Monday, 30 March 2009

The people we meet.

A couple of days ago I was sent to a "domestic" just after coming on duty at 07:00. I arrive and am greeted by a bedraggled older female who has smeared lipstick and the unmistakable make-up effect that comes from crying. The first words she says to me are something like I have had head problems since I was 19 and have been sectioned loads, I shrug my shoulders and then comes the clincher, I have taken 18 paracetamol tablets. Oh drat.....either way I am going to be spending sometime at the hospital with her. Her partner comes out and states that she has wrecked their flat and has been talking to herself for the last few days. She then starts telling me that she wants to die as her 27 year old daughter won't talk to her and there is nothing worth living for. I look at the odds, leave her there with a tissue. No, that won't do on this occasion. Lock her up breach of the hospital will soon be my home for a few hours as she has taken an overdose. I bite the bullet and tell her she is being detained under section 136 of the mental health act. She then thanks me and tells me that she has felt herself getting worse in her head but there is no way that she will voluntarily go to the doctor.
Off to Notgreatside County Hospital and do the deed. Oh well, my citizen focus/policing pledge/victim charter and all the other bollocks will go on hold today. She is unfortunately quite scantily clad (not good on this one) and starts asking me personal questions. According to her I am her best friend now. A colleague arrives to assist with toilet/fag breaks. She too soon becomes a best friend. She was initially volatile and obviously didn't like the medical staff, she was handcuffed whilst they examined her as she lashed out at them.
Eventually she calms down and after telling us what she has done to herself in the past and how bad life has become since she got divorced about 6 years ago and meeting her new partner. He is also a regular customer and I know from previous dealings that he is pure pondlife. It appears that there is some common ground. She remembers me from one incident where I attended their flat and actually had to fight him as he wasn't too keen on getting arrested for what was a borderline very serious assault on her.
In order to pass the time we stared talking about her previous life and even with the circumstances she was currently under, I believed her. She is 51, and appears quite educated. She was up to speed on political matters and current affairs. Her current lifestyle has taken it's toll but she was obviously once attractive. I ask her more about her daughter and she shows me a photo of an oriental looking beautiful young girl stood next to her at a family party, despite the features the resemblance is incredible.
In confidence she asks me if she can tell me her life story since her dad died when she was 17, how her mum couldn't look after all 6 kids and essentially kicked her out. The welfare system wasn't quite as geared up as it is today and she found herself homeless. She reverted to society's oldest profession and earned a living servicing the sailors at the docks. One sailor in particular was good to her and as the ship was undergoing repairs she ended up spending a lot of time with him on the ship. To quote her exact phrase she became a "ship's whore". The ship was registered in Malaysia and the crew mostly hailed from there. Eventually the ship left and so did she. She told me about captain's bribes to port officials, customs inspections and various other encounters she had whilst hiding on the ship with the full consent of the captain who she also serviced as part of her "fare". The hiding places she described were incredible but believable. She frequently re-assured me that this was all true as she knew she was going for an extended stay at a hospital and there was no way I would ever be able to prosecute her.
Eventually the ship docks in Malaysia and calm as you like she leaves the ship with her favourite sailor and disappears into society. She tells me about the good times and the bad she has there and produces a dated photo showing a younger version of her on some gorgeous beach along with an oriental male, she is clearly pregnant and looked happy.
Anyway moving on daughter is born and as you have to pay for medical services the fact that she shouldn't really have been in the country was never a problem. She went on to tell me that she found out she was allergic to prawns when eaten in vast quantities and also when a fish fin cuts your leg, all be it dead and through a bag, it can be poisonous and cause infection.
Eventually the bubble burst about 8 years ago when her brother died in a car crash. She was then faced with the problem of getting back to the UK. She had never owned a passport as she was effectively a stow away and had been an unseen member of society. She went to the British consulate and explained her circumstances. They were duly helpful and the only hiccup came with her 19 year old daughter who was subsequently made a British citizen in Malaysia.
When she returned for the funeral the rot started in her life. Circumstances effectively caused her to lose her mind. No money to return to her adopted home and nowhere to live. Her mum was still alive but in sheltered accommodation.
Anyway her life crumbled and 8 years later she was sitting in a chair in an assessment room at a hospital........ again. Her husband has since passed away following their divorce and his family want nothing to do with her after this length of time.
She was subsequently admitted to the care of a mental health unit and she appeared genuinely relieved.
I know that all this should be taken with a pinch of salt when her frame of mind is considered but for once I genuinely believed her. Her attention to detail was too much for her to make it up.
I know that the vast majority of people who are sectioned by the police are there through their own alcohol/drug induced problems but sometimes there are people there who have genuinely been dealt a shitty hand.


Vetnurse said...

Thanks for that it adds some humanity to life in general that gets forgotten.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Excellent blog. a story well worth telling. The only thing that bothers me is the possibility that the job ( and the blog )takes over.
I found when in full time teaching 90% of my life revolved round the job. Thinking back I cringe. Not trying to impose my wisdom on you but the balance in life is difficult to keep. Keep going and paying the money towards my OAP pension. Good luck.
( I try to keep my blog away from recessions etc but its difficult.

Anonymous said...

I know you!

Annette said...

This is a very good blog, not just for the content but for the way you put your side of the story.
You obviously care very much about others.
Good for you.

Constable said...

Thanks Annette,

people get what they give. I can be horrible but if there is no need I can be nice.

Google "betari box" and all will be explained.

Thank you for your previous gift and still working out how it works!

Anonymous said...

Hiya cunstable

Anonymous said...

People don't always "get what they give" at all, Mr Confused!

Some, the very rare ones admittedly, make great sacrifices in their lives, solely for the benefit of others, only to be insulted, humiliated, abused, ill treated, ripped off and taken unfair advantage of.

There is another side to the force that is not as nice nor as caring as you reveal on this blog. I'm quite sure that you can be horrible, as we can all have our off days, and that when there is no need to be horrible, that you can be nice.

I have experienced the "nasty" side of the force when there quite clearly was NO need for it. The motive was their own selfish "need" for self protection and self preservation, because they KNEW in their hearts that they had done me wrong. A great wrong in fact, which STILL has not yet been put right.
But I won't despair!

I most certainly would not have "thanked" the arrogant cop who was abusing me and abusing his position, by threatening to section myself under 136 of the MHA....For stating THE TRUTH on Coppersblog a couple of years ago. He said that IF I told my story of the abuse done to me, in public, then he would section me. Now that wasn't very nice, was it?

Constable said...


no it wasn't. Not too sure how you equate that to my post but everyone has their own opinion.

Whoever it was, they weren't acting very proffesionally if they threatened you with that.

My post is the truth and is not meant to highlight my "nice" side just to enlighten readers to the fact that all people do have a story to tell if given the opportunity.


Anonymous said...

I am soooo glad that you agree with me on that score. I guess you must have pressed a "button" which prompted a knee jerk reaction to the use of section 136 of the MHA.

I do have a bit of a "thing" about abuses of power, and the potential for abuse of vulnerable people, with the use of 136 really is wide open. Health professionals themselves made very loud and long objections to it when this government were bringing it in.

Because people who are sectioned ARE IN EFFECT DETAINED, often without having committed any crime, and they cannot do anything about their situation. Because the STATE has total power over them, up to and including, forcing them to have "medication", whether they want it or not. It's like saying the State "owns" someone who has been sectioned under 136. Stalinist and very dangerous, in my opinion.

However, it is good to read about a genuine caring copper, and a "customer" who was truly helped by you, and grateful for your help.
I wasn't meaning to have a go at you about your post, really I wasn't.

I must be a suitable case for "therapy" myself actually, going off on a rant about 136!
That's because the threat of doing that to me was hurtful and abusive.
Abusive men use the justification of "she's a mental case" to dismiss and undermine a female victim of rape or other abuse. It was used as a "defence" by a paedo who abused me as a kid. They may also threaten male victims of abuse with 136, to intimidate and silence them too.

So, I am rather touchy about 136, which can be used as a psychological "weapon" against an abuse victim. And once sectioned, or even given the "mental case" tag because of childhood abuse, the Health Care and Legal systems treat people like mentally defective basket cases, which generally they are not. Just upset.

I know that 136 was brought in to protect the public from dangerous psychiatric cases, but I am not comfortable with the police having the power to section people, who are just having a bad day, or two.

It has often been said on other police blogs, that coppers are not social workers. I do feel that this is flawed thinking. If a cop can help someone to feel less upset by just talking and listening to them, and showing that they care about them as human beings, they will be doing a good job and possibly preventing a crime, against others or the person in distress. But I know that you guys often just do not have the time, even if you do have the patience for TLC.


Anonymous said...

P.S. Regards to you too Constable.
That beach looks just perfect.