Wednesday, 23 March 2011

David's Buttons and Lance's Beer.

My former Assistant Chief Constable (3rd from top) David Ainsworth is dead.

He was Deputy Chief Constable (2nd from top) of Wiltshire when he died.

Found at his home yesterday he was under investigation for a lot of silly shit by his Professional Standards department (including saying "nice buttons" to a female colleague in a low cut blouse).

The buzz on the Net and on Inspector Gadget's blog is that he committed suicide. Time will tell.

My heart goes out to the guy. He inspected me on my Passing Out Parade (where my phone went off, oops!) and despite coming across as slightly arrogant he seemed a decent chap.

Below is an incident that happened to me in 2005. I know exactly how the poor sod must have felt.

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Years ago while working as a Special I was signed on for active duty after about a month on the sick with a bad back. I had been signed off since the day after finishing basic training and was itching to get into things.

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My Section Officer didn't answer my call to her cell but instead replied with a text telling me to call the Commandant.

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Calling ‘Sir’ I was met with the line "who are you again?" followed by "you've had a complaint made against you for use of inappropriate language".

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After a pause I asked when, where, who and what.

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He replied "I don't know, that's all the information I've got. I'll get someone to call you back tomorrow".

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He added that the Chief Super was aware of the complaint.

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I pointed out that I hadn't done a duty yet.

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He repeated that someone would call me to "fill me in" tomorrow.

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As I was unemployed at the time I spent a wretched 24 hours with hardly any sleep and finally a Divisional Officer called me to say that she had 3 letters in sealed envelopes and was waiting for a 4th. She added that she wasn't going to open any of them until she had no.4 as she, as the investigating officer, didn't want to form an incomplete picture of things. She promised to get in touch asap when she had the elusive 4th bit of evidence.

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For the next 6 weeks I heard nothing about this. Every time I asked I was told to wait and it was repeatedly pointed out to me that this wasn't so serious because I still had my warrant card and wasn't on suspension. I countered that I still hadn’t been called in for duty despite being signed back on by Occ Health. They told me not to fret and to wait.

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I went through every incident it could possibly be in my head. I remembered 999 calls I’d made, even before I joined the Fuzz and wondered if maybe I’d sworn during the calls.

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After 6 weeks later I decided I’d had enough and drafted a resignation letter. I changed my mind on the way to the nick though and asked another DO for a chat where I pointed out that as a volunteer my sense of social conscience was not being reciprocated by the Force I was so proudly devoting my spare time to helping.

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I had counseling with the force Welfare counselor who told me not to resign saying “if you go now you will never know what the complaint was about” and added that I needed to be able to look back and know that I’d stood up for myself. She looked at me one day and said “this isn’t funny. It has made you ill!” after I tried to crack a joke about what was going on during a session where my weight loss and lack of sleep were becoming apparent.

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She wrote e-mails to the Chief Super, the Commandant, the Inspector for Specials and the investigating DO to ask them to bring me up to speed and pointing out the psychological damage this was having on me.

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Finally 3 days later I got a call from the DO who said that letter 4 had arrived late and that she was now able to tell me what I stood accused of.

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While off duty at a house warming party for another Special three months previously (in another county) an off duty female colleague had gone to the fridge to get some beers and didn’t get me one. I apparently said “oh, never mind me. That’s the second time you’ve done that you c**t”

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The DO was unable to actually say the rude word herself and said “the c-word…ohh, I HATE that word” and added that “with the exception of the foul language I would have probably said the same thing as you if it had happened to me”.

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She added that I should now move on and put it behind me.

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Two months later I had to leave my day job, go to the Nick and put on my uniform. I then sat in a meeting with the Superintendent and a Chief Inspector to receive a Divisional Caution for swearing. I pointed out that I had been on painkillers for my back during that party and had been misadvised by my GP that they would not react to alcohol. I also pointed out that I had no memory whatsoever of the incident and that noone had said a word about this to me prior to the complaint being made.

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I then stated that I felt this hadn’t been handled appropriately and that I had suffered stress because of it. The Super replied that they knew that and were doing me a favour by only giving me a Divisional Caution and NOT taking it to PSD as the complainant wanted.

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I signed the form (just under the bit where it said “alcohol is no excuse”) and then formally asked that I NOT be told who had accused me as I still didn’t know who either the complainant or the witnesses were. I pointed out that the people it most probably were had all continued to be friendly after the incident (to which the Chief Inspector raised her eyebrows in shock). I added that I would be grateful if the Super could pass on my explanation re: diclofenac tablets and Stella Artois to the aggrieved woman, whoever she may be. The Super agreed and said the DC would be on my file for one year and be read by the Deputy Chief Constable.

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To this day I have never been told who accused me and while I’m 90% certain who it was the Special in question shared a cab with me after the party and when I got out let me ponse a cigarette off her. Her and the other people at the party who were probably the witnesses to me saying “c**t” never changed their attitude towards me at any point and never told me that they had made statements against me.

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My Section Officer had her responsibilities downgraded as a result of this. SMT were none too pleased at the fact that Welfare had felt it necessary to put digits to keyboard over the matter. It was her letter that the DO had been waiting for. As ranking officer at the party she was asked if she heard the remark and her reply that took 6 weeks to arrive apparently said “don’t know, didn’t hear it”. It was also her fault that I was not on duty while the complaint was going on as she had forgotten to tell my division that I was fit for duty again.

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Mr Ainsworth. I am so, so sorry.


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