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, January 15, 2007

Why Are We Stressed?

A blogger recently posted on the number of emergency services personnel who seek advice over stress and substance abuse. Another has posted a cracking account of an assistance shout he attended where a colleague was stabbed. From reading these blogs you would imagine that it is the antisocial hours, the continual sights of blood and gore, the fighting and the physical exhaustion, that drives us to despair.

On the contrary, here is the reason I am STRESSED:

Today I spend some time "surfing" the incident control system. Superficially I am seeing what jobs needed attending, but in actual fact I am trying to decide - based on said jobs - whether I should be available or unavailable the next time the control room calls my name.

The eight unresourced incidents (not counting the thirty waiting for Monday morning) include two teenaged girls missing from a care home for the seventh time in six months, a girl who has woken to find that her boyfriend had run off with £20, a man who thought he might have been about to be attacked by a dog in the park earlier on but wasn't, a twelve-year-old who was punched in the face by a thirteen-year-old, the thirteen-year-old claiming that the twelve-year-old kicked her first, and the resident of no.4 Boxham Green reporting that once again the occupant of no.6 has parked in his parking bay.

While I am as cynical as any other young go-getting single in her twenties, I have no problem with any of the above people calling the police. Let's face it, these people have always called the police and the police have always gone to see them. Ten or twenty years ago we would have gone to each one and said, "We'll have a look for them", "we'll go and get your £20 back", "we'll keep a look out for that dog", "we'll box both the little toe-rag's ears", "we'll go and tell him to wind his neck in". Each caller would have ended happy and we would not have put pen to paper once. PC Bloggs might even have gotten to all of these callers in one day.

On scanning further through the incident reports, however, I discover that each and every one of these incidents has been allocated a "crime report number". A crime report cannot be deleted, downgraded or ignored once in existence, or a cataclysm will end the universe. If I touch any of the crime reports for a quick read, knock at any of the victims' doors (whether or not anyone is in) or update the incident log to say that I have knowledge of the person in question and the officer attending should be wary, I will become the Officer in Charge of every one of these "investigations".

This will be the trigger event for the Department of Critical Emailing to get its cogs in gear for an email-fest. It is the trigger for Supervisory Chats with PC Bloggs about her mounting paperwork tray. It is the trigger for five calls from members of public asking why PC Bloggs is still sitting at the care home filling out a form when she could be with them filling out two others. It is therefore the trigger event for PC Bloggs to make herself another cup of tea and become immediately too busy to attend any of the incidents at all.

If, in the middle of juggling five crime reports for trivial or non-existent crimes the radio should blare to life to inform me that a colleague is in need of assistance, it is almost a relief. At last something that I want to do and can do with no consideration for form-filling or reprisals. Something simple, something human, something important.

Afterwards, there will be the form-filling and reprisals. A form to say that I discharged my incapacitant. Another one to say that it didn't work. A third to say that I scratched my arm. Another to say that I am fit for duty in spite of this. A statement about what I did and didn't do. A meeting about how I managed to lose a file of paperwork that I was holding while I rushed to my colleague's aid.

Whilst the blood, the gore and the fighting is tiring and traumatic, I would rather be out there doing that than sitting in front of a computer updating those five crime reports. I am sure most of you would agree (I said "most" - there's always one).

Copyright of PC Bloggs.


Blogger staghounds said...

That's about as good an exposition of why people go into, and then leave disgusted with, the protecting and helping professions. Every police officer, EMT, teacher, and nurse craves those simple, human, important things. Damn the cowards who make a living out of taking those things away.

15 January, 2007 21:20

Blogger PC South West said...

What about phoning all the victims that you are dealing with, just to tell them nothing has changed since you last phoned them.
Maybe if we were not so busy phoning them we would have more time to deal with the crime.

15 January, 2007 22:24

Blogger Officer Dibble said...

I agree.. I am part of the 'Most'

16 January, 2007 00:35

Blogger Noddy said...

You are not alone.... virtual group hug needed (in a totally non sexually motivated manner of course).

16 January, 2007 03:18

Blogger ExtraSpecialCopper said...

Dont fancy promotion then?

16 January, 2007 10:06

Blogger PCFrankyFact said...

You lift my spirits Bloggs. Been feeling down lately for similar reasons. You are not alone.

16 January, 2007 13:25

Anonymous Colleen said...

I'm glad you blogged about it! I think it helps!

16 January, 2007 16:32

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Spot on. Its amazing I can run into a pub fight, attend as many fatal RTA’s (yes that’s right I did type RTA as opposed to RTC, I laugh in the face of bureaucracy & dance on it’s lap top) as you like & not bat an eyelid. The one & only thing that stresses me is the paperwork! Don’t mind a reasonable amount. Fully expected that when I joined. But now 10 years down the road it makes me poorly.

But this blogging lark is good. To know that (for now at least) we can speak the truth.

& group hug sounds great. I must warn you that I find males nor females attractive I’m into furniture, table legs preferably. Yes I’m a leg man. & a lap (top) dancer. Bum bum

16 January, 2007 17:43

Blogger The general said...

I agree.

I can honestly say that I haven't gone out hunting for criminals in months due to the amount of paperwork I have to do. Quite frankly it gets on my tits.

16 January, 2007 20:59

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thinking of joining up... well applying I should say. Thought about it for a few years but there was always something in the way. Clear road right now, should I, shouldn't I. Hmm paperwork...

16 January, 2007 21:01

Blogger Drugsblogger said...

Hallo Bloggs,

Your description of your frustration and crossness at the volume of paperwork and dealing with other stuff is a classic account of the stress I was talking about in the post I put up which started this all off. The key thing is that people who suffer stress disorders almost always say that the main trigger was a feeling that they were or are losing control or out of control of their working lives. This can be extremes - e.g.inability to help a colleague in trouble, seeing disasters where they can't provide help or it can be as simple as feeling that they're drowning in paperwork. Strikes me that although in the case of paperwork you're not all climbing the walls, there are an incredible number of posts on numerous police bloggs which are so angry and cross about it - the bureaucrats and the paperwork that you feel you're not in control of the job you want to do. Nicking the naughty people.

16 January, 2007 21:41

Blogger busybizzie said...

Between yourself, Bloggsy, and drugsblogger you've pretty much hit several nails on their collective heads.
The paperwork in this job is a killer but it's not insurmountable. Much of it's routine and hey, we can only fill in one form at a time can't we?
The problem and stress starts because that work is constantly changing ( I nearly said evolving but that infers improvement) in response to new goals from government or our own management. This leaves people floundering in conflicting priorities and unnecessary reporting to bizarre and often short lived departments.
No wonder we crave the simplicity of an assistance shout. You hear, you go, you lock up whoever isn't a copper. Job done.

(P.S. what's a guy got to do to get a li'l mention on a girls sidebar?)

17 January, 2007 07:38

Anonymous Mark said...

I actually laughed out loud at how true that post was. Keep it up Bloggs - refreshing to hear your humour.

17 January, 2007 15:13

Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

Learn to 'cut & paste'?

oh... sorry... that would imply compatible IT systems - how foolish of me... we have only had a decade to sort that one out, but we haven't.

17 January, 2007 15:35

Blogger Drugsblogger said...

Anyone spot the reports in yesterday's press about a PC Singh up north busted and convicted for dealing and using cocaine? His plea in mitigation was that he used the Columbian marching powder to alleviate his work-related stress and ended up dealing because of the cost.

I merely observe this without comment, except to say that there are quite a few cases of drugs treatment staff losing it in this way too.

17 January, 2007 15:52

Blogger Joe90 said...

Bloody paperwork, I always help out with what I can do and try and learn what I don't yet know how to do.

The paperwork aspect has diswayed me from applying to the regulars, no doubt about it.

17 January, 2007 16:23

Blogger PCFrankyFact said...

I swear, the next time some pompous git tells me that its a road traffic collision as opposed to an accident and tries to explain why I'll just kill him/her. Instead of my usual PC response of ?!? You sad?!#*

18 January, 2007 00:36

Blogger Big Fella in Blue said...


its 99% of sh*t jobs/paperwork and 1% fun but the 1% makes it worth while. The 99% you can get through with a good shift around you and the understanding that you can only do one thing at a time (well us blokes can) as you only have one set of hands.
The bits that annoy me are
1) When the crime reports have wrong details on it.
2) The victims are not in even though they have just called for the police.
3) You cannot locate them to update them or finish off the paperwork.
4) They drop the charges when you have spent f'in hours on the case.

Have just linked you to my site PC Bloggs come on over!!

18 January, 2007 00:54

Blogger totallyun-pc said...

there always "more than one" willing to sit in the office typing,,,, so why can't they do our stuff to?

I used to have a bloke on my team who was a proper station cat. I loved it when we were together, because we were never together.... He in office bound mode, supervising memo's and crimes, Me out and about a doing some mixing.

now thats team work.... Guesss which one of us left for the Force control room......

No, you Nugget.... HIM!

18 January, 2007 16:22

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloggs, I've found the secret...join the dog section. No paperwork,go to decent jobs,no dealing with kids,common asaults,nuisance neighbours and all the other shite that cause the stress on response, very rarely see the inside of a custody block and no supervision...great. Of course you've got to like being wet and muddy and stinking of wet dog aswell.

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