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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Friday, March 14, 2008

Together in Spirit

One of my most valued sources of information on the police, apart from actually BEING in the police, is that most insightful and unbiassed show 'Road Wars'. This week they showed footage of some US cops pulling over a speeding car, whereupon the teenaged driver pulled out a handgun and shot one of the cops, before being shot 3 or 4 times by other police.

'For shooting the cop and dangerous driving,' intoned the narrator, 'this youth was sentenced to ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN YEARS in prison.' Just to be clear, the police officer was not seriously injured despite being shot. The shooters of PC Sharon Beshenivsky (who actually died), despite being hardened criminals engaged in a robbery at the time, were sentenced to 35 years. Let's wait and see what this guy gets in England for a case similar to the Road Wars one.

Last year the teenager Adam Swellings assaulted a police officer. He was freed on bail because the magistrate accepted a non-custodial sentence would be imposed (which meant they HAD to bail him). Also on bail for other assaults, Swellings murdered Gary Newlove just hours later. It is safe to say that in America, he would have been locked up for some months just for raising a fist to a police officer.

But what I find interesting is that the other three lads in the car were also sentenced to between 5-12 years each, just for being there when it happened.

In England, a group of lads attacked a couple in a park last August. The woman died, the man was seriously hurt. Yet just one of the group stands trial for murder (another has pleaded guilty already). The others have pleaded to GBH on the male but are apparently not accountable for the woman's death despite being involved in the attack. Also in August, five youths stoned a pensioner to death but were acquitted because the judge couldn't be sure which of them threw the stone that killed him.

The message is clear to those who participate in violent attacks: as long as you make the situation confusing enough and back off before the fatal blow is struck, you'll be all right.

'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in all good bookstores and online.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

criminal justice in this country is FUBAR

10 March, 2008 23:35

Anonymous Dray said...

That is downright depressing and bloomin' frustrating.

Up here in Sunny Sheffy, the local wally's moan "If they don't get yer on one thing, they get you on another". And that's a bad thing?

Assuming you don't do that? :) Then maybe you should rebel and take 'affirmative action'. Double Wammy.

Well, triple. CPS has to drill down through the submissions one by one, the bean counters have to work their ass off keeping track, and all that chuffin' paperwork will feel much more worth while.

"Discovered during unrelated enquires" Has a nice ring to it.

14 March, 2008 14:46

Blogger Paradise Driver said...

Most states have a law that says if you are committing a felony, as a group, and someone is killed, then all the responsibles can be charged with murder.

14 March, 2008 15:56

Blogger Miss Carnivorous said...

The more I read accounts of the light sentencing of British thugs, the more grateful I am for the American custom of sentencing criminals to long periods of incarceration. Better too long than too short I say.

14 March, 2008 19:29

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a real, live American, I have to say I'm appalled at our police for arresting him and the justice system for giving that poor kid 107 years in the clink. What the hell good is that? Now I've got to pay to feed him for the rest of his life. I think those police officers need to be sent back to remedial handgun training and target practice so that doesn't happen again.

14 March, 2008 20:20

Blogger Drugsblogger said...

Hmmmm, let's try for a little balance here as I am actually in the US at the moment. I went to see some US friends last night who recounted the tale of their (then) 16 year old son being wrongly arrested, beaten up 'till his kidneys bled and then being brought in to court in an orange jumpsuit (a la Guantanamo)and shackled hands and feet. Because he had happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately the judge listened carefully to what he and his parents said and the (conflicting) police statements and released the boy. Still, everyone makes mistakes don't they? But a good middle-class boy who might have made a good gop under other circs won't be making that career choice.

14 March, 2008 21:32

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

drugsblogger, you've completely missed the point. It wasn't that the states are all knowing and better at catching criminals than we are. Mistakes are made everywhere, especially when you have people involved, therefore trying to balance out one successful conviction with a case of wrongful or malicious prosecution is pointless and is akin to arguing against seat belts because one person somewhere in the world was trapped by one in a car crash and died because of it.

A person shot a Police officer after a vehicle pursuit, and for his actions and having been convicted by a court of the attempted murder of a police officer he received a sentence of over a hundred years. The others in the car were convicted of being involved (co-adventure) and received various custodial sentences.

The suspect was part of a group of criminals that were trying to escape the state and head to Florida to start a new life, they were randomly checked on the road and they ran, when they stopped one of them tried to murder a Police officer. Thankfully he did not succeed and he's now going to spend the rest of his natural life sitting in a cell pondering why he wasted his life. No doubt the sentence will also aim to deter others from trying the same thing which is the other main reason for sentencing after punishment, and that was the point of the post.

In the UK he would be unfathomably unlucky to receive a whole life term, at most he'd be looking at 30 years and the others in the car certainly would not be looking at custodial sentences due to the rules of joint venture. In the 60's the UK government abolished the rules stating that if one person in a group undertaking criminal action killed or attempted to kill then all of the group were liable for prosecution under co-adventure and subsequently each liable for the death penalty regardless of which one actually committed the act. Consequently violent crime increased dramatically as there was now no form of group restraint as it was not in the interest of everyone to make sure that one of their number did not kill someone during a criminal act.

Sophie Lancaster was kicked and stamped to death by a group of pissed up teenagers after she tried to protect her boyfriend who they attacked for no reason. If each one of them knew that not only would they all be liable for prosecution for murder regardless of who actually dealt the final or lethal blow could that have stopped them? Further to that if each one of them knew that if convicted of murder, even on first offence that they could hang for it, would that have given them pause for thought and subsequently have prevented her death?

15 March, 2008 00:03

Blogger staghounds said...

"It is safe to say that in America, he would have been locked up for some months just for raising a fist to a police officer."

Which America is that? Not the one where I prosecute, I seldom get active time for assaults on police officers unless there is a goodly injury or the assaulter has a history. I've often heard judges say that being hit, kicked, threatened, and spit on is "part of the job".

15 March, 2008 01:44

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Staghounds, that would be the america where someone was sentenced to 107 years for shooting at a police officer. In England I think they'd get a minimum term of 6-8 and serve half that. This is taking into account it was a juvenile.

15 March, 2008 05:53

Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

How do I transfer to America?

15 March, 2008 10:59

Anonymous Dave H. said...

The Yorkshire Ripper (contrary to popular belief) was given a minimum 30-year sentence instead of a whole life tariff. The judge said (from memory):

"I realise this is an exceptional sentence but you are an exceptionally dangerous man"

He killed 13 women and was still given the possibility of parole.

Was that 2.3 years for each murder, or the normal 10 years or so for the woman that wasn't 'working' and 1.3 each for the ones that were?

The sick f*** will probably never get out (which Home Sec wants to lose their seat) but Mr Sutcliffe shouldn't even be given the hope of freedom.

Regarding sentencing, some point out that Britain locks up a higher percentage than the EU average. Presumably their argument is there's an optimum prison population. Never mind the simpler possibility that there's just more criminality here.

Back to crimes against the police. There must be a strong weighting factor for sentencing in such cases.

If there's a violent criminal due North, most people head due South.

The police don't have this option, their job puts them at heightened risk. Together with stab vests, the uniform should further protect them by people knowing the law crashes down on anyone that harms those wearing it.

15 March, 2008 11:41

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

if you fail to protect those who are charged with protecting the public then the ones who will attack them will show no restraint at all in attacking everyone else. Why would they if they know that the only people around to stop them are just as much of an easy target and not only will they receive a sentence equal to that for attacking anyone else, the probability is that they will receive even less due to the fact that the courts see it as 'part of the job'

15 March, 2008 12:01

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When there is no fear of the police, no fear of the courts, no fear of the consequences of actions taken then we are all doomed!

Oh fuck, I just realised we are already there!

15 March, 2008 14:03

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading this has reminded me of a job I went to a few months back. Myself and another officer went to a drunken male causing problems. Anyway to cut along story short we arrested him for Sec 4. In the process he managed to hit me in the jaw and my mate on the nose, nothing serious but we then locked him up for assault PC x 2.

The offender went to court and decided to plead guilty and got a 3 months prison sentence. (He’ll be out in four weeks; in fact he'll be out already!) At the time I was pleased with the result knowing how hard it is to actually get someone to prison theses days. (I arrested a burglar that got a 12 month suspended sentence but that’s a different story!)

Now I’m thinking about it he should have got a lot longer than 3 months for actually punching not one but two police officers! He was probably more pleased with the result than me. I wonder what would have happened to him in America, it would have been years not months. Anyway on the bright side I didn't have to go to court on my day off!


15 March, 2008 14:19

Blogger Retired Chief said...

If the majority of UK police officers would state the facts about sentencing in every official conversation the public would have their suspicions about the system confirmed. The steady drum beat will eventually be heard by even the most tone deaf of politicians. Thrust me it worked in the US. Remember tell every victim, every neighborhood watch group every reporter. It is this simple: As sentences increase, crime rates decrease. TA-DA! Almost like magic.
And remember truth is its own defense. How can an officer be criticized for speaking the truth to the people he serves.

15 March, 2008 15:49

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im getting a desk job.

keep safe.

15 March, 2008 19:20

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having read the PCSOs blog which leads you to a list of offences against them, the solution is clear. If you take a PCSO everywhere with you, anyone who merely waves a weapon or threatens you (and by association the PCSO) will get 14 months in the pokey. Easy.

15 March, 2008 20:31

Blogger AngryDave said...

Too many social worker types and do gooders in the CJS for criminals to get proper sentances in proper jails. Our prisons are like Butlins with bars, especialy for the YOI's.
If i could afford to leave this country, I would. Leave this island to the lawless asylum seekers and the underclass. I wonder how sympathetic the government and the liberal tree huggers would be with nobody to protect them.

15 March, 2008 20:55

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How you coppers stop yourselves from giving the low life scum a good hiding i will never know. You deserve a medal!

15 March, 2008 21:12

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a lad who was given a 6 month sentence at the end of January.
He was released two days ago...
Six months now means six weeks....

Is this a record - should I inform the Guiness book of records people?

Ricky G

15 March, 2008 22:50

Anonymous Anonymous said...

dame right two should get a medal for shooting a pig.

every dead pig is a vitory.

16 March, 2008 01:13

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

and what would a 'vitory' be you ignorant twat?

16 March, 2008 11:35

Blogger Geoffrey said...

I remember being given a lift home from the pub, when the toe rag at the wheel decided we all had a death wish, and drove across a busy concealed crossroads without stopping. The first we knew about it was a "Sorry, just gonna have to do this" five yards from the junction.

Nowadays, I know, we'd have got into trouble for kicking seven bells out of the wanker, but to do time just for being in the car seems a bit steep. It was as much a problem for us as for anyone else.

16 March, 2008 17:29

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

They were all known violent criminals who were on the run for a new life in a new state, my sympathy vote went straight out the window for that one. The difference with your one geoffrey was the driver was a cock and the four of you in the car were not undertaking a criminal action at the time he decided to put other peoples lives in danger for a rush, at worst you could have been investigated for aiding or abetting dangerous driving but if everyone in the car had the same story then there is no way the CPS would prosecute any of you. On the occasion that the post is referring, one of the known criminals decided to shoot a police officer in an attempt to allow all four to escape. Bit of a difference there I think.

16 March, 2008 21:45

Blogger totallyun-pc said...

ha ha MCM (re @11:35) - I love you man!

16 March, 2008 23:01

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

I'm with metcountymounty on this - the jointventure law changes screwed us so now we have incidents where the group knows they'll only have to cop to a much lesser charge provided they can't prove who dealt the killing blow.

Punishment should be getting tougher not easier. If i screw up in my job once i get a slap on the wrist and no bonus, if i screw up twice i get a written warning and demoted, three times i'm likely to get fired.

Why does the justice system operate on a different principal? I know in my local area theres someone who has been convicted of 18 assaults and 20+ thefts (it should have been robbery but most of them were "downgraded) and has yet to receive a custodial sentance...

If you do something wrong once it can be bad luck or judgement. If it happens again you're clearly either too stupid to learn from your mistake or you don't care!

17 March, 2008 11:15

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

Sorry, convicted should be changed to charged on the assault... They've only been convicted of all the "theft" charges.

17 March, 2008 11:16

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

fair enough madam bloggs :o)

17 March, 2008 16:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Closest thing I can think off is some nugget up here in Scotchland who shot at a cop, brandished a sword at them, got involved in a chase at 130MPH + various other theft, assault and vandalism charges.

He got 6 years. Not exactly a walk in the park but nowhere near as much as I'd have wanted him to get.

17 March, 2008 18:43

Blogger Drugsblogger said...

No, I haven't missed the point at all. I look at evidence, not blinkered prejudice. There is absolutely no research evidence at all that locking people up for longer and longer deters. What deters criminals from crime is the certainty (or not) of being caught. Research evidence shows that when people commit crimes they rarely if ever consider that they might be caught. The challenge for the police and the rest of us is to try to ensure that criminals or would-be ones decide that it's not worth it because the chances are they'll be nicked. However, this needs to be balanced against the fact that we live in a reasonably democratic society which allows freedoms. Now, we could extinguish those freedoms, which I suspect some might wish to do, in the interests of extingushing all crime. If the majority of us wish to live in free, democratic states then we will have to put up with the fact that some people will take advantage of those freedoms and commit crimes against us. All we can do is keep a constant downward pressure on crime and reduce the harm - but we won't get rid of it.

And before you all start in on me for being a lone dissenting voice, yes, I have been a victim of crime(s).

17 March, 2008 20:19

Anonymous pc pc said...

Drugsblogger, we're not trying just to "deter" with prison, it's about punishment and keeping them locked up where they can't do more crimes. Sod deterrence.

17 March, 2008 20:37

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

drugsblogger, there is no research evidence because successive governments have refused to allow harsher sentences since the 1960's when they decided to try and rehabilitate criminals instead of punishing them. You remember when you were a kid and you could leave a door unlocked, or remember people talking about a time when you could? well that is simply because crime was significantly lower than it is today and you really could live pretty much anywhere without the fear of crime. The major increases in levels of crime - specifically violent or including fire arms - were accompanied by changes in policing and sentencing such as introduction of policing with vehicles instead of beat policing, removal of joint venture, the suspension (twice) and eventual abolition of the death penalty.

To prove it was a deterrent, when the death penalty was suspended twice, violent crime went up the following year and then dropped back when it was reintroduced until it rose again after being abolished.

Why don't you jump off a cliff? because it'll hurt and you'll probably die.

why don't you drive a car into a wall? because it'll hurt and you'll probably die.

why don't you rob Fort Knox? because you'll get killed trying to do so.

why is burglary up to 15 times lower in US states where they have the death penalty and home owners have the legal right to hold firearms and use them in self defence? because burglars face the risk of being shot and they'll probably die.

Actions that have unpleasant or painful outcomes are deterred, that's why we teach out kids not to put their hands in fire or slap a strangers dog. It's not rocket science, it's just a case of risk versus reward and if you remove all risk by having no punishment then there is nothing to lose.

Accept of course for everyone else, why should we have to put up with living in fear of crime when someone of sound mind chooses to commit crime and you refuse to punish them for it?

17 March, 2008 22:49

Anonymous Anonymous said...

MCM - can't you anything other than plagiarise Peter Hitchens from the Daily Mail?

Most of what you've put down here (your post 22:49), you have lifted directly from his book: " A brief History of Crime"

Any original thoughts of your own?

18 March, 2008 15:58

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

so what if I got the facts from a book? I've said before that a lot of the research that peter hitchens did for a brief history of crime goes a long way to proving that proper sentencing is necessary, it doesn't make the facts any less true just because he writes for the daily mail.

I had nearly 10 years in the Police when I read the book and all it did was reaffirm what I had come to learn anyway, again, it doesn't make the point or the facts any less valid.

The simple fact is if you have no deterrent(such as suitable punishment) to stop people from doing what they want at the expense of every one else then society will fall apart. simply being 'caught' by the police is no deterrent at all for the kind of people who commit 95% of the crime, its not as if a stain on their criminal record will effect them anyway, most have no jobs and they don't care what people think anyway so its no more of a threat than being found in a game of hide and seek.

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15 April, 2009 10:17


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