How Many?

How Many? The thoughts of @SteelRiverBoy

Steelriverboy

You’ve all heard about the cuts to the various public services, especially the police.

You’re probably sick of hearing about the cuts, and the effects that they will probably have on you or one of your loved ones.

Tough. You’re about to hear some more, so settle down, and read on.

Now, it might just be me, but RTCs (road traffic collisions) seem to be on the increase. (We don’t call them accidents anymore, as accident implies nobody was at fault).

But I seem to have been to more RTCs in the first five months of this year, than I went to in the whole of last year.

Why?

Because more RTCs are occurring.

It doesn’t take the brains of a rocket scientist to realise that with fewer police officers on the roads, some people will take more risks, or blatantly flout the Road Traffic laws.

How can the country’s traffic departments…

View original post 209 more words

Memoirs From A Picket Line – The Final Chapter

Welcome one and all to this, the final chapter of MY Miners’ Strike.
As we start I’m still suspended from Driving Duties, Mutual Aid has ceased and I am waiting to hear my fate.

The beginning of the end is a visit to my Duty Inspector’s office. He informed me that I was to be prosecuted for an offence of Driving Without Due Care And Attention and that he was in possession of the Summons which he duly served on me.  That hurt. Not just because I was being prosecuted, but because it was Christmas Eve (it could have waited till after Christmas) and every other motorist gets their summons in the post.  For some reason Personal Service was deemed more appropriate for me.

I have to say that once I got down to trying sort things out after Christmas, the Federation were not brilliant. However they did agree with my suggestion that I could choose my own solicitor and they would pay the bill.  A bit of a cop out but it actually suited me well.

I took myself off to the office of one-off the local solicitors that I had frequently battled with at the local Magistrates Court (no CPS in the early days, we prosecuted our own cases, Traffic and Minor Crime).  Once I showed him the summons and relayed my version of events he initially thought that it was some kind of sick joke.

Eventually I was served the prosecution pack of statements and the Accident Investigator’s report.  What I saw and read made me feel like laughing, but it didn’t quite come out that way.

It was quite clear that the Police, when taking the other driver’s statement, had asked her what speed she was driving at at the time of the collision.  She had stated that she was travelling at a speed of 60mph, coincidentally the speed limit for that piece of road.  She claimed that she had first seen me when she was “2 car lengths away” from my car.

The Accident Investigator’s report pointed out that xxx yards to the left (I’m sorry, I forget the distance) was a bend but at 60mph the Porsche would have been clearly visible to me, had I looked left.

My solicitor engaged the services of Professor somebody or other, who apparently was an expert in Accident Investigation and Reconstruction.  His conclusions were completely at odds with the conclusions of the Nottinghamshire Traffic Officer’s report.

In April I was informed that there would be a Pre Trial Review. My solicitor spoke to the Clerk of the Court and asked what that was all about.  He was informed that all interested parties got together and went over the evidence, presumably in an attempt to get an early Guilty Plea.  So he asked the Clerk “Does that mean you might find there’s No Case To Answer?”   “Oh no” said the Clerk “There’s no chance of that”.  “In that case we’re not coming” responded my brief “see you at the trial”.

I wasn’t sure that answer was in my best interests, but I trusted him.
On the appointed day we jumped on a train and set off for Mansfield. I was not feeling happy.

Before the trial even got underway two things happened that made me feel a little better.

Firstly the Chairman of the Bench decided that he would close the Court to Press and Public.  We hadn’t requested that, it was an unexpected bonus.
Secondly I was informed that the Chairman of the Bench was a Chartered a Mechanical Engineer, so whatever was going to happen that day he would at least have understood all the formulae that we’re going to be bandied about.
The one thing that didn’t please me was learning that a whole day had been set aside for the trial.  I accept that I have never been a Traffic Officer but I had never encountered a full day’s trial for a Without Due Care.

The trial got underway with the other driver giving her evidence first.  It seems she had dropped her children off at school and was thinking about her shopping list (honestly). The rest of it was pretty much in line with her statement that I had already read.

The Accident Investigator gave his evidence next. Pretty predictable and unremarkable, I had already read his conclusions. My solicitor only asked him one question in cross examination “What are your qualifications officer?”

It seems he had completed Part One of the Accident Investigator’s Course, but was due to do Part Two soon.  “Thank you Officer”

At this point the Chairman of the Bench decided to leap in with a question. ” Officer, you have told us about the Skid Tests and Acceleration Tests that you conducted using your Ford Granada.  Was that vehicle fitted with NCT tyres?”  “I don’t know Sir, the same sort of tyres as they put on Vauxhall Astras”.

“Thank you Officer”

A Fine Example of an NCT Tyre

A Fine Example of an NCT Tyre

Lunch

Then it was my turn. Pretty routine, I knew the story backwards, and I had given evidence literally hundreds of times, though not normally as The Defendant.

Next, and finally, came my star witness, the Prof.

He started off by introducing his own qualifications.  BSc, MSc, PhD, 12 years experience reconstructing accidents and consultancy work for the Home Office.  I was beginning to feel better.

He then played his trump card.  He went over his Accident Reconstruction, based on data supplied by the Reporting Officers, and informed the Court that in his expert opinion the Porsche had initially been traveling at 113.7mph prior to the application of the brakes. At this speed it would most definitely have been out of view around the bend when I commenced my manoeuvre.

No questions in cross-examination and no questions from the Bench.

The Bench retired.

Then they sent out for tea and biscuits.

After only 20 minutes they returned. I stood to hear my fate.

Not Guilty.

Then it got even better.  The Chairman asked me who was responsible for my Costs.  After hearing that the Federation were paying he looked a little crestfallen.  Had I been responsible for my own costs he was going to make an Order requiring Nottinghamshire Constabulary to pay them, but as the Fed were paying he let it lie.

The lady Porsche driver walked across the Court, shook my hand and congratulated me, and not sarcastically.  I asked her if the Met had yet paid her out for her Porsche.  “I don’t actually know, but I’ve ordered a new one anyway”. “I’m glad it all worked out well for you”.  I have a vague memory that she may have been the wife of somebody on the Police Authority, but I’m far from certain about that bit.

Then la pièce de résistance, the Nottinghamshire Sergeant who’d started all this off showed me his Prosecution File.  It contained a Minute from the Chief Constable no less, saying that any Met Officer coming to notice during the Miners’s Strike was to be prosecuted, end of.

I floated back to London on a Happy Cloud.

After a few days I decided to phone the relevant Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard to tell him that I had been acquitted and to ask to be reinstated to Driving Duties. “We all know what happens at Court son, the Innocent are convicted and the Guilty go free”. Followed by “you can be reinstated but the accident will be To Count”. i.e. he was still going to record it as my fault, regardless of the Court decision.

Never again did I put my own personal Driving Licence at jeopardy for the benefit of the Met.  Captain Slow would have been proud of me, I was probably the Met’s slowest Response Driver, but no way was I going through that again.  Nobody cared that I could have been Disqualified, and for what?

All sorts of things changed for me that day.

Greenham Common anyone?

Memoirs From A Picket Line – Part Six

Welcome to my last ever tour of duty on the Miners’ Strike.  This week finds me still suspended from driving, sat in the back of a Transit a Minibus as one of the crew, in Ripon, North Yorkshire, of all places.  The furthest north I had ever been at that time.

It was a really boring week to be honest, the highlights were testing the sense of humour of our North Yorkshire Constabulary a Traffic officers who escorted our convoy of Transits wherever we went.

They finally lost the plot when we reached a roundabout that we had been round dozens of times before and did a pre-arranged bomb burst onto all of the roads exiting the roundabout.  The ensuing panic and disapproval from the North Yorkshire officers made us chuckle even more, but they never did see the funny side of it.

The only other event of any note was a drinking completion in the NAAFI between the Met and GMP, which I believe was declared an honourable draw after nobody agreed to lie down.

Friday came, our last ever day up north. Punctuated only by short spells on a a totally calm picket line, until early afternoon when we were relieved and dismissed for the long drive back to London.

As we were being escorted back to the M1 by North Yorkshire our driver thought it would be a hoot to overtake the escorting vehicle. On a dual carriageway.  The Traffic Cops were not impressed, pulled us over and reported our driver for Dangerous Driving (it wasn’t).

The perfect end to our last week. No Further Action was rightly taken against our driver who will probably never want to visit Yorkshire ever again.
End of the chapter, and almost the end of the saga.

And this is as good a time as any to remember and acknowledge an Inspector called Don. One of the finest Inspectors I ever knew, one of that rare breed that inspired his troops and they followed him anywhere.  This automatically made him unpopular with the management.

If you’re reading this Don, please get in touch, I owe you a lot.

To be continued…………..

RetiredAndAngry Is Moving

I’ve pondered this for a while, and to be honest the thought of starting over from scratch filled me with dread, and then I discovered some nifty ‘cheats’ and life didn’t seem so bad.

Rebuilding my blog elsewhere turned out to be relatively simple and quick, and enables me to freshen it up and brings about some functionality that I fancied and was missing from the original.  You may stumble across a few duplicate posts just for the next few days.

I’ve got two more blogs queued up on here for 15th and 16th May and I shall post those two in duplicate deliberately so be patient with me for just a few days, than after the 16th RetiredAndAngry will live at

http://retiredandangry.thisistap.com/

Hopefully I’ve carried everything across, but if you come across something that doesn’t work by all means let me know.

If all else fails, I can always come back here if I don’t like the neighbours at my new home.

Police & Fire Service Pensions – An Update?

I knicked this off Facebook

It’s as much of an update as I can find at the moment, enjoy

I have contacted my ‘mole’ in the PO’s office and this is the current situation. The PO’s decision is delayed due to a malfunction in the AGFDM) (Automatic Government Flack Dispersal Machine) I understand that a fault with the floating fragensack condenser pin has caused a failure of the Kerfuffler valve to open, thus the machine has defaulted into standby mode. The PO cannot release the decision date until the machine is working as this would be a breach of health & safety law as his staff would be vulnerable to incoming flack! Now the problem is compounded by the fact that the Fragensack pins are manufactured in Greece and the company is on a go slow in protest at the austerity conditions being imposed on the Greeks by the Germans. The Germans wont let them have any more Ouzo money until they put their fiscal house in order and pay up for their last lot of Austugerlich Bier. The only way the Geeks can do that is via an increase in tourism that will generate more foreign income to pay the Germans. This income can only come from a few sources because just about everyone else in europe is skint . The Spanish have squandered all their money to roads to nowhere and airports with no planes and the French are (Well since when have we ever been able to rely on the French?) The Scots and the benefit fraudsters are two groups who have just managed to con another few billion out of the UK budget. Unfortunately, these groups keep getting wasted on the Ryan Air jets and end up getting arrested at the airport. They can’t spend their money because they spend the next 14 days in a Greek pokey before being booted back home on their return flight. This leaves one remaining group who have the potential to access funds and that is the police & fire service pensioners who are due a long awaited refund from being ripped off by the GAD. Unfortunately the good police and fire bobbies are still awaiting a decision by the PO on their claim which takes us back to square one!. So for gods sake does anyone out there have a spare Fragensack condenser pin that they can loan to the PO so that we can get our bloody money??

Memoirs From A Picket Line – Part Five

My next set of adventures was slightly different.  Well, a whole world different really.

For this tour I was ‘lucky’ enough to be the Boss’s Driver. This meant a room of my own, a 2 litre Renault courtesy of Mr Hertz and the privilege of chauffeuring Superintendent ********* around for a week.

The advantages were that I didn’t have to form up in the cordons of officers facing the rampaging miners, I had my place with the boss, completely out of reach of trouble. I also had access to a car for a week.

The downside was parading for duty at 1am every day and not finishing until the boss decided to stand everybody down for the evening.  Because I didn’t have a proper role at the mines (and he was responsible for several) I was treated like his personal Errand Boy and his requirements were sometimes errmm irregular (no, not in THAT way).

One day during the week the Mine Management of Bentinck Mine asked us if we would be interested in going down to the coal face to see what life was like underground.  Quite rightly the boss said that anybody who wanted that experience (he didn’t, surprisingly) could do do once he had stood everyone down for the day.  So one relatively quiet day those that were interested reported to the changing rooms to get kitted out with our helmets, overalls and safety kit.  Every miner has a brass token so they always have a tally of who is underground at any time.  We obviously didn’t have one so they made us each a unique one with our unique Police number on it, which we were then able to keep as a souvenir. I still have mine to this day.

The ‘cage’ proved to be a real bottle-tester as it appeared to just drop under the force of gravity then screech to a sudden halt at the bottom.  We then had to transfer to a Man Rider for the rest of the journey to the coal face. This was just a long conveyor belt with numerous rollers that we just had to lie flat on until we got to the face.

One miner we saw was lying on his stomach hacking away at a coal face just 2’6″ high.  The main seam was 8′ high and was cut by machine. It was noisy, it was dusty and it was hot, very hot.  Believe me, I found a whole new respect for any coal miner that day.

Nothing much more happened until Friday.  The Superintendent found a whole list of things for me to do, leaving him at the pit, while I drove round the roads of Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire doing his bidding.  My very last errand of the day was to drop off at an Army Camp to see the Met Transport Sergeant about returning the hire car to Mr Hertz over the weekend.

I left the Army camp to make my way back to meet the boss at whichever mine he was at, turned right out of the camp onto a three lane, single carriageway road.  As I was part-way through my turn something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I glanced to my left, and to my absolute horror saw a low-flying Porsche bearing down on me.  I had a split second to do something.
I decided that I would complete my turn into Lane 2 giving the Porsche driver the choice of Lane 1 or Lane 3 (fortunately empty) to go past.  The Porsche driver opted for Lane 1 and nearly made it, just clipping my nearside, rear corner.

In a split second I went from F***, to Phew that could have been worse, to sheer abject horror as I saw the Porsche slide past me, pirouette in the middle of the road then disappear off to the left, demolishing a fence, a tree and ending up in a ditch having shed various body parts along the way. I honestly feared the worst until a lady climbed out through the sunroof asking what had happened.  There was not a single scratch on her.

I contacted the local Police Control Room and they despatched a Traffic Sergeant to deal with the accident.

I have no idea how long it took him to arrive but when he did the very first thing he did was to ask the woman what had happened. She didn’t know.  He then went across to the other side of the road to ask a layby full of lorry drivers if any of them had witnessed the accident. None of them had seen a thing. He eventually got round to speaking with me “Blow in here”.  “You must be joking I’ve been working since 1 am” (it was about 10am by now).  “I’m not joking, are you Refusing?”  “I’m not Refusing, let’s get it over with”.

So I blew the negative breath test that I always knew I would. He looked at and said “Right then, Without Due Care it is then”.  I can’t honestly remember if he then suspended me from driving duties or got a Met Supervisor to do it, but the end result was the same.  His next move was a classic.  He called up a colleague, did a complete vehicle exam on my car (thank you for giving me such a good car Mr Hertz), then they closed the road in both directions while they reconstructed the accident and carried out various Skid Tests and Acceleration Test in their Ford Grandads.

For some reason he even felt that he could detain me in an office until everything was done, even though I was not under arrest.

I was eventually collected by somebody and taken back to confront the boss at the pit.  One of the chaps asked me if I was alright, at which point the boss interrupted with “he won’t be, my f***ing golf clubs are in the boot”.

I then had to suffer the ignominy of being driven back to the Met by the boss that I was supposed to be driving, still going on about his bloody golf clubs.

What happened next? All will be revealed.

To be continued………..