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.

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

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Need for Speed

Every couple of months the horrifying news of police officers driving irresponsibly hits the headlines. There aren't normally such good pictures:

PC Mayes has been prosecuted for careless driving, banned and fined £400.

I think the real issue here is not whether driving with no hands is reckless, but how thick you have to be to do it at a speed camera in a marked police car.

You may recall, back in December, the chilling news that speeding police officers are frequently not prosecuted. This article claims that everyone "refused to say" who was at the wheel. I would hazard a guess this is an exaggeration, and that it was simply a case of the log book not being present or filled in correctly, rather than some kind of Manchunian wall of silence. The part I find most amusing, though, is where South Yorkshire police state that it would be unfair to publish pictures of the speeding cars "in case the officers are identified and villified". Er... so having FAILED to identify the officers in question internally, they refuse to take the one possible method of identifying them (media appeal), IN CASE THEY ARE IDENTIFIED. I don't usually go in for multiple punctuation marks, but ???!!!

As usual, the press are outraged at the thought that severe prison sentences were not handed out, despite the fact that there appears to be no evidence. Whereas in other cases, lack of evidence equates to proof of innocence.

The words "can't" and "win" spring to mind.

Copyright of PC Bloggs.


Anonymous pcR said...

Hello. Have you got a day off too?
That bloke driving appears to be a clueless moron. Get him on the accelerated promotion scheme immediately.

06 February, 2008 12:43

Anonymous Captain Slow said...

Oh dear.

How to throw your career away in one easy step and give yet more ammunition to a public that is already suspicious of Police Officers driving at high speed. (Unless, that is, 2 balaclava wearing youths are carrying their plasma out of a fresh hole in their patio doors).

In the words of Mr T. Fool.

06 February, 2008 15:00

Anonymous athemax said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't you ALLOWED to break the speed limit on 999 calls and was this officer responding to such at the time?
If so then he's being punished not for breaking the speed limit but for being an insensitive berk?
In which case I feel his punishment is unduly harsh

06 February, 2008 16:03

Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

It's nice to see that they can get their hands on a marked vehicle that works, let alone speeds. I think the PC was giving the thumbs up t0 say "look, we have a car and it works!"

Here in Ruralshire we were saddled with a really crap make of vehicle for years because the Fleet Manager's wife worked for the company which made them! Doh... did I just say that?

06 February, 2008 18:23

Anonymous were doomed said...

I can only conclude that the driver was either drunk or on drugs, why else would he do that.

06 February, 2008 19:38

Anonymous Anonymous said...

athemax said...
" he's being punished not for breaking the speed limit but for being an insensitive berk?
In which case I feel his punishment is unduly harsh"

I hope you don't live anywhere near me if you think driving at 73 in a 40 with both hands off the wheel whilst making a face at a camera instead of watching the road is just insensitive.

06 February, 2008 19:50

Blogger totallyun-pc said...

73 miles an hour! what a result! here in London if you can get over 11 miles an hour on a shout, its compulsory to give the thumbs up to any cameras!

06 February, 2008 23:02

Anonymous athemax said...

anon 19.50
No I'm quite happy to accept that he was being an irresponsible idiot,
however if he was on his way to a 999 call then I don't believe he was doing anything illegal.
Whilst being stupid is not a desirable trait in a police officer it is as far as I know not a criminal offence and he should not be punished as if he had committed one.

06 February, 2008 23:23

Blogger iarocu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

06 February, 2008 23:58

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The speed, going to a 999 call wasn't illegal.

Driving without due care and attention was a criminal offence.

07 February, 2008 00:02

Anonymous notellin said...

I am sure that even the Officer involved will consider himself a complete and utter fool. Probably just after he did it and he realised that warm damp patch around his arse wasnt his missing cup of tea but something less liquid and more smelly. Crapping himself all the way to court.

Why didnt he just punch the Chief Con and be done with it.

Made us look like a bunch of idiots too.

07 February, 2008 00:58

Anonymous justacop said...

He let us all down, totally unnaceptable.

07 February, 2008 11:27

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

That was a stupid thing to do and doesn't do us any favours at all but getting banned and the fine is pretty harsh considering he's going to lose his driving ticket and will get stuck on as well. Stupid yes, ban worthy? not too sure on that one.

People love to sneer at us when we go past on blues or set off cameras, and then agree knowingly when the papers say its outrageous that Police officers can break the speed limits without losing their jobs or having their house repossessed and children thrown in prison. They're also usually the first to slag us off for not getting to 999 calls quick enough.

07 February, 2008 15:05

Anonymous theoldman66 said...

I think the reason he was prosecuted was probably not so much because he did something so mid-bogglingly stupid, but because he did it TWICE!

07 February, 2008 17:58

Anonymous purpleavneger said...

Ronnie was right, this could be done by a civilian.

07 February, 2008 18:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Metcountymounty - you can't have one law for the police and another for everyone else

07 February, 2008 22:34

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

anon there isn't one law for the police and one law for everyone else... all emergency services have exemptions to the road traffic act which we can enact only when the duty/incident requires it. If you're not on a 999 call or an incident that requires you to enact the exemptions and you run a red or a traffic cam at speed then you get stuck on and prosecuted, the reason that doesn't happen that often is because we all know that and most don't do it. Those who do get stuck on but the papers don't care about the couple of drivers a month (across the whole UK) who do as its not really a big enough story. It is not uncommon to do 25 emergency 'blues runs' in a 12 hour shift, usually running every red, a few bus lanes and a few speed limits. If every 999 driver got stuck on for each breach then you would have no emergency service drivers left inside a week.

It is exactly because of sentiments like yours (one law for btoh etc..) that our bosses are so afraid of being seen to do the right thing that lots of police - and other 999 service drivers - are forced to defend or explain perfectly legitimate and lawful use of road traffic exemptions. The legal exemptions don't apply when we are off duty so we are in exactly the same position as everyone else if we break the traffic laws.

07 February, 2008 22:55

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the court saw fit to ban and to fine them. you seem very defensive.

why is that?

07 February, 2008 23:00

Anonymous justacop said...

Anon, metcounty's post is spot on. He got prosecuted I would suggest because he took his hands of the wheel and was not in proper control of his vehicle, not because he was exceeding the speed limit (which was justified it would seem), careless driving, simple. I do accept that a combination of both factors, seed/lack of control probably played a part in the minds of the magistrates. It was not the use of his exemption under the road traffic act.

Last year there was a league table about officers being prosecuted for setting off gatso cameras. If you want to gloat over something 'anon' because you feel we have different laws then go an read about that and stop bothering the adults in here.

08 February, 2008 09:41

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

anon, in so far as you suggested there should be one law for everyone, you're right, and there is. That is the reason I was defending emergency drivers who do use the legally held exemptions in the road traffic act and are criticised by the media for not being penalised for perfectly legitimate and legal uses of the exemptions. There is a common misconception that all emergency service drivers have a separate 'on duty' licence that is banned if anything happens whilst we are at work, we don't, its our own personal ones - exactly the same as yous if you have one - that gets penalised if we get stuck on for alleged offences that happen whilst on duty which obviously significantly effect our personal lives, and that is the main reason that the majority don't break the road traffic laws unless its an emergency call, it's simply not worth it.

As Police officers we are automatically imposed heavier penalties before the court, especially if it is to do with driving on duty, even if there is absolutely no way that the offence would have been committed in normal life by a normal person as the circumstances simply don't exist.

As I said it directly effects our own personal licences and all the fun financial penalties (insurance, bans etc) that go with it. There was a case a couple of years ago where a guy was caught on camera swearing at it with both hands off the wheel. He was prosecuted for due care (as the police driver that this post was about) and he was fined a couple of hundred quid and was not banned. I have already said that the Police driver caught was stupid for giving the thumbs up but a ban was in my mind excessive as he will be disciplined at work and further penalised in his personal life. Absolutely stupid yes, but not ban worthy.

09 February, 2008 08:49

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justacop - this guy wasn't just speeding he was driving dangerously.

By taking his hands from the wheel and waving thumbs up to his police buddies in the way that he did, he demonstrated an obvious and very arrogant disregard and disdain for the law that applies to to members of the public.

Born of long practice from breaking it I suppose.

What else is obvious, is that he certainly never expected to be prosecuted.

Not ever.

Which is fair enough from his point of view, judging from the response of people like you and Metcountymounty. His apologists and his excuse makers.

Left in the arms of the Police - again judging from the tone of all the replies here - he never would have been prosecuted. The picture accidentally got into the public domain on some braggingt website or some such,I suppose.

No. You and your buddies in the force - especially those like Metcountymounty - are only trying to defend the indefensible.

Basically your protracted bleating boils down to the same thing, you say to yourselves that: ".. there but for the grace of God I .."

You are hypocrites.

09 February, 2008 12:03

Anonymous justacop said...

If you read both of my posts you would see that you have missed my point. I would have prosecuted him, careless driving, simple. He quite simply should not have been so stupid so I fail to see how that makes me a hypocrite.

However, exceeding the speed limit alone, on the way to an emergency call is justifed so 'jog on'.

09 February, 2008 12:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...

justacop - granted, you at least, (grudgingly) go through the motions of condemning these clowns.

However, your latest post was coincident with your other buddy, Metcountymounty, who was staggeringly hypocritical.

Him and lots like him in all their posts have the tone and underlying sentiment of all the posts on this topic have been that of an apologist for indefensible behaviour.

Common police reaction here so far say that "yes OK, technically , but..... " making up one bullsh*t excuse after another

09 February, 2008 13:27

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

at what point did I defend his actions for putting his thumbs up to the camera? as I said he was an idiot for doing it and was prosecuted for doing so, my only issue was in banning him compared to other similar actions that also went before the court and received considerably lesser penalties.

He was rightly prosecuted for driving without due care and attention - just as any one of us would - and his actions were more than likely borne out of stupidity than a certainty that he wouldn't be prosecuted by 'his fellow apologists'

You quite clearly read what you wanted to read instead of what was actually written, and formed an opinion on it, which funnily enough turned out to be misplaced and factually inaccurate.

As I said before, our job is rife with people so afraid of being seen to do the wrong thing that they will actively prosecute anything and everything, especially fellow officers, for no simpler reason than to appease people with anti-Police views like yours.

09 February, 2008 13:30

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Metcountymounty - you even contradict yourself in the very first paragraph of your latest post.

You are extremely upset and agitated because he picked up a (rightfully) heavy sentence.

Even now you maintain he was treated harshly

You also seem to think he was an idiot, mostly for getting caught. Not because of his actions.

I also refer to my observation in my post of 12:03 that this man did NOT expect to get prosecuted and his behaviour had the casual disdain of something that was long practiced. (I'd be really interested in your response to this point. If you can)

No doubt,this particular clown didn't expect to get prosecuted because this was just the latest in a long series of similar incidents - and he knew full well that he'd be safe enough with people like you, Metcountymounty, on the other end of the camera.

If this poor fool hadn't drunkenly posted this picture of his triumph in Face Book or whatever as a trophy, then no doubt he'd still be churning out repeat high-speed performances in a street near you, most days of the week.

Why do you persist in defending him so?

Is it because someone like regularly does you the favour of looking the other way too?

09 February, 2008 14:09

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

anon, the prosecution came after the camera the picture was seen at the office that downloads and deals with the cameras, not because some f*ckwit posted it on facebook (which would have been an entirely separate and punishable discipline offence anyway as some Met officers are currently finding out after the latest facebook debacle)

The office that deals with prosecutions for speeding would have referred the photo to either their line management or the professional standards department, either of which would have actively pursued prosecution, at the very least to make sure they weren't caught out having NOT prosecuted him and to reinforce that such behaviour would not be tolerated. How can you not understand that?

I quite clearly said "at what point did I defend his actions for putting his thumbs up to the camera? as I said he was an idiot for doing it and was prosecuted for doing so" I can't possibly get any clearer than that can I?

And as for being extremely upset and agitated, not quite mate, the only agitation has been caused by you blatantly reading what you wanted to read instead of the words that were there, what I was defending was the use of speed and exemptions to the road traffic act, not being an idiot and putting your thumbs up to a speed camera. I merely said that in my mind being banned for 6 months was overly harsh considering everything else that will happen to him and considering that other people have done similar or identical things and got away with significantly lesser punishments and will in no way have risked losing their jobs for doing so. That isn't trying to justify what he did, I've already said it was stupid.

ok, last bit... "I also refer to my observation in my post of 12:03 that this man did NOT expect to get prosecuted and his behaviour had the casual disdain of something that was long practiced. (I'd be really interested in your response to this point. If you can)

My response is this, he was an idiot and did something stupid and got prosecuted for it. If he had done it before and not been prosecuted I have no idea, I do know that only about a third of cameras ever had film in them anyway so its possible he was lucky up to that point as most cameras are now digital so the chances of doing it and getting away with it are virtually nil. To say it is common place is about as stupid as his actions in the first instance. Whether you are aware or believe it or not, professional standards departments are in existence for one reason only, to actively investigate (and seek prosecution if necessary) officers who commit criminal offences, breaches of the discipline code and to investigate complaints from any member of the public about pretty much anything to do with the Police.

That is their one and only job and they are extremely aggressive in their investigations of officers (as should be expected) when allegations of criminality are made against Police. If allegations are found to be wholly untrue then they will rightly also aggressively seek to defend the officer and prosecute the complainant for malicious allegations. There is no way in hell that any force would allow something like that to go unpunished, certainly not repeatedly because of the massive PR damage that it would cause to an already virtually hated police service.... as this case has obviously proved.

09 February, 2008 16:25

Blogger Trainee Exile said...


I hate you.
You are everything I despise about this country.

The Police Driver was an idiot. YES.

But police officer aren't a different race apart.

They are made up from the same gene pool as the rest of society.

For every thicko in the police, there are a thousand more outside it.

But unlike you you cowardly back stabber, police officer have agreed to run in the opposite direction towards the danger.

Even that idiot PC in that car should he fail to assist you in your moment of need could face life imprisonment.

What an irony isn't it, all these people who hate police but when they don't turn up within minutes to deal with the little melodrama they probably created they repeatedly phone 999.

12 February, 2008 23:32

Anonymous John said...

Let's be realistic about this. The calls he was responding to were an abandoned car and theft of lead. Not exactly life threatening cases! What, I wonder, would his driving instructor say about this (hopefully he has done the course and not a basic driver exceeding his authority) I think the sentence was just and hopefully may lead other drivers to consider their driving - no call response is ever justified if people are injured enroute.We need a reduction in the number of people killed or injured by response drivers. Some of the blame rests with target driven response times. I remember the days when we had "garage sergeants (TD)" who kept an eye out for these sort of drivers and would tear up their authorisation on the spot for something like this.

19 February, 2008 11:27

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