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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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pigs Might Fly

I am pleased to read in The Times (rather belatedly) that antisocial behaviour and, in particular, the murder of Gary Newlove, is the police's fault. The above reporter argues that it is the failure of the police to properly tackle street gangs that led to the murder of Mr Newlove when he tried to break up one such gang.

I had not realised that the problem of antisocial behaviour was so simple. It appears all we need to do is find one or two police officers to "hang out" in every street in the nation to identify nasty people and put them straight into prison. Moreover, whenever someone phones the police to report antisocial behaviour, a van-load of officers should be produced from a cardboard box in the inspector's office, and immediately dispatched to the scene. On arrival, they should swoop covertly on the gang and bundle them into a cattle truck to be shipped to custody (it does not really matter what criminal offence the police arrest them for - perhaps they could just make one up).

Once the gang is in custody, the police have no excuse. Now all they need do is snap their fingers to guarantee each antisocial yob is thrust behind bars for a century or two.

If only.

Copyright of PC Bloggs.


Blogger Unsworth said...

Some serious questions, then:

Are there more police officers per capita than, say, ten years ago and twenty years ago?

Is more police time being spent on administration (paperwork etc) and elsewhere (if so where?) than before?

Has the increase in legislation (3000 new laws in ten years) actually added to the policing load?

Most here would understand that the general public judges the police not on statistics churned out by the Home Office or various Police Authorities, but on visibility within the commmunity - on the streets.

What is it that has reduced that visibility? It's clear that there seems to be little manpower - witness earlier posts here.

Given that the Home Secretaries of the last ten years have constantly announced greater numbers of police, more resources etc - where has this all gone?

22 January, 2008 21:08

Anonymous Sasquatch said...

I don't want a police constable on every corner. That's a police state. There is no way any force could have the manpower to hand the guy from the Times the world he seems to think he wants.

Where I do agree with him though is this quote: "Mr Newlove had no chance because confronted by such base, compassionless, evil little men, nobody has. In a street fight, while Joe Average is still trying to compute the rules of engagement, whether violence is justified and what the ramifications could be, while he is still trying to overcome feelings of fear and confusion, and adapt to a world in which all the conventions and tenderness of humanity have been abandoned, those who are well versed in violence are stamping on his head until it cracks."

I've never been frightened to confront toerags. But then, I'm a 6'3" biker, ex-army and I'm prepared to do violence and accept the consequences. A teenaged boy pulled a large knife on me one time after I'd dared to take umbrage after he called me a fat c**t. I kept walking towards him until he'd backed off around 200 yards, with him calling me a coward all the while because I wasn't prepared to charge at him. Eventually he turned and ran, and hopefully it taught him that a knife is not a magic wand, just pointing it at people doesn't scare them. If he'd got within range, I'd have broken something, and I think he got that idea. I've taken bottles of cider off p155ed-up 13-year-olds who were smashing them in the kid's playpark. I went out to see to four lads one night after they were making a big noise in the car park at 2:00 am and kicking people's cars. One smiled at me, and said he and his mates were going to give me such a f*ing kicking. I smiled back and pointed out that all three of his mates were 100 yards away and still accelerating. He joined them with remarkable rapidity.

The three incidents I describe above - in all honesty, if I'd dialled 999 for the knife incident or the duty office for the other two, how long would a car have taken to respond? Would they have been in time to do any good?

Am I proud of hassling children and young adults? No. Is it dangerous? Probably. But for everyone who just walks past, and swallows the insults, and doesn't want to get involved, these little filth gain a tiny modicum of power. They begin to feel themselves invincible, untouchable by the adult world. And then you get things like Mr Newlove happening, because they're so convinced that nobody's ever going to give them a hard time, that they have to redress the affront to their manhood when someone does.

There's an old saying - "It takes the whole village to raise a child". I don't live in a village, I live in a large city. I don't know these kids, nor their parents, and I can imagine the answers I'd get if I asked them where they lived so I could have a word with their parents. But if we don't show these kids the error of their ways while they're still young enough to take the instruction to heart, then we already know what they can turn into.

It's not the police's fault. There's lots of people who are at fault, but it's not the cops. The parents for doing such a lousy job of raising them, and every adult who walks by on the other side and doesn't want to get involved. That's where the fault lies.

I haven't yet heard a single news report that says any one of Mr Newlove's neighbours came out to help when they heard the commotion. I find that almost as sickening as the attack itself.

22 January, 2008 23:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unsworth said
"Are there more police officers per capita than, say, ten years ago and twenty years ago?"

I've been looking for numbers comparing now with 20 years ago and I'm having difficulty finding any.This story gives England/Wales numbers as 128'000 in 1991.
Over the following 9 years numbers went down. They have since increased.

Wilkpaedia gives a 2006 figure of 141'000

So roughly a 10% increase over 15 years.

On the other hand. Today's police force is better trained than pre 1991. Training takes time. In 1979 officer safety training was basically a case of "here's a lump of wood. Try and avoid hitting the head when you use it" during induction training.

Nowadays in my force everyone below Chief Inspector rank gets 2 days self defence/prisoner handling/first aid training every year. Other ongoing training also affects street numbers.

20 years ago in my force there was no firearms dept. Firearms oficers got something like 4 days training a year. Not adequate. Nowadays there is a full time firearms department.

Another example. In my division in 1979 (pre computers of course) the intelligence dept. was 1 man. He also had another job. The same dept. now is something like 6 full time officers.

There are plenty other examples where current departments (doing necessary jobs) either did not exist or were far smaller 25 years ago.

Talking numbers. A significant number of officers are now part time but there are still count as one police officer as far as counting numbers goes.

Another example. Until the late 1980s in my force there were very few community officers. A few in special project areas but mainly areas were covered by pandas or beat men attached to the 24/7 shifts.

Nowadays for example an area which in 1980 was covered by a 24/7 shift strength of up to 18 but no community cops has a 24/7 shift strength of 4 but 6 or 8 community cops.

Community cops are fine and dandy when they are there but they don't do night shifts or Sundays and are not always available for calls as they often attend "community meetings" and so on.

So the bottom line is that the 24/7 shifts who are the people who respond when the public phone the police in an emergency are smaller now than 25 years ago.

22 January, 2008 23:17

Anonymous lone CS said...

"(it does not really matter what criminal offence the police arrest them for - perhaps they could just make one up)."

I thought you had that power, just say that they are terrorists - no evidence needed, no priors, you can say you had intelligence and never need to produce it and once you have held them for an inordinately long amount of time without any real charge, evidence etc sell them to the CIA...

Or am I cynical (please note this is not a dig at the police but a dig at Labour's knee jerk security legislation that takes away the need for weights and measures)

23 January, 2008 10:05

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a public perception (and perhaps PC Bloggs can correct it) that any attempt by Joe Public to forcibly curtail the activities of these toe rags will lead to him being prosecuted rather than the toe rag.
(I've even heard this said by an ex police inspector who gave me some important phrases to use if I was ever arrested for tackling a burglar.)
The public believe that the toe rags rights are seen as more important than our wish to live in an orderly and law abiding society.
So over to you PCB

23 January, 2008 10:21

Blogger Unsworth said...

Just to acknowledge and thank Anon at 23:17.

For the police to be 'understood' it needs more than repeated assertions as to levels of manpower, workloads etc. These comments ought to be backed by some decent independently verifiable research. Maybe it exists, buried in the Home Office, but I've been unable to find it in the public domain.

Perhaps this is something that the Unions should be doing, after all they need more to justify their campaigns than simple demands - or do they?

I'd also agree that it is not possible for high level policing to the extent of having 'a cop on every corner' - although the Japanese get pretty close to that. However, 'visibility' remains the key to public confidence and support.

For most people statistics are tomorrow's chip wrappings - rightly so - but they do (or should) play a part in planning and justifications for remunerations. Yet, and as Anon has indicated, they can be remarkably misleading - either by intention or by error.

23 January, 2008 10:49

Blogger AngryDave said...

I most definately have to agree with the comments by 'saquatch', about how it the responsibility of everyone to challenge anti-social behaviour.
Unfortunately though, not everyone has the physical presence or confidence to get involved. At 5'11" and 15 and a half stone, i am not particularly large or small, and have on occassion, stepped into situations that i felt compelled to.
Some people are even too scared to defend themselves when atacked, for fear of making their attacker angrier.

23 January, 2008 11:31

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read through the comments on here and while I agree with sasquatch that these little scrotes need to be challenged I have to say that if I was alone and saw a gang of youths kicking someone I don't think I'd go into the middle of them and tell them to cut it out. I'm not a strapping 6 footer with army training, I'm a 5 ft 10in slim build middle class woman whose single fighting experience was when I tried to fight back during a mugging and got a beating for my troubles. In an ideal world you'd be able to stop a beating from happening but this isn't an ideal world and I don't for one moment suppose that I'm the only woman out there reluctant to take on a gang of pissed up, violent lads with their blood up.

23 January, 2008 12:15

Blogger jerym said...

Vicola is right,it would be very dangerous for the majority of people to attempt to take on these people as much as we would like to as they dont fight by any civilised rules.The only solution to this frightening situation is for them to be arrested and sentenced too many years of serious hardship and deprivation in prison.The message will get around eventually and only then will we see an improvement.We need effective policing not upbeat statistics. This alone wont solve the problem only the government can tackle the root causes of the sickness in a society that produces people like these.

23 January, 2008 18:11

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Anon 10:21 - yes there is this perception, bourne out by some high profile examples of kids arrested for throwing cream buns etc.

The government has kindly set targets for the police mesaure numbers of offences 'brought to justice' with no regard for the seriousness or public interest in investigating them. They have then set targets on 'ethical' crime recording, which means if someone reports a crime, we HAVE to record it as such. As this would leave an undetected crime on the books, police officers are pressurised into arresting the offender, regardless of the commonsense or otherwise in doing so.

In name, we still have discretion. In practice, all our decisions are made by the Home Office and woe betide anyone who defies them!

23 January, 2008 18:25

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon of 23.17 mentions 2 days a year in self defence training. Compare this with the 5 days in my last year of service on travellers ways of life and rights; the 3 days on dealing with domestics (always arrest the man, even if he's the one with blood streaming down his face) and the days we learned how not to be sexist/homophobis/racist/travellist(?) etc. In one of the sessions on homophobia we were told that it's in the genes and dictates the person's lifestyle from an early age. I asked if this wasn't the same with paedophiles (it has been suggested that an imbalance of hormones in the brain or even early life experiences directs people in this direction) yet we are supposed to treat them with disgust and repulsion. Not that I'm a supporter of Paul Gadd (Gary Glitter) et al but if it's in the genes why are we supposed to accept the lifestyle of doggers on Clapham Common but not that of the people such that well known internet researcher Pete Townsend?
In my last year of service any attempt to bring in league tables was quickly squashed by the more senior officers as they simply refused to play. The officers did what was required of them and that was to catch villains.

23 January, 2008 21:47

Blogger Unsworth said...

@ Anonmous 21:47.


Now, do you think that these 'courses' helped you to carry out what you regard as the job?

And what was the answer to your direct (and very sensible) question about genetic predisposition?

23 January, 2008 22:09

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I perhaps had the wrong idea in that I accepted I had to attend these course in order to have a, fairly, quiet life as far as my supervisors were concerned. I hope that I kept an open mind but challeneged quite a few of the 'statements of fact' laid out by the instructors. None of the comments made by those taking the sessions made one iota of difference to my outlook in that anyone who committed a crime was worthy of consideration of prosecution regardless of their predisposition to a particular lifestyle. The answer to my question was never met with a satisfactory reply but a load of politically correct claptrap resulted in me asking (several times) if I was going to receive an answer. I'm still waiting.
For the record I am not homophobic, sexist, racist or mysoginistic but I do like a deep discussion.

23 January, 2008 23:25

Anonymous cramerj said...

A police officer on every corner is a police state?
Is that how the Nazis or the communists did it? you know it was not.
All this talk is so much flim flam.
A man was kicked to death. people have been arrested for trying to stop yobs. And yet you lot chatter.
You can see why they don't want to pay you much.

24 January, 2008 00:07

Anonymous Matt Munro said...

We already get filmed practically everywhere so why not a police officer on every street corner, rather than covert surveillance on every street corner ? When I was a teenager (late 70s/early 80s) if you made a pain in the ass of yourself the police took your name and moved you on - consequently there was far less anti social behaviour and most of us grew up with some respect for the law. You should be harassing chavs constantly, making their lives difficult and reassuring the law abiding public that the law is being enforced.

24 January, 2008 10:20

Blogger Unsworth said...

@ Anon 23:25

Thanks for that. Out of interest just who were these instructors, civilians or what?

And I have to tell you that I am astoundingly homophobic, sexist, racist and mysoginistic - on a good day.

@ Matt Munro

Isn't the whole difficulty that cameras are actually not capable of doing anything more than record, whereas physical presence could lead to immediate intervention or, even, deterrence? Wasn't there something about officers preventing breaches, rather than simply recording breaches?

24 January, 2008 10:38

Anonymous Richard, Nottingham said...

PC Bloggs : I followed your link from the Telegraph.

Personally I thought Rod Liddle's piece was excellent. It asked *the* question.

Where are all the coppers ?

I asked the same question of my MP. He countered it with some simplistic arithmetic. He argued that policing the 0.1% of the trouble spots would take up 60% of police officers. I argued that that was a pretty reasonable balance, and that the police *force* had to be seen as the biggest, toughest, and meanest gang on the streets.

He also thought that CPSO's and patrol vehicles where the officers drive around 2-by-2 was the future of policing.

I countered by pointing out that someone patroling the streets without the "authority of law", and coppers driving past at 30 m.p.h whilst every hooligan in the neighbourhood threw V's, bricks, and bottles at them didn't act as much of a deterent.

Having read this entry to your blog it seems to me that you've given up. If you lose the support of the honest man in the street then it won't be long before the honest man in the street turns against you. Then you'll have no support from anyone.

You haven't have you ? You haven't given up ? If so then you're f*cked. I'm f*cked. We're all f*cked.

I wonder where you've been today.

24 January, 2008 14:03

Anonymous oilman said...

I find your response to the Newlove murder perplexing. Admittedly, many factors outside police control (political interference, excessive paperwork, reduced staff numbers, who knows what?) may have reduced police effectiveness, but this was a failure on their part, particularly as there seemed to be many complaints regarding the main perp and the gangs hanging round this location. Remember, we are all judged by outcomes, not intent or efficiency at box ticking. As is usually the case, the old maxim that there are no bad troops, only bad officers is true. In my work, as an international oilman, if I had a comparable failure I would be out of a job, no excuses. Are you seriously telling me that no senior police officer, above the rank of sergeant, was aware of this gang and ignored the problem? What do these guys do for their money? When I moved to Houston in 1981, I was visited within days by a local cop. He advised me to get a gun, and not to hesitate to plug any burglars, but to drag any bodies back over my property line. He even advised that .38 wadcutters were the most effective round (correct) Despite the common perception, crime rates in Houston for burglary were and continue to be much lower than London, as is mugging. In Houston, you could call the cops at any time and be sure of a fast response, and a patrol car, and visible police presence was never far away. Why do you think this was? Well, the police chief was elected, so responded to what we the people wanted. We felt safer there than I do in Leeds when I visit my daughter. Also,in Houston the little shits who murdered poor Newlove would be facing life, REAL life, or execution. Sounds good to me.

24 January, 2008 14:52

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

oilman, unfortunately the police HAD tried to do something about this gang. Adam Swellings, the killer, had been put before the courts I believe 7 times in the last month or so and was bailed each time. Just what are we supposed to do?

24 January, 2008 16:29

Anonymous oilman said...

PC Bloggs, yes, there were obvious defects, probably widespread, in the criminal justice system, root cause probably the governments refusal to build enough prisons. Yes, the coppers on the ground had their hands full, and are probably as frustrated as the public at the result. Remember the phrase "Lions led by donkey's"? What was particularly telling was the response of the Chief Constable of Cheshire. The problem was apparently cheap alcohol, and the solution to increase the price. Talk of utter abnegation of responsibility. Such stupidity, reminds me of Commissioner Blairs response after the public execution of a Brazilian electrician. Same donkey, same shrugging off of any blame, same denial of responsibility. You have my sympathy having to report to such fools.

24 January, 2008 17:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloggs said
"oilman, unfortunately the police HAD tried to do something about this gang. Adam Swellings, the killer, had been put before the courts I believe 7 times in the last month or so and was bailed each time."

If true (and I don't doubt it) then it would suggest that policing is not the main problem. Short sentences is the problem.

I'm not suggesting long sentences for minor crimes or someone with 4 or 5 convictions. On the other hand We all know off regular criminals with 15,20,25, convictions. They make the lives of the law abiding majority where they lives a misery.

We could start by saying someone is only bailed (after charge) once. A further crime committed on bail should result in the criminal being kept in custody until trial.

Repeat offenders should have longer sentences.

If the prisons are full then build more.

24 January, 2008 22:16

Anonymous Richard, Nottingham said...

I said "Personally I thought Rod Liddle's piece was excellent. It asked *the* question."

but what I meant to say was

"Personally I thought Martin Samuel's piece was excellent. It asked *the* question."

25 January, 2008 08:59

Blogger Howard Wilson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

25 January, 2008 14:22

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Not sure of your point? You can only TIC something if it is attached to admissions for similar offences.

25 January, 2008 18:50

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15 April, 2009 10:03


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