From time to time I’m asked by curious children (and curious adults) to go through each and every pouch, pocket and holster to explain what equipment I carry with me whilst I’m on duty. As I have a little more space on the blog than I do on Twitter I thought I’d take the opportunity to give a quick run through of what I take out with me on a typical shift. I’ll list everything in no particular order, starting with –
• Black trousers – I can’t imagine ever going out without these, standard issue tough cotton trousers with large pockets on either leg to keep bits of string, toy soldiers etc in.
• Black t-shirt – Last summer we said goodbye to the uncomfortable white shirts and clip-on ties and hello to the far more appropriate t-shirts. I for one am a big fan – they’re much better suited to the type of work we do and are cooler during the summer meaning we don’t melt when the sun is hovering over Walsall.
• Belt – For the above mentioned trousers.
• Boots – Not standard issue, I wear a pair of giant Magnum boots with reinforced soles and toecaps.
• Stab vest – Our vests are reasonably light and have a ballistic rating sufficient to stop all but the most determined projectiles. They are designed to protect all the major organs and are stab proof as well as being bullet proof.
• Gloves – Leather with a Kevlar type mesh underneath which gives them a degree of slash resistance against bladed objects. I think the general idea may be that I’m able to intercept throwing knives mid flight, although I’m yet to test this…
• High visibility harness – A little like a waistcoat, the harness means that we can be seen and also gives many different points from which we can hang things, a bit like a Christmas tree.
• Equipment belt – Worn over other belt and much bigger, tougher and meaner.
• Baton – An extendable friction lock steel baton. I carry mine on my belt and have a licence to carry it which is subject to my personal safety training being up to date.
• CS Spray – A canister of CS mixed with propellant to project it across a range of several metres. CS causes the eyes and nose to water uncontrollably for several minutes during which the target is disorientated and rendered unable to do anything other than concentrate on their watering eyes and running nose. By all accounts its unpleasant stuff, I’ve never used it myself.
• Limb restraints – Two Velcro ties that can be used to restrict the movement of a person’s legs and arms if it is judged that they are posing a danger to others or themselves whilst being arrested.
• Rigid handcuffs – Also known as ‘speedcuffs’, can be applied to the front or back to ensure that a person can be safely transported.
• Torch – Essential for poking around nights, basements, lofts, cupboards etc. My torch is an LED type which has an adjustable beam with a spotlight function. It also has batteries which don’t seem to know they’re allowed to run flat as they’ve not been changed since June and are still going strong.
• Airwave radio – Not only a radio for talking to the control room but also a mobile phone, I can use my radio to call directly other officers and can switch channels to communicate with other forces. The other emergency services also use the same type of radios so we can all talk to each other too. Battery life is fantastic and the handset has a panic button which we can use to summon assistance if we need to.
• Multitool – Not issued as standard, I carry one as they’re very useful for unscrewing things, cutting at stuff or whatever the other various extensions are there to do.
• First aid kit- A basic assortment of medical bits and pieces including gloves, resuscitation mask, sterile wipes, hand sanitiser and a bag for waste.
• Handcuff keys – It’d be fairly embarrassing if these were misplaced so they’re kept securely on a karabiner attached to my harness.
• Tracker peg – A little like a plastic key needed to book out vehicle keys at the station. I put my peg into the key board, remove the corresponding car key and that way we can track who is in possession of the keys to which car.
• Pocket note book – A very important bit of kit, my PNB is a little like a diary of what we’ve done during each tour. It can be used to record statements made by people or to make notes regarding jobs we’ve been to. Contrary to how PC Butterman uses his PNB in ‘Hott Fuzz’, we tend not to draw cartoons in ours.
• Note book – Different from my PNB in that it’s not evidential, I use this book to write down information I’m likely to need when I’m out and about e.g. important phone numbers.
• Various calling cards – Notes I can leave to say that I’ve visited an address or to say that there’s been a burglary in the local area, business cards etc.
• Encounter book – A book a receipts issued to people after a stop and search detailing the circumstances of the search, when and where it was conducted etc.
• Warrant card – My identification card confirming that I am a police constable and that I have all of the associated powers. It’s not only carried for identification purposes though, it’s also smarter than the average ID in that it acts as an entry key to get into the station and log onto our computers.
The above list is not exhaustive and nor is it standard – different officers may choose to carry different items in different configurations as suits their roles. I don’t, as an example, carry a taser or a head cam. It also doesn’t include all the items I’ll carry in the bag that I take out with me which includes extra layers of clothing, the helmet, scene logs, scene tape, a digital camera, sat nav, breathalyser tubes and a variety of other things that I’ve probably forgot I carry. I addition to all of this I’ve also got to take out with me that all important paperwork folder containing blank statements, crime reports, ticket books and last but not least, pens.
I think I’ll leave this list be for the time being until, that is, I’m issued with the ‘public order’ kit and will have to fire up the word processor and spend an afternoon listing all of the new toys that come standard as part of riot policing.
As ever feedback is appreciated and the first person to post as a reply the correct name of the artist and song from this blog’s title will receive an approving nod from myself.