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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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Not-So-Special Constabulary

PC John Dougal has appeared in court charged with Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, after hitting and killing a 16yr old girl. I don't know the circumstances of the case - here's one witness' report that might explain why he's been charged. It's pretty tragic for everyone concerned.

Hayley Adamson, 16

This is just one of numerous examples I could give of my police area alone, where police officers are being prosecuted for motoring offences and use-of-force incidents - mostly of a far more minor nature. In cases where police officers have committed offences, the cases are looked at by Crown Prosecutors from neighbouring force areas, to avoid suggestions of corruption. And quite often the CPS will prosecute police officers where they would never consider prosecuting a member of the public: partly because they hold the police up to higher standards, partly because they don't want to get accused of being in on it.

I don't think police officers should be allowed to speed whenever they please, nor tweak people's handcuffs to make them stop swearing, nor receive gifts in return for a good service. But the point is that this used to be acceptable, because people recognised in return that the police had a difficult job to do, and that they were putting their necks on the line - physically and morally - to do it.

We still put our necks on the line. In fact, our position financially, legally, socially, is as fragile as it ever was. And gradually the small special privileges of the role (free tea at the local cafe, parking on double yellows for a minute to grab a sandwich, not having to queue at tills, the freedom to pop home for a moment during the day if it's on your patch, etc), are being removed. To some, these privileges are a legitimate return for the job we do. To others, they are a notch away from corruption.

It's hard to argue in favour of overlooking minor indiscretions for the police without being labelled corrupt. I don't take liberties myself, because it isn't worth it. But as the privilege of being a police officer is erroded, the public still expect the same tireless commitment, the same performance, the same service, and they are surprised when they don't get it.

PC Dougal's mowing down of this girl isn't a minor indiscretion, and I hope I wouldn't drive that fast without blue lights or sirens. But I'm not supporting corruption when I say that I feel for him, and that I wonder how many other avenues to prosecution were considered. There but for the grace of God go all of us.

If society wants the police officer to be like any other job, it can be achieved by carrying on down this route. We can keep rigidly to the restrictions of a normal job, even when it means sitting at a red light while you get beaten up round the corner; arresting you for the pettiest of allegations by your neighbour; refusing to do overtime if we've exceeded our 48-hour-week; taking our hour meal break and driving 10 miles back to the nick to do it.

I just think society needs to think very carefully about what it wishes for. Because the public will be the first to complain when it all goes wrong.

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


Anonymous Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Venturing opinions in advance of knowing the facts of a case is usually explained by the will of blind patronage.

To use this girl's tragic death as a means of suggesting that the Establishment does not give the police a very wide berth on behalf of the public, is callous and ridiculous.

16 October, 2008 13:10

Anonymous Peckham PC said...

I have the distinct feeling that if we worked to rule then the system would collapse in a few days.

Simple example...before you go out you're meant to check your vehicle. Most of us just have a quick look at the dents and thats about it. But imagine checking the water, oil, tyre pressures, tread depth...ect

There would be no police on the streets for the 1st hour of every shift.

How about correctly reporting a BUrglary. Instead of just the report, how about we do all the neighbour enquiries? I for one would check every flat in a block. Hours and Hours to do one report.

The system would fail, and then maybe people would realise how screwed they are without us out on the streets putting ourselves at risk every minute of every day.

Rant over.

Peace out.

16 October, 2008 15:43

Anonymous Captain Slow said...

We are already on a very slippery slide towards what you describe in your last two paragraphs.

The public are a fickle bunch - if something's happening to them, they want us there yesterday. If they see us on a blue light run - then we're going too fast. If they see someone on a mobile phone whilst driving, they want them prosecuted. If they do it themselves, well that's different.

Some months ago now I had the misfortune to be assaulted on duty. This incident happened in a pleasant street with householders - mostly retirees - looking on with their children and grandchildren whilst I was smacked in the face by a drugged up and alcohol fueled local scumbag who had been threatening people in the street. These are the average people we read about in the papers - yes? Those who are concerned about crime and our response to it and the demise of our once great nation etc... These people are the ones who attend local community meetings and complain about - well - drugged up and alcohol fueled scumbags. After he punched me several times I restrained him using "approved home office techniques" and he was carted away.

Not one of the witnesses on the street would assist the Police with a statement or get involved in any way. To my amazement several people asked me why I felt it necessary to defend myself. I explained that next time I would allow myself to be beaten to a pulp.

If they had been attacked by this fella - no doubt they would have been on the phone complaining that we had taken too long to get there.

16 October, 2008 15:56

Blogger Hogday said...

Many years ago in the Metstabulary I was answering an urgent assistance call, driving a van avec blues etc. I came to a traffic light pedestrian crossing and stopped as there was a crowd of people on it. They cleared a path for me and I started to drive through the red light. A little old lady suddenly stepped through the crowd on the pavement and walked straight into the side of the van, catching the wing mirror which even at my walking pace spun her around and onto her bottom. The sound of her bumping along the side of the van was gut wrenching. I got out to find her thankfully only bruised. Why had she stepped out into me? She was deaf, didn't look beyong the green man and so didn't fully appreciate the situation. In fact as I rushed to help her, she looked at me and said, "You got here quickly officer". I didn;t have the voice to tell her where I'd come from. I made a statement where I admitted crossing several traffic signs in a similar cautious manner. A few weeks later and the papers arrived with me being done for all the signs I'd admitted crossing (but where there was no problem), as well as due care etc etc for the old lady. The file went to the DPP and it came back no action - not in public interest. The lady was compensated out of court. My point to this tale? Well several, 1. I never got to the assistance call. 2. I was lucky she didn't hit her head on the kerb and die or as sure as anything I'd have been prosecuted off the road. 3. I thanked heaven for a sensible scrutiny of my case by the DPP's dept. But this was a long time ago and I only hope that the same level of sensible appraisal is given to such cases. Mine was one end of the scale, PC Bloggs eg was at the other, but the dichotomy remains within the two extremes. A good debate raised by PC Bloggs.

16 October, 2008 16:23

Anonymous Ben said...

Not sure where to begin with this one.

Someone is dead and your response is to wonder why the public won't make allowances for the police?

"arresting you for the pettiest of allegations by your neighbour" -- you already do this....

I know if I say "bugger off copper" I could be arrested for a public order offence, have my prints, mugshot and DNA taken and kept forever, and have to explain all of this for the rest of my life whenever I want a visa for another country, which, since I will no longer qualify for the visa waiver, will be every time I visit the USA.

This means that now even innnocent, law abiding civilians now have an attitude of "it's the police, everyone shut up".

The less you make allowances for our frailty, the less we are likely to see you as being on our side.

The more our rights are taken away, i.e. every new "power" you get, the more you will be seen as an enemy we haven't met yet.

And if we don't see you as being on our side we obviously won't make allowances for you.

The solution is fewer powers, not more.

16 October, 2008 16:37

Blogger quixote said...

It's not just police. It's education, government, business, everything. Somewhere along the line we, as a society, have lost sight of the fact that you can't force somebody to do a good job. You can fire them for a bad job, but there is no way for floggings to improve morale.

I can see the resentful feelings that make people want to kick others. What I don't understand is why they think that will achieve anything except the desire to kick back.

There doesn't seem to be any way out of the vicious cycle, either.

16 October, 2008 17:33

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellie, its already gone to far. We are just employees. I don't give my own time to the job any more and I ensure all my colleagues claim all their overtime. It'll cost the government a lot more money than the pay rise they refused us last year.

But I can't help myself- I'll still put myself out for the public and do what ever it takes to get it right for our public i hate the term customer). However whatever I won't cross the road to do anything for acpo or the government's ends if I can help it.

16 October, 2008 17:46

Anonymous dickiebo said...

Judging others is a pastime for old fogeys like me, and I indulge often. However, after having spent umpteen years as an Advanced Met driver and 'got the T-Shirt' so to speak, my heart truly goes out to any officer who has an accident whilst driving (necessarily) at high speed. I thank God that I was spared that (having an accident) and sincerely concur with the person who said, "There, but for the Grace of God, go I."

16 October, 2008 17:56

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ben, not sure how to begin this one,

Have you been arrested for the `pettiest allegations of a neighbour`?

Did yot tell a copper to `bugger off`?

The rest is a lefty rant.

In responding to your post I have made an allowance.

Your first sentence is an insult.

16 October, 2008 19:37

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Ben, my post never set out to be a homage to the schoolgirl who was killed in this example. It was tragic. But your response really exemplifies the attitude I was getting at, and it is the reason the police aren't so willing to help the public now. Both sides are to blame.

16 October, 2008 20:21

Anonymous Pete said...

Anon 19:37 - it was his second sentence.

Stupidity as well as disdain from you, eh constable?

16 October, 2008 20:22

Anonymous Dr Melvin T Gray said...

To Ben and Pete,
You are intelligent enough to realise that the fault is yours when a careless officer metaphorically walks into you. When this happens literally, you may even be deemed to have 'thrown a punch'.

PC Bloggs suggests that your generation is responsible for the present attitude of unhelpful police. If it is any consolation to you both, it is not your fault and these phenomena have existed in the UK for decades.

16 October, 2008 21:01

Anonymous MarkUK said...

Sorry Bloggs. Usually I can agree with virtually everything you post, but not in this case.

Yes, it was a tragic accident. No, PC Dougal wasn't trying to kill anyone.

However, if the witnesses are to be believed, neither blue lights nor sirens were being used. PC Dougal's car was not even using headlights. (That may have been a mistake, from seeing the car afterwards.) If very high speed driving is required, surely the warning devices should be used too?

Unlike you, I do think minor indiscretions committed by the police should be ignored - as should minor indiscretions committed by the general public. It's only if someone takes the micturation that these should be prosecuted.

It is inevitable that police officers (and members of the other emergency services) will be in accidents at one time or another. Some of these accidents will result in fatalities. However, it is incumbent on these trained drivers to do everything in their power to avoid accidents - and that includes using every available warning.

16 October, 2008 21:24

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"bloggs" @ 20:21

... "both" sides are to blame.

It is far more one sided than that.

The police have broken their contract with the public and they are totally and utterly at fault.

16 October, 2008 21:27

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

markuk, you say you disagree with me and then go on to post a comment that agrees with my post entirely...?

16 October, 2008 21:29

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloggs@21:29 ... you are contradictory he DOES not agree wit your post at all, Love.

16 October, 2008 22:53

Anonymous ginnersinner said...

Ellie I think you have erred in your choice of example in trying to make a good point.

As I see it, you're trying to demonstrate the two-facedness of the public in complaining when we fail in their - unreasonably high - expectations, yet complaining again when we err whilst trying to live up to them.

In doing so you've given the impression that you feel PC Dougal has been hard done by, when on the face of it he's got ne'er a single limb to stand on.

Perhaps not the best of your work, and such a shame after your sublime and beautifully written 'Invisible Police Officer' post.

16 October, 2008 23:10

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Ginnersinner, I do not use the example of PC Dougal as a "minor" incident. It's just a lead into the post. It just made me think of the fact that police officers never used to get prosecuted for anything. Now it's happening all the time. I'm not saying it's wrong in this case.

16 October, 2008 23:31

Blogger Virtual Supply said...

You actually state a couple of things here, all wrapped up in a weak oversimplified view of an incident where the law was once again broken by a boy racer in his shiny police vehicle. Police Vehicle Accidents (PVA) have a tremendous knock on cost to the Police Force, and to the public. PVA's destroy lives while the villains take a few weeks paid leave, a bit of therapy, a chat with unison, and its back on the job with all their mates tapping their cups in the canteen.

To belittle such a violent crime by suggesting the members of the public at the location were mere antagonists, the bereaved boyfriend to be tasered and the loss of petty skiving and thieving is a bad thing, suggests to me that the very reason why you are a copper no longer exists. You, are glorifying the bad stuff and blaming the blameless, shifting the guilt from the guilty to those whose lives you destroyed. Does it feel good, it should do the way you write it up.

The car was going too fast for the conditions and situation. Had it been travveling safely no one would have been killed. Period.

The driver gambled no one would be in the way. He is a police officer and not paid to gamble with the lives of the public. He deserves on that count alone to lose his place in uniform.

The driver of the second vehicle shares the guilt, for he had the opportunity to tell his colleague to stop, slow down, drive with lights and sirens, or whatever it took. Clearly that officer did not; therefore he is guilty as well. Did the second officer arrest the first? No, he is therefore guilty of failing to apprehend a person he believes to have taken anothers life without due regard for the law.

Control room staff must have known the vehicle was giving chase, but did they warn the driver to slow down, use lights and sirens, if they did not, they are guilty as hell as well, let the Inspector for the control room answer for the lives he is responsible for allowing to be taken while he was on watch. The control room comfy couch does not absolve the position holder of the law, as it appears it may have done on this occasion.

I am not going to lower myself to your justification of petty thieving, stealing time by going home on duty, turning a blind eye to mates committing crimes, getting favours for doing the job they swore to do, that would be unfair on the relatives of the young girl you killed, dead, with your shiny police car, at night, with no lights. Think about it; resign if you support your colleague for you are as guilty as he. If you are not abusing gun laws to kill civilians, you are using your cars, it is about time the laws were tightened, you are paid plenty to do a difficult job; you have no need to abuse the privileges you gain from wearing a badge and shiny boots.

17 October, 2008 08:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep coming back to this: Peel's Principals of Policing:

1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and by severity of legal punishment.

2. To recognize always that the power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions, and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3. To recognize always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing cooperation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4. To recognize always that the extent to which the cooperation of the public can be secured diminishes, proportionately, the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5. To seek and to preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustices of the substance of individual laws; by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing; by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public cooperation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order; and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen, in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8. To recognize always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the state, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9. To recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

In this case number 5. I don't agree with some of the laws in this country but I signed on to enforce them. There are processes by which laws are challenged. Emergency service exemptions on speed limits, Red lights, stop signs and parking etc are part of the good laws. As police officers we don't have the excuse that we don't know the law therefore if we break it then it is in the full knowledge and with intent and we ought to be prosecuted - we should be setting an example! However nothing -despite the target driving culture imposed on us- has taken away our discretion and common sense should be applied.

17 October, 2008 10:32

Anonymous Shame_on_me said...

Thank God for Peel, especially "the police are the public and the public are the police". You've been doing the job too long, madam, if you've ceased to believe that's true.

17 October, 2008 11:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...

PC Dougal is a very good cop, a decent bloke, a good acting sgt and has a family. He was a highly motivated cop and unfortunatly made a mistake whilst trying to do his job to the best of his ability. Not an excuse but a factor in the incident.

Lets not forget that the girl was drunk and too young to be out at that time of night before a GCSE exam. Not an excuse but a factor in the incident.

PC Dougal was also shafted by the PSD who conned him into thinking he was being questioned as a witness whilst he was really a suspect. Another factor in the incident.

Tragically the girl died and justice has to be seen to be done.

It could have been almost anyone of us who work 24/7 response. I really feel for the families of both sides here because everyone is on the losing side. I just pray to God it is not me driving next time nor one of my family who is hit.

17 October, 2008 12:13

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For once I'm not in total agreement with your post Bloggs.

whilst you might perceive CPS are prosecuting police officers where they wouldn't consider prosecuting a member of the public, my experience of more serious incidents would suggest that at the other end of the scale the opposite is happening. Where corruption and serious misconduct is concerned, you'll find that CPS are far less likely to prosecute an officer.

Not saying either situation is right though....

17 October, 2008 12:32

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon 12:32, I have seen two cops tried and jailed for corruption and serious misconduct in the last three years. I have also been on the receiving end of two assaults from MOP and both times, despite independant evidence, the CPS refused to charge the offenders, yet, when it came to me using justifiable and reasonable force on a person punching the living cr*p out of another, CPS were only too happy to refer this to our complaints dept and my Insp (both of which looked at it, and said, "Nothing wrong there".

17 October, 2008 13:05

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

I've been following this case since I heard about it on the news. Thre have been some interesting calls form the family for legislation change (as there usually is after cases like this) but I haven't put my post about it up yet as I was going to wait for the conclusion of the trial.

It was a very tragic incident all round, and as PC Dougal is looking at potentially 15 years if convicted, I can only imagine how I'd be feeling in his position. Certainly makes me consider handing my ticket back at any rate.

17 October, 2008 13:50

Blogger Busy said...

Anon at 1213:
I totally agree that this could have been any one of us and there but for the grace etc.
I'm not sure how the poor sod allowed himself to be 'conned' by PSD though?
Surely anyone even with a couple of years in the job would know that when you're involved in a case like this you're going to be in the merde?
Regardless, tragedy for her family but my thoughts are with him and his.

17 October, 2008 15:30

Anonymous notellin said...

I am not going to comment on the actual case, its now a matter for the courts, he like everyone deserves a fare trial if such a thing is even possible considering the media coverage and all the witness testimony already published. I can though empathise with him if not, by the Grace of God, sympathise. Anyone who feels I am wrong to do this, well your entitled to your opinions but please bare in mind that I have equal empathy for other non-police in the same predicament although this one is closer to home as he is a Police Officer and so am I. Regardless of what happens, someone has lost a child, and at the very least that Officer will be tortured by the memory for the rest of his life be that inside a cell or not. I just hope he gets a proper trial as the court of public opinion isn’t exactly known for being, fare, balanced or just.

However I think Bloggsy’s post only uses this story to highlight a greater issue which is itself not in any way new at all, in fact its timeless You see if you ask people what they want from a Government for example a large proportion will tell you they need lower taxes but also better public services.

Similarly an equally large proportion would want the Police to arrest violent drunk psychopaths but don’t want Officers to use force to do it or insist that the Police drive to THEIR emergency as quickly as the laws of physics allow but at any other time they don’t like Officers driving fast. The greatest, visible, disconnect is in firearms incidents where the public, quiet rightly, want the Police to stop the gun toting crazed fruitcake who’s going postal in the neighbourhood but don’t want the Officers to shoot them should they get a gun stuck in their face. Unless of course the Officer is able to enact the “Hollywood Resolution” and shoot him in his firing hand at 25 metres with a pistol, which anyone who’s fired a pistol will tell you is just not possible except by sheer luck or bad luck since your supposed to aiming for the centre mass area i.e. the biggest target.

Basically there is, and always has been, a huge disconnect between what the people want and what is sometimes needed to achieve those goals. In other words they want a Gene Hunt but won’t even tolerate a Sam Tyler most of the time as even he takes too many risks.

This is a timeless argument, it will never be resolved, it’s not designed to be and in fact it’s a necessary evil for all concerned as it provides a balance of forces that hopefully keeps it all somewhere in the middle. An equal balance between driving quick when necessary but not when not, shooting when required but only if necessary, dropping some drunk nutter whose trying to punch your face in but not the arsehole who is just trying to wind you up with comments like “I hope your kids die of cancer” or any other such everyday insults.

There is a danger though, should the public allow their “wishes” as Bloggsy put it to become too unreasonable, too “Hollywood”, too fanciful then the balance will be upset and as they make the Police suffer so will they in the long run because we will end up being too careful (scared of consequences of honest mistake) to serve them properly. The ball, like it’s always been, is in the publics court, if they misuse their power, we all suffer. It is also up to the media to remain impartial on issues such as this in particular because their ability to upset the apple cart, this delicate balance of forces has never been greater.

As my brother from another mother Metcountymounty said, it does make you think whether being a Police driver, which I have been for about 10 years or so is worth it, it’s a really scary problem. The same is true for firearms, TSU, Traffic or any other voluntary unit that carries higher risks etc. When do the risks of the job, externally from the nutters and internally from the public outweigh the love of it? (Or the financial compensation depending on how you think)

Remember we also all have families to support, mortgages to pay and kids to raise as well. If the risks are too great then people will just leave, migrate indoors or worst of all just not deliver the goods because were too scared of getting hauled over the coals every time our actions don’t measure up the Publics perfect world ideals.

17 October, 2008 15:44

Blogger Hogday said...

Taking someone's comment where fatal shootings were introduced into the `debate` (a very different set of circumstances but with similar end-result issues): I always asked the same starter question of any officer who wanted to volunteer for firearms duties. "Why do you want to do this, because you're on a hiding to nothing once you take a life?". Any expression of interest in guns, previous skill at arms, miltary service etc would result in particularly careful further questioning, as I considered these reasons to be seriously questionable. Those who stated that they wanted the challenge and responsibility, that they wanted the training to push them beyond what they thought their limitations were, that they wanted it to challenge them physically and mentally in both endurance and their decision making ability whilst under massive pressure and that they wanted to master those skills and strive to be amongst the best of the best, was on the right track to understanding what it was all about. I would then ask them why anyone would want to put themselves through all of the above and then if they were unfortunate enough to have to shoot a mop, find that they were the principle suspect in a homicide investigation, that their entire life would be fragmented and that they would find themselves in a very lonely place, facing one of the toughest of investigations and most awesome law-machines in the free world. The best answer I heard was "Well I'll just have to do my very best, earn the trust and hope that I never have to pull the trigger, but be ready to do so if I have to". No rational, sane police officer sets out for work hoping to kill someone. Those that end up doing so need the best of investigations and the wisest of judges. The incompetent and criminally negligent must face the consequences. The dutiful, wise and skillful who were doing their best but who were unlucky or unfortunate need understanding not crucifixion.

17 October, 2008 17:21

Anonymous Barnaby Todger said...

Sorry, that won't do. We, the public, need an absolutely full AND TRUTHFUL account of what happened. Until then, a child has been murdered by a man. Full stop.

I'm older than you, PC Bloggs. Probably 30 years older. I can remember when we, the public, trusted you, the police, implicitly. That has been lost. It wasn't us that threw it away. You won't get it back through buffoons like the Northumbria Police Chief saying that the expression of grief and anger will not be tolerated.

17 October, 2008 19:54

Anonymous MarkUK said...

Ellie @ 21.29 et al

I didn't express myself as clearly as I should have done.

Your blog reads as if you think PC Dougal should be let off scot-free. Your later comments seem to deny that.

PC Dougal deserves to be tried for what he did. However, his unnamed colleague should also be brought to account - from statements, it appears that his/her driving was just as bad. It's purely luck that PC Dougal was in front and caused the fatality.

17 October, 2008 21:43

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

barnaby todger - grief and anger is perfectly understandable and especially in the circumstances it would be expected but tThrowing bricks at police officers who weren't involved purely because they wear the same uniform is completely unacceptable especially if they were not involved at all and turned up to help. If this had been an ambo or fire crew driver and the follow up crews who turned up to help got pelted with bricks, would you be saying the same thing?

I sincerely hope not.

The kid who got hit with taser was grief stricken yes, but he was using violence and force at officers and quite simply would have been repeatedly told to stop whatever it was he was doing and leave but he didn't, hence he was tasered.

He could have been batoned and cs'd into submission instead if there was no facility to use taser but that would have been an even greater use of force with the potential for significant injuries, especially as he was reported to be extremely drunk, along with the of the group, including a 13 year old.

If you do enough digging there is plenty of information both credible and speculative about the incident and the aftermath, but I've been to enough violent incidents to assess the scene based on the information given and the result.

Have you ever had someone throw bricks or bottles at you? I have, both in riot gear and in the cheapest possible 100% nylon shirt and I don't care what happened before, no one should be forced to stand there and take it just because a colleague caused the fatal crash.

17 October, 2008 22:48

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am amazed at some of the comments by the 'armchair policemen'.

There are those who are blaming the Police for how things are, but I find that the problem seems to lie with a lack of respect for the local bobby and the law and that a great many people think that the law does not apply to them. It bloody well applies to us, I can assure you.

These folk don't like to be told they are in the wrong.

I have virtually given up with Joe public. Especially when you read some of the comments by these muppets here.

You obviously aren't satisfied with the Police, try not calling us then.

18 October, 2008 07:59

Anonymous Rural DS said...

I don't think that blaming the public for lack of confidence in the Police is a good thing. Frankly, I am not a saint. I do not always give 110% to the job. That being said, I have NEVER (except on "urgent") calls parked on double yellows (it makes me cringe to see cops doing that), I don't speed as a matter of ...well, law and I don't accept gratuities. I have known some extremely lazy, belligerent cops who take every "perk" while shirking the slightest of responsibilities. The crux of the problem is that every encounter that these officers have with the public make a massive dent in public confidence, especially when combined with the "Daily Mail" factor of the press looking for every slight indiscretion.

That being said, in my leafy, rural paradise, the vast majority of the public are squarely behind us, and when I am tempted to sit around doing bugger all, (albeit note to several posters above: due to cut backs there are no canteens at all in our force for us to clink our mugs in), I remember that I have a large crime stack, and each of them has a victim at the bottom of it.

You know what the real problem is ? We (the job) has stopped thinking of ourselves as members of the public, probably because the vast majority of officers now no longer live in the community in which they serve. We're in this together people, and when we forget it we lose. We may shoulder the lions share of responsibility for sorting out other peoples mess, but it has ever been so.

Sorry for the polemic!

18 October, 2008 08:54

Anonymous Rural DS said...

@ Barnaby Todger

"Sorry, that won't do. We, the public, need an absolutely full AND TRUTHFUL account of what happened. Until then, a child has been murdered by a man. Full stop."

I'm all for truth Mr Todger, and I can appreciate that your feelings are running high, but no-one was murdered in this case. Police officers should expect the same level of scrutiny and prosecution as the general public. While we wait for the truth and the enquiry to come up with the facts of the case, perhaps we could ease down on the murder talk ?

18 October, 2008 08:59

Blogger River said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

18 October, 2008 12:40

Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent post, eloquently put. I couldn't have written it better myself.

North Western Bobby.

18 October, 2008 13:12

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re BUSY and the term "CONNED" by the PSD.

It was probably a over simplified term to use. What happened was PC Dougal was pressurised into giving an account of his actions before he had taken legal / FED advice and far too soon after the incident when he was in shock. As were several other officers.

Since this our force FED office has issued us with new guidelines on talking to the PSD after such events. These really boil down to:-


Also we have all been warned if we are involved in such event no account should be made within 48 hours to prevent it being distorted due to shock.

We've also all had to take out additionl legal insurence.

So MOPs this goes to show we are all treated the same. Even though as Cops we all are at more risk of being involved in such an event.

18 October, 2008 14:26

Blogger Bystander said...

I support the police and have many friends who are serving or retired officers. The service is not helped by the tendency to circle the wagons whenever something like this happens. The courts will sort it out in due course, but its is unacceptable for the police to assume that the officer is innocent, just as it would be to assume the reverse.

18 October, 2008 18:24

Anonymous MarkUK said...

bystander @ 18.24

You hit the nail squarely on the head.

Mind you, I'm amazed that any officer would drive at high speed in an urban area without lights & sirens. If a quiet approach is needed then it must be accepted that it will be at lower speed.

I volunteer with our Ambulance Trust. Although I use my own (unmarked) vehicle, if I'm on my way to a call my car is effectively an ambulance as it is being used for ambulance purposes. Theoretically this gives me certain allowances when it comes to speed limits and traffic lights.

If I was driving at (say) 30mph over the speed limit, would police officers simply turn a blind eye after they'd stopped me? I doubt it.

When on a call, I don't do cuts and bruises; usually it's a Cat A call (immediately life-threatening), up to and including cardiac arrest.

18 October, 2008 21:15

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

A couple of things.

Bystander, no one is assuming the PC is innocent. I even said initially that I wouldn't drive that fast without lights and sirens.

Markuk, actually I have stopped unmarked fire officers and ambulance volunteers going to calls before, and once I'm satisfied they are who they say they are, I DO let them on their way. It's not turning a "blind eye", but recognising that they are exempt under those circumstances. However unmarked driving, as driving without blue lights/sirens, must be done with more care than when fully lit up.

Finally, not sure I agree with not giving an account for 48 hours. We fully expect witnesses/victims to give accounts straight away, but recognise that a further statement might be needed later. But any officer who has caused someone's death should be advised to have a Fed and legal rep, to cover PSD's own back - in fact if they have interviewed him without, they may have a problem if they wish to discipline him later.

19 October, 2008 11:37

Anonymous Rural Traffic Cop said...

Barnaby Todger said...
"Sorry, that won't do. We, the public, need an absolutely full AND TRUTHFUL account of what happened. Until then, a child has been murdered by a man. Full stop."

MURDER - check your law books sunshine, wheres the intention?

Bennedict Arnold said...
"Metcounty - you are a c*nt.
And a cowardly, measly mouthed c*nt at that" **editted version**

I really dont think there is any need for that, you are the on name calling from behind a computer screen. Ellie - I trust that you will remove or sensor that?

In my opinion, not that it means much, we all make mistakes - Police and public. I'm sure that if PC DOUGAL could turn back the clock he would. Is it fair (I know that its not fair on the girl and her family) though that he WILL be punished twice for this unfortunate event. Sure as eggs is eggs if he gets prosceuted for Death By Dangerous he will A)get treated different because he's a copper, and B)get fired from his job.

Its happened to all of us, a vehicle makes off from you at speed. You think immediately has it seen me and made off or does that person just drive like that. So you try and catch up quietly - no lights (blue), no sirens. You catch it up and how many times is the gut instinct right - 8/10.

My sincere condolences to the families of ALL involved.

19 October, 2008 11:53

Blogger Pc Bobby Dazzler said...

There are a couple of things I wish to say here. Obviously not all the facts have been released here as to why the officer was not using his response equipment. In my area we regularly respond to burglaries/intruders on premises/breaks in progress without emergency equipment on especially at night. This is to allow us some chance of catching the people in the act. If we responded with sirens blaring the bad guys wold hear us a mile off and be on their toes long before we got there. The same applies with the blue lights. At night they too can be seen from a long way off so if the baddies have a look out they will still see us coming. It is known in our force as a silent approach and is very common place. I can only assume that the ANPR hit on the PC's computer gave him reason to believe that if he used his emergency equipment it would scare the occupants of the vehicle off before he could get to them. The legislation and exemptions relating to police responding to emergencies do not stipulate that blues & two's have to be used for the exemptions to be legal. They also do not state that it has to be an emergency call. The only condition needed for the exemption to apply is that the officers progress would be hindered if he stuck to the speed limit, red traffic light or keep left/right bollard. My second issue with this is if both police cars were traveling together in convoy at the same sort of speeds and both without their emergency equipment on why is the driver of the second vehicle not being prosecuted for Dangerous Driving if the driver of the car that hit the victim is being prosecuted for Death by Dangerous Driving. Both officers must have been driving in the same manner but it is unfortunate that only one of them could be the lead vehicle. These methods of driving are used all the time by police officers and nobody batts an eyelid when we catch the bad guys. Lets not forget that in this case the officer did not leave the carriageway or drive his vehicle where he shouldn't have been, the victim stepped out off the pavement into the road and into HIS path.

19 October, 2008 16:05

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously, there is only one answer.

In my corner of the US, we had an (elected) prosecutor announce that he would crucify the next cop to be involved in an on-duty collision, regardless of mitigating factors.

As in, the fact that we're operating as an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens is an affirmative defense and must therefore be raised at trial. And he said that he WILL drag it that far.

Only one thing that we could do: operate at the posted speed limits and observe all official signs and traffic-control devices, no matter what kind of call we're going to. Shots fired? Lights-and-siren, no speeding. Domestic in progress with weapons? Still going to wait for the red light to turn green.

Sorry, not willing to go to jail.

19 October, 2008 16:34

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sadly, that may be what it takes.........

19 October, 2008 22:05

Anonymous NyseriA said...


"PVA's destroy lives while the villains take a few weeks paid leave, a bit of therapy, a chat with unison, and its back on the job with all their mates tapping their cups in the canteen."

To say such things is ridiculous. If you truly believe that police officers set out with the intention to cause death and when they do so, merely pass it off with a shrug and a quick run through the system is stupdendously disingenuous.

It does ruin lives, everyones. Including the drivers.

The rest of your unbalanced post is hardly worth commenting on.

20 October, 2008 01:44

Anonymous Barnaby Todger said...

Metcountymounty wants to know whether I have ever had someone throw bricks or bottles at me. Well, yes, Metcountymounty, as it happens, I have. In Tripoli during the 6 Day War in 1966, a group of Libyans attempted to kill me. I wasn't surrounded by colleagues, or wearing riot gear, either -- just me in my cotton shirt and slacks and the murderous mob.

I withdraw the word murder. But, I'd like you to understand where I and many like me are coming from. I was brought up to believe "the Police are your friends. The Police are all that stands between us and lawlessness." Unlike, it seems, most of the population, I actually know the whole quotation: WITHOUT THE RULE OF LAW, life is nasty, brutish and short. Most people seem not to have heard of the words in capitals.


A few years ago, a young man moved into a village. He was the first black man in the village, and the other villagers did not want him there. So they set fire to his apartment.

The local DC decided the young man himself must be the arsonist. Well, he WAS black. Stands to reason, if you're looking for a criminal, it must be him, am I right? And, to be fair, he did not have a spotless record.

The young man pointed out that the approach to his flat was covered by a CCTV camera. So, whoever set the place on fire would be on film.

Now, the DC was not a stupid man. If the victim pointed out the camera, then he probably wasn't the arsonist. Which created a problem for the DC. A nigger had been burned out of his flat. That was a result, wasn't it? If the nigger could be charged and found guilty, that was even better, wasn't it? But if the arsonist was someone else, that someone else was a hero, wasn't he? We don't want to see him charged, and maybe have some lily-livered liberal judge send him to jail, now do we?

So the DC did the sensible thing and didn't ask for the film.

When the young man's father found out what was happening, he tried to get the film. Too late -- it had already been reused.

So the young man's father wrote to the DC's Chief Constable suggesting that racism had beeen at work here. The young man's father received no reply.

You may tell me, Metcountymounty, that that is not really the state of British policing today. AND I WILL TELL YOU IT IS.

I am that young man's father.

So maybe now you will be a little closer to understanding why I son't believe there will be a serious, unbiased inquiry into what happened when Hayley Adamson was killed. And why I won't believe the verdict when we hear it.

I'll say it again. The public didn't bring this sad state of affairs about. The Police did.

20 October, 2008 20:44

Anonymous MarkUK said...


I an understand why a police car may need to make a silent approach.

However, is any detection worth a young girl's life?

If they were going silent, then they needed to behave like ordinary motorists and sort of obey the speed limits.

20 October, 2008 21:14

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Barnaby,
I am as sorry to read your account as I am sometimes ashamed to be British.

Your taste of injustice was not as high profile as the de Menezes case. It merited the same public attention, sharing similar corrupt elements. You lost material things and faith but the outlook is not entirely bleak. Now millions see the smooth veneer on the surface of the Establishment levered open to expose a rotten foundation. It was this hidden foundation that made the slippy obstacle courses for those who pursued justice in a sanctuary for criminal servants.

There is small consolation in the knowledge that such injustices are common. Good people are working at their screens at this very moment, compiling long, long lists of officials in the UK suspected of varying degrees of malfeasance. Even the rude and provocative will find their way into an exponentially growing database.

This embryo may deliver a future opportunity to revisit your experience again.

20 October, 2008 22:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So because some DC in a backwater village somewhere was a racist that couldn't investigate his own navel, the whole of the UK's police service is therefore inept, corrupt or racist?

By that rationale, the fact that I have arrested and charged a black youth for robbery means that all black youths are robbers?

Sympathies because you and your son have had to endure such fould attitudes, but to let it corrupt yourself into the same mechanism of thought is to lose out twice.

21 October, 2008 00:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Emzor, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS in Durham, said: "Following a thorough investigation by the IPCC, I confirm my decision to charge PC John James Dougal of Northumbria Police with causing death by dangerous driving.

21 October, 2008 03:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, should have added this:

Return date November 6th.

21 October, 2008 03:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

we aren't all like that.

Please don't tar every copper as being racist and inept.

I and every cop I know would have looked at the CCTV within a short period of time. I would not have ignored it.

22 October, 2008 15:50

Anonymous Anonymous said...

PC Bloggs, 16 October, 2008 20:21

"...and it is the reason the police aren't so willing to help the public now"

Then I can only assume that you stay in the job for the free money ? Daft comments like that don't help your profile.

Sweetheart, I stand four square behind you all. The thing is, you seem to be completely invisible these days.

23 October, 2008 16:47

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't accuse me of being racist and inept either.

I'm not racist, and I'm too apathetic to be inept.

27 October, 2008 20:59

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