I wrote this 7 years ago for my first book STAB PROOF SCARECROWS, a memoir of the piss poor experiences I had as a cop in both
and later London . Kent
One thing I'm still proud of though, is my involvement in helping in the aftermath of the July 7th 2005 attacks and also the failed July 21st attempt.
Jean Charles de Menezes was tragically shot and killed on July 22nd by armed officers in London.
In light of the horrible shit that's currently going down in
Europe, this is my perspective of what it felt like
Fuck you ISIS/ Al Quaeda/ Rothschilds.
I never used to 'get' the people in
after the World Trade Centre attacks on New
11th 2001, came out
and worked as volunteers in hastily assembled kitchens making soup for firemen.
I couldn't perceive how this kind of thing would make a difference in the grand
scheme of things. My perspective was forever changed in the summer of 2005.
On the morning of
July 2005 a
series of coordinated suicide bomb blasts hit 's
public transport system during rush hour. Carried out by British Islamist
extremists, these atrocities were revenge for London 's
involvement in (amongst other things) the Iraq War. Britain
Three Underground trains and one double decker bus were hit by the explosions in which 52 people were murdered and a further 700 injured. The first explosion was at . By London Underground declared a Code Amber Alert and suspended the entire network. Later the entire public transport system for central
shut down. Mobile phone networks became inaccessible for about four hours.
Hundreds of thousands of people spent the day frightened and confused, scared
for relatives or friends they knew to be in London but
could not contact. The news reports were vague and it was 24 hours before any
kind of accurate report was given to the world. London
In the summer of 2005 I was running an educational summer camp in
foreign teenagers aged between 12 and 16. The centre had about 130 kids from
around seven different nations and fourteen staff, ranging from English teachers
to activity leaders. I was in overall control as Centre Manager with a Director
of Studies and an Activity Manager below me and the others working for either
of their departments. The company had around 20 centres in the London and
in October when the stats came back, mine was the only one not to have been
billed for damage and to have come in under budget. Simple reason, I was strict
but fair and didn't tolerate any nonsense from the kids. While they were there
to have a good time it was made clear that rule breaking would result in
punishment and Head Office eventually started sending me horrible kids from
other centres on 'Thin Ice' agreements. UK
At about on July 7th I was pottering about in the office when we got news that there had been some kind of explosion on the Underground in
The kids were in lessons and the remaining staff plus those who worked in the
kitchen sat or stood round the canteen TV to see what BBC News 24 had to say
about the subject. As time moved on it became clear that this was not just an
accident as more than one place had been hit and the footage showed wounded
people being taken out of Kings Cross station. By the time we London
had a clearer idea of what had happened I called an emergency meeting of all the students and staff and stated that all excursions were cancelled and none of the kids were to go off site until further notice.
While landlines were still working, mobiles could not be reached. Initially we thought this was an Op COBRA measure to free up the network for essential calls but it later transpired that it was simply the amount of traffic, with people frantically phoning each other in the aftermath. I called Head Office and asked my boss if it was ok to go in to the Nick if COLP needed me.
He replied “go where you're most needed”.
I warned the other two managers they might need to take control of the camp if I went in for duty but that seemed more and more unlikely as I was unable to reach my Section Officer Laurence on his mobile.
We had been explicitly told that in the event of an emergency or serious incident we were absolutely NOT to simply turn up at the Nick. We had to wait to be called and asked to come in. This was to ensure that the Force knew exactly what resources they had at what time and was pretty much common sense. It did not however, help my frustrations at not knowing if I was needed or not.
Finally at about I managed to get through.
“Hi it's Lance”.
“I know it's you, I saw your number come up”. There was a pause. “How do you feel right now?”
“Like I want to put my fucking fist through the window” I replied.
“Maybe you shouldn't come in then”.
“Figure of speech, I'm fine. I just want to help out”.
A longer pause.
“Get in as soon as you can. We need everyone who can make it. Muster is at 1500”.
One of the few train lines still functioning went from half a mile from the holiday camp to
a mile from Snow Hill Nick. I gave the other two managers the master keys and
company mobile and cycled down there. The train was visibly less populated than
normal but the few people still using it appeared oblivious to what had
happened four hours ago and had the usual posture of London Transport users of
complete boredom. Waterloo
Arriving at Snow Hill and there were Specials and Regular officers all over the place. I pegged it up the stairs to the locker room and found it packed with other Specials and even a few PCSOs. Just as I'd stripped down to my undies a head appeared round the corner of the row of lockers and said “guys. Muster is now 2.45 ok?” That left about five minutes to get all my gear on. I didn't have time to pull on my Stabby or Load Belt and
was dragging them along behind me as I approached a congested Briefing Room full of Regulars, Specials, two Sergeants and an Inspector. The Commandant was standing next to the open doorway as we walked in.
He taps his right ear. “Still got your earring in” he says smiling.
I blush. “Sorry”.
“Och, don't be silly, just take it out, no problem”.
We sit or stand. There are about 40 of us in a room that usually has a maximum of 10 people in it. A female Sergeant addresses us.
“Right. At this time all we know is one confirmed dead and officially the cause of the explosion is still an electrical power surge. We are however pretty sure it was bombs but are waiting for official confirmation. Public are NOT to be given any information apart from the official version until such a time as it changes. Is that clear?”
We murmur our understanding.
“All those present not assigned specific duties are on foot patrol”. She glances across the room “I'm sure the Commandant will brief the Specials on what he needs them to do.”
She then adds the clincher that makes it clear just how serious all this is. “All shifts are now 12 hours instead of 8 and all Rest Days are cancelled”.
An officer at the back stands up “err...Sarge I'm on Annual Leave tomorrow”.
She glances up at him and says “I'll see what I can do. Right that's it. Let's get out there”.
We meet in a corner of the writing room and I'm partnered with my SO. The short walk from Snow Hill down to Old Bailey reveals a scene like something from Dawn of the Dead.
Hundreds of people are milling about on the streets and as
the pavements are full a lot of them are also walking in the road. Nearly all of the few vehicles still moving are Hackney Cabs and the closure of the transport network has left many people without a clue as to where they are. When you walk from your job to the bus or Tube stop and from there are carried all the way to your destination you don't actually know what roads the bus takes or what locations the Tube stations between your departure and destination are in.
I was in the privileged position of knowing more or less what was going on and how serious it was, yet none of this information had at this point been given to the public. This made for a frustrating experience of people being mainly concerned with how to get home.
A woman approaches us “excuse me where's
“You're standing on it” Laurence replies, looking visibly annoyed.
A few seconds later “excuse me, where's
?” Waterloo Bridge
“Down there, turn right, five minute walk”
Then “excuse me, where's
“See that big thing behind you?”
About an hour later the buses were up and running again meaning the population thinned out slightly.
We moved on to Aldgate station, one of the bomb sites. By this time we had had it confirmed that it was now being recognised as a bomb that had caused this and probably all the explosions. Two Cycle Response Regulars were at the Cordon tape, looking visibly bored. They'd been there since around and it was now about . Five trays of curled up sandwiches wrapped in cling film were next to their stunt hopper mountain bikes along with some disposable plastic cups that had presumably held tea or coffee and bottles of mineral water. Turned out these were gifts from the people in the adjoining office blocks who had come out to feed them every few hours and offer them drinks. No one loves the Police more than when they feel threatened by forces they cannot
control or understand.
“We're your Relief” Laurence tells them. They chat briefly, thank us for relieving them and cycle back to the Nick for some Refs and a break.
We stand at the tape for a while. A Swedish camera crew and journalist approach me, show me Swedish TV ID and ask if they can interview me. Laurence says no so they move off. Then a bendy bus rounds the corner and sees us in the way. The driver looks surprised and slides his window across as he gets near to me.
“I was told this road was open again”.
“Nope, it's still closed. Hang on”.
I check with Control via the radio that it is still meant to be closed off and they confirm it is.
“Sorry mate you'll need to go back”.
He isn't happy, mainly because bendy buses weren't built with reversing in mind and it takes about ten minutes for him to back up the street and round the corner.
Then we are approached by a bloke who lives on the other side of the cordon.
“How am I supposed to get home?” he enquires angrily.
I initially try to be nice about it and give him alternative directions but he clearly thinks he should be allowed to get past and suddenly says “YOU DON'T HAVE TO KEEP SAYING 'OK' ALL THE TIME TO ME!”
One of my 'ticks'. Oh well, don’t like it, don't talk to me.
“I'm trying to help you, if you don't like the way I talk it's not my fault”.
“Yeah, but you don't have to keep saying 'OK' all the time” he repeats, glaring at me.
“Just go ok. I've got more important things to deal with” I snap and he chunters off in the direction I pointed to.
Then a car pulls up on the other side of the road about twenty yards from the cordon tape. The driver glances across at us, switches on his hazards and then buggers off into an office block next to his motor.
I walk over to the car, take a look at it and then radio Control.
“Can I have a vehicle check please? Accompanied,
“One moment”. Control come back one minute later to say it's registered to a male, at the address the driver went into.
Fifteen minutes later he comes out again and is embarrassed and surprised when I tear him a new arsehole for leaving the car there.
“I'm sorry officer I thought you saw me”.
“I did, but you didn't check that. Do you REALLY think it's appropriate to leave your car right next to cordon tape with the hazards on right next to where a bomb probably went off a few hours ago?”
“Well...err...no, I s'pose not”.
“I would be well within my rights to have had it towed away and destroyed. Be more careful next time. Other people CANNOT read your mind”.
He apologises, gets in and drives off.
A short time later I am chatting to Laurence when a bloke using a mobile approaches the cordon tape, nods acknowledgment at me then lifts the tape up and walks under it.
He jumps about three feet in the air and drops his phone.
After I beckon him over he starts moaning.
“How am I supposed to get home?”
“I don't care, you don't walk under a Police cordon”
“But how am I supposed to get home?”
“It says 'POLICE DO NOT CROSS' in massive letters”.
“But how am I going to get home then?” he wails.
“Put your right hand out and touch the tape, then walk along the road the tape is on. It's in a big circle, eventually you'll come around the other side”.
He shrugs and stomps off.
About and a car pulls up with three passengers, all wearing Police High Viz winter jackets. I assume it's more cops to help us at the cordon but then the front passenger gets out and says.
“Hello, I'm the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police”, smiling broadly.
He has two layers of scrambled egg on his cap and bling on his shoulder epaulettes that I don't recognise. The other two get out as well. One has three pips per shoulder and is obviously a Chief Inspector. The third is similarly blinged up like the CC with insignia I can't identify off the top of my head but later found out was the Deputy Chief Constable. Caught off guard I simply stammer
Ian Johnston CBE QPM walks over and extends his hand and I shake it. “You been here a while?” he enquires.
“No Sir, about a couple of hours, we relieved two Regulars”
“Good show. We're just going to take a look at the station” he tells me.
I lift the tape up and the three of them step under it and walk off in the direction of Gold Cordon, about 800 yards away.
I walk over to Laurence and say enthusiastically “That was the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police!”
“Good for him” he replies, glaring at me and then turning away.
Unaware of protocols for this type of thing I radio Control and tell them that the BTP CC has just entered Bronze Cordon with two other officers and is heading to Gold Cordon.
A short time later the CC and his companions return. I raise the tape again.
“Are you going to make us jump over?” he jests, chortling at his own joke. The other two chuckle as well.
As Headmaster-ish as the gag was, he's clearly being friendly so I laugh and reply “no Sir, I'm not that cruel”.
He expresses his thanks, gets back in the car and the three of them leave.
Another hour later and there's virtually no one approaching us. Then a huge articulated lorry appears and trundles towards me. With a hiss of hydraulics the driver stops and winds down his window. “Alright mate, I'm delivering the generators to get Aldgate station up and running again”.
No one had told us he was coming and we have been explicitly told to let no one except other cops through.
“No one told us, hang on”.
A check with Control comes back ten minutes later to say that he can't go through as they have no record of him being asked to come here.
He protests “but I've got the delivery to make, it's the generators for the station, there's no power there”.
“Look I’m sorry you'll have to wait. They've said no”.
Finally at about our Relief arrived, we were stood down and headed back to the Nick, got changed and went home.
I still feel immensely proud to have been part of the official effort to deal with this monstrous attack on innocent civilians perpetrated by psychotic wankers. The fact that nearly all the COLP Specials downed tools from their day jobs and came in at such short notice, by whatever means they could to man the pumps made having joined completely worthwhile and negated all the boring shifts I had 90% of the time where the highlight would be issuing a cyclist with an FPN for not having lights.
Friends and acquaintances that teased me about joining the Police as a Hobby Bobby would often ask why I did it. After this I used to reply:
“How did you feel on
(Cue rant about bloody terrorists and how they should be hanged etc).
“Well that's more or less how I felt. Difference was I was able to put on my uniform and do something about it”.
A few months later I went on a blind date in
a girl named Carmen who I'd met on a dating website. During a Thai meal she
asked me what I did for fun. I told her I was a Special and had been on duty on
July 7th. She stared at me for about a minute, then carefully put down her
“Yes, of course. Why?”
“I was on the bus”.
“The one that was blown up, in
Carmen told me later that night as we sat on a park bench near
and kissing, that she has always been phobic of sitting at the back of buses
which is what saved her life that day. She was about four seats from the front
on the top deck and remembers being thrown violently into the seat in front of
her, busting her nose and breaking her glasses. Camden Town
She staggered downstairs and met a cop trying to deal with it who shepherded her to the side of the road and wouldn't let her back on board to try and find her spectacles. Carmen said she was still having rage counselling (reason being that she is unable to focus her anger as the person that did this is dead) and has permanent hearing loss as a result of the explosion. She later showed me the front pages of two tabloid newspapers with the famous shot of the mangled bus with its roof off and people milling about on the shattered top deck. She is centre stage in both photos. When they took her to Casualty she was covered in other people's blood and after checking that she was ok, the medical staff discharged her and sent her home, spattered with gore and unable to see due to losing her glasses. She still has the clothes she was wearing that day in a zip-lock plastic bag under her bed. Every ten days or so, Carmen and some other survivors of the attack meet as a group to support and help each other.
We are still friends now and she has told me many times how pleased she is to have met a Police officer who was there that day and helped her and people like her.
The Ferrers Trophy was initiated by former Home Office Minister Lord Ferrers. The awards have been presented annually since 1993 for outstanding achievement and commitment shown by members of the Special Constabulary.
The COLP Special Constabulary won the Ferrers Cup the following year for our efforts on July 7th. It was the first time in history that we'd got to the final list and the first time an entire Special Constabulary won the award. The Commandant was justifiably proud both when he put us forward to receive it and when he went to collect the trophy (but not as proud as we were).
In September 2005 the Commandant, the Chief Super and the Chief Inspector took us all out for a drink to say thanks.
In early 2006 the new Chief Superintendent of Snow Hill station sent letters to all of his Specials, thanking us profusely for our attendance for duty on July 7th and stating that our “unselfish gesture” was much appreciated.
This one day was 100% what inspired me to join as a Regular. To have been a part of something so monumentally important and, even in a small way, to have made a difference was what made me realise I wanted to be a cop full time. I had to leave COLP as they weren't recruiting and by the time they were I was ineligible to join as my application was still being processed for the other Force and you can only apply to one at a time.
Two weeks after the July 7th attacks, the fuckers tried again.
Four bomb attacks were attempted and a fifth device abandoned.
Three Tube stations and a bus in Shoreditch were hit but fortunately the bomb maker was on vacation meaning his understudy cocked up the ratios in the chemical mix and all that went off were the detonator charges.
The following day a manhunt was launched by the Met, described by Commissioner Ian Blair as “the largest ever investigation that the Met has ever mounted".
Caught soon after the four would-be martyrs were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and each sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison.
The only casualty of July 21st was a passenger who suffered an asthma attack. Unlike July 7th the Undergound networks remained partially open.
As Thursday was my Specials shift anyway I was already down to come in when, at around 12pm an Italian girl from one of the groups at my summer camp walked over and asked me if there had been more terrorist attacks. She was holding her mobile phone and had just been speaking to her father in
had seen the news on CNN. Florence
I ran into the canteen again and waited until the news
channel got round to mentioning that there had indeed been more explosions on the London public transport system, in a repeat of what had happened two weeks ago.
Some of our kids had already left for a trip to
an Activity Leader. I called him up on his mobile and told him to get everybody
back and again held a meeting to say everyone was grounded until further notice. London
Some Underground lines were still running but falling like dominoes as various Station Control rooms pulled the plug until they could get a clearer picture of what was going on. I managed to get on the Circle Line just in time as the guard on the gate said that the train 3 minutes away was the last one they were going to allow in until further notice. Very few people onboard, but again those that were, were reading newspapers or looking like they hadn't got a clue what was going on or didn't give a shit.
By the time I arrived at Snow Hill Nick the excitement wasn't as high as the last time but there was still a buzz of conversation as we got changed and made our way to the Writing Room. No massive meeting of all available manpower and suspension of Leave, this time we had our own huddle and partnered off with either a Regular or each other to take foot patrol.
When we got outside the streets were packed with cops all the way up to St Paul's and the Chief Super', Super' and a
couple of Chief Inspectors were all spotted doing foot patrol. This had happened since July 7th with all ranks up to ACPO pounding the Beat and the Commandant stepping out with his DO's on several occasions.
People stopped us to ask what was going on and this time it was less of “how do I get home” and more of a worried desire to know what was happening and why. We reassured them that as far as we knew no one was hurt and the transport had been suspended purely as a security measure.
After a couple of hours we headed back for Refs and then the duty Inspector asked to see us in the Sergeant's office. About fifteen of us were crammed in there when he told the following tale of caution:
“Please be aware all of you that any and all suspicious packages you see are to be reported to Control. No matter what you see, if you think it's out of place, then call it in. However, please do not do what one probationary Constable did earlier today. We had a package at
with the area cordoned off. I arrived and asked him to describe the item and he
replied it was a blue shoe box, about two feet by one foot and it was heavy”.
There's a pause while he looks around the room then continues “I asked him how he knew it was heavy and....he had
Murmur of shock and amusement from the rest of us.
“Please be careful out there. Obviously this is the second time this has happened and we are taking no chances with safety. It is however considered that this may be a hoax. Please continue to reassure the Public that everything is being done that can be done. Right, thank you”.
We leave and I see Laurence standing by the door as I walk out.
“Alright?” he says cheerfully “didn't think you'd get in as they'd shut most of the lines near your place.”
“Just about made it” I reply “think I got the last train in by all accounts”.
We are partnered up again and while I wait for him I talk to the Section skipper.
“What happened to the probationer after kicking the package Sarge?”
“Oh, he's still with us. He's not feeling too clever right now though. The Guv tore the arse out of him for that.”
Walking about the Public seem pleased to see us, many ask what's going on and we reassure them that we think it's nothing too serious. I'm asked for a photo opportunity by two Japanese tourists near
cathedral and we oblige by posing with serious faces next to the woman who
grins happily with her rucksack at her feet, stood in between us. I then get
them to take a photo of me and Laurence as my own memento of duty in the face
of history unfolding. St
Later on we take a stroll near some of the pubs and suited City brokers are burbling with enthusiasm as we pass. Throughout July and August 2005, everybody loved cops in central
We pass a group of guys at a table sipping pints. One of them struggles to his
feet as we approach. London
“You guys are the best” he says reaching his arm out to shake our hands. We oblige and while still pumping my hand vigorously he turns to his mates and says “don't care what anyone says these guys do a fantastic job”. He turns back to us and swaying on his feet puts his arms out to give what appears to be both of us at the same time a hug. “God bless you officers”, he burbles looking like he's about to shed a tear, then trying to embrace me.
“Please stand back” I ask him and he looks embarrassed like a kid who's just been told off and replies:
“Sorry, sorry, just... people say you guys are fascists but I know you have a hard job to do”. I shake his hand again, express my gratitude for his sentiments and then we move on. I got this type of thing at least three times that night and once or twice in the subsequent weeks. People who have just been through two terrorist attacks will love their Boys in Blue for as long as they have ceased to feel comfortable in their worlds. When they are happy and content and everything's just peachy they prefer a Police Service. When their lives are threatened and they feel scared they want a Police Force.
Jean Charles de Menezes
Two weeks after the terrorist suicide bombings that cost so many people their lives and the day after the failed attempt to detonate more bombs and do it all over again, armed Police officers chased, cornered and shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man.
On the morning of the 22nd, Jean Charles set off from home on his way to Stockwell Underground station. Believing he matched the description of a suspected terrorist, Police followed him from his apartment, on to a bus, and into the Tube station. Armed Police officers were then dispatched and shot him shortly after he boarded a train, mistakenly believing he was a suicide bomber.
In the aftermath of this tragedy the Metropolitan Commissioner Sir Ian Blair refused to give any further information than had already been released, stating quite rightly that “at this moment everything is subordinate to the terrorist investigations”.
It transpired in the subsequent days that Charles was not a suicide bomber, nor a Muslim or an Iraqi. Through mishandling of the situation he had been killed by Police officers who fundamentally believed he was a suicide bomber, about to kill himself and innocent people on a busy Underground train.
In the wake of this event the English Police were vilified in the media. The victim's parents were flown over as guests of the British Government and could be seen on the News, wailing in misery and grief at Stockwell Tube station, at the spot where their son had been killed. Initial reports that he had run when challenged by the armed Police officers were later shown to be false and for the next two and a half years there was a massive independent enquiry which found all officers involved, including the one that fired the fatal shots, the two that held Charles down as he was killed and the Gold Commander in charge of the Op', all blameless of any wrongdoing. The Met Police as an organisation however, were held responsible for what had happened.
People to this day think this shooting was disgusting. That the Police overreacted and were sloppy in their approach to the situation. That the officer who killed Charles was trigger happy and he had effectively been murdered.
As someone who was on duty on both 7/7 and 21/7 and knows a blast survivor I saw just how scared and angry the public were in the days, weeks and even months that followed. Had those bombs detonated on the 21st we would have had the capital or maybe even the country at a standstill.
Once and you can wonder why, dust yourself off and carry on. Twice will bring you to your knees. We had been granted a reprieve, solely because of the shoddy handiwork on the
second set of bombs.
Not knowing what we were dealing with or where the next attack might come from it was reasonable to believe that we were now under attack from Al Qaeda and anywhere could be next. The ease with which these people could carry out these atrocities was terrifying and a third attack would leave the transport system indefinitely suspended, put the country in the grip of a financial crisis and have the entire population scared out of their minds.
When those Police officers grabbed Charles, threw him down and then shot him, they fundamentally, 100% believed they were killing a suicide bomber. They put their own lives at risk in order to save other people's. Had he been what they believed he was he could have detonated his bombs at any point and may well have done. Hey, if you intend to kill yourself anyway why let yourself get captured?
Instead of running from perceived danger, they ran towards it with the sole intention of saving innocent people's lives. They did this knowing that they could have been killed at any moment and at the point where they were in physical contact with him probably believed they might die.
Much store has been placed on the fact that the officer who killed Charles fired eight times, seven in the back of the head and one in the back. This was used as evidence of 'panic firing' and an almost sadistic attitude to the execution.
What some people don't seem to realise or won't accept is that bombs can be detonated by a 'dead man's switch' meaning that the trigger could have been activated by letting go of anything he might have been holding on to. Eight shots were fired for the simple reason that if you separate the medulla in the spinal cortex the body remains in the same position it was in just before it died. The nerves are severed and the corpse cannot spasm, triggering the bombs by reflex.
If de Menezes HAD been a suicide bomber then this would have been hailed as a victory in the war on terrorism. If he had been a suicide bomber and had detonated the bombs then the armed Police chasing him would have been loathed by the public and investigated for having FAILED to shoot him.
As tragic as all this was people yet again have decided to simply hate the Police and blame them for what happened that day.
No one ever seems to blame Al Qaeda.
We are the only country in the world that want the Police to protect us but at the same time feel we have a right to despise their very existence.
The officers who chased, captured and killed de Menezes should not be despised or hated. On the contrary they should have been given gallantry medals for how they conducted themselves. No one seems to care that their motives for doing what they did were not to kill an innocent man, but purely and simply to save the lives of the public they had taken an oath to protect.