The story really starts 35 years ago. I was working Old Trafford and got a call to another beat. It was a favour from Panda control The complainant was apparently very tasty. I found a couple with a young baby driven out of there wits. The problem was an old woman next door (terraced housing). There was nothing I could do at the time, other than establish the old dear was barking. I said I’d be back to help and it was clear the young couple didn’t believe me. They’d been let down by at least ten other cops, including one I was going out with.
I went back three times to collect evidence from other neighbours over the week. Rumours my interests were only in the guy’s wife abounded, as they do. The evidence amounted to discipline charges against fellow officers – they had had plenty of scope to act and had not. It was enough to satisfy me something had to be done. Putting together 40 pages of documentation that would make a case and drop my colleagues in the proverbial wasn’t much of an option. I tried social services and got the usual fob-off.
The easiest route was to lock the mad woman up for something solid. I didn’t regard her as criminal, but she was doing stuff like hurling roof-slates at kids,playing blaring music and banging on doors, walls and ranting. I took a few statements that left the other officers out and went to tell her a few things, knowing she would get irate. It worked and she hit me – totally ‘unprovoked’. She I nicked her for police assault. This was around tea-time on a day I’d started at 6 a.m. She was squabbling along with her husband and clearly giving me a hard time. Another young couple stopped and asked if they could help. They parked their car (they were just passing) and stayed with me until the van came – for moral support. My mate the van driver rewarded them by running into the back of their car – just a light lens broken. The charge office sergeant wasn’t happy with a police assault charge, but we did a breach of the peace thing and I had thus to go to court the following morning. Another job kept me up all night.
The court appearance saw the old dear get the social services’ help she needed and I have to say after this all parties, including her and her husband got the peace they needed. People involved were decent enough to thank me, including the now none mad old dear.
‘My case’ starts in this series of incidents because the response of GMP more than 30 years later was as piss poor as in the old case until I arrived on the scene. Much worse when one considers the perpetrators were vile, thieving, child-abusing drunken recidivist scum. The very idea that police and other authorities have learned lessons is bunkum – they were worse more than 30 years on, with all kinds of new legislation and alleged partnotship notworking.
Like other cops I went to many domestics and neighbour disputes and often did not much because not much needed or could be done. Some complainants were just ‘complainers’, and I saw women egging their partners on to hit them so I’d arrest them and they could then demonstrate their love by refusing to give evidence. Squalid crap mostly, though the clear problem was our lack of power to do anything in clearly dangerous or severe nuisance situations. A lot of cops share my view that we were trained in nothing that mattered other than by more experienced cops and a sense of morality. One night, with twenty rioting yobs advancing on us my mate asking if I was any good at fighting. He wasn’t, he said after I’d mentioning playing rugby.. One other officer had run away and my mate Ken was bruising away in the distance. We charged through the mob to join him. The three of us and two more from Traffic arrested 15 or so, back-to-back at one point.
That night we were supposed to do observations on a house a woman with an injunction against her husband was living in. None of the section were on patrol,everyone dealing with prisoners. I did the charge sheets because I was the only one who could type at any speed. The house was on my beat, so when a 999 call came in, I dropped everything and raced off to my Panda car. My old mate Bill followed, as fine a human being one was likely to meet. We got there in time and arrested the vile husband under the injunction. I near thing, you might think – but think on – the injunction turned out to have no power of arrest and he was released later in the morning and nearly killed her in the afternoon. Bill and I knew there was no power of arrest. We acted illegally and knew. So did the bastard. We ‘Rag and Flocked’ him for drunk and disorderly (£10 fine). One got used to the law being an ass. Of course, it still is. He was released without any power of arrest being added to the injunction. One might wonder what barking use one is without one.
More than 30 years later it is reasonable to think no lessons get learned by our authorities gone mad when they still issue injunctions without powers of arrest, and they do. You will also discover victims have no support from any ‘Victims’ Code’ until they are dead. The woman with the injunction was supposed to be visited regularly on the afternoon her violent husband was released, but I know she wasn’t and that the relevant log was altered. Two off duty cops attended the house meaning to suggest one of them stayed the night there. Otherwise she’d be dead.
The evil couple I came to know much better than I wanted to were in a more or less constant state of domestic violence or feuds with other families. This was the case over the twenty years before I was fated to meet them. They still are. They do the same things they did when they were teenagers in trouble, relying on the same lies and posturing to keep themselves ‘out of trouble’ – which means always in it. The question, as we explore their lives in part three, is why no one is really interested and prepared to prevent the injustices done in the lives they blight or admit the problem as everyone is affected by it. I met plenty similar in the 1970’s and believe more help was available all round then. I won’t be considering the economics, but I’m sure the leaching of cash and wage decimation is a key background cause.
Wandering through our town centre with an old mate over from the States, we laughed between ourselves watching some of our white urban poor. We might have been crying, but we ain’t men that cry. Many of the problems are obvious, so obvious you can see them on a trip from one pub to another. We needed none of the sociology we teach (mine is ‘post-industrial’). The old white working class isn’t working and no one gives a damn. We were once of it and able to leave. The supply of tickets is long used up. Part of the problem is that we left.