This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but 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 pay my salary.


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Thursday, January 04, 2007

It's SOOOOCAP confusing!

A year on from the happy introduction of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, I thought I would take a look at how Blandshire Constabulary has managed to implement it.

For those of you who are unaware of this surreptitious little act, the government snuck it in last year without much of a fanfare. This was appropriate as all it really did was radically overhaul police powers to arrest, search and enter people and premises, and pave the way for a civilianised police force which will gradually dissolve back into one similar to what we have now.

This might be a bit of a technical post, but I feel it is important. If you are a non-police reader, please flit to the end where I have composed a little ditty, just for you.

The only bits of SOCAP I have noticed are:

PCSOs
While these have been around since one of other of the Police Reforms Acts (try 2002 but I'm just a PC so you can't expect me to know the law), the last year has seen a spate of them. PCSOs should be useful for patrolling under-age drinking hotspots, stopping unroadworthy vehicles, guarding scenes and cordons and carrying out high visibility patrol (walking about) following major crimes. Currently in Blandmore they only do the first and last, however they are also adept at talking for many minutes on the radio and summoning police officers to their aid because they have no legal training.

Arrest Powers
Notably, every arrest I make now has to be justified, whereas before I could do it for happies. This should reduce the number of "disproportionate" arrests and will therefore encourage the public to think that when we do make an arrest, it is a jolly good one. In Blandmore this has meant that we now arrest for anything and everything and all the prisoners are rejected in custody because three of our five custody sergeants disagree on what the new law means. The other two are unaware that there is a new law.

Entry/Search Powers
It used to be simple. If I could arrest someone for something, I was nearly always allowed to bosh down their door to do so. Now I have to stop and ask myself whether the offence is triable in Crown Court. If it is, I can bosh away. If not, I must sing a serenade and hope they come out on their own. The best part about this change is that when I went to training school they did not really bother to teach us what offences were triable in Crown Court or not. What a great opportunity for some self-development.

Process of Prisoners
Whereas before I used to only take fingerprints and DNA from criminals who had been charged, now I take it from everyone. This means that the police can detect some rapes and murders from the 1970s and say things like: "We now hold the DNA of xxx million people. Muhahahaha." I have yet to detect a murder from the 1970s by arresting someone for common assault, but that doesn't mean I can't keep trying.

Footwear Impressions
We can now take imprints of people's shoes by force. This is fabulous, as I can forcibly remove Charlene Burglar's Reebok Classics and create a beautiful indent of them on a piece of paper. I can then take the paper to expert Scenes of Crime Officers who look on a database of shoeprints and announce the remarkable news that "This came from a Reebok Classic". Seriously.

Abolition of Royal Parks Constabulary
This has had no effect on Blandmore or me, but I just think it's sad.


The point of all the above is that a third of the force has no idea that anything has changed, a third is struggling to comply with dozens of new regulations, and the final third, like me, is so confused that we have just stopped arresting people altogether.

Somebody help us, please!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright of PC Bloggs.
PS Did you really think I would write a little ditty?

20 Comments:

Anonymous Syb said...

Yes

04 January, 2007 16:39

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the way they've changed 'citizens arrest' so you need a law degree to know what it is.

04 January, 2007 17:00

 
Anonymous Sayonara said...

I liked the deft way you slipped "enter people and premises" in there without missing a beat.

04 January, 2007 18:35

 
Anonymous diceyjase said...

I was amazed at how my force introduced this law to us just before xmas '05....everyone was sent an email with a short powerpoint presentation and was expected to instantly understand it. Thank god I had sgt's to turn too for advice...they didn't understand either so got three separate versions.

04 January, 2007 20:26

 
Blogger Phill said...

As well as reading your blog I also (pretend to) listen to my wife who's training to be a teacher. It seems that a common theme is present in both professions: Too much change from government, a lack of clarity and no time for stability / settling in.

Introducing new laws and changing existing ones might look good in the media but as the Hunting Act has shown (and the banning of smoking in pubs will soon show), the Government doesn't have a clue about how to enforce them (and probably doesn't even care).

Likewise there have been so many education acts (one a year on average under Labour) that I doubt a teacher knows how they're meant to do their job anymore.

I work in a forever changing profession (I.T.) but it looks positively sedate compared to the modern Police force. You have my sympathy.

Too much change too soon does more damage than none at all. Poll tax anyone?

04 January, 2007 20:41

 
Blogger Stan Still said...

Perhaps next time you see one of your custody sergeants, you might want to mention that it isn't THEM that need to justify the arrest, it is you! All the custody sergeant has to do is to determine whether there are any grounds for detaining the person at the police station. These are still the old favourites of "secure & preserve evidence" and "obtain evidence by questioning"

Basically, it won't be the skipper who gets hauled over the coals if the arrest is later found not to be justified, so why are they getting so worked up about it?

04 January, 2007 21:33

 
Blogger totallyun-pc said...

Oh you just beat me to it Stan.

Pace has a decree in it that states the detention at the station isn't unlawful if the grounds for detention exist on the evidence provided, even if the arrest subsequently turns out to be unlawful.


SOCPA has just meant we can nick people for anything, providing one of the conditions apply. thats it in its simplest form.

you ever had a street bail that works? nightmare. nick em first!

(I accept Blandshire might be a bit more localised then the London Borough of pondlife, so you probably know your slags a little more intimately)

Your skippers are mad not to take any old sh!te in, once the cells are full you can't take anymore... happy days!

Or they were... ha ha ha ha (moonwalk! heee heee, shamone!!)

04 January, 2007 21:56

 
Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

What's all this about a new law and new powers then?

05 January, 2007 02:14

 
Blogger staghounds said...

When pcos dither
and call for your help,
or prisoners can't be confined,
you might think that things can't get stranger.

So copy the shoe prints and pull DNA-
and be glad that you aren't a ranger.

05 January, 2007 03:03

 
Anonymous Syb said...

Thank you Staghounds for saving the day. PC Bloggs, your ditty duties are now over.

05 January, 2007 11:33

 
Blogger Moira said...

You can take shoe imprints?? There must no longer be any crime! The only crime must be the 1970s murders you keep solving!

And yes, I thought you'd write a ditty. *sigh*

05 January, 2007 13:57

 
Blogger ExtraSpecialCopper said...

My training was a vigerous 6 slide power point presentation.

05 January, 2007 18:49

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My training on the 'new' arrest powers was an A4 leaflet issued after the change in the law.

The training session was run on the same day as the sgts exam so everyone was either doing the exam or covering shifts for those doing the exam.

06 January, 2007 14:09

 
Anonymous AMAR said...

All men are rapists

http://preview.tinyurl.com/ulbqs

"The two police officers were deeply concerned when they came across an apparently distressed and disorientated woman in Bradford city centre at 8.20pm on a busy Friday evening. The 31-year-old recounted how she had been brutally raped by a man who was still in his car at the scene of the crime".

You will have to go to the link to see what happens next.

07 January, 2007 12:03

 
Anonymous Amar said...

All men are rapists

It seems I'm unable to post links that work. I do apologise for wasting your time.

online Sunday Telegraph. Crime section Article headlined "Pay-as-you-go hooliganism".

07 January, 2007 12:09

 
Blogger thoughts running through my head.... said...

I prefer SOCAP,dont have to remember what is what now,and Parks may stop clogging up our airwaves now with their escapee squirrels and the like!!!

08 January, 2007 18:48

 
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