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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Friday, May 08, 2009

Damned if we do...















On glancing at the headlines today, I thought that the police had been called in to investigate the verging-on-illegal expenses claims being made by - it seems - most of Brown's government. But no, it appears I was mistaken. In fact
the Met have been asked to investigate the leaking of MP's expenses which has caused much embarrassment to Brown.

Without wishing to sound like I don't care about pen-pushing or mindless bureaucracy, since when do we launch police investigations into embarrassing stories about the government? Obviously a disgruntled civil servant, or for all I know a thoroughly gruntled one who just thought we deserved to know, has passed the information to the press and the press have printed it. How exactly does that differ from every other major political news story of the last decade?

Of the many responses the Metropolitan Police might give to the complaint from the Commons' Authority, I am guessing that "sod off" isn't going to be one of them. In case any of my readers have been living in Canada for the last ten years, here is what happens when someone, anyone, makes a complaint of crime to the police:
  • A crime report is generated by the civilian call-taker.
  • Depending on the category of crime, it is handed to a police officer to investigate, given to a PCSO to give "reassurance", or kept within the civilian crime desk for a slow-time office-based investigation.
  • Regardless of which of the above is selected, the crime report cannot be ignored and must be resolved either by detection, filing (unsolved), or no-criming (decision that no offence has taken place after all).
The basic thing to grasp is that if someone calls the police saying a crime has been committed, then one has. If the person calling the police is the House of Commons, I am guessing the Met will struggle to write the complaint off without a full investigation. Which is how they got themselves into the Damian Green mess.

Further to my post on the perils of being a whistle-blower in Brown's Britain, my qualms no longer centre purely around my off-duty activities. I have already carried out trivial warrants, arrests and prosecutions as a result of the stringent National Crime Recording Standards we work under. How long before I am passed a package asking me to knock on a political rival's door in the Blandmore area, and take him/her into custody in front of partner and children? No doubt the arrest will be sanctioned as necessary for matters of national security. Will I know enough to know I have become a political pawn? At what point do I dig my heels in, and how many people will be waiting in another part of the station to do the deed if I won't? Can you keep your integrity if you are willing to "just follow orders"?


I still think 90% of what I do is worthwhile. I don't want to give that up to avoid the 10% that isn't.

If the Met launch this investigation, the question must be asked, just who exactly is the police serving in this country?


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

29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 8 years and 11 months to go.

I hate to wish my life away and telling the new blood not to do so is a constant--annoyance. I don`t think I am convincing anyone.

Vote anyone but labour.

08 May, 2009 20:29

 
Anonymous Matt M said...

Was the investigation into the leaks announced? Or was it leaked?

08 May, 2009 20:54

 
Anonymous MarkUK said...

IMO, the Telegraph is in breach of the Data Protection Acts. The information contained in their exclusiove can only have been obtained following a breach of the DP Acts.

The MPs (in this case some cabinet ministers) had probably broken no rules. That's not surprising, as they make the rules.

The Telegraph, IMO, is in breach of tatute law. The MPs are "merely" in breach of moral standards.

08 May, 2009 21:09

 
Anonymous ginnersinner said...

Perhaps Jackie Smith would like to leave the matter of her expenses to her 'court of public opinion' that she spoke so vividly about during the whole 'Fred The Shred' saga.

On the whole NCRS and being sent to arrest someone, don't forget that you can't be ordered to use any power which requires your own 'reasonable grounds' (arrest. stop and search, etc etc) If a supervisor or, even worse, a civilian Crime Desk staff tries to get you into trouble for 'failing to arrest someone' then (unless it's blindingly obvious you should have) stand your ground. It'll never stick. Necessity under SOCPA doesn't include 'in order to get a detection'

09 May, 2009 00:29

 
Anonymous sto girl said...

ginnersinner, the problem comes where you exercise your discretion and one or other party decides to murder someone a few months later. Despite the fact that your arrest would have made not the blindest bit of difference, you will still get crucified for it!

09 May, 2009 00:33

 
Blogger Thy Handmaid's son said...

Here on the other side of the pond, we started our nation as an assertion of the freedom of the individual, family, and local community over and against the demands of an overbearing government that no longer concerned itself with the interests of all its people. More and more Americans are concerned that our government is increasingly out of touch with reality, and becoming heavy handed with its police powers: detaining and arresting citizens for the bumperstickers on their cars, surveying private citizens because of peaceful political activity, and more. One wonders when someone will raise the hue and cry to put the government back in its place.

I have lived near Washington, D.C., my entire life, and consequently have many friends and family that work for the US Federal government. They are good people who do good work. I just wish that more of it were done locally, and fear that they will be put to unscrupulous uses.

09 May, 2009 02:09

 
Anonymous Dr Melvin T Gray said...

Everything is going to be fine Ellie, as long as you do not confuse procedures with those of normal democracy.

We will have the feel good factor returned as soon as the government gets around to curtailing journalistic freedoms. Better to passively welcome a choice in one's lot as feudal subject or state pawn than question the will of the mighty.

09 May, 2009 08:27

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ask "who exactly is the police serving in this country?"

We thought YOU knew! (But then your question could have been rhetorical...)

So I suppose the Police are now serving the State, in the form of the present government.

Michael

09 May, 2009 12:34

 
Blogger Virtual Supply said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

09 May, 2009 12:38

 
Anonymous Pete said...

",,,the question must be asked, just who exactly is the police serving in this country? ..."

Themselves, of course.

Self-serving, payroll-parasites one and all.

09 May, 2009 13:46

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one am astounded to see that the only expenses being published are Labour politicians. Who would have thought that the Conservatives would be so "whiter than white". But then again The Telegraph is know for it's even handed reporting.

09 May, 2009 13:58

 
Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

Pity that you've had the ability to say "Piss Off and don't waste my time" taken away from you collectively.

That's so often the right response - especially in cases like this which is one small step from MP's throwing random (albeit substantiated) petty allegations at each other.

09 May, 2009 22:22

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what makes you so sure, Binary Surfer, that on rare occasions, when it suits them, some police DO still have the ability [and no shame] to be hardfaced and say "Piss Off"?..... In my opinion the murder of your sister, Lynne Whitely in 1956, the rape and other abuse of yourself, plus the attempts to kill you, and not forgetting numerous perversions of justice and theft from you, well... NO CRIME HAS BEEN COMMITTED....because it suits No10 and the Home Office to instruct us to tell you to "Piss Off"....or we just might abuse our power, abuse you even more and section you to undermine, dismiss you and smear your name, to sweep it all under the carpet, rather than treat you fairly and with respect as a victim of serious crimes.

You would think though Ellie, that someone ringing up about serious matters would be treated with a bit more respect! But a cover up is a cover up, is a cover up! That's the way government appears to operate 1957 - 2009, so lets hear it for the press for a change.
Hallelujah, Saturday's front pages well and truly spilled the beans about politicians abuses of position, not to mention power. Maybe the press will get around to the government's abuse of power and the cover ups over child sex abuse and the 1950's survivors of that ordeal- the H.O's Operation Satan.
But I suspect that Gordon and the H.O have got the press gagged on that one, for now at least.....

The news reports have made it clear that ALL political parties are involved in this latest abuse of expenses scandal. The Telegraph has just exposed mostly Labour MP's first. All parties have fought for 5 years to prevent the public finding out about their scams on the Westminster gravy train. The press, fair dues, have done an excellent job over the past few years in exposing the hypocrisy and lunacy going on in Westminster.
This is when the freedom of the press is a blessing rather than a curse, because they expose serious mistakes and unacceptable situations.
And at least they are leaving the force alone after recent bad press!

Politicians do appear to have made a right mess of things, and the system is rotten, stinking in fact.
There was the scandal of the No10 email smears against Tory MP's, one of whom, Nadine Dorries MP says she going to sue Gordon Brown.
She's entitled to do that, because defammation is out of order and she has enough political backing to sue him. Lucky her!

However, she was on the BBC's Question Time on Thursday 7th May, spouting utter NONSENSE and blatant lies, dangerously so, and in the process she was smearing MY reputation and the credibility of accurate Intelligence; which this government have cherry picked AND covered up, because they made huge mistakes. Mistakes that did cost lives and mistakes that could have cost billions of lives, but were prevented - Black Holes - Doomsday Machine - also warned about in 1957- documented in Intel records.

Nadine Dorries MP, should get her facts straight before she goes on TV to spread lies and mislead the public. She was supporting the "need" for Trident [Nukes] at a cost of £25 BILLION to the taxpayer, in a recession! She stated repeatedly, "we did not know that 9-11 and 7-7 were going to happen before they did. We didn't know X number of years ago, about Osama bin Laden and that the terrorist problem would happen. We need a nuclear deterrent". This is complete nonsense and a blatant LIE. The S.I.S and government KNEW.

Intelligence which foretold and warned about 9-11, Madrid, 7-7, 21-7, 22-7, and ALL the plots that have been prevented- recently Manchester and the N.West, Easter 2009, plus further Intel warnings of serious dangers to this planet and humanity, WAS and still is in documented records held by the S.I.S and the Met. This government have chosen to ignore some of the accurate Intel, and that includes the warning to abolish the use of ALL NUKES, power stations and weapons -Trident, because of the mortal peril they will present to the survival of humanity in the future. The same Intel warned about Gordon Brown carrying on with his own agenda, ignoring the Intel to AVOID going down the road of a Big Brother snooping state, and government databases, including keeping the DNA of innocent people - because of foretold abuses of power in the future. There was also a warning to NOT get politically tied to the EU "Superstate", or be ruled by EU Leaders and their agendas.
Operation Beelzebub - codename Lawrence 1958-2009 - Royal Protection Officer.

Check it out Dave Cameron and Nadine Dorries, because you too appear to want to lead this country into the Nuclear abyss to destruction. Why are the S.I.S so silent on this matter of national security? What's gone wrong there?

I think that Yates of the Yard should be looking at WHY this Intel, given to protect lives, has been ignored and covered up by this government, and the Tories.

The press have been focused on the financial crisis and now financial abuses, whilst the bloody great ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, gets not a mention, despite the whistle having been blown a number of times now.

Those who do Blow the Whistle on serious matters are often given a rough ride by those with guilty consciences. But I would rather be damned for doing the right thing, my duty, than be damned by saying nothing and see millions of people suffer and die, because I failed to reveal the truth, to save lives.

Whistleblower

Police and Security Service Officer

10 May, 2009 04:14

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Actually just because an allegation is made it doesnt necessarily mean a crime has been committed-what happened was that bonuses were introduced for middle managers based on detection rates.Because these same people were unable to organise themselves and theor staff to detect the zserious crimes and encouraged by spotty accountants they decided to concentrate on the easy targets such as fathers accused of smacking their obnoxoius children or kids throwing cucumbers at each other.I used to write off a lot of similar crimes but then I had the length of service a good knowledge of law and stated cases and would stand my ground.....So Mr Stephenson are you going to do the right thing when it comes to MPs expenses or is that big yellow stain going to appear along the length of the back of your shirt again?

10 May, 2009 11:46

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a question for all the Met police, why are you not arresting MPs for fraud under the Fraud Act 2006? This widely drawn act gives several provisions that could be used, the main one being Section 2 Fraud by Misrepresentation. Criminality under this act rest on the concept of dishonesty as judged by the “reasonable man” and the attempt to gain something to which you are not entitled or cause a loss to another (this is any gain and is not negated by paying back anything).
I have asked this question before and have not yet received an answer. Worryingly the police seem happy enough to raid opposition MPs offices and hunt for politically damaging leaks, but not to arrest Ministers who are clearly guilty of fraud


Joseph K.

10 May, 2009 12:40

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Joseph K - MPs aren't breaking any laws (although in this case "it's in the rules" is only a few ranks better than "just following orders" as far as pathetic excuses go) ... however the leak IS breaking the law as it is currently.

not saying you aren't right, just saying...

separation of judicary and executive is becoming more important than ever...

10 May, 2009 13:02

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I am afraid that you are wrong, one both counts. It is possible that the leaks are illegal but it is more likely that they are simply a disciplinary matter for the civil service. Under the Fraud Act, fraud is based on dishonesty, if the rules (contained in the Green Book) state that there is a need for expenses to be connected to parliamentary duties (and it does) and an MP of a Lord claims for a second home that is not lived in or clearly a holiday cottage. Then this is fraud pure and simple. If you do not believe me look at section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 (available from the House of Commons website) then Google David Ormerod, The Fraud Act 2006 – Criminalising Lying (March 2007) Criminal Law Review, pages 193-219.
An excellent article on the standard of dishonesty needed for criminal culpability. When you have informed yourself of a few basic facts, please post a follow up comment.


Joseph K.

10 May, 2009 13:43

 
Blogger Virtual Supply said...

As police officers think they are above the law and have made that obvious to any tax paying civilian, one can only assume that an officers income is more important than the job that generates that income. Caused by too little disciplne, to much financial remineration and too easy a life, no small wonder the police will not act accordingly when people who are paid to represent thier country, steal from it. Makes me wonder how many senior officers are as much on the take as the guilty members of parliment are.

10 May, 2009 14:23

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Many senior officers have contracts based on "performance" and perks which is why ordinary coppers are being forced to deal with rubbish to get easy detections and to ignore the serious crimes-plus of course many ACPO ranks are just plain liars and chancers

10 May, 2009 15:04

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joseph K,
I agree the politicians have acted immorally.

As regards the Fraud act, it would have to be proved that they have acted dishonestly in submitting claims they knew or suspected to be untrue.

It would be difficult to prove dishonesty given that all the claims have been accompanied with receipts and passed by the Fees Office as complying with the rules of the Green Book. In many cases they have asked the Fees Office if they were eligible for the money prior to making the claim.

The claims they have made are all "true" in that they have submitted apparently genuine receipts.

The difficulty in relation to second homes is that they are not defined in the Green Book except to tie them to the equally woolly concept of "parliamentary duties" which again is not defined.

Expenses Frauds typically arise where the amounts claimed have been falsified. In these cases the amounts available within woolly definitions have been "maxed out". There is, as yet, no suggestion that the money has gone anywhere other than on what the MP's have said it has gone on.
Immoral and greedy, yes - dishonest AND untrue - NO.

Tango

10 May, 2009 15:07

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tango, a very good and reasoned argument which is undoubtedly true for many expense claims, especially those that where checked before they where made. Unfortunately there are a number of claims that would appear to fall within the broadly drawn Fraud Act, such as Blears “flipping” her residence to avoid capital gains tax and Uddin (a Lord) claiming for a house that she has never lived in, whilst also claiming a house from a housing association. As the housing association rules mean state that the residents must have no other home, this is fraud, if not from expenses, certainly from the housing association.
The Truth or Untruth of the claims is not that the amounts are correct but whether they are entitled to the claims or not. Just because it is passed without comment by the committee looking at it does not make it less fraudulent, it just means that the expenses are not audited sufficiently.
This article in the times is worth a look,

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6257203.ece

As is this article by David Ormerod, The Fraud Act 2006 – Criminalising Lying (March 2007) Criminal Law Review, 193-219, If you can find a copy.


Joseph K.

10 May, 2009 15:54

 
Blogger tag said...

If it is claimed that the representation is false because they are not entitled to it - ie it is a mortgage on a property which is NOT their second home,
it then becomes a debate on what is or is not included in the Green Book expense rules.
Once the focus shifts onto whether it falls inside or outside the expenses rules then the likelihood of any successful criminal prosecution drops away. After all if reasonable people can discuss what is or isn't "parliamentary duties" or when exactly a "second home" is a "second home" then how can a jury convict beyond reasonable doubt that a claim has been made dishonestly and untruthfully.
The water is further muddied by the fact that incorrectly audited or not the expenses have been passed by a committee and the opportunity to reject them has not been taken.

Tango

10 May, 2009 19:00

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am confused.
What was "leaked"? I was under the impression that MP expenses details were obtained under the FOI Act, after the Government fought a long and disgraceful campaign in 2008 to make MPs _exempt_ from said act.

Did I miss something?

11 May, 2009 02:13

 
Blogger Metcountymounty said...

the FOI release was agreed to be edited, what was leaked was the unedited version which may have been a data protection breach, that is what they are asking the Police to investigate.

As appealing as it must be to watch Parliament squirm I doubt anyone at the Yard would have the cojones to tell them to poke it as we have Police work to do instead of mopping up situations they created through outright hypocritical greed.

11 May, 2009 11:04

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tango, That is they very heart of fraud, in this case claiming for something that you are not entitled to. All expenses are meant to be exclusively of parliamentary duties. Claiming for a second home that is not lived in or not connected to parliament of the MPs Constituency is no different (legally) than me claiming mileage for a journey that I have not made. The dishonesty aspect is knowing that the claim should not be made, rather than believing that it will be passed.

Joseph K.

11 May, 2009 17:25

 
Anonymous Susan Seaton said...

A bit like, using the firms car to get fish and chips for the boss on a Friday Lunchtime.

11 May, 2009 23:05

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to point out, in GMP crime recording doesn't work that way and I don't think it does in many other forces too. We have an incident log generated which is then attended by an officer (if deemed necessary) who then decides if a crime has taken place, if so, it's crimed.

Some, such as burglary, are not faxed to the crime bureau but sent to another unit who decide if it's REALLY a crime.

Just for info, like :)

15 May, 2009 01:13

 
Blogger staghounds said...

Back on topic, "Just following orders" investigations or arrests.

I believe the keys are, first to be aware that you might get orders that you believe are too wrong to be followed.

Then to mentally game out how you'd deal with them. (First, always demand them in writing and signed, if you can't get tape recordings!)

Finally, to not become so dependent on the economic, identity, or other rewards of your job- or subject to inertia- that you can't quit if morally compelled to.

Just asking the questions in the last three paragraphs of this piece is a good start. We all ought to do it, regularly. Out loud, with our bosses. And they with theirs.

02 June, 2009 18:29

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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18 January, 2010 14:24

 

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