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.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Off With Stress.

I have often considered going OFF WITH STRESS. In the police, you have to meet certain conditions before you can successfully be signed OFF WITH STRESS. This may be the case for other jobs too, but I believe they especially apply in my arena due to the public scrutiny to which we are subject:

1. You must be from a minority: black, Asian, and/or female.
2. You must be totally unscrupulous, willing to use your family and friends as tools in your self-serving game.
3. You should have a good symbiotic relationship with your doctor, possibly involving money (although I would not like to speculate on this). Alternatively, you must have a lazy, incompetent doctor.
4. You should be a mediocre police officer at best, if not positively useless.

Assuming you satisfy all these condition, the first step is to allow your work ethic to slack. Your jobs should build up until you are being summoned to management meetings over them. You should breach at least one force policy in relation to timely enaction of investigations. You should begin to hear mutterings among your colleagues about what a drain you are on the team. The word “Regulation” followed by almost any number, should begin to feature in your vocabulary (these relate to Disciplinary procedures).

Then you strike. Just as you are about to be “stuck on” for any number of poor working practices, you suddenly fail to turn up for work. You make yourself unreachable for a week although physical visits to your home can be averted by a quick text to your supervisor reading “Off with stress”. He/she will immediately know what this means and will not dare to contact you lest he be accused of bullying/discrimination.

Now will follow months of shillyshallying. Your stack of jobs which have begun to rot and moulder in the bottom of your docket will be farmed out to your disgruntled colleagues. They will then have to deal with the complaints by the victims of these crimes and will be blamed for any subsequent failures to convict anyone. You may come back to work after a month or so, just to put in a few hours a day during which you moon around doing nothing in particular. The purpose of these few hours is merely to build up more jobs which you can then leave in a state of disarray, and also to show everyone how depressed you really are. Once that has been achieved, you can disappear for several months.

At last, just when everyone has almost forgotten your name and is fairly certain you have died, you announce that you have been accepted to the Met as a firearms officer.

Copyright of PC Bloggs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. I can vouch that it applies in education and health, and probably in any other public funded organisation as well.

It's amazing how much less stress people get under when they know they'll only get sick pay if they skive.

30 October, 2006 18:59

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone recently retired after 30 years in the job I can attest too to the stress culture.I knew of many who did the same thing...useless at the job..go off sick for months then back on "light duties" or 2 hours a day and then end up with a desk jockey job.The thing is there is in reality nothing much that can be done with them because the culture allows it..they can't be confronted because they are "poorly".Wouldn't have got away with it in the 70's. Who carries them? The rest of the hardworking shift.Sad to say but the job has really gone to pot.

30 October, 2006 19:27

Blogger Constable Shortman said...

Whilst I have been reading your blog for a while, i must say that this post is slightly offensive. Yes their are plenty of lazy people in the job but to say that you must be asian/black is just wrong. Unless I am reading it wrong?mjd

30 October, 2006 20:45

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Constable Shortman, I am amazed that this is the only post that has been offensive, however I rarely intend to offend on the grounds of race/gender. The offence was directed at politically correctness.

30 October, 2006 20:50

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must admit this posts confused me too.

Sure there are plenty that are lazy, but the stereotyping of the people who go off with stress annoys me... Then there's the fact that the police service seems to pander to staff who don't have anything wrong with them, but are 'off with stress', but then the people who are genuinely off with stress and things like.. oh, hypertension, or something worse are treated like hypochondriacs and not given any light duties.

Rant over. It's a thorny issue. Maybe we need thesis and antithesis here?

30 October, 2006 22:26

Anonymous a met firearms officer said...

Oh dear, care to give us a heads up?

30 October, 2006 22:49

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Met firearms officer - you'll know them when you meet them!
Am interested to hear from people who are genuinely stressed who have not followed this course.

30 October, 2006 22:54

Blogger Andy said...

We have a somewhat more robust approach in journalism: I got sacked.

Strangely, no-one let me anywherenear a firearm during the process.

31 October, 2006 01:20

Blogger Honest Uncle said...

Hitting nails on the head is something that you are good at; keep it up.

(It's a good stress reliever, too.)

Best wishes.

31 October, 2006 06:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of getting immediatelyannoyed/upset/insulted when I see/hear/read anything,I pause for breath and try to see where the article/blog is coming from. The points are well made here. We all know the people who claim 'stress' and then sit back and let everyone run around after them. We all know too the circumstances and backgrounds which make supervisors have to take that little bit more 'care' when dealing with some people. Nowadays, it isn't just 'stress' - but religious considerations too - for some I hasten to add, and certainly not the majority from these particular backgrounds - again the (ahem) mediocre ones. The really skilful ones get to go to 'The Priory' or similar and have thousands of pounds and OH hours spent on them. Processes have become far too bureaucratic and give more than enough rope to those abusing the system. There are loads of genuine people out there, with genuine illnesses and conditions, but bristling with personal pride (despite the best efforts of the organisation) and put off from seeking help for fear of being so labelled. Bring back common sense and let supervisors supervise. And to readers/contributors - Please stop shouting 'I'm Offended' without thinking about the point of the blog and why it is that you actually are so offended. It's now an almost 'Pavlovian' reaction induced through modern working practices.

31 October, 2006 07:12

Blogger ExtraSpecialCopper said...

This happened to one of my old school teachers! After her initial dissapearence, she returned saying she was ok, then after a few days was gone forever!

31 October, 2006 09:09

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can think of one or two genuine cases of stress. Cops who had been at the sharp end on 24/7 policing for over 25 years. The job there on 24/7 is getting harder every year.
That said the sick culture can be infectious. I heard that one female officer pregnant for the second time openly said that she had played by the book the first time but after seeing how others did it there was no way she would be coming straight back to work at the end of her maternity leave this time.

31 October, 2006 12:25

Anonymous Dunplodding said...

How true! Before I retired several years ago when I was a member of a SMT the Division (or BCU or whatever they are being called this week) had several of these malingering wasters. In the majority of cases their 'stress' was of a domestic/matrimonial nature rather than work related. Our every effort to encourage or cajole them back to work was frustrated by Personnel Dept or OHU. In more than one case when they went on to half pay after 6 months they got another job on the side - if discovered this was then excused on the grounds that it was 'theraputic'. PSU wouldn't touch these cases with a bargepole but would happily pursue with vigour trivial complaints against hardworking and concientious officers. Meanwhile the poor sods left at the coalface laboured on.

Mind you, it was ever thus. Bad backs in the 70s and 80s. Stress in the 90s and noughties.

31 October, 2006 14:50

Blogger Phill said...

A rule of thumb of mine is:

"If you're trying to decide whether you're stressed then you aren't"

Most of the cases I've heard about for work related stress (Small busines owners, I.T. professionals etc.) weren't resolved by the person under stress seeking help. It was usually their partners/family that hassled them into doing something about it (e.g. stress test from G.P.) because they could see the effect it was having on them.

So if someone phones up deciding that they're stressed (Which happened loads in my last job at Royal Mail) it's usually because they either hate their job or just can't be arsed to do any work.

As Dunplodding says, their 'stress' is normally un-related to work and their employer should be able to say "Get into work you lazy sod or you're fired"

31 October, 2006 20:10

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My late Grandfather worked with someone in France in 1916 who said he was fed up and was going home by claiming to be whatever the local term for stress was. He was shot!
I have recently retired but worked with, or for, the workshy, the lazy, the incompetent who all, at one time or another claimed to be suffering from stress. I have also worked with men and women who really were suffering from stress - one female officer almost died when a local scrote drove his car at her when on foot patrol, and then 2 days later, rammed her off the road. She was diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress but wouldn't go off sick on the grounds that if she did, she wouldn't come back, so she carried on. It was only her strength of character, the help given to her by her colleagues and senior management and the counsellors at HQ that saw her through it. She went on to pass her Sgts and Insps exams and is now a well respected T/Insp. Meanwhile, one malingering male officer who finally retired (through 'stress') invited everyone to his leaving do and was dissapointed when only 2 other people, one of whom was also off sick with stress, turned up.
Just desserts will be received in the end.

31 October, 2006 21:08

Blogger Constable Shortman said...

I agree with the post, their are lazy bar stewards of every type in the job. Youn/old in service, sgts, insps, Community "safety" beuars.

What has race got to do with it?

Has PC Bloggs station got a dept for lazy asian coppers?

31 October, 2006 21:19

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Constable Shortman - yes it does, it is called Race Hate Crime. It also has one for lazy female officers - Child Protection. The department for lazy white male officers is called "Neighbourhood".

My original point was, the establishment is hard on white male officers who are "stressed" and has no problem giving them ultimatums. The same supervisors are afraid to be hard on minorities for fear of reprisals (not necessarily from the person themselves, but from the SMT). I wasn't getting at the minorities (being one myself), just the culture of political correctness.

As for people who really are stressed but struggle on... that just means you are a successful Twenty-First Century police officer.

31 October, 2006 22:13

Blogger Constable Shortman said...

Pc Bloggs,

No I quite agree. Lazy idiots no doubt with more service and still claiming housing allowance are plentiful.

We dont have a hate crime unit, we (the shift) deal with them. Of course we have the hate crime liasion officer, who works 9 - 5 mon - fri and doesnt actually deal with hate crime but sends us emails on how to deal with them, which of course get promptly sent to the recycle bin.

The concept of having a dept of lazy minority coppers does annoy me. As im from an asain family, I have always grwon up with a strong work ethic and my dad always taught me to work harder than white colleagues if I wanted to get ahead (he would probably be called racist by the modern police). The whole thought gets to me. But saying that we have only a handful of minorty coppers at my nick.

Cheers for clearing it up, still enjoying the blog.

31 October, 2006 23:20

Anonymous 200weeks said...

PC Bloggs,

you appear to have forgotten one very important requisite for those going off with stress.

Sue the force and receive a handsome payout whilst blaming the force for your own inability to do the job.

01 November, 2006 08:21

Anonymous Dogberry said...

Right then Bloggsy....I'm a white male PC and I work in the Neighbourhood Dept. Do I qualify as a lazy git automatically, or is it something I'll have to work at? If it requires any real effort then I'm afraid I probably can't be bothered so should maybe leave it at that, but since you've "invited" me to comment, I will.

I am hugely stressed at work right now. I have been for months and months. It's a combination of lots of things really. I shall spare you the gory details, but if I mention crime allocation abuse, being constantly abstracted to "other duties", regularly b*llocked for my crimes being overdue despite hardly getting any time to deal with them, bullying from supervision etc etc etc....I reckon most of your readers will know where I am.

I didn't ask to go into NPT, I just sort of found myself there. Now I can't get out because the working hours fit in very well with kiddycare arrangements and any other shift pattern will make a right mess of it. That won't just affect me, it'll get the wife and kids too!

I had a nice long chat with my Insp this week, he said he'd like to bin me off to a response shift but won't because he can't get anyone else to come to the NPT....wonder why that is!?

I've been to my GP twice now about the stress thing, "I'll sign you off work" he said, "how long do you want off?" I'm still going to work though....why?....because like the vast majority of cops, I actually like being a bobby (very occasionally, when I actually get out of the nick, I get the opportunity to help someone. Or even better, I nick a real criminal for a real crime and not just to go through the lengthy process to get an "admin detection" for my beloved Force!).

Not having a go at you at all....(honest!), You asked for officers who were stressed but still went to work....I'm one of those and I don't consider myself lazy.

Your blog is great, keep it coming!

Here's a sad reflection of how freedom of speech is alive and many of the officers who left comments have dared to post up using their real details? Not many. For exactly the same reasons, I'm not putting mine up (I have my own blog on "Blogger" but I've made up a new name for this reply because I don't want my employer to know I'm a closet subversive ;-) My own blog is a fairly tame and inoffensive tale about my cycling passion, but it carries some of my identity details in the profile). Why do we not dare to stand up proudly as ourselves and say "This is me, and this is what I think"? You already know the answer to that one though, don't you?

01 November, 2006 21:18

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Dogberry, thank you for your comments. Try writing a blog, it helps with the stress... oh sorry you've tried that. Maybe I should have asked to hear from people who WEREN'T stressed!

01 November, 2006 22:36

Blogger PC Dogberry said...

Bloggsey, thanks for that.

I've been inspired and here it is;

Keep in touch!


02 November, 2006 01:15

Blogger ExtraSpecialCopper said...

PC Dogberry, Have added you to my sidebar

02 November, 2006 09:10

Blogger Bitseach said...

Don't forget that now we can also have lazy, lead-swinging, time-wasting, bandwagon-jumping PCSOs too. I know of one who is currently on light duties due to a "sore finger". I have had several fingers accidentally slammed in a van door and still turned up for work the next day (although I did get a few "office manager" days from my skipper until I could actually bend my fingers again without fainting with the pain). At least it was better than counting beans at Divisional HQ, inputting stop 'n' search forms or taking telephone "investigation" reports (AKA crime number generator reports as no actual investigation gets done on these - not Divisional priorities or highly thought of by the Home Office Flipping Counting Rules!).

26 March, 2007 20:55

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a childhood friend who is now a police officer in a high crime city. He used to be sweet, gentle, funny, and very kind. I recently caught up with him and he seems to have changed; his temperment is short, mean, and impatient. It's like he doesn't want to be bothered, he isolates himself. He is recently divorced and seems to be under a lot of stress. I made an attempt to restore our friendship, but he pushes me away. While in his presence, I felt threatned as he became very irritated, as if he was going to strike me. He has never acted that way with me, but now it seems as though it comes so naturally. I cut off all communication with him because I don't know how to handle it and now I am actually scared of him. Nevertheless, I love him and I feel as though he needs help with all he is dealing with. If I told him that, he would really shut down and cuss me out. I don't know what to do; I care about him. Is there anything that I can do?

29 October, 2008 00:01

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry... What a joke. There is a huge bullying culture within the police which I am victim of ot present. I have gone down all the right channels and nothing has been done. This has lead me to be very stressed. You think I am making up how I feel to get out of work? No. I would love nothing more than to do the job I have always wanted to do without worrying about bitching, sniping and shoddy, or in my case, hardly and supervision. I'm not lazy, I'm at my wits end with being overworked and hauled over the coals for not being able to perform miracles, and I'll be damned if I will let a bloody job ruin my health and marriage.

08 August, 2012 22:07


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