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.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Damned if you do...

Two recent Blandmore circular emails:

1
To: Blandmore response officers
From: The Inspector Responsible for Caring About Stuff
Date: 26th February 2008
Subject: Search forms
Area Intelligence has drawn attention to the fact that search-forms are not being submitted in a timely manner to be logged on the system. This means that important information about local criminals being stopped and searched in high-crime areas is not appearing on the intelligence system for several days. This damages our ability to link criminals to crime patterns. From now on, ALL SEARCH FORMS must be put directly into the Intelligence-Collection letterbox without being seen by a sergeant. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

2
To: Blandmore response officers
From: The Inspector in Charge of Target-Achievement
Date: 26th February 2008
Subject: Search forms
At present there is no way to record the quantities of search-forms submitted by officers in a timely manner. This makes it hard for the area to reach its HQ-set targets in this area. There has also been an issue with the quality of the forms, not containing vital statistic-related information such as the size of the subject's shoes and their Zodiac signs. From today onwards, ALL SEARCH FORMS must go directly to your sergeant for checking and signing, to be logged on a target-achievement sheet and counted towards our monthly targets. Do not submit them directly into the Intelligence-Collection letterbox. Thank you for your cooperation.

Treading a path between orders like these is how a good proportion of my working life is spent.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

The "P" Word

There comes a moment in every PC's career when they start to consider Promotion.

For some, it is in the twilight years, when they tot up their pension and decide they could do with a few extra quid (the police pension is two-thirds of your finishing salary after 30 years' service).

For others, like yours truly, it's that I've found myself looking at sergeant after sergeant thinking, "I wouldn't have done that".

I am led to believe that there are jobs in the world where you prove yourself through months or years of good work, then apply for a higher pay grade when a space comes along. Or you might even just be approached for the spot by your boss. The police, however, is a Public Sector employer, therefore has to be fair and even-handed when it comes to promotion. This means that no matter how incompetent or ineffective you may be, you have as good a chance as anyone else at getting promoted.

First you have to pass the dreaded OSPRE exam. This involves shelling out hundreds of quid on the latest "can't fail" textbooks, online question packages and one-on-one-hundred seminars, all designed to fool you into thinking there is a substitute for just learning the syllabus word for word. If you pass the exam, you have a lengthy and tortuous application form to complete, followed by an interview board. The process including revision is likely to take over a year.

Of course, no matter how well you pass the exam, you have very little hope of passing the interview if you haven't had any "Acting" experience. This is when you are given the job of sergeant overnight (along with the pay-rise) and can do it indefinitely without having to do any of the above steps.

The whole thing is repeated to get to inspector level, after which you enter a more streamlined process involving working nets and kissing things.

Life would be so much easier if it was like in Starship Troopers: the sergeant in front of you has his head blown off and someone turns to you and says, "You're it". The guy in the long mac who reads the enemy's mind would be handy too.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Police and their kit:


Pc Byron Emerson-Thomas, 37, wanted first go in the van at the start of a night shift because it was fitted with a new radio, the trial heard.

He denies wounding Pc Aled Bartlett, who needed eight stitches after the incident at a Cardiff police station.

Pc Emerson-Thomas will claim he acted in self-defence, the jury was told.


This case has been met with mockery and laughter, but this is a serious issue. Let me explain: PC Byron Emerson-Thomas was prevented, yes, PREVENTED from driving a police van with a brand new radio, by a discriminatory and bullying sergeant who gave the keys to his colleague instead.

I don't think people realise how important new kit is to police officers. There is no day more exciting than the one they issue new-design fleeces, or the first 08-registered panda car arrives in the back yard. Indeed, new and "Gucci" kit is so desired after that you can leave just about any amount of money lying around the nick and no one will touch it, but leave a bit of fancy kit unattended and it will have been swiped and re-named before you can blink.

Things currently in my kit-bag that don't belong to me:
  • A non-Blandshire issue fleece.
  • A pair of gloves (but someone had stolen mine first).
  • A fancy kind of earpiece for my radio.
  • Another kind of earpiece for my radio.
  • A thing that screws onto the top of my baton and lights up.
  • Some specialised forensic kits.
  • Some bits of velcro with no discernible purpose.
Finally, in honour of telling-it-like-it-is day that I proposed last week:










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Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm not a murderer, just a necrophiliac.

As Mark Dixie goes on trial for the murder of Sally Anne Bowman with the most ludicrous defence I think I have heard yet ("I didn't realise she was dead until after I raped her"), I find myself wondering just how crazy a defence has to be before there is no chance of it succeeding.

Let's examine the evidence, starting with the top ten most memorable Blandmore defences that I have seen work to get defendants off in court:
  1. I thought she was going to hit me, so I picked up a hockey stick and hammer and battered her with them until she was senseless and unmoving.
  2. Another guy who looked exactly like me, with the same tattoo of the same girl's name on his arm, was standing just behind me and reached over my shoulder with a crowbar to hit the victim.
  3. I've recently had threats that someone dressed as a police officer in full uniform would turn up at my door to kill me, so when I saw the policeman there I punched him in the face for self-defence.
  4. A guy I've never seen before or since, appeared out of nowhere, ran up to me and pressed the glass hammer into my hand, before smashing a car window next to me and vanishing into thin air.
  5. [Of a 10yr old] She consented.
  6. I only confessed because I was fed a disgusting ready meal in custody and wasn't thinking clearly.
  7. I'm a terrorist and I'm going to set off a bomb soon [he was acquitted due to insanity, despite medical evidence to the contrary].
  8. The Feds have it in for me cos I've been in trouble so much, they stitched me up, innit.
  9. My parents are dead and nobody loves me.
  10. [And the most successful defence of all time...] No Comment.
It only goes to show, the concept of "reasonable" doubt is just that: a concept. In reality, if the prosecution can't prove their case beyond the wildest shadow of an insane impossible doubt, you'll walk.

Anyone got any examples of their own?

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Friday, February 15, 2008

That's The Way...

More magistrates like Australian Michael Frederick please.

Here is an example of his summing up:

“You’re a druggie and you’ll die in the gutter. That’s your choice... I don’t believe in that social worker crap. You abuse your mother and cause her pain. You can choose to be who you are. You can go to work. Seven million of us do it whilst fourteen million like you sit at home watching Days of Our Lives smoking your crack pipes and using needles and I’m sick of you sucking us dry."

He concluded, "It’s your choice to be a junkie and die in the gutter. No one gives a shit, but you’re going to kill that woman who is your mother, damn you to death.”

Of course, he had to apologise for the remarks later, but I bet it was worth it.

In honour of his wisdom, I would like to suggest a Telling It As It Is Day for the criminal justice system. Police officers could stop motorists with the words, "You weren't going much over the speed limit, and the road's empty, but you're a total dickhead so I'm going to stick you on anyway." Custody sergeants could accept prisoners with the phrase, "I'm sick to the back teeth of your ugly face and I hope you DO hang yourself in the cells today." And our long-suffering CPS lawyers could write on files, "Not another pile of crap from PC Meeting-My-Arrest-Target Davies. If this case went to court every day for a million years we wouldn't convict anyone on this pathetic, half-literate statement. Get out and don't come back until you've arrested a murderer."

Meanwhile, we might hear in court such summing-up phrases as: "If you think that having a girlfriend and a half-arsed job making sandwiches in your cousin's shop excuses the fact that you stamped on a schoolboy's head three times, you are a jumped-up cretin. You are hereby sentenced to 4 years in the slammer and I plan to write a personal letter to the prison governor requesting you are put in a cell with Big Jack McDaddy."

Sadly, here in Britain we're stuck with the likes of Judge Tim Stead.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Western Front

It's ALL QUIET in Blandmore at the moment. I'm not supposed to use the Q-word, but I do so in the hope that it will prompt a flurry of rapes, murders and kidnappings. These are all good for overtime, and provide lots of evidence to record in my PDR.

As a result of moneyless skiers, the only criminals left in town are the REAL ones. There's little to detect in the way of trivial crime, and we are left swimming against a tide of auto-crime and burglary. It could be a great opportunity for some proactive patrol, the kind we normally don't have time for. But without the fighting drunks and swearing vandals, there are no Sanction-Based Detections to balance the undetectable aquisitive crime, and the Area Commander is starting to panic. He now trawls personally through every investigation with a named suspect and dispatches special teams of officers on overtime to arrest and charge the suspects NOW.

I've taken to hiding my paperwork when I go home for 3 days off. If I don't, I'll return to find that someone has taken it out and arrested the cake-throwing child I was planning to give a severe telling off. Or that the series of complex financial enquiries I have to do into a fraud has been leapfrogged and the suspect arrested on virtually no evidence, in the hope of charging him by Wednesday night (when they count the week's detections). Suspects who have cooperated and booked appointments to see me after my rest days are being woken at 5am and hauled off to custody in the utmost confusion.

And out there on the frozen streets of Blandmore, the burglars are laughing.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Yet again I read more emergency service whinges. This time it's the firemen complaining about being attacked when they go to fight fires.

I mean, honestly, it's almost as if firemen think people should be GLAD to see them, and welcome them towards the blaze with open arms. Some even think they should be THANKED after saving someone's life!

This kind of naivete in our nation's emergency services has no place in the Twenty-First Century. Police officers have long been told by magistrates that they should expect to get assaulted whilst on duty - it's just part of the job. Those people who do attack the police are merely reacting to government bureaucracy and red tape and should not be held responsible for their actions. Under no circumstances should they go to prison.

Likewise paramedics need to toughen up. Just because they risk their lives driving a large vehicle through red lights to help the injured and dying doesn't mean they aren't fair game for random attacks and happy-slapping.

There is only one emergency service where their job is to turn up to reports of emergencies and then hide in a cupboard to call the police - if you don't want to be assaulted at work, just become a PCSO.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Pity the children (if they're female).

Children and Young Persons Act 1933
s.31. Arrangements shall be made for preventing a child or young person while detained in a police station, or while being conveyed to or from any criminal court, or while awaiting before or after attendance in any criminal court, from associating with an adult (not being a relative) who is charged with any offence other than an offence with which the child or young person is jointly charged, and for ensuring that a girl (being a child or young person) shall while so detained, being conveyed, or waiting, be under the care of a woman.

I am reliably informed that this section of this act has not been repealed or modified. Its very existence is probably news to most of us in Blandshire Constabulary. What it means essentially is that if a girl under 17 is arrested, there needs to be a female gaoler or police officer taking responsibility for her care. No mention of poor embarrassed boys.

I am glad to see that there is still room to accommodate such archaic legislation in the modern world. Without such safeguards, the delicate female young of this nation would surely fall prey to rapists in every custody suite. In any event, it is surely fair to say that if legislation has never been challenged, it doesn't really matter how sexist or otherwise it is.

Of course, back in the 1930s, it would have been hard to envisage a situation where a teenaged boy might find himself in the custody of an all-female cast of gaolers, sergents and PCs. Now, even in the 25% ratio of Blandmore, there could be days when that is indeed the case. Problematic, the day a defence solicitor decides to pick up this Act and wave it under the noses of a Discrimination lawyer somewhere.

Of course, the protection here is really for the male police officers who would fall prey to thousands of malicious allegations of sexual assault and worse if left alone with a female. I'm not so much insulted by this piece of legislation as left staggered at the naivete of it. In today's world, you're just as likely to get accused of sexual assault whatever gender you are, and whatever gender the subject is. That's called Enlightenment.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Need for Speed

Every couple of months the horrifying news of police officers driving irresponsibly hits the headlines. There aren't normally such good pictures:

PC Mayes has been prosecuted for careless driving, banned and fined £400.

I think the real issue here is not whether driving with no hands is reckless, but how thick you have to be to do it at a speed camera in a marked police car.



You may recall, back in December, the chilling news that speeding police officers are frequently not prosecuted. This article claims that everyone "refused to say" who was at the wheel. I would hazard a guess this is an exaggeration, and that it was simply a case of the log book not being present or filled in correctly, rather than some kind of Manchunian wall of silence. The part I find most amusing, though, is where South Yorkshire police state that it would be unfair to publish pictures of the speeding cars "in case the officers are identified and villified". Er... so having FAILED to identify the officers in question internally, they refuse to take the one possible method of identifying them (media appeal), IN CASE THEY ARE IDENTIFIED. I don't usually go in for multiple punctuation marks, but ???!!!

As usual, the press are outraged at the thought that severe prison sentences were not handed out, despite the fact that there appears to be no evidence. Whereas in other cases, lack of evidence equates to proof of innocence.

The words "can't" and "win" spring to mind.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Hello, is that the police? It's the police.

There isn't a great deal to say about this except a big Oh Dear.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

It isn't easy being blue

In Blandmore, there are two families that HATE the police. I'll call them the Alfers and the O'Meegahs.

Last year the youngest Alfer had some problems at school. He was bullied, subjected to racist language, followed home and had a couple of iPods taken off him. The school excluded a couple of the offenders for a few days, then excluded little Alfie Alfer - for his own safety. The police were called in.

The police liaised with the Alfers, who liaised with the school, who liaised with the bullies. The school suggested this and that, the police liaison officer tried that and this. None of it made Alfie any safer at school and none of it satisfied the Alfers. They demanded further action. Finally crime reports of assault, racist public order, harassment and robbery were created. The 12 and 13yr old offenders were arrested. They had never been in trouble before, they admitted parts of what they had done and denied others. They were given youth warnings and released. Several weeks later, the Alfers took their youngest son out of the school and now he's being home-tutored. When John Alfer came to the local nick to complain, the inspector reasoned that there was little more the police could do. John Alfer went to the media, who ran a few stories, and the Area Commander of Blandmore huffed and puffed in a few meetings. Now the Alfers hate the police, and the police aren't too keen on the Alfers.

Meet the O'Meegahs. William and Barney O'Meegah are 12 and 13, not evil boys but loud, pushy and confident. Last year they fell out with a class-mate and had a scrap in the playground. The school suggested they take a few days out. After returning to school, nothing was said for a few weeks. Then, suddenly, the police battered on the O'Meegahs door at 5am, waking the family's disabled grandmother and giving her an angina attack. The boys were arrested, had their shoes and watches removed, were shoved in a cell for hours and then grilled over their conduct in the playground. Bewildered, they explained what had happened and were given youth warnings. No one told them that these could prevent them getting a job before they turned 18, and would be held forever in local police files along with their fingerprints and DNA (albeit deleted from national databases).

Their father, Dave O'Meegah, made a complaint to the inspector that the process of children maturing had been criminalised. He might have raised his voice a bit. Finally he got arrested for public order, and now he has a criminal record too. The O'Meegahs hate the police, and the police take witnesses when they go to see the O'Meegahs.

The Alfers and O'Meegahs are the victims of National Crime Recording Standards, Youth Justice, the schools' system, Social Services and nationally set police targets. Should the police officer who turns up at the door, with all his life experience, values, prejudices and biases, be the one to decide who is right? Or should the decision be taken by a Parliament that is objective, distanced, dispassionate and inhuman?

When does the recording of a trivial crime cease being the police's fault, and become the fault of the person who reported it? When does the failure to stand up to low-level persistent crime cease being the public's fault, and become the police's failing? Where does a police officer become "the police"? Can you blame the police officer at your door for this state of affairs? Or this? Or this?

It's all one great big mess. Someone do something.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Modern Society Sue-age

This week a victim won a landmark case to sue her rapist of 19 years ago. **

I think this is outragous. Those of us who had a mis-spent youth should be allowed to grow old with dignity, never being forced to confront or face retribution for our past sins. In fact, I would go so far as to say old people are just lovely and should never have to hear a bad word said by a police officer or a judge.

But this case goes further than disrespect for the elderly. It also sets a dangerous precedent: that people who commit life-altering rapes should have to pay for what they have done. This kind of hardline, right-wing, correctionist, fascist, short-sharp-shock-electric-chair-advocationary claptrap is well out of date in the Twenty-First Century, where we all know that most criminals are sorry and a few months picking flowers at their local community centre is really all the punishment they need. The idea that someone should go to prison for no less than a few years and STILL have to pay compensation to their victim for destroying their life goes against everything we stand for in this country. And by we, I of course mean the Labour Government.

This poor rapist may even have to hand over his lottery winnings to his victim, EVEN THOUGH HE WON THE LOTTERY YEARS AFTER RAPING HER! Any self-respecting pensioner would have forgotten about him by now. I should think Judge Tim Stead would be turning in his grave right now, were he not still alive.

While we're on the subject of right-wing reactionaries, I read today that people are still harping on about violent offenders not being sent to prison. When will the public realise that there is NOTHING anyone can do to stop people murdering others, no matter how many warning signs they give or how many opportunities we have to jail them. The fact is that people shouldn't even be arrested for their crimes, as it just upsets them and makes them act up. As a good Christian nation, we should just turn the other cheek.

Shock horror newsflash of the week: today there was something in my Area Commander's "rally the troops" email that I agreed with! I had to drink several cups of tea after that.


** A proportion of earnings from my book is donated to





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