PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS BLOG IF YOU ARE FEELING DELICATE AND MAY BE EASILY UPSET, NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED SHORTLY. YOU HAVE BEEN ADVISED.
I did promise that I wouldn’t make personal attacks on Tom Winsor the man. well, be warned, I am about to break that promise.
I don’t normally do stories about me, unless I’m pissed, or swapping war stories with ex colleagues. I thought long and hard about this while I was battling my way south down the M6 yesterday evening having been to visit my delightful grandson, and left my wife babysitting as it’s our daughter’s wedding anniversary this weekend, but that’s by the by. I have decided to tell this story because there’s a point to it, which I hope you will get by the time you reach the end.
Many years ago ( my best recollection would be late 80s) a friend/colleague of mine attempted to take his own life. It was nothing to do with his job, nothing to do with his marriage, he was happily married with no kids. His wife came home from work one Friday and found him collapsed in the lounge having taken an overdose. I shall call him Jim, but that is clearly not his name. He was promptly taken off to hospital, seen, treated and admitted to a psychiatric ward. Twice during the night he tried to jump out of the 8th floor window, and eventually at about 10 o’clock in the morning he walked out of the hospital. About half an hour later I received the fateful call from my Duty Inspector to come in and see him. Being blissfully unaware of what had happened so far, I returned to the nick wondering what on earth I had done wrong this time. Anyway the Inspector filled me in with what had happened and then said “You’re only one on duty who knows him so I’m giving you the Missing Person enquiry to deal with” Cheers guv.
Maybe 2 hours later a call was received in the Control Room, reports of a woman’s body on the railway line. This turned out not to be a woman but Jim. It was his hospital gown that made the caller think it was a woman. Jim seems to have hidden in the workman’s recess in a tunnel on the London-Glasgow line and awaited his opportunity. Everything points to him having stepped out in front of an approaching express train but timed it slightly wrong. Instead of hitting the front of the train, he made contact with the side of it which threw him off and he proceeded to bounce backwards and forwards between the tunnel and the train until it had passed. The driver was completely unaware of anything. To add insult to injury, he fell on the live rail and fried. Yours truly was then left to retrieve the body parts and, at the same time, stop my stupid sergeant from stepping on the live rail, as the power had not yet been turned off (but we had been given nice orange waistcoats, so we were fine). I’m not anti-sergeant normally, but this one was a Lulu, and I had enough to contend without babysitting him. After all of this I then had the continuity excercise of accompanying the body to hospital, to be told what I already knew, and then to the mortuary. Write the report and then Coroner’s Inquest.
“What the buggery balls of Antioch has this got to do with Winsor?” I hear you ask. Well there is a point, and the point is this;
I have addressed the issue of the Clock In/Clock Out mentality previously here . My point now is that I don’t know a single factory worker that has, would or could have dealt with the scenario I was faced with that Saturday, mid-day. I am not looking for sympathy, it was a long time ago, it’s not about me. I’ve stopped having nightmares about it, but if I choose to I can see the scene as though I was there today.
We think we know what drove poor Jim to his death, but I won’t be telling you. Sadly, I haven’t spoken a single word to his widow since the day of the Inquest, but it was nothing to do with her either.
The more I hear about Winsor’s Independent Review, the more I speak to people or read what others have written, the more I realise that he doesn’t have a single clue. His review is riddled with inaccuracies, misunderstandings and at least one absolute bramah.
Mr Winsor you publicly stated at the Police 2012 Conference in London “that a career in the police service is like being a ‘factory worker’ and urged officers to think better of themselves”. Well I hope you get the opportunity to read my blog above, I would like you to make a comment at the bottom of the page and tell ME how you feel about it, and then I WANT YOU TO PUBLICLY WITHDRAW THAT REMARK. It is an insult to 130,000+ Police Officers of all ranks who perform similar duties to that without the opportunity to say “NO, I’m not doing that”. The Police that you will soon oversee don’t have the luxury of turning away, they are unable to to do nothing, the eyes of the public are on them and the public expects. They will grit their teeth and get on with it. They will do it professionally and even, dare I say, willingly. They will do it with PRIDE. In the privacy of their own homes later they may weep, they may have a single malt or two, they may even shout at their families. But they will have done their job and in so doing will have done more than most.. How very dare you accuse them of having a ‘Factory Worker Mentality”.
See also Constable Chaos’ blog on a similar theme
Just to bring this story up to date, if you are lucky you can do all this for £19,000 per year, which is less than Parliament pays it’s posh coffee makers (true).