This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

(All proceeds from Google Ads will be donated to the Police Roll of Honour Trust)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

No-Eyes Surprise!

Many thanks to a reader for this story. A man with no eyes has pled Not Guilty to dangerous driving.

That's all that really needs to be said, but it has made me wonder once more about our court system.

In the past I have expressed sarcastic thoughts about the courts on this blog. This was very wrong of me. In fact, I love my court warnings and cherish them. Without them, I would have no break from my unceasing cycle of nights, nights, lates, earlies and nights again, and would have to book annual leave to get time off.

Instead, every two or three weeks I have a day out. The average court warning usually falls on a rest day and appears in my inbox during a weekend off, to be read just a couple of days before the court date. This makes for double pay. If I do happen to see it over five days before the court date, I quickly make a call to IT services claiming that my email has gone down, I have forgotten my password, or that my eyes were blown out in a bomb and I need to have all my court warnings sent to me on tape. This ensures that I am never warned more than a few days before court.

Then comes the happy day. I roll out of bed at 8 or 9, have a leisurely breakfast. Sometimes I even get to iron a shirt. Then comes the first voicemail check. If that is clear, I begin to stroll towards the court. Very often the phonecall telling me that the case has been cancelled will strike just as I enter the court building. If not, I order a few cups of tea from the Witness Service and watch a couple of lawyers running about for an hour or so. I might read a gossip magazine if I feel like it, and find that the woman who wouldn't give me a statement last year has sold her story of domestic violence to "Talk!" and has now murdered the bastard.

At about eleven o'clock comes the first visit from the CPS. "Is the victim coming?" "Where's the transcript of the interview?" "Was there CCTV or not?"

I have no idea, being just the dogsbody who arrested the guy and handed over a pile of paper to someone else. The officer who actually knows these details has not been asked to show up and is sunning him/herself in the Carribbean with his/her phone switched off. After another hour, the Magistrate or District Judge gets fed up and bins the job and I am sent home with apologies and a feeling that it is somehow once again the police's fault.

In the unlikely event that all witnesses turn up and the CPS haven't lost part of the file, the eleven o'clock visit will follow the lines of, "He might be about to change his plea." This is because the defence barrister has realised that time has run out and his client is about to be found guilty by irrefutable evidence that they have known about for six months. A plea bargain is agreed by twelve and once again I can go home. This time everyone is happy, including the defendant.

About once a year I end up sitting at court all day only to be told at about 4pm that there is no time to hold the trial. Or that the guy pled guilty at 10am and no one bothered to tell me. Even so, it is still 6 hours work for 8 hours double time, so who's complaining.

Of 15 court attendances/warnings this year, can anyone guess how many times I have given evidence? In case anyone thinks 15 is a lot, I have 10 more before the end of the year.

God Bless Court Warnings.

Copyright of PC Bloggs


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess is zero, nil, none, and I claim the prize.
After all most cases that get to he lower courts are stonewallers. In which case (as you say) a plea bargain gets ...
1 The solicitor his fee without spoiling his golf in the afternoon.
2 The CPS lawyer a result without using up court time.
3 The accused a lesser charge dropped. ( in most cases it it will make little difference to his sentece but he feels he's winning)
4 The police get to enjoy the rest of their days off
In Scotland some fiscals (CPS equiv) consult the police and witnesses before dropping any charges. I have never yet heard a cop say "no I would prefer it to go to trial on all charges"

05 September, 2006 23:01

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To give another perspective, as a Special I have to take leave from work which then makes the inevitable aborted trials (which follow exactly the pattern you outline) hugely frustrating. I don't get double time, just grief from my day-job for yet another day missed from work for no reason...

06 September, 2006 08:18

Blogger PC South West said...

I can say that I have given evidence at Crown Court twice this year. Both times were some twat appealing against his conviction that the magistrates gave for the crime of the century.
Parking offences!!!
One was a disabled badge holder that was under the misconception that his badge gave him the authority to park where ever the hell he wanted. Turned out to be a bloody expensive day out for him.
As you can imagine it was a pretty frustrating to have to go to the big court for such a crap reason.

06 September, 2006 22:28

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry Mate, its the same the world over.
We get the same sort of B/S here in New Zealand, except we don't get paid overtime!

07 September, 2006 09:16

Blogger Midlands PC said...

I had the joy of going to crown court on annual once, when I was 175 miles away, helping my now wife pack up her life to move in with me. The phone call was Friday 4pm, and I was due in court Monday morning. The joy came from the fact that on Sunday night, I was driving back down home anyway with a car boot full of stuff and a goldfish. I was in Crown Court for precisely 15 minutes before the case was dropped (It was an aggravated burglary, where one of the witnesses was rather ropey, but to be fair, the CPS had him for Sn 18 wounding x 3 also). Net cost to the job, £120 for petrol that I would have spent anyway, and about £125 for the minimum 5 hours double bubble. At a rough estimate, I make that about £1,000 per hour. God bless Crown Court!

08 September, 2006 18:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

on that I would say give evidence once.

Unless you are a station intox operator then it would be 4 because we obvioulsy never tell people why they are under arrest and thats why they fail to provide.

09 September, 2006 11:27

Anonymous eastlondoner said...

I have received about 20 court warnings over a period of one year - out of these I have ended up giving evidence three times; Twice concerning the same fella - first trial & re-trial, and the third time I was in court giving evidence for the offence of no insurance (!) to which the fella didn't even bother to turn up! (oh, and the court officials only told me that at 4pm...). AS you said, majority of my court appearances have ended up being turn up at the court - the defendant sees that all the witnesses are there and then promptly pleads guilty!

09 September, 2006 23:39

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