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.


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

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Patience please...

Have you ever called the police and they never came?
Yes
No
Frequently*
They did come but much later than I had hoped

I recently attended a burglary-in-progress at a police officer's house. Of course we all broke every traffic law we could think of on the way once we realised who lived there. On arrival the first words out of her mouth were,

"It bloody took you long enough."

Not exactly how I expected to be greeted by a colleague.

She had a point though. For those of you who have never dialled 999 and asked for someone to come and turn your iron off, here is how it works when you do:
  • You get through to the joint emergency services operator who will ask which service you want (ie police, fire, ambulance, coastguard, meals on wheels etc).
  • They will put you through, but you will have to wait on the line while they relay your phone number across. You might think this would be electronically transmitted immediately. You might well think this.
  • You get through to a call-taker. THIS IS NOT A POLICE OFFICER. He or she will try to grasp why you have called and start recording it into a typed log. Once some basic details are typed in, if they deem your call an emergency, the call-taker can "ping" it across to the control room. By now it will be about one minute since you dialled.
  • A controller reads the log. They CAN dispatch a police officer now, but in all probability there are some checks they need to do first, such as whether your number or address has called the police before and the outcome. They will do police national computer checks on any names you give them. All of this will take 3-5 minutes.
  • Now they will "grade" your call. Which means decide whether police will go with blue lights on, without, or quite frankly whether we'll bother at all.
  • If you get the top grading, they will search for a resource. This can take the form of an electronic search for units who have booked themselves "available". They can also use the in-car radio sets to track the nearest unit (if the driver's turned it on and it's working - unlikely). Usually, they will call up on the air asking for a unit to volunteer.
  • After a suitable pause to see if anyone else is going to volunteer, someone will. They then set off.
  • By now it is 8-10 minutes since you called. How long you wait from this point depends on how close you were to the available police officer.
If you aren't graded with top priority, you will sink to the unlucky status of being able to wait, which means you wait. You will become no more important that the statement I desperately need for the guy I have on bail, or the arrest I really have to make before the offender flees the country or kills someone. In Blandmore at present, this will mean a fairly long wait, because I have a lot of people on bail and there are a lot of people out there I should be arresting.

I sometimes wonder if Amazon.co.uk uses the same call-taking system when you place an order for a book. Although if you haven't received the book you are waiting for, there might be another reason.

---------------------------------------------------------
Copyright of PC Bloggs.

* If you have answered "Frequently" to the above poll, please stop calling us.

23 Comments:

Anonymous Sue said...

My copy of THE book was posted over a week ago (according to the confirmation email) - I suspect someone at Royal Mail may have been reading it this week while supping on tea and biscuits!!!!!!

13 October, 2007 21:10

 
Blogger Minbu said...

Superb blog - as usual. Still waiting for my copy of the book as well!

13 October, 2007 21:37

 
Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

I haven't received a copy of your book yet because I haven't ordered one. Does that count? (actually I bought one in a book store three weeks ago and it's brilliant!)

13 October, 2007 22:54

 
Blogger Central User said...

Until they temporarily ran out of stock and provided you don't mind paying the full price (but with no postage), the best and most personal service is from Monday Books. Two copies ordered on a Sunday, received on Wednesday- and that was after Dan had checked with me that I really wanted two! Top notch.

Re Emergency Calls. I have only ever made one police 999 call in my life. Less than two minutes' response time to a call made from a suburban London Underground station. Outstanding. While it may be an unusual response, sensible MOPS should judge as they find not as they hear.

There has been recent talk of Avon & Somerset police considering outsourcing their call taking and possibly offshoring it to India. Now that is about as far removed from what most people want as is imaginable.

14 October, 2007 10:04

 
Blogger Hoddy said...

When - after a spate of domestic burglaries in our road - I saw three large (two of them were 6ft plus) lads going down a _series_ of side allies, I rang the local police.

Then I followed the lads, with the 'phone in my hand and a camera in the other hand. Took a photo, whereupon their hoodies went on and they moved towards me.

Luckily, they backed down, vaulted a fence into the school grounds (it was a Sunday) and buggered off.

The police eventually spoke to me on the 'phone after 15 mins by my call timer. To cut a long tory short; no car was sent then, they have never visited me, nor asked to see the 'photo. [And another burglary was reported two days later]

I've written to the local Police Station and my MP. Not a blue uniform nor yellow Hi-Vi have I seen.

So I can claim to STILL be waiting for the police after 9 months - for a call involving 'burglars on'.

[The local nick is South Norwood (in That London).]

TBH, while I've read 'Diaries of an On Call Girl' and understand the problems, if the system prevents you doing your job, then you're a wee bit dishonest taking your salary, aren't you? It's like a non-swimmer taking a job as a lifeguard. Or like putting uniforms full of PCSOs on the streets to hide the lack of Police.

Either change the system so you _can_ do the job (or even The Job) or leave the Police Farce. If enough officers voted with their feet, something would be done.

As it is, the inaction of the Police will lead to vigilante actions. Because, when it takes from 15mins (their figure) to 9 months (mine), to get in touch with the Police, they've ceased to be a valid Emergency Service.

If I see scrotes again, I fear one of them will have attacked me (and been well put down) by the time South Norwood deign to answer the 'phone. And if I get hurt, that's only 'cos I'm doing the Police's job for them.

14 October, 2007 10:52

 
Blogger News from Monday Books said...

Dear All

Just a quick one to say that if you bought the book from us it will have been posted out first class the same day if ordered before 2pm or the next if ordered after then.

The postal strikes have played havoc with deliveries, obviously, but they have been getting there eventually.

cheers

Dan

14 October, 2007 13:34

 
Blogger News from Monday Books said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

14 October, 2007 13:35

 
Blogger News from Monday Books said...

Oops - just to add

a) thanks for your kind comments, central user

and

b) we will have stock in again tomorrow (Monday)

cheers

Dan

14 October, 2007 13:37

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

hoddy: I'm "a wee bit dishonest taking [my] salary"... well I'm not bloody doing this crap for free!

14 October, 2007 16:09

 
Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

hoddy - I'm tempted to come round and deal with your call myself! it's a bit far from Ruralshire though. I bet the CPS would cry off with the photos saying there isn't any 'continuity' of evidence or they hadn't been 'cautioned' or some such shite.

14 October, 2007 16:12

 
Blogger thinblueline said...

run accross a motorway why dont you

14 October, 2007 16:46

 
Blogger alanorei said...

Re: Amazon, I've almost always had very prompt service. Only once did they keep putting back the delivery date until I eventually cancelled. (This was for a book called Race and Reason (not about betting) and maybe it was deemed 'sensitive.')

Re: police response times, I aim to raise this topic at the local police surgery tomorrow night.

As indicated, if PC Bloggs or anyone else would like me to convey their compliments to two of their colleagues here in the northeast, I'd be happy to do so.

PC Bloggs's post may explain a story that (I think) appeared on PC Dave/Stu's blog and has done the rounds. It is allegedly based on fact.

The version in the NE is as follows. A homeowner phones the police i.e. 999, twice in the space of a few minutes to report burglars attempting to break into his garden shed. He is informed each time that the police cannot attend the incident for 3 hours.

He phones a third time and gets the same reply but states, "It's all right, I just rang up to tell you that you needn't bother. I've shot 'em!"

About 5 minutes later, an armed police response unit and a back-up vehicle arrive at his address, about 6-8 officers in total. They manage to arrest the would-be burglars.

They also arrest the homeowner for wasting police time.

It is clear from PC Bloggs's explanation that the homeowner jarred the system. Hence the arrest.

Anyway, it will be interesting to hear what is said at the surgery.

14 October, 2007 17:46

 
Blogger Minbu said...

Re: alanorei's story about the homeowner. The version I heard ends with the officer saying to the homeowner, "I thought you said you'd shot them." To which the homeowner replies, "I thought you said you had no one available."

14 October, 2007 20:14

 
Blogger Minty said...

Hoddy,
Are you saying that everyone who does not agree with the way their employer runs the place should vote with their feet?
I suspect that not only would we not have any Police Officers, the NHS would be pretty sparse on staff. How about people continue as they are, doing the best they can in a pretty poor situation?

14 October, 2007 21:56

 
Anonymous Paul said...

"You get through to a call-taker..."
You've missed the bit where the call-taker firstly doesn't know where you are because the call-centre is in another city and they don't recognise the main road names and areas in the city you are calling from. And then the call-taker refuses to believe you live at the address that you say you do because their computer database of addresses is decades out of date. You then have to repeat everything and argue that the building isn't flats like it says on the computer, it is a house and you are the only one that lives there :-(

15 October, 2007 08:10

 
Anonymous MOP said...

good point minty. our classrooms would be even more anarchic than they already are if the teachers all jacked it in, the army wouldn't be much cop and the bbc would have to stop broadcasting.

i do think some people, like hoddy, are a bit naiive if they believe the only options are:
1) love your job
or
2) leave?

as far as i can see, bloggs and pc copperfield and the other police bloggers are trying to change a crap system, which doesn't serve us the public properly, in just about the only way they can.

by the way Bloggs, great, great, great book. the funniest thing i've read this year.

15 October, 2007 09:02

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It takes 10 minutes for your force to grade a call and send an officer? That is a crime in itself.

Here the whole process of answering the call, taking brief details, grading it, sending the job to the controller and them allocating it to an officer can take as little as 60 seconds from start to finish. Research is then done in traveling time.

17 October, 2007 13:52

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have stopped calling you in Salford ( Manchester) we let the community (BNP) sort the crap out... it works tks

20 October, 2007 21:03

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was near my border with another force once, on duty.

A MoP told me that there was a broken down vehicle about half a mile into the neighbouring force on a very dangerous, dark dual carriageway.

I decided that it would be quicker for me to go than to get the neighbouring force to come (it was about 10 miles from their nearest nick).

I went and "Held the Fort".

I asked my Control Room to contact the neighbouring force.

I waited.

30 minutes later I asked my Control Room what was going on.

I was told they couldn't get through to the neighbouring force's non-emergency number.

My Duty Officer told me to ring 999.

I was on duty, in uniform, in a Police Car. My blue lights were on. My cones were neatly out.

Yet I was told to ring 999 and ask for the Police.

Absolute joke!

25 October, 2007 21:14

 
Blogger Lara said...

I once called 999 when a group of people had a fight outside a train station. They were obviously intoxicated, but they were doing a lot of damage to each other nonetheless.

Nothing happened for a long time. Maybe understandable, given the number of street fights on a saturday night.

When a girl became involved in the fight, and was consequently beaten up by drunk men, I phoned 999 AGAIN because from her shape I guessed (correctly) that she was pregnant, and one of the men repeatedly punched her in the stomach area.

5 units turned up within minutes, blue lights and all.

It took only a few minutes to separate them and bang them all up in 2 vans, but then it took AGES for 3 different officers to take my statement. I was then asked to visit the police station a few days later, to repeat my statement again. I didn't know any of the people involved, but I enquired whether the girl was ok. I was told that she was seen by a doctor and didn't want to press charges.

I'm glad the woman, whoever she is, didn't take any harm. But I don't understand why I and the officer at the station had to go through all the statements again if they already knew there would be no charges.

It gives me an inkling why the police never managed to find my stolen car, until I managed to track down the burnt-out remains myself several weeks later. I was nice enough to phone the station I originally reported it to, to tell them where they could find what's left of it. I never heard about it again.

26 October, 2007 05:39

 
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