This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but 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 pay my salary.


(All proceeds from Google Ads will be donated to the Police Roll of Honour Trust)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Chronicles of Judge Tim Stead

Either I'm going mad, or I have just read a story about a judge who had a go at the police for taking into account someone's criminal record when charging them with an offence.

Briefly, two sisters - Paula and Lindsay - robbed someone. Paula's actions consisted of demanding money, snatching a handbag and then giving up when the victim's three-year-old child started crying. Lindsay's actions consisted of grabbing the handbag then punching the victim in the face. Paula had no prior convictions, Lindsay a string of theft-related 'previous'.

Commonsense, regardless of any Home Office guidelines, would suggest that Paula has carried out a non-violent attempt at theft which ceased when she realised she had upset a child. Lindsay, on the other hand, inflicted violence on the victim in front of said child. The police 'cautioned' Paula, which is effectively a formal warning which sits on your record and can be used against you if you do the same thing again. Lindsay, however, was charged to go to court, the theory being she's had plenty of chances and her actions were worse.

The judge, Tim Stead, in letting Lindsay off with a supervision order, said that if the police hadn't cautioned the other offender, he would have sent Lindsay to prison for two years, but it just didn't seem fair under the circumstances. I've re-read this several times, but it still says the same thing.

I had not realised that the police were supposed to treat every suspect the same, regardless of what they've done. Before cautioning or charging anyone in future, I will be sure to pick up the phone to Recorder Tim Stead and double-check that he won't be acquitting any murderers as a result.

Read on for some other great decisions by Recorder Tim Stead:
  • In 2002 he gave out a whopping 18 month detention and training order (which means 9 months prison, which means 4 months prison - see here) to a guy who clubbed someone with a pool cue resulting in the need for plastic surgery. Oh and a few hours community service to his accomplice.
  • In 2004 he refused to impose a heavy fine on a driver with an appalling driving record because "it would hit his girlfriend and their young baby". Instead, the driver was left free to hit anyone he pleased. (Bear in mind I'm not a fan of heavy sentencing for motoring offences, but this guy was already on bail for dangerous driving after a pursuit with the police.)
  • In 2005 he spared a guy growing a hydroponics factory from prison because he had a job. He did force him to do 120 hours community service, so that'll teach him.
  • In 2005, he fined a guy £750 and 100 hours of community service for GBH after he bit off someone's ear. The offender, a Mr Toogood was truly sorry, so the ear didn't really matter.
  • In another ear-biting case in 2007, this time with an offender who had previous done exactly the same thing before, he jailed the guy for 18 months (halve this for actual total served, if he was unlucky).
  • In 2006 Judge Tim Stead jailed some drug dealers for 5-7 years. A good sentence, but they had in fact been involved in an operation which earned £1.3million in drug deals, and a factory containing £25,000 of heroin. Is anyone else thinking there's a maximum sentence of life for Class A trafficking for a good reason?
  • In 2007 he jailed a robber who pulled a knife on a kid after putting him in a headlock, for the grand total of three years (again, halve it for time served). In his remarks he said the knife had been an "afterthought" and the offence has just started out as a theft attempt and only became a robbery because the victim maliciously tried to resist.
  • And yet, despite all of the above, a guy who made fake designer clothes was fined in excess of £100,000 with a three year jail term to serve if he failed to pay.
  • Interestingly, in another ear-slicing case in 2005, Recorder Tim Stead adjourned the case for sentencing. Probably a good move for the victim, because the recorder who took on the job jailed the offender for eight years. Which proves that Mr Stead's sentences are NOT the result of guidelines or policy.
Not to degenerate completely into The Sun newspaper, but when will somebody stop this guy? Journalists, lobbyists, feel free to investigate him.

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In case you don't know the jargon, a Recorder, like Mr Tim Stead, is a kind of judge. Or should that be, kind of a judge.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How not to get away with murder

In a controversial move that national broadsheet newspapers have yet to notice, I have decide to dispense some top tips to those villains out there considering committing murder, but worried that they won't get caught.

It's not an easy job NOT to get away with murder nowadays. Despite methods such as being named on Youtube, sending death threats to the victim beforehand, doing it in a crowd of 300 onlookers, or admitting it in court, it is still almost impossible to be successfully convicted of murder in this country, let alone get sent to prison.

Below are some proven methods which will result in your swift arrest and conviction. All have been tried and tested in the vicinity of Blandmore, but I take no responsibility for any failure by my readers to bring them off.*
  1. Be sure to make your hatred of the victim well known. If possible create a website dedicated to it. After the murder, boast of what you have done to everyone you know.
  2. Enlist the services of an undercover policeman to carry out the murder. OK, you won't actually get the person killed, but you'll definitely be caught.**
  3. After the murder, flee the scene, but send a text to your mum telling her what you have done. Most murderers I've met have the kind of backgrounds which mean their mums have been waiting to dob them in since they were toddlers.
  4. Keep a shrine in your house. It doesn't matter if the shrine relates to the murder - any kind of shrine will guarantee a conviction by a freaked out jury.
  5. Join the police first. Cops are rubbish at getting away with murder (as you'd expect, given it is the cops who are usually unable to capture the murderers).
  6. Kill yourself with the murder weapon after carrying out the act. Be sure not to wander too far away before you die.
If you fail to use any of the above methods, don't blame me if you find the British police unable to capture, charge or convict you. If you need any proof of how unbelievably stupid we are, just read this (with thanks to 200 Weeks).

* please note on no account should a solicitor's services be enlisted if these methods are to work.
** be sure not to mention the word "entrapment" at any point if utilising point 2.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Imagery

Last week I pointed out a story about policewomen's trousers which was widely ridiculed by the public. There were some who felt that women should not be allowed to look as smart as men and should just shut up and go away.

Well my stance has now been exonerated as the Met have launched a project with the London College of Fashion to re-design all their uniforms (I assuming this applies to both sexes). Whereas last week uniforms were just supposed to be practical and it didn't matter how uncomfortable or ill-fitting they were, this week uniforms "have a key part to play in giving a professional image to the public".

In Blandmore, policewomen are already trialling a uniform far more appropriate to our femaleness.





















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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Language of Diplomacy

Occasionally (by which I mean most days), I read something that reminds me there are two basic languages spoken in every country: the national tongue and media-talk.

Today it's the story of two girls being "strip-searched" in an American orphanage while their mother languished in hospital. I have no idea how a holiday turned out like this, but the complaints seem to be:
  • They were given new clothes.
  • They had to use communal showers.
  • Photographs were taken of them.
  • They were asked if they had been raped.
  • They were 'medically-examined'.
It doesn't sound very pleasant at all, however I suggest that the orphanage would probably describe it thus:
  • Two girls were left alone in a foreign city, so we took them in.
  • We gave them fresh clothes and let them shower.
  • We took pictures in case they went missing in our care.
  • We checked their welfare, as a lot of the kids who come through our doors have medical problems.
  • A doctor looked them over briefly. (I doubt they were 'examined'.)
A couple of years ago a girl was arrested for racist abuse and the complaints were that her jewellery was taken from her, her fingerprints documented and she was kept in custody for four hours. Which to me sounds like a stroppy teenager went through the normal custody procedure and was dealt with pretty efficiently.

Note:
Just to clarify, a "strip-search" is when all your clothes are removed and you are asked to bend over while people look up you. It is NOT being given a change of clothes.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Ides of March



Someone call the police, there's a gang of yobs outside my house in baseball caps.








Well we didn't fly, but over 22,000 police marched through the Capital today. I am pleased to hear that the protest was extremely orderly, with most of the marchers tiptoeing and whispering in order not to disturb anyone in Westminster with their problems.

The march went off without a hitch, apart from one woman staging an aggressive counter protest... but
Jacqui Smith was quickly arrested and escorted out of the way.

You can read some highly intelligent quotes from a top police blogger here, and it might be worth buying The Telegraph tomorrow (Thursday) for the Comment pages.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pigs Might Fly

I am pleased to read in The Times (rather belatedly) that antisocial behaviour and, in particular, the murder of Gary Newlove, is the police's fault. The above reporter argues that it is the failure of the police to properly tackle street gangs that led to the murder of Mr Newlove when he tried to break up one such gang.

I had not realised that the problem of antisocial behaviour was so simple. It appears all we need to do is find one or two police officers to "hang out" in every street in the nation to identify nasty people and put them straight into prison. Moreover, whenever someone phones the police to report antisocial behaviour, a van-load of officers should be produced from a cardboard box in the inspector's office, and immediately dispatched to the scene. On arrival, they should swoop covertly on the gang and bundle them into a cattle truck to be shipped to custody (it does not really matter what criminal offence the police arrest them for - perhaps they could just make one up).











Once the gang is in custody, the police have no excuse. Now all they need do is snap their fingers to guarantee each antisocial yob is thrust behind bars for a century or two.

If only.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Not Very Pretty on Telly

As January 23rd approaches, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has revealed she doesn’t feel safe walking around London alone.

I wonder why not.

Don't worry, Jacqui, we've got your back...

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Cop Idol

Thank you to a reader for this link. Just to put it in a little context, the debate is about policewomen's trousers. My own experience of police trousers is that no matter what size I wear, my shirt un-tucks itself throughout the day and as soon as I start to run, my kit belt wobbles about and I have to hold it still with one hand if I don't want to arrive at the scene of the baddie to find my handcuffs somewhere in the small of my back where I can't reach them.

These, of course, are trivial matters and I am disgusted to see the nation's policewomen kicking up such a stink. This is rightly pointed out by the commenters on the above story, who say we should just count ourselves lucky we don't have to wear barbed wire bikinis on the beat. As I state in the comments myself, if we women have differently shaped waists and hips to men, we only have ourselves to blame if we fail to stay at home having babies.

Unlike the feminist hussies quoted in the article, I understand that I have muscled my way into a man's job, where my only role should be to hold the hands of rape victims and comfort crying children - in whatever trousers can be spared by the men. If policewomen want to be taken seriously, they should accept that until they are willing to grow penises and generate more testosterone, they should not be allowed to look as professional or smart as male officers.

WOMEN, KNOW YOUR PLACE.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Something's Wrong

This month in Blandmore I have spent every night shift driving past the house of a man wanted for Grievous Bodily Harm on his girlfriend, to look for any signs of movement that could justify a door boshing. Strangely enough, by the third or fourth night, I was struck by a sense of deja vu... and not just because I'd driven past the house for three nights running. It occurred to me that I had carried out the same patrols back in October, for the same guy, and for the same offence. In a sudden panic that I might be looking for someone who had already been arrested, I did some computer checks.

It turned out that the offender - we'll call him Morris - was Blandmore's most-wanted for two months back in October, for Grievous Bodily Harm on the same girlfriend. After a coordinated CID, Area Intelligence and uniformed operation involving the kind of overtime figures that would give Jacqui Smith a hot flush, he was nicked in a hideout and put before the courts.

The next day he was back out with the instructions "Please try to turn up on your court date next time, Morris, there's a good chap." A day later he went round to his girlfriend's house and broke her jaw. Cue more overtime and another hot flush for the Home Secretary.


There's something wrong with this picture.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Charity Begins...

As other bloggers have pointed out, we have only just started the new year and already there are names to be added to the Police Roll of Honour, as well as some near misses. The linked website is one of the charities to which I donate some of my book/blog proceeds, and provides a roll of honour of all police officers who have died on duty (or going to/from), whether by criminal act or accident.

There is often little recognition for police who die in car accidents, but it is in fact the biggest killer of police in this country (which I suppose is something to be grateful for). This isn't because we're bad drivers - in fact we probably drive better than the majority of the public. However, a police officer can easily clock up 1000 miles a week in a rural force, on top of the few hundred he/she drives in his own car, which means statistically they are more likely to be involved in crashes. I also have several colleagues who have been seriously injured or killed on the way home from work - a much higher number than most of my friends in civilian jobs.

It's worth remembering that sometimes it's the lifestyle and hard hours that kill, rather than the controversial madman who was let out to make cell space. These less glamourous victims often don't make the headlines, but they still gave their lives doing a dangerous job and should be recognised. Every time you click on the Google Ads at the top of the page, you are donating money to their memories.

While you're in the mood to be charitable, drop in here and make a difference to some living police officers' lives.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cross Communications

It appears even if we sent the following letter to the Home Office, we would be likely to get the one after in return.

Dear Ms Smith,
Having reneged on the police pay agreement determined by the Negotiating Board, the police hereby declare war on you, your office and all connected with your dastardly operation. We will not rest until your political blood is smeared on the ramparts of 21st Century justice.
Yours in disgust,
The Police.

Dear The Police,
Thank you for your letter which was read out to me by my trusted adviser, Mr L.I.E. Incorrigible. I am thrilled to say that now we have happily agreed a most satisfactory 2007 pay deal, I am looking forwards to lots of snuggly times ahead curled up in the arms of your good selves. Mutual respect and admiration shall be the byword of our relationship for years to come.
Yours forever,
Jacqui.

Somehow, the Home Secretary seems to think we've agreed to the recent pay deal. Anyone up for a stroll in Westminster in a couple of weeks? What would happen if we stormed the main chamber - do you think the Met would drive us back with batons or join in?

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

humani nil a me alienum



These are aliens.











These, sadly, are humans.









There's been a lot of talk about the UNDERCLASS lately. This Underclass claims benefits, robs hard-working people, laughs at police officers in trouble and spits in the general direction of the taxpaying majority.

Some people respond to this by blaming the government, some blame the rich, some blame social division, some blame biology, some blame the Underclass itself, and some say there isn't an Underclass, just paedophiles.

Whichever one of the above you go for, there are always two sides to every story. For example, this week a thirteen-year-old ran from the police onto the M1 and was killed by a car. To the family, the child was caring and loving. To the police, he was a runaway bike thief. To his mates, he was unlucky. To a member of Brake, he was the victim of irresponsible driving laws. To the random guy who lives on the estate, it's all the fault of the Council for not making the barriers around the motorway fourteen feet tall. The same could be said for any tale of heroism or woe.

In actual fact all may be right. I will never forget after I'd been in the job a few weeks and was down in custody supervising a prisoner for signs of imminent suicide (he was actually in a better mood than me). While he smoked a cigarette we chatted about the book he was reading (The Great Gatsby), what he thought of the Labour government, what kind of car I should buy next, that kind of thing. He was an all-round nice bloke. Not over-educated, not special, just basically nice.

Just before I put him back in his cell, I asked why he had been refused bail for the meagre offence of common assault. He replied, "Well I'm a convicted sex offender and I failed to notify my change of address." I went and looked him up on the computer later. He had eight convictions for raping boys under 13.

It's nice to pretend these people are another class, an Underclass. They aren't. They're as human as you or I, and as humans they should not be alien to us.

It doesn't mean I still think he's a nice guy though.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Due to some problems with timing over Christmas, some of you may have missed my post on Inspector Gadget's site. Here it is again - this time on MY site to avoid any unnecessary reading of his only slightly more popular blog...


Location: Upmarket restaurant, Camden.
Persons: 3.
Occupation: Undercover bloggers + publisher.
CCTV: None.

There were definitely some preconceptions and anxieties prior to meeting Inspector Gadget, the main one being "Is he an inspector in MY force... is he MY inspector?!"

Fortunately he turned out not to be, although after just minutes of discussion, he could easily have been (and not just because of the inappropriate behaviour). Ruralshire and Blandshire have much in common, not least an unhealthy obsession with targets and bureaucracy, and an array of civilians drafted in to deal with them. It turns out both Gadget and I have also had numerous emails accusing us of being members of forces around the country. All of which leads me to confirm my suspicion that it's really not just Blandshire that has a problem.

The stories, the targets, the departments and the forms are the same, with different acronyms. Plus Gadget's stories are longer and funnier. The morning meetings and senior management teams are the same. The bureaucrats with biros stuck up their nether regions: the same.

Gadget and I are most certainly NOT the same. For starters, he drank 3 beers (at least), I only one. He's also a lot more reasoned than me (before the beers, anyway). He knows a lot more, or knows a good line in bullshit. I had been expecting a kind of grizzled DI Frost, I was completely mistaken. He is outwardly easygoing, and must be hilarious round the office, but I wouldn't want to lock horns with him over something – because he’d probably win. He’s one of those people who makes you wish you read a few more newspapers or watched the news occasionally, as otherwise - quite frankly - you haven’t a chance in hell.

We talked a bit about why we blog. We both agreed that ultimately we enjoy it, but mainly we do it because we shouldn’t get to have the madness all to ourselves. And also, most probably, because we're both ever so slightly mad ourselves. But on top of that it’s about a community, perhaps recapturing the positive side of “canteen culture” that most forces have lost along with their canteens. Of course, sometimes the other side of canteen culture makes it online too.

If you want to know what a not-at-all-grizzled inspector thinks of me, check out Gadget’s post. And if you want to read hundreds of comments asking what I look like, follow the above link instead.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Programmed to Police










Spot the difference - I'm so depressed.


I love it. Gordon Brown engineers the police pay fiasco, nails it to Jacqui Smith's coffin, and now starts spewing out statements such as, "Don't vote for your own pay-rise" to MPs. The man's a genius - is it any wonder that a majority of Britain seems to be fooled by him? I can only assume it's the same majority who voted for Leon.

Now he is coming out with comments such as, "We must show discipline". Otherwise how will the New Reich triumph? Heil!

In my job, we are always being encouraged to act "professionally" no matter what. There is a greater good to aspire to, a good reflected in Detection rates and falling crime statistics. This trend is increasing, so that keen young probationers out of training school are programmed to police according to a series of ones and zeros.

Unfortunately, policing in this country still involves dealing with PEOPLE. People don't run on ones and zeros. They have twos and threes and, sometimes, seven thousand nine hundred and sixes.

There are some good comments here on getting rid of Sentencing Guidelines and letting judges sentence criminals according to their own discretion, based on their own biases and experience.

How far do we want to be led by robots? How far will we risk humans making the decisions that affect our lives? I think it's frightening that we might accept anything else.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

A Few More TITs

I just realised, it is some time since I last got my TITs out. Those of you new to my Terrific Investigating Techniques may care to look back at my advice on How to Attend Crime Scenes, and How to Manage Your Investigations.

For today, I thought it might be festive to describe how police in Blandshire deal with Public Order. This is not a new subject to my blog, and has risen in profile considerably since the advent of Penalty Notices for Disorder. A PND is an £80 ticket given out for Public Order offences (also low value shoplifting or criminal damage), and it counts as a Detection against violent crime, which is a "HOT TOPIC". It is basically part of the government's drive to bypass the need for police stations, courts, or anything else that costs money and scares people.


The important thing about the ticket is that it can only be given for Section 5 Public Order (that is, s.5 POA 1986). This is the most basic of public order offences and applies to anyone swearing, shouting or generally upsetting people. It may surprise you to discover that, sometimes, people in Blandmore do MORE than just upset others and actually go around pushing, punching, fighting and causing disorder in groups. All of these are different offences which cannot be dealt with "on the street" with a ticket, and require the use of police stations, courts and lots of things that cost money.

It is therefore a tricky task to stick to the government's policy of bypassing the above. But do not panic, just stick to my TIT and you will be fine:

  • The first thing is that on attending a report of public disorder, your safety and the safety of the public are not nearly as important as considering the detection. The need to give out a penalty notice should therefore drive all your actions.
  • First, keep your ears peeled for any swearwords. If you detect one, regardless of how and why it was uttered, slap the offender with a ticket.
  • Secondly, do not arrest anyone, no matter how bad their behaviour. If you make arrests, you will be back at the police station with hours of ticket-giving time wasted.
  • If you are FORCED to make an arrest due to peer/crowd pressure, make sure you arrest for s.5 Public Order no matter what the person has done (this can cover drunk and disorderly, s.4 Public Order and minor assaults). Then, take the prisoner around the corner. There you can issue the PND and de-arrest him/her without anyone knowing.
  • If the offender is under 18, most forces will not issue a ticket on the street. Do not fear, just fill in the date of birth incorrectly. Or do it right and hope the bean counters don't notice (they won't, because it's an extra bean).
  • If the worst comes to the worst and you have not arrested for s.5 Public Order, there are still some remedies you can take. For example, en route to custody you could reconsider the offence you have arrested for and decide that s.5 is the more appropriate one to tell the sergeant. Or, having presented the prisoner for Affray or ABH, the wisdom of the custody sergeant may help you realise it was actually only a s.5 after all. If you end up interviewing, the offender's account can sometimes bring things into focus, so that you realise his/her behaviour wasn't as bad as you first thought. Before releasing the prisoner from custody, you will get to issue your PND.

This guide may be too late for some of you, but I am sure it will still apply next year, and for many years to come...

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008: The Prophecy

It's been a kind of crazy 2007.

The last thing I joined the police for was to write a blog, or a book, and it's the last thing I'll carry on being a police officer for. There may be a lot of people who join the police for various reasons, including a power trip, fast promotion, the sex, "to be a detective". Whilst I would certainly hope for three of those four, I don't think there's any point joining the police if you don't, first and foremost, want to be a uniformed frontline copper. Whatever the frustrations, the bureaucracy and the politics, deep down you have to believe in it or you wouldn't be able to sleep at night. Strangely, I wrote this at 2am.

It's true that a lot of what I spend my day doing is trivial. A lot is spent being told off for not meeting meaningless targets, and being given exactly zero incentive to meet them the next day. A lot of my time is spent wending my way through a tangle of force policies and charging standards to do right by whatever pile of crap is sitting on the desk in front of me. But under it all, there is good work to be done. And there's also a lot of fun to be had at the career criminal's expense.

Here are my predictions for 2008 and, at the end, a couple of questions for my faithful readers.

In 2008:
  • I expect my team to gain two police officers and lose three.
  • I expect to waste in excess of 5000 minutes reading work emails I didn’t need.
  • I predict more laws making it illegal to do things that are already illegal, but worded differently.
  • There will be thirty or forty tabloid news stories about people who got arrested for trivial things, and another thirty or forty stories about times when the police did nothing.
  • I predict promises to send people to prison for things that previously weren’t crimes, and more promises to stop sending people to prison for things that have always been crimes.
  • The Prime Minister will say he values us.
  • I will chase my tail faster and faster trying to keep up with what my job expects of me, and to blog more and more about how ludicrous it all is.
  • I expect never to lose my sense of humour.
  • I expect to be sitting here next year saying all the same things, only people will have stopped calling it news.
And for my readers to answer:
Happy New Year.

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