Fresh from high-profile appearances in recent hostage stand-off situations, the Metropolitan Police's team of special negotiators have managed to defy the current economic climate and secure a 200% pay increase for the fifth successive year.
Commissioner of Police Paul Stephenson spoke of his frustration that the specialised negotiating team, by virtue of their highly-developed tactical diplomacy skills, manage every year to secure huge pay rises. "I'm in despair. Every time we sit down to do their annual performance reviews and discuss salaries I think 'this year I'll get tough with them', but they just run rings around me. They're just too good at negotiating, in my opinion - it is their job, after all. And to make it worse, I've just told one of them he can sleep with my wife."
The fifty members of the negotiating team are viewed by colleagues with a mixture of irritation and jealousy. On the one hand, they are admired for owning large houses purchased far below market price and for having girlfriends seemingly well out of their league, but they can also be, in the words of one police marksman, "a right pain in the arse." Constable Barry Whitlow, who as a police firearms expert could be expected to be assertive but has abysmal negotiating skills, spoke of his annoyance at being talked into lending out his lawnmower last weekend.
"It's ridiculous. I had the weekend off, the grass in the back garden was six feet high, and I had a whole day's mowing planned before a garden party we were throwing on the Sunday. Then this bastard from the negotiating team turns up, and he only sweet talks me into lending him the mower. No idea how he did it, the smooth-talking git, but needless to say the party's ruined and my mother in law's still banging on about hay fever. Lovely bloke, though, and he got on very well with the wife."