I find myself going to a lot of 'victims of crime' that are nothing of the sort – people who have been assaulted by 'some bloke', often 'some big black bloke' who has beaten them up for no reason whatsoever.
Now, while there is random violence and muggings on the streets of Newham and Tower Hamlets, I rarely see it – often the causes of the injury are blatantly obvious.
Normally it's gang activity, or rival drug dealers, or more often X's girlfriend has got off with Y, while X was shagging Z at W's house all because V is T's baby daddy.
Or some such.
Sure, not everyone is some sort of criminal, but it's so common that Im surprised when I see someone that is genuinely innocent.
But, you ask yourself, how do I know who is innocent?
Well dear reader, allow me to give you a generic example how such a call might go…
“22 year old male, assaulted in street”, sometimes outside a pub, more often down some anonymous side street.
We arrive and the injured male is, for want of a better word, sulking. Normally they have minor injuries, a bump to the head, a cut under the eye. Often they will have a 'friend', or rather 'pack of friends' with them.
They go into the back of the ambulance where I professionally assess and treat them.
Either the police are already there, or less commonly the police arrive after us. I let the police treat the back of my ambulance like an interview room. It's warm, dry and well lit – better than the side of the road at 3am in the morning.
The patient gives his name and address, then tells the police that he didn't recognise the assailants, that he didn't see them, that he couldn't give a description (or that he was 'knocked out', and therefore has amnesia of the event) and anyway 'nuffik will happen'.
The more experienced officer will ask the patient if they would like to press charges against the assailant should they get caught – the patient will say no.
The police complete their paperwork and leave, off to another call that has been waiting for them.
Once the police are gone, the patient will either call his 'friends' over, or start talking on his phone. They seem to forget that I'm sitting in the back with them.
The conversation goes something along these lines, “Get Steve and Dwayne, meet me at the hospital – them we'll go over to Ricks house and beat him up”.
Sometimes it's in another language, but the intent is clear.
They don't realise that confidentiality doesn't apply to the commission of criminal acts.
If it's a serious threat, rather than the face saving words of someone who has 'had a slap' then I'll inform the police, but normally it's just words, designed to give the impression that the assaulted patient (who whinges at the tightness of the blood pressure cuff) is still 'da man', and therefore not worth bothering the police.
Another example, that did have me calling the police was for a young male who'd been run over.
He called an ambulance, then left the scene, went home and called us again from there – so, after spending the better part of 45 minutes looking for him I wasn't in the best of moods.
He had a minor injury, probably needed a bit of hospital treatment, but it wouldn't kill him if he didn't get it.
On the way to hospital he told my crewmate that the car had been stolen, that his 13 year old 'cousin' had been driving it, and that they had already burnt the car.
(Those of you with memories may remember that my cars have been stolen on seven separate occasions, mostly by folk like this).
He whinged all the way to the hospital, and when he was told that he would have to wait became belligerent – demanding instead to go home.
I pointed him towards the door and he insulted me for 'being cheeky'.
As he had admitted the commission of a crime, and that it was likely that more such crimes would be committed (and that someone else might get seriously hurt) I reported that chappy to the police.
I doubt that it would be seen as legal, and (probably quite rightly) privacy groups would be up in arms about the implications, but if the police installed a bug in our ambulances that recorded just the five minutes after they left our vehicle after taking their statements – they'd clear up a lot of crime.
No, i'm not being serious; but a lot of the 'crime' I find myself going to is 'criminal on criminal', both us and the police take criminal activity against people who don't… 'deserve' is the wrong word… maybe 'expect' it much more seriously.