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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Monday, April 14, 2008

Personal Location Location Location

Over on Gadget, they're talking about Personal Location Systems. The Met can now locate every officer at all times, which is entirely for safety and has nothing to do with keeping track of people having sex in public toilets.

Blandshire Constabulary too claims to be able to locate all its police vehicles on demand. As a result, you have to swipe your fob when you book out a vehicle, and this triggers the location system.

The idea is genius. For example, when there is an emergency incident, the control room can now send the nearest unit rather than calling up for "any unit", or asking somebody a million miles away to start making their way.

Of course, the nearest unit may well be taking a statement, dealing with another emergency, or otherwise engaged, but then it is a simple matter to call up the next nearest unit and ask them to go. The chances are, that unit has forgotten to switch on their in-car location chip and is in fact about as far away as they could get. By this point, a unit that is reasonably near and actually available will probably have arrived on scene, making this a super-efficient service to the public.

Some people complain about the reliability. For example, only last week I got accused of being on Bramble Lane when I was in fact five miles away and going in the opposite direction on Taylor Way. But on the 1 in 10 occasion that you ARE where the system says you are, it's a valuable tool.

As such, there is a Superintendent In Charge of Locating Police Officers Who Don't Want To Be Located, and dashed good at it he is too. Two months ago I was in court when I called up on the radio to ask for assistance in dealing with a crazed prisoner trying to flee the dock. As I was pinning one leg to the floor and flailing for handcuffs I had not brought with me, my mobile rang. Hoping it might be assistance trying to find me, I answered and the Superintendent In Charge of LPOWDWTBL demanded,

"PC Bloggs, you are showing on duty today."

"Er... yes, sir?"

"There is no vehicle showing against your name."

"No, sir, I suppose there isn't."

"As you well know, you are supposed to swipe your fob to activate your vehicle location device, every time you book on duty WITHOUT FAIL. I will not tolerate this lackadaisical attitude towards force policy ." His tone could not have been smugger had he walked in on me smoking skunk and downloading child porn in the men's locker room.

"Well, sir-" I paused to receive handcuffs from a colleague and apply them. "I drove to court in my own car today, and my car isn't fitted with a fob. At least, not as far as I know."

"Ah. I see."

A week after that, a girl on my team got attacked by a bodybuilding coke user with a metal bar. Unable to free a hand up to transmit on her personal radio, she activated her emergency button and the whole team got sent to an address two miles away to assist her. Call me old-fashioned, but ever since then I just call up and tell the controller where I am, if I want them to know.

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


Blogger Emma said...

The wonders of technology Ellie, it's great when it works. unfortunately most of the time it is still relying on a human being to input the correct information, so we really have no chance do we??x

14 April, 2008 18:44

Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

Please tell us where you are now.... just in case?

14 April, 2008 19:25

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professional Standards here - where are you?

14 April, 2008 22:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Early Alzheimers will undermine the simplest system. You make your own case for electronic tagging or golden handshake.

15 April, 2008 07:50

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

I don't understand why the systems can't do it properly - i've got in a car with a kit that can gps loc it down to thirty feet anywhere in Europe reliably and it's never gone with about 3 years of daily use...

15 April, 2008 08:20

Anonymous Unresponsive said...

Ah yes, the joys of modern technology! The Teletrac system used widely in the US isn't any better, especially when the crew hits the button that is supposed to say "enroute to the call," but instead says, 'help - we've been in an"

By the way...exactly which officers are having sex in public restrooms?

15 April, 2008 08:29

Anonymous Dave H. said...

Public Liaison Officers.

15 April, 2008 10:38

Blogger MadMax said...

We haven't got it yet, but no doubt will buy the Amstrad version, when we do!

15 April, 2008 13:10

Blogger P.C McMurphy said...

A lot of the time its a good thing that it doesn't work, how else would you be able to get out of crap jobs by claiming to be miles away when you were in fact a couple of streets away taking a statement for a RTC that had been hanging around in your tray for months!

P.S I've started blogging, so its time to shamelessly plug my deluded ramblings - Just Another Police Blog.

15 April, 2008 17:36

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish they would spend the money on personal laptops that we can plug into cars and access our computer systems.
We would then be able to do useful things like update intelligence and reports instantly (whilst being out and about)and most importantly - be able to verify peoples ID at the roadside. We could also do proper checks on address before visiting them.
Instead money is spent on equipment and technology to keep us in check !!

15 April, 2008 21:29

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