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An older 999 story

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26th Oct 2007 | 18:44

The previous occasion on which I should have called 999 was when I was living in Finchley in north London. I was walking home from work at Demon late one Thursday evening (I think in November 1998) along Station Road when I heard a strange intermittent crashing noise coming closer. Soon a chav came into sight, holding an aluminium baseball bat. He waved it at me in a vaguely threatening manner as I passed him, but I ignored him and we continued on our ways. It soon became apparent what the noise was: several of the cars had had their windows or mirrors smashed, and I could hear a few more getting similar treatment behind me.

At this point I should have called 999 but instead I went home and called it in on the non-emergency number. The operator did not sound particularly interested, but took down the details. (I suppose it was around chucking-out time.)

On the following Saturday morning I got a call from the police who wanted to take a formal statement from me. It turned out that on Friday night bat-brain decided to try his toy out on someone's head. I was able to give a vague description of him, though I had only seen him for a few seconds by sodium lighting and hadn't looked too closely to avoid provoking him.

The case rumbled slowly on over the next several months. There were two attempts to organize an identification parade; the first one didn't happen because the necessary people weren't available. The second one was held in Brixton (IIRC), and I was driven there from Demon Towers and back by a police officer - it would have been faster, cheaper, and easier to take the tube. By this stage it was several months later and so I was unable to pick him out of the line-up, though some time later when the pressure was off (too late to be useful, though) I recognized him as the one with the chavvy dye job and earring. Also present was the victim and her man. I think her head was still not completely healed.

Some months after that I was contacted again and warned to be ready to be called as a witness in court. In the end I wasn't needed, I think because he pleaded guilty. I never found out what his sentence was.

The whole thing was very unsatisfactory: the slack response to my initial call; the lack of admonishment to call 999 in that kind of situation; the huge delays between arrest, id parade, and trial; and the lack of follow-up to tell me what the conclusion was. Cambridgeshire Constabulary seems much more on the ball than the Met.

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Comments {3}

Doing simply dreadful things too

from: clanwilliam
date: 27th Oct 2007 01:08 (UTC)

Good grief, compare with my experience tonight where I was asked if I wanted to press sexual assault charges in the City of London against a bloke who had groped me on the way to the ladies in a pub - I haven't because they already had enough to put him away (including GBH on a copper mate who had weighed in on the arrest). The City police were charming and only blanched slightly at the end when they heard that one of their most senior men was a friend of mine! (and then they cracked jokes about it - I wasn't pulling weight, but they made the connection when I mentioned why I was in that particular pub and were, on the whole amused that I'd given them a statement without feeling the need to mention that their ex-boss was a friend).

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 27th Oct 2007 10:50 (UTC)

Doesn't the City have a police force separate from the Met?

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Doing simply dreadful things too

from: clanwilliam
date: 27th Oct 2007 11:19 (UTC)

Well, yes that was my point - different London force, different reaction.

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