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)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beasting or Bullying

Three soldiers have been cleared of manslaughter following a "beasting" session that led to a private's death.

But the judge, Mr Justice Royce, criticised the beasting, and also asked the jury to consider whether three non-commissioned officers had been put in the dock as scapegoats in place of Captain Mark Davis, who had apparently authorised the whole thing. In fact, I think he used the phrase "hung out to dry". Not trying to put words in the jury's mouth then...

This case all centres around whether subjecting someone to punishment that may be humiliating or physically difficult is a valid technique of training, or is just bullying. When I went to training school, we still had to parade on our "passing-out" day. This meant we had to practice drill, marching up and down like toy soldiers, on a regular basis. I HATED drill. I was also useless at it. For some reason, my arms and legs like to go the same side at the same time. Which is weird, because they don't do that when I run, or at any other time. I frequently got told off for my appalling "drilling" and had to go out on my own and march about with an ex-army guy yelling at me. I HATED this more than the normal marching.

My attempts at marching in the style of the Korean police did not go down any better.

However, I found the rest of training school fairly easy. The law and the role-plays were no problem, I didn't mind the rubbish accommodation or being away from home. Other people hated these with the vengeance I hated drill.

From one perspective, I was bullied, because I was rubbish at drill. From another, so was the guy in the class who regularly got under 25% in his law exams and had to re-take them in five weeks. (Getting under 25% in a four-way multiple choice test is quite some feat, by the way.) He probably felt about as stupid taking exams as I felt marching about with my arms and legs stuck together.

When does this turn from training into bullying? When the subject starts to cry? When they quit? When they collapse and die of an aneurism? When they kill themselves or someone else?

In today's climate of Equal Opportunities and Employment Regulations, drill has been dropped from police training because it isn't required as part of their role. It therefore couldn't be "justified" as a training requirement.

When I'm out on the street, and people who've never met me are calling me a "dirty slag", spitting in my face and waiting for an opportunity to jam a broken beer bottle into my throat, will I perhaps be better for those hours spent trotting about like a fool on a frozen parade square? If I can't take an ex-army guy yelling at me, how am I going to take that? In what way does 12 weeks classroom-based law training, visiting community centres, mosques and hospitals, wearing civilian clothes and doing every practical police exercise in a "controlled environment", prepare our new police officers for the job they are actually going to do?

But of course, in the twenty-first century, nobody is nasty to the police any more.

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

From the neighbourhood to the national...

No, not the most boring heading for a post ever, but the title of the government's Green Paper on Policing, which came out last week. In fact the full title is:

"From the neighbourhood to the national: policing our communities together." Whatever that means.

I am never quite sure what makes something a Green, White or Blue Paper, unless it literally is just the colour that happened to come out of the printer that day, but if a reader can enlighten me, please don't.

The Green Paper consists of a "vision" for the future of policing, and one of its proposals is:

"Setting only one top-down numerical target for the police service to increase public confidence in the police and other agencies to reduce crime."

Does this mean that a numerical target will be set and the setting of said target, whatever it may be, will increase public confidence in the police and other agencies to reduce crime? Or that the target will be to increase public confidence in the police and other agences to reduce crime. Either way, I don't see how that's numerical, and I don't see how it's only one target either. Or how you can set the police a target to increase confidence in other agencies.

Anyway, certain parts of the Green Paper disturb me even more. For example, the national standards promised to the public by the police will include:
  • 80% of your Neighbourhood Police Team's time on duty will be spent on your patch.
This disturbs me because it appears a totally arbitrary percentage which will not make the public safer or reduce crime. For example, you might have a neighbourhood team who are tackling persistent prostitution or drug-dealing on a certain patch. At most there will be one neighbourhood bobby for each small patch, but to tackle this problem others are drafted in from nearby patches, thereby removing them from their own patch. Then, as part of their operation, the 6 officers might make 5 arrests a day. Each prisoner will require an officer to deal with them, in the custody suite which is centrally based and many miles off the patch in question. Voila, 0% of five officers' time has been spent on his/her own patch, although it was spent on valid and useful policing.

If you wanted further proof that the phrase "Neighbourhood Policing" is utterly meaningless, there it is. The thing is, as a response officer in Blandmore, I attend emergencies, urgent jobs, non-urgent jobs and welfare matters wherever in Blandmore I am needed. The whole town is my patch, I know all of it, and I am just as effective anywhere in it.

At a time when there aren't even enough response officers to attend vital 999 emergencies, why does the government insist that we ring-fence officers into smaller and smaller areas? This only works if you have a flood of officers to choose from, and are confident that you will not regularly need to deploy them to the next patch over, or the one next to that.

If the public really knew how thinly we are spread, how desperately close we come on a daily basis to not being able to attend the most life-threatening and urgent situations, while Neighbourhood Policing Teams sit in their "patches" tightening their bicycle clips and attending meetings about dog-fouling... if the public knew how criminals roam the street with minimal fear of arrest and zero of punishment... this Green Paper would have been met with an outcry.

But then again, they do know. We've been telling them for years now.

Are they not listening? Do they not believe us? Do they think it's all our fault?

Where, oh where, is the outcry?

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From Chapter 12 - 'Missing':

On 7th July 2005, I worked a night shift. I came home and briefly switched on the news to see that the London Underground had come to a jarring halt over some kind of faulty fuse.

When I woke up, the faulty fuse turned out to have been a team of suicide bombers.

For the next three months, people came up to me and said, ‘You must be awfully busy at the moment, with all the troubles.’

I would nod sagely and agree that I was, indeed, awfully busy. Blandmore town centre being the United Kingdom’s hub of international trade and politics, we were hit with an outbreak of Terror in the form of flour smeared on post-boxes and children’s backpacks left in restaurants. Every other town in the country was the same.

In actual fact, I contributed in no way whatsoever to the investigation into the London Bombings. I may even have hindered it, by continuing to attend robberies, assaults and shopliftings without any regard for the magnitude of worldwide events.

One positive thing that came out of the Bombings was emails like this:

From: Jack Bauer, Counter-Terrorist Unit, Blandshire Constabulary

To: All officers and staff, Blandshire Constabulary

Subject: Terrorism

Officers attending incidents involving suspicious packages should adhere rigidly to force policy: on receiving a call, Operation Sapper should be informed (if there really is an Op Sapper anywhere in the UK, sorry – I made this name up).

Operation Sapper will advise the officer of the protocol. In most cases, the caller should be advised that the police are taking no action and it is really up to them to deal with the problem.

On occasions when an officer does attend, the package should be examined. If the package contains white powder, this is a possible ANTHRAX attack. In which case the officer should forensically seal the item and isolate it from public contact. (An example of this might be wrapping it in Clingfilm and putting it in the bin.)

If the item turns out to be suspicious, the officer should inform Operation Sapper who will send a specialist unit to assess the scene.

Officers should bear in mind that it might be an idea to move away from the package before using their personal radio to transmit a signal. Operation Sapper can provide no guidance on how far away it might be an idea to move.

OK, you had to read between the lines a bit, but that was the gist. I can safely say that this sort of advice has saved my life on no less than zero occasions.

It is now Monday. In my job, this brings no more groans than any other day of the week. Indeed, the day begins sweetly enough with my being wrapped up in a big fluorescent ribbon and sent forth into the town to Reassure the Public.

We have to go out of the side door, as the front counter is closed with police tape across the doors. The sergeant informs me that someone walked in and slit her wrists in the centre of the foyer yesterday. It is being investigated as a possible complaint against police.

An hour of foot patrol later, Will and I are in full Reassurance mode, just in time for the shops to actually open at 10am. We have traversed the pedestrian zone four times and seen absolutely nobody in fear of crime, which is surely a sign that we are doing our job well. In fact, we have seen absolutely nobody whatsoever, which is an even better sign.

‘I hate foot patrol,’ I moan.

‘But why?’ He is genuinely amazed. ‘It’s real police work.’

‘That’s fine and dandy, but I have twelve jobs in my docket and could do with some time to go and do the enquiries for them all.’

He shrugs. ‘Yes, but if you go back inside you’ll be sent out to another incident, and you’ll collect another investigation.’

His logic is infallible.

‘So you think we should go out on foot all the time?’

‘Oh no,’ he says. ‘If we did that, there wouldn’t be enough people to go to all the fights and murders. They’d have to do something drastic, like recruiting more police officers.’

‘Now you’re just being silly.’

We walk on with an air of friendly amusement.

You may find it hard to believe, but despite recent developments in our personal lives, Will and I actually manage to make our way about town without diving into doorways to feel each other up. That’s just how professional we are. I have cast the occasional sneaky glance at him, though, and for that I am ashamed.

At 10.05am, however, our rambling is interrupted by a flustered young woman.

‘Have you seen my son?’ she gasps.

As I have seen no-one, this doesn’t take much considering. ‘No, why?’

‘He’s missing.’

‘How old is he?’

‘Four. He’s called Ali.’

This calls for my pocketbook. I record a description of the toddler and broadcast it over my radio for everyone to be aware of.

‘Where did you last see him?’ I say.

‘By the train station.’ She waves her arm in that general direction. ‘He was right behind me. We walked down from the Porle on the way to his nursery school. Then I turned around and he was gone.’

‘Can you show us where exactly?’ I begin to tread towards the station, but the woman is hovering.

‘Well... ’


‘Well, I need to get on, really.’

Get on?’

‘I’m late for the hairdressers.’

My confusion must show on my face, for she produces a mobile phone and elaborates. ‘I’ll just be round the corner at Chanterelle’s Hair and Beauty. If I give you my number, can you tell me if you find him?’

To read the conclusion of this tale of woe, order 'Diary of an On-Call Girl' now.

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

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thank you

I'll take links from anyone. Anyone.

This might be going too far.

Still, thanks for the thought. Nice to know my efforts are appreciated.

Who knows, perhaps the author of the linked site has an ex-girlfriend who was a copper. Or perhaps it's all a wind-up. Then again, I get that kind of language on a weekly basis on the streets of Blandmore. For some, as soon as a woman gets a teeny bit of authority, she automatically transmogrifies into a lesbian or slapper, or both.

Here are some things I have been called in the last month by people who have never met me before:
  • "Whore."
  • "Slag."
  • "Big fat dyke."
  • "Bitch-fucking mother-cunt."
  • "Sad little pathetic power-trippin lesbo. Innit."
  • "Blond trollope." (I am NOT blond. But the speaker clearly felt that "nondescript-shade-of-brown trollope" didn't have the same ring to it.)
Here is what I called the people in return:
There are a lot of people who hate the police, just because they are the police. There are just as many people who hate women, just because they are women. Funnily enough, it tends to be the same group of people. I gave up taking it personally after about three weeks.

Anyway, I got three referrals from the above site in the last few hours alone, so who's complaining...

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

Friday, July 25, 2008

Assault Police/Police Assault

The police are frequently accused of brutality, and this kind of thing doesn't do us any good. For my linkally-deficient readers, PC Daniel Gaffney of GMP has been found guilty of punching a 12-year-old boy in the face.

Because of cases like this, the rest of us have to tread on eggshells. Most people, on seeing two or three drunks scrapping outside a nightclub on a Friday night, probably cross the road and call the police. Or just cross the road. The police run towards it. While we're running, we're taking in the scene in front of us, working out who the main aggressor is, figuring out whether his pals will join in if we go hands-on, and talking on the radio to get colleagues to our assistance. We're also trying to decide what kind of take-down will make the prettiest picture on the CCTV.


I've been involved in scraps where six of us have struggled to restrain a drunk. There was one of us on each limb and two on his legs/back and he was still resisting. The guys on his arms put in some strikes to try and make his arms bend so he could be handcuffed. The guys on his legs did the same to prevent themselves being kicked. Eventually, sweating, battered and bruised, we limped with him into custody and got him into a cell.

I went to watch the CCTV later. All you could see was six cops sitting on a guy whilst punching and kicking him mercilessly. It wasn't like that, but that's what the camera saw. His resistance, his biting, screaming, snarling, ranting and flailing, was all totally obscured by a parked taxi and our own bodies.

Police brutality exists. I've seen it, rarely, and in very minor form (if it can ever be considered minor). But it isn't as common as people think. It isn't what we all aspire to, or what we joined the police for. And I shouldn't have to be thinking about it whilst trying to defend myself and others from serious injury or death.

Cases like PC Gaffney's make life harder for the rest of us.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

As promised, here is an extract from 'Diary of an On-Call Girl'.

Chapter 2 - "Crap Car"

Believe it or not, I do sometimes patrol alone. Health and Safety don’t like it and, yes, it is dangerous and, yes, I am taking risks. I guess I’m just one crazy gal.

The terrors of stepping out into the darkness without male support are allayed by the cheering remarks I receive from concerned Mops.

Wrinkled old ladies stop me and say, ‘Should you be out on your own?’

Housewives turn back from pouring me a cuppa and ask, ‘Don’t they put you with a man, normally?’

The occasional chap will give me a flirty grin and say, ‘Gosh, you’re too pretty to be a police officer.’ (As a professional woman, I can never hear that one enough.)

Then there are my regulars. They tend to be slightly more direct. Like, ‘Oi, Bloggs, you pig bitch.’

(When I’m crewed with Becks, the above comments will double or treble and also change in nature. For many Mops, two female officers fighting crime on their own is quite the most exciting thing they’ve ever seen; for some, it’s second only to watching lesbian porn movies. And we like being crewed together, as it gives us a chance to bitch about the boys and discuss handbags, jewellery and fluffy animals. Our sergeant understands the womanly need for chats like this, and so he sends us out together at least once a week – and damned be the consequences! I respect him for that.)

I’m on my own today, in a panda, heading to the outskirts of town, but I’m not patrolling. I’m on my own because I have been designated today’s ‘Crap Car.’

CRAP is a police acronym which stands for Quality Service Department. This is a Department set up for the purpose of pacifying people who have been treated badly by the police, and it’s well worth the cost of the staff who have been taken away from serving the public to man it.

When people call the police, they are immediately classified as one of three kinds of caller:

1) Someone who needs the police.

2) Someone who will need the police soon.

3) Someone who doesn’t actually need the police but still wants them and will keep calling until they come.

The first two kinds are seen to by the response units, but the third category is the most important. These are the grassroots callers where we get most of our custom. As you’ll have gathered, it can be a difficult task to identify exactly why some of these people have actually called the police, or what crime is meant to have been committed. But it is always worth the hour-long discussion to find out.

Calls from this category can number up to twenty a day in Blandmore, so one car containing one officer is assigned to deal with jobs like this which have stacked up over the days and weeks; this is the Crap Car.

One of the main duties of the Crap Car is to apologise to as many people as possible for taking a week to get to them.

In briefing, when Chris read out the assignments for the day, I might have let out a quiet moan.

‘I know you’ve been Crap Car twice this week, Bloggsy, but if you will keep turning up to work every day…’

I accepted the sergeant’s sympathy with my usual maturity: ‘But, sarge, it’s not fair. Can’t we just tell the Quality Service Department that we don’t have enough people on duty to provide a Crap Car?’

He looked up in surprise. ‘But, Bloggsy, we have nine officers working today.’

I shared some baffled expressions with my team-mates. With Lloyd in court, Nick still off sick and Guy on a Transit-driving course, I counted five heads in the briefing room.

‘Nine, sarge?’

‘According to the email I got yesterday,’ he elaborated. ‘There’s you five, then there’s Frances, Woody, George and Louise.’

Some of the names evoked a pang of nostalgia. Frances disappeared over eighteen months ago when she fell pregnant. Woody was the team’s serious crime guru until he took an attachment with CID and never came back.

‘Who are George and Louise?’ demanded Becks.

‘George is our new probationer,’ Chris scanned his sheet again, ‘Due to start in a month’s time. Except that he’s come down with glandular fever and will likely be off until the summer. Louise was before your time, most of you, but she was on our Team until she got made Acting Sergeant in Charl. She keeps failing her promotion interview, but they keep her on as an Acting Sergeant because there isn’t anyone else.’

I vaguely recalled a slim, red-haired woman who worked at Blandmore when I started. Back then, I really do remember having nine heads in briefing. I even recall a day when someone had to stand, due to lack of chairs.

‘But how can all of them be counted in our manning levels?’ Becks went on. ‘Most of them aren’t coming back.’

‘No, but technically they’re on temporary absences. We’re actually one of the flushest shifts at Blandmore.’

I took in my colleagues’ faces with new eyes, not having realised quite how good the situation was. With all that manpower, our arrest and detection rates will no doubt start to soar. Any day now.

To read more... order now. Or borrow a copy from the woman at my nick I saw reading it the other day. But if you do, you'll be depriving this charity of the dosh.

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

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Welfare and Farewell

Today on the homepage of South Yorkshire Police's website:
  • "You told us what you wanted, this is what we are doing about it." - Link to local policing plan.
  • Advert for Google search engine.
  • Find out what your Safer Neighbourhood Team is up to.
  • Appeal for information about a minor assault.
  • "GUNS AND KNIVES... TAKE LIVES" - a superb piece of poetry that will SAVE LIVES.
Nowhere on the homepage of South Yorkshire Police's website:
  • "We are deeply saddened to report the death of a serving officer, who was last year crucified in the press before being cleared by an external and internal investigation. PC Mulhall's family have our full support - please leave messages of condolences here."
No doubt the local Neighbourhood Action Group concluded that dog-fouling and street lights ranked higher than the death of a serving officer. At least South Yorks have their priorities straight.

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

Friday, July 18, 2008

I feel your pain

We all love a good high-profile trial. The case of the aptly-named Darwins is riveting.

These trials are a time when up-and-coming barristers can make their names, with one-liners such as, "you're lying", "you were lying" and "you will lie". Photographs and emails will dazzle the jury. Every word uttered will be splashed across the Internet. The family will commentate via the tabloids. And ultimately, who wins, you decide.

Personally, I can't wait for November, when the traumatic events of a nine-year-old's false abduction will be likewise paraded across the news for our delectation and delight. We already know Karen Matthews is guilty, it's just a matter of how many big headlines she makes before she's locked up for a couple of weeks.

After all, in the world of criminal justice, appearance is everything.

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

Monday, July 14, 2008

I love you, please don't shoot me

"Drug dealers are using their entrepreneurial skills. Some of them are controlling three mobile phones at once... If we can help them to recognise they have something of value and if we can help them to develop that skill, it will be one of the greatest things we can do for this generation."

Wow, three mobile phones at once - how did Sir Alan Sugar miss these guys?!

There may be something in this article, that states young people need to "feel loved" to stay out of a life of crime. The trouble is, I think it's their parents who need to love them and not their local youth worker.

The problem with the word "love" is that it conjures up images of fluffy handcuffs and prisons made of candy. But there can be tough love too. The kind of love that makes a parent give their kid a smack for staying out late, or confiscating his pocket money because he used it to buy drugs. Kids understand these messages. They don't understand it when they go on a spree of window-smashing and happy-slapping and their only punishment is a couple of appointments at the Youth Offending Team that they really ought to try and get to on time, and a few hours sweeping the driveway of their local community centre if-they-feel-like-it-but-if-not-it-doesn't-really-matter-and-they- can-just-stay-in-bed.

Police officers don't recommend tough sentences for teenaged offenders because we hate kids. It's because we're worried about them, and we want them to learn. It's a shame the same can't be said of their families.

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

Friday, July 11, 2008


For those of you who don't know, last September my book came out, "Diary of an On-Call Girl". I haven't really advertised it on this blog, apart from to provide links in my sidebar to reviews and commentary on it. Due to finally working out how to use my camera-phone, you can now also see a reproduction of its feature in the Mail on Sunday (just scroll down a bit), and yes that is a picture of yours truly: taken in a real studio in London and which represents the most bizarre couple of hours I've ever spent in police uniform!

A lot of you haven't read the book. This might be because you are a bloke, and didn't want to be seen on the bus with it. Or it might be because you are a girl, and didn't want to be seen on the bus with it. Or maybe you just don't take the bus, and you can't drive and read at the same time. If so, I am not responsible for these failings.

Either way, I do recommend it. And not just because I wrote it, and happen to think it's a good read. I recommend it because the more people know what it's like to be a police officer in the twenty-first century, the harder they'll lobby to get things changed. The more they know, the more they will understand why the guy who was identified breaking into their shed last week is still driving around without a shadow of a fear of a thought of retribution. The more people know about my job, the easier my job will be when I turn up in bemused response to their call and fail to do anything close to what they had hoped.

I also recommend it because it's funny, and a bit saucy (only a bit, sorry).
It's written as a novel, so you might not be aware you're reading non-fiction. No doubt this will make it easy for my bosses to dismiss it.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some excerpts from the book, so you can make up your own mind if it's worth the £7.99 or less (not even an hour of overtime, people).

If you think it's all about the dosh, so far I haven't spent any of my takings on myself. Some has gone to the Police Roll of Honour Trust, which commemorates police officers who have died in the line of duty (no, it's not the one funded by the annoying guy off the TV, but similar). Some has gone to Rape Crisis, which provides information and support for rape victims. The rest will be donated to either one of these charities over the next year or so. I can't promise I'll always donate my proceeds to these charities, or to any - that will have to depend on my circumstances (and how much I make!). But I'll let my readers know if anything changes, so you know what you're paying for.

You can follow updates on the book, and others by the same publisher, at the Monday Books blog.

NB Apologies for the lack of irony in this post, and to those of you who clicked on the "annoying guy" link above and weren't prepared.

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

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Innocent Man

Today I read that three police forces are being investigated for arresting "the wrong guy" for a firearms incident. Apparently, horror of horrors, they forced the "victim" to lie face down at gunpoint. Highly unpleasant if it happens to you, but most people probably take it lying down.

Maybe as many as half of the incidents I attend in a day involve a victim of crime and their description of the person who robbed/attacked/cheated them. Typically, the information I get as I drive towards a crime scene is:

"Offender is a white male, aged 17, 5ft7, wearing a blue baseball cap, grey hoodie and Addidas tracksuit bottoms."

If I come across someone like that in the vicinity of the crime, and there is no way to disregard them from the enquiry, I am quite likely going to arrest them. Ways of eliminating them as a suspect might be:
  • Having stopped and questioned them, I am happy with the explanation they have given.
  • I get an updated/more accurate description, or the offender is seen again by the victim elsewhere.
  • I feel strongly that it isn't the right guy.
Ways that I generally DON'T choose to eliminate the suspect are:
  • He says he didn't do it.
  • His hat is a different colour than the victim described.
  • He doesn't have the stolen stuff on him (this gets discarded/sold sometimes within minutes of the offence).
Sometimes the description is quite poor, and you have to make a judgment call. Of course the easiest thing would be to get the victim to come down and tell you if you have the right guy. Unfortunately this breaches Code D of PACE and will lead to the person getting off in court. The only option once you've stopped them is to hold an ID parade, which means the person has to be arrested.

The tendency to arrest in these circumstances rises in proportion with the seriousness of the offence. So if a stranger rapist is on the loose, the police won't take the risk of letting the correct offender go, and will arrest more willingly. If it's a trivial theft, they might just take the person's name and address so they can go and arrest them later if it turns out it was the right person.

Occasionally, mistakes are made. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to happen past a crime scene wearing exactly the same outfit as the offender and end up spending hours in custody/lying at gunpoint on the floor, but usually police officers are pretty good at judging whether they have the right person.

Traumatic or otherwise, an arrest is just a stage in an investigation.

I've made probably 50-100 arrests based on a mixture of factors such as description/location/suspicion. Over half proved to be the right person. A few proved to be an innocent passer-by. The rest were never proven either way, but I have my suspicions.
I generally try not to shoot the suspect eleven times in the head, just in case (unless I'm sure it's them, of course).

It's a shame we have to log the DNA and fingerprints of those who fall foul at this stage, but then again front-line police officers don't make those laws. You can bet that if we let someone go who matched the description of an offender carrying a gun, and he went onto shoot someone round the corner, there would be just a small inquiry into what the hell we were thinking.

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

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Nature or...?

A seventeenth under-18 has died following a stabbing.

It is becoming agreed that children are growing up faster nowadays. 10-12 year-olds have been the new "teens" for some time, and we are increasingly hearing of younger kids in trouble for one thing or another.

His parents really ought to call the police before approaching this dangerous armed felon.

For example, the three primary schoolboys excluded from school over an alleged sex attack, who are too young to be prosecuted and it appears with whom the state has absolutely no ability to deal.*

I remember reading in one of Britain's stirling news outlets about a woman brutally stabbed 20-30 times by a six-year-old whom she was babysitting.

Stories like these are now regular. Some police chiefs think it's all because parents don't smack their kids enough. Others think it's because parents smack them too much, or too hard. If you read Frank Chalk - or his book - you will know that smacking is the least of our problems and that in fact it is now illegal to say "no" loud enough to leave a mark.

Personally, I don't think smacking has a lot to do with it. I think the word "no" does. I recently attended a domestic where a 14-year-old boy had thrown his mother on the floor, called her a "filthy slut" and kicked her. She was in despair, not wanting to get her own son arrested, but terrified of the knife-wielding, drug-using reprobate living in her house. Eventually we did arrest him, and she gave a statement saying she didn't want him prosecuted as long as he never came home. We didn't prosecute him, and Social Services told his mother she had no choice but to have him back.

This woman didn't need her son prosecuted. What she needed was to go back fifteen years to when she thought it would be fun to have three kids by different fathers who live in different towns all over the UK, never enforce any child support from said fathers and live off her taxpaying, un-baby-producing neighbours. The police could then install a knife-wielding, drug-using reprobate in her house for three weeks, and write the word "NO" in big letters on a piece of paper and give it to her.

If someone could bring out a law to do that, that would be great.

Meanwhile, computer games are telling ten-year-olds they are fat, and the Daily Telegraph is polling its online readers: Should sex education be compulsory for four-year-olds?

Are children growing up faster on their own, or are we making them?

* Apologies for this sentence. It's something to do with a night shift.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in all good bookstores and online.


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