mono: yeah well you've got to take it to them sometimes haven't you
falkor: have you got any hobbies? mono: me, well I'm watching one of them on the TV at the moment, getting more and more angry
falkor: what's that? mono: the rugby
falkor: cor you're in the right place aren't you? mono: well yeah not too far from Twickenham ... but I'm just looking at this dismal score line against of all people, the french
falkor: what about your favourite food? mono: oh curry!
falkor: you are a curry man mono: hell yes and my good lady is in the kitchen at the moment knocking up a curry
falkor: ON A SUNDAY!? mono: well quite right
mono: traditional British meal!
falkor: and previous to being a PCSO you were 15 years in the retail security mono: yes pretty much uniform and store detective stuff
falkor: and you ALWAYS carried handcuffs mono: basically for 14 of the 15 years yeah
falkor: why was that? mono: better to have something and not need it, than need it and not have it
falkor: but did you need it? mono: well a few occasions, maybe a dozen times over as many years
falkor: you put the old cuffs on mono: ooo absolutely yeah
falkor: and would you like them now? mono: I think my views on the PPE are well known on the website - but I think we should have the lot, the whole lot
falkor: the whole lot mono: the whole lot
mono: I want it all and I want it now
falkor: I don't see why you shouldn't have handcuffs, it's just the cost of them mono: the trouble is what use are they, if they're non compliant
falkor: so why did you have them in the security job then?
mono: because it was the only thing that you could have wasn't it
mono: you know I was prepared to push it to the line, but you can't take it over the line can you?
falkor: fair enough, what about SOCAP training? have you had any yet? mono: no
falkor: because I noticed that you wrote on the forums that PCSOs weren't going to get any SOCAP training
mono: well that's what they told us - we all got invited to the usual training day that we do over at Chiswick and it was all to go along as a sector and you think hmmm this'll be interesting, but you realise that not all of it will be particularly relevant to you, but certainly the changing of arrestable to indictable and just some of the terminology is relevant in some parts and we got there and they said well quite frankly we don't need you here, so you can go now and so we went
falkor: you went all the way over there ..... mono: oh yes we all went the whole sector, about 30 of us - not just the PCSOs, the PCs, the Sgts as well
falkor: so nobody got any SOCAP training? mono: oh they did
falkor: oh they did mono: it was only the PCSOs who got sent away
falkor: just the PCSOs got sent away mono: yes
falkor: that's embarrassing that is mono: well it is - I tried to prove a point, you know what the MET's like with the intranet and the CBT [computer based training] stuff and there was one on there that said "all probationers must complete this" and I thought 'well I'm not technically a probationer anymore but I'll give it a go' so I did, expecting to be tested, only to find that if you keep clicking yes you just pass anyway and prints you out a pretty little certificate, but it did ask you if you wanted to put your comments at the end, so I did and I got told by a PC at the training unit from Hendon, by email that it wasn't anticipated that PCSOs would ever use their any person powers and it wasn't necessary for you to complete this thank you very much
falkor: so ... you were a store detective and you made a few arrests didn't you? mono: yes suprisingly more than I thought I had when I totalled them all up yes
falkor: any person powers mono: absolutely
falkor: did you use the caution? mono: all the time
falkor: why? mono: why?
falkor: yeah why? mono: it'd be unlawful otherwise
falkor: does an any person making an arrest have to give the caution?
mono: well the way I look at is, a lot of it used to be company policy whether you did or didn't - I know for example that at the time, and this is going back a few years, that Marks and Spencers policy was that you didn't, their policy was that they wouldn't - now I did have an experience a few years ago at court, with a guy who I had been training - you know on the job training type thing - and he decided on this occasion that he wasn't going to - I went along to give him some moral support and he was ripped apart by the judge, because the judge said it doesn't matter what your company policy is, this is a court of law we are here to decide a matter of fact based on law, not your company policy and I had in fact told him that before and he chose not to, as was his choice and one should always caution because it says that other persons not charged with investigating offences should where possible have regard to the codes of practice
falkor: but when you say he was ripped apart, can you remember what was said to him? mono: off the top of my head no, I mean we are talking probably 10, 11 years ago now - well he adjourned it on a point of law and I couldn't stay
falkor: are you saying that the case got kicked out because he didn't caution him?
mono: no no no. It didn't get kicked out - he was trying to defend his actions and the CPS being the Criminal Protection Service didn't raise an objection of any sort at all to anything and left him high and dry and the judge was saying "while I appreciate what your company tells you you must and must not do, I'm telling you what you must always do and that is comply with law"
falkor: but in your opinion, if you didn't caution, what does this add up to - say the fella turns round and makes some kind of statement saying "yeah I took it off of that shelf I should've paid for it" and the person hasn't cautioned and then in the court
mono: [interrupting] well it's inadmissable as evidence isn't it
falkor: that's right, but that's all it amounts to surely mono: well yeah exactly, but it's also about being professional
falkor: ah ... fair point mono: that's my opinion. You can't be a carpenter and not learn about wood can you?
mono: you can't do a job like this and not learn about the very basics of the law mono: I mean it's always open to interpretation, that's what courts are there for, so I think we all appreciate that, but as long as you can stand there in the witness box and not the DOCK as a result of it
falkor: [laughing] mono: and say that you acted in good faith in accordance with the law
falkor: so have you been in the witness box as a PCSO then Darren? mono: no I haven't had to yet. I'm looking forward to it. I went a number of times as a store detective
falkor: of course you did mono: you know, Crown Court, Magistrates Court, County Court where the company had taken out a civil action as well
falkor: how did you end up as a PCSO then?
mono: I got bored in my previous job, I was working for Sainsbury at their head office up in Holborn, initially it should have been an extremely good job, with the prospect of a lot of variety and naturally of course, the moment that the four of us started, they reduced their contract team by a similar amount, which effectively tied us to a desk and I stuck it out for about 18 months and there was no sign that it was going to change and I thought I'm still young enough not to sit behind a desk for the rest of my life - I mean when the time comes when I'm getting old and creaky and thinking it's a bit cold to go out, maybe I'll think about a desk job, but while I can still run down the street and wrestle 'em to the ground I will
falkor: well you sound like you're good value for money to me mono: I'm not at the moment, I'm rotten at the moment, I've got a stinking cold, England are still losing - my curry's not ready
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: are you off sick then? mono: no no not off sick no
falkor: have you been off sick as a PCSO? mono: couple of days last year that's it
falkor: that's a pretty good sick record, what about your colleagues at your station - have they got a fairly good sick record because the MET have been criticised over PCSO sickness
mono: to be honest the ones that I work with - there's only 8 or 9 of us at the moment, but there are a few more coming to join us in the next month or so, but there is rarely anyone off sick
falkor: sounds good mono: from my understanding a few other sectors across the Borough it's not quite as good - take Hounslow for example they're constantly on the High Street and that's all they ever seem to do which is ok for a while, but they don't get involved in half the things that we do - they don't go to any of the drugs warrants or anything
falkor: you like all that mono: oh yeah a hell of a lot better than just bimbling about saying hello to children - I'm not very community minded in that respect
falkor: well you can't like doing everything
mono: well that's it and I think that's why I'm getting a bit frustrated at it - it's time this role moved on now and they decided are we going to do the community support or are we going to do the police support - it seems ludicrous to me that I can go out and do all the door to doors and bits and pieces, but I can't even update the CRIS [Crime reporting/ investigation log] when I get back
falkor: you're getting annoyed about that mono: I'm getting really annoyed about it because then what do I have to do, if there's no one there immediately for me to tell and do it there and then, I then have to sit down and type out all the bloody stuff in an email and they have to copy it out anyway, how's that saved any time for anyone?
falkor: so you can't even view the CRIS? mono: no. No CRIS access at all ... and that to me is ludicrous
falkor: I don't know whether that will ever come. It's training again isn't it? Because to do that they've got to give you 2 days training or 3 days training, this is their argument mono: well monkey see, monkey do - it's not rocket science is it?
falkor: they originally gave the MET PCSOs 3 weeks training and for them that was something that they could triumph over "look we only had to give the PCSOs 3 weeks training ...."
mono: [interrupting] I think I had 3 and a half weeks training although my training was done a little bit differently
mono: I was originally supposed to go to Wandsworth and they actually did the training on borough rather than - I think at the time the MET were doing it at Royal Mint Court, and now they do it at Hendon, but there was only about a dozen of us in the class and we were all supposed to be Wandsworth and I explained the difficulty of getting from Uxbridge to Wandsworth and how on a Sunday morning it would be pretty much a non starter and the training sergeant she was very good and I said well if you know anyone who would like a mutual swap for somewhere in West London and they can have South London, please put my name forward. She made a few enquiries at Royal Mint Court and there was a lad who lived in Roehampton and wanted Wandsworth but been sent to Houslow, so we just did a mutual swap at the end of training
falkor: marvellous, that's good luck isn't it mono: well I've always found that the MET can be very accommodating I mean no criticism there, we're very fortunate we've got a fantastic inspector, our sergeant's brilliant the rest of the ward are fantastic and the rest of the sector
falkor: well you sound like you're fairly happy Darren anyway THAT'S IT, your twenty minutes is up YOU'VE DONE IT
falkor: thanks very much for taking part mono: you're welcome, not a problem
falkor: top man, cheers! mono: best of luck and a wonderful site
falkor: ok thanks bye mono: cheers mate bye mono's AREA CAR
all in the day of a PCSO ...