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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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Unsolved/Unsolvable... same difference.

Over on the blog of the Artist Formerly Known as Dave is a link to a Telegraph article about crimes that get screened out. There are some angry and lengthy comments mainly by Mops (Members of Public) on it which are worth a read if you have your seatbelt on.

In Blandshire, crimes will be screened out if:
  • It is criminal damage or theft AND
  • There is no named offender AND
  • There is no CCTV AND
  • There is no forensic potential (eg stone through window, handbag left unattended etc) AND
  • It's not domestic AND
  • No one thinks it's racist.
In all other cases, an officer will attend OR a civilian will investigate from their desk. The latter usually applies to cases where there are no forensics and/or it is a simple matter of circulating CCTV photos to police officers to see if they recognise anyone.

This state of affairs has quite rightly been labelled disastrous. Police should be able to detect crime even when the offender has left absolutely no evidence behind whatsoever. I would like to see more of a Can-Do attitude. For example, why do police not use divination and/or spirit guides to trace these criminals? I would much rather spend my day viewing broken windows and clicking with my tongue at the victim than I would doing proactive patrols for burglars or arresting criminals I DO know the name of.

Before the Anonymous brigade goes berserk, I do not support the belief that victims of crime should hide their property, stop talking on their mobiles or catch offenders themselves. And there ARE a lot of cases which could be solved if we had the resources and time to go to all lengths.

But just what exactly are we supposed to do in cases when there is no evidence, or where the committed crime is so minor (eg doughnut theft, egg thrown without damage) that there would never be a prosecution even if we did catch someone?

Ideas? Thoughts?

If the police don't come, here's another solution to a broken window...

Copyright of PC Bloggs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most decent, hard working people will only call the Police once or twice in there life. With all the money they pay in taxes each year maybe all they really want is to see an Officer attend the scene.

We all know that the information obtained and the information relayed are two very different things and I am sure we each have stories about inaccuracy of crime reports compared to what really happened.

Isn’t being able to speak with an Officer after having your window broken really what public reassurance is about? Maybe people are just annoyed that the crime is undetected following an investigation from someone, in the majority of cases, that would greatly benefit from arse / elbow training.


15 November, 2007 17:44

Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

Personally, I would screen out all volume crime and concentrate on Public Order, when we could thence distribute a good 'sticking' to the ungainly ne'r do wells who binge drink their way around Ruraltown.

15 November, 2007 20:15

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blimey! I got about half-way through the Telegraph comments and had to give up before I slit my wrists!!

Guys - all we can do is just keep plodding on and doing our best. They'll never be happy whatever we do. Half of the MOPs spend every waking moment moaning that all we do is catch speeders and the other half ... I recently caught sight of the minutes of a local community meeting in a Home Counties force and the biggest winge (I kid you not) was about people "speeding through our village. What are the Police doing about it?" Sheesh!

P.S. Would people please learn when to use "their", "they're" and "there" properly please? It drives me up the wall.

15 November, 2007 20:34

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Notellin said:

I think the majority of the mops would be happy if we actually bothered to come tell them to their face that it can be solved and why.

I also think a significant numbers of crimes written off could be solved.

I also think a significant number of crimes that aren't written off should be, with a visit to the MOPS to tell them why of course.

I think the bureaucrazy Police systems were to be arranged in such a manner where everything i do didn't take 10 replicated information forms, didn't take twice as long as it could do and had some function or purpose then i could spend more time on investigating crime.

15 November, 2007 22:01

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an area Officer I regularly attended parish council and community meetings and, like anon of 20.34, the majority of complaints was about speeding motorists. No one was interested in the burglary or public order initiatives we had set up. When we set up ops to catch the speeders, lo and behold, they were the very people who were making the complaints. Their cries of "I didn't mean ME" or "Why aren't you out catching real criminals" meant that no matter what we did we were wrong (in their eyes). As a now retired officer, I accept that there are many Police initiatives that I no longer know about but the sight of two or three officers in a yob ridden high street at closing time, with several PCSOs shut inside a Police van (they are not allowed near confronatational situations) is an embarrassment. What makes me angry is that the senior managers who decide where the priorities lie are never there in that street but are probably either tucked up in bed or at some high fancy cocktail party on the other side of reality. We once had a Sgt who decided his shift, at least, would operate a system of shutting down ANY form of anti-social behaviour with offenders either being stuck on or nicked. We loved it, though it meant long hours and, sometimes, hairy situations. The public also loved it as it meant their windows weren't being smashed, their cars weren't being damaged and no one was vomiting in their front gardens any more. The bosses stopped it as it wasn't in the spirit of community partnership. Windows were once again broken, cars damaged and the vomit trails recommenced. The skipper resigned in disgust and is now in New South Wales Police. Two own goals for this force with the public suffering, as ever. That was 5 years ago and it seems that nothing has changed.
Where we had an Insp, 2 Sgts and 10officers for our area we now have one officer and two PCSOs. They have no chance of investigating any offences which happen here and this is possibly why so many are written off at the time of reporting. The role of PCSOs is, allegedly, to offer reassurance but as they never patrol in the rain or dark or when it is cold I expect not to see either of them for the next 6 months. A very sad state of affairs.

15 November, 2007 22:11

Blogger cramerj said...

I thought the police regularly arrested for trivial crimes. Such a child calling another one a homosexual or even someone calling a horse a homosexual.
After all the police are not all that good with rape , arson , assault , murder.

16 November, 2007 04:13

Blogger Chuck Unsworth said...

I understand that our local nick has recently taken delivery of a superb new machine for crime detection and communication. The guys will no longer need to patrol or, indeed, deal with the public at all.

Apparently this revolutionary machine is called a ouija board. First indicators are pretty promising - they've already found out who was responsible for that murderous assault in Canterbury Cathedral and are now about to turn their attention to the infamous double murder of boys in The Tower.

16 November, 2007 09:42

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

First time poster, long-time reader of both yours and Gadget's blogs.

I have utmost faith in the Police and how they try to do their job (have a number of copper and ex-copper friends so i'm more than aware of the reality of what goes on behind the scenes), however I have NONE in their operational (read:Above Inspector rank) and political masters who sadly hold the reigns.

The current Force (sorry, service - which is sadly more appropriate now that you're filling in customer satisfaction forms after a stop & search etc) is being alternately buried under, hamstrung by, and shackled to targets and paperwork.

As for those targets and the statistics you mention in your blog - who was it that once said "There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics"?

Theres a great book out i thoroughly enjoyed reading: How to lie with statistics. Reckon all you plods should get your mitts on a copy - if you can't beat them, use their own rules against them!

16 November, 2007 13:28

Anonymous US Detective Sergeant said...

The Met listed three critical elements to determine if a crime is investigated:

1) Forensic Opportunities
2) CCTV Footage
3) Witnesses

If you don't respond to the scene how can you determine elements 1 & 3. and no self respecting thief would do a crime in view of your CCTV network. Over 99% of US Streets are NOT covered by any type of surveillance system and almost all of those are covered are privately owned designed to cover private property.

The mission of any police service is to protect and serve. Whenever a crime is committed and is unsolved it represents a FAILURE of the entire police department.

That's why you have detectives and various other support personnel to solve the crime. Every crime that goes uninvestigated emboldens petty (petit) criminals to become major felons. Better to take them off the street, or at least identify them, now rather than later. Don't you think?

Or do you???????

16 November, 2007 20:29

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Normally I agree with what you write, here I do not. I'm a retired copper and we, the police, used to attend and at least try - you seem to say that if the modern copper can't detect without effort then they won't bother. Even reassurance was valuable when the public (and where the hell did the dispespectful MOP come from?)needed it, remember they are not as cynical and hardened as we are. With 'write it off without effort' attitudes like this you really can't wondern that respect for the police is in free fall, can you?

17 November, 2007 14:27

Anonymous US Detective Sergeant said...

Sorry...don't mean to offend anyone or to imply that the average UK street cop will not use what resources and training ARE PROVIDED to the cops on the front line. AND what kind of leadership your leadership is or is not providing.

It seems to me that current policing policy in the UK is based more on PR and voluntary compliance by MOP and the criminals than in actual enforcement of the laws equally across the board. More importantly the cops need to be allowed to be more assertive and to instill the FEAR to the trouble makers of being "detected", arrested and punished.

On the other hand it appears that MOP have no fear of any consequences for their non-cooperation in police investigations. I've seen no mention of false reporting or obstruction of justice or an investigation mentioned in these posts or on other UK blogs.

We all share the same enemy. There are two types of people that think they own the night: Vampires and Cops. It's our job to drive a stake through the bastards' heart.

17 November, 2007 21:18

Anonymous Matt Munro said...

Isn't this how crime develops though. Leave the broken window and then you have graffiti, leave the grafitri and then you have car theft, leave the car theft and then you have mugging, leave the mugging and you have a shooting. It doesn't happen overnight, crime and criminals are incremental.
The problem is that, as a citizen I can be "detected", tried, and sentenced automatically (from speed camera to fine) but some chav can throw an egg at my house and nothing can be done ? And you blame the criminals for not leaving any evidence ? It's not about evidence it's about political will.
Why can't the police grasp that if you are a victim, there's no such thing as a "minor" crime.

19 November, 2007 12:15

Anonymous Jeff Wood said...


It was Winston Churchill, shortly after his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer, who shook his head and observed there are Lies, Damned Lies and then there are Statistics.

I observe, daily, that there are Liars, Damned Liars and then there are Politicians.

19 November, 2007 22:44

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