Scores on the doors tonight are 7 double crewed cars and 4 singles, we have achieved the minimum acceptable staffing level for nights. Hurray! One car to hospital straight away to sit with a suicidal patient, a domestic violence victim.
Missing people, or mispers, are a regular feature of modern policing, and sometimes a source of tragedy. People leave their normal lives for all sorts of reasons. There are the teenage runaways who leg it from childrens homes, some just to be with their old friends, some to go out robbing and burgling, some to be sexually exploited by older men. Some who leave abusive relationships, you’d be amazed at the number of men who report their wife has left with the kids and taken their passports, and has no idea why, odd when the last police visit to the house was 2 days ago when we were locking him up for assaulting her. Hmmm, I wonder why she’s done that.
Some leave home threatening suicide, for whatever reason, some fear murder by their parents for dating the wrong boy, some are just late home from work / school as they missed the bus, or because they’ve been having it away with their mistress and forgot to tell the wife they’d be home late. Some have dementia and wander off to long forgotten addresses, or patients do a runner from A & E in their fetching blue gown as they don’t want to wait, or are worried they are about to be sectioned. Some escape from supposedly secure psychiatric hospitals. It takes all sorts, and there are all sorts of levels of response.
Tonight appears to be Misper night. Several, four in fact, have gone from kids homes, it seems to happen in waves. The risk profiling questions we ask indicate whose address should be visited right away, and whose can be ignored, where waiting for them to come home when the beer money runs out is a perfectly acceptable choice. Of the four, it is safe to say all have had troubled childhoods. One is a transsexual, and has mental health issues coming out of that, and vulnerable to sexual exploitation, the others are also vulnerable for several reasons. Whilst none can be described as cooperative with police, that’s not the point.
I question the judgement of a childrens home that allows one of their charges to go out with her boyfriend, sets a curfew time of 9.30pm, the implication being she is safe out and about until then, and then reports her as missing and vulnerable to CSE (child sexual exploitation), suddenly a high risk at 9.31pm. As the duty inspector so bluntly puts on the log, underage rumpy-pumpy can happen during the hours of daylight too.
Misper enquiries are not a popular task, it’s normally a succession of mind-numbing visits to addresses where you speak to adults who are sick of answering the door being asked if Johnny is there, just because he stayed there once three years ago. The vast majority will come back of their own accord when it suits them, and play the same game again tomorrow or next week or the week after that. But if we’re told, we don’t make such visits and then something bad happens to them, bad things happen to us.
A friend of mine was under investigation for nearly two years, along with the rest of her team and most of the officers they control, over a person reported missing by the husband (who had murdered her before he even made the call). Mistakes were made by some, not her, nothing that materially affected the response in looking for the wife, but two years on the naughty step, not knowing if you’ll still have a job in 3 months time, is not a nice place to be. She was blameless in the end, but not a pleasant two years.
So lots of misper chasing, plus domestic assaults, a civil dispute over ownership of a car where each competitor keeps ringing the police claiming the other one has stolen the car (which is only worth about £100 in any case), and it just doesn’t sink in when we keep telling them that in the circumstances, it’s nothing to do with the police. They agree on the circumstances of who has paid who what money for the car, but each one interprets those circumstances as meaning the other has committed theft, and neither has, it’s as simple as that, but they want us to wave a magic legal wand and sort out their own bad decisions for them. Not happening, but they keep ringing expecting a different answer and making things up to try and make us come out. Definitely not happening.
A quiet night, relatively speaking, punctuated in the middle by a random readiness test for a chemical attack incident – the whole force can apparently only muster 20 qualified, equipped officers in the middle of the night tonight, without turning people out from home. Sounds lame, and it probably is, but at 3am, dropping poison gas in the middle of a city wouldn’t be that productive for a homicidal terrorist, too few people still out and about to breathe it in. Best off doing it on a weekday evening, possibly a Bank holiday Friday, as plenty of staff who work office hours will already be away for the weekend. Let’s hope that my ability to think like a sociopath is correct here. Cracker I’m not, but home-made or knocked off nerve agent spreads better in the heat of the day when there’s more victims about too, so that’s what I’d do. A hot Bank holiday Friday would be best, if I ever go over to the other side, avoid public places on Easter weekend.