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)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Attitude Test

There's an interesting debate taking place here. One of the things that comes up throughout it is THE ATTITUDE TEST, a common theme for police officers. There's a good comment on it by TUPC.

My non-police Twenty-First Century readers may be imagining some kind of phone-in quiz hosted by Anne Robinson, which decides whether Builders or Nurses have a better attitude. So to clarify, I am referring to the method of deciding whether the speeding motorist I have just pulled over gets a ticket or not.

These guys get a ticket. In case you were wondering.

Policing used to be entirely governed by the Attitude Act of 1829. No other law was needed and people went around their lives knowing that if they were polite and respectful to police officers, nothing bad would ever happen to them. They could beat their wives, drive their carriage at speed through pedestrian areas and defraud thousands of pounds from businesses. But as long as they said, "I'm so sorry officer" when caught, they would be patted down and sent on their way.

A lot of very silly people thought this was an inappropriate way to run a police force. As a result, dozens of laws, policies and regulations have been introduced over the last 180 years to overrule the Attitude Act with things like the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the Public Order Act, the Battered Women and Poor Little Children Act and the Rich People Are Subhuman Acts of recent years*. The Human Rights Act is probably the most notable of the new legislation. Regardless of how someone behaves, we are obliged to treat them all the same.

This is a far better approach. Kids growing up in the enlightened Twenty-First Century know that if they bunk off school and swear at bus drivers, they are still just as good as the kids who do their homework and have a paper round. Motorists know that force policy will govern what kind of ticket we give out, so there's nothing to be gained by being polite. The same goes for people we arrest.

Personally I am suspicious of The Attitude Test. A contrite motorist lying through his/her teeth is just as likely to commit the same offence again, and the civility is in hope of getting away with it. Whereas the one swearing "I'll fucking go through a red light if I want and I'll speed every day of my life without any regard to you" is at least being truthful. But that said, there are acceptable and unacceptable ways to behave. No one should have to put up with a bad attitude, from the public or from the police, but it probably doesn't mean I'll give out any more tickets than I would have. You just might find yourself on the end of some Bloggs Sarcasm.

Some Bloggs Sarcasm
Irate Man: Can't you bloody police learn to park properly?
PCB: I'm sorry, sir, is there a problem?
Irate Man: You've fucking well parked me in, and I've got to go shopping.
PCB: I see.
Irate Man: Move your car now or I'm making a complaint.
PCB: But of course, sir. Perhaps you'd like to pop upstairs and administer CPR to the vomit-covered body you'll find in the bathroom, or restrain the dying woman's hysterical husband, while I drive half a mile to the nearest parking space.
Irate Man: Oh, er, not really.
PCB: Well sod off then.

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*All these Acts exist and were not made up in any way.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A kick in the face for feminists












I am depressed.

I think of myself as a feminist, on the whole. I don't think women are better than men, or identical to them in every way. But I do believe in the idea of "different but equal". I don't think there's a job out there that can't be done as well by the right man or woman, and that it's social mores holding both genders back more than it is innate failings.


Yet I find myself unable to tell the difference between three of the most powerful women in the United Kingdom at the moment.
And that's only partly because of their hair-dos.

Jacqui Smith: yet more Home Office blunders since she took the top spot.
Harriet Harman:
who knows how she got her job, given she was sacked by Labour 9 years ago.
Wendy Alexander: only a few people even know who she is, and they would like to remain
anonymous.

They've got a lot in common: they've all been embroiled in rows over dishonesty; they all represent the "working mum"; they've all campaigned on issues of diversity on their rise to power; they all seem to think that hacking people off is a sign they are doing their job properly. Why, oh why, does Labour promote these interchangeable females whose main positive attribute seems to be their gender? (I could have included Hazel Blears on the list.)

There are a couple of more intelligent, dynamic types who have graced Labour's equality campaign (Ruth Kelly springs to mind), but on the whole Gordon Brown seems determined to keep us down by promoting the kind of women who make WOMEN sexist.

Is this the kind of woman who gets promoted by a man? In the police, the promoting is done by men, because most senior police officers are men.

Well, I guess you won't see Bloggsy as Chief Constable any time soon.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Data Protection My Arse

There has been a glut of data loss scandals recently. In fact, there have been so many since the original HM Customs & Revenue fiasco that I'm getting a bit fed up of reading about them. Which is probably why they are all coming forwards (in the hope their embarrassment will be allayed by public boredom in the subject).

A common thread seems to be that a huge amount of agencies are just chucking data on discs and throwing it into an internal mail system that seems highly inadequate. I thought it might interest my readers to hear about some of the strict information-handling rules that govern the police's work, to make sure this sort of tomfoolery doesn't happen in Blandmore.

One of the main systems in place is Protective Marking. The thinking behind it is that if a word is stamped on each sensitive document in big red letters, it will not fall into the wrong hands. The markings available are:
  • Restricted.
  • Confidential.
  • Secret.
  • Top Secret.
With each marking comes a set of rules about how the document should be handled. These go along the lines of:
  • Restricted documents should be sealed in an envelope within another envelope and kept in a secure building.
  • Confidential documents should be sealed in an envelope which is sealed within a third envelope, and kept in a locked room within a secure building.
  • I don't know what happens to Secret and Top Secret documents, but I imagine one of the rules is that PC Bloggs isn't allowed to know what happens to them.
Here is how most police officers comply with the rules of Protective Marking:
  • Restricted documents: often contain information about defendants, court cases, etc. It's not life-threatening if people read this stuff, but it is private. The papers are therefore carefully tied together with a treasury tag in no kind of envelope whatsoever and sent loose to the file unit, which is an unlocked portakabin. Alternatively, they are left on the dashboards of panda cars where the public can wander past and read them, or on the roof of the panda so they float off down the road to be handed in later at the front counter.
  • Confidential documents: contain information about people's criminal convictions and bad character, home addresses, dates of birth, vehicles driven, crimes they have reported and their physical description. They are therefore handled in a far stricter manner, and indeed are usually bundled together with the Restricted papers and treated in exactly the same way.
  • Secret/Top Secret documents: this is serious stuff relating to covert operations, terrorist suspects, police informants etc. If it falls into the wrong hands, someone could die or a war could start. I have no idea how these documents are handled, but if anyone knows a Secret Service agent they could ask please get back to me. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the answer is similar.
In the unlikely event that one of these files makes its way into the internal mail system without passing an unlocked door, panda car or fax machine, the chances are it will be shoved in a communal in-tray where anyone may leaf through it. Most of our internal mail goes via two or three stations before it gets where it's going, too, and it's not uncommon for post to go completely missing and be found months later in the desk of someone who never had anything to do with the case.

I'm not suggesting any kind of scandal. Most of these documents are useless and boring to anyone who finds them. It would also be extremely inconvenient and stupid to handle it in the way the scheme suggests - court file envelopes would have to be opened, re-opened and opened again before they reached their final destination, and would therefore require about fifteen envelopes each.

In case you're wondering, we're not given training in how to handle these documents (I looked it up on the Internet). But it doesn't matter, because we have the utmost faith in our internal mail system, which is perfect.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Using Your Christmas Initiative

December is a SCARY month for Senior Management Teams. Apart from reeling in the wake of "burglary" November (for some reason burglaries always rise in that month), they are now facing the festive season of violence.

I am glad to see that we kicked off Christmas with an alcohol-befuddled rape, a famous footballer thrown in no less (just to complete the jolly Yuletide picture). We've also had the added bonus this year of a series of data loss scandals - more to look forwards to in the new year, methinks.

But none of this appears on the radar of the SMT in Blandmore. Instead, they are once again looking at our crime and detection figures. That, and the deteriorating crisis with resourcing. Despite 364 days warning, Christmas has once again crept up on us and areas are putting out less than minimum staffing levels across the board.

Fortunately, the SMT has found a way to tackle both problems at once. A series of officers have been brought in on double-bubble (short notice overtime pays double), with the sole purpose of COVERING the Senior Management Team's ARSE. They haven't actually been told what they're supposed to be doing, and it's a shame no one knows they are there, and to be quite frank a lot of them are reportedly just sitting around the office... but the point is that the SMT have DONE SOMETHING about the problem.

Of course, 25th December itself is fairly relaxed. Policing becomes a fire brigade affair on Christmas Day. We don't leave the office for anything that doesn't involve life, death or free mince pies. So for all those bobbies sitting wistfully in Blandmore nick, wishing they were at home with their families and risking discipline by logging onto my blog, here's a happy Christmas story to keep you going.

It's Christmas Day, back when I was a bright young thing, new in the job, with my cynicism laid out before me. I get called to a missing person. The gentleman's family are most distraught, as they have not seen their grandfather since midnight on Christmas Eve. They haven't wanted to bother us until they were sure he wasn't coming back on his own, but temperatures are now well below freezing.

- "Can I take a description of your grandfather?" I ask
- "Of course, officer. He's an elderly man, with silvery hair."

- "Build?"

- "He's a big guy, fat."

- "And what was he wearing?"

- "Black boots and a great red overcoat with furry cuffs."
- "Uh huh, anything else you can tell me about him?"
- "Well, he had a great bushy white beard."

- "Right. Well I'll go and have a drive around for him."

I reassure the family I will look for their dear relative and leave the address, getting straight on the radio to pass the description to all officers. It is only when the controller chokes me off with laughter that I look back at the description I have recorded. I chalk one up to experience and wend my way back to the police station.

Much later that night I am sharing a coffee in the Wild Bean Cafe with the rest of my team, when we see a confused gentleman trying to put coins in the petrol pumps. He is elderly, with grey hair and a beard, wearing a maroon fur-lined overcoat and big black walking boots.

We all stare at each other. I go out, gently escort the man away from the petrol pumps and return him home to his grateful family.

The moral of the story? Nothing is too far-fetched to happen to the police.

Merry Christmas.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

£2500 fine for flashers

I was THRILLED to read about the newest new proposals to heap misery on motorists. At present, police forces just aren't seeing enough revenue from the middle classes and the situation needs addressing.

Under the new Crown Prosecution Service policy, the following penalties will be available:
  • Using mobile which causes an accident - 2 years in prison.
  • Splashing pedestrians - £2500 fine.
  • Failing to dip headlights - £2500 fine.
In actual fact, none of these proposals are set to be written into the law, I am sad to say. They merely represent the new CPS charging standards - so whereas before someone crashing due to using a mobile would just be charged with careless driving, now they will be charged with dangerous. Motorists need not worry until we see the first test cases in court - as it may very well not be accepted by magistrates that the charges are appropriate. Considering that many judges do not consider stoning an old man to death to be an offence, motorists can probably rest easy.

I do wonder sometimes just what goes through someone's head when they announce decisions such as these. Don't they know it would be simpler to just send everyone to prison the moment they pass their test? I would like to see proposals to impound the cars of people who look over their shoulder at the wrong moment, or accidentally pull out at a roundabout too slowly.

After all, in a culture where judges are being encouraged NOT to send people to prison for breaking into houses, beating people up, exploiting children and stealing cars, we've got to fill up the cells somehow.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Still Griping

Over a year after I posted it, I am still receiving abuse on this article on The Weekly Gripe. I think you would agree that is quite some feat. The latest commenter has referred to me as "woman Gestapo" and finished off with "SHUT UP WOMAN". Whilst he makes his point articulately, I would like to point out the following differences between a British policewoman and a "Gestapo"*:
  • The Gestapo ran like oiled machinery, slick and efficient. The British police run like a 1976 Volkswagen Beatle.
  • The Gestapo were the pinnacle of German law enforcement and struck fear into the hearts of their victims. The British police are the pinnacle of bureaucracy and strike fear into the hearts of crime victims.
  • As early as 1939 there were female Gestapo officers with as much power as male ones, and some used sexual torture for fun. Female officers in Britain were only considered equal to men in 1973, and if any of them are using sexual torture, I have yet to join in.
  • The Gestapo looked pretty damn cool in their uniforms. I look like a bag of crap.
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* Before I get any crazy commenters or a Penalty Notice for Disorder from Blandshire Constabulary, I should add that I condemn and reject the Nazis utterly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Children and Hypocrites

If police officers are called hypocrites when they are caught speeding, I guess Lewis Hamilton should be called the pinnacle of integrity.

It does stagger me what makes headline news these days. Even the story of a sausage-throwing twelve-year-old is in the news, mainly because the case against him has been dropped (after GMP logged the detection, of course). The boy was prosecuted because he already had reprimands - which suggests the little toe-rag needs to wind his neck in. However, it has transpired that he was also desperately ill with the most pernicious ADHD, otherwise known as Teenagerism, so therefore should not be held accountable for any of his actions.

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Ready, Aim, Detect!

Targets aren't healthy for the police.

You will be pleased to hear that my bosses are finally tackling the scourge of police officers lounging about inside the station. I fully expect to see the problem stamped out within days, as today I received by email news of another TARGET - this time the rather woolly one of "not returning to the station before the end of the shift". A number of new measures have been introduced to encourage Blandmoreans to meet their new target.

These include the ability to close crime investigations by telephone before even leaving the scene of the crime. This is best done out of earshot of the victim who has been left thinking we are about to undertake a full investigation. The idea is that if we know we will never catch the person, why waste time trying?

We have also been given pocket-sized statement forms, "ideal" for use at crime scenes. The advantages here are obvious: rather than having to arrange proper lighting, seating, sobriety and quiet to take a detailed statement from our witness in accordance with proper procedure, we can just scribble down their few drunken words on the bonnet of the police car. The case will be thrown out later for lack of evidence, but at least we won't have wasted time returning to the police station.

In time, we can expect to see the introduction of PDAs and in-car technology to keep layabout coppers out on the street. I am sure there will only be a small rise in the number of complaints of police officers parking up in side-streets to complete work, and likewise a similar rise in the number of police crashes due to the increased mileage they will cover. This will all help to keep the police on their toes.

Of course, none of the new measures will actually tackle the AMOUNT of bureaucracy police officers currently face, but will at least bring it out into the streets where the public can see it. It will also do wonders for the yearly Activity Analysis figures we produce, as any time spent out of the station can rightfully be claimed as "frontline policing".

I am sure, as always with new targets designed to satisfy one or other of the statisticians in the Home Office, we will have the full support of the public.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

By popular demand...

Some of you may or may not have heard me on the Stephen Nolan programme last night (Saturday). It went something like this:

SN: So, PC Bloggs, what's the deal with this "target" stuff?
EEB: Er, the deal?
SN: You know, "targets", you know?
EEB: Er, yes, we do have targets. Targets bad.
SN: Right... let's go to the phones...

There followed a number of hilarious callers whose stories of woe consisted of them calling the police and the police not coming. I agreed with them that this was very unsatisfactory, which made for a really good debate. Then they got a traffic cop on who said he couldn't really comment on why no one had investigated the incredibly serious non-injury, non-stop traffic accident that one caller had suffered.

Not my best interview, and we didn't really get to the root of the matter. But we did at least establish that the police are crap and it's all our fault. Except for Thames Valley, who attended a burglary rather well about eight years ago AND have a helicopter.

I'll post something about targets this week, because it always brings out my anonymous abusers and I haven't had to delete any comments for a few days.

In the meantime, my publisher has posted some amusing information about the trials and tribulations of being an anonymous interviewee.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Three strikes and you're... a Labour minister












Some members of Blandshire Constabulary's Roads Policing unit accidentally blockade a petrol station in a spot of confusion over what industrial action they were supposed to be taking this week.


It just isn't good enough. Lorry drivers may blockade oil refineries and motorways, and it will be dashed inconvenient.

I am appalled at the lack of tolerance among the hard-working tax-payers of this nation. The moment you put a smidgen of tax on fuel, drivers get up in arms as if it's costing them money or something. There are more important things to life than being able to pay for your weekly groceries, don't you know?

Fortunately, the good old boys and girls in blue can be relied on to put a stop to all this nonsense. The government say that: "... the police [have] a range of powers to deal with public disorder, blockades, picketing, harassment and road traffic, which they would use if necessary." I am sure that, as always, the police will help out the government when they're in strife.





PCSOs think the price of fuel is quite reasonable, but should be back-dated to September.







Thank goodness for principles.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Want to get things a bit gory?

UPDATE: Thursday 13th December:


The government says it will not BACK DOWN over the pay rise. This is a foolish remark, because we all know governments do not ever "back down", they merely RECONSIDER.

My colleagues are still angry. I've never seen them this angry. You can tell it's bad, because people are talking about not working any overtime. Without overtime, I can tell you Blandmore would be in SERIOUS trouble. Things are at the stage where we are making up MINIMUM manning levels on a daily basis by asking the teams either side to provide officers to do 12 hour stints.

As Operation Morale-Destructor continues, I wonder how long we can go on...

6th December:
I must give the Home Office a big round of applause. The art of negotiating police pay is a tough one. Here are some basic ground rules, should you find yourself involved in such talks:
  1. Disregard any long-standing arrangements that make promises about pay. If you don't go in with all guns blazing, the money-grabbing feds will walk all over you.
  2. Make sure that the negotiations take as along as possible each year. The money you don't pay them will be accruing interest in the bank, which you can use to send your spouse on holiday.
  3. Don't be afraid of the Federation: it has absolutely no power.
  4. If you do decide to give out less money than you have promised, make sure you do it in the most underhanded manner possible. Kick the scum while they're down!
  5. Police officers are thick: they won't notice if you promise one pay rise, but actually deliver a lower one.
  6. Remember that police officers can't strike, so there's absolutely nothing they can do about your decision.
  7. Prepare a statement saying that police blogs are works of fiction.
I recommend we MARCH on the City and demand our freedom. Not because I think it will do any good. Just because I'd love to see how the Metropolitan Police would police it.


You don't want to see us pissed off...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dial 020 7210 8500 for Murder*

It may be hard to picture, what with my being female and all, but every now and again I am struck by a BRAINWAVE. Today, on reading about the early-release prisoner who has just bludgeoned his partner to death, I have had one such epiphany.



I recommend the use of brainwaves as an investigative tool






I have decided to SUE the government for breaching Health and Safety. The squeeze on jail cells has resulted in an unsafe offender being released before the end of his sentence and an innocent (OK, I'm making an assumption here) woman has therefore died. I have no doubt that the person most responsible for Amanda Murphy's death is her sick and violent partner, Andrew Mournian. But the police did their job - they got him locked up. Jack Straw let him out again.

It isn't all bad news for the Justice Secretary. According to the people who know these things, Mournian would have bludgeoned Amanda to death no matter when he was released. No mention of the suggestion that quite possibly he should have been given a longer sentence? Was she given any warning of his early release? Were the police told?

Further to the government's defence, only 1% of the 11,000 early release prisoners have AS YET committed an offence. I think it's fair to say it isn't so much the percentage we're interested in as WHAT those 110 offences committed (all since June '07) were exactly. How many murders or rapes? How many dwelling burglaries or violent street robberies?

Anyway, I'll let you know how my personal crusade goes. No doubt you'll read about it on the news when Mr Straw is found guilty of breaching Health and Safety and Human Rights legislation, forced to pay a few hundred quid to Amanda Murphy's family (which will not be back-dated), and then allowed to continue with his job with absolutely no consequences whatsoever.

I'm not cynical, things really have come to this.



"This just isn't good enough, Jack. First year in the job and you've already murdered someone. Plus I don't see a single Hobnob on this table."







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* in case anyone's wondering whose phone number that is, why not ring it and find out?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Schools Officer

I am thrilled, THRILLED, at the news that the government is thinking of putting police officers in schools.

This brand new concept will, in a never-seen-before move, see police officers for the first time working inside schools to curb antisocial behaviour and act as role models.

The idea is just brilliant. In one fell swoop, this "new" Schools Officer could meet every one of the government's targets:
  • Stop-and-searches, especially on white children (to even the figures out), will be there for the taking.
  • Violent crime will be reduced because Chesney and Kezza's parents will no longer have to call the police to resolve a playground scrap (the in-house officer can just listen to their woes and tell them to sod off).
  • Sanction-based detection figures will go through the roof. At one glance the Schools Officer can detect thefts of pencils, vandalism of whiteboards and minor assaults, writing them all off as Detected because the offender was under the age of criminal responsibility.
In fact, I suspect the more likely outcome is that the post will be filled by someone desperate to get away from frontline policing, who will saunter up and down the school corridors handing out jammy dodgers and always be "in a meeting" when an incident actually occurs at the school where they are based.

The really good news, for Labour at least, is that Schools Officers have been around for decades (see above links). So once again the government is gaining political ground by re-hashing an old policy they think no one knows about.

The only slight problem is that I'm not sure the public really want police officers rushing into their child's classroom every time there is a disagreement with the teacher. Still, who cares what the public want? It's a good media sound-bite, which is all that matters.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Dumb Coppers

I have been reading through some of the comments on Have Your Say this week. You might be amazed to hear this, but I think we might have a problem with PUBLIC IMAGE!

Do you know, some members of the public actually think police officers are a bit thick? That they couldn't get any other job and kind of wandered into the police (who, by the way, take anyone). You will be pleased to hear that plenty of officers have fought back against this stigma by stating that they have several GCSEs and a "degree" in Business Studies - so there!

I do wonder sometimes just how intelligent police officers need to, or should, be. It see
ms to me there are far too many clever coppers, and that we should really be recruiting a lot more dumb ones like we used to. It just doesn't do to have rank and file staff who are educated about advanced matters such as the Working Time Directive, or Employment regulations. Nor ones who come from middle class families who own televisions. In fact, if we could just employ officers who couldn't even read or write, they wouldn't moan about half the things they do. Nor would they write blogs - or at least, not such dashed good ones.

Of c
ourse, they wouldn't be half so good at transcribing the 8 page statements needed for successful convictions nowadays, nor understanding how to submit items for forensics. They might have a few problems articulating their thoughts during suspect interviews, or navigating the stop-and-account forms required these days. They'd probably lose a lot of cases by not filling out the 10 page court file properly, or by failing to present the evidence adequately to CPS. And they'd probably have gotten lost somewhere in the middle of the last paragraph.

But still, point them in the direction of some broken glass and a figure running away, I'm sure they'd do all right.

We're not all thick... honest.


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Sunday, December 09, 2007

You ain't got no warrant!


Det Sgt Simon Murphy said: "Genuine police officers do not enter people's homes without permission and always carry a warrant card to prove their identity."

This helpful advice follows an attack by a bogus police officer in Manchester. Whilst DS Simon Murphy's advice is undoubtedly earnest, it's a shame GMP doesn't train their detectives in the law these days.

For anyone out there who has previously said to me, "Where's your warrant?" as I muscle my way into their house, here are some legal ways police officers can enter your home without permission AND without a warrant:
The lesson is, if you've phoned your doctor complaining of chest pains and suddenly dropped the phone in the middle of the conversation to go out shopping, don't be surprised if you return home to find your patio door smashed in.

For those of you out there who are worried about bogus police officers and how to tell the difference, here's one tip: Ask them how they feel about the recent pay rise. If they've stopped talking five minutes later they aren't a real police officer.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Old News

Unfortunately I haven't got time to post anything new at the moment, but while on the subject of the press, here's a post from the early days of my blog:

19th August 2006
The police figure daily in our national press, but what do all those little phrases used about them really mean? Here is a short glossary:


"Scotland Yard is refusing to comment."
It is news to the senior investigating officer as much as it is to the journalist, and they need a minute to find out whether it is true or not.

"An unofficial police source."
A disgruntled PC who's been on a scene watch for fifteen hours with no sign of tea, biscuits, or reprieve.

"Police are hunting..."
All avenues of enquiry have failed and it is now down to the public to take over the investigation.

"Police describe it as..."
The Super was caught off guard for a comment by the press and a random sergeant somewhere who had a passing knowledge of the case was asked to voice his/her opinion.

"Police chief accuses..."
It's everyone elses fault but mine.

"The IPCC is investigating..."
Someone wasn't happy with the senior officer's decision to brush the allegation under the carpet and went anonymously to the press, with the result that the force has to pull its finger out and bring in the IPCC before they get accused of instituitional something-ism.

"Police are investigating."
It's sitting in someone's docket somewhere.

"Police are hopeful."
Police are not hopeful.

"Police will not confirm."
Yes.

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