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, December 04, 2008

You Ain't Got No Warrant

The Met has been lambasted, along with the Speaker of the House of Commons, for the search they conducted of MP Damian Green's office, because they didn't have no warrant.

I am often being told by people, usually skinheaded youths or dole-receiving single mothers, that I "can't go in without no warrant". This is usually followed up with the information that said youth or mother "knows the law, yeah".

It has now transpired that the Met didn't have no warrant, but had consent to search the office from the Serjeant-at-Arms.

Several thoughts:
  • First, you don't need a warrant to search premises controlled by someone if that someone is in custody for an indictable offence and an inspector has authorised it under s.18 Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
  • Second, you don't need a warrant if consent is given for the search by the person in control of the property. For example a parent gives consent to search their child's room, even if the child is over 18 (as long as they're not considered a tenant).
  • Third, anyone who gives someone a job title of Serjeant-of-Arms [sic] should not expect that serjeant to know or care a great deal about anything other than ancient codes of chivalry and heraldic emblems. Let's face it, Serjeant Jill Pay probably spends most of her day leaning against a doorpost in an impossible tall and cold Gothic hallway.
Either way, I'm not sure I much like the thought of the police entering the House of Commons for a search, whether legal or otherwise. But I also don't much like the thought that an MP could hide illegal goods/documents in their office there without any fear of it being found.

As the Cabinet stick by the police whilst disowning all knowledge of the affair, there may be half a thought in the Home Secretary's mind that this probably all started when a constituent of Ashford reported that someone was leaking documents and named the MP as the offender. Under the National Crime Recording Standards introduced by this government, the force had to record this as a crime and list the suspect. For all we know the Met have introduced a Positive Intervention policy when it comes to whistle-blowing and had no choice therefore but to arrest the named offender immediately, whether or not there was any evidence.

Either way, a lot of people have stuck their necks out this week saying it is an outrage that Damian Green MP was arrested. A lot of people had better hope that Damian Green MP really has done no more than leak documents provided to him by a civil servant in the way that many have before him. Something tells me there's more to this than straightforward whistle-blowing which half the House have probably indulged in to get where they are.

Still, I've burned my hard drive just to be sure, and told the Serjeant who guards my front door not to let anyone in with or without a warrant.

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a higher opinion of this blog prior to this post, which is full of (wrong) assumptions and serious inaccuracies.

04 December, 2008 21:37

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

True, I'm afraid: I don't have a serjeant guarding my front door. He's round the back.

04 December, 2008 22:14

Anonymous PC Michael Pinkstone said...

The whole debacle makes me [sic].

It doesn't really - I just wanted to use a really naff pun.

For some reason, I have taken no interest in this story whatsoever and therefore have absolutely no opinion on it. However, the thoughts you have offered appear reasonable and balanced, and in the absence of knowing the full extent of the reasons for the arrest (which will be far more complex and subversive than the SOCAP 'Necessity Criteria'), and while it is possible to formulate opinions and generate feelings based on assumption, presupposition and political prejudice, coupled with a deep-rooted - if at times misguided - sense of democratic stubbornness, underpinned by a substantial knowledge of the all-embracing 'Legal Privelege' - this sentence is now so long I haven't got a clue where it's going any more, so I'll just shut up.

04 December, 2008 22:17

Anonymous PC Michael Pinkstone said...

NB: The above should read 'Legal Privilege' [sick]

04 December, 2008 22:20

Anonymous MarkUK said...

Sorry Bloggs, can't agree with you this time.

The Met having a policy of arrest even where there's no evidence frightens me. Arresting an MP may be OK, but arresting anyone without any evidence seems strange.

MPs cannot be above the law, but the Palace of Westminster is a special place. (Many of the people in it are also special, as in needs, school etc., but that's beside the point.)

If my MP is dealing with something on my behalf, I don't want some bored copper going through my correspondance.

Even more important is that the police could be used as a political tool in the future (if they haven't already been in this case).

We also have the combination of an inexperienced Serjeant at Arms (usually an ex-military officer) and a cr*p Speaker.

The last time servants of the Crown entered the Palace of Westminster on a similar expedition, we ended up with a civil war!

04 December, 2008 22:27

Blogger Hogday said...

Sorry old chum, the police don't actually need `evidence` to arrest anyone. As for priviledged MP's, well the only person in this country who cannot commit an offence against British law, is Her Maj'.

04 December, 2008 22:37

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even the Queen cannot enter Parliament without the consent of the Speaker and the House. No-one has the power to issue such a warrant.

The police could, possibly, themselves be held in contempt of Parliament.

Parliament has the authority to impeach any officer of the crown - and send to the Lords, where a majority is enough to convict.

Where do you think Acts of Parliament come from?

It wasn't someone in Ashford who complained - how some random person in Ashford would be in the know, I don't know - it was, supposedly, the result of a police investigation looking for a mole at the HO.

04 December, 2008 22:55

Anonymous Joe.P said...

The Met had better hope that there is more to this than whistle-blowing, if there isn't this is the biggest own goal by the police in a generation.

It seems to have been organised by two applicants for the Met Commissioner's job. It is an investigation that amounts to little more than doing party political dirtywork for the Home Sec. The very same Home Sec who will decide who gets the job. So no potential conflict of interests there then.

I suspect the police are about to receive a lesson in advanced arse covering from their political masters that will leave them breathless.

05 December, 2008 03:11

Anonymous XTP said...

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry but the fact that people who really should know better (or at least google "PACE") before they prattle on about warrants (innit!!) and when we need them. Actually, I think I'll laugh

05 December, 2008 07:57

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That you cockroaches can crawl through proper decent people's property on such a flimsy pretext, digusts me.

05 December, 2008 11:10

Anonymous Custodyskipper said...

Anon 11:10: Sounds like you need a hug. :)

05 December, 2008 11:31

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11.10, think it through.

The regrettable upshot is total sanctuary for Parliament's teflon coated criminal stock.

05 December, 2008 12:13

Anonymous Virtual Supply said...

I wouldn't worry, a lot of the facts here have not hit the papers yet, and some may never. we anly know what we have seen, and heard in the news. Nothing else is real, lol.

05 December, 2008 12:24

Blogger Conor said...

What struck me was that Scotland Yard were reported as taken aback by the resulting outcry.
I would that anyone who was surprised was totally unfitted to be a police officer at all, let alone the MPS commissioner. I wonder if anyone applying for the top job would have arrested a Labour MP?

05 December, 2008 12:28

Anonymous David said...

5000 illegal immigrants got permission to work in security. (Why are they illegal were the criminals in their own country ? No one knows).
Damien Green should get a medal for telling us about that - not be arrested

05 December, 2008 12:41

Anonymous Mac said...

I think the point of the post has been lost here.

Bloggsy was just trying to make a generalised point about how so many people think police need a warrant to search any premises, anywhere. They're wrong, we don't. Anyone who thinks police have too many draconian powers should cop a look at Customs & Excise's! Green should think himself lucky he didn't have any dodgy French fags under the desk for onward sale!!

The rights and wrongs of the search of Damian Greens office have been done to death on this and other blogs. (Personally I think it was absolutely wrong without a warrant issued by a judge, not a magistrate, in which the details of whatever illegal items you expected to find would be described thus covering Bloggsy's reservations. However I reserve the right to change my mind if facts come out we don't currently know about. After all Karen Mathews once had most people's sympathy until more facts emerged!!)

05 December, 2008 17:26

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lay off poor Karen - she was only looking for "Mr Right". You don't always get your soulmate at the first attempt, or second, or third, or fourth or....

05 December, 2008 17:39

Blogger Hogday said...

MarkUK said...
"Even more important is that the police could be used as a political tool in the future "

Ever heard of "The Miners Strike"?

05 December, 2008 17:41

Blogger Ex-RUC said...

Just glad I wasn't the insp asked to sign a S.18 authorisation to search the House!!

05 December, 2008 19:40

Blogger uniform said...

surely..the ultimate irony here is that the laws of PACE were enacted by a Conservative government.

The Met did not need a JP signed warrant because they quiet correctly thought that no person at the palace of Westminster would deny them access, and they were right,that Sgt @ arms person let them in after consulting a legal expert, who was told a day earlier that they were

section 8 (3) c of PACE applies

Green was arrested on suspicion of the offence.the laws of PACE then follow for evidence gathering.

the facts collated will be given to the CPS, who can knock themselves out with it for all I care.

Green will never be charged ;no jury will convict after this establishment advertising campaign.

so the moral is?

Faced with a legal problem , go to the press and question every aspect of PACE.

Unlikely to help your average crim, he/she won't have an ex-Etonian ,who may be PM one day, for a mate.

05 December, 2008 19:46

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

To anyone who took my paragraph about the constituent of Ashford seriously, apologies: it was an NCRS in-joke.

05 December, 2008 21:28

Blogger blueknight said...

The whole sorry story has yet to come out, but until it does, who really knows what went on.
It boils down to who will tell the truth and the whole truth? The Govt?, Jackie Smith? Damian Green MP? The Speaker of the House? The Serjeant at Arms? or the higher echelons of the Met?
They all seem to be giving a slightly different story.
One question is did the Police have something in reserve, such as a search authority or a warrant, which they did not need to use because 'consent' was given by the Serjeant at Arms?
Otherwise there could have been this unlikely scenario
Police,- 'Hello we have come to search the House of Commons, can we come in?
Serjeant at Arms, -'No'.
Police -'OK never mind there was probably nothing there anyway'
This will run on for a few months yet and who knows what will be revealed. The whole business gives me an uneasy feeling, but I cannot put my finger on exactly why.

05 December, 2008 23:51

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and a lot of your mates seem to say ther police can do anything they want , when they want , if they want.
Even if this is true it is wrong.
And it is not as though the police are all that diligent in hunting criminals in everyday matters.

06 December, 2008 04:38

Blogger thinblueline said...

blah blah blah..

Parliment wasnt sitting..end of the matter.

Anyway, all the commenters dont know what Chris Galley blabbed in his interview so , hey guess what ... the party line

I can neither confirm or deny the presence of a covert human intelligence soure....

06 December, 2008 08:45

Anonymous Anonymous said...

..fool in .." Uniform at 19:46

This was Parliament.

Don't you get it? Not even now??

06 December, 2008 12:27

Blogger uniform said...


David Lloyd George:cash for honours

John Stonehouse:fraud, theft, forgery, conspiracy to defraud,

Jonathan Aitken:perjurer

Jeffrey Archer:perjurer

Geoffrey Robinson:Robert Maxwell deal,Mandelson affair,failing to provide breath test.

Peter Mandelson:mortgage application form.

..and many many more.

Yeah, bastion of truth and honesty.

06 December, 2008 14:15

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...fool in.." Uniform, no you obviously don't get it.

Parliament is a constitutionally different place. It is unique in the whole of the United Kingdom. It is the place where all legal authority is derived.

Even the Queen herself has to be invited to enter Parialment.

Starting to get it now, fellah?

06 December, 2008 16:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet the public outcry would be different if the Met had been looking for kiddy porn on his office computer. It would've been Parliment Shmarliment sec.18 search NO PROBLEMO.

Bloggsy is spot on with this, when will people learn we don't always need warrants to search. What angered me the most was the speaker banging on about the lack of warrant. I was under the impression it was senior judges who were appointed speakers, surely they must have heard about sec.18 of PACE!.

Iam sick and tired of having to threaten to lock people up for obstruction when they refuse to let me search under sec.17/18/32, how many times have I said "THIS IS NOT AMERICA I DO NOT NEED A WARRANT IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES".

As for the carry on about the sanctity of parliment. I think this is total Bollocks. There should be no one in the land who is immune to prosecution under British Law and no where should be out of bounds for Police to search when looking for evidence of criminal activity. Otherwise we'd have MP's offices buldging with dodge stuff and any bent MP could run a criminal empire from Parliment.


06 December, 2008 16:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Houses of Parliament" need to enforce their own discipline a little more and kick out the corrupt.

Mr Peter Hain - not charged for receiving illegal donations.

Mr Mandelson - mortgage fraud

Mr T Blair - cash for honours, dodgy dossiers.

Mr Presoctt - boning his secretary after a remembrance day parade - a cop would have had a misconduct charge.

Mr Blunkett - train tickets on expenses for concubines - a cop would have been having a fraud charge

Prescott - punching an egg thrower - a cop would have had a section 4 charge at least.

Expenses fraud - well throw a stone in the debating chamber and you'll hit an MP who has done that..

Archole - perjury.
Aitken - 4 years inside

Business interest on the side - conflict of interest ... no problem.
Cops moonlighting for a security company - can't have that !!!

Staying on a Russian Oliowhatevers yacht whilst EU Minister in charge of Aluminium import duties ...
That's OK
Cop accepting a pint off a gangster or being a member of BNP - sack him !!!

The double standards are shocking !!

Politicians need reminding they...
(1) Are there to serve the public
(2) Hold the position of a "public office".

06 December, 2008 21:42

Anonymous Anonymous said...

""Parliament is a constitutionally different place. It is unique in the whole of the United Kingdom. It is the place where all legal authority is derived.
Even the Queen herself has to be invited to enter Parliament""

The House of Commons has the only Bar in the UK where one can smoke !!!
Why should MPs have to follow the same Law they impose on us "mere minnions".......

The last two words were uttered by "Darling" at the Labour Party Conference when he was asked by a uniformed Cop for his pass to enter.
He forgot his pass and said into his phone "A mere minnion flexing his muscle".

If it had been me - I would have replied "look pal - of you did your job as well as I do mine maybe the Country wouldn't be upper the sh1tter!"

06 December, 2008 21:46

Anonymous Anonymous said...

""any bent MP could run a criminal empire from Parliment""

Err .. many do - don't they !!

06 December, 2008 21:47

Anonymous Mac said...

Anonymous @ 01:39 and previously..

You were making valid points that I tended to agree with and then came out with your last ignorant comment just because someone else disagreed.

You might want to look at yourself before passing judgement on other people's IQ/opinions.

07 December, 2008 11:23

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mac - the guy in uniform at the conference wasn't Anon 21:46's mate - it was Anon 21:46 himself.

Has an inferiority complex and indulges in revenge fantasies. That makes him a stupid, unintelligent, fool

His simplistic view of the world and human affairs and how things can be "fixed" , illustrates his basic ignorance as well.

Lower echelon Plod - nothing wrong with that as long as they don't get ideas above their station. For minions they are. Minions of the law.

And that is all.

For anything complicated and requiring the ability for abstract thought we really do look elsewhere - doctors, scientists, engineers,.....

07 December, 2008 12:31

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Serjeant at Arms is responsible for the general security of the Parliamentary Estate; people working in Parliament would expect to get information about access, security and so on from the SAA department. I was surprised at the alleged gap in her knowledge about warrants, but the assumption that she's lounging around the Palace is totally false. There are many people working very hard to support the work of Parliament and the SAA is one.

07 December, 2008 16:26

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:31 you make assumptions yourself which show your own ignorance.

"Has an inferiority complex and indulges in revenge fantasies" - err more like upset and annoyed at how the Government has messed up the econony. Alright - many of the problems are global but Brown and Darling have spent up. They have failed to look after this Country and we will be paying with sky-high taxes in the years to come.

You don't need to be an abstract thinking Doctor to know that !

The only person having "revengeful fantasies" is yourself trying to "put down" front line cops - presumably to hide your own inadequacies and inferiority.

Your attitude to people would certainly make you unsuitable for any worthwhile career !

07 December, 2008 16:30

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simplistic Simon at 21:46 move over.....another brainy "minion" is coming to join you.

07 December, 2008 16:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a very professional post really. Perhaps you should go back and re read your law textbooks on section 18 and consent searches.

07 December, 2008 17:54

Anonymous Nichevo said...

Amaizing, we've got the same problems in France.
I don't comme very often here cause my english is out of practice, but i appreciate.
Best regards from France.

08 December, 2008 10:17

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Apologies for editing, but a certain commenter knows he is banned for unconstructive and frankly boring abuse.

08 December, 2008 20:19


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