Chapter 2 - "Crap Car"
Believe it or not, I do sometimes patrol alone. Health and Safety don’t like it and, yes, it is dangerous and, yes, I am taking risks. I guess I’m just one crazy gal.
The terrors of stepping out into the darkness without male support are allayed by the cheering remarks I receive from concerned Mops.
Wrinkled old ladies stop me and say, ‘Should you be out on your own?’
Housewives turn back from pouring me a cuppa and ask, ‘Don’t they put you with a man, normally?’
The occasional chap will give me a flirty grin and say, ‘Gosh, you’re too pretty to be a police officer.’ (As a professional woman, I can never hear that one enough.)
Then there are my regulars. They tend to be slightly more direct. Like, ‘Oi, Bloggs, you pig bitch.’
(When I’m crewed with Becks, the above comments will double or treble and also change in nature. For many Mops, two female officers fighting crime on their own is quite the most exciting thing they’ve ever seen; for some, it’s second only to watching lesbian porn movies. And we like being crewed together, as it gives us a chance to bitch about the boys and discuss handbags, jewellery and fluffy animals. Our sergeant understands the womanly need for chats like this, and so he sends us out together at least once a week – and damned be the consequences! I respect him for that.)
I’m on my own today, in a panda, heading to the outskirts of town, but I’m not patrolling. I’m on my own because I have been designated today’s ‘Crap Car.’
CRAP is a police acronym which stands for Quality Service Department. This is a Department set up for the purpose of pacifying people who have been treated badly by the police, and it’s well worth the cost of the staff who have been taken away from serving the public to man it.
When people call the police, they are immediately classified as one of three kinds of caller:
1) Someone who needs the police.
2) Someone who will need the police soon.
3) Someone who doesn’t actually need the police but still wants them and will keep calling until they come.
The first two kinds are seen to by the response units, but the third category is the most important. These are the grassroots callers where we get most of our custom. As you’ll have gathered, it can be a difficult task to identify exactly why some of these people have actually called the police, or what crime is meant to have been committed. But it is always worth the hour-long discussion to find out.
Calls from this category can number up to twenty a day in Blandmore, so one car containing one officer is assigned to deal with jobs like this which have stacked up over the days and weeks; this is the Crap Car.
One of the main duties of the Crap Car is to apologise to as many people as possible for taking a week to get to them.
In briefing, when Chris read out the assignments for the day, I might have let out a quiet moan.
‘I know you’ve been Crap Car twice this week, Bloggsy, but if you will keep turning up to work every day…’
I accepted the sergeant’s sympathy with my usual maturity: ‘But, sarge, it’s not fair. Can’t we just tell the Quality Service Department that we don’t have enough people on duty to provide a Crap Car?’
He looked up in surprise. ‘But, Bloggsy, we have nine officers working today.’
I shared some baffled expressions with my team-mates. With Lloyd in court, Nick still off sick and Guy on a Transit-driving course, I counted five heads in the briefing room.
‘According to the email I got yesterday,’ he elaborated. ‘There’s you five, then there’s Frances, Woody, George and Louise.’
Some of the names evoked a pang of nostalgia.
‘Who are George and Louise?’ demanded Becks.
‘George is our new probationer,’ Chris scanned his sheet again, ‘Due to start in a month’s time. Except that he’s come down with glandular fever and will likely be off until the summer. Louise was before your time, most of you, but she was on our Team until she got made Acting Sergeant in Charl. She keeps failing her promotion interview, but they keep her on as an Acting Sergeant because there isn’t anyone else.’
I vaguely recalled a slim, red-haired woman who worked at Blandmore when I started. Back then, I really do remember having nine heads in briefing. I even recall a day when someone had to stand, due to lack of chairs.
‘But how can all of them be counted in our manning levels?’ Becks went on. ‘Most of them aren’t coming back.’
‘No, but technically they’re on temporary absences. We’re actually one of the flushest shifts at Blandmore.’
I took in my colleagues’ faces with new eyes, not having realised quite how good the situation was. With all that manpower, our arrest and detection rates will no doubt start to soar. Any day now.
To read more... order now. Or borrow a copy from the woman at my nick I saw reading it the other day. But if you do, you'll be depriving this charity of the dosh.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in all good bookstores and online.