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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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The "major crime" gap

If you are lucky enough to be subjected to a serious crime in Blandmore, you will receive an unparalleled level of service from your local police. Those who have been raped, beaten up by burglars, half-strangled or stabbed can expect the following:
  • Police to divert from whatever they are doing to come to help you.
  • Traffic to be halted, roads to be closed, houses to be evacuated, all to preserve your crime scene.
  • Specialist officers and detectives to drop their paperwork to look after you and take your statement.
Should you fall prey to a REALLY serious crime, however, things are slightly different. Otherwise known as Major Crime, these include kidnapping, stranger rape, and murder. In these cases it is recognised that care of the victim is not nearly as important as Force Policy. For example, should you be raped in your home by your ex-boyfriend, police will be straight round. But if you are dragged into your ex-boyfriend's car and driven away to be raped, that is a Kidnapping and no one can do anything to help you until a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) has been woken up and told about it.

The SIO will go through a checklist to make sure that the police swooping to your door is not about to get you killed. All very handy if you're bound and gagged in the back of your ex's car. Not so handy if your ex let you go about an hour ago and you're at home desperately waiting for the police.

Likewise with assault versus murder. Should you be stabbed in the back and require operations and stitches, the police will get straight on the trail of your attacker. Should the knife strike an inch further over leaving you dead in an alley, no one can chase anyone until a massive cordon has been set up, officers brought in on days off, and a budget request made for floodlights, tents and white overalls.

We're actually very good at these investigations. But I do wonder whether the desire to think two years ahead to court or an IPCC investigation is taken rather more seriously than the needs and fears of the victim at the centre of it all.

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


Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Am I first.
The problem outlined here is that it is more important to follow the
policies and the guidelines than it is to do the "right" thing-which of course opens up a can of worms as to what is the "right" thing-so a whole load of policies and procedures are developed to cover every minor incident-but annoyingly as humans are involved every incident is slightly different so we then have even more policies put in place and we have all "learned lessons and moved on".A good dose of "common sense" is generally what is required in these situations but in the Alice in Wonderland" world of police management that can never happen

07 April, 2009 15:22

Anonymous Jack Night said...

Interesting point Ellie. As you may know, I spend a lot of my time in Major Incident Rooms. You nailed it in your last line. We really are looking 2 years down the line to an IPCC investigation(boo) or a Crown Court trial (hooray). Murder / kidnap / stranger rape trials are the ones where the defence pull out all the stops up to and including putting us to proof of everything.

Why do we go cordon and scene guard? That is to some extent because we have a budget to actually send some stuff to forensics and we want to secure as much of it as possible as properly as possible, Comes the Court, as you know, it's not about the evidence, it is about how the evidence was got. Was the scene secured, who was in the scene, might the evidence have been contaminated, where is the chain of continuity, when was that statement taken, who by, where is the paperwork, what was the reason for that decision, where is the SIO Policy Log, why did you investigate a) and not b) ....

In most enquiries we don't dot every i or cross every t. In a "Major Incident" you have to otherwise it all comes ungummed at Crown. The whole SIO, MIR, Murder Manual, HOLMES is there for that reason. Every thing that we do is documented and for a good reason. It should be possible to go back into a Holmes indexed enquiry and understand the reason for every action raised and the relevance of every document in the system.

As for your kidnap point, there are so many things that you can get wrong on a running kidnap that you need a trained SIO and a small trained support team who know what kidnap investigation is about. For example, swooping to the door has been known to cause hostage harm. That's why we do it carefully. It's a balance between the poor victim being safe and pissed off at home and the poor victim being in the hands of someone who has been tipped off that someone has called the cops. God bless mobile phones. Policy one is get the victim back unharmed. Arrest and detect is usually some way down the list.

As for the victims in murder, we do what we can with Family Liaison Officers but mostly we are about finding out whodunnit and proving it to the satisfaction of a jury. The needs of the victim are never dismissed.

Our major issue is more to do with finding bosses who can do anything other than refer to the Murder Manual and show a bit of flair. It is also getting tougher to find experienced detectives.

07 April, 2009 21:09

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

When I want comments about the corruption and violence of the police, I'll post on the topic. Until then, your comments will be deleted if they aren't relevant.

08 April, 2009 22:01

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09 April, 2009 00:32

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15 April, 2009 08:41


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